(archives & links below)


improbable-looking limestone karsts in Guilin

Wednesday, January 10, 2018


Remorse! for I, within the dead of Night,
Have eaten Plums you’d saved for your Delight.
 And Lo! away I slink, and leave this note:
So cold were they, so sweet, so right.

Pacing the Kitchen as you slept in Bed
I paused: a Voice within my Stomach said
 “Refresh, my hungry one, and fill me up
Before Life’s Ways leave you too long unfed!”

And, as my Pangs grew, the Voice within me cried,
And yea, it shouted— “Ope thy Fridge Door wide!
 You know which Shelf holds Dish of Tupperware,
And what Delights your tongue shall meet inside.”

Come, fill ye up, then in thy Rapture sweet
A post-Meal Garment of Repentance meet:
 The Owl of Opportunity has but inches
To go—and Lo! rises already to its Feet.

There with a Dish of Plums beside the Stove,
A Glass of Beer, a Magazine—ah, Love!
 By your quiet snoring in the other Room—
The Kitchen was as Heaven far above.

O! my Beloved, fill your Heart with Tears
TO-DAY of my Regrets and guilty Fears—
 TO-MORROW?— Why, To-morrow may not come
And I’d regret those Plums not eaten all my Years.

Ah, drain the Dish:—it foots not to repeat
The Provenance of this or that cool Treat:
 Unpicked LAST WEEK, gone off TO-MORROW,
Why sweat it, if TO-DAY be sweet!

In Vision, by the Westinghouse struck dumb,
Beheld I—in the Dusk a Shape did come,
 Bearing a dish in Angel’s Hands; and
He urged me sample it; and ’twas—a Plum!

The Munching Jawbone chews; and having chawed,
Gulps down: nor all thy Remorse, nor God,
 Shall lure it back to undo half a Bite,
Nor all my Tears wash back a morsel of the wad.

Ah, Light of open’d Door who shine’st e’er bright,
Past Jugs of Milk, they meet my Sight:
 How oft hereafter, rising shall you look

Through this same Fridge for Plums and find—no Bite!

Friday, December 01, 2017

Some plum verses


Last night, as I wandered weary
Bored of teevee chatting cheery,
Eyelids gummy, optics bleary,
Drearily with rigid stare,
Forth my mind went glumly, dumbly,
To a small container, plumbly
Full of purple fruit, so comely
Lurking in the Frigidaire

Dare I eat them? Would it matter?
Could they make my figure fatter?
Eat I must, or be a hatter,
Madder than a marching hare!
Grabbed I they, did fairly huff them,
Cooked them I did not, nor duff them
Merely did I seek to stuff them,
Stuff them in my face, just there.

Only then my conscience teased me,
Though the stolen bounty pleased me,
Pangs of guilt straight after seized me,
Feazed me in the frigid air.
Thus, this note of explanation
Begging for some expiation
Of my sin of annexation
Of those sweet, cold fruits, so fair.

By this note, I full do blame me.
Stoop ye not to mock or shame me
Promise you will not defame me
For this midnight treat so rare!
For I suffered in that second,
Racked with purple pash unreckoned,
At those plums that lewdly beckoned,
Wishing I could grow a pear!

Your bag of fruit is but a pile of pits,
My feast of joy is but a pang of guilt
My still small voice is in a plague of fits,
The sweet blue juice pooled on the plate is spilt.
My snack is past, and to the trash heap comes,
And now you know that I have et your plums.
Waste not your time, nor hunt in vain pursuit
Peruse, instead, this humble witness mute,
That I, regardless of your own intents
Did raid the fridge for sweet and purple fruit.
O Thou, who sought, both cleverly and wise,
To save your plums and hide them from my eyes—
Know that I—I did consume them all—
And taste them still, as I apologize.
Little boy hides in the pantry alone.
Fingers and mouth of a purple-y tone.
Hush! Hush! Silence your gums!
Christopher Robin is eating your plums.
Blah blah blah plums, blah blah fridge,
Blah blah blah blah sweet blah cold.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

His Dinosaurs

(Unaware that someone had gone with something similar, though different enough that I don't feel guilty now, I wrote this filk song to the tune of a radio hit by the Irish Rovers, and written by the great Shel Silverstein. It's been going through my mind, so I'm posting it here, where it will be safe from the view of all humanity. I tinkered with the words in small ways just now, because there's this thing called "scansion.")

Six thousand years back, as King James portrays,
The Lord of all created earth, in just seven days.
Made stars and trees and moons and men and animals galore,
And the biggest of them all was the dinosaur.

  There was mean Allosaurus, and small Dilong,
  The eagle-eyed Raptor and Pteranadon,
  The horny head Triceratops; a whole lot more:
  Almost 2k genera of dinosaur.

The Lord said to Noah, "I have to confess,
I'm going to wipe the world out, since it's turned out such a mess.
But if you'll make a boat before it rains for days two score,
You can save Man and Animal and Dinosaur."


The Lord told Noah to build a barge
To hold a lot of animals, some small and some large,
Said He, bring lots of kibble and build in some big doors
Tall enough and wide enough for dinosaurs...


So Noah cornered all the world's gopherwood
And studied God's plans and started building real good:
A boat three hundred cubits long of sturdy four-by-fours
Praying he could fit all those dinosaurs.


Then Noah looked and looked, and found the oddest thing
The dinosaurs were marching off in time with "Rite of Spring"
The rain commenced to falling with a mighty roar
And he just couldn't wait for no dinosaur.

[last chorus]
  So now there's mammals aplenty, and reptiles too
  Amphibians and fish and even me and you
  But if you don't include the birds that over us do soar
  You're never ever gonna see a dinosaur.

ttto: The Unicorn (Shel Silverstein)
new lyrics (c) 2007 by me

Thursday, June 08, 2017

For Thursday, June 8, 2017

Gotta type fast before this is old news and forgotten by the fickle public. 

Something detected,
Something infected,
Something for everyone:
A Comey day, tonight!

Fakers and ringers,
One with short fingers,
Something for everyone:
A Comey day, tonight!

Nothing with class, nothing with sense,
Bring down the braggart, dirty and dense!

Old situations,
New explanations
Words lose all meaning with the Right!
Tragedy tomorrow,
Comey Day tonight!

Frenzied and bitter
Bleating on Twitter,
Soaked in emoluments:
A Comey day, tonight!

Bleakly depressing
Info suppressing,
Something for columnists
A Comey day tonight!

Nothing makes sense
Nothing feels fair
Short-sighted lies pour out of his hair.
Facts leaked from trials!
Fact-free denials!
Agents from Russia in plain sight!

Bullies and whiners!
Intel and diners!
Oilmen and huskies!
Wingers and Russkies!
Sleeping dogs!
Alt-right frogs!
Bad winners!


[by Kip Williams, after Stephen Sondheim]

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Toon River Anthology, part 17


You look like someone who could use a friend!
But never mind. If there’s one thing I’ve learned,
It’s not to go down that road. The only times
I thought it was going to work, I still got the shaft.
They went to Heaven. Yeah, Heaven! And I’m still here.
How long has it been? A century? A millennium?
So pardon me if I'm just a little bit down today.
It’ll pass. It always passes. I’ll be cheerful again. 
I’ll be a real Pollyanna, and I’ll have adventures.
As to that stone and what it implies, all I can say is:


Born a devil, lived a devil, died a devil.
No, not one of those tall devils, or the fat ones—
Just a little one. Cute, harmless. An imp, really.
Sometimes unexpectedly good, never evil.
Mild pranks, hijinks, tomfoolery, a hot foot or two.
I used to think I’d grow up and get big,
I’d be a regular Mephistopheles!
But no.
If anything, my belly got rounder,
And my head got cuter. Just don’t pat it, Bub,
You’ll burn your hand! (That’s devil humor.)
There was my life: It was OK. I hung with my friends,
Swiped an apple or two.
Not too good, not too bad:
Born To Raise Heck.

Friday, January 27, 2017

another filk

From a few years back…


You only live once, that’s how it goes.
One life and you’re gone, most evidence shows.

You live for your years, you turn your wheel
Some say you get more years; that’s not the deal 

Your life is the least the world puts on your plate
Be fast to the feast, or be late for your fate!

One life all your own, and you’re the price.
One more would be nice, but you don’t live twice

(ttto: You Only Live Twice, DUH)

[slightly revised, 2017]

a swinging holiday

There's a blackboard in one of my classrooms—actually both, since I take both classes in the same room on different days—with some writing on it about snowmen and whatnot. Down near the bottom, in mixed-case cursive, it says "Jungle Bells," like someone was doing the "i" and made two peaks instead of one. In a situation like that, I could (1) just ignore it, (2), fix it, or (3) do something else. I chose (3). Today, as the rest of the class was filing in, I was scribbling away:


Swinging through the trees
With a holly jolly ape.
Music's on the breeze.
Native children gape!
Lights on green fronds cling
And shimmer in the heat.
Let's dance and sing till tree frogs ring
With a yuletide jungle beat! Oh—

Jungle Bells, Jungle Bells,
Through rain forests green!
Carols hum on a wooden drum
From hands that can't be seen, oh—
Jungle Bells, Jungle Bells,
Tinkle through the swamp:
Festive chimes that hang from vines
For a sultry Christmas romp!

So have a happy. The time is out of joint anyway.

Monday, January 23, 2017

way down upon Toon River

Freckles Friendly

A lot of people, when they talk about their life,
Say, “Sure, I did what I did. I had no choice.”
I’m not judging them, but that describes me:
The poor friend of the richest kid on earth!
What else can you do when one family
Owns everything in the county, in the state,
And the pampered heir decides that he
Has to cultivate the poorest of the poor
To show that he has the common touch?
You going to put your foot down, show your pride
And listen to your kid brother cough all night
In the leaky room you share with your folks?
So you listen to his golly-gee platitudes
And you thank him for everything you get,
No matter how trivial or useless it is.
And try your damnedest to save a little,
Shopping at the company store: lotsa luck!
And one day, maybe, you survive it all
And you escape him and go to another state,
Start your own business, and tell folks
That your last name has always been Welloff.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

we need a new label

I've written a reel. Wrote it on January 11, 2017, and on the 16th, I took it to my regular Monday Irish jam group, who liked it and played it. Now I must write more, and now I have a new label for such items.

Look Away (by me)

It's copyrighted. I was going to go with Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA), but Wikipedia seemed to say that these could lead to a legal thicket, which seems like a lot to put on a poor little reel.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Toon River Anthology Excavates Comic Books (continued)


Names are destiny. You have to choose carefully.
Dad and Mom loved to dance. They were the Polkas!
They thought I’d be a dancer too, but I wasn’t like them.
My aunts thought it would be cute to dress me in dots,
Like my name! I was surrounded by dots as a baby.
I couldn’t get over them. They became my life.
Dots here, Dots there. It drove Dad to distraction,
And Mom eventually left us, crying. She still loved us,
But she couldn't cope with it, and she fled the state.
I hardly noticed when she left. She wasn’t a dot!
Partnerless, Dad soldiered on. When I was fifteen, I had an accident,
Fell off my polka-dot bike, hit my head. I was okay. 
But when I realized that I could see spots, beautiful spots, 
Any time, anywhere, just by hitting myself on the head,
My doom was sealed.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Toon River Returns

It's been a while, but the epitaphs keep on coming:


I had wealthy friends, but I preferred the poor kids—
Bedraggled ragamuffins with bad hair and no fashion sense. 
How they gaped at my opulence! How they thanked me
For any little crumb of generosity that trickled down.
“Kissing up,” some called it. I learned the term
From our second Cadbury, on his way out: Bitter!
They could have had an easy life if they’d kept to it,
But when their voices changed, so did their tune.
They still thanked me, but there was some edge to it
That I couldn’t abide. They thought they were entitled!
It wasn’t enough that I let them ride my golden wagon
Down a hill of gold coins and jewels any more. No,
They betrayed my trust. Small gems “accidentally” stuck 
In a shoe or a ragged pants cuff. Dishonest!
I might have even let that go unpunished, if it hadn’t been
For their miserable attitudes. Oh, we’re so poor. We’re so cold.
Our mom is so sick. Our dad got laid off at your plant.
Can’t you do something? You were our friend!
What do you mean “were,” you ingrates?
I sent them away. No sense of respect. Sad!
Who needs them? I have this huge mausoleum now:
A solid gold statue of myself by the best artist,
And my personal police force to keep out the riff-raff.

Oi! Post number 100. Some people get to 100 in a month. It took me about nine years. We'll see how long it takes to get to 100 comments—presently at 59, and half those are me answering back.

Saturday, August 27, 2016



The direct stimulus:

(((Queer Xopher)))@Halftongue 4h4 hours ago 
Today's dream retrieval: "Those feet are covered in intergalactic spit! They can't be allowed to touch Earth!"
Nothing beside remains.
The result (originally parceled out in tweets, and now slightly amended and collected):


And shall those feet, in future times
Moisten our planet's precious soil?
And will the spawn of Ab'rop'od
Spit upon our blood & toil?

Bring me my belt of blazing jet!
Bring me my telescope of light!
Bring me my plans—unfurl them here.
Bring me microbes with hungering bite!

I will not shirk the cosmic fight,
Not drop this phaser from my hand
Till we have shed this eldritch blight
And scoured the Martian from our land!

(ttto: Jerusalem, words by Blake, tune by Parry)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


A wasted figure sits at his computer, laboriously entering characters one by one, using his eye movements to guide the cursor. He is used to this time-consuming work. His body doesn’t  move at all, though his lip seems to twitch every now and then. Time passes, and the file he is working on grows to completion.

Jack entered the transport booth with some misgiving. He knew that when he stepped out, in Rio, it would feel a lot like being hit by a bus. This, in spite of the padding and flex support that aimed to minimize the jarring. Damn Niven, thought Jack. This used to be effortless. You step in, you step out, you’re someplace else. Then Mister Smarty Pants has to pop up with his little wheeze about physics. You move that far, he said, and the differential of the Earth’s movement hits you in the ass. And so it did. Thank you all to hell, Mister Niven.

It was like that with a lot of things, thanks to the naysayers. Smarmy little teacher’s pets, with their hands waving in the air to call out the inconvenient facts we would as soon have ignored. It wasn’t fair! We used to have so much. We had faster-than-light travel, until Clarke had to show us all how smart he was. We used to have aliens here, hundreds of races, so different from ours, dropping in and out all the time.

Now, without FTL, all you saw in spaceports was humans, on their way out, sleeping away the centuries before they had any prospect of meeting anyone who didn’t look just like them. He moderated his gloomy monolog for a moment, to give thanks for the enticing prospect of aliens that still dangled before him, some day, maybe. Thanks for that anyway, Carl...

An impatient cough behind him brought Jack back to the present. A small line was waiting for his booth. No more temporizing; he inserted his card, touched his destination, and waited for the jolt. Ugh! He pulled his card from the slot and staggered back into the couch that was placed for the purpose, and waited for his stomach to quiet down.

Rio looked about like Brooklyn had, except for the climate. Jack sat back and looked at the sky, once a giddy riot of anti-grav cars and flitters. Now it held a couple of traffic helicopters, buzzing around for bad news to feed on. He started to curse the genius who had killed anti-grav, but no name came to mind. Well, damn Whoever!

By now his stomach had stopped complaining about the ride, and began to complain about the lack of food. This always made him so damn hungry. Well, there’d be food at the Institute.

At the thought of the Institute, Jack smiled for the first time. At least the bastards hadn’t taken time travel away. And Jack had a plan. He would go back, back to a time when none of these skeptics had ruined things with their miserable, stupid little laws of physics.

Jack hailed a rickshaw cab and gave the address, and spent a few minutes checking his supplies to be sure he’d thought of everything. Remembering the supply of historically correct currency he was bringing along, he thoughtfully gave the surprised cabbie every bill in his wallet, and took a last look around while he walked the dozen steps to the street door of the Institute.

Pausing only to get a couple of things from his desk, Jack swung through the commissary for a sandwich. He ate quickly, impatiently. After about two thirds of it, he scooped up the rest, grabbed his briefcase and headed for his lab, input his security code and entered.

There it was; the gleaming chrome and glass booth. Jack’s ticket out! He seemed to taste freedom through the last bite of corned beef. He keyed in his destination and an amber light glowed next to a button. Jack swallowed and pressed the button. There was an unfamiliar momentary jolt,

The painfully thin man aims his eyes at a spot on the screen, sending the file to the printer. He wishes for a second that he was an able bodied typist, so he could zzzzip the paper out. A very satisfying and final gesture, that. But this is reality, and wishful thinking doesn’t work here; so instead he rolls tamely into the kitchen for a snack. Glowing on the screen is the title of his latest paper, “A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME TRAVEL IN SCIENCE FICTION: Why It Wouldn’t Work.”
To the memory of Bud Webster, who approved of this story.

Monday, February 15, 2016


Little mice, trussed up so nice, 
Are roasting on the grill.
Oh! what fun when they are done, 
For kats to eat their fill!

All the kitty kats are there, 
For it’s their special day.
With vim and pep they prance and step. 
They love to romp and play.

As kittens sport, their mothers set 
A ribbon at each place.
Each momma kat makes certain that 
Each youngster combs its face.

A baby birdie shivers on 
Each gaily colored plate,
And though the maws say, “Wash your paws!”, 
The wee ones cannot wait!

"Oh, listen to their frightened cries
Whenever we come near!
See them roll their tiny eyes
And see them quake with fear!

“Oh, let us have one, Daddy dear, 
To tease and fill with fright!”
“I am too lenient, I fear,” 
Says Poppa, “But, all right.”

Once Grace is said, the forks come out. 
The feasting shan’t be through
Till every feline’s had his fill 
Of birdie barbecue!

And home they troop, to doze all day, 
In Dreamland to arrive.
How grand to be a kitty kat! 
How great to be alive!

(Originally ca 1981. Started by Ken D., finished by Kip W. Reconstructed from incomplete memories, 2016; found an original, kept some changes)

Saturday, February 13, 2016


It was that dream again. Citizen Tromm perched awkwardly in a student-chair a decade too small for him, shivering a little as his hand, seemingly working on its own initiative, urgently rifled the contents of the still-familiar student-desk that pressed uncomfortably into his middle-aged bulk, trying not to be seen. “Cadet Tromm!” called Schoolmarm Hamil. “Is there something you wish to share with the rest of us?”

Citizen Tromm—Cadet Tromm—withdrew the errant hand as smoothly as possible, under the circumstances. The action did not go unseen. Cadet Snye, long since gone to his glory on the war-field of New Troy, brayed, “The bear has caught his paw in the honeycomb!” Of course, Hawknose Hamil had no word of criticism for this outburst. Tromm was a stinking schoolmarm’s pet. Tromm still longed to put some color on that smug face.

Schoolmarm Hamil silenced incipient laughter with a stock gesture. In the silence, Tromm became all too aware that he was now wearing a shapeless smock in place of his uniform, and his feet met cold tile. “Perhaps Cadet Tromm will share some of his knowledge with us?” A snicker rose around him. Awkwardly shifting his middle-aged gut, he stood, holding his textbook in front of his crotch, acutely aware of the flimsy white garment that was all that kept him from being entirely naked. 

The floor felt damply slippery under his bare feet. Following the pointer in Hamil’s clawlike hand, he tried to focus on the board at the front of the room, but could only make out the topic: “Worker Care,” and the first few words, “In the 21st century…” After that, the green scribbles became unruly and uncertain. The letters floated and bobbed in a glaring expanse the color of his blind spot.

“In the 21st century,” he began. 

“In the 21st century,” he began again. Citizen Gurt unkindly observed, “They had to have the 21st century twice, because the first time it didn’t take!” Gurt’s wit stung, as Gurt was his boss in the stylus factory, and had never even attended the same schools as Tromm. She was, however, somewhat attractive, and Tromm’s near-nakedness was even more embarrassing in her presence. Near naked? Tromm was now completely nude, and hoped nobody noticed that he had opened the concealing textbook in a weak bid for a bit more coverage. Over the titters of his classmates, Tromm was aware of dripping sounds from something he couldn’t see.

“In the 21st century, the care and health of workers became of primary concern to their corporations! We owe this insight to the research of the Welch Corporation, whose landmark court victory Welch v Doe et al established that employment carried responsibilities both in and out of the factory!” Laughter dried up momentarily as knowledge that had been poured assiduously into Tromm’s brain years ago spilled out. “As companies became able to, to demand conformance to commonsense precautions, some employees pushed back in Markes v Monsanto, arguing that if they were to act for their companies, even for their own benefit, that they should be paid while doing so! In accordance with fair business practice!” 

Tromm looked around triumphantly, expecting approval from his cadre-mates and was shocked to see instead faces of sorrow. Mouths hung open, as if in unnatural sympathy. Even Snye shook his head ruefully, and Gurt’s emerald eyes gleamed with a hint of a tear. Tromm yearned to go over and comfort her. He started to put the book down—thankfully, the smock was somehow back—and only then noticed that the pages were sodden. He was crying too! Gurt was crying! Snye, Philps, Green, Sten… all of them were weeping copiously, tears streaming down their young faces.

“There will be none of that!” Hamil, unaffected by the grief of inferiors, pulled the lever of the fire alarm by the door, only it was now next to the board. A siren commenced loud beeping outside. “Continue, Cadet Tromm.”

Tromm wiped his eyes with the back of a sleeve, which smeared without drying. “Health care was now automatically regarded as being on company time.” He wept as he spoke. “Physical fitness activities were now billable hours. It was decided in Hamps v Aqua Tec that meals and other aspects of nutrition were regarded as health care and thus a matter of employative interest. At this time, a single standard of personal identification became necessary for administrative and accountiatve simplication.” 

Tromm’s use of imaginary word forms went unnoticed by the class, which was now given over to emotion. His foot slid on the floor, though he didn’t fall, and the ripple in the wet floor extended outward neatly in all directions, bouncing back prettily from the far wall, like an animation he’d seen in a science video. The siren went unheeded. More water seemed to press against the door from the hallway, causing it to bow inwards. It ran in over the sill, adding to the half inch or so realistically lapping at the legs of the student-desks. Gurt’s blouse was doing interesting things, but Tromm’s attention was taken by the siren, insistent and rhythmic, beeping, beeping.

…Tromm opened his eyes. His bed-alarm was not beeping, and would not start for another four minutes. Another alarm had wakened him, one that had served to waken men for untold millennia. Bleary eyes discerned the door’s lighter rectangle in the gloom. His left hand pushed the flimsy sheet aside to join the blankets that had fallen away in the night as his right sought blindly for a small rectangle on the bed-table, sending his glasses and wallet plopping to the floor. He ignored them and sat, his feet finding the thin, cold rug by the bed as he swore and fumbled with renewed desperation. The bladder-alarm increased its signal helpfully. Finally, he felt the familiar plastic token with its raised numbers and rounded corners. Yes!

Citizen Tromm rose unsteadily and, clutching his time card, tottered swiftly to the bathroom.