Uncle Bob's Words

Words, poetry, stuff like that

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It Takes Ten

Put a tenner in that body’s mouth!

Pennies no longer suffice to charm Charon-on-the-Styx.

You know that he’s been the ferryman for souls

At a penny a pop, non-stop, since Day One?

That’s a lot of pennies.  Charon’s loaded.

He vacations in Death Valley, palling around with Scotty,

Hood thrown back, drying out in the desert air,

Before he returns to the soggy bottom land

To receive the gifts of the endless psychopomps.

So, make it a Hamilton, make sure the way to Hades

Is as well unencumbered

As you might expect from

This guaranteed ultimate trip to Hell.


My ancestors lived in Doggerland, Doggerland, drowned by the sea.

They hunted deer and mastodon in the cool Mesolithic climes,

And nighttime fires, tended with care, marked out their borderlines.

On the land they never called Doggerland, Doggerland under the sea

In Doggerland they lived, not knowing England, not knowing France.

They wore warm furs and hats of straw but, probably, seldom pants.

Such was the life in Doggerland, Doggerland under the sea.



I remember teletypes with their bauded paper ribbons,

Telephones and forever fixed addresses, typewriters (ugh),

Press type, sticky jars of rubber cement & vapors,

And those crepe rubber blocks for cleaning up layouts.

Blue pencils, red pencils, photofaxes, the smell of paper

And ink, the rumble of those massive presses.

Pneumatic tubes that fascinated me as a kid.

La la, gone for good.  Clear ‘em all out. Bye!

Oh, Word, I am not worthy.

Then there was: darkrooms, chemicals, Tri-X or Plus-X,

Velvia…American or English photo paper?  More silver,

Blacker blacks.  Light meters.  Cameras weighed a ton.

Don’t even think about those glass lenses…weapons!

Then, in Rochester, evolved a sensor and a Bayer array.

Double K, seemingly oblivious, let it all slip away.


The future?  Bring it on.

(no title)

Everything in me once social

Is compressed into a tight little brick

That only warms infrequently

By memories served up

From my default mode network.

I savor the old movie (seemingly

Shot from just over the refrigerator).

Two now dead, three still living.

Vertical, breathing, warm.



Why Thomas Alva, sitting there in Menlo Park

In his fancy genius pants

Would find that his major tinker’s dams

Would only thrive through the genius

Of Nikola Tesla?

Thomas Alva could have electrocuted

Every dog in New Jersey and every

Elephant, if he could find any,

And Tesla would still have come to eat his lunch.

DC or AC

Any hayseed could tell you

That electricity is the bomb

Without knowing what Carrington

Saw when TAE and NT were mere babes.

Current runs through the veins of the Earth

But the million-times-larger Sun

That white star magnet just 93 million miles

Off to the right runs the whole show.


Incense gets me every time.  Not the crappy shit

From the craft stores.  Begone, cherry and vanilla!

Sandal, patchouli, Nag Champa scents.

They make me comfortable, at rest and

Call back memories of my so dazzled 70s.

The headshops and meditating and those

Small rooms with many rugs and pillows

To recline on high and in love, quietly.

UFOs and Aliens

Q: What attracts UFOs?

A: Strong body odor.

Q: Have aliens contacted us?

A: Yeah, and speaking of body odor…

Q: Did they give us any technology?

A: Krispy Kreme donuts.  You’ve heard of them?

Q: Why do UFOs have blinking lights?

A: Aliens enjoy variety.

Q: Have aliens abducted humans?

A: Yes, but they consider us boring.

Q: Have they done all those animal mutilations?

A: They say, “Yuk!”

Q: Did aliens build ancient sites?

A: No, they’re more, er, artistic.

Q: None at all?

A: Well, they love wine.  They were encouraging.

Q: Wine?

A: And grass.  Remember those flashing lights?

Q: Are they stil  around?

A: Yeah, they saw a movie…

Q: What movie?

A: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”

Q: What’s up with that?

A: They thought it was a comedy.  They’re out in Hollywood now.

Q: How do you know all this?

A: I googled it.

A Short Meditation

My mother would tell me that my Dad was so talented:

He could sing, he was a fine artist, he knew languages.

But that he had no ambition.

My oldest brother said simply that the Great Depression broke him.


And, perhaps, he felt as I do now: fine arts are well and good,

But you need a job.

Mom said Dad felt abased by the people he worked with.

(Our family was always a bit priggish)

I don’t. Oh, but as a living, art is capricious.

Study hard to learn to work a pencil or brush, to do it well –

And some clown comes along with some strong mess

And attitude and there goes the market.

Some say it’s the art, not the money.

Yes, well…

I want a place to stay, a place to cook, a place to sleep.

And a couple of cats, might as well.

Look for that. I’ll be there. And you’re welcome.

I have a problem…

I have a problem with

“Smart as a whip” and

“Works like a charm”.


Whips can’t tell you the sum

Of two plus two.



Charms are just a type of candy.

Here take this “charm” and

Go frolic in the traffic.

<slight pause>

How’d that work…



If you want to draw,
Firmly lay down one true line
Draw all else from it.


If I Were a Vine

If I were a vine, a convolvulus,

I would wrap me around you to keep you near.

Of course, I could squeeze dangerously close.

But that’s probably not going to happen.




Accuradio just laid out a song, an oldie, golden.

I know it well: every note recalls those memories.

Memories of then, memories of you.


Summer: windows open to the breeze.

Lying naked on the couch.

Your silken skin, your careful hands.


Ah, I tried to go on a bender after you left,

But I just didn’t work.  I don’t do wastrel well.

I rearranged the furniture, got a cat.

And after a while, I found another you.

But that song always gives me pause

As I get that familiar frisson, a tingle on the tongue

As I watch the scenes.  Then, I laugh.

Got me, you mnemonic fox-trickster…


Wasn’t a bad thing, though, not really.

Bury Me Not

Bury me not.


I’m still alive.

Bemused, I read

In a local rag

A 50ish person termed


I’m nearly 70.

Literarily, then,

A grave evader.


Bury me not.

Go Away.

Let me get this straight:

I’m to fish or cut bait?

Well, actually, neither (sorry).

I’m going to take a breather –

And go over there to sit,

Close my eyes and fade a bit.


Here’s what you need to know:

You’re not running this show.

No, not ever, never. (regrets)

I’ve got options; I’m quite clever.

Go over there and sit.

You’re powerless; live with it.


But, thanks, anyway.

The Persian Doctor

“He was ordinary.  Longish white hair.  Friendly in the way

Of a person who had no fear of anyone.

He was what Gran wanted.”

Dad’s gaze went past me, seeing those long ago events.

“I  had gone that day to visit Gran.  She wasn’t bedridden,

But age and arthritis seemed to wear heavy on her.

‘Dirk,’ she said, ‘I need to see someone and soon.

Put out the word for a Persian doctor.’

Her hand gripped my arm and she pushed me

For emphasis.  I said I’d try.

Dad smiled.

No internet then.  I had to go into town to

Find the people who had knowledge.

The pharmacist just laughed.

‘You’ll not find a Persian doctor in these parts.

They’re gone, long gone.  And good riddance.’

The librarian looked puzzled.

‘You mean a doctor from the East?  And where

Did who go?’

I never did think she was very smart.

The newspaper editor nodded.

‘Carl Stoneman.  Out on Linebach Road.

Blue trimmed home on the left.  He’ll know.’

So, I went.

Knocked on the door.

A tall, elderly man answered.


I explained.

‘Come in,” he said.

He sat in a well-worn chair and motioned me to the sofa.

The room was bright and clean.

No mirrors, no pictures, no radio.

He settled into his chair.

‘There were originally a couple of Persian doctors

Who lived in this area. They vanished some thirty

Years ago.  Don’t know where they went.

Honestly, I miss them.  They were wise and helpful.

Disliked modern things, though.’

He cleared his throat.

‘Of course, if it’s the esteemed Mrs. Trent who’s

Asking, I’ll put it on the wind.’

I asked what I needed to do.

‘Wait.  Shaman knows your grandmother.

He’ll come to her.’

A day later, I was at Gran’s again.

I asked her how she happened to

Know the likes of a shaman.

There was a light rap on the door.

‘He’s here!’

He was ordinary.  Longish white hair.

And friendly in the way of a person

Who had no fear of anyone.

He made a slight bow.  ‘Bess Trent,

Why did you wait so long to call?’

She touched his shoulder.

‘You’ve set things in motion, haven’t you?

I want to see the start of it all and

I want to be comfortable about it.’

He made a sign with his right hand and

Touched her on the forehead.

She jerked slightly, then straightened.

‘Ah, thank you, Raymond.’

‘It was the least I could do, after all your help.’

‘You and Gabriel were my only concern,

And I hope you have found peace.’

‘Indeed we have, Bess, thanks to you.’

He looked at me.

‘She’ll be fine now.’

He bowed again, turned and left.

What just went on? I asked.

She stretched.  ‘I feel well oiled again!

Come in the kitchen. We need some coffee.’

She got out the can of coffee, put it down

And stared out the window.

Shook herself.

‘Memories.  Oh, my.  Sit down, I have

A story to tell.’

She talked as she got out the percolator,

Filled it with water, put in the basket, filled it

With measures of coffee, set it all on the stove.

‘Back when the first radio stations went on the air,

I found that I could see the waves of energy in

Their transmissions.  I found I could go away on them.

Just ride.  Scared the daylights out of my mama, but

She had the sight, too, so she just wanted me to be careful.’

The coffee began to perk.

As more and more stations, powerful stations, came on,

I could ride nearly everywhere…and did, by golly.

Oh, what a time I had.  And the people I met,’ she added

With a wistful look.

‘Raymond had been a friend of my family.

He took on Gabriel as an apprentice, but soon it became

Much, much more than that.  And the talk started.

A Baptist preacher who, I hope, is now rotting in hell,

Got everyone stirred up to drive Raymond and Gabriel

Out of town.  Even though they’d done so much healing

And good works.  The preacher coveted their power

And, I swear, lusted after Gabriel, and hated them

All the more for it.’

She poured the coffee and sat across from me.

‘So, I taught them how to ride the wind, the energy.

And, one night, they left. Vanished to everyone

But me.  I watched them wave at me as they left.

The preacher said the devil had come and got them.

But nobody ever really liked him after that.

And then, I had the family to raise and work to be done

And I just let myself go with the years.

When my dear Edward passed on, I got depressed.

When you came in that day, looking so much like

Edward and your father, I knew I had to see


What now? I asked.

‘Dirk, I’m going to go away.  I’ll stop by

Now and again, when you’re alone and you

Can catch me up on the news.

My will leaves everything to you.  I can’t

Pass you the sight.  I’d need a woman for that.

Goodbye, Dirk.’

And she got up and just walked away, out

The back door and was gone.

I stood there in shock for a few moments.

Then, since I can handle things, I called

The police, reported her missing.  Called Carl.

‘Just like her,’ he chuckled.

Dad looked back at me.

She’s been around a couple of times.

You know that, don’t you?

I said I did.  I have the sight.

And that’s the story of the Persian doctor.

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