Lullaby for Daniel

My extra son, Daniel, who is away at graduate school in California
Is having some trouble falling asleep (I hope this isn’t borin’ ya).
Anyway, I’m going to take my time this morning to offer him good advice
About how to fall asleep even though your mind is chock full of problems and facts and knowledge and loneliness and computing the odds of eight the hard way with a pair of dice.

So first, Daniel, I want you to lay down on your back and imagine a big glowing ball.
Golden is the preferred color but it could be green or red or puce really, it’s your call.
The ball hovers over you and bathes your body in a soft and velvety glow
And it slowly lowers toward you and the glow gets softer and velvetier and even more luxurious and cuddly warm from the tip of your pastiest pate to the top of your toesiest toe.

Then imagine the ball no more than a few inches from your flesh as it begins to head for your feet.
Imagine the movement is very slow and sensual but you must not so much as twitch on your sheet,
Because the ball must not be disturbed. Be patient and the ball  will go beyond your body and its glow will fall on your soles,
And tiny laser beams will shoot out and etch a fine grid on the sole of each foot, tiny perfect squares about the size of a pore, hundreds of them on each foot and you have to come up with a name for each square and then devise a mnemonic for each name (while ignoring the wisps of smoke rising from your feet—very pretty, these wisps—r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g) and keep reciting them over and over as you go until you can rip out their names perfectly like calling rolls.

Meanwhile, imagine aliens have broken down your door and inserted some kind of long and narrow
Extra-terrestrial Roman candle far up your Nestle’s chocolate gerbil barrow,
They use a bic camping lighter to light their device and refuse to remove it
Until you use the muscles in your rectum to analyze it and determine its dimensions, chemical make up, and atomic weight and then prove it.

About this time you should begin to feel somnolent and drowsy
So go to sleep already or tomorrow you will feel lousy.

—Don Whittington


When I have finally grown up all the way

When I have finally grown up all the way,
enough so I can actually admit to all the things I really want
without embarrassment or any need to explain,
I will take a big old bag of yummy trail mix
out on the trail with me up in the mountains somewhere—
but probably a park and not an actual mountain away from trails and stuff
because what with the yummy trail mix and my advanced age
I would be afraid of not outpacing the bears that come foraging
for my jellied mango nips and my dried banana chips—
but a proper bear-free park, red-or-bluestone maybe
something short of yellow, anyway, and I would walk
a long way in then sit on some cleared bug-free earth and
eat and eat and eat my trail mix all sloppy like
and—oh!—my fly would be open and all the yummy goodness of the trail
would heap up in my trousers and the chipmunks and the pine martens
and the deer and the squirrels and all the cute and fuzzy creatures would come
and move into my pants and I would take a lot of pictures and get
myself declared a nature preserve and apply for federal funds which
would be forthcoming lickety split
and I could take this federal money and go clubbing
and the girls would all be fascinated by my moving, writhing lap
and they wouldn’t be able to keep themselves from asking about it
and I would tell them all about the trail mix right up through the chipmunks
and they would take me right to bed and be completely charmed and enchanted
because who doesn’t like Chip and Dale?
And I will sing a jingle:

Come and take a luxuriant nap
On my federally protected lap
And I will be as steadfast as Vanna White
And keep my lap open for you all night*

—Don Whittington

*for a modest fee

I am in desperate need of a rube

I am in desperate need of a rube—
things can be too professional,
too slick and polished, too studied
and deliberate—
I miss Elvira;
I miss Morgus the Magnificent—
Mad Marvin and Bob Wilkins
thrill me more than the latest
Hollywood gore fest—
there is nothing worse than to watch
the almost talented;
give me the raw enthusiasm
of those unsuited to the task—
Ed Wood understands me;
I wish he was here to watch
Creature Features with me—
we could pop some popcorn
without a microwave and eat
peanut butter on saltines,
and he would wear a pink angora sweater
and drink highballs and
smoke Chesterfields from a carton
that had holly wreaths for Christmas on it—
it would be so brilliant I almost ache to imagine it.

when I was ten years old
and my own baby sitter
in Hood River, Oregon
in an almost empty
second floor apartment
with the Columbia River at my back
and a black and white Zenith in front of me
I watched
the Kit Kat Theater, I think it was—
somebody played the strains of Alley Cat
on a tinkly piano while
a curvy woman in a bad kitten outfit
walked out with a sign like the ladies
at a wrestling match do,
but instead of “round three” it said,
The Tingler, and oh, didn’t I tingle—
and oh, to this very day
don’t I have some wicked plans for cats?

—Don Whittington


Big Vector Vault of Internet Citations

Ancient Mail
Roman legions originally used a system of messenger squirrels to carry secret missives throughout the old Roman Empire.

Chinese pandas
Pandas are not actually bears, but are in fact wolves that have gotten fat and lazy from the Chinese Welfare System.

Members of the clergy
The Dalai Lama has the largest genitalia of all religious leaders.

Eating Habits
Over 90% of Americans in the 1920s ate out at least three times a week while the remainder indulged in no sexual activity at all.

Angelina Jolie is the only actress made entirely from the recycled plastic surgery discards of other actresses.

The last man convicted of witch burning in America was named Darren Stevens. He became the inspiration for the hit 60s tv show, Green Acres.

Appleby’s least successful menu item of 2011 was “mashed potatoes and Raid.”

The World Philosophical Society has formally accepted the career of Shia Labeouf as definitive proof there is no God.

Good Advice
All dogs go to heaven, so if you are dead, watch where you step.

—Don Whittington

we teach the kids to spill the beans

we teach the kids to spill the beans
when someone
whispers in their ears
this is a secret, mustn’t tell—
but children know we’re scamming them
they spend
their first few years
learning all the ways
that mom and dad cannot be trusted
if they could make their own t-shirts
each one would say
parents = buzzkill
that’s how smart our children are
for all our fierce indoctrination
they cannot be fooled by us
the children are their own future
they do not want or need us
so young, and already
tired of our baloney
for every baby knows
that if you cannot keep a secret you will never learn
more than one
cool thing

—Don Whittington

I saw an article

I saw an article a day or so ago detailing
the steps one should take to rise into the middle class
and thought to myself, wow, there’s a change
I never saw coming—
to aspire to the middle class seems like a dream
for princes and princesses
oh, if only I can somehow
work my way up to retail—
please, lord, help me find the right path
to a load of crushing student debt—
help me realize the full bloom of my talents
in the service sector—
fries with this, fries with that, fries
for everyone all the time with
hallelujah, we are reborn
a nation of baristas who one day
might pack boxes for the Bezos
and we will never gripe and we will not complain
for jobs are magical now
and can be taken with a snap of fingers
gulped down like a big bag of fries
and a sugary drink
but not too big a sugary drink
because the really super wealthy ones
are worried about our health
they want to keep us young and sprightly and limber
lithe and willowy so there will be more good looking
ones to choose among
more desperate, willing, broken olympians
they can pay to perform a floor exercise
right on top of their jaded, aged bones
sugar free with fries with fries
the 47 and the 52 and the 1
the 47 aren’t quite owned, not yet
but the 52 are in the bag
with fries
and a toy

—Don Whittington

we go through life now like an american

we go through life now like an american
walking through karachi
with every waif and orphan tugging
at our sleeve and slipping nimble fingers
into our pockets and whining in thin
starving voices that cannot be silenced
these demands on our time and our attention
never, ever cease and we defer the one
and try to ignore the other and they pile on pile
around us until they tower over us
arms reaching, eyes beseeching and we claim
we cannot serve the one without serving all
we cannot save the one without dooming him
forever and the crowd around us deepens
the buzz grows louder and here is a giant Jenga
of the undone and here is a giant Jenga
of the unserved and here is a giant Jenga
of the unintended consequence—
all we ever really wanted was a tranquil moment
to gather our thoughts and take a breath
in a place so quiet we might just detect
the feathery beat of a fawn’s heart
in the distant wood.

—Don Whittington

Every time I get ready to dismiss the supernatural

Every time I get ready to dismiss the supernatural
I get held up by the thought of worms;
I get held up by the thought of cells;
I begin thinking in a kind of random, frantic way
as if I were a child of eight without a single answer
for anything whatsoever. Now, I would correct
myself and just move on were it not that I hold that child
in such high regard. That child is often my cleverest part;
that child is the one that dares everyone to prove everything;
that child is the one magicians hate because he can’t be misdirected;
he’s too literal, he’s too watchful, he’s on to you.
They tell me every cell in my nearly sixty year-old frame
is a replacement for a cell that died, and I am the being
that consisted of all those cells but they are dead
and these cells are new and I am that being, too,
which is the same exact being it was before
and what the hell is up with that?
What, then, is me, Mr. Wizard? Is my consciousness
a simple delusion or does it have a shape and form that
could just as easily be kept in a jar in my bottom drawer?
Is this a soul I see before me?
How can I be me if I am not me anymore?
When my eight year old splits that earthworm he gets
two and it blows his little mind. Two separate pets
that burrow through the earth like any other worm.
How is that not a miracle?
I understand the chemistry,
I understand the electricity,
I understand the physics,
but I do not understand the power in a child’s hand
that can create another being with a goddamned penknife.
How do I get through a single hour unamazed?

Some days like today I am hesitant to even pare my nails
for fear the clippings will organize and run away
and each of them will start a blog and tell all the
really rancid shit they know about me.
Life is hell for the truly lonely.

—Don Whittington

Please excuse young Adam

Please excuse young Adam for his absence yesterday
his daddy made him stay inside, his daddy made him play
his outlaw daddy sat him down and filled his head with bees
so there was no more room, y’understand, for abcs
on mountaintops they cannot edit stars in purple skies
on beaches crabs are unimpressed by institutional lies
religious views and politics can’t crawl into the stones
the clabber-heads can’t comprehend the mystery of bones
young Adam had to learn some things you cats don’t want to teach
that clocks don’t run on whimsy, that you can’t persuade a peach
that the harder it is to make a thing, the easier to break it
that love is where you find it, that life is what you make it
that they’re lying to you, usually, and if they aren’t they’re wrong
that they will surely take you out if you cannot stay strong
so please excuse young Adam for his absence yesterday
his daddy made him dangerous; he hopes he stays that way.

—Don Whittington