Tag: Column

Midnight Me: Writing of the Whispers of Love Christmas Dinner

I was handed a flyer from a one Ms. B ____. It was a flyer promoting & welcoming people to eat a nice afternoon meal, pick out some gifts for Christmas (toys & coats & gloves,) & receive a bag of FREE toiletries.

No description available.

This was an event I chose to attend, and to offer my services – to volunteer to do whatever it was that might need to be done.

After all, I have been in that position of helplessness, of starvation & homelessness. I very much wanted to be of assistance in helping these others in their time of need. Especially during this part of the year. This special season when Maricals DO happen. I have been overwhelmingly blessed the past month. A month of safety & Good Health & a Home I am truly happy to live in.

Becoming even more positive, along with wanting to acquaint myself – and become a serving member – with this community, I believe, is essential for my psychological & spiritual well-being. Our community, which I can legitimately call my HOME, could use a pair of extra hands.

I’m more than happy to oblige.

We (Special Lady Friend and me) took her electric, refrigerated van to the church. We stopped at a Family Dollar, buying cases of bottled water. After not being able to find to find the building, I started feeling antsy. Social anxiety/anxiety is not a fun accessary included with conscious being. But it is something I am learning to cope with. And I’m taking medication for the disorder.

This was an event I chose to attend, and to offer my services – to volunteer to do whatever it was that might need to be done. And My Special Lady Friend was just as excited as I was to be of assistance. She was very dedicated to conjuring-up something more she could do.

Our Farm’s Logo

What started off as text messaging to the Contact in charge of the operation for more information, turned into me & My Special Lady Friend donating a little over $200.00 worth of fresh beef to the cause. Cuts of differing steaks, ground beef & roasts were Our gift & contribution to something that I’m very sensitive about. Going hungry & cold for long periods of time – hell, ANYTIME – strikes a certain appalling, protective chord in my heart & in my mind to SAVE the person from their plight.

No description available.

We walked into chaos. Everyone was rushing to move something; tops of roasters were removed, serving spoons & forks placed along side of said roasters. Bottles of soda & deserts were arranged with care. (That was one of my first tasks, handed down to me.)

There was chattering galore. I tried staying silent. When I speak, it’s obvious I am not from North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia… I’m a Yankee. And everyone knew it.

“Da Yah’ll drink sweet tea where ya’ll are from?”

A young girl, around 15 or 16, asked me that while I was breaking-up some chunks of ice for drinks. I didn’t know what to say. But my reply was: “I don’t know. I drink coffee.”

For some reason, people laughed at my comment.

After the teenager moved along, I asked her mother what the hell was with the sweet tea question.

“We all took trip to Colorado. Seems soon as we crossed state lines, nobody had sweet tea sweet enough for my little girl. And, honey, you a Northerner. She loves the mystique of Northerners.”


I didn’t pursue it.

What compliment I did receive was something along the lines of: “You may be a Yankee, but you seem harmless.”

– (Indeed.) –

The way things were set up, a person or family would walk through the line, starting with the roasters – full of ham & turkey, potatoes & green beans – next were rolls & other edibles of such persuasion, and then the dessert & drinks table, where I was first positioned, as the “BARTENDER.”

When the guests were finished with their meal, a trip into the pantry was in order.

No description available.
Leland Locke, the “Yankee” filling a box with food in the Redeemers House

It was hot in that pantry. And I did my best to keep up with the flow of traffic. I was putting canned foods, boxes of cookies & goods in glass jars, finally, at the end of the line, a large freezer, filled with meat into a medium-sized cardboard box.

After the box was filled, I was making trips to the parking lot. I loaded up the boxes of food. Boxes of toys & cloths.

I heard a lot of “God bless yous,” “Jesus loves yous,” & “You’re so kind.”

There were elderly ladies there. Young couples with babies… and there was a single man there. I was asked by Ms.__ to sit & talk with him.

Water to his trailer had been turned off.

My Special Lady Friend and I went to the Dollar General again, bought more water in gallon jugs. He had medication that needed to be picked-up. We drove to the pharmacy & got it for him.

Funny thing happened on the ride to get that poor soul’s meds. My Special Lady Friend, while driving us to the Walmart pharmacy, told me that all the ladies there loved me. And how kind & sweet her husband was.

That kind of made both of us laugh.

“Did you correct them,” I asked with a Joker’s smirk on my face, knowing the answer.

“No. I didn’t”

I sighed.

It was a good thing what we did. My heart pounded the war-drum-beat of purpose… of acknowledging the kindness BOTH of us expressed at this Whispers of Love Christmas Dinner.

But I never thought I would be doing what I did that Saturday, December 18, 2021.

It’s a far-cry away from the Youngstown, OH streets… the sickness of the past being simply that: something in the past I am healing from.

And I’m so grateful others are receiving some of the benefits of me BEING better & THINKING better.


Considering the Classics

One Christmas, my mother bought for me a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. That was a first edition copy, with a flawless dustjacket. – And it should have been! The book had been published earlier that year. It was brand new! And I learned a lot about a couple of things from that book.

That is why I am rereading it, now. And, once again, I find myself in possession of a NEW copy of that very same book… it’s just a Scribner CLASSICS edition. The damn book was originally published 21 years ago! – Considered a CLASSIC, now. Now: what the hell does that make me?

Almost 40!

That is what that makes me!

Angry about it? Hell, no. A little bit confused? Most definitely. When & how the hell did it happen? I’m rereading a book I got for Christmas twenty years ago.

I’m surprised I made it TO twenty. I’m sure as hell no CLASSIC, like that good book. I may have picked up some things along the way, but I am one pathetic, far-cry away from being adult. No classic. Just… well… me.

My great uncle was a classic. My grandparents were classics. I’m just now starting to accept that maybe my parents have reached classic CONSIDERATIONS!

But they are only allowed to be considered. Not amended into any contract the would classify them one foot closer into the grave.

I know; I know.

It is a stupid & childish notion that your parents will NEVER be old. Your parents cannot die. And, when you have been blessed to have REAL parent, any thoughts of them becoming frail & fragile &, dare I say it, even CLASSIC, we – you & me, Reader – might have to start thinking about things more realistically.

For example: there was a treacherous stretch of time there, not that long ago, in fact, where I was pretty comfortable & confident that my parents would be burying me. Or cremating me. Or what-ever-the-hell they had in mind for my corpse.

Then, things change. Sometimes, it’s fast, like a bullet; other times, it is slow as the poison being extracted from the Seed or the Root or the Leaf.

The important thing, for me: things DID change.

It’s All About the Pace, About the Pace, About the Pace…

Keeping up with things is hard. Keeping up with laundry, the dishes, paying the bills, shaving, shaving your face (your legs, for you ladies… and some guys, too, I guess…) unmentionable parts, and relationships – you HAVE to keep up with those.

Now, where I am at in my life, I have to keep up with animals. Keep up with taking medications… & just keeping up with LIFE!

I am not used to it. Ans it is so hard. Life is so hard.

But there is the happiness in keeping up with it all.

For instance: two mornings ago, I was the happiest man I never thought I would be. I just woke up knowing things were going to be good that day.

Maybe it was My Special Lady Friend coming out of the shower, smelling the way a lady should smell. And my heart-strings were pulled-back just a little bit more.

Maybe it was the work I did on the Blog, and that wonderful sense of accomplishment gave the type of BOOST you usually have to obtain through illegal purchases…

It could have been the dogs wandering around, tackling & growling & barking at one another. – But they were doing it out of doggy affection.

Standing outside on the porch, smoking away, a book in my hand, which was pointless taking outside with me. I was too busy marveling at everything. At everything I have. Of remembering where I have been, and remembering what is was like having nothing. And wanting a special lady friend, but too affraid to even consider it.

That’s right!

I was affraid of GIRLS for awhile.

Nothing but trouble; I would try convincing myself of such nonsense.

Some may be. But not my friend that brought me to this wonderful life I am now living.

I don’t think she realizes what it was I did NOT have. And how desperate I truly was to feel like someone was/would save me.

Then again, I know she is going to read this.

And I know it will make her smile.

Once Again, A Memo From the Night Desk

Sometimes – most of the time – I don’t sleep at night. And when I want to lay down, I don’t want do it in Our Bed.

I will turn from one side, turn to the other. My leg, sometimes, won’t stop kicking in its atavistic beat into the sheets. And I don’t want to wake her up. She has far more important things to do during her day than I do.

In fact, she helps people.

She makes sure patients get medicine.

Talk with them about their COVID-19 test results, and what to do if the test is POSITIVE. She is a busy lady. A lady that needs her sleep. A lady that should not have to deal with a much larger, thrashing body beside her in bed.

Something that has amazed me about my time going to sleep now as compared to the past: my mind is no longer racing the thoughts of what I do not have, and what I need & desire.

Could it be I HAVE everything that I thought I wanted? Surely not. But it is starting to feel that way. I have everything I NEED. That is covered. And she made sure I was taken care of by the second night we were together.

Am I being spoiled?

Of course I am.

And I am trying to get used to the whole idea that I don’t have to worry so much anymore. To not have to worry about food & a home & commitment is something that should be slipped into softly.

She is in the bed, now. Dreaming the dream of dreams, I hope. Smelling warm & clean & lady-like. Because that is what she is: A Special Southern Lady. One that helps people, is compassionate, loving of animals (I think her BIG secret is loving the dogs more than she loves people.)

And she came for me.

Drove all the way to the terrible side of East Cleveland to retrieve me.

Why did she do such a self-indulgent, dangerous thing? Well, because she WANTED to, that’s why. Because she wanted me out of Cleveland, and be by her side. She wanted help with the farm (which I am gladly doing) she wanted companionship.

Why not give it to her?

But, no matter how hard I try, I need MY time in the DARK. My time writing on this blog has become very important.

Hell, I am writing again. I’m writing in a way – in a fashion – I am not used to… but have come to terms that this is how I should write.

And that is something I do better at while the world is asleep; while the dogs are snoring in the bed with My Lady & all feels safe & good in the house.

Leland Locke

Old Mills Acre Farm

December 16, 2021

An Angel

My mother gave me a coin at the beginning of the year. At the front of the coin, or should I say on one side of the coin reads: WATCHING OVER ANDREW.

On the other side of the coin: “Andrew Each day and all night through, a Guardian Angel is watching over you.”

I don’t carry the coin with me. I KNOW it speaks a certain truth. And, as I have written multiple times, God picks strange Angels. Well, what I believe, what I know what happened, as I remember it, my Guardian Angel did not whisper in the way you might imagine an angel might whisper. No. No. It was a guttural, gravel-in-the-throat, old-age & forceful voice – one I know VERY well!

I needed to get to the hospital. It was snowing out. But water was flowing out of drainpipes from the sides of buildings. I was THIRSTY! Dehydrated from drink. I drank from the side of a building. And I was very, very weak from no food. No Sleep. I would crawl so far, collapse & wait. I’d watch the snow fall & melt on my jeans. Steam would rise up from my pants… it was cold outside that night. Very cold. But I was sweating. My body was burning up. Something was not right. Not that ANYTHING had been right with me for a long time… this was different, though.

I was going to the hospital. I’d gotten what I could from the Liberty, OH, Walmart: vodka. I thought I could last the night. But that night was too cold – too cruel, & the devils were not just in the details, they were over-powering in mass drop-cloths of darkness around every corner, hugging themselves-up against every building.

I could SMELL them around the blocks. An acidic smell, mingled with a burning of tar, tasting it in my mouth, tattooing the back of my throat.

I had to get to the hospital.

That was a FOR SURE plan for the night. Something was going on. And I did not like it. My weight – the weight of thought – roll over from one nightmare to the next… I would find myself on the sidewalk. One side – one world – would move from one galaxy to another.

My body was HOT and SWEATING.

Snow kept falling. A person could track me easily. My shuffling walk; moments of laying on the concrete… it was messy.

And I needed to get to a hospital.

I collapsed one hard & hurtful collapse… I was done.

I pictured what my son might be doing then.

(Probably sleeping.)

My parents were, i felt, years away from me.

Guardian Angel Drawing Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

I thought of my grandmother. How horrified she would be at my descent into the REAL world. And, yes, nothing was more real & tragic & complex than on that terrible night. That night was the make-it-or-not-make-it-night.

But: I had had a few of those already. Something was bothering me, though. I was TRYING to get somewhere. Somewhere that would help me!

Why would I want help?

I wanted to die.

I was in the middle of trying to figure that fucking riddle out when I heard the shout:


That was a voice I had not heard in ten + years.

It the voice of my Uncle. My Great Uncle Hud.


I did not know if I could, but I got up.

And when I fell down again, and curled-up, letting the cold, lake-effect winds lick my feverish body down, I’d hear the voice again:


It would not leave me alone. And all I wanted was to be alone. I was too weak to die, and too strong to go on… I don’t know where that voice came from?

An audio hallucination?

I don’t think so.

God picks strange angels. And you can’t press them onto coins. Can’t predict their antics. One night, a bad night, on the streets of Youngstown, OH, I heard the voice of my Guardian Angel. A guttural, forceful & beautiful voice scolding me in the December night.

A voice coming from an angry Irish-Man… an Irish-Man that would NOT let me lay down in the snow & dirt & trash of the night… it was a voice that pushed & punched & pulled me to where I needed to go:


I guess you, Dear Reader, might know what I am talking about in a better way, if you knew my Uncle Hud. Most people, I don’t think, were comfortable around him. Yet, I trusted him more than I trusted most people in my life.

And, YES, he would be shouting & cussing & kicking at me to get my shit together! – To NOT die!


And, under much confusion, I listened to him. You did not NOT listen to my Uncle Hud when he told you to do something. Especially something important… like saving your own life!

I was admitted into the Emergency Room just before 4:00 am… I did not tell the doctors or the nurses about that angel that was with me that night.

They probably would have committed me.

Sadness in the Song: Bells Outside of Stores & St. Nick Hats

Sketch of falling coins, money flowing ... | Stock vector | Colourbox

I don’t do it to FEEL better about myself.  And I don’t do it out of pity.  I don’t do thinking they will stop ringing the bell.

I think I do it because I believe it is the right thing to do.

And since some of my past was no paradise, I know those funds are both something needed and wanted. Just like I know Soup Kitchens & Church Basements have their important place in the world.

Donating a dollar here, a pocket full of change there, can go a long way in making a difference in someone’s life.

It does make a difference. And I will NEVER allow myself to forget that, not that long ago, I was one in the multitude of unfortunate people classified as HOMELESS… as DESTITUTE.

Holidays can bring out something in us. Something GOOD. When I drop that folded-up banknote into the bucket, I ask myself how much of that money – donated money – had been spent on me.

According to Wikipedia.org:

In the United States, in 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that American households in the lowest fifth in terms of wealth, gave on average a higher percentage of their incomes to charitable organizations than those households in the highest fifth.[1] Charity Navigator writes that, according to Giving USA, Americans gave $298 billion in 2011 (about 2% of GDP).[2] The majority of donations were from individuals (73%), then from bequests (about 12%), foundations (2%) and less than 1% from corporations. The largest sector to receive donations was religious organizations (32%), then education (13%). Giving has increased in 3 out of 4 years since 1971 (with the occasional declines occurring around recession years).[2]

I find this to be VERY interesting. I am on a fixed income. Supplemental Security Income, to be specific. (S. S. I.) And it’s not very much. But I always have the final tally of a purchase rounded-up to the nearest dollar amount. And there is the Salvation Army bell ringers with their red kettles.

Drop some $ in the kettle.

You may not feel better about yourself if you do. It may not, in the large scheme of things, change what can not be changed. It may not even make you a happier person. But that is not the point now, is it? It will make SOMEBODY feel better, in a certain way.

It sure as hell won’t harm you to drop a dime every now & then into the kettle… into the jar… or a bucket.

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.

In Response To An Assignment Call

Black Sparrow Press - Wikipedia
Black Sparrow Press Logo (1966)

It’s all about the Words! That has been the important thing. They have been romantic & tragic & essential, all at the same time.

But, in the business world, & the World of Words IS a business, a LOGO is required. They (WordPress.com) say a LOGO is not needed; but, in reality, it is. So: I need a LOGO.

What do I have in mind?

Well, I carry a RAMBO knife around the house with me. A machete, really, designed by the one & only Great Gil Hibben. It’s an exact Replica of the prop-knife used by Sylvester Stallone in the 2008 film, Rambo. Deep in my heart is the heart of a Dork. – A nerd. I still carry around “toys”. They are just toys for Grown-Ups.

I guess it’s not THAT strange: think of all the Star Wars Collectors there are. Movie Memorabilia is neat. And that is the best terminology I can come up with.

Amazon.com: Gil Hibben Rambo IV Machete Knife With Leather Sheath : Sports  & Outdoors
Gil Hibben RAMBO Machete. The Hibben IV.

German-American Writer & Poet, Charles “Hank” Bukowski had trained himself as a Short-Fiction writer through the 1940s & 50s. He was drinking a great deal. He drank cheap beer, cheap wine, cheap whiskey. And he was having what seemed to have been an endurance contest with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Jane Cooney Baker.

Bukowski, in his words, went on a “ten-year drunk” which made up his “lost years” while being employed at the United States Post Office Department in Los Angeles, CA.

All that drinking led to him being hospitalized in 1955, with a bleeding ulcer that was nearly fatal. When he left the hospital, he bought a typewriter & began to write poetry.

Something had cracked in Bukowski: all the words were all coming-out in the form of poems.

This morning, while on Facebook, the idea came to me to utilize the tools & help offered to Writers. And I’m part of a Facebook community, Writers Helping Writers. I was not “stuck” this morning on what to write about. But I had this little experiment in mind: Ask For Help.

Ask the other Writers of the online community to come up with an Assignment for me to work on.

Here is what Michelle Runge, another Member of the Writers community since December 09, 2017:

“Like a quick story idea? The earth quakes this time more than normal. A giant crack is created. What comes out of it and why?”

Why the hell not?

That is a good a place to start as any.

Well, Bukowski’s world quaked & cracked & shattered with his near fatal, self-induced affliction.

I, too, suffered from a near-fatal complication, due to alcoholism. I’m a much-more put together human being today. And I can’t wait to see how I will be tomorrow… the day after that…. and the day after that.

But back to Bukowski: John Martin, a manager to an Office Supply warehouse, believed in Hank. Believed so much in him, Martin sold his collection of First Edition books in order to start a publishing company. Start the company to exclusively publish Bukowski.

Hank was 49 years old. Working his gig at the Post Office when, in 1969, Martin put forth the proposition of Bukowski to leave the Post Office to Write full-time.

The two of them figured Hank’s monthly expenses, and he was allotted a stipend.

Black Sparrow Press was born. And it had a LOGO.