The Sixth Deadly Sin

Anger Transformation, image via Bidita Rahman

The Sixth Deadly Sin

Anger begins with folly and ends with repentance – Pythagoras

I’m no stranger to anger – I’m not proud of this – but I’ve poured beers over people’s heads, assaulted deaf heaven with bootless cries, smashed my brothers’ model of the human skeleton on a hardwood floor and shoved each individual bone beneath the door of his judiciously locked bedroom. 

Even though I was much, much younger than Will Smith when I committed these examples of Deadly Sin Number Six, I can relate to rashness, the fire in the veins that short-circuits the pauser reason, the anger-spawned and awful daring of a moment’s surrender, the explosion, the exhilaration, but also the subsequent miasma of guilt-ridden regret, which, if you’re like me, might suddenly rise to consciousness a half century later and make you cringe as you recall your lack of human decency.

At least, in my case, my acts of assholedom weren’t caught on camera, much less viewed by millions. It’s bad enough reliving grainy reruns in my memory. [1]  

Will Smith, on the other hand . . . 

At any rate, I find it much easier to forgive the slap than the subsequent speech, which I heard live, a shameful, weepy, entitled, excuse-ridden justification that quoted the Gospels as Smith claimed to aspire to be a “vessel of love.”

No, man, that was some Old Testament smiting shit you were throwing down. For your own good, embrace shame because it serves you right to suffer. Take a month off, read Crime and Punishment or the Brothers Karamazov.

Uh-oh, my prose is starting to rhyme, which means it’s time to shut the-you-know-what up.

Nighty night. Until next time, indulgent readers.

[1] I realize many of my fellow Lefties believe we shouldn’t be talking about Will Smith’s bitch-slapping Chris Rock when there’s more serious badness afoot: to wit, a coup sparked by a President and partly organized by a Supreme Court Justice’s whacko wife, who later cajoled the White House’s chief-of staff to overthrow the election, not to mention the Ukraine horrorshow, tactical nukes, WW3, etc. etc. 

But, hey, the Academy Award assault is interesting, worth contemplating, fun to talk about. I’m a big fan of Chris Rock, a fellow South Carolinian who has described our home state as “the dirt road not taken.” I didn’t dig his getting backhanded. Anyway, all existential angst and no schadenfreude makes Wesley/Rusty a dull [mannish] boy. Or, as the Underground Man puts it, “I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”

A Dog Ain’t Necessarily a Gentleman

Victorian Whippet by Michael Thomas

My love for creatures isn’t wholesale. 

For example, I don’t love a dog merely because it’s a dog, don’t love a baby because it’s merely a baby. Loving something just because in falls into category strikes me as indiscriminate.  

Oh, look at baby Putin, he’s so adorable. Coochie Coochie Coo, Vladimir. 

On the other hand, I have loved and do love individual dogs like Jack, Sally, Bessie, Saisy, Milo, Cosmo, Daisy, and KitKat because they cool, not because they merely possess four legs, sport fur, and love you unconditionally if you feed them and offer them the scantest attention.[1] I don’t love babies because they’re supposedly innocent or cute or whatever. I love babies with personality, party babies, babies with soul.  Like this one:

Grandson Julian

If you don’t like dogs – and some people don’t – it’s probably not a great idea to announce it on your Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles.[2] For whatever reason, where I live dogs have risen in status approaching the parental love levels of demi-human.[3]  Sometimes. it seems to me that people who bring their dogs to bars consider their dogs alter egos, like the dog is an extension of themselves, a walking scarf, as it were. I suspect that some dog owners work all day and feel obligated to drag their shepherds and Boykins to Chico Feo or Lowlife for a modicum of stimulation and companionship for the dog while the owners seek human contact and alcohol. 

Unfortunately, today I had unpleasant encounters with three bar dogs. The first one, one of these ubiquitous poodle mixes (perhaps a waddle waddle doodle doodle) was lying underneath my stool and looked up beseechingly and me, so I addressed him as if he were human, saying something along the lines of, “How you doing, Buddy Roe,” and he immediately growled at me, showing his teeth. His owner, a dour faced woman eating an exotic dish, didn’t chide the dog, so I said to it testily, raising my hands with palms pushing outward, “End of conversation, canine.”

A bit later as I was leaving, my passage was blocked by two straining spaniels on leashes, held by an attractive smiling blonde, and when I tried to slide past them, they barked aggressively.

I stopped and addressed the dogs. “Look,” I said, “I come to this bar practically every day. This is my territory.” Then glanced at the woman and said, “I’m serious.” 

A Dear Abby suggestion: If you’re gonna bring belligerent dogs to restaurants, sit in a corner. 

On the way home, the light was beautiful as I walked down Cooper to Hudson to take KitKat out to pee, which she did indeed, happy but not overjoyed to see me. 

The cat, on the other hand, hangs with me in the study, now asleep he is, curled up like a black, hairy caterpillar. No way I’m ever taking him to a bar.

[1] I’m a slack ass grammarian and lazy to boot, so I omitted the verb here because most of the dogs are dead, though a couple are alive, and I didn’t want to clutter the sentence with the verbs “were” and “are” as in “because they are and were cool.” I could have used “be” as in “they be cool.” But you really don’t need it:

            We real cool. We   

            Left school. We

            Lurk late. We

            Strike straight. We

            Sing sin. We   

            Thin gin. We

            Jazz June. We   

            Die soon.

[2] Donald Trump isn’t into dogs, not to mention not being into his son Barron, or whatever his name is. Some people consider not liking dogs a character flaw, but I don’t. Not liking your son is a different matter. Trump’s father doesn’t seem to have loved him, which reminds me of these lines from Larkin:

Man hands on misery to man.

    It deepens like a coastal shelf.

Get out as early as you can,

    And don’t have any kids yourself.

[3] Parental here means ownership. Dogs have become like offspring, especially for single people, which is fine.

For Caroline, on Her Birthday

Caroline Tigner Moore

Although she doesn’t publish, my wife Caroline Tigner Moore is an elegant, accomplished poet, one who embraces Archibald MacLeish’s dicta in “Ars Poetica.” MacLeish argues that poems should embody abstractions in images rather than merely stating themes.

A poem should be equal to:
Not true.

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf.

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea—

A poem should not mean
But be.

Archibald MacLeish from “Ars Poetica”

Caroline is a craftsperson, one who eliminates every extraneous word so that her final product is imbued with meaning.

For example, check this link out.

She prefers fixed forms, villanelles, sonnets, even limericks.

So perhaps foolishly, I have attempted to channel her methodology in a sonnet celebrating her birthday.

For Caroline, on Her Birthday

Modern poets eschew silken sonnets,
consider them passe, clichéd, old hat –
like antiquated Easter bonnets –
but Caroline Moore doesn’t buy into that.

When she puts her pen to paper, she seeks
to frame her words within a fitting form,
to render vaporous thoughts concrete,
even as they billow, swirl, and swarm

inside her head ¬– sonnets, villanelles –
fixed forms that demand strict cohesion,
apt rhymes and rhythmic syllables
befitting terrain and season.

Oh, how she has rejuvenated my life,
My discerning poet, my word-wielding wife!

Happy Birthday, my love!

Happy Birthday, my love!

Getting Wasted in Margaritaville

photo courtesy of Savannah Morning News via Latitude Margaritaville

When it comes to dead-end hedonism, I’m not one to wag my trembling finger at those Boomers who have opted to spend the twilight of their lives playing pickle ball, riding from bar to bar on golfcarts, or listening to classic rock on what they wished might be a never-ending loop.[1] In other words, I’d be a hypocrite to diss the 55-plus crowd who have decided to purchase expanded dorm suites in the Jimmy Buffet-themed retirement community of Margaritaville.

After all, nearly every afternoon, I shuffle down to Chico Feo to bask in its Caribbean vibe and consume two or three session IPAs (on Monday open mic night maybe six or even seven).  I will say, however, that Chico provides much more diversity than Margaritaville (which you can read about in this New Yorker article).

For one thing, Chico offers a range of ages, from minors unsuccessfully trying to pass off fake IDs, to surfer dudes with their bronze tans, bleached hair, and intricate tattoos; to middle-aged Folly denizens; to tourists, who come in all ages, shapes, and sizes; and finally, to codgers like I-and-I with, if not one foot in the grave, a big toe testing the temperature of the down below.[2]

Chico Feo in the Morning, collage by Wesley Moore (for sale to a hip family)

Obviously, Margaritaville also lacks economic diversity, which Chico possesses in spades. Economic diversity, I might add, enriches those of us who hang with the day-to-day strugglers, which for many years I counted myself as one. Dishwashers and house painters don’t share their First World irritations but tend to embrace the swirling eddies of day-to-day existence where the future exists merely as tomorrow’s sunrise. 

Blind Willie McTell’s dishwasher never went on the fritz, which brings to mind that American musical culture comes to us from the bottom up, from Mississippi Delta shacks and hillbilly hovels, not from the gated communities where Bennington Rhodes is unsuccessfully attempting to tune his brand-new Stratocaster. 

Of course, Margaritaville has its share of house cleaners and maintenance workers, but they’re unlikely to be swapping tales with the parrot-shirted McSweenys, who have forsaken the high taxes of the Delaware for sunny, low-tax Daytona Beach.

Chico also possesses a modicum of racial diversity, and once again, I can’t imagine that many African Americans admire Jimmy Buffett’s meld of country and calypso.[3]  

A bright lightbulb just flashed on above my fedora: Some enterprising entrepreneurs should come up with a retirement community based on Willie Dixon’s music. I might seriously consider moving to Wang-Dang-Doodleville:

Tell fats and washboard sam
That everybody’s gonna jam
Just shake it boxcar joe
We got sawdust on the floor
Tell chicken head till I die
We’re gonna have a time
When the fish head fills the air
Be snuff juice everywhere
We’re gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all night long

[1] I suspect that Eric Burdon and War’s cover of “Mother Earth”: isn’t on the playlist:

Mother Earth is waitin’ for you, yes she is.
She is big and she’s round,
And it’s cold way down in the ground.

[2] They say teaching high school keeps you young because you spend many of your days with adolescents. I think this is true to an extent. Also, you don’t know how close I came to mixing metaphors with that sentence.

[3] Nor am I fan, except for his early album A-I-A.

Let’s Not Cue Barry McGuire

from Blade Runner

I believe that old folks, senior citizens, golden-agers, stooped shufflers – whatever you want to call them – tend to project their mental and bodily decay on the world at large, which leads them to disparage the present and overpraise “the good ol’ days.”  Of course, their parents did the same, derided those good ol’ days we fondly look back on as doom-ladened even as they themselves waxed nostalgic about World War II or the Great Depression.[1]

And I can’t help but wonder if this tendency might have something to do with moon-faced Vladimir Putin’s waging war on Ukraine as he nostalgically looks back on the post-Stalinist era of his youth, on good ol’ Nikita banging on a UN desk with his shoe, a lapse of protocol that makes Marjorie Taylor Greene’s and Lauren Boebert’s screeching during Biden’s the State of the Union address seem downright urbane.

The 60s, the good ol’ days
owning the libs

Putin wants to restore the Soviet Empire, a project not unlike restoring the Blade Runner set. Look, I spent twenty-eight days in the Soviet Union in 1989, and I’d never witnessed a population more depressed, especially in Leningrad where virtually every face I encountered was stamped with despair.

If you’d like, you can click HERE for a side trip that offers more specifics on the despair.

Ah, yes, 1989, fun times in the Evil Empire

To be fair, Putin did a fairly good job of fostering a middle class, even in a Kleptocracy, that is, up to now. 

At any rate, Putin is suffering from some malady, perhaps Parkinson’s, as his shuffling gate and clenched fist suggest, or perhaps he’s had a stroke. At any rate, he’s obviously on steroids, and some have even suggested his belligerence is rooted in “roid rage.”

Given the six-thousand nukes he has at his disposal, it’s pretty damned scary. I remember in the fourth-grade squatting under desks during the Cuban Missile Crisis in duck and cover drills[2]

Now, with my bad back and aching knees, I’m not sure I’m capable of squatting, so let’s pray –if we pray and hope if we don’t – that Putin shows some restraint. He does, I hear, have to daughters via his first wife and four more with a mistress, an Olympic gold medalist gymnast, who, no doubt, is very adept at squatting.


[1] Writeth achy Wesley in his 69th year.

[2] An oldie but goodie: “In the event of a nuclear attack, get under the desk, cover your head with your hands, and kiss your ass goodbye.”

Sonnet-ish: “What Can I Do, Dad?” “Nothing, Son”

Richard Tuschman, Pink Bedroom (Still Life at Night)

“Sonnet-ish: What Can I do, Dad?” “Nothing, son.”

He quit watching the news, quit his book club,
quit shaving. Let the subscriptions lapse.

Sleep became a hum, dreams dubbed
like foreign films, the phlegmy rasp
of his breathing a cause of concern
not broached by Mama or me.
He did trudge off to lecture
until the dean dismissed him.

Near the end he called out from his bed
Mama was out running errands. “Yes sir?”
I said, cracking open the door. “Sleep, I need to sleep.”
I was fifteen. “My dreams,” he said,
“all take place in this room, ghosts,
floating above the bed, gossipy whisperers.”

From Crib to Crib

Aleksei Adele Panilov

I’ve been devoting un-precious moments of my wee-hour insomnia thinking about Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. 


He’s lying on his back in a crib or cradle kicking his little legs and waving his little arms.

Grandmother, Mother, and Baby Putin


He’s in middle school, pasty and sawed-off[1], targeted by bullies who stink of B.O and Turkish cigarettes.[2]


Now, he’s sitting at the end of a table, a fifth of an American football field[3] from his nearest underling.

(Photo by Alexei Nikolsky\TASS via Getty Images)

In a recent NYT op-ed piece. Madeleine Albright, who spent three hours with Putin when she was Clinton’s secretary of state, described him as “reptilian.”

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
Exhibit C

So obviously something went terribly wrong with him somehow, somewhere. 

He claims to have revered his parents, so they must have loved him – or maybe not.

A bad seed?

I bet it’s complicated.

Then end product is overcompensation. Why all the overcompensation?

Overcompensation, micro and macro. 

            Micro: Judo black belts, bare-chested horsemanship. 

            Macro: Resurrecting the former Soviet Union.

In the irrational pre-dawn of my depressive sleeplessness, it seems we’re regressing, devolving, that even in the US democracy is disappearing.[4]

Meanwhile, In Ukraine, babies lie on their backs, kick their little legs, wave their little arms.

[1] A hip 1950’s synonym for “short.”

[2] I spent twenty-eighty days in June of ’89 in the Soviet Union. Anonymous high rises galore, the stench of Turkish cigarettes, shuffling pedestrians everywhere looking down at the sidewalk. 

Putin’s citizens are more prosperous, less woebegone. He’s popular, especially among the countryfolk, c.f. Trump

[3] Approx. twenty yards, two first downs, i.e., 18.288 meters, give or take a centimeter or two.

[4] Folk wisdom insists “that just before daylight is the darkest hour.”