Friday, February 29, 2008

SUE'S T SHIRT for Sewer Raccoon News ed.'s birthday

You've done it again! I love the T shirt! and am so fortunate to have family understanding of my gnome/non-gnome fetish. When I join my fellow gnomies in the great hereafter, I may appear now and then out of the corner of your eye, beneath an amanita muscaria mushroom, just hanging around keeping watch, by night, even. Maybe riding a frog..................
Many blessings upon you and your various endeavors!
SR editor

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Tin roof blues

Hi Dave,

It's me, seaweed-harvester ( & temporarily-retired attorney), Bob, of Puget Sound.

I have a domestic problem I thought you might help me with. It concerns my smelly-cheese disdaining wife. I have a condition, Dave, that causes me to buy every available lawn trinket I can lay my hands on. I say "condition" because that's just what my wife calls it. To me, I am normal. I finally bought a tin-roofed shed in the Olympic forest near the Dungeness River off River Road at Sequim. [Snapshot enclosed.]It's not far from what my wife calls our "regular" home.

I stay at the shed whenever I get to missing my figurines, plaster gnomes, flamingoes, and the rest of my beloved motionless friends. Our lawn at home is so pristine - void of anything but the usual trees and shrubbery - that I get attacks of virtual amnesia whenever I mow the pathless, untruly addorned lawn. I'll go out with the mower and quickly forget where I am. There are no reference points. My shed lawn is sparsely mowable with scissors.

This is a much smaller place than the regular home. As soon as I bought it, my wife quickly moved all my friends here. I can still come home, but except for her I am directionless with nothing to bounce off. As a gnome man, according to my reading in the raccoon news, you're one guy who would understand.

In effigy,

Puget Bob


PB: Know where you're comin' from, know where you're comin' from! I have had to keep my gnome and trinket purchases to a severe minimum, (many of them inside) and even so, my door-to-door educational book-selling son in college has bluntly informed me that he would never stop at our door. "Too many trinkets!" he dismisses, as just a fact of marketing life.

As to your lawn-mowing problem, I do get to keep enough of my gnomes and statues that lawn-mowing navigation trouble is not a factor. Also, my wife herself is the lawn-mower. I'm thinking I've got it quite made here. I get to have some gnomes, and I get the lawn mowed to boot. Yes, I well know that such good fortune is not etched in stone, or epoxy-resin, or plaster. Nothing lasts forever.

If you ever get out our way, Bob, I'll take you to the Dickeyville (WI) grotto, where I sometimes go when my lawn ornament lust builds up. I manage to accept my comparatively untrinketed life with occasional trips there, where I can worship the gnome-age and the billions and billions of intricately-fitted structures made of broken crockery, colored stones, and sea shells. See:

Visiting Dickeyville is kind of like visiting a porn website, but the theme there is religious and patriotic. Meanwhile, I'll think of you, Bob, at your luxurious, circumbscribed, trimmed-just-right for-me get-away.

SRN ed.

ps: I love tin roofs when it rains, don't you?


As Part of Simple Paintings
Particularly in the gull & sea shore lower one, the editor studied the wood before deciding what to paint. He is not skilled, obviously. Nearly any elementary school pupil can draw like that, or better, and does. These, however, are the products of this untrained addressor, in the Sewer Raccoon district.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who said "Scrawny neck?"

I hate(d) your scrawny neck
Now scrawnier-necked myself (karma)
Driver's license renewed today is how I know......
but never a gum chewer

Your neck skin is fitted so tight to all the cords
and bones inside that when you swallow
from your perpetual gum chewing,
animation is given to all those interior parts
I have absolutely no interest in seeing;

your head perches atop your golf tee neck
and swivels so anxiously left and right
twisting all those cords and should-be invisibles
you look like a perpetual motion
twist-left, twist-right lab display!

You look like an ostrich:
your lips somehow because of your gum-chewing
protrude flatly out in front of you
like a bill, and when you talk,
I hear a clacking sound, any words are lost!

I wouldn't have noticed all this ugliness
had it not been for your constant stoking
of your mouth, hiddenly, I'll give you that,
with fresh pieces of chewing gum.
The movement, the cnutch- cnutching

draws attention to your big head
and your scrawny neck.
I also don't like the speed with which
you chew, like a jackal trying to consume
something before it's snatched away

Because of this, you are very very ugly
but if you could get along without the gum
I wouldn't notice you,
you'd be just another unfortunate pop-eyed
Guppie face in a crowd

Get some fat on your neck,
will you please?
If you're going to chew that gum
day in and day out, I'd consider
It a favor if you'd make it so

I wouldn't have to watch your
peristalsis swallowing wave
moving gum juice down your
shrunk-wrapped throat!

This is my thing about you.
[Zep 1-4-00]

There's OWLS out there!

Cat Ass Trophy

How many times must one say NO!
to a cat begging to go out
after hours

My reckoning of how many

times I've leaned down to advise her


my disposition; for heaven's sake,

do you want to hear those mighty descending wings

from the nocturnal sky? She glowers,

having no imagination, I guess,

and continues her pitiful begging to go out

and take her chances during the darkening hours

An owl will, believe me, WILL swoop down

and pick you, you tasty morsel, as if

you were nothing heftier that one of our flowers

growing outside the door, in whose midst you slink and creep;

These owls are big with talons sinking deep

they'll carry you to a treetop, disembowelers

these owls are, your nemeses;

You don't want to find yourself with great ease flying upward

by surprise, my pussy, to be sliced, diced, and devoured!

Like talking to a catter-wall,

at night a different creature;

She persists! "Mee-ow, Mee-OW, ,MEE-OW!" Hers

to learn the hard beak way, but not on this watch!

Her bones and parts shan't be reduced to pellets, trophies

dropped under the Tamarack's peaceable bowers!

No is NO, my furryfriend, reckon thyself lucky;

Yea, and compose and confine thyself;

not to be an owl's, your howls and bowels are ours!


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What should we play today?

This remarkable paper doll was found being used as a bookmark in a copy of Michener's Recessional that I gave to my dad in 1995. After his passing in '98 I recovered it to read myself "someday."
I took it down from the shelf last evening and the paper doll tumbled out as I held the book in bed. What a surprise! The back side, which you can read enlarged - as with any pictures in the Sewer Raccoon News by simply left clicking on the image - says the dressing doll was made for the King and Queen (of England?).
My caroming mind was led to reflect that paper dolls are a thing of the past. This lad probably had several fancy outfits that would fit over him with tabs folded back.
And what wondrous affects could be obtained!

from SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN by Thomas Merton

My Lord God I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really understand myself.
And the fact that I think I am following Your will
does not mean I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope I have the desire
in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear for you are ever with me
and you will never leave me
to face my troubles alone.
Thomas Merton

hats, and hats

Raisons d'etat

(Waukesha 2-26-08) Raccoons, Gnomes and Nissa men - some, riding crickets - Zeppelins, rank cheese, and one goes down the list of subjects at the right looking for a common thread, but there isn't any.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Atty Bob from Puget Sound, seaweed-gather, writes:

Hey Dave!

Thanks for the well-wishes on my fill-in job as a seaweed-gatherer while my legal practice is down. Things are going pretty well, and I've even recently found another barnacle-covered Japanese fishing net float in a tide pool I was working. Since I've been harvesting seaweed I've found two of these treasures! Buffeted by the vagaries of wind and current, considering the vastness of the Pacific, it is as though someone were sprinking these floats like easter eggs closer to home.

I noticed the piece in the here popular (Puget Sound area) Sewer Raccoon News about your consumption of smelly cheese. By golly, there's another thing we have in common! For me, the rancid-er the better! You are on the same track regarding storing the smelliest of cheeses in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

I sacrificed a perfectly good radish-buncher rubber band around a cardboard box of super ripe liederkrantz. The band and the container crumbled after about a week in the icebox and I had to throw away the entire "contaminated" contents of the fridge, in observance of my wife's peculiar nose-sensitive edict.

The truly smelly cheese habit can be costly. JAR STORAGE A MUST!

As (n)ever,


Glad to hear from you, and that the seaweed-harvesting is keeping seafood on the table.
As to the "horrendously offensive" cheese habit:
I picked it up as a child observing my parents and my Uncle Lee and Aunt Frances consuming it with beer, in the 1940's. Sometimes my dad would make me eat a lob of ripe limburger on a cracker after he had gotten merry, and they would laugh and laugh at my gagging. Eating o'r ripe cheese was an re-enactment, I think, of a WW II assault for Dad and Uncle Lee, and their wives were solid Dixians by marriage.
Dad fought the Germans and Uncle Lee was back from New Guinea, and they had, while surrounded - in Dad's case -, eaten rats cooked in US helmets, had been to the woodshed and seen (and eaten) some things pretty nasty. Eating buzzing cheese was just some more of the hair of the dog that bit them. It was like beating one's chest in defiance of natural laws.
Then I grew older and came to appreciate the essence of smelly cheese on my own. Voluntarily. Everything in it's own (or past its own) time, Bob. I ate the foisted, wicked cheese from my temporarily-torturous father's hand gradually more at ease, and by gosh, even got into the raw oysters he would order me to swallow. Pretty soon I was hooked on these foods, and even some others..........eventually I was just pretending not like them!
Now when I break open a jar of limburger - with rubber gloves if MY wife is near - I think of my parents and those ribald evenings at 623 Arcadian.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Keep in tightly-sealed jar, refrigerated and out of sunlight

I have received from a friend
a very manly brick of Limburger cheese.
I say manly because women usually
don't eat cheese that buzzes
and is as old-aged as mine.

This cube of cheese has an odor
Perhaps best described as that which issues
from long-unwashed underwear hems.
To eat it is to be arrested, overcome.

You cannot eat this cheese
and do anything else as a secondary activity;
your full attention is riveted to the consuming act
as though you're on a wing-walking excursion,

or shaving with an extremely sharp straight razor.
I gaze at this cheese contemplating
burying it in the yard
or eating more. The cat tries to bury it
on the hard tabletop, but
I decide to eat more.

There is an edible-if-you-dare rind
around this cheese that sweats
when it is exposed to air. I keep my Limburger
in a tight jar once opened, and

I appreciate that this cheese
continues its critical mass build-up
even when refrigerated and stored thusly;
eating limburger reminds me of
other nasty things I 've done.

Afterwards, no amount
of hand-washing will
remove me
from the consequence of my deed,

but I can assume thoughtful poses
with my fingers near my nose
and secretly re-live it all
in blissful reverie.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


This day
Feb. 23, 2008
Two sisters are not well

My sister-in-law grapples with
A long-time chronic fatigue syndrome
Though with a full schedule

And another very worried
somebody’s sister
I heard yesterday
Is facing a grim prospect;
Around the world

The sisterhood is troubled

In my south window,
I think;
And the sun illuminates
The room
From west to east

[dd 2-23-08]


Local Sneeze speaks:

Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley);
Date:Feb 23, 2008;
Page Number:6A

Your health
Cat owners less likely to die of heart attack, stroke, study finds
Health benefit not seen for dogs

MINNEAPOLIS (MCT) – Here, kitty kitty. A new study suggests cat owners are less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than people who, well, don’t own cats. And no, dogs don’t do the same trick. The study, by researchers at the University of Minnesota, found that feline-less people were 30 percent to 40 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those with cats. Yet dog owners had the same rate as non-owners. ‘‘No protective effect of dogs as domestic pets was observed,’’ said the study, which was presented Thursday at the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans. Dr. Adnan Qureshi, a stroke expert at the university, said he decided to raise the question because other studies have suggested pets can help reduce stress. He and his team analyzed a group of 4,435 people who had answered questionnaires about pet ownership and other risk factors. But the cat-dog differential came as a surprise. ‘‘We don’t understand this completely,’’ he said, but ‘‘it’s probably not a coincidence.’’ Asked if he owns a cat, Qureshi replied: ‘‘No. Maybe I should get one, though. With this new research, I think the time has come to change. ’’

The SR News editor agrees with today's above article from the sometimes impeachable Ann Coulter-running Waukesha Daily Freeman. Living with serene Mona-Bob the cat very likely saved him from expiration, and more than once. Of course - any maybe the reader didn't know THIS - living in close proximity to sewer raccoons also helps.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Juneau Lodge 21, Knights of Pythias, elect officers

Outcome of tight race

The Juneau members recently held their annual election of officers, and the Sewer Raccoon News takes particular delight in publishing the intendedly dim images. Dim as they were received here, not by anything we've done to doctor them.

The SR News editor is somewhat portrayed above in his incarnation of The Prelate. However, more significantly, his brother Steve Hale is shown front and center as the Chancellor Commander. Or, as the popularly re-elected officer self-deprecatingly says, "The Grand Poo-bah."

The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal order formed in 1864. Most of the members are old, partly because of that. Brotherhood lodgers are endangered. But the dominant goals prevail as ever: to promote the legend of Damian and Pythias, and to encourage Friendship, Charity and Benevolence. 1864 saw the end of the Civil War, and it was felt by the late founder Justis Rathbone and his fellows that healing friendship between the warring sides was a necessity. Reconciliation, and an exertion to thwart anger and dissension prevail at our meetings.

For more information (and you are always welcome) see:

We current knights begin, on arriving at our twice-monthy meetings (as we assemble from all parts of the greater Milwaukee area,) with a round of handshakes, and ensuing comaraderie. A smorgasbord is held at the end of every meeting. The middle part? Well, you have to come and join to find out.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Come, Josephine, in my flying machine.............

With this entry the Sewer Raccoon News brings to a tentative conclusion
the review of some of the works of the famous Dutchman, H.W. Van Loon.
It was this editor's good fortune to have been exposed to Van Loon's genius years ago.
His written compositions+ pen and ink drawings: SUPERB!
Here, we display his North Sea view from a bi-plane, shown three ways as would be possible by an aviator. By itself without reference to the subject matter Van Loon comes up with a strikingly modern work of art as to perspective and color juxtaposition. With consideration given to his theme, a plane flying over a body of water, the result is stunning.

Timeless, writer illustrator H.W. Van Loon, man of Holland birth

[see the zeppelin upper right corner for the "Now" denotation]


During only a couple of thousands of centuries (a mere second from the point of view of eternity) the human race has made itself the undisputed ruler of every bit of land and at present (Ed. note: 1932) it bids fair to add both air and sea as part of its domains. And all that, if you please, has been accomplished by a few hundred million creatures who have enjoyed not one single advantage over their enemies except the divine gift of Reason.

Even there I am exaggerating. The gift of Reason in its more sublime form and the ability to think for one’s self is restricted to a mere handful of men and women. They therefore became the masters who lead. The others, no matter how much they may resent the fact, can only follow. The result is a strange and halting procession, for no matter how hard people may try, there are ten thousand stragglers for every true pioneer.

Whither the route of march will eventually lead us, that we do not know. But in the light of what has been achieved during the last four thousand years, there is no limit to the sum total of our potential achievements - unless we are tempted away from the path of normal development by our strange inherent cruelty which makes us treat other members of our own species as we would never have dared to treat a cow or a dog, or even a tree.

The earth and the fullness thereof has been placed at the disposal of Man. Where it has not been placed at his disposal, he has taken possession by right of his superior brain and by the strength of his foresight and his shot-guns.

This home of ours is a good home. It grows food enough for all of us. It has abundant quarries and clay beds and forests from which all of us can be provided with more than ample shelter. The patient sheep of our pastures and the waving flax fields with their myriads of blue flowers, not to forget the industrious little silk worm of China’s mulberry trees – they all contribute to shelter our bodies against the cold of winter and protect them against the scorching heat of summer. This home of ours is a good home. It produces all these benefits in so abundant measure that every man, woman and child could have his or her share with a little extra supply thrown in for the inevitable days of rest.

But Nature has her own code of laws. They are just, these laws, but they are inexorable and there is no court of appeal.

Nature will give unto us and she will give without stint, but in return she demands that we study her precepts and abide by her dictates.

A hundred cows in a meadow meant for only fifty spells disaster – a bit of wisdom with which every farmer is thoroughly familiar. A million people gathered in one spot where there should be only a hundred thousand causes congestion, poverty and unnecessary suffering, a fact which apparently has been overlooked by those who are supposed to guide our destinies.

That, however, is not the most serious of our manifold errors. There is another way in which we offend out generous foster-mother. Man is the only living organism that is hostile to its own kind. Dog does not eat dog – tiger does not eat tiger – yea, even the loathsome hyena lives at peace with the members of his own species. But Man hates Man, Man kills Man, and in the world of today the prime concern of every nation is to prepare itself for the coming slaughter of some more of its neighbors.

This open violation of Article I of the great Code of Creation which insists upon peace
and good will among the members of the same species has carried us to a point where soon the human race may be faced with the possibility of complete annihilation. For our enemies are ever on the alert. If Homo Sapiens (the all too-flattering name given to our race by a cynical scientist, to denote our intellectual superiority over the rest of the animal world) – if Homo Sapiens is unable or unwilling to assert himself as the master of all he surveys, there are thousands of other candidates for the job and it ofttimes seems as if a world dominated by cats or dogs or elephants or some of the more highly organized insects (and how they watch their opportunity!) might offer very decided advantages over a planet top-heavy with bathe-ships and siege-guns.

What is the answer and what is the way out of this hideous and shameful state of affairs?

It will take some time, it will take hundreds of years of slow and painful education to make us find the true road to salvation. But that road leads towards the consciousness that we are all of us fellow-passengers on one and the same planet. Once we have got hold of this absolute verity – once we have realized and grasped the fact that for better or for worse this is our common home – that we have never known another place of abode – that we shall never be able to move from the spot in space upon which we happened to be born – that it therefore behooves us to behave as we would if we found ourselves on board a train or a steamer bound for an unknown destination – we shall have taken the first but most important step towards the solution of that terrible problem which is at the root of all our difficulties.

We are all of us fellow-passengers on the same planet and the weal and woe of everybody else means the weal and woe of ourselves!

Call me a dreamer and call me a fool – call me a visionary or call for the police or the ambulance to remove me to a spot where I can no longer proclaim such unwelcome heresies. But mark my words and remember them on that fatal day when the human raceshall be requested to pack up its little toys and surrender the keys of happiness to a more worthy successor.

The only hope for survival lies in that one sentence:



H W Van Loon pen & ink drawing

.................who, what to believe?

IN THE ONSLAUGHT OF THE CURRENT POLITICS IN THE UNITED STATES, we regular and littler people, from the higher to the lower-educated, are pretty much at the whim of the media as to what we tentatively or stringently buy into, or don’t. Waves of opposing viewpoints sweep over us like oceanic cross-currents. We’re like underwater foliage waving this way, then that.

The Sewer Raccoon News editor likes to think that he takes his cues from better-informed, subterranean raccoonoitering sources. They get around; they cover the waterfront.

He also feels he needs much more distant perspective, to escape from the programmed press and internet. To read from fresher goose quills. To even get away from the sewers. To think for himself, if possible.

Maybe from a vantage of Iceland.

Monday, February 18, 2008

van LOON. Hendrik Willem

Why bring this chap up, you ask?
Van Loon, Hendrik Willem, author, illustrator, educator

Because I liked him. Though he was at his peak in the early 1930’s and some of his views are now considered antiquated (ex: zeppelins were in his illustrations representing “where we are now”), I’ve found his massive overview of this planet – what’s that word of today or yesterday? Awesome.

Not only could this born Netherlander write exceptionally well, especially for younger or less complex yet searching minds, he could illustrate with simple lines the most involved subjects. Sometimes his sense of vast space was EMPHASIZED by what was NOT shown on his allotted surface, yet his task of minimizing his pictures, many of which were drawn on classroom chalked blackboards, reducing them to basic lineal abbreviations, was ingenious. At least it has seemed so to my untrained eye.

I have attached some of these illustrations from two of my favorite books, Van Loon’s GEOGRAPHY and STORY OF MANKIND. Van Loon's books are now collectors' volumes, often for the pen and ink drawings, mainly.
I got my first van Loon book from my father but have gathered some others.
From the internet:

[edit] Life and works
Born in Rotterdam, he went to the United States in 1903 to study at Cornell University. He was a correspondent during the Russian Revolution of 1905 and in Belgium in 1914 at the start of World War I. He later became a professor of history at Cornell University (1915-17) and in 1919 became an American citizen.
From the 1910s until his death, Van Loon wrote many books, most notably The Story of Mankind, by far his most well-known book, a history of the world especially for children which won the first Newbery Medal in 1922. The book was later updated by Van Loon and has continued to be updated, first by his son and later by other historians.
However, he also wrote many other very popular books aimed at young adults. As a writer he was known for emphasizing crucial historical events and giving a complete picture of individual characters, as well as the role of the arts in history. He also had an informal style which, particularly in The Story of Mankind, included personal anecdotes.
Asked how to say his name, he told The Literary Digest "I still stick to the Dutch pronunciation of the double o—Loon like loan in 'Loan and Trust Co.' My sons will probably accept the American pronunciation. It really does not matter very much." (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)
[edit] Bibliography
A partial list of books by Hendrik Willem van Loon, with first publication dates.
The Fall of the Dutch Republic (1913)
The Romance of Discovery (1917)
The Golden Book of the Dutch Navigators (1917)
Ancient man; the beginning of civilizations (1920)
The Story of Mankind (1921)
The Story of the Bible (1923)
Tolerance (1925)
The Liberation of Mankind (1926)
The Story of America (1927)
Multiplex man (1928)
Life and Times of Peter Stuyvesant (1928)
R.v.R. (1930; a fictional biography of Rembrandt)
"If the Dutch Had Kept Nieuw Amsterdam", in If, Or History Rewritten, edited by J. C. Squire (1931)
Van Loon's Geography (1932)
An Elephant Up a Tree (1933)
The story of inventions: Man, the miracle maker (1934)
Ships and How They Sailed the Seven Seas (1935)
Love me not (1935)
World divided is a world lost (1935)
Home of mankind; the story of the world we live in (1936)
The Arts (1937)
Observations on the mystery of print and the work of Johann Gutenberg (1937)
Our Battle: Being One Man's Answer to "My Battle" by Adolf Hitler (1938)
How to Look at Pictures (1938)
The Story of the Pacific (1940)
Life and times of Johann Sebastian Bach (1940)
Van Loon's Lives (1942)
Thomas Jefferson (1943)
Life and times of Simon Bolivar (1943)
Report to St. Peter (1947; posthumously published autobiography)
[edit] Books about Van Loon
Cornelis van Minnen (2005). Van Loon: Popular Historian, Journalist, and FDR Confidant. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-7049-1.
Gerard Willem Van Loon (1972). The story of Hendrik Willem van Loon. Lippincott. ISBN 0-397-00844-9.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

radiometer freely spins / ZEPATA IXth inst.

perpetual motion
“Indefatigability” was the unspoken credo
of the muchachas
The un-alone ranger and his murderous
mountain riders, men and women,
are stealthy strangers to some
(yes, the hapless yet economically powerful)
and re-arrangers of the national
wealth, by hook, crook, and especially
by gun or dynamite

An unspoken credo
because Zepata and company
did not know such words;
what they knew of perpetual motion
was taught by the tirelessness of the horses,
the mariachi creekets

and the examples set by
the entire merry band
of desperados
an example unto themselves
of which they had no need

Like vines or cacti
growing yon and hither
at their random and absolute
reckless abandon
the outlaws had but one aim,
one natural selection:

to rectify the cruelties,
the hardships, the injustices
by those who, though in command
si, temporary command –
of the currency bags and RR baggage cars
of money
mercilessly harm and divest
the needy

Those who, like Zepata, were simple
And Zepata, he not subscribe to that;
No, his Mexican blood boiled over
to be dragged by a mounted Federali
through cactus for miles,
caused him to strenuously kill;

The savior cannot always have 360 degree
and perpetual vision
- sometimes even he must rest - alas
was lassoed unaware by an unbooted foot
protruding from his blanket;
the amigos, the sentries
will see to it that no one else
ever again
violates Zepata’s sleep

Even the creekets take turns
sleeping, to guard Zepata and Irena
and if they chirp an alert
or stop their leg action
c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e-l-y (too quiet!)

The tortilla chips will fall
where they may; with mucho lead
any trespasser will likewise
and especially be dead

Consider the lowly creekets:
Their sole purpose is to
provide the music Zepata loves
and their multi-tasking legs
work like fine violin bows

while they dance
and toss their specially-made
miniature sombreros;
and they do all this
at the same time

Their gifts to the hombres
are freely given;
no under-sized hat
is ever passed
and there are no tin cups
before them

The creekets sometimes
mop their brows with their
mischievous red bandanas
after an especially long set
but they never stop playing

Tonight they will
stop playing, though Zepata is
awake, and very busy….

[dd 2-16-08
To be continued]

in defense of hand-written letters

You say:

Who writes letters anymore?

Who takes the time to move a freshly-cut goose quill across a piece of paper with ink that may run, and then address and stamp (!) a letter that may take days to arrive, when the preferred method in today's world is to simply, quickly and efficiently E-mail?

In my peregrination of aging, the great cudgel I have involuntarily taken up, I sometimes still avail myself of the antiquated letter. Pay the money, take chances. As I did this Saturday morning when I actually wrote a communique to a dear friend by hand. I wanted to draw hearts on it, which I know I could do electronically but I wanted to actually leave some pastel color on real paper. I also wanted to tuck a few of those little peppermint Valentine candy hearts in the envelope, and you cannot as yet do that by E-mail.

Further, I feel it necessary to at least periodically keep up the practice of the hand-written form, or it may atrophy.

We are open to old-fashioned postal at the Raccoon News. We will answer as many letters as time allows, and you will reach us c/o Waukesha Sewer Raccoon News

517 Arcadian Ave

Waukesha, WI 53186

Friday, February 15, 2008

written on this day in history, 2/15/03


Yesterday was Valentine’s Day;
promotion of love day
I bought my early-Alzheimering mother
A mum (for mom) and a box of
Valentine cookies made with a
lot of red dye
and the white blossoms
of the potted plant had a little red
heart on the end of a stick
stuck down into the dirt;


during the day the United Nations
Security Council met and I heard
the French leader echo the words of
John Lennon, “We think we should
‘Give peace a chance’”
and then heard Bush’s minion Powell
argue lustily for war; I saw red;


On the day set aside for the
promotion of love
our government, established through
a theft of the presidency
aided by thrown-away votes for
a 3rd party candidate
talks of the irrelevancy of the
United Nations;
A banty rooster struts from podium
To podium, thrusts out his glass chin
And from his vapid head
mouthing words put there by charlatans,
Flanders Field ghost-writers,
tells it like it isn’t
as though it were;
and I see red;


Finally on Valentine’s Day
I go to bed;
and in the middle of the night
I get up to go to the bathroom

And I feel my right nostril
is containing foreign matter;
sitting on the edge of the bed
I insert a finger and my nail
hooks onto a large serpentine booger;
I tug at it and it seems connected
somewhere deep within my head;

I am swamped by a clearer-headed
feeling as I begin to withdraw my finger,
thinking metaphorically
of some miraculous ousting of
George Bush from office,
when the blood gushes from my nose;

I jam my finger back into my nostril
and dash to the bathroom
where I shove a tissue in,
leaning over the sink,
and the blood dripped onto the
white porcelain,
and the soon-removed tissue
had a brilliant red crown on it;
my hands were bloody;
I saw some more red; blood
like that about to be shed by
the fiendish man
who claimed in his campaign
to be foremostly influenced
by Christ;
I saw red again;
on Valentine’s Day I saw


[David Dix 2-15-2003]

Thursday, February 14, 2008

it'll be new from here on out

Instalment VIII
AT LAST, the reuniting entourage, Zepata, Irena,
Mare and El Dayo and the stowed-away creekets
attained leveler-ground at the base of their
Olympian love aerie
and the vigilant sentries quietly
but strenuously greeted their long-absent
and deeply-loved friends

“Shhhh-shhhhh,” they admonished kindly:
“The muchachos are slipping!”
After a night of finger-shooting
they had finally fallen into restless,
tequila-augmented slumber

But you're nevair too early for us
the sentries pled
Stay a while, pliz!
So they exchanged various peasantries
(For peasants was what they all were)
before Zepata and company
rode on stealthy horse’s hooves

into the bed-roll-covered
fuming mass of unwashed imminent co-
payroll train robbers:
(mucho withdrawals intended without
benefit of any forkeen co-signers!)

Zepata winked at Irena
and at that signal she withdrew her warm
pistolas from their luxuriantly-placed crossed

then Zepata tossed some crispy tortillas
From his nearest saddlebag
and very sharp-shooter Irena,
unfettered by hair in her eyes,
swiftly shot:


The compadres were up so
that they had already fondly touched
the too long-awaited boots and horse-shoes
Before the tortilla chips hit the ground

That was but a sign of the love
that existed among these wrong-righting,
(technically) wrong-doers
and the Federalis should wisely
Stay out their way
Let the robbers say: Amen

They were quick
They were slick
And they meant to kill (not kick)
Some governmental ASS-ic

But first, JOY:
Coffee pots were put on the campfire embers
and all guitars and creeket legs came out
a veritable stringed band of burglars
because Zepata in recruiting his
muchachos had a rule:

All derring-doers had to play the guitar
which was getting more and more difficult
to do for some of the finger-shooting
but all could at least fumblingly chord along

The seriously impeded,
those with only trigger finger
and rage-expressing digits intact, shook
maracas and were thus not left out
of the gathering madcap fun

The red-bandana’d mariachi creekets
danced and sang
close to the campfire where they were
less apt to get trampled by the
fandango-istas, who were sublimating
their knowledge that soon
great danger would be upon them.

[dd Feb. 14, 2008
Happy Valentines Day]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

whiskery stubble (sanded all over)

Irena riding ahead of Zepata
On the downward trail to
The rendezvous with the encamped compadres
Knew Zepata was studying her posterior
She always sensed his warming gaze
From behind

Zepata lak to choke, she mused
I have ice in bek of my rumpal zones
And she gave him silent thanks for
His taste
His taste, her thoughts wandered
And his smell Si

Everything about Zepata
Irena loved
Could not get enough of
She liked being sanded
All over by his whiskery stubble
And when she shaved Zepata
She looked forward to the next day
When it would be rough again

Zepata in Irena's eyes
Was a model of what a man might be
He was not a tall man
By some peoples' measure
But he carried himself
And he had an aura about him
That made him seem
Like a ducker in doorways

Zepata's arms, mighty bear traps
Or cradling cushions
Zepata's eyes, beacons
Day or night
With gentle kindness and empathetic
Sunburned squint lines
Yet he could brutishly stare down
Poised cougars and had done so

Zepata's way with Irena
Was slow and easy
He could run long distances
Tirelessly on foot
Once was pulled 25 miles
Behind a Federali horse
With a rope around his neck

His hands tied behind him
Before being rescued by the compadres
And then he cut the legs off
The Soldier who dragged him, killed him
With the big knife on his belt
Left him to die slowly in the sun

This helped him understand
Patience and the blessing
Of endurance in all things
It seemed everything that
Happened to Zepata
Everything made him
A better lover in some way

The women before Irena
And Irena more than any
Appreciated what Zepata had given
For his Country's poor and
Because they saw his ravaged
And tended it lovingly

Zepata was not a handsome man
In the popular standard
Of the day
Nor was he young anymore
He started out young
But then in doing he got un-young
And there was something
All the more lovable about him

His stride, ah yes
Irena secretly coveted
His walk
The way he walked
Something to behold
His wide and muscular shoulders
Fit through no portals head-on

Zepata had to turn sideways
To negotiate the doors
Of the peasant dwellings
In which he so often sought
Sustenance and shelter
Always moving from place
To place
Always pursued

So it was something to see
Wary of any visitor
Mexican families in their
Rude huts
Ground by fate like the meal
Between their corn stones

Ground down to near powder
They get the word
Prepare a place for Zepata tonight
He is coming
Maybe he stop
- their hero their saviour -
Not with them

But with some other luckier poor
Always with the poor
But Si
Dayo's hooves get louter and
Louter and enter our courtyard
Our cheekens chump awp and town
And lo
Zepata is town from hees great hoe-worse

And before they can run to meet him
Zepata's spurs jing-jing on their wooden porch
And they cheer and cannot wait to embrace the man
Who will be their guest

The man who has been dragged
Through cactus for them
Who has been perforated by Federal bullets
For them is with them
Always but now incarnate
In the flesh

The man nobody can kill
Appears in their doorway, knocks and
Steps through the beads
One shoulder at a time
Takes off his bandoliers wearily

Returns their tax money with golden interest
And receives their tears and joyful supplications
With tenderness and love
He caresses all the children
Everybody around took their best food
And cooked it but it will be
This family tonight

So many scenes like that
Drift through Irena's head
As she rides on with
Zepata's eyes upon her
And she says to Zepata Si
Eet is time for siesta
Si I mus' holt you my lawv
I mus' you know eet

The creek-ets in her saddle bag
Hear this and begin to tune their instruments
And gargle
For after this rest the little bawgs know
It will be the Federal Bank of Mexico
And a daring robbery

[dzd 7-25-98]


Tired eyes - olde

and rubber bands

Over time
A rubber band will break
Stretched too much
Too often

The elasticity breaks down
First, gets sticky,
The first sign,
And then tangles easily
And eventually

- snap -

But it is always

Relationships are like that
Rubber bands and friendships
Can only take so much

There are only so many
And contractions to give
Even from the best rubber band

or the best friend

And eventually

- snap -

[dd 2-13-08]

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

to live by

Dr. Gregory's Book of St. Matthew
What, another reminiscence, Uncle David?

When I was a kid going through Confirmation Class
My minister gave us a complete Book of St. Matthew’s

Printed in a readable form
2 inches by 1-1/2 inches by ¼ inch
And he said of all the Gospels this was the one
With the best rules of life

And we should keep it, carry it with us
Whenever possible
And refer to it often

To LIVE by it

It’s now been about 68 years
Since I received that book
From the venerable Dr. Gregory
Our minister

I’ve read it often as he told us
But somehow I could not keep those
I bent them and I forgot to read them;
An imperfect but well-meaning

Now my wife is teaching the Confirmation Class
At that same church Dr. Gregory served

She is casting about for a gift
To give the confirmands
And I thought of my bent book
of St. Matthew
And suggested such a thing
If now procurable;
I kept the book

[Zep 2-12-08]

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dad goes to his reward

At Arlington National Cemetery, my father
was committed to the earth on Oct. 29, 1998. First husband of recently written-up Ruth Elies of just-a-teenager dance band fame, he led overall a gallant life. He was with the 90th Infantry division on D-Day. He earlier was a high school band teacher, where he met my mother, a student during his first year out of teacher's college. After WW II he had an executive position with the Veterans Administration. Called to serve LBJ's government, Dad worked in the White House under the first Consumer Affairs Secretary, Esther Peterson, who was eventually succeeded by Betty Furness. (Westinghouse: "You can be sure, if it's Westinghouse!")
Then an attorney, he tutored the women in the newly formed department for their congressional testimonies and was the unsung inhabitant of the No. 2 position. Both women, though, did sing his praises when they retired; copies of letters they gave him are touching, and are in the files here at Raccoon headquarters.
When Hubert Humphrey was defeated in his presidential bid, dad, who was a close friend and co-worker of the happy warrior's, finished out his civil service with the FTC, and then went into private practice in Fairfax VA.
I was present at his interment at Arlington, and broke cortege ranks to step ahead and aside, to take this photo that was fortuitously well-lit. The upside down boots in the stirrups of the riderless horse do not show in this picture.

stolen from doctor's office

two tongue depressors for one very big-mouthed man


HE visited his doctor's office. One of several patients the nurse had lined up in a row of adjacent examing rooms, he grew impatient. He shifted his weight and tapped his fingers looking for something to do.

Then he spied the tongue depressor dispenser on the table. He borrowed two for an art project, rationalizing that he would have asked the doctor, but he was busy accumulating vast earnings. When he finally came in, the pocketing had been forgotten.

Arriving back home he emptied his pockets and found the swag. He made a mental note to pay for the balsam when next he returned. But rationalizing (again): his bill well-covered two flimsy depressors anyway.