Live Reading of “Dr. Seuss on the Juice”

Dr. Seuss on the Juice

(as performed by Dr. John)

When I read Kafka
I get wasted on Vodka,

Though Mr. William Faulkner
Go better with Johnnie Walker.

Can’t do Proust
With no gin in my juice.

Obviously, Jameson be the choice
When I open up my Joyce.

(Finnegan’s Wake sober
Means a walloping hangover).

Never do Virginia Woolf
Unless the bottle say 100 proof.

Nobel Laureate TS Eliot
Requires an even stronger inebriant.

And remember,
if you want to stay alive,
Don’t read and drive.

A Didactic Sonneteer on Crack

The Poet Whose Head Was Turned by Cóilín Murray

A Didactic Sonneteer on Crack

The poet’s eye in a fine frenzy rolling

Sonnet, my ass, you call this piece of shit
A sonnet? Right, a sonnet, oh yeah, sure, sure.
To write a sonnet you must be a man or woman of wit –
It must be one-hundred percent pure,
Cast in iambic pentameter – tick TOCK, tick TOCK –
None of this slapdash fill-in-the-blank-piss-
ass diarrhetic irregularity. Think clock:
Tick TOCK, not TOCK tick, man. It’s got to fit
The pattern. Then at the end – swoosh – you swerve
the focus, attempt to solve the problem, knit
a perfect combination of well-chosen words
into a thought that ought to be uplifting
Or ironic or aphoristic or clever or droll.
You see, that’s a way a sonnet is supposed to roll.

For Caroline, Christmas 2017

Chin H Shin

For Caroline, Christmas 2017

It was my first son’s first birthday
After his mother’s Mother’s Day death.
I had never Ubered downtown before
That windy rain-drenched Wednesday,
But I would be drinking, drinking, aiding and abetting
Zoloft’s numbing affectless effects.

A warehouse converted into a restaurant,
Bricks, tables, a mirror-backed bar,
Water dripping from the brim of my fedora,
“A Jameson’s on the rocks, please.”
Twenty minutes later, the rain still coming down in sheets,
She came in drenched and sat down next to me as planned.

Later, we moved to a table, and I shared my guilt,
What I had not done in those awful last hours.
Shaking her head, she took my hand —
Perhaps she took my hand — but I know for sure
Word for word what she said — too sacred to share —
Seeds of love sown that windswept Wednesday.

Bush Hanging for Beard

Please engage the sound button as you read along because the poem is all about sound.

Bush Hanging for Beard

The sound must seem an echo of the sense.

                        Alexander Pope

Matt Gaetz is one of the bad frat fucks in Animal House,

pompadoured preppy, preening scion of Daddy Hospice Profits,

rotting of entitlement, 

     crowing bout his cockle-a-doodle-doo conquests, 

hungering for heed, 

                                        donning a gas mask on the Floor of the House to mock meetness!

Shame on him.

Yet, for me, surprisingly, 

his well-deserved ills 

haven’t spanned schadenfreude

but a sense of satisfaction instead. 

Thy karmic comeuppance be done,

on earth as it is in Hollywood. 

Theme of the month: There is some danger in being an asshole.

An Homage to Bo Diddley

I can’t remember when I first heard the song “Bo Diddley” with its hambone beat, hypnotic riffs, and Jerome Green powered maracas, but it thrilled me. I realize that Chuck Berry’s more wide-ranging musically and possesses a deeper canon, but Bo’s early songs with their African rhythms reverberated in my marrowbone like nothing else in early rock-n-roll. 

Later in high school, my friend Tim Miskel turned me onto the album Animal Tracks. On the final cut of Side 1, Eric Burdon provides a five-minute bio of Bo, which initiated a mild obsession.

One day, one night
Came a Cadillac, four headlights
Came a man with a big long fat cigar.
He said “Come here son, I’m going to make you a star.”
Bo Diddley said, “Uh, what’s in it for me?”
The man said, “Uh, shut your mouth son and play the guitar
And you just wait and see.”

                                    From “The Story of Boy Diddley,” Animal Tracks

Whenever I’d go into a new record store, I’d see if they had any Diddley. No luck ever until one day I wandered into Fox Music House on King Street in Charleston. Their inventory was eclectic, old-fashioned, but sparse. You could cop some Doris Day but not the Stones. As I was flipping through their loosely organized bins, I found a first edition copy of Bo Diddley’s Beach Party (recorded live at the Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, SC). Fox sold albums for the exorbitant price of five dollars a pop.[1]  I actually tried to talk the clerk into a discount. “No one’s ever going to buy this record,” I argued. “It’ been sitting here since since 1964.” It was no dice, but I snatched it up anyway. By the way, the vinyl was heavy on those discs of yore; you could beat someone senseless with a pre-70s LP.

Alas, one debauched night in the first semester of my freshman year, I left Beach Party on the floor of the suite adjoining our dorm rooms, and someone stepped on it. The damned thing cracked like a glass plate.

Chalk it up to the wages of carelessness or drunkenness or gangafication or a combination of the three.

Later, in graduate school, all hepped up on Dada, my friends Jake Williams, Keith Sanders, and I had a mini Bo revival. We nearly wore out Keith’s Diddley’s records. We’d meet on Sunday evenings, prepare dinner, imbibe second tier scotch, and jive talk our way into the wee hours while listening to Keith’s world class vinyl collection.

A few flips of the calendar later, in the pre-children early years of my marriage to Judy Birdsong, I got to see Bo play live at a club in North Charleston. In between sets, I approached him as he walked off stage.

Wesley: Oh, man, Bo, I’m such a big fan. This is such an honor.

Bo: silence.

Wesley: Hey, Bo, where’s Jerome Green, your maraca man?

Bo: deceased.

Wesley: How about the Duchess?

Bo: Chicago.

Wesley (finally getting the hint): Well, thank you so much!

Bo: head nod.

Well, in the course of the years that followed – childbirth, school days, graduation, empty nest, cancer, the death of Judy – my Bo Diddley obsession faded away,[2] though I still listened to him now and then and sometimes included one of his songs on the mixed tapes and later mixed CDs I made for my students who won vocabulary bees. 

When Caroline, my second wife, took me to meet her father Lee Tigner for the first time in the wilds of Awendaw, I discovered that he, too, was a Diddley devotee and could match me lyric for lyric. He also had met Bo in person but received a somewhat warmer albeit taciturn response. After Bo’s demise, Lee made the pilgrimage to Bronson, Florida, to visit the grave of the master. We’re talking about serious admiration. 

Lee Tigner at Bo Diddley’s grave

Anyway, Lee and I bonded over Bo, which is perhaps a small compensation to him in light of my being an unintrepid indoorsman. 

A couple of weeks ago, on an internet hunt, I found a copy of the late departed Bo Diddley’s Beach Party for sale and ordered it. It finally arrived today. So now, when Lee’s birthday comes around, I’ve gotten him a gift that I know he’s gonna dig, at least more than he did the last Christmas president I got him, an autographed copy of a mystery set on Folly Beach that Lee pegged as the worst novel ever published in the United States.

I’ll leave you with this:


[1] Back then, most albums cost under three bucks.

[2] If you’re gonna get all grammatical on me and say the “away” is unnecessary, I’ll respond by saying that it’s an allusion to Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” which uses the Bo Diddley beat. 

Easter Weekend 2021: Matt Gaetz and Barroom Brawls

I wonder what Matt Gaetz is up to this weekend. Shopping for lawyers? Taking one last peek at nude pix of his sexual conquests before erasing them on his iPhone 12?[1] Checking out rehab facilities?

I suspect right about now Matt probably agrees with TS Eliot’s assessment that April is the cruelest month, breeding investigations out of his sordid past, mixing memory with desire, etc. 

You’ve probably heard the Hemingway definition of beauty: grace under pressure. Well, Matt’s initial response to the revelation that he may have been involved with sex trafficking with minors wasn’t exactly pretty. He allowed himself to be interviewed by Tucker Carlson and spewed a bucketful of ill-considered information, for example, that his father wore a wire in an FBI investigation. And although Gaetz has categorically denied the various lurid allegations, the long list of colleagues and acquaintances who can’t stand him are sharing raunchy stories of deviant behavior stretching back to his days in the state legislature where he represented Florida’s Panhandle, the setting of the murder in Easy Rider, i.e., a rustic-ridden south-of-Alabama rightwing hellhole.

Well, all I can say to Representative Gaetz are the very words I said to a drunk who got punched out by a woman last night at the Surf Bar, “There’s some danger in being an asshole.”

This incident is the second instance in which I’ve been interviewed by the Folly Police in the last year. The first dealt with a couple behaving Gaetz-like on the screened porch of a neighbor who had moved. He had asked me to keep an eye on the house, and when I saw a strange car in the driveway and the workshop door open, I donned my Philip Marlowe persona and investigated.[2]  Despite my deafness, I heard some clamor on the screen porch and caught a heterosexual couple in flagrante delicto.[3] I suggested they leave, and they apologetically obliged, but the police caught wind, so I had to be interviewed. The owner was benevolent, didn’t press charges, but wanted the lustbirds to suffer some slight discomfort for their misdeeds. 

The fellow last night at the Surf Bar suffered more than a little discomfort: he got punched twice in the face by a young woman who could have been Laila Ali’s sparring partner. 

Caroline, our friend Whitney, and I were braving the cold on the porch of the Surf Bar enjoying their excellent Philly cheesesteak. This short White fellow in his twenties, dressed like an Eminem wannabe, approached our table and asked for a light, which we couldn’t provide.[4] There’s a fireplace on the porch, and five young women were sitting in a semicircle in front of it, enjoying the flames. After a while, I noticed that the young lighter-seeking man had joined them on the far end of the semicircle. I also noticed that the man and a couple of the women were engaged in a heated conversation. I asked one of the women who had returned from the restroom if the fellow was bothering them, and if so, I’d be happy to intervene. She smiled and said, “No thanks.” She then circled around the back of the dude and yanked the leg of his chair, sending him sprawling backward. As he attempted get up, she smacked him in the face twice with two well-delivered rights. Before she could cause more carnage, I leapt up and pulled them apart. He, of course, had been harassing them, had called one next to him the c-word, told her she was too ugly to sit next to, and continued to harass them until our heroine had had enough. 

the fireplace at the Surf Bar

I suggested to the fellow that he mosey along because he wouldn’t want the police involved, but he adamantly refused and sat back down in the now upright chair, whining about how he had been hit. Some muscle from inside the bar emerged and escorted him out, trying, as I had, to reason with him. 

It was sort of exciting in an adrenaline pumping way, and our meals were comped, but then who returns with policemen in tow. The twerp. He actually summoned the police because “a girl” had punched him. After interviewing the provocateur, the officer asked for my version, and I gave him a non-judgmental cinematic retelling of what had transpired, including the toppling and punching. The officer said this fellow had already been banned from several Folly bars and that he was from Philly on the lam from a petty larceny charge that was too smalltime to warrant extradition. 

So that was that, but I couldn’t help but feel in light of how horribly Gaetz treats women, how horribly many men treat women, a certain warm glow of satisfaction to see the sawed-off Kid Rock get coldcocked by a pissed-off damsel.

Yes, there is some danger in being an asshole.


[1] I understand that nude photography is now commonplace among romantic partners and that sending explicit photos of oneself can be part of the early stages of wooing, and although I have no personal experience in the phenomenon, I do have some advice for Representative Gaetz: hire an airplane, fly down to Costa Rica, and drop the phone into the volcanic vent of Arenal. 

[2] Not surprisingly, I was sporting a fedora. 

[3] Literally, “in flaming offense.”

[4] A less delicate sensibility than mine might tag him as a w-word, you know, that designation for funky clad White hip-hop aficionados that rhymes with the name of Roy Rogers’s horse.