Sunday, September 25



I am embryonic fluid and darkness dancin’ to the oldies. I am ham and eggs and sperm. I am fetus, feel me kick. I am a Spielbergian blast of white light and a slap on the bottom. I’m a breast full of milk and a mouth chugging on a nipple like it was a can of Carnation. I’m a diaper sloshing with smelly secrets.

I’m a sparkling smile in my father’s eyes and a weary grin on my mother’s lips. I’m a puppy licking your face. I’m a cat scratch and a million meows. I’m a bump from a bang on the back hanging over your father’s shoulder. I am the Cat in the Hat. I am Sam, I am.

I’m a training bra and an athletic supporter. I’m school, summer vacations and swimming. I’m puberty, pimples and piano lessons. I’m a girl’s giggle and a boy’s bashfulness on a first date. I’m the power of love and the friction of sex. I’m X-rated. I’m out of gas on a dark country road with a girl who is not amused and who has some big brothers who’ll want to talk to me later. I’m straight as an arrow. I’m gay as a blade.

I’m the prayer in the dark that seems to cure cancer. I’m a nun kneeling, a preacher praying and a sinner straying. I’m a Buddhist, a Muslim and a Methodist. I’m black, white, red and yellow with Kodacolor chromosomes. I’m the universal soldier dying for the sins of his leaders. And I’m the innocent caught dead in the middle.

I’m Christmas, Easter and the Year of the Dog. I’m Passover and Palm Sunday. I’m a family holiday sitting all alone in front of festive old movies on TV and becoming more suicidal by the minute. I’m a family holiday with all your relatives fighting the same fights since childhood, getting a knot in your stomach, big as a beer pretzel, and becoming more suicidal by the minute. I am hope and hype, delight and despair all sitting in your favorite chair. 

Thursday, June 2


Friday, April 15


Wednesday, April 6


Tuesday, July 5



They say I died fighting for freedom.
They say I died for liberty.
They say I died trying to free 'em.
They say I died for a legacy.
They say I died flying the flag.
They say I died for a true cause,
that due diligence never lags
and that the righteous never pause.
They say I died for my country
and that it'll never forget
my sacrifice in my Humvee
and I'll always have its deep respect.

All I know is, that when I dropped
down to the ground
and died,
my mama cried
and she's never stopped.


A lifetime ago I went to first grade at Alfarata, a neighborhood grade school, two blocks from my Huntingdon home. My 95-year-old mother, Millie Roddey, remembers watching me walking off to school holding hands with Chuck Garner, my best friend.

Alfarata is long closed and the arched doorway that we ran thru for recess to the playground is bricked over. But it was a cornucopia of wonders. It brought me Linda, my first girlfriend, who was the fastest and toughest kid on the block. She could beat up anybody who bothered me and beat them in a race at the same time. That was invaluable for me as a scrawny fearful five-year-old.

But Linda outgrew me when I watched her walking into the woods holding hands with an older boy. I yelled to see if she wanted to play some b-ball, but she never turned around, having another sport in mind at the time.

Alfarata had some of today’s hot button issues for schools, that were only cold button non-issues then. It had rumored suggestive shenanigans between a male teacher and his girl student at night in the school building.

Often, when I was on the playground alone shooting hoops at twilight, I’d stare at the lit windows in the school and try to see if there was anything going on there. A shadow passing in the night would have excited me beyond belief, but I never saw anything.

Alfarata had bad teachers and worse students. One poor teacher, Mrs. B, kept breaking rulers beating on her desk trying to get her jabbering students’ attention. Once, a boy stood up, walked to a garbage can in the corner, and threw it out an open classroom window. She broke two rulers that time. And there were mental health issues back then, because it was like watching a nervous breakdown every class Mrs. B. tried to teach.

I remember rumors of a father regularly beating his daughters with a belt. He was a skinny little man and the rumors came from his daughters. Alleged child abuse reared it ugly head here, but nothing was reported.

Alfarata had bullying galore. Mad Max was the recess bully who stood me against the school’s brick wall, ordered me not to move, then threw a volley ball at me as hard as he could. It was dodge ball, without the dodging, and I got hit most of the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if Max ended up attending one of our finer schools of lower learning, making license plates for a living. He seemed headed that way.

Good times also happened at recess. I used to play a vicious game of tether ball, slapping the ball hard with the heel of my hand till it went numb and the ball on a rope whipped around the pole in victory, vanquishing my opponent, a little girl.

Life then was spread before me like a banquet of new delights daily. I just grabbed each day and shook it silly like a big bell of clanging wonders. I remember running everywhere till I fell, skinning my knees, which was the only way I’d stop running.

Today I know where the majority of my life went as the decades flash danced past me. But back then at Alfarata, everything was new and life was filled with joy, excitement, total fear, little boy lusts and endless energy. It was like racing with lightning in a thunder storm of emotions.

Published in Common Ground Magazine