• hair spray •

“They say, ‘Don’t use hair spray,
it’s bad for the ozone.’
So I’m sitting in this
concealed (sic) apartment,
this concealed (sic) unit…
It’s sealed, it’s beautiful.
I don’t think anything gets out.
And I’m not supposed to be
using hair spray?”
Is it true, can it be?
That this,
coiffed kumquat,
this preening peacock,
this ham-handed,
hairdooed harlequin,
has, somehow,
been put in charge,
of the
… Presidency? Please.
Somebody ‘wake me.
~ Tim Burchfield
5/28/17

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• the role of a friend •

You are no friend, friend.
You only pretend to be a friend,
always with the passive aggression,
always with the snide retort.
Let me tell you about friends, friend.
Friends don’t hurt for fun,
or rip each other’s guts out for sport.
Friends don’t laugh at your pain,
enjoy your embarrassment,
exult in undermining your satisfaction,
poo-poo your gains,
remind you of your past failures,
and follies,
winnow out your weaknesses,
and worries,
all the more, to underscore.
A friend won’t hobble your confidence,
with the teasing jibe,
the unwarranted witticism,
the stinging barb,
the bad report.
That’s not the role of a friend, friend.
That’s what family is for.
~ Tim Burchfield
5/22/17

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• a mutually agreeable relationship •

In the Amazon rain forest there is a living tree; within its bark lives a parasitic plant which needs no sun – it draws its nourishment from its host, and is not visible, or even evident, but for a short time, once a year, when thousands of tiny yellow ball-shaped ‘flowers’ appear on the trunk of the host tree. On the nights when the yellow ‘buds’ are flourishing, tiny caterpillars come and eat the tasty buds. Each caterpillar has an accompanying ant who, when she gently taps on the caterpillar’s back with her antennae, the caterpillar produces a drop of sweet elixir, which the ant slurps greedily. They have a mutually agreeable relationship. The caterpillar, in turn, derives protection from predators, and the ant, a veritable moveable feast.
And then, betimes, along comes a butterfly. It’s wings are gray, but for a single brightly colored yellow ‘dot’, toward the back – a convincing ‘match’ to the yellow ‘flowers’ on the tree: as ‘camouflage’, apparently.
An entire ecosystem, within one tree. That’s what I learned, yesterday.
Oh, and, one other thing: if you are walking your dogs with the girl, and you see a big bug in her hair, politely pick the bug out before she knows what you are about, rather than pointing and shouting, “Bug! Bug!! BUG!!” (Three times fast.)
Yes, I learned that, too, alas.
~ Tim Burchfield
5/17/17

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• a starting place •

So much unsaid,
like the over-stuffed box,
full of letters, un-sent,
under my bed,
and too, those ensconced
in the nested sub-folders
of my however many
Apple computers I’ve shelved,
over the years,
whose computer languages
are accessible to no one, now,
not even to myself.
Still, love has no time,
and is its own reason to exist,
if too, something?
What, too personal?
Perhaps, yes? Still, friend,
to smile, is almost, to laugh.
And that’s a starting place,
ever and always, for bliss.
~ Tim Burchfield
5/7/17

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• young jack kerouac holds forth on death •

But for the green light emitted by the radar screen, it was dark in the wheelhouse that enveloped the sea air that enveloped the two men. The Captain was taciturn, and concentrating on his course correction. Young Jack Kerouac was the greenhorn on the boat. He had been holding forth, now, for a bit yet.
“I realized that I had died and been reborn numberless times but just didn’t remember especially because the transitions from life to death and back to life are so ghostly easy, a magical action for naught, like falling asleep and waking up again a million times, the utter casualness and deep ignorance of it,” confessed young Jack. “I realized it was only because of the stability of the intrinsic Mind that these ripples of birth and death took place, like the action of the wind on a sheet of pure, serene, mirror-like water,” Jack opined. “I felt sweet, swinging bliss, like a big shot of heroin in the mainline vein; like a gulp of wine late in the afternoon and it makes you shudder; my feet tingled,” gushed Jack. “I thought I was going to die the very next moment. But I didn’t die…” ** Jack paused, taking a long drag on his cigarette. An orange glow illuminated his dark eyes, one green and one red, like the the running lights of an oncoming push boat, bitterly relentless and unswerving. What was the old adage about ships passing in the night? Red right returning.
But for the comforting drone of the twin sixteen diesels down below, a relative silence enveloped the two men. Finally, the Captain craned his neck to take in the kid, perusing him with a salty eye, and half a grin. Jack was slouching against the hatch, silhouetted by the moonlight washing back and forth over his lanky form, draped in bliss and youthful profundity. Jack was blowing smoke rings, and tapping his foot, as if listening to a cool jazz riff.
The captain pursed his lips in his signature expression, sucking up all ‘the silence in the room with withheld witticism, and unspoken irony. After a bit, he picked up his spit cup and spit, loosing a stringy stream of steaming brown treacle, observing, “Talk a lot, don’t you?”
~ Tim Burchfield
4/21/17

** (From Jack Kerouac, holding forth, ‘on death’.)

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• a two-fer •

This is a two-fer. Don’t know what a two-fer is? Sure you do: it’s a two ‘fer’ (for) one. Can you tell I spent my formative years in retail? Yep, my claim to fame in high school was head Pamper stacker, a graduate of H.E.B. U. Don’t know what Pampers are? If you’ve had kids you do, and if you haven’t, they’re disposable diapers, and H.E.B. is a grocery store (chain), owned by the Butt family: that’s true.
Where was I? Oh, yes, a two-fer.
I came home today with a couple of gems, one on spuds (that’s potatoes, or potato, in the singular, from the Spanish, patata, variant of the Taino, batata) and the other is, a surprise. Trust me, it really will be. Something maybe nobody has ever thought of, besides maybe me, and quite possibly only interesting to me, but we shall see, shall we?
But more about the potato. Or more specifically, freeze-dried potatoes. Yep, just like the ones moms like mine used to make when they saw commercials in the sixties about meals for twelve cents a serving and thought food made in the wink of an eye, was just the thing for a civilized society. Instant potatoes, I think they were called, on the box. Almost inedible, to my brother and sisters, which I thought just wonderful, as that meant there would always be plenty for me. My secret? Lots of butter and plenty of salt and pepper. Yummy!
Why are you telling me about instant potatoes, I can hear you asking, and well you may, so I shall tell you, immediamente, as they say. But now, for some history, and the punch line, to boot: freeze dried spuds are an ancient Peruvian invention, and not a product of NASA, such as Tang, fruit roll-ups, and squirt-able cheese, as you might think. And here’s how.
The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C., of which they developed over a thousand varieties, and still do utilize, even today. But freeze-dried? How did that come to be?
The potato, from the perennial Solanum tuberosum, is the world’s fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize. The problem with this delicious source of nutrition is their vulnerability, to moisture, and molds and fungus, and other spoilers. So the clever Peruvians would carry their crop of potatoes high into the Andes mountains and let them freeze. Then, after thawing, they would become sort of squidgy and malleable, in a very useful way. This, they would squash into a paste, and smooth it in the sun, over a wide flat rock face. The dried product could then be stored in fired clay pots, almost indefinitely. Add a bit of water, and bring to a boil, and voila! Instant potatoes. (Add pepper and salt, to taste, of course: the Peruvians were an advanced ancient culture, not savages.)
Okay, now for your big surprise, since you made it this far. Have you been waiting, with bated breath? (Short for, ‘abated’, breath: short for ‘shortness of breath’, nifty, nay?) I can tell. Well, wait no longer, your moment has arrived. Listen, my friend, and you shall hear.
I shall amaze you with my forward thinking and ingenuity. You know, if you’ve ever had to paint the outside of your house, or wooden deck, how, by spring, the places where the paint has peeled, and must be repaired and/or re-painted is more than evident, but by springtime, everything is soggy and wet, and the exposed wood is too, and too soft to scrape the old paint off, effectively, so you end up having to wait until the rains have stopped, and the wood has dried sufficiently to be able to paint, and by then, it’s getting (by winter standards) downright hot and sticky, and the black flies are biting, and the no-see-em’s are out for blood, and absolutely making you crazy? (What are no-see-ems? Imagine gnats, in their thousands, swarming, and biting, your ears, neck, and, well, any exposed area, except when you swat them, your hand finds a bloody trickle, lovely. Plus, you can’t see them, generally, hence, the name. Don’t worry about finding them, they find you.) So, anywhoo, here’s my stroke of near genius: winter paint prep. Yep, you heard it here first. Yes, dear friends, no fuss, no muss, no waiting for wet wood, no bleeding neck, and best of all, no sweat.
As to scraping, it’s winter weather that makes the paint peel anyway, with the cold, expansion and contraction have made cracks in the paint, and water has got into those cracks, and when the water freezes, the expanding ice (under the paint) just pushes it away from the wood.
Soooo, what better, on a cold and sunny winter day, than to get the old scraper out, and as they say, make hay? Have I actually tried out my hypothesis, to test my theory? Just got in from outside, now just warming my pinkies over some hot tea. Did it work? Guess.
Only one problem. Dog walkers. Who stare at you as if you were juggling chain saws, instead of scraping your front deck. “Hello there,” I chortle, “lovely weather, innit.” And off they wander, with only the occasional head shake, and pitying look back.
Not to worry though, as a card-carrying member of the much esteemed, ‘Creative Class’ (and, it goes without saying, the Wile E.Coyote aka, ‘super-genius’ Appreciation Society, W.E.C.S.G.A.S., or, ‘Wexgassers’, as we, mirthfully, call ourselves), I’ve grown quite accustomed to that.
~ Tim Burchfield
3/18/17

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• so much for vanity •

I remember when I first moved to ‘upstate’, New York, when dressing in ‘layers’, for winter, seemed abhorrent to me: “Oh, no, that might make me look, ‘puffy’!” Oy.
Nowadays, it’s Mr. Michelin Man, all the way. (Or, ‘Sir Bibendum’**, as he was originally known, if you prefer: I know what I look like, underneath.)
So what, if ‘suspenders’ are the only thing keeping my pants from falling to my feet?
It was nineteen degrees (F) out there two nights ago. ‘As long as I’m warm,’ says this South Texas boy, ‘so much the better for me.’ And so it goes.
So much for vanity.
~ Tim Burchfield
3/17/17
**((Bibendum, commonly referred to in English as the Michelin Man, is the symbol of the Michelin tire company. The slogan ‘Nunc est bibendum’ (‘Drink up’) is taken from Horace’s Odes (book I, ode xxxvii, line 1). He is also referred to as Bib or Bibelobis.))

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