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A Dog Day

by Rick Brown

It was one of those mid-summer days where the temperature is magnified by the exclamation point that is humidity. A day when the sun beats down and makes the air seem as thick as Jell-o. Dog days as they say. And while it would have been wiser to mow the lawn at say…10 o’clock in the morning…I managed to lollygag the morning away. Appropriately I was in the company of my dog, Henri…a French Boy of the Bichon Frise persuasion…and a lover of the great outdoors.

Henri insisted on joining me outside while I mowed. It is for all intents and purposes HIS yard. Been that way since the day I brought him home as a tiny ball of frenzied fur. He perched himself on the deck overlooking his kingdom while I filled his water bowl, then made my way to the garage and my mower.

Cutting grass behind the garage, along the sidewall…Henri’s presence is always apparent. Many times he peeks his little face under the fence. I caught him doing this as I mowed…always thinking to myself, “What a charming little guy” or “He’s so DAMNED cute!” Only in the front yard am I alone with my task, sweating like John Henry laying down railroad track…but not for long. Again, as I move to the east side of the house there he is again…the white furry face with the tiny black nose and eyes peering adorably at me from under the six-foot tall fence. It melts my heart every time. Adorable. Henri is precociously precious…at times cocking his head as I speak to him…as if he is hanging on my every word. “Watch out for the gate boy!” I yell to his head tilting adorableness.

As I move into the backyard I see the pooch scramble up the deck stairs, panting from the heat. He barks at me and stares at the backdoor. Needing a break from the scorching sun myself, I let him in and get myself some ice water. I’m not sure whether to drink it or pour it all over me. The air conditioning feels like heaven. Henri plops himself down on the cool hardwood floor of the back room.

“Are you coming back out”, I inquire as if he were another human being. Henri just looks at my dripping self and sighs a big dog sigh, “No.”. I can’t blame him. I have no idea what the temperature is outside…just that it’s hot as hell.

Out to the yard I plod for some solitary sweating. I remember an old joke about the first man on the sun.

“Ouch! Ouch! OW! (While the comic grabs his feet one at a time hopping around) Corny…but a funny and apropos sight gag for this dog day and chore.

My final phase of mowing involves moving the hammock so I can mow where it sits. The lawnmower shuts itself off as I stride over and pull the rope leisure bed out of the way. It’s then that I notice Henri perched on the loveseat in the backroom gazing at me through the picture window. Is that a forlorn smile on his doggie face? Surely he wants to rejoin me. So I walk back into the house.

“Henri buddy! Do you want to come outside and watch daddy finish mowing your yard?” I croon saccharinely. He wags his tail and swiftly makes his way past me while I hold the door open for his exit. And as I step down from the deck onto the patio I see my handsome little macho friend saunter over to my lawnmower…lift his back leg as high as he can…and pee all over it. Then, he hastily runs to the backdoor and barks his intension of the comfort of central air.


Talk meanders with the shifting breeze
and thoughts slip silently beneath the black,
unsettled ponds.

Early blossoms have decayed and
untended gardens have faded into lawns.
Mornings seem so clear while
each afternoon slumbers toward
long shadows.
Fireflies have given way to the crickets
incessant song.

Dennis Toth

Jimmy Thackery
Thirsty Ear Tavern
Columbus, Ohio

July 31, 2008
* * 1/2

by Rick Brown

Jimmy Thackery…talent wise…may be one of the finest guitar players I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a few. Early on in his performance I certainly felt so. Fronting a tight, fiercely driven power trio Mr. Thackery tore through songs, ripping them to pieces more than playing them. His “your dad’s favorite fishing buddy” appearance certainly added to the intrigue. Mixing the styles of Roy Buchanan, Lonnie Mack, with a tad of psychedelia thrown in for good measure, the talent of Jimmy Thackery can easily stand alongside some of the greats.

But despite being billed as a blues show, it became evident Thackery is really a rock guitar player rooted in the blues. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. Sometimes though, especially in rock and roll…less so with jazz…a musician’s virtuosity can get in the way. While extended jams with flurries of furious, note heavy solos can at first be impressive, an entire evening of it can become…well…a bit boring. In other words, once the simplicity (or at least the hint of it) disappears from rock and roll, the music can quickly become overblown, even pretentious. And Jimmy Thackery flirted with, then succumbed to this formula.

The volume didn’t help matters. Thackery and his crack rhythm section were too loud. It was tantamount to listening to the Ramones…live…in a walk-in closet. Yet, when they settled into a terrific version of the old surf classic “Apache” near the first set’s end, the show was almost snatched from the jaws of excess. Unfortunately, Mr. Thackery then segued into what became a parody of Jimi Hendrix’s version of the “Star Spangled Banner”. A technically proficient cliché might impress the masses in a bar, but it still remains a cheap cliché. Jimmy Thackery should respect his dynamic talent more than that.

My ringing ears…in the past maybe a reminder of a delightfully joyous rock and roll adventure…today mostly reminds me that our pizza was pretty lame. And the saddest part is that it needn’t have been that way.

An Offer We Could Not Refuse
Part III

Avignon, Lyon and A Return to Paris

by Rick Brown

The Second Coming
C. Mehrl Bennett

Little People, Big Woods
Morris Jackson

Straight Up Combination

Barry Dean, hip hop dancer, came by the teen drop-in tonight,
Daughter with a bum ticker on his mind
And he wind-milled, popped and locked
To our bad music
While the homeless kids just stared, unmoving
After a week of talking about it.

I sit down, sore ankle
After flipping to the floor,
Groaning with the weight of me
Now so much more apparent.

I ache for his lightness.
I mix it up with that lightness.
(Too fat, she thought, and looked away.)

This is just a lonely day in this lonely city in Maine
And I’m even in a good mood.
Barry talked about community events in Chicago.
Block parties, closed-down streets with barbecues, music and dancing.
They sound so good to me.
Community like I’ve never known.

In Portland I felt like the odd man out;
This effeminate chubby boy
Mixing it up with the super-athletic socialites from out-of-state
And now, here in Lewiston, I just feel alone.
There’s nothing,
And my skill at conversation gets worse and worse.
Too many non-impetuous situations
Where the expected is the only thing that happens.
Where the bright moving ones
Are so uptight and socially paranoid
That I feed off that first,
Their brilliance second.

I’m a fount of good conversation actually-
Wit-wisdom, clarity, all that shit
And these skills sit here and waste away.
Why do these skills waste away?

Barry and his ‘dance class’ tonight made me want to go out
And talk to people
And be well,
And be hope,
And be laughing!

-Jessy Kendall


by Sue Lense

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If the Bird is the Word Then Fish is the Dish!

by Rick Brown

One of the newest words in the dictionary this year is pescatarian. In fact, its so new spell-check doesn’t recognize it! Now ordinarily I loathe labels. But after years of explaining that I’m a “vegetarian who eats fish”…meaning I’m not really a vegetarian at all, but merely lean far in that direction…it is a relief to have a word that brings all of us together. Asking, “Are you a pescatarian?” surely will cut down on a conversation’s length. But think of the joyousness of finding someone who shares the same diet without all the linguistic logistics! It’s as if we now belong to a special club that no longer makes us feel just a little bit the outsider.

Of course “a vegetarian whose diet includes fish” (the official definition) is a contradiction much like “a carnivore whose diet includes vegetables”. But hey…they have had the word “omnivore” for a long, long time now. And it sounds a lot more official than veggivore.

Still, my exuberance is tempered by the word itself. I mean…it does sound remarkably like Presbyterian does it not? And I’m certain there are Presbyterian pescatarians…although I’m betting there are significantly more Unitarian pescatarians. And now that we are the pescatarians (We are the pescatarians! We are the pescatarians! No time for omnivores ‘cause we are the pescatatians!! Of the world!) a Pandora’s Box full of pressing questions prevail.

Such as the Christian symbol of the fish. You know…the one people slap on the back of their cars. Perhaps there should be a new, enhanced image for say a Unitarian pescatarian. My suggestion would be the current fishy symbol with Ms. Pacman…mouth wide open…waiting to pounce on Pisces! Many times while sitting in traffic this conundrum has always mangled my mind…is this THE Holy Mackerel? But hell, I figure there’s no need putting my proboscis out of place over it.

And with the advent of a word exclusive of fish eating vegetarians, what if there are vegetarians who include only fowl in their diet? Say, only eat turkey at Thanksgiving…or just can’t give up bird? Surely these people must exist and deserve a word for themselves as well. I suppose they could easily be Fowlists right? Let’s not forget vegetarians who include reptiles in their diet! Would they be reptilarians? Or insects? Would they be insectarians? Why not? With all this specialization one could easily envision a room full of fowlists (some named Fowler?) squabbling
about squab or grousing over grouse! We pescatarians can sometimes be heard carping about carp or squiddling over squid! Believe me!

Of course this also begs the moral question: Does a promiscuous pescatarian snook around?

Has anyone realized that a Pelican…or any fish eating bird…is also a pescatarian? “The bird is the word” must be in the Dead Sea Scrolls somewhere.

Life just keeps getting more complicated.

Just think of all the new possibilities in our world of dietary cultural labeling. I am by no means complaining. I think it would be great if the Pescatarian Proctologists Association adapted “To live to be an octogenarian, first become a pescatarian!!” as their motto!

So I embrace my new label. I celebrate my pescatarian values proudly!! Because in my heart of hearts I know…nudist pescatarians are most certainly loyal readers of Naked Sunfish!!!

The Non – Fiction Theater of the Truly Mundane
proudly presents:


by Rick Brown

Scene – a large office room in the main library of a major American university. Desks for about 15 workers are spread across the stage. Two library employees sit across from each other center stage. They are engaged in a lively discussion. A co-worker sits working stage right occasionally turning his head to listen to their argument.

Dan – How can you say that? Bicycling is transportation! A bike takes you where you want to go.

Daryl – Sometimes sure. But bicycling most often is exercise!

Dan – C’mon Daryl! Half the time you’re just coasting. Biking is transportation.

Daryl – It may be transportation sometimes. But biking is always exercise!

Dan (more heatedly) – Biking is TRANS - POR - TAY - SHUN!

Daryl (unmoved by Dan’s passion states authoritatively in a low voice) – It is EX – ZER – SIZE!!

The third employee stands and saunters over to Dan and Daryl with the air of a peacemaker.

Caranci – What about…swimming?

Daryl and Dan together – Huh…wha?

Caranci – Yeah. What about swimming? Transportation or exercise?

Daryl and Dan - Swimming is always exercise.

Caranci (cavalierly) – Nope. TRANSPORTATION!


Dan- Himself
Daryl – Himself
Caranci – His Italian self

Cold Winter River Water

I wouldn’t give you my last breath,
Not even a sip of this orange juice.

I am watching movies that let me make my own mind up
As to whether or not it’s OK to kill someone
Given the right circumstances.
I only watch it because I am bored or tired.

Fog wafts over the cold winter river water
Toward the falls, not killing anybody.


All right, I might give you
A sip,
But my last breath is mine.
It’s the only thing I’ll give away to this planet.

-Jessy Kendall


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Issue 1 - January 2002