Category: Non-Fiction

Sunday Bliss: December 12, 2021

A Charlie Brown Christmas | Charlie brown christmas tree, Christmas tree  images, Charlie brown christmas
Charlie Brown’s Sad Christmas Tree

It is Sunday, December 12, 2021: early afternoon. I have already cleaned out the standing planter’s pot… I’m going to buy some kind of plant, today. Don’t know what kind of plant. It may be the South,, but it is still winter. – It still gets cold at night. On occasion, it snows. I don’t think there is anything that has flowers that woiuld survive. But I really want a plant. Or, I just want something to do outside while the weather is nice.

Messing around in the dirt is something I’ve been doing since I was playing with RAMBO toys & wearing short pants.

During the spring & summer, pulling weeds was something of a test of your grit. There always seemed to be a China Man from Hell holding onto the roots of some of the weeds. After college, I moved to Houston, TX, taking a job with a Permaculture Design company, which is just a fancy way of saying I played in the dirt, planting bushes, spreading gravel & installing “water features”.

My Special Lady Friend had to drop an order off to one of her customers. Beef & Pork.

Now: I was tired.

I had spent almost all of Saturday Night/Sunday Morning messaging an editor I met online – trying, unsuccessfully, for her to be my Literary Agent.

I wanted Sunday to be nice, though. I want ALL days to be nice. This Sunday I wanted very much to be special. As the days get closer & closer to me going back to Ohio to visit family, the more emotional I get. Putting more & more meaning to my days has become a requirement. It’s like I fear I won’t be coming back to North Carolina. Like I will be left in Ohio.

I know that will NOT happen. Never would happen.

Now: I have expressed several times the beauty within the people of the South – how warm their souls seem to be with a certain resposibility of expressing joy at making others feel welcomed & special. Ms. D__ is VERY Southern. Not only did she take an interest in me & my work (writing – she said she would start reading me) she had homemade chocolate cookies ready for us when we pulled up to deliver her meat order. Little, puffy, powdered-sugar chocolate cakes that melted in your mouth.

They were delicious!

Afterwards, lunch was in order. – It was that time. And both of us were REALLY hungry. I think the cookies just exacerbated hunger.

But they woke me up. Being around Ms. D__ woke me up.

We decided on Applebee’s. Not only was our mood good, but our server’s mood was good, as well. She told us about “collecting” liquor bottles. About how she did not drink the booze, she just thought the bottles were pretty. At the end of the year, she throws a big party for her & her friends. As long as they leave the bottles, she’s happy. I HAD to give her a hard time about THAT line of B. S. Or, maybe, it’s not B. S. Maybe she does save that booze all year long.

It must have been 2:30 when we were at the restaurant. Our server had been there since 11:00. She did not get her first customer until 1:30.

We tipped her well, wishing her a Merry Christmas on our way out.

Next trip: Shopping! And I was not worried about it the way I would normally worry it. I was actually looking forward to it.

(I got to have a say in something My Special Lady Friend was buying that almost FORCED me to overlook my anxiety in Public Places: her undergarments! Her unmentionables! Her particulars!)

Charlie Brown's Christmas tree & the Author with his Special Lady Friend buying a Christmas tree.
Writer: Leland Locke & His Special Lady Friend

What made the trip to Walmart worth the wait of the check-out line was Our choice of plant: A Christmas Tree! A Dwarf Alberta Spruce. We have not figured out where we are going to plant it. It maxes out at 15 feet tall; growing two-to-four inches per year.

It’s going to be OUR Christmas tree; hopefully, it will thrive. That we will decorate it for years to come. This year, we chose red as the principal color.

Who knows what next year’s colors will be…?

That’s something no one knows.

What the colors will be.


Something Everyone Should Know About Me

7 Food sketch ideas | food sketch, food illustrations, food drawing

Other peoples’ cooking does not bother me. I feel no threat whatsoever if someone’s lasagna is better than mine; however, I do feel guilt when I overcook a steak. But none at all if I undercook one.

Macaroni & Cheese is something you should not feel shame in enjoying. Not only is it delicious, it’s affordable.

I know how to make spaghetti sauce from scratch. But there is no shame in using the stuff from the jar. You can always make yourself FEEL like an Italian chef by adding some parmesan cheese & parsley flakes to the gravy.

(If you REALLY want to make things wicked & wild, drop a cube of chicken bouillon into the boiling pasta water.)

Hot dogs are American; if that bothers anyone, go eat somewhere else.

Cheeseburgers ARE paradise, and the French fries are her loving arms.

Cotton candy should only be indulged in the way one would indulge narcotics – IN PRIVATE! Same thing applies to Candied Apples & Apple Fritters.

I do not know how to make fresh, warm & buttery baked bread. But I want to learn.

My mother showed me how to make pie crust. Unfortunately, since I am a drunk-in-remission, I forgot. I forgot something I wanted to learn for a very long time.

My Great Uncle, from what I have been told, baked pies & bread all the time – IN THE NAVY! And that is inspirational in itself. And, for all of those unfortunate enough to have NOT known him, you missed out on one Original Case of God Rolling the Dice.

Sweet food should only be eaten at night. Unless it is a root beer float. The best time to have a root beer float is when it is summer. When the sun is out in late afternoon, just as it is starting to cool down from the hottest parts of the day.

For some reason, to me, if you are caught eating a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie in public, there is something completely Ohio about you.

Microwave popcorn is fine & dandy. Theatre popcorn is full of flavor & smells & colors that is orgasmic in a non-sexual way. Which, I know, does not make any sense. And, if any one of you readers can explain the magic to me, I’ll cook dinner for you. And take you to the movies. Popcorn will have to be a must, though.

Pancakes & Waffles – there is a secret to cooking them. And I will not divulge such a secret on such a public platform.

Yes: you can go to a diner and order pancakes, or waffles… but, to be honest, something is lost in the hiatus of The Breakfast Rush of a restaurant. Trust me on this. I am, when it comes to this, an absolute Professional.

If you want GOOD pizza, go to your local pizza parlor, order a pie. There is something about fresh dough that is AMAZING. The right dough, the right sauce, and you are as golden as the pie crust.

Ars Poetica

BY: Archibald Macleish

A poem should be palpable and mute   
As a globed fruit,

As old medallions to the thumb,

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown—

A poem should be wordless   
As the flight of birds.


A poem should be motionless in time   
As the moon climbs,

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,   
Memory by memory the mind—

A poem should be motionless in time   
As the moon climbs.


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.

An Illusionary Image: First Newspaper Gig A Real Bummer

It was a job I knew NOTHING about! But I wanted it. I submitted a resume. On said resume, under INTERESTS, I wrote “photography”.

And that was not a lie.

I did have an interest in photos… of people like The Great Photographer, WeeGee (Arthur Fellig) & Farahnaz Khalili & Francesca Woodman… I just knew very little about the process of taking photos, digitally editing them… I could write the captions just fine.

Finding Francesca – Look Closer | Tate
Francesca Woodman (April 03, 1958 – January 19, 1981): Self Portriat.

What did I know about covering a story? – In any fashion! I had been an Associate Editor of a college Literary Magazine, Icon. But I had never actually COVERED a news story.

And I applied to be a reporter for a daily newspaper!

The Alliance Review, located in one of the less depressing cities of Ohio, catering to several counties. Founded in 1888, and with a circulation of around 14,000 people, I thought: Why Not?

If I was going to fail, I was going to fail trying.

And I did fail.

I did not know how to properly use the equipment.

I did not have the kind of temperment to “cover” a story with authority. Authority is too much like a unnessesary confrontation. And I did not like telling people to stop talking. Look at the camera. Write your name down.

I was overwhelmed.

My drinking did not help things, either. It was around this time that my Physical Dependency on alcohol was becoming an everyday reality.

I kept beers hidden under the bench seat of my little red truck. A case of beer ALWAYS in the toolbox of the bed of the truck.

It’s hard to focus a camera on a subject when your own eyes cannot focus.

It was not hard for me to be fired from my first Newspaper gig. At that time, and many more times throughout my life, being fired felt GOOD.

A psychological weight was lifted every time I lost a job.

And I was far-past having anything like PRIDE.

I wanted to drink & write poetry.

For years, that is what I did.

I’m going to try it again, though.

Nikon D5100

My Special Lady Friend decided to give me an early Christmas present. This is one mother-of-a-good-bastard of a camera. At least, in my mind! But what do I know about photagraphy… about digital imagery… or filming.

Not that much.

What I do know is I have two different lenses for the camera. A tripod. And, if I am motivated enough, smart & talented enough, I will start constructing Pod Casts for this Blog – to promote this writing & to promote ME into this Digital, Literary world.

This is more important than the future. This is THE NOW! And all we have is NOW.

NOW it’s time for me to wrap this up.

I have a Lady to spend time with. And I want to do it – NOW!

It’s Not Revolt, It Was Therapy

See the source image

It is hard to explain. But I will try. It’s good firing-off a high-caliber handgun into the night – it captures the sort of blind devotion to deviancy as, say, the infamous Pazuzu Algarad with his fake face, & it enhances a belt of fleeting joy a child feels towards Lost Puppies soon found. The magnum, like most of my material things, was a gift from My Special Lady Friend. Our night was still young – just the beginning of it, really – when I thought firing-off a few rounds might be good for me. Therapeutic, even.

And it was!

For more time than I care to remember, I could not – WOULD NOT – shoot. Shooting was something I grew-up doing, so don’t get the wrong idea about me: I have fired a few shots, in my day. There is no libertarian sense of The Grotesque in my mind about firearms; I just could not shoot one of them! Could not hold one.

I lived in a very bad area of Youngstown, OH. A VERY bad area. Hearing gunfire was as natural as a bolt of lightning striking… & just as unpredictable as to where the wrong side of the heat ends-up.

I never wanted to know how far I had gone. Then I had a gun aimed at me. At the time, I thought I was on the Right Side of that automatic. The man holding the piece was more afraid than I was. He shouted his threats, couldn’t keep the gun fixed on any one part of me, let alone ME… he seemed confused, like he did not know what he was shooting at.

I had tackled this guy, embarrassing him in front of several potential witnesses. And this was not the type of guy that you should tackle, obviously.

That is why the gun was brought out. That’s what has been told to me. Does not mean it is true. I remember the gun, the gun being pointed at me. And I remember how I felt at seeing the gun. But, for the life of me, I do not know WHY the thing was pulled-out, let alone why it was trying to stay trained on me like some malfunctioning torpedo.

Another thing I THINK I remember was laughing.

That is how FAR things had gone!


And I was going to get shot while laughing.

It’s hard to express when you KNOW you are so utterly wrong & mad, getting shot seems like the natural way to The End of the story.

That is where I had found myself one year ago. One year ago, on December 15, 2020, I was in a drug-house not far from Youngstown University.

With no money, no place to go, and very little in the way of personal worth, I stayed at this house. It got cold sleeping on the streets. I was offered a mattress at this “home” for one reason, & one reason alone: I knew how to steal.

Christmastime, being what it is, does not exclude the children of prostitutes, drug dealers & addicts. Their children needed gifts, too.

That’s where I came in.

I’d get myself loaded-up on cheap vodka & shoplift from stores all around the area. It was a bad gig, trust me. But it was cold outside, and I did not have the month of May.

Ended up, once again, in a hospital.

My home away from home.

Farewell to a Good Friend, I Wish We Had Met

(Author’s Note: the first draft of this work began the night of February 05, 2005.  I was living in an attic apartment not far from the University of Akron.  Years later, in 2011, I think, Me & My Wife at the time were moving to a better apartment in Missoula, MT.  We just found out we were pregnant, and we needed a better place to live.  I found a printed version of this while trying to organize boxes & boxes of papers & journals & files.  I reworked it that day, messing it up terribly.  Sometimes being under the influence can really mess things up.  That day, I was HEAVILY medicated from a dental exam.  And now, once again, years later, I worked some more on it.  Maybe it is finally finished… but, I doubt it) 

A great deal went on Sunday nights my third year (third college, as well,) 2nd semester at the University of Akron.  It was the night before beginning classes and the work week – a week worth of goals and expectations, nagging thoughts & wishing for Friday to finally arrive.

Monday was only an hour away.

I was trying to focus on a Social Psychology study printed in one of those academic journals only found in University libraries, or in the mailboxes of Academics.

Needing a rest – that class & those readings brought needing a lot of rests & aids to maintain my 91% grade – I walked away from the table cluttered with textbooks and notebooks.  I went into the other room.  My at-the-time girlfriend had a little office set-up in the second bedroom of her apartment. 

I sat at the computer to check my email.

Bringing Yahoo’s homepage to the screen, it hit!  For the first time, a headline on a computer monitor struck me so hard – so terrible & REAL – it made my chest tighten, almost forcing me to choke.  Or fall off of the swiveling office chair. 

I was in a panic!

Breathing was difficult. 

I was trying to get oxygen into my lungs.  Sharp pains were acknowledged (an automated survival feature most blood and brain beasts possess, letting us know we are still alive.) 

Like a disturbingly loud crash after silence surfaces over a room, my nerves tightened, my eyelids in concentrating slits attempting greater focus on the computer screen, and desperation for a safe place worked through my system, like I needed a cave to hide in.

In a manner to adjust my thoughts, which felt as scattered as birdshot from a cutback barrel, I read the AP article.

I let out a long breath and dropped my head.  I’m not certain how long before I looked back up at the screen and soaked in the report’s details.  Summoning more concentration, I reread the exposition, seeing the brutal details:

Fatally shot himself…


Body found by son.

When family members pass-on, as they always have and will do, our comprehensible rationalizing of age, health and situation deals your hand of grief.  It is proper etiquette to try & remain in control; not let your emotions get the best of you.  Make an effort of being aware of those around you, and that they are feeling it to.  Others you feel might need to see a strong face, an understanding face, that might have answers to many of the questions a Departing arises.

You know people must die, especially those you grew close to during hard, confusing moments when something – even if you think it is wrong later on – had to be said right to you, right at that moment to trigger whatever it is anyone needs to rationalize and get passed difficulties: a friend providing your mind and soul with a faceguard and munitions bunker.

However, when a hero dies – someone you never personally knew or met – a different side of the world feels hollower, and the actions and arrangements you have made in your life influenced by that inspirational character, feel vulnerable.  Soon you (I) are ushering in the defensive tactics in attempts to preserve elements essential to who you have become.  How you lead your life, and what has been brought to your attention as values and actions vital to an existence exemplifying Personal Freedom & Courage.

Life, at that bitter moment, after reading that headline, felt… odd.  For lack of better of a better term.  Not in any good way, either. Knowing someone so great (by my estimation) will no longer share something new with you in a book, a CD, a painting… an interview – it is crushing.

At the time, there was no thought about what actions towards Preservation might happen.  That twenty years down the line something NEW could emerge – something that could resurrect the good feelings & good memories that idol inspired.

Social Scientists have preached that a person, especially a young, impressionable person, is better at shaping their own personal structures and goals when an idol is there to provide evidence of their attainability.  And how valuable certain attributes are.

We read biographies, press write-ups – anything available – planning out and judging our future moves, based on the situations your Admired One faced.  You are mentally configuring how you might have handled it better.   

Or in your own way.  Teachings from a hero are a priceless gift.  A gift that will guide the young and admiring.

I wonder if they know this about their lives. I wonder if they knew – or know – how important they will remain, their teachings enduring the progression of time.

For me, the world is less grand… Hunter S. Thompson died tonight: February 20, 2005.

I miss him, already.

He was one of the few writers I admire greatly that had been alive & working during my life.

Never have I seen, nor will I ever see, on the Soon To Come billboard at Waldenbooks an upcoming John O’Hara novel, or new Selections of poetry by Richard Brautigan. 

But I do remember seeing on that billboard in a Walden Bookstore at Carnation Mall, Alliance, OH, Dr. Thompson’s Kingdom of Fear: Loathsome Secretes of a Star Crossed Child in the Final Days of the American Century

That was back in 2003.

Maybe, & I do pray for this, there will be some posthumous works to come.   

Leland Locke (Left) & Ti Jean Kemble, Missoula, MT, circa 2012