Tuesday, September 28, 2021


This traveler hews to the joy of small things
The comfort suites of everyday routines
The invention of tradition and sundry rituals
I'm one who delights in whimsy and the ephemeral

This is a reaction to our fraught and fractured modernity
And the reversals of fortune that come with the territory
In the torrid zone, where the wages are paid in blood and sin
Hard won experience teaches that protection comes from within

For violence, in all its forms, can be disarmed by laughter
As to oppression, the absurd will surely be its master
Contra greed and the arbitrary, I seek out levity
Wounds can always be salved by an aphorism's brevity

The forms are many, for even when the situation is dire
There is no end to the uses of irony and deft satire
What remains then, is facing down injustice and despair
When all else fails sadly, our only weapon is the stare

village huts by K. Baka

Soundtrack for this note


Timing is everything
Observers are worried

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Writing log: March 21, 2021

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Toli Theme

My Things Fall Apart series has taken on a life of its own
Sprawling, the variations continue to surprise me, plays and even poems
This is as it should be, and I am determined to carry on the journey
To map out the tributaries no matter where they lead me

Sometimes, though, they plunge me towards dark matters
And I share personal tales of these close encounters
While I often highlight whimsy, and aim to keep things cheerful
I cannot deny those determined to make the road fearful

Strange bedfellows - observe the gremlins and parasites
Caution, take heed of their insatiable appetites
There are only people behaving, and sometimes behaving badly
The tale of the lost stories describes the human bestiary

The hope is that the bite-sized victories can overcome despair
To stay the course against these reversals is my duty of care
Good trouble, I hold fast to the strength of my conviction
That modern travelers can achieve a quiet revolution

But it was always my intent to to weave the strands and bring them home
And talk about how things come together, for no one stands alone
To cite the lyric I often quote: social living is the best
So goes the antidote: Things Fall Apart beats Heart of Darkness

Determined as I am to have a seat at the table,
I continue to write my folktales and fables
For want of a bolt, contra this season of isolation
It behooves me to enjoin in the global conversation

I turn these thoughts over with no fear of repetition
The code of the streets does confer some protection
I'm comforted there will be better days ahead if I resist nostalgia
Finding the joy in small things as I narrate these lost chapters

Even so, this scribe keeps adding to the catalog of unanswered questions
In the torrid zone, we learn humanity's curriculum of painful lessons
While I'm starting to see the outline of my soul's accommodation
For now, I can only acknowledge that my theme is dislocation

empty shell

Discerning a Theme, a playlist

The Theme punctuated the performances of Miles Davis's first great quintet, they would return to the riff time and again to relieve the tension in their playing. They never played it the same way, a testament to their inventiveness. A soundtrack for this note (spotify version)
I nominate this note for The Things Fall Apart Series where things come together.

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Writing log: March 11, 2021

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Pandemic Garden

For want of a bolt, I now have a pandemic garden
It was quite a surprise but it survived the Texas Freeze
When ninety percent of the palm trees in Austin
Died after a week of sub-zero degrees

I must say, it's been causing quite the commotion
Dogs and their walkers appreciate the distraction
From the stultifying sameness of the urban jungle
I wonder if I could even grow a pineapple

The thing is I really don't know what I'm doing
Gee only trained me as an unpaid laborer in her garden
An able body and willing mind to be put to work digging and weeding
There was never any hope of green thumbs,
   call it low (or realistic) expectations

But something must have rubbed off it seems
Perhaps it was tacit knowledge or beginner's luck
For when I happened to throw down some seeds,
Things started to grow and, with water, they stuck

So now there's a profusion of flowers in the front yard
Monarch butterflies and bees flit around unconcernedly
Every day a new variant blooms, flourishing like a wild card
One never knows what today's delight will be, for nature works mysteriously

The only constant appears to be change - and delight, that is
I'm not quite reconciled to have become a naturalist
It's been quite the covidious dividend,
   much less than 100 dollars I've spent
The rest is my time and labor. Luck be the lady,
   I love this pandemic garden

pandemic garden starting to bloom 013


pandemic garden starting to bloom 018

pandemic garden starting to bloom 7

See also: Pandemic Garden (The Second Wave)

This note is part of a series: In a covidious time

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Writing log: May 6, 2021

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

What Paradise Have We Lost? (Real Talk Edition)

Think about it, would we have Dickens without child labour?
What a world when the youth of Bangladesh, or say, Ghana
Are no longer doing graveyard shifts in the textile factory
Or planting yams and pineapples in the hills of Aburi
Call me a contrarian Scrooge or a prematurely old codger
Our modern day Oliver Twists, Little Annies and Artful Dodgers
Coddled as they are with this modernity,
   no longer have the hard knock life
My own childhood, despite my parents' challenges,
   was blissfully free from strife
Kids these days have school, not farms and, get this,
   activities for enrichment
Moreover they now constantly demand
   fondleslabs of mobile entertainment
What about the old toys: stick, ball, string, dirt and box?
Is it nostalgia to ask, what paradise have we lost?


Gee kindly Doctor Fauci
Food banks can hardly be the response
To this covidious misery
Starving children don't cry
Tears waste too many calories
No, the kids are not alright
Parking lot wifi out of sight
True, man cannot live on bread alone
But surely you can find some crumbs to loan

danso wood structures boggy creek greenbelt 2

Children, a Playlist

A soundtrack for his note. (spotify version)
See previously: What Paradise Have We Lost? and The Dishwasher Situation

This rumination on kids these days is part of a series: In a covidious time.

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Writing log: March 15, 2021

Tuesday, September 07, 2021


If irony is the key register of African life
The uneasy remedy is the splinter of ice
We are modern travelers who wear masks of civility
Still, we are forever accused of disturbing tranquility

Internal displacement gives rise to a fraught sense of normalcy
Heads down and at a remove, we write a new script for this modernity
Above all, we share the great longing for truth and reconciliation
The underlying condition of the exiled soul is dislocation

Aburi mask - strange days

Dislocation, a Playlist

A soundtrack for this internal displacement (spotify version). I nominate this piece for The Things Fall Apart Series.

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Writing log: March 16, 2021