Saturday, May 31, 2008

News - Opium Magazine is on KQED Public Radio in SF

Opium Magazine, the online & offline literary magazine I edit cartoons for, is being featured on The Writers' Block, part of KQED Public Radio in San Francisco. They're running selections from Opium Magazine's 250-word Bookmark Contest. Hey -- and don't forget -- it isn't too late to submit entries for Opium Magazine's Shya Scanlon 7 Line Contest, the winner (and some runner-ups) being published in the next Opium Magazine .print edition, Opium7. If you win the contest, you get $1,000. Also, mentioning print...Opium6 just came off the presses -- Go Green! (But Save Me First). Here are some sneak peeks (via Opium's graphic designer, designer & overall Renaissance Man, Mr. David Barringer) at the contents of Opium6. Note who did a cartoon. I have a few in there, along with John Callahan. I can hardly wait to get my hands on a copy, it looks fun. Way to go Todd!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Starbucks, Do Something Quick About Your Stupid Size Names

I was reading this today, about irritating people you run into at Starbucks. I think no. 8 -- ordering from someone who refuses to equate what a "Small", "Medium", "Large", or "Extra-Large" drink is to the Starbuckian universe of "Short", "Tall", "Grande" and "Venti" has always irked the crap outta me. I realize this must be one of the oldest complaints in the history of Starbucks. But, Starbucks, seriously, these names you use for sizes is sooooo intuitive. Even if you go along with these stupid size names -- we go from the arbitrary English terms "Short" & "Tall", which could mean anything -- then suddenly we're all into Italian. Ok. "Grande" means "Big" in Italian. Fine. So I guess "Large" = "Big". But going with the Italian, "Venti" means "20". So "Extra Large" = "20". But the "Extra Large" is either 20 ounces for hot drinks or 24 ounces for iced drinks. So for any kind of consistency, why doesn't Starbucks call the "Grande", which is 16 ounces, a "Sedici"? Starbucks, why don't you make your contribution to world peace and the salvation of mankind and choose arbitrary English special size names for all your sizes, or go all Italian with size names that follow some kind of consistent rules? Since you're an American corporation, from Seattle, I'd encourage you to stick with English -- does that make sense? And we'll keep the first two size names, so as to not upset people who have been ordering the two smaller drinks since the 1970s. Here you go:

Suggested Revised Starbucks Arbitrary English Cup Size Names:

8 oz - Short
12 oz - Tall
16 oz - Spank My Puppy
20 oz - Spank My Puppy Hard
24 oz - Spank My Puppy Hard & Cry

I really want to try to wrap my brain around the size terminology when my brain is almost totally blacked out, and I need a large coffee, plus I'm hung over. But Starbucks, the name system you have for sizes is broken. But you'll never take a drink from the well of sanity and just go with "Small", "Medium", "Large", or "Extra-Large", will you?

A Visitation

I was sketching by the side of the road
sitting in a chair in the bed of my pickup
when he pulled over and asked if everything
was alright

I said everything was fine and he got
out of his car and he smiled and said
"Well, then, if everything is okay, please give
me all your money."

I told him I didn't have any money on me
but if he wanted, I would draw is portrait
"No thanks." he replied and he drove off

When he drove by later to see if I was still
there I waved

Friday, May 23, 2008

Old Christopher


They say I do not know
or any of its islands

"Liars!" I cry at them "Liars!"
till all my strength
is gone

I rest and watch
the seagulls
wheeling above
dazzling white walls

I pick any ripe
rancid olives that I can reach
from the trees
and I try to hit
the servants


People around me
whisper I have
gone mad in my old age

But I know I sailed
to Cathay four times
and if I had found
enough gold
I would have my own
villa on the highest hill
of this town

Noblemen and knights
would come from far away
for advice instead
of laughing
when they hear my name

If I was young and strong
I would sail there again!


But now my eyes ache
my knees hurt

And in hearing my story
no doubt you despise me
saying all I can do
is sit here
as a crazy old man

Well to hell with you

I am to be reckoned with!

I demand it!

I was the KING of
lonely unknown seas
where the wind cried out
blowing wild foam
as I spoke
to monstrous clouds

My men were afraid
and they shook begging
for home but

I gathered all I saw
as the Master!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Aurora Green

Her name is Aurora Green, and she likes pink silk and red coats. She'll never tell you, but she also likes expensive purses, though she has no use for them. When she lived by the ocean, she'd watch for the moon, and what phase it was in, and if it was rising or falling, or if the moon was out during the day. Now after moving to the midwest, she watches the sky, particularly at sunset, looking for that lemony metallic color that is so interesting. She likes to ride her bike downtown, to the historic shopping center, and she window shops, but she doesn't buy anything. Sometimes she reminisces about a boy who broke her heart, but her heart has been broken not that often. This one boy broke her heart in a special way, it has left her freer than after past breakups -- where now she is happy and doesn't need anyone or anything. Riding home under the trees, she can't help thinking life is not exactly a private joke, but it could be an exquisitely funny limerick. Aurora knows God doesn't mean to hurt anyone, but God also is forgetful. And Love is exactly like God. They might be the same thing. When she is back in her apartment, she write a few poems, one or two are worth keeping. She carefully places these worthy sheets in a box with other promising poems, and reseals it with a wide white shimmering silk ribbon. She places her hands on the top of the box, and for a brief moment she inadvertently looks to the place on her hand where she wore a ring. She looks out the window, looking forward to a lemony evening sunset.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Things I Have Learned So Far

1. Don't do, or say, stupid things.
2. If you meet someone once, you'll probably be meeting them again. However, next time they may be in a position to help you out in ways you cannot imagine.
3. Keep your temper, but if you can't, never initiate an action when you are angry.
4. Tell the truth. Liars are worthless.
5. Never steal anything, ever.
6. Always tip -- but make sure to tip the bartender generously.
7. Have the right tool for the job. Never "make do" with anything less than the right tool.
8. Listen more than you talk.
9. If you don't understand someone, still be respectful.
10. Don't stare.
11. If she's interested in you, she'll let you know.
12. There is no virtue in being broke, but money doesn't buy happiness.
13. There is no such things as bad luck. Everything happens for a reason, at the right time.
14. Never let your best friends down.
15. If you speak kindly of people, it will rub off on them.
16. If you are being inconvenienced a bit by helping, then you are probably helping enough.
17. Nobody gets away with anything.
18. You can fight for the Truth, but if you get in the way of the Truth, it will crush you.
19. Giving advice is good, but generally worthless.
20. Anything will seem bad if you don't have an open mind.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Poem About the Maid

I see
the silhouette
of the maid
vacuuming the
upper landing;

she vacuums
next to a
very expensive

then she moves
down to start
the hardest part;

the spiral stairs.

Catching Butterflies


The ship is burning. The air was clear. The table just had been cleaned. As we turned the corner, my arm broke. Ready, called the captain. We slid rapidly down the hill. Fountains of gore filled the hallway. Suddenly, the bridge collapsed. I saw an opening. The crowd cheered. I could hardly see. The children cried, "Monkey! Monkey!" He climbed higher onto the roof. Brett wondered about the noises. The plane barely lifted off. A posse rode into town. It was flung sideways, clattering, out into the hallway. Look out! She realized, finally, what had happened all those years ago. The rift widened, glowing a sinister red. That was all it took, George lost his marbles. They all screamed together one last time. At sunset, on the last day of April, the guest arrived. You will never know, you cannot know, even I don't know.


The entire building began to tremble. It was too late, and they saw it wasn't safe. The thing was magnificent, monolithic -- and horribly ugly! He snuck back out the building, and around the corner. A revolver was produced. The chamber was unexpectedly small. Dust floated in the air, catching a stray shaft of sunshine. My mother was on that train. The story was over before it began, but I was wrong. Impossibly it bridged the gap between the cliffs and the towering castle. You again, she said in a low voice. The loudspeaker was playing a song in a foreign language. Everyone in the joint was dead, but the band played on. The wall closed in, and then it wasn't there. We traced the seam, which was supernaturally straight. He told the truth, he didn't know it was all a lie.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


She obligingly
all her clothing
for me

We made love

The multi-colored
silk bathrobe
was left behind
in it's mystery

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On This Dark Overcast Day - or - How Chung Tzu Would Bow to a Single Blade of Grass with a Dew Drop Half Way Down the Side of It

It is a dark, overcast day, with a hint of rain, and there is no coffee, but that is not important. I am thinking about Lao Tzu and Chung Tzu, and what it would be like if they were in my backyard, possibly wrestling in slow motion. This would never happen, of course, the two locked in wrestling moves. For starters, Lao Tzu wrestles nothing. And Chung Tzu would rather contemplate taking on a trembling blade of grass, with one purest dew-drop on the grass half way up that reflects in itself the entire moving sky, and bow to it with complete satisfaction.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another Google First!

Ha ha ha! If you Google "poem about kepler", my Kepler poem comes up as #1 in the search results. Googling "kepler poem", I come up second (both hits via the most excellent Josh Maday website, Disseminating Josh Maday). Thanks, Josh.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Block the Noise of the Damn Birds

I sleep in a tent in the backyard. At the first bare suggestion of light in the sky, the birds start yakking at 4.30 AM. Then my animal totem, the mocking-bird, starts playing the North American Bandstand of bird-calls at 5 AM, until about 6.40 AM, directly over my head. Then he moves down the block to bug the shit out of the neighbors. It begins to gently rain. I think the reason why people started building houses was not to keep the weather out, but to block the noise of the damn birds.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Wanting the Biggest Bomb Possible

I'll tell you something, and after I tell you, it won't be so surprising: if you ever are in a job where you need to have a bomb, you'll want the biggest one possible. It doesn't matter if it is dangerous to have the bomb to be "too big" -- you just want to have the most powerful bomb possible. They might say, bomb A is the best one for this particular mission, and bomb B, or even bomb F would be total overkill, and even hazardous to you and your cohorts...but if you can have bomb F, or even H, you'll feel so much better about it. Especially if you hear some other fellas got to use the bigger ones. Why can't we share, fer cryin' out load? We're special too! Everybody deserves to live.

Tiger Attack

I dream we are sitting on the couch when suddenly a Tiger comes into the room. The Tiger may, or may not be our domesticated family pet. But now it is clearly apparent that the Tiger is going to attack me. I jump back as the Tiger lunges at me, and it manages to hook a claw into the heel of my right foot, gouging a big hole. Then as I fall down into a sitting position on the rug, the Tiger jumps towards me. I instinctively go to push or punch the Tiger in the snout with my right hand, but the Tiger opens it's jaws and my hand goes into its mouth. I feel my right hand being mauled, and sort of falling apart as I can distinctly feel my wrist separating internally under the skin (this feeling is reminiscent of when I broke my wrist in the real world, falling off a motorcycle). I pull my red mashed hand out of the Tiger's mouth and I cup it against my chest with my good left hand. I am now in a fetal position on the rug. In the dream, when my wife doesn't say anything for about a minute and a half, I ask her to call an ambulance.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Truth & Listening

Chung Tzu and Baseball

A storm rolls into town. The wind blows. Lightening flashes.

"When I talk to you, I get excited." I tell Chung Tzu.

"When I watch baseball, I feel like crying." says Chung Tzu.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy May Day

Fritz Christopher -- has it been 2 years and a day since we last met? We miss you so.