At A Yoga Workshop

bgheaderI recently [2011] attended a yoga workshop on the outer, northwestern ring of Atlanta: ten hours of yoga and talks spread out over a mid-winter weekend. We arrived on time and as my wife and I walked down the hall toward our room, I realized the teacher of this workshop was at the ice machine just behind us. “Welcome to the suburbs of Atlanta, Mr Schiffmann,” I said as he pulled up behind us. “I was at some of your workshops in Monteagle a few years back.” It was a nice way to start the weekend.

Friday. Erich is from California (he tells us all later), a former surfer. He shies away from terminology that sounds “hokey.” He is about six-six, maybe taller, a large man in perfect ease with himself so you don’t feel him as “big.” His face is compassionate and relaxed, ready to laugh but also deeply serious. He’s almost exactly the same age as me.

Many people are assiduously taking notes, but I resisted the urge to bring my moleskin notebook, wanting to let the information go directly into my head without having first translated it into my writing. Direct experience. There was an extended period of introduction and getting the sound right. He slides into his presentation with ease and humor eventually telling us the poses of the following weekend themselves would be not be advanced, but that the instructions for doing the poses would be advanced. He draws out words and breaks of quiet for emphasis. Eventually he commands, “All rise” which is the sign that asana work would now begin. We warmed up in his usual way and then did a subset of a vinyasa called “heavy-handed down dog.”

I had a perfect question to ask him, all about the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, whom Schiffmann had known and worked with as a young man. I had run across this philosopher as a teenager and was fascinated by his ruthless approach.

The question I formulated this way: “Why did I never read, in the books of his that I found, any statements by Krishnamurti advising us to at least try out techniques like yoga and meditation?” Though I didn’t get a chance to ask him at that point, later in the workshop Erich mentioned the Indian teacher specifically, even fielded a question about him, and I considered how it might now be the perfect time to ask this question, which I considered important to figuring out why I had developed along the lines I had – not along other lines. A perfect answer, of course, was neither expected nor exactly what I had in mind, but almost any good answer would do. “Which books [of K.’s] were you reading?” would probably fit the bill. “In some places he advised these practices, in other books, he did not” might also. Still, the session ended and my question remained unasked. Perhaps I’d see him again in the elevator and we could have a private talk about it.

Why did this question matter? you might ask. My answer is: If I had read in 1972 that this teacher, whom I greatly respected, thought it behooved us youngsters to delve into a study of physical yoga, well, I very well might have done it and have begun my practice at the somewhat more limber age of 20). As it was, I got bogged down in non-choice and stumbled along betangling myself in samsara for years, and years, and years. Where yoga, in Birmingham of the mid-seventies? The Sikh community certainly would have offered yoga at that time; perhaps I would have fallen in with them and taken classes at the then-brand-new Golden Temple. My physical yoga practice would have begun earlier.


Saturday. The rented ball-room holds fewer mats than the night before and is a-buzz, of course, with the excitement of people talking to one another. My attention is always drawn to those who might live at the edges of life, but this workshop contains mostly very normal-looking yogis and yoginis from who knows what varied areas of life and work. As usual at these events, I slipped into a by-now-familiar journalistic sort of duality and began to feel myself to be both participant and observer, an awkward stance at worst, useful for descriptions at best. I count mats, estimate the male/female ratio. I’m used to it. Each session begins and ends with meditation.

Gong. The first sit. Little instruction, just silence. Gong. “Take it easy on your body today,” advises Erich. “The practice will gradually get a bit more physically challenging as the weekend goes on, but remember to be kind to your body. You are the one who has to live in it the next day. Be kind to yourself. Pace yourself.”

Rather early the next Saturday morning, my bones a bit achy, it’s true, I walked across the four-lane street to Waffle House, where, amid strident waittresses and rambling customers I consumed some very bad coffee. The sun arose a deep shiny red between Atlantean skyscrapers but was immediately hidden by a screen. I paid and left the WH, walking up the hill to a Starbucks for decent coffee. On the trip back, I spied two hotel customers gingerly walking their cats.

Part of Erich’s message was to ask us to do some homework, that is, to sit in meditation twice a day, morning and evening, and also to practice seeing others as “brother” or “sister” first rather than seeing their perhaps most outstanding flaw/characteristic. This is a way of increasing empathy for others, and highly advisable as a daily practice, I thought. It is congruent with me noticing how I always seem to receive the faultiest of first impressions from people I meet; it is also congruent with my first, prime principle: ahimsa or harmlessness.

Later in the weekend he revisits the concept, adding that that even if we see others as “brother” or “sister” it does not mean – as with our own brother and/or sister – that we have necessarily to like them a whole lot. But we can make the effort to see them as related, as someone who we’d cut some slack. “Until proven otherwise, we cut them slack, as we would our blood brother or sister,” he smiles. “That’s all.”


Big mind is little mind, little mind is big mind. Scrub the thoughts, suspend thinking for a while, get smoo-o-oth and connect to big mind, ask big mind what now? Be willing to be led. Make up your mind not to make up your mind.

Why should it seem so difficult for me to conceive of the non-reality of death? This is one of his subjects, brought up just as casually as you might mention the weather.

There is, after all, that sense one almost always has in dreams of the absolute aliveness of someone who has died. We greet them, chat about this and that, never mentioning the large pachyderm in the dream-room; we hug them on exiting and when we wake feel as though an important revisitation has happened.

Our teacher, asked by someone else, brings this subject up, mentioning an experience of his dad about a week after his dad’s death, where he appeared at a red light where the son was stopped, just appeared and said, “Whelp, you were right. It goes on forever.” Or words to that effect. He’s pretty excited by this new feeling he has, that death is not real, and he’s sharing it with us all through our asanas and accompanying meditations. After pondering it, I hear the old traditional song hollowly echoing within my skull: Death don’t have no mercy in this land. I hear my wife quietly say, I have looked upon the face of death. I think about how much I miss those I have lost and how tempting it would be – could I consider it at least plausible? that death is miscomprehended?


Sunday. Erich brings in a banana this morning, and explains to us that a friend sent him a YouTube video of a monkey opening a banana – how the monkey pinched the little black stub at the bottom of the banana, easily revealing the fruit within. “All my life,” he said, “I’ve been opening bananas on the other end.” The room exploded with laughter.

At another point in the workshop, he mentioned the strict, unbending nature of his one-time teacher, Mr Iyengar. His teaching methodology was “very rajasic.” He told us how his days as an Iyengar teacher ended when he had eventually decided it “didn’t matter if you held your hand in certain exact position” – demonstrating – “during virabhadrasana two (warrior pose). In other conditions, in other places, other hand positions were eminently okay….” Questions were again fielded for a good hour. At one point we could hear the faintest country music coming through speakers high on the ceiling of the ballroom – soon after someone left the room (staring upwards), the music stopped.

There were two “lotus virgins” in the latter sessions, people who had gotten into lotus for the first time that weekend. Forward folds and twists with the legs in various positions as the leadup to the attempted padmasanas worked phenomenally well, making my lotus very comfortable, especially on one side. No knees were damaged in the construction of this pose. I could probably have sat thus for fifteen minutes if necessary. It occurs to me how much time I have spent sitting, the entire weekend, since Friday morning in my regular class before the workshop up until now, near the end of the workshop.

Meditation is the main thing, reiterates our teacher. I recall this emphasis from a few years ago in his workshops in Monteagle, Tennessee – one element of his teaching that apparently does not change much with time. He gives tips on how to practice meditation, five handy tips (scribble scribble) where and when – as in: try sitting in your hotel room where you wake up, push your pillows behind you, sit up, hit the snooze button, and sit for a few minutes. If you drift off, fine, the snooze will awake you. You can do it again and again. “It works well for me, while traveling.”

There is a certain clear, sharp feeling one gets after intense yoga practices close upon one another, which I feel to be an increase in buddhi – which might be translated as “intelligent, awakened light.” I can only say that I feel it shining undividedly out of my eyes. When the practice has been an intelligent and thorough one, you feel very much at home in your body and there is an absence of kinks which is delightful for those of us who still suffer (on other bodily occasions) from sleep-stiff necks and frozen mouse shoulders. Then one can be said to truly delight in the absence of tension; the spine is a proud collection of bones twisting upward into the lower realms of heaven – even if you are now in a car being driven westward, toward home, firmly attached to earth.

© 2011, 2020 Thomas N. Dennis

Dialogue on Writing, and Avidya

Okay, so my net worth at this point is – if the house sells for what I hope it will – but of course I will never sell this house here on the river – almost a third of a million bucks. It varies from day to day due to the price of stocks going up and down, but…


Yeah. It only happened a couple of years ago. A relative died and left me this; I had no idea he had so much money. I always figured I’d part of a $200,000 house, and would use that money to pay off all my debts, with a mere pittance leftover. Instead…

Instead you got a bunch and so you what, quit your job?

Well, no, it was more complicated than that, but yah, shortly after the will was probated I left my main vocation and have not re-entered the workforce since that time. Their loss.


The workforce’s.

Oh – yeah. So whattaya do now?

I’m busy writing.


Yeah. Finished a book about – uh – a year ago. Been busy ever since. Another book.

Oh. What’s it about?

Ah, hard to say really. I hope to use a Magritte print for the cover.

I’ll ask again: what do you write about?

This one is about nescience, which is another word for avidya, which is another word for not-knowing. A state of non-knowing. So I’m writing about what we don’t know, a set of several stories that are somewhat connected by this idea of epistemological gaps or blind spots.

So you’re not saying you don’t know what you’re writing about . . . but that you are writing about what you don’t know? 

That’s knotty. Never mind. 

Okay. I’ll put it on my list and look it up. A third of a million, eh? How long can you live on that, man?

Well, I try first to make it, on what cash reserves I have, to the March following the end of the world in December 2012. I’ll be 59 ½ then, and can tap my retirement savings without the penalty. Hopefully there’ll be enough left to keep me going (if the world does not end, heaven forfend) until social security kicks in. That’s the plan. 

So you have done all the long division on this.

Oh yeah. And I am not a math person.

And you think it’ll work out, huh? 

Yeah. But I can’t live high on the hogleg (as some say) unless I get a job. And there is the utter wild card of personal health thrown in there. 


So: you never thought a person like me – obviously stupid about money, incapable by nature of making or saving sums of money – would or could wind up a low-hundred thousandaire

A what? 

That’s my sleek term that switches millionaire into another term. A thousandaire has thousands at his command, not millions.

Oh yes. The writer is always active. You and your words. 

Do I detect a tone of derogation?

Hm. Well. Go on, I’m listening. 

You didn’t answer my question.

No, yes, I do find it hard to imagine you as a person of wealth. Taste you have. Class of a sort you have – though it is involved with what you know, not the strata of society you come from. I – I have always thought of you as a person who knew well how to deal with poverty, with having nothing much materially speaking. You seem to thrive in such semi-squalid environments – remember? I doubt your ability to shift that and know how to decorate a living room with artwork.

[Pause of remembrance.]

You are wondering what I do with myself all day, every day, aren’t you?

You’ve said that you write. 


So um what’s the point of all this writing? Do you intend to entertain, instruct, annoy…?

I don’t know. I write because I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m not sure I’m doing it for any grander reason.  I suppose deep down I want to be remembered after I die.

Transcend mortality, eh? Obese chance of that.

Well I guess.

Isn’t it a big change, this movement to freedom after however many years of wage-slavehood? 

It was one I was glad to make.

I’m sure. Changed your life’s daily course quite a lot, I imagine.

O yeah. It has. I am generally more relaxed. I know I shall no longer have to deal with oafs, goober-heads, gossips and racists. I shall have to learn how to handle investments, retirement income and other money, and I will learn how to lever down needs and desires until life becomes much simpler….

A tradeoff of sorts, then.

[Pause tape while each person checks their phone.]

Why are you looking at me like that?

Like what?

Like that. With your – like that!

I have no idea what you are . . .

Forget it. I have trouble reading faces. I try to write every day, on like three or four things that I’ll never finish, and I feed the dogs, work the garden a bit if it’s not too hot, keep the fence cleaned off, windows cleaned. I stay busy. I’m training a hummingbird on the porch. 

Oh yeah?

It scares the shit out of visitors. They think it’s a fairy, Tinkerbelle or something. And in the evening I like to sometimes take a drive.

Where to?

Well I was about to tell you. 

Well okay then, duh –

I’m not gonna tell you now. You’re listening with an unclean motive, I can tell.


“You got a lotta nerve,/ to say you are my friend –”

I know that one: “When I was down,/ you just stood there grinning.”

© 2020, 2017 Thomas N. Dennis

Springtime in Pandemia


It was springtime in Pandemia
We nuzzled masks, you and I —
When you helped me with my PPE
I just thought that I would cry . . .

Flowers for us in Pandemia
You know it’s just me and you
Springtime in Pandemia
Where the greens make us blue

We walk down the street
Greeting no one at all that we meet
Air hugs from afar &
Remember to clean your
virtual tip jar….

© 2020 Thomas N Dennis

Imbolc 2020, Brigid’s Day, New Orleans

Screenshot 2020-02-12 03.42.46
St Brigid

Inside the cathedral
at the redolent crux
of the busiest
tourist district
of New Orleans

fetally curled right
in the center
of the narthex
lies a man
in mixed clothing

he is quite still
he has the stillness of
those unlit candles
stacked close by
some lit, some not
a Saints cap with
fuzzy fleur-de-lis
has clung in the fall
to his greyish head

keep moving, tourists that way
medics have been called
nobody worry, keep moving

is he dead

who saw him fall

the painted ceiling
with scenes of saints
and martyrs and mothers
draws all camera eyes upward

straight-up noon but chilly inside
this gigantic religious cave where
visitors can willfully mill

photograph the scenes
sit meditatively

Medics have been called

in one of the burnished pews

siren in the distance

O look, honey,
there’s St. Blaise,
patron saint of throat ailments.
We just missed his day…darn…

a man wearing a backwards baseball cap
walks up to the still man
shines a beam of light
straight down at his eyes
walks away

leaving, I see a woman
with two small children
and I want to say Wait

don’t go in there

there’s a there’s a there’s a
guy on the floor
dude on the floor
in there,
might scare the children
but then I realize it won’t
scare the children at all

outside on the steps
of the cathedral
two street comedians
do dance steps before
an enthralled crowd

© 2020 Thomas N. Dennis

St Louis Cathedral, New Orleans LA

Solitude Lessons (1-10)


1 Don’t be jangled by ever-present fake-happy examples of pair bonds

2 Let silence unfrighten you

3 Marshall waves of love against inner primate howls

4 Fear not the absence of human touch

5 Admire the solitary bird on the wire where nearby sit ten others together

6 Go your own way and don’t look back unless you feel you are being followed

7 Not all mammals are social creatures

8 Imagine being born alone

9 Imagine dying alone

10 Listen to your breath
© 2020 TND

Dialogues on Beauty Dying

This makes me want to sigh. I need to be working on other things and I am caught talking about this.


About my lack of having any relationship at all with the person I live with.

Oh. Well you say, you know, that you don’t mind being alone.

Yeah I say a lot of things, some of them untrue. I don’t mind being alone, just not too much of the time.

Are you drinking again?

No. Lord no. What makes you think that?

I don’t know. An—I dunno. Sorry to ask.

I never dream.


Nope. Occasionally I wake up with a really huge hard-on, and once I thought I was climbing a tree and it was—

Ah. The my-dick-is-as-big-as-a-tree dream — every dude I guess has had that one.

[generalized laughter]

Do you think we should call down for room service?

What do we need?

Not a damn thing. What was I saying again, oh yeah, shamanism, climbing the tree being as Mircea Eliade woulda tole ya one of the key segments of a shaman’s biography…

No, wait, you mentioned a schism between you and your spouse.

Yeah, yeah I did. How did it happen, I dunno. Tragedies have a way of making people draw inward, and even though we both depend on each other sometimes to make it through, we have both tilted inward of late… [slumping]

I am not sure what you—

Well, look. One of us goes off in one direction (even though we are in the same fairly large house) and does one thing. The other goes off in another direction or else has been left wherever they are by the other’s movement—can you visualize this?

I sorta can.

So, it’s been decades of loveless years, no making love. We scarcely touch except in unsentimental, asexual ways, like brushing hands while exchanging cutlery. So rare.

Not that rare: so how do you live? How does–?

Wait. There is no great enmity between us, you know that right — we would neither of us hurt the other on purpose.

That I know.

Or will admit to? Even if you just desired someone you couldn’t have, slapped inwardly at the hand—

—the inward hand.

–that almost reaches out to touch another person?

Well that does happen. Yeah. Desire is left unenacted. You walk away disembarrassed, knowing you’re too old, too ugly, too this or that—an inappropriate mate.

Ever examine what you desire?

Now wait — .

I know, you didn’t think it would go this way did you? Hah.

So wait. What do I do, then, about the deep lack of touch in my life? Human touch?

[pause] Perhaps you should go out and start touching people more. Or touching more people.

Get you put in jail, that stuff.

I know women who adore men twice their age. I know men who adore women twice their age.

Agh, half my age makes for a fairly mature person.

Does the lack of touch bother you?

What do you mean bother me?

I mean, does it get to you? Does it rankle? Do you more often than not wish it could be different, this sexual status quo?

Well. I dunno. My mate is pretty dead-eyed these days. She just doesn’t get excited about anything outside of, say, reality television and spends much of her day (I am here in the back room working) watching the televised ministrations of various doctors.

Oh yeah?

Yeah. When I walk up to her—you know sometimes I think I have a good idea for where my Muladhara prequel to the memoir is going, and I just want to bounce it off someone—she’ll make a point of putting the Tube on mute and may even exhale slightly in exasperation as she waits for me to speak what now seems like an inanity.

Really? No matter what it is?

Really. At that point, standing there, I twig to the deal: I could say almost anything, it doesn’t matter, she’s just waiting for me to stop being an interruption in her televised programming day.

What does she look like these days? I remember her as a curly-haired person willing to do just about anything, often smiling but with her philosophical side…

That’s her. The hair’s a bit less curly, fried by conditioners, much longer and grayer. She has lost so much weight that I am about to get worried about her.

Did she need to lose weight?



I know what you’re about to ask me.

Hah! What? This is hilarious.

You’re about to say, “So, do you still desire her?”

No, you’re wrong.


I was going to ask if she still had her original crush on you.

Ah, I guess so, if you mean she doesn’t confer with lawyers about dis-marrying me. If by crush you mean, she puts up with me and refrains (at times) from being as nasty as she feels (on alpha-bitch occasion) like being.

Strong words, man.

Resignation…who was it that wrote of resignation…

Don’t be resigned. You don’t look like a man who’s given up!

I have not given up. Desire has not forgotten about me. Anything can happen, though being beyond a certain age in life narrows the time for anything happening. There’s plenty of time — once a useful phrase, begins to look less useful. However. Let me go as far as to say this: my age has left me far less bewitched by the beauty of youth than, apparently, is normal.

Nothing about you smacks of normality, dude.

Well thankee kindly, I take that as high praise. I am not saying there have not been times in my life when I really felt whacked by love – oh man I could tell tales.

Not now though.

Not now, no. It just doesn’t work on me anymore, like movies and advertising, as though their efficacy as drugs has worn off and I too easily see through the weird mediated patina they spread about . . . it’s like the old stories about love, romance, all that, they don’t work on me anymore, either. I shall live alone in the end, certainly.

You think? A forbidding prospect ahead, eh?

I think so. Sometimes as I drive around aimlessly, as I often do, I see a rundown sort of home, some wooden thing half-fallen down, and I think: My House! For it is there I will end up, almost certainly, babbling on paper if not aloud, unnoticed, unknown, unloved and untouched nor touching another. Yeah, forbidding is probably the right word.

Does it have to be that way? What makes you think it…?

Listen. For some folks, it’s not too late to begin again. Love Again (title of a fine book by Doris Lessing). For me, it’s too late. I’ll live with the losses, it’s okay.

You don’t sound so much like it’s okay.




© 2020 TND




[fiction work in progress]

[twosome, late-model slate SUV with windows down near a rural park]

“Okay, listen, this is what I want you, us, to do….”

“You are so bossy for a dude, did anybody ever tell you that?”

“You’re a pretty bossy chick.”

“I hate to be called a chick.”

“Listen. You want to get that motherfucker, don’t you? The asshole?”

“I do.”

“Okay, so this is what we do. You get him in a compromised pose — haha, get it, a pose — ”

“Unfunny, dude, you are so unfunny sometimes.”

” — and we easily get pictures using our very own self-filming deal which we have set up in your bedroom, or did, and still do, right?”


“Are you sure? I took a long time setting that up for us.”

“I’m sure. So I have to get close to the asshole again and pretend to — uck — I dunno — ”
“You can do it!”

“I can’t do it. He’s so-o-oo repulsive.” [shivering]

“Maymay, you can too! Did you not say he just bragged about what his net worth would be when it all goes through? Disgusting one-percenting fatherfuckers. [absentmindedly] Workingman ain’t gotta goddam chance.”

“So we tell him, ‘We’ll tell your wife’?”

” ‘We will show the pictures or videos to your wife proving your connection, unless you give us X amount of dollars once a week, every week‘ — or something like that.”

“From what I can tell, she doesn’t care two rat anuses for him. Nobody does. He’s lost all the friends he ever had. His wife doesn’t even live with him and his kids don’t visit. He wouldn’t care. So it wouldn’t work.”

“Are you sure? No other relatives?”

“Twin brother in Florida, ill with COPD. Poor I’m sure.”

[long spell of no talk — sounds only of smoking with some male and female coughing jags, bottles a-clink. Sighs]

“Are you sure it won’t work?”

“He has no reputation to tarnish, is what he says.”

“Oh and when did you talk to Mister Repulsive last?”

“I told him his aftershave smelled like something named Repulsion by Calvin Klein.”



[from a Holiday Inn near Marion, Illinois — raging snowstorm pecking at the windows]

“Okay now what smart guy?”

“Go over there and talk to him.”

“What are you my fucking pimp?”

“I’m not asking you to fuck him, I just want you to tell him how it is now that he’s so goddam rich he can’t help but shit silver and gold. He’s gotta come off some of that money.”

“A-a-a-and what exactly is the threat you wish me to deliver?”

“That we-we-we — will — ”

“You have no idea.”

“We will ruin his life.”

“He has no life to ruin, dude, don’t you see, didn’t I tell you? Do you not listen? He spent a shitload coming up here. He said his wife gets it all because of something in the whatever clause. He barely has enough for the train ride back. This is all so pointless. Both of you are such asswipes.”

“The whatever clause. A technical legal term, I’m sure.”

“No point in us arguing, is there? How will that help?”

“How do you know he’s not lying?”

“I don’t.”

“In any event, it’s a fucking blizzard and he’s stuck over there and we’re stuck here but at least we have enough edibles to get us through the night, right? Does he . . .?”

“Oh yeah.”


[at the cheapest, shoe-sticks-to-the-foot room in the dreary Drury Inn of nearby Marion, Illinois]

Holy Titty-fucking Jesus, am I high. I write that not as a rhetorical question, and of course I’m reading into my phone recorder not writing, to tell the truth. And to tell the truth, that is what I am doing right now. I am telling the truth.

Here’s how it started. Let me get my 3 by 5 cards. [sounds of stumbling]

Wa-a-a-a-ay too many of those milk ‘n’ cereal bars. But it’s still a nice buzz. Cerebral.

I’m not horny.

Cerebral. I don’t think about lost things. Like my keys. Like my love. Where’s my guitar? O fuck I didn’t bring it. I think about terrible true things — that’s the name of one of the songs, it was a killer song in E minor which tells, in roundabout fashion, the story of a man with, essentially, three loves in his life — one for a woman named Lavinia, one for cannabis and one for the Oxford comma — no, really. Except the Oxford comma isn’t in that sentence. So I must be a writer and I must love writing. Yet I’ve published exactly jack shit. I should title all the accumulated miscellany in one big tome and call it “Jack Shit.”

[hours of recorded snoring, a few taps at the motel door that go unheeded]

Allright allright okay okay I’m awake now; the storm is over here in, in, in wherethefuckever I am, looks like northern Iowa or the blue-and-white pocket of a baaaad Peruvian marching powder addict.

I do remember this: a hiss is just a hiss: she said she was coming over with an ultimatum in a while. I hope she doesn’t bring simpatico malicioso with her, ’cause I’m thinking I can talk her into leaving him, see, yeah and coming with me back to New Orleans (the Carbondale train, just a few miles west of here) to live because that’s where I want to live.

Online I see where it’s 42F in that town and minus 14 here. I suddenly feel very cold like a baby that a mother’s thrust aside (for whatever reason, mothers have their reasons, it might not be that she’s a self-centered mother tired of holding the baby, you, me, the baby’s weight growing so intense that she just has to leave it there on the bed for awhile, waa, waa, so what).


I did have the same bowl of THC cereal for breakfast. What of it? Who’s objecting? Who was that goddess of the grain again? Demeter? Lotsa cornfields in — unh — Spillertown! Look over there! Medical dispensary! Good place to get some cereal, man! I’m a Headshead. I play them loud.

I’m running out of money and my next stipend check doesn’t arrive for oh shit —

I just need a few bucks. I might go out and panhandle my books on the sidewalk but it’s too cold to do it in this burg.

I’m lost. I am so lost. Look at that mirror person, trying to look like me.

[abrupt chain-rattling patterned knock at the door: three sharp WHACKWHACKWHACKs — a pause — one long hard WHONK, then the three WHACKWHACKWHACKs]

I’ll just let them kill me. There is no money. They can whine to Barbara all they want, she’ll laugh in their face like in that movie with Danny DeVito. I’m not kidnapped, after all, I met them here of my own volition. Ex-banker Slain in Weird Triadic Twist. Page 2.

[. . .]



Audio version of “Tangle Karma Ditty”

Careful who you tangle

your karma with my friend

it might seem unlikely or a

thing that should not have been

Careful who you tangle

up your karma with my friend

we rub off on one another and

that ain’t just hands & wind

Tangle karma, tangled up

Watch out who you touch

Tangle karma, action figure

Watch out who you touch

(it can make you sick

it can be your crutch

it can break you down

it can break you up)

tangle karma ties you, right?

bonds you into somebody else’s night

you follow & feel a tight

unlocked stasis

going against the grain

of every thing you’ve loved

wake up wrong & wake up late

wake up before you can’t escape

tangle karma bought the bones

fixed the dice, polished the stones

your fate is locked up in a greasy fist:

tangle your karmas at your own risk


© 2020 Thomas N. Dennis

For a Poet

She sings
the magic
I could never grasp
(no matter if I cleaned all
nits from my poems daily)
Her words
rip duality
into an
unquivering one
She’s so much
to so many
— how does she
divide herself up
into discrete lovable
and loving bits for them?
Miracle woman
arcing, sparking
the deep . . .
We stare
awed at

© 2019 Thomas N. Dennis