Category writing

What We Most Feared, by Decade

1900–1909 Being cheated out of our lawful inheritance, perhaps as an orphan 1910–1919 Pro patria mori 1920–1929 Getting tied to railroad tracks/lumber buzzsaw conveyer belt 1930–1939 Our plucky impromptu talent show fundraiser failing to prevent bank from foreclosing on farm 1940–1949 Ratzi Japateurs/running out of cigarettes 1950–1959 Dying in teen drag race, coming back as […]


Shelley gave us a memorable portrait of 1819 (“An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying King”) and Yeats of 1919 (“We…planned to bring the world under a rule, Who are but weasels fighting in a hole”), and like, 2019 is just around the corner, and yet I don’t think anyone’s stepped up to bat to […]

Life with/against the Circus

Life with/against the Circus I joined the circus sort of, Ran away and joined the day we Tamed, beneath the overpass, menageries of sarin gas, The bearded lady, the leopards, and the kiwi. That morning, some drunk ape took my ticket. I said I should be comped because I Helped at the concession stand. He […]

Profiles in “Courage”: Howard Rushmore

Howard Rushmore had dreamed from a young age of being a progressive journalist, and by age 16 he was writing both for his high school and town newspapers. This was back in late ’20s, when they still let students do such things. Unfortunately, the stuff he wrote in the local paper about the school got […]

2016 Predictions Graded

As is my custom, I made several predictions last January for the upcoming year, Nostradamus-style, in cryptic verse. Now that 2016 has come to a close, it behooves us to see how close my Delphic rhymes came to the truth. Prediction #1: Who drove the campaign bus? The Rus. When we voted, who did the computin’? […]

The God of This World

The God of This World Three brothers drew. Three brothers drew, by lots, Their stewardship of this round earth’s three spheres: Defined by long tradition as: the sky; The sea; sweet (euphemistic) by-and-by; And this (not euphemistic) vale of tears. (These number four.) Each brother claimed his turf: So Jove, the most pleased, vaulted to the […]

I Can’t Remember If Belloc Already Wrote Something like This

On our trip to the avian sanctuary A condor bore off little Mary. The ranger used his sternest words: “Read the signs. ‘Don’t feed the birds.’”

Ballad of a Summer Love

Ballad of a Summer Love She’d summer, back in ’64, Beside the Knights of Labor’s Old clubhouse on the facing shore— So we were almost neighbors, And every night I’d swim the lake Like Hero’s own Leander. I’d brave the aquarattlesnake, The gar and salamander While she’d sit watch upon the pier In hopes I […]

Science Fiction Senses

When I was younger, a lot of my science fiction dreams were about alien species,  and I was obsessed with the idea of aliens having different senses than ours. The problem is that making up a new sense (“We perceive things through fleen”) is not very interesting. What does it mean to have a sense […]

Text of My Speech from the ILA Conference

I spoke this weekend, along with some other authors, at the International Literacy Association conference in Boston, on the topic of “Fantasy Creatures, Heroes, and Feats That Engage Readers” (followed by a signing, depicted). This is the text of my speech, below. It’s not in full sentences all the time, because I was trying to memorize […]