The Long Trip to Paradise

November 13, 2018 § Leave a comment

A pineapple cookie in both shape and taste

8000 feet below are souls I’ll never meet

The newly wedded groom has beer, his bride, vodka

Three hours has exhausted polite small talk with giddy strangers

Shades pulled. We are a fuselage of midnight

Crossing coordinates our bodies cannot understand

No matter how patiently the brain explains

Night swallows the East as the West basks in gold

We glide ahead of shadows on the shoulder of Apollo

Classes separated by diaphanous curtains

The sounds of crystal, silver, smiles

Drift back in a cloud of gourmet aromas

To the starving ears and noses of the budget proles

Hush! London is sleeping. New York yawns.

The stomach of earth churns and vomits

Molten sick into the shivering Pacific

Eons of uncomforted turmoil and viola, Paradise

Salted nuts and a cold martini, sudoku, a movie

Words yet unexperienced assemble to be written home

On the pale paper underbelly of a stunning view

I dream of white noise in sleep’s fitful lap

Stiff, restless, motionless at the speed of sound

Sipping black coffee in heaven’s blue parlor

I smell an exotic flower blooming in the travel guide

Her ancestors adorned waving, brown bodies

Welcoming His Majesty’s brave sailors

Ravenous with ribs showing, thirsty mouths agape

Months adrift in Neptune’s wilderness

Surviving on salt pork, beetle and grog rations

We dine on pasta primavera, white wine, salad

The nectars of dry land restored a sailor’s faith

Finding God waiting for them in a heathen paradise

Puzzle Wit

November 2, 2018 § Leave a comment

A bright light in the Texas sky over Walmart. Also, spoke that guy in German. Joyce filled Ulysses with enough symbols and metaphors to keep readers busy for years and criticized critics who criticized him for his lack of prudence and restraint for being puzzle wits. How does one reach a puzzle wit who tosses your masterpiece aside for a fast paced bit of pulp fiction? Is the author responsible for edification or entertainment? A concertina is limited but can still play a memorable tune whereas the extended range of a clarinet playing Schoenberg is ignored and from it a hasty retreat is made. The bright light in the sky over Walmart advertised a special on bratwurst. Sausage is a popular menu item at a Texas barbecue restaurant. It is has lineage to early German and Czech settlers who got lost on their way to Midwest homesteads. Just like Ulysses. Well, sort of. I wouldn’t know for sure because I am a puzzle wit who tossed the novel aside to watch the Dallas Cowboys. My mother’s family is from Texas but are not German or Irish like the brilliant James Joyce. Or, for that matter, Czech like Kafka who said of Ulysses, “one should not write while drinking.” Kafka was an Eastern European puzzle wit who might have benefited from the vitamin D in the Texas sun but he would have found the sausage too spicy, probably.

The Lament of a Veggie Sandwich

July 5, 2018 § 1 Comment


I’m the lonely veggie sandwich on the catering tray

No one wants to eat me and I’ll just get thrown away

Despite my zesty pesto and portobello meat

Ham and Swiss that old standby on rye is hard to beat

Grilled on open charcoal my zucchini hits that spot

Yet pastrami gets the attention with mustard that is hot

The tuna and the turkey breast are popular indeed

Even though I’m served on bread topped with pumpkin seed

Roast beef with smoked cheddar is a hearty midday meal

Yet somehow roasted peppers carry no appeal

Even the egg salad fills a culinary niche

Like curry chicken salad wraps, I might as well just be a quiche

Regardless of my first-rate healthy lifestyle cachet

I’m the lonely veggie sandwich who will be thrown away

For Leilani

May 14, 2018 § Leave a comment

Erupting Volcano credit Steven Hager

Photo credit Steven Hager








I am an active volcano
Beneath my mantle is magma fommented
Sulphur roils into toxic venting clouds

Seams tear through my crust, opening
Furious pools of boiling crimson, spitting
White, scaly ash in the air, landing
All over everything like oily snow

Capricious Pele is offered sacrificial ointments, salves and creams
Pacified, the inflamed goddess sleeps
Dormant for days, erupting again with no warning

And yet I am not Paradise rising
A gift to Heaven from the Sea
Covered in flowers, fruit, and trees


October 20, 2017 § Leave a comment


I have nothing against the duck

They are very well and good

The emerald sheen on the mallard head

In the flesh or a decoy of wood

Yet sometimes they hint of discarded old shoes

On the banks filthy and wet

Then in glides the swan and all that is foul

We are obliged to forget

Penance of a Stampcrab

July 13, 2017 § Leave a comment


If you are familiar with your Old English then you must know that the word “Stampcrab” refers to a person who is heavy-footed, clumsy and ungraceful.

Although I am slight of build, in days of yore I could have been known as Stampcrab Truelove especially by anyone living in the chambers below me or by the fair maiden accepting my invitation to dance the gigue.

My stampcrabbiness has landed me into more trouble recently in the form of a broken toe. Before the age of modern medicine this type of injury might have proven fatal but in 21st century it just serves as a painful reminder of my oafishness with every step.

There’s nothing wrong with my hands, thankfully, so I scratched out a little verse under the influence of Percocet while icing my poor little piggy.

Penance of Stampcrab

Every footfall, an electric prod of human frailty

Each limp betrays weakness to predators

Each and every slogging step sends a contrite apology

Ahead of me, people wait impatiently

Behind me, the swift curse at my heels, exasperated

The price of a clumsy gait through life


June 29, 2017 § Leave a comment

sheep-headThistle the Hampshire sheep was enjoying her ten minute break between performances of the dog show. She played sheep number 3 in the five sheep flock that was herded and separated by two champion border collies to the thrill and delight of tourists brought to the farm by the bus load.

She looked across the rolling green of the Irish countryside, past the quaintness of Glenbeigh village and out to the furious blue of the Atlantic. Her tiny sheep brain dreamed of her retirement and the sweet grass of Great Blasket Island where she would live out her final years. Little did Thistle know, after the spring shearing she would be sold for mutton chops.

Beer Gut

March 28, 2017 § Leave a comment

beergut-oil2Let me first apologize to anyone who was sent to this page as a result of an internet search for “losing belly fat”. Please feel free to keep reading but I feel it is fair to warn you that not one iota of scientific research went into writing this article.

The average 40-something male will probably attest to experiencing some increase in abdominal girth since their leaner 20s. This is due in large part to the sedentary lifestyle of middle age and some of the comfortable excesses it provides, we deserve you might say.

It is, however, also a natural part of the aging process caused to some degree by a decrease in testosterone production. (For the aforementioned seeking a flat stomach, perform another search for “Abs Over 40” and read, or be bombarded by, their sales pitch.)

Tragically, the natural course of things is in no way hindered by our passion and weakness for the greatest drink ever created: BEER.

The fact that BEER is loaded with calories is not news but it might be news to discover, despite what you’ve witnessed in bars during football season, that the consumption of BEER lowers testosterone levels. Worse, it stimulates estrogen production; men don’t necessarily turn into their dads.

This triumvirate of extra calories, lower testosterone and increased male estrogen creates the perfect conditions for growing a prize winning Beer Gut in your odious fat garden, proving once again that reap what we sow.

Many work very hard to counteract their love for BEER with diet and exercise. Others let nature take its visceral course. Whatever path you choose take heart in this Classic Country song Beer Gut while imbibing your favorite flavor.

I Don’t Sleep on Planes

March 7, 2016 § Leave a comment


I have spent longer periods of time getting from point A to point B but the longest single flight was a trip from Newark to Tokyo. I was sure, given the duration, that I would be able to grab a little shut eye if not from fatigue at least pure boredom but I was awake the entire passage.

I studied my conversational Japanese and wrote this song. Rather than using my typical means of production, I arranged and recorded it with a free version of Ableton Lite software. It was a challenge to fit everything into the limit of 8-tracks and, frankly, learning Japanese was more intuitive but the software helped me achieve an ethereal sound that works for the theme of the tune.

Download it and play it in your future travels. Yes, (ha, ha) it could indeed help you fall asleep. Send me a postcard.


Funny Signs

February 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

harmacyThe dream faded. My eyes opened on the green, segmented digits of my alarm clock. Abraham had been correct, I was indeed the chosen one, as evidenced by the envelope beside the clock. Unfortunately, if the hour on display was correct, the chosen one had very little left of the day to deliver it.

It wasn’t easy to get up and running, sick as I was. A few days prior an annoying tickle in the back of my throat went afoul before slithering down my windpipe to make trouble in my chest. In no time my lungs were producing a thick, yellow phlegm with the fetid taste of disease.

Nurse Girlfriend ordered a long soak in a tub filled with scalding water and eucalyptus scented bath salts. Instead, I poured myself three fingers of Lansdowne Rye. Liquor soothed a prickly itch that triggered violent coughing episodes and, unlike conventional medication, this remedy took immediate effect. My head had no sooner nested in the cool dimple of my pillow than I found myself dreaming of poor Abraham Lemon falling from his ladder, paint bucket and all. I stood over his prone body on the craquelure of Hartley’s & Grill parking lot. The agony, which glazed his normally piercing turquoise eyes, caused him to whimper when he spoke, “Wake up you idiot, you are the chosen one.”

A day after Abraham Lemon’s accident a get well card was passed between the trembling hands of Hartley’s regulars. Once the card had collected the requisite amount of signatures and best wishes it was passed to me for delivery to Darden University Hospital.

Outside Abraham’s room a powerful looking custodian was swabbing the floor. He paused to plunge his mop into a bucket of steaming water that wafted disinfectant. The piercing bouquet was just the irritant needed to induce an episode disturbing enough to bring a nurse out from hiding. L.N. White insisted I wear a surgical mask and so I entered Lemon’s room looking as if I was a member of the staff.

The bed closest to the window in room 3015 cradled the long, lean frame of Lemon, A. He looked to be as peacefully sedated as I had expected, however, I didn’t fully appreciate to what degree until he started talking. Over a period of time Lemon’s drunken patois had become intelligible to my ears but this was something new.

“I thought you said we’d have not to operate, doctor,” mumbled Abraham’s strungout voice box.

The plastic tubes of his IV rattled when he lifted a weak arm either to emphasize his objection or to protect himself from the scalpel.

“Abraham, it’s me. I ain’t the doctor.” I could feel the mask scratching my lips as I spoke.

To someone imbibing top shelf pharmaceuticals my mask proved an effective disguise. His drowsy eyelids were barely ajar and he regarded me through thin slits. I made another attempt at explaining who I was and why I was there without exposing him to my germs.

“Do you remember being on the ladder at Hartley’s?”

His pallid tinge brightened a bit with recognition.

“Hartley. Yeah, I know her. Hey, you know what? I work at a place called Hartley’s Bar & Grill. I cook…sometimes.”

“Sure, Abraham, I know, man. But they don’t call it that anymore. Remember? That is what caused the accident.”

His mouth stretched into a faint smile or a perhaps a scowl of pain. It was impossible to know for sure. I continued.

“They passed that law. The one that outlawed the word BAR in the name of any business that served alcohol.

I felt that Abraham was slowly regaining the use of his memory when a nurse, different than L.N. White, appeared from nowhere on a pair of silent white sneakers to take his pulse and check the flow of whatever cocktail he was being served. She gave me a perfunctory smile and disappeared carrying with her whatever sensibilities Lemon was beginning to reclaim.

“Anyway, Abraham,” I held up the envelope, “Hartley and them got you this card. Everybody signed it.”

“Hartley. You two getting by okay. How’s the kids?”

It was unnecessary to explain to him that neither Hartley nor children were involved in my life. I didn’t even respond. Abraham was in deep hibernation.

I placed his get well card on the rolling table beside a cup with a goose-neck straw and tray of untouched food and left 3015 for home.

Lemon’s near catatonic state and one more croupy spasm before leaving Darden’s parking lot had me contemplating my own course of medication. The two options I considered were cough syrup and such, available at Lipton’s Pharmacy, or a whiskey, available at Hartley’s. Both had their arguments.

The day was nearly done and lights were sparking into action everywhere against the encroaching night: street lights, headlights, house lights, store lights. People moving in windows looked like people on a television set.

The fat, red letters on Lipton’s sign were aglow, all but the P in pharmacy. They radiated into the darkness that the family owned apothecary was still proudly serving the community after sundown.

I slowed but did not stop.

I did not stop at Hartley’s either. The bar’s placard that swung by the roadside was glowing brightly. I could almost make out the strokes that Abraham’s brush had left in the white paint he had applied over the now illegal word. At least he’d finished the job, I thought, before the ladder, unstable on the clear glaze of ice, had slid from beneath him. In Abraham’s honor, Pete, the weeknight bartender, had placed on special a shooter he called Lemon Drops until Hartley put an end to what she considered insensitive.

At home Chef Girlfriend was stirring a pot of chicken soup she had promised her ailing honey.

“Where have you been, hon?” Chef Girlfriend left the bubbling cauldron and began chopping herbs.

“Hospital,” I wheezed, “had to deliver that card to Lemon.”

“You’ve got to be kidding. Why didn’t you just give it to me. I work there, remember.”

I hadn’t thought of that until that exact moment and said as much.

“You’re going to catch pneumonia if you’re not careful. Speaking of which,” she pointed with the tip of the knife to a bag on the table,  “I stopped at Lipton’s and picked you up some goodies.”

I was glad I did not make the stop and asked if she had noticed the sign with the missing P.

“Lipton’s Harmacy? Yea, there’s some irony for you. “I almost didn’t want to go in.” She gave me a big smile, “Funny, right?”

“It’s funny alright. There are a lot of funny signs out there now.”

She tilted her head and raised an eyebrow.  “What do you mean?”

That a law intended to defend the public, or at least the public’s perpetually vulnerable morality, had sent a man to a hospital bed was not the type of cosmic paradox I felt worthy of acknowledging.

“Oh, nothing. What time’s dinner, babe?”

Rusted Honey

Poetry, haiku, tanka, and micropoetry

@ bittersweet diary

Floating thoughts, A place where my beautifully weird thoughts floating around in my mind are posted.

Covered in Beer

by Thomas Cochran