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Poetry not for the masses

I’ve found a large stash of my poems and wanted to share with you guys.

Better Living Through Pharmaceuticals
I Rattle When I Walk

by J. Daniel Young
January 17, 2012

A glaring alarm wakes
me in the morning
as I pull myself from
last night’s dream.
I look over at the clock
and glare back at it.
Opening the ‘fridge,
the double rows of a plastic container
stares blankly at me.
With sleepy, fumbling hands
I grapple with the pill container
pouring today’s contents into my palm.
Two orange pills to my better health,
two red ones to my better attitude,
and yet one more, white, fat and round.
I swallow cautiously one or two at a time.

The day ends with me resetting the alarm.
The ‘fridge again.
Another intimate moment with the pill container.
This time I take more of the two orange for health.
Another, this one red and white accompanies it.
The big fat white round one buried amongst the rest.
A small blue one to maintain blood sugar.
Two small white ones, each with differing purposes.
And the grand daddy of them all,
the big-fat-yellow one.
It makes my head ring and causes the weird dreams
that will be playing in the morning
when the alarm tells me to start it all again.

The Last Kiss Goodnight
by J. Daniel Young

I know who you are, with your white skinless
face shrouded in black.
Bony white fingers clasping a
Curved knife topped staff

I know who you are, tracking my every move
Like a hound, fast on the trail
I glimpse your face, reflected in the
teapot each morning.

I know who you are, holding the contract
We each signed when we first
Screamed our lungs full.
You are there to kiss our
Final breath away, leaving us
In a darkness without end.

Your visage aimed to frighten the
Old man who awaits yours,
The last kiss goodnight.

Young men do not fear you
As you are the specter of the old,
Yet you stalk them too
An unexpected guest, come too soon.

Even in my youth, I know you.
a sickly child learns to smell your
stench; that of the arse of hell
and the sulfer of sewage.

Perhaps you had forgotten
me in my youth, only to
learn my scent as autumnal
winds surround what was
once a summered me.

Yes, I know you, yet I have never
feared your reflection
for I have learned to accept
you like a birthmark on
my hand – always there
and easily ignored.

Airport Observations
by J. Daniel Young

I am reflective as I watch airport visitors.
Each hustling to their flight, struggling  
with luggage, children, guilt.  
Happiness forced in this land of pixie dust and fairy tales.  
Yet another place people flock to only to find they’ve ended  
with empty wallets and sunburns. 
Some small moment of happiness –  
on a ride or in the arms of some stranger.   
I look at children dressed similarly by their parents  
– some silently observing as I do.  
Others crying, fighting, goofing off.   
People lost in headphones –  
casting out the verbal joys, pains, or complaints of others.  
I watch, listen, ignore, assume.   
The fat infant across from me, oblivious, wearing his father’s eyes. 
All waiting for that monstrosity to fly us back home – or someplace different.  
Black luggage on wheels, sleepy eyes, t-shirts with today’s slogans.  
Shoes clicking and scuffing at the tiles.  
Fidgeting feet and hands – none the idle.   
Business men with headphones, laptops and weary looks.   
Some have stopped for an overpriced beer  
before heading home to the wives they’ve cheated on,  
like last year’s taxes.   
A woman in a hot pink track suit too small for her ass  
– munching on calories unneeded, like so many of us.   
The smell of greasy food, bodily functions and the colognes 
meant to cover or disguise. 
Idle chatter, deep conversation.   
What invisible electric waves  
of email, texts, phone calls pass through our bodies. 
Her eyes are closed, is she asleep? Meditating? Blocking it out?  
Teens all looking the same.  
No one original – cookie cutter results,  
ball caps, t-shirts, shorts, jeans,  
but always the latest fashion, keeping up,  
surpassing someone else.  
Fake concern and false smiles.  
Soda and water bottles by the millions. 

Pieces and Parts 
by J. Daniel Young 

No matter how many times I try, I cannot 
save the chicken from the hilarity that ensued.
When we three boys in the trailer park caught 
a chicken that escaped from Mrs. Bussell’s wired  
pen, I didn’t understand my brother and cousin’s plan  
for the barnyard animal. 
My cousin’s mischievous grin widened when, pulling 
a pocketed firecracker from his dirt caked jeans, he lit 
the short fuse. The detonation after releasing 
the feathered victim accentuated the squawk of the fowl  
when the burning ember of the fuse met gun powder. 
Never trust three boys with a chicken,  
a firecracker and mom’s stolen lighter. 
The cock’s rump will never be the same again. 

Ode to a Blue Shirt 
by J. Daniel Young 

I watched you walking by and I wonder, 
how you will look on my floor, the contents 
of which are spilled out on my bed.  The skin 
of the young man that left you there 
shivers beneath my warm hands. 
His sweat is not soaked up by you 
but by my lime green bed sheets. 

The CULT of Trump

Another example of the cult of Trump still in action in Georgia. This week, one of my coworkers commented about how Biden is signing everything put before him. When I explained that Trump only signed things the way my coworker was accusing Biden, he couldn’t respond. I pressed him further, asking what did Trump actually do for him? He couldn’t respond until I said the tax bill that gave breaks to the wealthy, he commented that the bill kept our business open. The business has been there for 20 years, so that invalidated his argument.

Folks here are quick to blame Democrats for the ills of the world but they have been the only ones fighting to keep the doors open. Consider the COVID relief bill that only Democrats voted for. Republicans won’t stop until democracy in the United States of America is a thing of the past. By keeping our populace uneducated and willfully ignorant, we cannot fight the direction this country is headed.

The Downfall of Democracy

People in Fitzgerald, Georgia still don’t know that these people lost their elections. This isn’t the only one of these billboards that are still erected. One is in town, prominently displayed. It was still there as of Friday. I see Trump signs still up everywhere and even one that proclaims him a candidate for 2024. I only hope he’s in jail by then. We have to hold him accountable for the insurrection he led in January. Otherwise, this democracy we love so much will fail!

Okefenokee Swamp canoeing trip

Jess and I hit the road in her bright orange Jeep. She commented that she wouldn’t see a alligator because that’s her luck. I assured her that she’d see one as a soon as we arrive.

Much to my surprise, there weren’t a bunch of alligators on the banks of the swamp when we arrived. There was ONE! Just one. Jess said it was fake.

We went into the main building to pay our entrance fees and learned they had a canoeing trip. I had sworn I wouldn’t get into a canoe with the gators in the water. She talked me into it.

The guides helped us into the canoe and pointed us to the area containing an 11 foot critter. I was not happy because dying at the hands or claws or jaws of a gator is not my idea of fun!

Starting the journey I didn’t think I’d survive! See the orange Jeep?

We cruised around the small island at the front of the park, looking for the gator. Jessica repeated that there were no gators. Even when we saw the bubbles surfacing from what just had to be a modern day dinosaur.

The entrance to Jurassic Park! Where’s Jeff Goldblum?
“Abandon all hope…” you know the quote.
Into the swamp! photo curtesy of Jessica

There were times when we couldn’t hear anything, it was pleasantly quiet, you know, except for Jess! (She is so gonna kill me for that.)

I made her do all the work. I believe in women’s lib!

We paused at Mirror Lake. According to the info: Tannic acid in the tea-colored waters of the Okefenokee make it highly reflective.

It lives up to its name.
Mirror Lake and two crazies. Was that banjos I heard?
These beauties were in abundance.
Skull Lake
I wondered why they called it Skull Lake, now I see!
I didn’t know they had a bar!!! Woot!

We pulled over at the Mirror Lake and climbed a watch tower. It was pretty cool, except the whole climbing part.

The tall ass tower we walked up. Oh my knees!
A view down the stairs.
There was a path below we took later.
Had to prove I made it up there.
This is how high up we were.
We made it back to the canoe.

We hiked down a platform trail that looked as if we’d fall in without a moments notice

The planks were right on top of the water.
Walking on water.
Ring my bell!
Gator fight! My finger made an appearance.

We made it back to the main entrance and finally saw some gator!

Thank goodness he wasn’t alive!
Jess played dental hygienist!
Let there be gators!
They call this gator Crazy because he likes to chase people. He had his own luxury accommodations due to his desire to be left alone!
Gator fight, part two!
A spigot in the swamp!

I leave you with the picture above. I asked Jessica why would there be a spigot in the swamp. She said it was to refill it during periods of drought. Ask a stupid question, right?


At the pond a few weeks ago.

A Place for Toads

I put this on my other website, which will soon be moved to this one, but in the meanwhile I want you to see it:

Had enough of all this winning?

All during the 2016 election cycle, we heard the Orange Menace talk about how much we were going to be “winning.” He commented that there will be so much winning that we’ll get tired of winning. I haven’t seen evidence enough for me to be tired of winning. As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen any winning yet!

Where’s all the winning?

In recent weeks, a number of companies announced layoff and buyout plans. Coca-Cola is offering 4,000 employees a voluntary severance package. United Airlines will furlough 16,000 employees in October – because air travel has curtailed since the onset of the Coronavirus. A memo by United Airlines called for an extension of the CARES act will be the only thing that hold off the furloughs.

Ford released a statement saying that it will provide buyout packages to more than 1,400 white-collar workers. The buyout packages will end in October.

MGM is laying off 18,000 people!

The manufacturing plant I work at needs workers, but no one wants to work in the heat. No one wants to work at a blue-collar job. An Industry Week article shows that the skills gap in manufacturing has widened precipitously. Skilled blue-collar workers have been in higher demand with a lower supply. All the while, job growth across US has slowed, according to a recent Federal Reserve report.

Seems like any winning that may have occurred – which it didn’t – will end in October.

With the division between the House and the Senate still ongoing, it doesn’t appear that any further support for the American people during this pandemic will be promptly forthcoming.

Covid-19 victims won’t see any stimulus – they’re dead!

Over 186,000 people are dead from a pandemic that the Orange Menace didn’t take seriously. In Georgia, where I live, we’ve had just over 6,000 deaths. Worldwide, over 864,000 people have succumbed to this virus. There’s no vaccine in sight – despite desperate claims by the man that said we should inject bleach or UV light into people.

I don’t know about you, but this is not my idea of winning. Between the layoffs, the deaths and the failing economy, we seem to be losing more than anything else and I am nervous about where my job will be come year’s end.


Self love in the time of Covid

As last week headed toward an end, I found myself more and more short tempered. With the amount of crap from coworkers or stupidity from family members, I knew that I needed a break because if I didn’t, I would snap at the next person who issued a wrong word my way.

I stopped by my general manager’s office and told him that I needed to take a few days off – to get away. After his quizzical look of concern and approval for a few days respite, I researched a VRBO south of Tallahassee for ninety bucks a night. The next morning, I attempted to book the room, but for some reason VRBO wouldn’t let me book that evening, just the next night. After several hours of back and forth with the owner, we made arrangements for me to rent the small converted fishing shack that evening.

The small cabin was secluded on a lake – Lake Ellen – in Crawfordville, Florida. There were a few houses nearby, but the snowbirds weren’t down for the summer, so I had the lake largely to myself. Two of the neighbors were in residence, but I didn’t see anything other than their head occasionally bobbing along over the fence line.

Lake Ellen – Peaceful solitude

One of the selling points for me was that there wasn’t a TV in the building. Even better was that my cell phone didn’t have service out there. Some folks were at one of the houses right on the lake on Saturday evening. I quickly left because I couldn’t deal with the excessive noise of the children and the parents trying to entertain them.

St. Mark’s Lighthouse – July 25, 2020

On Saturday, I went to the local lighthouse – St. Marks – and found the place to be interesting. Two alligators were in close proximity at one point and I was not inclined to visit them up close and personal!

I wasn’t going to swim with him!

Coastline dreams

I met up with a friend and we socially distanced at Alligator Point Beach. It was fairly quiet, with a handful of people on the beach, keeping their distance from one another and – more importantly – from us!

My stalker

After less than two hours, we trekked back to the small house to rinse off the saltwater and made our way to Wakulla Springs. My pal told me this was where they filmed “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” We visited the lodge, which was fascinating with its beautiful paintings on the ceiling. The springs were inundated with too many people, despite the Coronavirus concerns. When the gatekeeper told me we’d have to wait to get in to the swimming area, I told her not to worry about it – considering she just let in about eight teens, none of whom were wearing masks. My friend and I were wearing masks and were evidently not going swimming in our hiking shorts and backpacks. I just wanted to see the grounds, but I wasn’t inclined to put myself in danger with all the children and other non-mask wearing folks around.

He could cross the road without my help!

After a lunch of shrimp and grits, we parted ways for us both to seek out a nap. Getting older during a pandemic will make you sleepy!

Monday arrived and it was time to check out but not without spending some time with the owner of the cabin. She was a charming former school teacher who shared with me her chocolates that she makes as a side business. After a short visit with her, I packed the car and made a mental note to come back for my birthday in September.

What I learned from this spontaneous trip alone:

  • Quiet time is a good thing – seek it more often.
  • Walking in the marshes alone isn’t so scary – unless you happen upon an alligator (or two)!
  • Naps are an amazing way to energize.
  • The adage about stopping and smelling the roses can be applied to:
    and tomatoes… even if you don’t really want to smell some of these!
  • Early morning walks to the lake are an amazing way to start the day, especially if the fish are jumping and the fog is drifting along the banks.
  • Pay attention to the colors and smells. The different colors of the water at the lake versus the sea can be striking. While the smells of the sea and beach are vastly different from the lake.

Finally, just allow yourself to be. You don’t need an agenda. Say hello to strangers. Smile. Keep your notebook handy and use those color pencils to capture the moment – even if your skills aren’t those of Picasso, Dali, or Renoir. Sometimes just a brief scratching of color is all you need to remind you of the day. And keep your ticket stubs, passes or receipts. They make a great reminder of the day.

I did mail postcards to myself each day to recall what I did, even if the events were mundane.

Be good to yourself. Escape and be at peace with yourself. The world will be there when you get back and it will gladly remind you why you took a break to begin with!

Mushrooms in the yard
Little feet
Small wonders

July 28, 2020

Broadcast links

The following are links for news production that I worked on at News Valdosta.

Anchor and Producer 10/8/12 12/3/12 11/12/12 10/24/12

Producer 09/10/12 11/28/12 11/26/12 11/14/12 11/19/12 11/7/12 10/31/12 10/29/12 10/22/12 10/10/12 10/3/12 09/19/12 10/1/12 9/24/12 9/5/12

Producer and reporter 10/17/12

Producer, anchor and reporter 9/17/12

The death of integrity

Several years ago when I worked at Pyxis Corporation, an item on a self review was the self determination of your integrity. In as far as work was concerned, I felt then and still do that I had tons of integrity in the workplace. My manager at the time was a back-stabbing little troll of a woman that would just as soon blame you for an issue that she caused while sitting in a meeting with a client – as you learned there was an issue!

I digress.

During the first self-evaluation with my new manager, I had marked myself a five on the scale of 1-5 for integrity – because I felt that I had the most integrity of all my team members. I never took time off while I was working on a project. I was incredibly honest with my clients, sometimes to my own detriment. I took all responsibility for the project, despite issues that arose from other people or corporate!

In any event, she told me that she changed it to a three because “you either have integrity or you don’t.” To which I commented that it shouldn’t be a gradient scale and asked her how dare she question my integrity, when she knew that I had more integrity in my pinkie than she did in her entire body!

I tell you that to tell you this: I watch what is happening in our world at the hands of the current occupant of the White House – he is constantly tweeting lies, proclaiming actions that never happened, or denying that he grabbed women by the genitals. The integrity of the office of the president has fallen to a historic low. His approval ratings are an indication of how far down the integrity of the most powerful office in the world has fallen.

The sharp slide downward may not have begun with the Nixon administration, but its end point certainly has reached a new low in the Trump administration and you have to wonder how we have fallen so far so quickly. Together with Congress members, the current occupant stirred up a load of bull about Obama and his birth certificate. His skin color offended them and they did nothing for the greater good of America while he was in office. So much of the Republican’s obstructionism brought us the current occupant.

I blame reality TV. That’s what Trump brought to the table: visibility to a set of Americans that only watch Fox News and reality TV. (I don’t like to generalize, but I’ve watched this firsthand.) I stopped watching TV almost 10 years ago. I don’t care about Kim Kardashian or any of her ilk. I barely know what’s on TV these days. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know what’s going on in the world because I am a news junkie and have been a political news junkie since Mitt Romney made his 47% comments. He awoke in me an anger that had me off the sidelines and into the world of arguing with my friends and relatives who refused to see the truth.

They still don’t and I’ve wasted my breath.

Think about it; we had an election that was more scripted for TV than it was about policy. Hillary Clinton is a policy wonk. I know the type. They sit up at nights reading policy and bills – I know, I’ve done the same thing!

She tried to introduce policy – actions that would help the country. In Trump, we had vague promises to build a wall to keep Mexicans and other North American Latinos from crossing into our country.

I’ve read much about the impact that such a wall would have, both environmentally and from a trade agreement perspective. Doing so could have a tremendous impact on existing trade agreements with Mexico, but reality has no place in the scripted horror-comedy that is the current occupant’s administration.

That doesn’t include the cost of the wall. There are estimates between $15 to $25 billion just to build it and an estimated $750 million a year for the upkeep.

Even with George W. Bush, I never was as scared of my president as I am with the current occupant. Trump has signed a huge number of executive orders, some of which are unlawful and stopped by judges before they can be implemented. He stole a Supreme Court seat, thanks to Mitch McConnell. Of course the Democrats have much to blame in that – they should have insisted that Garland Merrick have a nomination hearing and should NOT have assumed Hillary would win. The arrogance in their lack of action is telling as well.

Now, the current occupant has bombed Afghanistan and launched missiles into Syria. He warned the Russians he was going to launch the missiles and that allowed them to move out of the area and look as if they were never there.

On top of all that, Trump has taken more golfing vacations in the first couple of months than Obama did in a year. The sad thing about that is Trump constantly berated Obama for taking any vacations. During the campaign, he said he’d prefer to stay in the White House and work. Apparently not.

We have all been duped – well, I haven’t because I’ve been screaming about the lack of integrity of this man for a few years now. He’s a liar and a crook. I didn’t vote for him. Now, as he works to defund the programs that actually help the people who elected him, I wonder if they finally see that he is screwing them over and the pain he inflicts now will be felt for years to come.

It’s been difficult living in South Georgia where the people vote Republican and then get mad when the government takes away their social security checks, their food stamps, or whatever else they may be receiving. No one seems to do any research and realize that it was their congressman who actually voted to reduce food stamps, voted against a raise in social security and disability checks.

Still, it’s more than just the facts that point to this death of integrity. Look at how Trump has handled criticism, or how he mangled history (Andrew Jackson as an example), or how he refused to shake the hand of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.

These are just a small number of offenses by the current occupant. He hasn’t answered the call to release his taxes. He hasn’t answered questions about his ties to Russia. There are so many other important issues to discuss that we’d need all night to discuss them. However, if this commentary hasn’t prompted you to do your own research, then you aren’t paying attention.

Integrity is dying in America and it is prominent in our politics today. Most people recognize that politicians lie to get the vote, but the lies we’ve seen in 2016 and the moral standing in our country has been depleted with the current administration. We have the most corrupt administration ever and people think we are heading on the right path.

I had a conversation recently about the state of the world from a political standpoint. He told me, “I don’t pay attention to politics.”

I warned him that he and the youth of today need to pay attention because they are about to inherit a world that will be horribly screwed if they don’t.

Yes, we do need to make America great again. We can start that by recalling the current occupant and clean up the swamp he has created and change the idea that America was ever that great to begin with. We were on the right track, but the train has derailed and we are nowhere near able to get it back on its wheels without some serious inner reflection.

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