It is the obvious thing we find

may never be understood,

a phantom limb that begs to bear weight

The last place we look

is where we find it. Only

a fool would keep looking, then.

A bed showing the shape of sleeper

is unmade, sloppy. The pea under the mattress is a thing

you would have to be stupid to believe.

Maybe, then, it’s true. Maybe the fault lies

in me, limbless and pressed down into the sheets,

maybe this is the thing I will not ever see.



The Daily Post: Beloved

The Wheels of Progress


Hughie leaned the 12-gauge against the doorframe, handy but hidden. He stepped onto the porch.

The man got out of the Cadillac, smiled at him. “Mr. Tweedy? My name’s Hoskins. I represent––”

“I know who you are,” said Hughie. “If you come to talk  about selling, I’m not interested.”

The man’s eyes went hard above the smile. “Mr. Tweedy, there’s a law in this state. Eminent domain.”

“Don’t apply here,” said Hughie. “You want to run your pipeline through my grandaddy’s trees on my granddaddy’s farm. A privately owned pipeline.”

“We’re creating jobs.”

“Bullshit. You’re thieves. Get off my land.”


Friday Fictioneers


This is a vignette based on the true story of my friend Hughie Tweedy and his fight against the DAPL pipeline. This is one of those times that the truth was far more interesting and bizarre than fiction. Hughie fought the heinous corporation as long as he could, but the corrupt Iowa legislature sided with the shareholders and the pipeline went through his farm. America espouses democracy, but in most of its practices it is yet another in a long line of financially motivated oligarchies. 

Brizzle Mates


“Earnest, Chams. I’m in love. You gotta see this bird. Gert mint, she is. Beautiful, smart.”

“You mean the ugly scutler from the Triangle? The one Geordy called Four-pint Patty on account how many he’d have to down before he’d consider shagging her?”

“Not her. This is a new bird. Neighborhood girl from up on City Road.”

“What hell you doing up there?”

“I didn’t say I met her there. I said she lives there.”

“Where’d you meet her, innit?”

“At Jason Donervan. I had an appetite for cheesy chips. She in the queue was in front of me.”

“What’s she look like, then?”

“Red hair. Proper lush body, all in leather.”

“What’s her name, then?”

“Dunno yet.”

“Dunno her name, but you know where she lives? What, you follow her home?”


“Ha! I wage you never even spoke her!”

“Saving that for next time, mind.”


What Pegman Saw: Bristol

I love how  language varies so  much from place to place, especially in the UK. Manchester, Birmingham, and Bristol (among many others) all have accents and slang expressions unique to the people who live and work there. I try to convey a sense of place and language without resorting to spelled-out dialect (which according to Mark Twain often has the effect of making it seem like the characters are all trying to talk alike but are failing miserably).

Jamais Vu, Presque Vu


Jamais vu, never seen

an odd impression that you

see a common thing

you’ve seen a thousand times

for the first time

the face of a relative, say

or the face in the mirror

But the mirror doesn’t count, does it? Nobody

but you knows what that looks like,

backwards, with your best expression frozen

your head tilted down


Presque Vu, almost seen

is different, that place where your will

is thwarted by your limitations

as you try to remember something

you should know, you do know

or did know but

don’t know, not now

and the painless way you saw yourself

is given the lie because you are left knowing

that you, the only witness to your life

are wholly unreliable



The Daily Post: Variations on a Theme

Errol Barnes, Esq.


The lawyer sitting across the table from Floyd had a greasy look. “It appears your brother Errol Barnes, esquire, has left you a hotel, ” he said.

“Son, I haven’t spoke to Errol in fifty years. Why in hell would he do that?”

He opened his briefcase and took out a stained letter. “This may explain, Mr. Barnes.”

Dear Floyd,
I bet you wonder why I am giving you the Hotel Charro. I bought it in 1970 as an investment and it has been the death of me. I hope it has the same effect on you.

Yours in hell everlasting, Errol


Friday Fictioneers

This story comes from my early attempt as a syndicated cartoonist in which the central character, Floyd Barnes, inherits a crumbling hotel full of elderly cranks. It was not picked up, but I had fun drawing it. Here’s a sample Sunday panel  introducing Mrs. Krebster, an old woman who thinks that Floyd is his late brother  Errol. She still talks to him even though she knows Errol is dead.

from 4/18/93



“I am sorry, Father. I hate to disturb Matins, but you have been summoned.”

Padre Sebastién had been expecting this for months. He suppressed a grunt as he arose from the prayer bench. He was tired. Perhaps now he could have some rest on the passage back. He smiled at his audacity. He was a poor sailor, apt to be ill for weeks on end.

The boy looked up at him. “I am frightened, father. The soldiers were most disrespectful.”

“Hush, Pablo. You must go now and gather your things. We are to sail back to Portugal.”

“Portugal?” said the boy. “But I have never  even left Santo Domingo.”

“Well, it seems God has decided it is time you do so. Come. We must make haste.”

Outside in the courtyard, the armored Spanish soldiers leaned on their spears. “These cursed heretic Jesuits,” said one. “Would we might slaughter them all.”


What Pegman Saw


Historical Note: Believing that the Society of Jesus had acquired too much wealth and influence over Spanish affairs, King Charles III expelled the Jesuits from all Spanish-controlled territories in 1767 and turned over possessions controlled by the Jesuits to other religious orders. At this time, the order consisted of 24 professed-houses, 369 colleges, 170 seminaries, 61 novitiate-houses, 335 residences, and 273 missions in heathen and Protestant countries, and 22,589 members of all ranks, half of whom were ordained priests .



That you said once

over eggs

the same bird


neither blind nor striking

disappointed us all


Yet again here I

mourn debt’s sorrow:


an occupant pressed

into proper silence


whey veins

curled in sheets

await the occasion


yearned to be pinned

by anything at all



The Daily Post: Silence



Janie, hand in hand with Chloe.

In my memory, I can’t see their faces because they’re walking away, but I know they’re happy.

It’s early June, the morning air fresh with  last night’s rain and the miles of fresh farmland in every direction.

My girls are so excited they start to skip down the midway.

Once a year, always in June.

Adventureland was a family-run concern open from May to September, virtually unchanged from when I was a girl.

That’s why I loved it.

We had, what, fifteen summers?

And every year they grew older, they grew away from me.


Friday Fictioneers

All Castes Alike


“My mother begged that I always remember my caste,” said the boy. “Though we are only Sudra.”

“Devansh, there are no castes here. In the cane vineyard, all are made equal by the work they can do, the acres they can harvest. Queen Victoria must have her sugar.”

“How came you here, Sidra?”

“I came on a ship, the same as you. The first ship, the Leonidas.”

“What was my ship? I cannot remember.”

“Your ship was the Clyde.”

“What are these names?”

“Your ship was named for a river, mine for a king of Sparta. We had the blue death aboard, and almost a score died during the voyage despite all the surgeon-superintendent could do.”

“But how were they buried? Were there members of their castes to properly mourn them?”

“They were slipped over the side, shrouded in their bedding. That was when I knew all castes were alike.”


What Pegman Saw

The British Colonial authorities were deeply tied with the sugar cane industry in Fiji, but were unsuccessful in harnessing the fiercely independent indigenous islanders as a labor force. Governor Sir Arthur Hamilton-Gordon implemented an indentured labour scheme which had existed in the British Empire since 1837. Recruitment began all over India, especially in impoverished rural areas. Indenture would last four years, at which point the laborer could travel home at their own expense. Alternatively, they could elect to extend their indenture another four years, after which time the Crown would pay their passage or allow them to stay as free citizens of Fiji.

Most elected to stay.

The 61,000 original  indentures originated from different regions, villages, backgrounds, and castes that later mingled or intermarried with the native population.

Fair Play



Vargas knew she would not stop crying, so he hit her a few more times  and closed the bedroom door, leaving her to her tears.

He went out to get wood for the stove.

The snow howled outside. The stove warmed the cabin to a swelter. Vargas stripped to his undersuit as he drank himself insensible, got so drunk he felt neither the tiny legs of the fiddleback crawling up his leg nor its fangs in his scrotum.

In the morning as the fever took him and his legs turned black he begged her to help him.

She only smiled.


Friday Fictioneers