The Lumberjack

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There once was a young lumberjack who was very skilled at what he did.  This lumberjack was so strong and so talented that he could cut down nearly twice the number of trees in one day as anyone else and he was widely regarded as the best in the land.  All the girls wanted to get with him and all the boys wanted to be him.  He was happy and proud of himself. He was comfortable in the idea that he would always be at the top of his game.

The other lumberjacks had a great respect for him so they studied his techniques endlessly in hopes of some day being like him.

As the years passed the once young, but now aging, lumberjack began to notice that he was no longer cutting down twice the number of trees as everyone else because everyone else was cutting down more.  Not only that but, even though he was still working just as hard as he always had, his actual yield was going down.  Every day it seemed he worked harder than the day before but his work continued to decline.

After awhile, not only was he no longer the industry leader but he found himself at the back of the pack in last place.  Even the newbies were cutting down more trees than him!

With great exasperation, he would complain to his friends, “I am doing the exact same thing that made me a champion but now I can’t even keep up!”

At the end of the day, the lumberjack could always be found drowning his sorrows at a sketchy watering hole that stank of grease traps and toilet sanitizer. It was on the dark side of the tracks and fly paper hung from the moose head by the door. Men with dull hair whose wives never saw a paycheck and women with skinny legs and no last name sat mesmerized in the glow of Deuces Wild, hoping to win but planning to lose.  It was a sad and predictable scene at the bar called Diminishing Returns but it was still a step above going home. One night while the lumberjack was taking up space and once again regaling everyone with his tale of woe, the bartender’s ears started to bleed so he leaned over and very quietly asked him one question.

“When was the last time you sharpened your ax?”

A Room Down The Hall

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I would concede that my descriptions over simplify reality exactly to the extent that they are misinterpreted.

I had wanted the room with the windows but it didn’t work out that way.  Instead, my plants and I have taken refuge in the walk-in closet where we sit around a bare light bulb trading ghost stories.  While I have finally succeeded in wrecking my marriage, there remains only one way out of this mess and that is to go through it.

When I was younger, I used to keep snakes, an endeavor that may or may not have required weekly trips to the pet store to bring home mouse happy meals.  Snakes tend toward the strong, silent type and can be difficult to get along with because, lacking the gift of facial expression or the ability to learn sign language, communication is not their strong point.

“Are you hungry?”, I would ask my serpentine friend and then wait patiently for a vision or a smoke signal.  Once I thought I heard it’s forked tongue say, “Stick your hand in here and find out”, but in reality no response was forthcoming.

Unlike their devilish human counterparts, snakes do not kill for sport which meant that on many occasions the mice were left to their own devices to kill themselves.  An unmotivated reptile will watch unblinkingly as one panicked creature after the next would drown in the water bowl, die of dysentery or break it’s neck falling from the rafters, all in an attempt to escape a predator that didn’t want it in the first place.

Naturally, the plants were horrified on the evening I chose to share that little gem with them.

Some ghosts are living and some ghosts are dead.
Some books stay open,
after the final page has been read.
On a hot summer night, too hot for my bed,
I met a pigeon in a parking lot with an upside down head.

Unable to fly,
and with down-turned eyes,
it said:
These crumbs on the sidewalk are the stars in my sky.

When you talk to plants their leaves shimmer and quiver, curl and wither, depending on what you tell them.  Their bodies, like ours, consist mainly of water. Water that rises with the tide, sits like glass in the moonlight and rages in the wind. Water giveth, and water taketh away.  Water becomes the shape of it’s vessel.

Crowded in a tight circle, their sweet faces pale with incandescent light, the plants listen patiently to my stories but one by one they have to agree that this dim imitation is not the sun.  “We can’t live this way”, they tell me.

“I know”, I say, “but please hang on a little longer.  I will find us a new room with lots of windows very soon.”

They nod and say, “We hope we’re still here when you do.”

Parables About Nothing

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He said I was savage.
He doesn’t know what that means.

***

A hermit was walking in the woods and came across a coral snake.

The snake had been bitten by a cat and was badly injured.

The hermit felt bad for snake and took it home to nurse it back to health.

Months passed and the snake healed but the hermit had become very attached to the snake in the meantime.

One day, while having some special time together, the snake bit the hermit in the face.

The hermit picked up a rock to crush the snake’s head and cried, “how could you?!?!”

The snake never blinked. “Why are you crying?,” it asked, “Everyone knows that snakes make bad pets.”

With rock still in hand, the hermit pondered this while the snake crawled back to it’s home in the woods.

***

I don’t know who is who in this story.

Actually, I do.

I am both of them.