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Anxiety and stress –

I like to keep mine low.

I like to just relax,

And keep things nice and slow.


But others whom I know

Are much too over-stressed;

“There’s too much I must do,

It must be NOW and it must be BEST!”


Like Atlas forever holding

The world on shoulders high,

They bear too many burdens,

And their worries multiply.


Your life at work and home life –

The two should never meet.

Leave work back at the office,

Vice versa and it’s complete.


Take time for all the small things.

Don’t take on quite so much.

Enjoy your friends and family,

Picnics, movies, games, and such.


Eliminate all of the drama,

Or do the best you can,

‘Cause stress can be a killer

That even fault lines understand.


Will my friends all be forgotten?

Could they forget me too?

Will they remember just the bad times,

Or all that we’ve been through?


Will the total of their memories

Be weighted by my mistakes?

Or will they think of me fondly,

No matter what it takes?


Will my presence at their birthdays,

Babies’ births, and weddings too,

Be something they remember,

Or something they once knew?


Will they ever think “What happened’

‘To that guy we used to see?”

“Did he drop clear off the planet?”

“Does he ever think of me?”


I can’t help but think these questions.

I’m not the greatest friend,

But I hope to be forgiven;

Remembered fondly at the end.

The Lake

I was probably about seven years old one summer when I went with my friend Jimmy to his parents’ lake house on a Sunday afternoon. The lake house was a small, two bedroom cabin with wood paneling throughout. About 30 feet from the back door was situated a small, brown dock, constructed of milk chocolate-colored posts and planks. It was just a small, ordinary, brown, little dock.


The lake was not very big, not even to me as a child. It seemed to be about the size of two football fields, lengthwise and widthwise, and there were about a dozen cabins similar to theirs dotted around the rim of the lake.


The water was not the pristine, crystal-clear water you would expect in the Appalachian foothills. The color was more of a pea soup green mixed with a light brown mud.


Jimmy and I were standing on the dock, trying to force the slimy, wiggly little earthworms onto our hooks. We would cast our rods and the worms would catch a whiff of freedom and fly off of the hooks in another direction. The few worms that stayed on the hooks were snatched and quickly transported away by lightning-fast fish.


Needless to say, we quickly ran out of worms. Jimmy thought we might have better luck using lures, so he ran to the house for his tackle box. As he was heading towards the house, I saw one of our bait worms floating towards the dock. I couldn’t tell if it was dead or alive, but it didn’t matter. I wanted that worm!


I leaned forward, reaching for the worm with my fishing pole, and promptly fell in headfirst!


It happened so suddenly, I had no time to take a breath. One moment I was breathing crisp, clean, summertime, mountain air and the next I was sucking in salty, mud pie soup! The putrid, seemingly waste-filled slush was more than a match for the cow pasture across the street from Jimmy’s house in the horrible smell department.


I was a decent swimmer. I had been swimming since I was three or four years old, but the shock of falling into this ice cold, muck-filled water headfirst caused me to forget my skill. All I could see was the murky fog of the creamed spinach-green water with occasional glimpses of brown bark, leaves, or twigs floating by.


Without my vision as a guide, I thrashed about wildly, lurching forward, as my feet furiously propelled like an angry helicopter. I cannot remember calling for help. With my mouth and throat stinging as if I had swallowed a shot of Tabasco with an onion and salt chaser, it is not likely that I was able to. Plus, only the fish, or possibly Aquaman would have heard me underwater.


Constantly reaching forward, I finally managed to touch one of the posts of the dock. Its algae-covered surface was oil-slick mixed with the water and its needle-sharp splinters stabbed at my cold, pruning fingers. I could not grab onto to the post.


Suddenly, I heard a rumbling above my head. Horses seemed to be galloping along the dock, but it was a neighbor who had seen me fall in. He ran right over and plucked me from death’s icy, dripping grip.


I was a quivering wet cat when he pulled me out, half cold and half mad that I was forced into the water. My trembling cold soon gave way to a steamy, red heat of embarrassment.


We thanked the man for saving my life and all was soon right. To this day I cannot remember the man’s name, or if I ever knew it in the first place. All I can remember of him was his bushy, brown caterpillar of a mustache. I wish I could have thanked him in a more proper fashion.

Alarm Clock

Curse you, dreaded clock that rings!

Haven’t you much better things

Than waking man from blissful sleep,

You wailing, sleep-depriving creep?


There you stand in hateful wrath,

Staring with your face of math,

Screaming at my body still,

Incessant as a dental drill.


Have you pity in your gears?

Won’t you spare my gentle ears?

Of my pleas, do you refuse?

In brief relief I hit your snooze.

Two Lessons

I had a little smile this morning because, for some reason, I remembered the time that my old girlfriend’s brother, a Stanton and Tulane grad who was attending Carnegie-Mellon at the time, along with his best friend, who both considered me their intellectual inferior because I was a lowly Terry Parker grad (and I do mean “lowly”) who still did not have a college degree from FCCJ, challenged me and lost in consecutive games of Scattergories and Trivial Pursuit. Now, I’m sure they are both much more successful in life than I have been, what with having doctorates and wives and what not, but the two times they challenged me, they lost. Two lessons here: Never Underestimate Another Person’s Intelligence, and When Challenged, Defy Expectations.


Clutter, clutter on the floor,

Clutter, clutter out the door!

Clutter, clutter, here to there,

Clutter, clutter everywhere!


Stacks of piles and piles of stacks,

Mounds of towels, shirts, and slacks!

Cat food, dog food, boxes, sacks,

Assorted loads of multi-packs!


Counter space at premium cost,

More knick-knacks; more inches lost!

The dinner table’s loaded down

With so much stuff it just might drown!


Groceries, luxuries, linens, soaps,

“Will it end?”, one only hopes!

I ponder sitting in that chair;

Will things be piled on me there?


Clutter, clutter on the floor,

Clutter, clutter out the door!

Clutter, clutter here to there,

Clutter, clutter everywhere!


I once had the sheer audacity

To swear off of telling all lies.

Far too often my mendacity

Was ruined by my too honest eyes.


When asked for my honest opinion,

I would often give the reverse.

My eyes, not under my dominion,

Made my dishonesty worse.


So I decided to speak only truth,

And damn any bad consequences,

Though honesty’s sometimes uncouth,

I never had to run for the fences.


Though sometimes the truth hurts a bit,

I never incurred any wrath.

Who can hate that a man will admit

His true feelings, and defy aftermath?


I got out of doing things annoying,

I could be lazy and freely admit it.

I stopped doing what I wasn’t enjoying

If I didn’t like something, I quit it.


My new life was going quite splendidly.

Honesty was such utter bliss,

Until my loved one did ask me,

“Honey, do I look fat in this?”


“Honesty is the best policy”,

Or so I have often heard said.

But honesty was revealed as sheer idiocy,

When she beat me about my head.