Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sounds Seem Insufficient

These are the sounds of my day
I try to recreate in letters
the sounds waves curling into
shapes of each character

the character of the sound
attempted to be mimicked

walking across the snow
keeek keeek

the wind blows across the sloping hill
catching dried leaves and whisps of snow

my lips and tongue perform gymnastics
trying out the different combinations
the sound of sh and chu together
a k and kckkk in quick succession
my tongue rolls together and clicks at the roof
of my mouth to make
the sounds of these everyday things
dry leaves
red boots on new snow
cool wind
brown paper bags crunching in your grasp

the sounds are translatable
but what of visions
so lovely
they want more
expression than apprehension
from the eyes
and the beauty of their looks

twinkling golden tiny white lights
that frame your simple porch and iron work
make my heart hurt
glimmering in a snowy cold night
tiny lights burst to be released from the
silence of my rib cage

what sound do they make?
silent appreciation and a wordless gaze
are not sufficient
a soft gentle sweet hmmmm
held as long as the memory

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pumpkin Head - Excerpts from the Dating Chronicles

He seemed like a nice guy at work, so she said yes when he asked her out for a dinner and a trip to a local haunted house. Looking forward to the date that Saturday night, she deliberated carefully over a cute, but casual outfit, comparing a couple of clothing combinations on hangers before her extended arms.

The call came at 6:00 p.m. His truck had broken down and he wondered if she would mind picking him up and driving. It seemed rather odd, and she was a little disappointed, but she finally, said, “Okay, I’ll be there at 7:30,” thinking that things like this happen sometimes.

She picked him up at about 7:35, and they proceeded to the Michelle’s restaurant, a local diner, for dinner. Just as he was in the car, he was unusually quiet during dinner. She asked him questions about school, about the gym, about his family, but none of the questions spurred more than one sentence replies. She picked at her salad with the fork.
The bill came and he reached for his wallet, and stared twice inside it. He finally looked up at her and said, “Ummmm, would you mind going dutch this time? All I have is a five.” She stared at him angrily, but silently, and turned aside sharply for her wallet in her bag on the bench seat next to her.

The drive to the haunted house was quiet, too, and the wait in the rather long line could have been much more fun, considering the boisterous, and funny frightening atmosphere. It was cool outside, the air was damp, and it would have been nice to hold hands, or have an arm around her. Instead, they made stilted small talk and looked in opposite directions at the people stumbling out of the house and the crowd around them. Once they were inside, at the first big scare from a bellowing monster in green rubber mask and black cape, he grabbed a hold of her like a spooked child. He clutched to her several times like this during the trip through. He even tripped once and almost pushed her off the path.

She dropped him off just after the house, after a nearly silent trip home. There was a brief pause as she parked on the curb outside his house, and he turned to her and sincerely told her that he had a really nice time. When she got home there was email from him waiting for her in her inbox, again, gushing that he had a wonderful time, and looked forward to seeing her again sometime very soon. She didn’t reply.

When she saw him at work next, she didn’t talk to him anymore.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Kid's Advice on Love - Excerpts from the Dating Chronicles

Tips on Love
(by kids, 5-10 years of age)


"Eighty-four, because at that age you don't have to work anymore, and you can spend all your time loving each other in your bedroom."(Judy, 8)

"Once I'm done with kindergarten, I'm going to find me a wife."(Tom, 5)


"On the first date they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go on a second date." (Mike 10)


"You should never kiss a girl unless you have enough bucks to buy her a big ring and her own VCR, because she'll want to have videos of the wedding." (Jim, 10)

"Never kiss in front of other people. It's a big embarrassing thing if anybody sees you. But if nobody sees youo, I might be willing to try it with a handsome boy, but just for a few hours." (Kally, 9)


"It's better for girls to be single, but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them." (Lynette, 9)

"It gives me aheadache to think about that stuff. I'm just a kid. I don't need that kind of trouble." (Kenny, 7)


No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has to do something with how you smell. That's why perfume and deoderant are so popular." (Jan, 9)

"I think you're supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful." (Harlen, 8).


"It's like an avalanche where you have to run for your life." (Roger, 9)

"If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don't want to do it." It takes too long." (Leo, 7)


"If you want to be loved by someone who isn't already in your family, it doesn't hurt to be beautiful." (Diane, 9)

"It isn't always just how you look. Look at me - handsome like anything and I haven't got anyone to marry me yet." (Gary, 7)

Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are can last a long time." (Christine, 9)


"They want to make sure their rings don't fall off because they paid good money for them."(Dave, 8)


"I'm in favor of love as long as it doesn't happen when 'Sesame Street' is on television."(Anita,6)

"Love will find you even if you are trying to hide from it. I have been hiding from it since I was 5, but the girls keep finding me."

(Bobby, 8)

"I'm not rushing into being in love. I'm finding fourth grade hard enough." (Regina, 10)


One of you should know how to write a check because there's going to be a lot of bills." (Ava, 8)


"Tell them that you own a whole bunch of candy stores." (Del, 6)

"Don't do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get attention, but attention ain't the same thing as love." (Alonzo, 9)

"One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it's something she likes to eat. French fries usually works for me."(Bart, 9)


"Just see if the man picks up the check. That's how you can tell if he's in love."(John, 9)

"Lovers will just be staring at each other and their food will get cold. Other people care more about the food."(Dave 8)

"It's love if they order one of those desserts that are on fire. They like to order those because it's just like how their hearts are... on fire." (Christine, 9)


'"The person is thinking, 'Yeah, I really do love him, but I hope he showers at least once a day." (Michelle, 9)


"You learn it right on the spot when the gooshy feelings get the best of you."(Doug, 7)

"It might help to watch soap operas all day." (Carin, 9)


"It's never OK to kiss a boy. They always slobber all over you. That's why I stopped doing it."(Jean, 10)


"Don't forget your wife's name. That will mess up the love." (Roger, 8)

"Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work." (Tom, 7)

"Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash."(Randy, 8)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore Awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize!

Al Gore awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! Amazing! Stupendous! Much Deserved!
The man most definitely deserves this tremendous recognition. Who, in our world society, has more contributed to the shift in consciousness, and real world change backed with facts and examples than this man?!!

We will assuredly hear more cries that he enter the Democratic race for the presidency, and his supposed loss to George W. Bush will be all the more lamentable. Clearly, this does not shine any light on the performance of our current Pres, in fact, it makes it looks like we are all denied a truly visionary, brilliant, world-conscious, moral, man as a leader, and duped into a second term of serfdom and national loss as result of Bush’s highly questionable sphere of misguided monetary power and influence.

A well-deserved, incredible, amazing honor for a hero! A beautiful event to witness.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Miss Spellings - Excerpts from the Dating Chronicles

Miss Spellings

One of my girlfriends, whom I have actually referenced before in my blogs, recently went out a couple of times with a fellow that she met on They conversed via email a few times before they dated. After their third date, a night at his house watching a movie on his big screen TV, he didn’t kiss her goodnight. He gave her a hug.

They were emailing after this date, and he said, in his email, that she should use spell-check on her emails, as there were several spellings errors. He also added that she typed like a maniac. When she told me this, she laughed, saying she should send him back a derogatory email, with all misspelled, but easily identifiable insults. Granted, the woman does misspell a few words, and sometimes her words are jammed together in her messages. She’s my friend though, and as friends do, I overlook these things because I like the woman. She’s my pal.

He broke it off with her fairly soon after all this, via email. I tell my students this story as a cautionary tale. Misspellings, can, evidently, thwart your love life.

Sunday, August 12, 2007 - Excerpts from the Dating Chronicles

Image Hosted by
By gorlox5 at 2007-08-12

Just this morning my gfriend called me to tell me about a big falling out that she had had with a close member of her group of friends. Both women have been scoping out the guys on My friend S____ has recently noted on her profile that she soon she will be leaving, and thus, it is everybody’s last chance to get in on some dating action with her. This strategy, though, seems to work because she has had a deluge of fellows sending their email addresses and phone numbers. Kinda like a going out of business sale, eh? Hmmm… maybe I should keep this approach in mind if ever needed.

Anyway, due to this deluge of interest, she was contacted by this guy named D____ whom she later met for coffee. Before the coffee, she informed several of the girl squad that she would be there with the new prospect, and they, indeed, showed up to check out the new guy. Her friend M____ was one of the girl squad stationed in the café, sizing up the new person.

Well, my friend S____ kinda likes this guy, and they have been talking and are planning on going out again. I think they even kissed goodbye on one of their recent casual meet-ups. She likes him, and is interested in getting to know him more. Her friend M____ knows all of this.

This weekend on Saturday, the new guy prospect mentioned to my friend that M___ had contacted him online, and in her email to him, she said that he seemed like a nice guy, and seemed eager to strike up a conversation with him. The new guy is also an elementary or middle school principal, and M____ is a teacher, looking for a job. Her email, however, seemed just flirty, and eager to talk to him more. So, understandably, my pal S___ was quite upset that her friend had contacted this guy, having been in the coffee shop when S_____ and D_____ met, and knowing that’s S______ was interested in the guy.

Not a very smooth move, eh? My friend, understandably, feels a bit betrayed, and embarrassed that her friend is trying to make some time with this guy, and also, trying to use him to land a job. Not very prudent moves on either front. I have more than one friend on (I am, fortunately, not in this ring), so they have to carefully stake out their territories and be careful not to date the same guys. They have even met up on occasion to be sure that they were treading on each other’s supposed turf. However, this latest transgression on M____’s part was not an accident.

Quite the mess, eh? ding ding! The match continues.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Is There a Haberdasher in the House?!

Last Monday morning as I strode into the hive, I was walking a couple of yards behind this young fellow who I happened to notice was wearing a pretty slick suit. He was tall guy, clean cut, and I was sorta surveying the suit as I walked behind him into the halls of the hive. As I watched him walk in, wondering what job he had such that he was dressing so sharp, I noticed that his back right pant leg was stuck inside his black shoe. Otherwise, he was looking good - Monday morning into the office. But, that bit of cuff in the pant leg – arrrggh!

Then, as I buzzed myself in with the hive card, I was walking behind a woman, and because I was still in that "oh, God its Monday morning and I'm dressed and walking, but not really awake yet" mode, I was also staring at her get-up. She looked fine, but the collar of her white dress shirt was turned out. My very slight obsessive-compulsive impulses must be magnified by the Monday malaise, because I really wanted to straighten her collar for her!

You are probably wondering, "Who promoted you to officer on the fashion police squad, or, did you look over your looks before you left home, lady? " Well, who the heck knows, maybe my pants were unzipped or something. But, that day, and I swear, as I left the elevator, I was walking behind another woman, whose shirt, on the left lower side of her back, was untucked, puckering out of her pants above her belt. We all need personal attendants, don't we? Especially for Monday morning in the hive.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Excerpts from the Dating Chronicles

Rapping with my gfriend the other day and, as we often do, we were talking about dating and men. She's in the midst of a troubling "friends with benefits" relationship with a guy that takes her up north to his cabin for a week, and then cancels dinner dates the next week. So, she is "keeping her eye out" for other prospects, or trying to. She is also a big workout person, and runs too. She was recently in 5k in Northville, and ran into this runner guy, who, I think, goes to her church in Livonia. A good, marathon running, god-fearing man. After the race, he was talking to her, and asked her for her email address, and asked her if she would like to get together sometime. She gave him her email address, and he did contact her.

They were rapping back and forth later the next week, and he asked her to get together for ice cream on a Tuesday night – the same night that they had been talking online. Later that afternoon, however, she got an email from his address with the message, " I like the yellow dress on you better, and you definitely should wear the bikini in the next picture." My pal and this guy had not been talking about their preferred attires at that point. She was surprised, as you would expect, and wrote the guy back, asking what was up?! He just responded that he had sent that message to the wrong woman, and he apologized, saying that he was really sorry and embarrassed. I don't think that they got ice cream that night. Perfect! Just what the woman needs.

* Hey! Do you have any worthwhile/funny dating stories? Send the story to me so that I can write them in my blog and get all the attention!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Back in the Hive

Aye Carumba! My first day of office work in two years. I had nearly forgotten what it’s
like, and then, because I need to make the green stuff, I am back in the cells of the worker bees. I am working at a certain very big bank headquarters in Troy. As I drove up toward the building this morning, my first thought, was gosh, “how on earth did I miss this thing?” as I approached the huge steel and glass colossus. I parked my small car in the lot, fairly easily, and joined the clip of women’s high heel shoes in the small trickle of women marching into the many layers of ominous concrete and all-seeing glass. It seemed like people kinda had that work hump, ya’ know, that kind bent head gait that people get as head toward work? I looked at the building that I will likely be spending most of the summer in every day and I felt, yes, like a worker bee resignedly returning to my cell in the hive.

For the past two years, I have taught college, and have enjoyed a rather unconventional work schedule, and a college environment. I can have classes in the am, or evenings, and, beyond that, my schedule is mine to set. I do not have to work from 8 or 9 to 5pm, although I do have prep to do constantly. I get to work with people, and use creativity and humor, intellectualism, discussion, and build relationships with students. Many of my classrooms have been stark and drag, but my work is on a campus with flyers for writing, gay pride, and animae clubs. I am often approached by those trying to ensure that I am registered to vote, and if I know about the Libertarian Party. I spend a sizable chunk of every day in the library, grading papers, or reviewing current literature or literary criticism.

Glancing at the marble floors in this palatial building, I was thinking about how, when I was young, I was so readily impressed with this sort of place. It seemed so glamorous. Now it all seems so vacuous to me. I don’t mean to knock anyone ‘s livelihood or career, but I know now, that this 9 to 5, sit-at-your –desk-all-day-and-enter -numbers life is definitely not for me. No matter how lavish the surroundings. Is it for anyone? Apparently so. What keeps me going is, yes, the greenbacks, and the promise of teaching again in the fall. Until then, I suppose I will try to remember that I do work in a nice place, and it’s just for now.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Just Published in the detroiter

Just published in the detroiter! Wow, I feel more like a real writer! Check out the link, and see what you think. I haven't reposted the poem here, because it has been posted earlier. You'll have to click the link to read it. : )

Btw, the detroiter is a great source for publication and news about arts events in the D.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A beautiful quote

knowing love,
I will allow all things to come and go
to be as supple as the wind
for life is right in any case and
my heart is as open as the sky

Friday, April 20, 2007

In the Wake of the Virginia Tech Shootings

Does Blogging About This Really Help?

my response to my pal's (seriousprofessor's) recent myspace blog that just briefly mentioned the big news story lately (more on this later) :

nice to see a discussion of the shooting at Virginia Tech... sorta.. it's definitely important to deal with outside events in these writings... but can one, or more, decide to push such events intentionally out of our consciousness(es)? My psyche doesn't wanna know about such things... how can this news be helpful? ... such coverage only seems to inspire more awful bloodshed... maybe the news can be helpful to show us all how important it is to readily treat individuals that need real psychiatric help. But, unfortunately, it seems for the news, that's not what it's about. It's about the drama. Sigh. What a terrible shame. There's much good in this world if you can see it. Really.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Happy Rodent

It’s been gray and freezing now
for nearly two weeks.
& we’re well into spring

we should be sitting on the grass
smiling in the sunshine
instead we’re ducking inside
hats & hoods

“too cold,” everyone complains
and we try to muster through
prolonged winter

is anyone happy anywhere
in this state
of eternal cold?

until you see one
silly squirrel on campus
playing with the branch of
leave-less bush
rolling around in the cold wet

and he looks so happy
playing with nothing
but a brown stick
the sky gray
the wind blowing
sleeting battering all
our hunched backs

how could he be so
and I notice him
and shake my head

and he continues
to roll around
in the damp brush
giggling to himself

j. lawless
copyright reserved

Thursday, April 05, 2007

If you read my blog regularly you might notice two things:

1) I usually don't write about everyday happenings. I try to write more 'substantial' blogs. Why? Maybe I take blogging too seriously, and

2) A few months back I wrote a blog entitled "Winter Wonderland" in which I extolled the virtues of a cold, snowy day in terms of the "global warming" phenomenon that has been noted by Al Gore and other important thinkers in the past few years.

Well, anyone that has been alive in Michigan for some time has noticed that it often snows in April. It might seem odd, but it does. It is actually relatively normal. Today, at the Institutional Development Day at the Center campus of Macomb Community College, I was talking to an older librarian about the weather. She said that one winter, some years ago, it rarely snowed one winter and was unseasonably warm. The winter was then followed by a snow storm in May - a snow which lingered on the ground. Now that seems bizarre.

What I am basically trying to communicate is that I am again pleased (albeit freezing) that it is cold one last time before spring. Doesn't it seem even colder in close proximity to the sun-drenched days that we have been enjoying? I think so.

Maybe I like routine. Maybe I am a glutton for punishment. Maybe I don't like the idea of polar bears and penguins cast away alone, forlorn on floating sheets of antarctic ice. Maybe I like wearing my long black faux fur hooded winter coat one last time. Maybe I can't afford spring clothes yet. Maybe I use the word "maybe' too much.

Winter is a stubborn old man. And he won't go out without a struggle. Perhaps he likes to linger to see some of the early flowers, like daffodils and myrtle. Do you think he likes to harass us a little more before he leaves? Maybe.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Just Wednesday night an instructor friend and I attend a reading at Zeitgeist on Michigan Avenue in Detroit. Vievee Francis, Tommy Blount, and Matthew Olzmaan were featured. I might have spelled some of the poets’ names wrong. I can produce my poetic license to escape the punctuation police.

The reading blew me away. As usual, Vievee’s poetry was fantastic. The most memorable was her first piece centered around two people, one being Idi Amin, the brutal dictator of Uganda. I recall that there is a movie out right now, starring Forrest Whittaker, The Last King of Scotland, that tells more about the man. He was, as Vievee’s poetry imaged, known to be a cannibal, and known also, to many, as a madman.

The references she included in her first poem to these acts, and Greek Mythology are stunning. In the story of Tantalus, an ancestor of Agamemnon, served humans to the gods at a great banquet. He and his family were then, understandably, tainted and cursed with the sins of the father. Agamemnon was, after his arduous return home from the Trojan War, slaughtered by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover.

The sun imagery in her work was startling also. I had a “thing” for sun images for a long time, and would draw them everywhere – in journals, on register receipts, napkins, and flyers posted about town. I hope that she recalls this.

I suppose that I felt most moved by this piece, and her overall presence because she touched on so many layers between her and I, the literary community in the city, namely, Rayfield Waller, who has always reminded me of Forrest Whittaker, the actor that play Amin in the movie, and Amin’s portrayal, in her poetry, as a sun figure.

Both bright and blazing. Both life giving and all-consuming, and the influence the sun has on our psyche. The darker the skin the hotter it heats up.

And, too, Forrest Whittaker and Rayfield are both big men. Forrest Whittaker, a fine actor though, has always seemed to carry an intriguing sense of vulnerability and mild monsterness in his bulky frame. An intriguing casting choice for the film, then. Have you seen the Crying Game?

It was nice to meet Vie’s husband, Matthew Olzmaan, who is enrolling in the MFA program at Warren Wilson. He’s a talented poet, commands the stage, and projects his voice and word pictures strongly.

He’s Filipino-American, and wearing a tight soft gray MICHIGAN t-shirt, and sometimes collapsing his shoulder a bit in humility, he drew us in and sustained the audience at the makeshift art bar. What struck me most was his piece entitled something like 196 pictures of me looking at me.

It made it seem more essential than ever now, to continue writing, and performing, and to stay connected with the literary and greater arts community for healing and growth. To let my own sun shine, to follow my curiosities, and inspirations, and even identify my won cultural origins even more in relation to my authorship. It was meaningful to get into the city 2. Now I have to enter tax receipts for awhile.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Blogging. The English instructor tendencies of my cranium have been pondering these questions lately. What does it mean to writing, in general? Do we now forego the more graceful forms of poetry, short story, play, and letter to tap out blog whenever some idea passes over our cerebellum? Is it the easy way out? Doesn't it seem much easier to take some intriguing (or mundane) notion and write it straight out instead of crafting it in to something more challenging (and artful) like these other forms of the writing craft?

I think it makes me think of writing differently. Instead of writing, like I said, that poem, or what-have-you, I think of just blurting the ol' blog. Amira Baraka once said something like this – " I don't sit down and decide, oh, I am going to write a poem or a play, the idea indicates its own form." Well, now that blogging is a prevalent fashion, I think it is, at least for now, replacing some of those more traditional arts. It has now entered the popular consciousness as the dominant form of writing self-expression. It is now the ready alternative. Is this a bad thing? I suppose that communicating, self-expression, and relatively ready feedback, the idea of an instant, altho' mostly unknown, audience can be appealing and positive. But, what does this mean for literature and writing? Will students, in ten years, have to trudge to the campus bookstore to buy The Norton Anthology of Contemporary Blogging?

When was the last time you read a novel or a play? When was the last time you read a blog? When was the last time you wrote a poem or a short story? When was the last time you wrote a blog? And, yes, here it is - bloggistyle.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday it was cold! Really cold, Michigan cold. There was ice on my car windows that i had to use a ice scraper to remove (actually ice has been happening for about a week now), and my hands nearly froze while i was doing it. Remember ice scrapers? Remember way back when we used to wear gloves, those cloth things that cover your hands to help keep them from getting too cold? It was comforting.

I loved hearing that crack and scratch of ice breaking from the window again, and i loved looking around seeing at least some (altho there should be more) snow on the ground. I liked feeling really cold, such that everyone walks briskly and pulls themselves deeper inside their coats. It was great seeing plumes of peoples' breathe rising from their mouths and into the cold sky. It felt like winter again, and it felt right.

Some of the young kids in my class talk about global warming, and they seem so very aware of it. When I was that age, what did i know about such things? I took snow and all that for granted, and just enjoyed it. Some of these kids probably barely remember snow, and I think it's kinda sad. Looking back, it seems like such a fundamental part of my childhood, tobagonning, snowball fights, ice skating, building snowmen and forts, snow piled way high to great white mounds, and these kids are being robbed of all the joys of winter, ya know?

It just felt so cold and nice yesterday, and it was great. It didn't, for the first time in a long time, feel like we are all victims of some kind of eerie millennial post-nuclear fall out, greenhouse gas syndrome that seems to have descended on us all so rapidly (although it clearly seems that there is much we should be doing to stem this). It just felt like beautiful winter in Michigan again