Category Archives: poetry

Take the Midnight Train to Anywhere


Journey back with me to the 1980’s, and hear once again the music of escape.

There was a time when I was young when I did not know where I would be when the next new dawn came.  Yes, I once took the midnight train (except it was a bus) and I arrived in a teaching career in deep South Texas.  I crossed borders into another culture, another way of life, another journey made of words and pictures that hasn’t reached the final station yet.


At the outset, we all take a risk.  Born and raised in South Detroit (although it was really North Central Iowa) I passed through established procedures, rules, and regulations to do things that desperately needed doing for people who could only help themselves in very limited ways.

Some spoke mostly Spanish.  Some lived in broken homes.  One boy lived for a while under the bridge of the Nueces River, but attended school every day because he was hungry to learn, and because free school lunch was the majority of the food he got to eat.  He got on a midnight train, and I never saw him or heard from him again.  His sister, though, lived with a tia who treated her like a daughter, and grew up to be a school teacher.  I let her teach the lesson for me during one class period, as part of an educational experiment, and it put her on her own midnight train.


It was a train going on the same track I followed.  Not because of me and what I did for her.  But because she came to realize it was the right journey to take for her.  It was the perfect anywhere for her.

But there is danger inherent in getting on a midnight train going anywhere.  You don’t know who is waiting for you down the line, or what your circumstances will be at the next station along the way.  There may be strangers waiting up and down the boulevard, their shadows searching in the night.  I befriended other teachers, mentored some, learned from many,  even married one.  I had a run in or two with people who sell drugs to kids.  I had all four of my car tires slashed one night.  I had a car window broken out.  I had a boy once tell me he would kill me with a knife.  I later had that boy tell me he had a good job and a girlfriend and he was grateful that I talked him out of it and never turned him in to the police.


And we end up paying anything to roll the dice just one more time…  At one time or another we have all been there, aboard that midnight train to anywhere.  There is a moment in everyone’s life when… well, some will win, and some will lose.  Some were born to sing the blues.  I have been there.  I have done that.  And it occurs to me, that song plays on in my head still.  I am still on that journey.  And I won’t stop believing.  Because it goes on and on and on and on…

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Filed under autobiography, insight, music, nostalgia, philosophy, poetry, review of music, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Living Life as a Poem Written by a Fool

The field on which I have printed these supposedly poetic words is part of the farm that I and my two sisters have inherited. The land belonged first to my great grandfather, Friend Aldrich. His son, Raymond Aldrich, was my grandfather, the father of my mother. Now that my parents are both gone, one-third of this farm is now mine. But I don’t own the land. The land owns me.

I have endured with my roots in this land for more than 65 years. The old cottonwood tree on the corner has been there longer than that. You see the cottonwood in both of the pictures so far used in this post. They say that the total root system of this old tree is just as large and spread out as the part of it you see above ground.

Ironically, my roots are here where the ancestors who came before me planted them in the 1800s. Ironic because my life now blooms in the Dallas, Texas suburbs, almost 750 miles away from my roots. That is a deeper and larger root-connection than the cottonwood has.

I don’t farm the land myself. Another local farm-owner rents the land and farms it for us, increasing his yield and profits in order to keep his own farm producing food for the world. My own crop consists not of corn or soybeans, but rather words, memories, statements, stories, and meanings distilled from more than 65 years of brewing them from the things that formed me, the things that came from farm and family, and resulted in the poetry that is my life.

Yes, it is poetry written by a fool and a notable terrible poet. But it makes people laugh and sometimes cry and reaches out from the center of my soul to communicate the wisdom of a life that has been lived and is now almost done. How is that not poetry? A poem written by a fool.

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Filed under autobiography, commentary, humor, irony, Paffooney, photo paffoonies, poem, poetry

How to Read a Poem

Poetry is… well… whatever the Poet says it is.

If you know he or she is a stinky poet… hold your nose… and carefully read for anything worthy, and if you find nothing worth standing the smell of… then throw it in the trash before you let go of your nose so you never get a whiff of stinky poetry… that stuff can kill you.

If you know the poet is an average poet… hold your nose… just in case… and look to see if the ideas are crisp and fresh, bought in a farmer’s market rather than Walmart, and grown organically…  not factory farmed.  You should also check the quality of the protein versus the power of the carbohydrates… you don’t need too many calories in your poetry.  Then let go of your nose…  Why were you holding your nose anyway?  Olfactory poetry is only for dogs and bad poets.  Appreciate the nutrients in the verse, and ignore the effects of starvation that will set in if you never read any poetry above this level.  The Rod McKuen and Joyce Kilmer level… well… if you only read this stuff, you deserve to poetically starve.

But then there is the  Shakespeare-Sonnet level of poetry.  No, get your hand away from your nose… this is not stinky-poet territory now.  You are up in the stratosphere where if you get too close to the sun, you will get a Robert Browning, and if you swing too low over the Arctic, you may get a bit of Robert Frost.  William Butler Yeats… Theodore Roethke… William Blake…  John Keats… Emily Dickinson…  they all will put wrinkles in your brain and silver streaks in your hair.  You will find things you never thought about before… but wanted to know… needed to know… dared to know…  but never before found anywhere else… because that’s what poetry is for… you read it… and understand a bit of the mind of God.

But finally, there is the unknown level of poetry.  You go in with eyes wide open… not knowing if you will encounter the Goddess Aphrodite… or a monster… whether you will find love at first sight… or be hideously devoured by something wicked.  This is where the horrible poetry of Mickey is most likely to abide (because unlike you, most people are wise enough not to read him,) and where the greatest poetry that Mickey has not yet read resides.  Definitely enter here at your own risk.

So, that is the way Mickey recommends you read poetry.  Aware that you may encounter rapturous particles of the heavenly ether, or die a death by dreadful doggerel verse.

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, poetry, reading

Dog Thoughts

Jade Monster1

Now that she regularly steals people food from the pantry, Jade the dog is becoming more and more like the human race she wants to be a member of.  Recently she was reading my blog and got the idea that she could write poetry.  So, I was searching for an idea for today’s post and decided I would let her give it a try.  So all of this poetry today will be written by the family dog.

 Introducing Dog Thoughts 

Woof!  Grumph-hak-borph-borph… Rrrr.

Did you get that?  Or do I have to translate everything into your language?

Boofa-Rrrrr.  Bork bork grumph…. okay, we’ll do it your way.

But every time I need to add a tail wag,

Ima gonna go “*************” where each “*” is one wag.

Got it now?  People are so dumb!

Jade girl

The family dog after eating enough potato chips to become all people-y…

It Is a Stinky World!

Ooowow!  I go outside and I can smell dog poop in the park!

The rabbit that lives in the hedge leaves those little round brown things!

I want to put my nose in a pile of those *********!

I like to eat cat droppings, but you have to dig them up *******

And I am deathly afraid of the white cat… it kills and eats rats!

And it’s almost as big as I am

With breath that smells like dead rats

It is a stinky world! *******

Isn’t that great! ********

family dog2

Queen of the Couch

Why do you not understand

That the couch is mine all morning and all afternoon?

I will get off when it’s time to eat

And I will get off when it’s time to go outside

But the rest of the time the couch is mine

So don’t disturb me

Or I’ll pee in your shoes!

Dingledum dog.

Rats Are NOT Our Friends

I smell them more than see them

With rank and nasty sewer smells

And I never, ever catch them

They don’t come ringing bells

And my master puts out poison

Which they eat with garbage sauce

But it only makes them poison-proof

And I am at a loss…

All I do is bark at them

When I smell them in the walls

And my family’s mad at ME

When all the blame and curses fall.


The Beg-Eye

Do you really not see me here? *****

Here right by your knee? ******

I know you’re eating bacon!  *******

I can smell every bite disappearing! ********

Look into my eyes!  *********

My big, sad dog eyes! **********

Don’t you want to give me some? **********

I  mean, it’s BACON!  ************



I Do Love My Family

I take my beloved family members for walks

Four or five times a day

It keeps them healthy

With cold, wet noses

And shiny coats of fur

And I always make sure they are on the other end of the leash

How else can I guide them, and keep them safe?

From passing cars?

And other dogs?

But I wish they would be patient

when I stop to sniff all the tree trunks and posts

Where I check the messages  from boy dogs

Written in pee

Some of them sure do have healthy bladders!  **************!


Filed under autobiography, family dog, humor, Paffooney cartoony, poetry

Daily Magic


Daily Magic

The world all around us is magic…

And magic encompasses all,

But sadly the world is not permanent

And tomorrow the darkness may fall.

So here is the magic of daylight

The sun has arisen from pall

And at least for a moment the true light

Is the sun as it voices its call.


Never Explain

You should never have to explain a poem…

It is there for all to see…

And whether ’tis sick, or happy, or bad…

It is its own reason to be.


Never Explain… The Sequel

You should never have to explain a joke…

Whether stupid, or ribald, or punny…

Because reasons all melt with explaining…

And, if you do, it’s not really funny.


Pearls in the Dark

Swim down into deepening darkness.

Do you truly want to find a pearl?

Fish around in oysters and dark places.

Risk your fingers, your hand… hold your breath.

The deeper you dive, the more you risk, the brighter the pearl.


Write This One Too, Doofus!

Where did these poems suddenly come from?

You are not a poet…

And you already know it…

You meant to write one…

You wrote five…

How was so much doggerel in you?

Goofy wisdom…

Silly rhythm…

Random rhyme?

You’ve been writing these poems all your life…

Every action…

Every footstep…

Every joke…

Is a pearl from the oyster of your soul…

Some are beautiful…

Some are ugly…

All have value…

So don’t question the magic, you fool.


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Filed under artwork, goofiness, goofy thoughts, humor, poem, poetry, self portrait, strange and wonderful ideas about life


Today the day is seeming drear…

The dreariness is coming near…

But the time is not to fear, my dear…

It’s merely dreariness almost here.

So dry those eyes and shed no tear…

The sun comes back real soon, I hear…

And it comes no sooner with lots of beer…

For only time cures looming drear.

But as we try to spy and peer…

And see through gloomy dark so drear…

Hoping we will hear the cheer…

For darkness ending, the dark lords sneer.

And sunlight fades beneath the fear…

That now there’s only darkness near…

And gloomy faces frown and leer…

For now the dreariness is truly here.

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Filed under Depression, feeling sorry for myself, Paffooney, poem, poetry

Think About It

Life is a matter of mind, not matter.

What do I mean by saying something stupid like that?

Did you stop and think about it? Did it change who you are to think what you thought about it?

Why not?

Was it because you are committed in your mind to not be changed by a question you are asked to think about?

This is Bobby and me as boys at the skinny-dipping pond.

But is it really? Are we really naked if you can’t see whether we are wearing swimsuits or not?

Boys really only have to cover one small thing to not be naked, right? Is being naked just a perception? Can you be naked with all your clothes on?

And how can this really be me and Bobby? It is merely a picture, and pictures you draw are mere interpretations, and if it is an interpretation, can it be considered real? Boys of this age were not allowed to wear their hair this long in the 1960’s, so does that make it less real?

And why is there a mountain range in the background? We grew up in Iowa, and are there any mountains like that in Iowa?

This is the boy who might’ve been my son if I had married a different girlfriend.

Does this have something to do with Charles Lamb’s essay Dream Children?

Why am I thinking about children who are not my children? Why is every picture in colored pencil and a picture of boys rather than girls?

Why does an author and artist think any of the things he or she thinks?

Why is this post mostly made up of questions? Does it show how people really think? Is it really the Socratic Method?

Is it possible that this is some form of poetry? Designed to make people think?

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Filed under artwork, humor, irony, Paffooney, poetry

It’s Not Easy Being Green

It’s not easy being green…. the color of so many ordinary things…

Especially as you grow older.

Because green is the color of growth and youth and life. But those things seem beyond the grasp of your outstretched fingers on your spotty and wrinkled old hand.

I am definitely no longer green like Littlebit, the Oceanian ship’s boy from the seas of Talislanta and the pirate ship, Black Dragon.

And, yes, an Iowa boy living as far away from an ocean as you can get in the United States, in all directions, you are bound to dream of pirate ships and the high seas, especially when you’re twelve and your favorite book is Treasure Island.

But now that you are old, green is more often your color because you don’t feel well… again… every day….


But there is still bright green in dreams.

You can still go there and be a child again in memories and your imagination.

It’s just that now the green is written down in sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and cantos.

And talking to your kids about movies, art and artists, stories and writers of stories…

Did you know the favorite color of all three of my children is green?

I have known it since they were small and I could sing to them songs by Kermit the Frog, like “Rainbow Connections” and “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

And with paint, you make green by combining the blue of sadness with the yellow of sunshine and happiness.

And it’s not easy being green…

But it’s beautiful…

And it’s what I want to be.

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, coloring, feeling sorry for myself, humor, Paffooney, poetry

On the Highway (a quick poem about going faster)

The Road Home

I painted this oil painting looking West on Highway 3. My home town in Iowa is just beyond the next hill.


On The Highway

Leave dirt roads behind…

On the highway you go faster.

Pavement gives you ease to speed.

In fact, why use that two-lane road?

The Interstate is faster.

Limited access off and on…

The legal limit goes up to 70…

Or even 75…

85 with no cops around.

Straight over the horizon…

Into the mist-blue distance…

You are not really going anywhere…

But you will get there faster!

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Filed under humor, poetry, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Arrivaderci, Bozo

No, I am not saying goodbye to anyone that is leaving the Trump administration.  Frank Avruch has passed away.


Who is that, you may ask?

Well, from 1959 to 1970, he was Bozo the Clown.  The first Bozo.  The best Bozo.

And we will miss him, those of us who knew him from childhood, watching a colorful clown on black and white TV.

He did charity work for UNICEF.  We collected dimes in covered coffee cans for Bozo because Bozo needed them for UNICEF.  What the heck is UNICEF, you ask?  Don’t you know how to use Google and Wikipedia?

So, this is a clown who inspired poetry.  What?  He didn’t inspire poetry in you?  Well he did with me.  Let me show you.



They say a clown can never die,

And at the table has a place,

And here’s a little reason why,

It’s all about his face.

When one clown stops the life of laughter,

And stops running the human race,

Another clown can pick up after,

And keep wearing clown one’s face.

Kops aa

Do Not Fear The Bozo Squad

It is really, truly, very clear,

You should not fear a clown, I hear,

Identities disguised in paint,

Malevolent of thought they ain’t.

A clown is meant to make you laugh,

And I can show you with a graph,

That silliness saturates their very sheath,

And rarely hides evil underneath.

  • Sleep Soundly, Sweet Bozo
  •          Silly songs sound in synchrony
  •                  As the symphony sounds softly
  •                            Sincerely saying in sweet song
  •                                     “Sing angel songs, sweet Bozo
  •                                                Your spin-off will last long.”


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Filed under artists I admire, clowns, goofy thoughts, humor, poem, poetry, review of television, strange and wonderful ideas about life