Category Archives: Families

Sonny Liston is Santa Claus

Look at this, my father said, showing my mother, sister, and me the December 1963 cover of Esquire magazine. This is the greatest Santa Claus ever. I didn’t know Santa was black, dear. He is now, and I’ve hired him to attend our corporate Christmas party next week. He’s cute, said my sister, age five. […]

Also posted in Alcohol, Boxing, Christmas, Floyd Patterson, Santa Claus, Sonny Liston

The In Crowd

I’m a leader and other girls do what I say and fifteen are helping me deal with Rebecca. I’m bigger and can easily beat her up by myself but that’s not the point. I want everyone to hate her. She used to see a guy who dropped her for me. That’s not enough either. The […]

Also posted in Bullies, Bullying, Education, Mental Health, Suicide

End of Suffering

Frankly, I don’t often feel well and really should say I never do. I don’t know what the problem is but try to feel better by smoking bath salts, not the stuff you use in the tub but a combination of chemicals that’re way stronger than amphetamines. This morning the bath salts hit me much […]

Also posted in Bakersfield, Drugs, Mental Health, Murder

Our Son

He’s good son until bipolar disorder attacks in high school and makes crazy, and Dad and I are relieved he marries bipolar woman and moves away so we rarely see. Years later he calls and says she divorced him, and I overrule Dad and say, we’ve got to make room. In few days he’s scarier […]

Also posted in Mental Health, Murder

Adopting Sonny Liston

For fifteen years my wife Ellen and I, Memphis educators both, tried quite hard to have a child. Our failure to conceive was alternately attributed, by purported experts, to my sterility and her barrenness. Perhaps both reports were correct. We did not argue. We decided to adopt. Paperwork and prejudice at local agencies compelled us […]

Also posted in Alcohol, Boxing, Crime, Drugs, Sonny Liston

Next Door

Customers of lady on next farm often crossed Hilmer’s property and damaged fence. I’m gonna get those bastards, he told wife. Ever catch anyone, she asked. Not yet. Just Eddie. I didn’t father no bastard. Maybe you have twin who did.

Also posted in Marriage, Prostitution, Sex, Short Pieces - GTC

When Mind Closed In

I lived in cell attached back of landlord’s house and often talked to visiting son, Jim, college student who usually brought girlfriend. Afterward, mother would proudly say they planned to marry when Jim graduated which he did after fifth year, faster than many. Congratulating mother few months later, I asked, how’s Jim? Having trouble again, […]

Also posted in Mental Health, Schizophrenia, Short Pieces - GTC

Our Final Days

Early on a Saturday morning in late June my stepfather, age eighty-seven and already weakening, suffered a stroke that rendered him unconscious. Inside a large hospital emergency room the only doctor on duty was too busy to look closely, so a few nurses and technicians strongly sedated him, stuck a tube down his throat and […]

Also posted in Aging, Hospitals, Marriage

Executive Jack

Monday after high school graduation kid was required to become adult, moving long miles to Los Angeles and working in south central warehouse owned by gray parental friend named Jack who invited to dinner first night. In large Palos Verdes home south of city Jack and wife greeted kid and promised he’d have great summer. […]

Also posted in Alcohol, Football, George Allen, Los Angeles, Short Pieces - GTC

Lion Family

author of “the serengeti lion” doesn’t understand father ripping cubs to death or mother eating their guts Source: “Wild Things” by David Samuels in Harper’s June 2012.

Also posted in Africa, Lions, Poetry - GTC

Ugandan Birth Control

ugandan mother of seven declines birth control so husband won’t beat again

Also posted in Africa, Birth Control, Marriage, Uganda

Pool Player

Fourteen relatives, who’d already lost in Christmas 8-Ball Shootout, encircled pool table and were joined by everyone else, and all swigged beers or sodas and munched rich appetizers as watched finalists and pre-tourney favorites Bill and Fred strike and counter with deadly long shots, cut shots kissing balls into unlikely pockets, and taps leaving cue […]

Also posted in Alcohol, Food, Health, Pool, Short Pieces - GTC

Electric Razor

Bob and stepfather didn’t get along but Bob always admired man’s affluence and, recently, fancy new electric razor. Before school, when it hummed, Bob knew couldn’t borrow razor. He’d only have access when old man was out running company. On easy afternoon Bob checked mother wasn’t lurking, and then rushed into master bathroom, plugged in […]

Also posted in Divorce, Marriage, Short Pieces - GTC

Margaret and Bill

Bill and Margaret bore three children fresh and dependable as themselves, and people admired them every Sunday as they worshipped together in church. Once youngest child reached junior high, Margaret volunteered in church office during week and soon got part-time job there. Sometimes Bill complained dinner wasn’t ready on time and house had few dusty […]

Also posted in Homosexuals, Infidelity, Infideltiy, Marriage, Poetry - GTC, Short Pieces - GTC

Open Door

open door lures boy into painted room ejected by howling father

Also posted in Poetry

Protecting Women Surrealist Painters

“Security, stop that man,” I shouted at startled employees assigned to guard the distinguished collection of paintings by surrealist women currently living at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They groped at an athletic young man sprinting by and, along with me, chased him as he ran directly to “Birthday,” a self-portrait by Dorothea Tanning. […]

Also posted in Art, Birds, Dorothea Tanning, Hollywood, LACMA, Marriage, Mental Health, Painters, Surrealism, World War II

Downtown Drinkers

Tim and Billy were barhopping in brand new old downtown. They always drank too much and Tim used buzz to talk to women. Billy usually became quieter. On Saturday night Tim brought young woman back to table and charmed her while Billy tried to say few words. When she went to restroom Tim told Billy […]

Also posted in Alcohol, Friendship, Sex, Short Pieces - GTC

Bobby Brown – The Whole Truth

Before presenting what Bobby Brown allegedly said and did, I must explain this book was originally conceived as an autobiography and author Derrick Handspike, according to his account, hung out with and interviewed the singer for a year, diligently wrote the book, and later squirmed as Brown and his advisers delayed final preparations for publication. […]

Also posted in Alcohol, Bobby Brown, Cocaine, Drugs, Heroin, Marriage, Music, Whitney Houston

Home Escape

Higgins head hurt every day. It hurt driving to work in traffic and in office where traffic was worse and it hurt most at home where wife slept with back to him and three teenagers jumped in face. One smoggy morning Higgins left home and has not been sighted since. He really isn’t missed except […]

Also posted in Employment, Housing, Marriage, Mental Health, Short Pieces - GTC

Oral Alarm Clock

deep voice grinds my name too early every morning

Also posted in Mental Health, Poetry - GTC

Big Al Allosaurus Responds to Brother – Part 2

How strange my brother accuses me of predatory incompetence and cognitive ineptitude. Let me clarify dark history with precision dear brother never practiced or understood. As youngsters he frequently tried to maim me and other siblings but I always overpowered him and rebuked with restrained bites. Our mother never disciplined him and would’ve perhaps turned […]

Also posted in Allosaurus, Dinosaurs, Short Pieces - GTC

Brother Allosaurus Remembers Big Al – Part 1

I’m not jealous my brother Big Al receives much publicity a hundred fifty million years after death. In life we emerged from the same subterranean nest of a hundred allosaurus eggs and soon, following carnivorous instinct, bit, clawed, and wrestled each other, and serendipitously survived while most siblings died from illnesses or attacks by dinosaurs […]

Also posted in Allosaurus, Dinosaurs

When His Mind Closed In – Part 2

(This poem was rewritten in prose and posted September 6, 2012.) i lived in box attached rear of landlord’s house and often talked to her visiting son jim friendly college student who usually brought congenial girlfriend afterward mother proudly said they were going to marry when jim graduated which he did after fifth year lot […]

Also posted in Mental Health, Poetry - GTC, Schizophrenia

Executive Jack

Click here to read and excerpt from “Snapshots of Distressing Events”

Also posted in Alcohol, Football, George Allen, Los Angeles, Mental Health, Poetry - GTC

Nice Meeting You

hi bill young man said hello replied older have we met not really how’d you know name remember mom who here’s picture with you haven’t seen in twenty years and nine months

Also posted in Poetry - GTC

Proper Rest

father died from drink but also suffered arising early carlos avoids that asleep all day mother ironing his clothes

Also posted in Alcohol, Poetry - GTC

Daddy’s Bikini

next to bikini he stands face red as daughter’s hair next to gut she poses smile big as father’s frown

Also posted in Children, Poetry - GTC

Material Handler on the Road

I still wonder if my adult working career for many years progressed like a tortoise in sand because of apathy or a reflexive hatred of manual labor that began too soon, at age nine, when my mother remarried and her new husband, a drill sergeant masquerading as an electrical engineer and contractor, drafted my stepbrother […]

Also posted in Abraham Lincoln, Alcohol, Auburn, Babe Ruth, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Burbank, California, California Youth Authority, Carmel, Cars & Driving, Chico, Clint Eastwood, Coast Ranges, Construction, Drugs, Electricians, Errol Flynn, Frank Lloyd Wright, Fresno, George S. Patton, George Thomas Clark, Grass Valley, Hollywood, Interstate 5, Los Angeles, Manual Labor, Marijuana, Media, Mental Health, Monterey, Newspapers, Pacific Ocean, Rocklin, Rolling Stones, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle, Sierra Nevada, Stephen Stills, Stockton, Television, Unions

Yuletide Mishaps

Couple emailed one hundred forty-eight color photos from annual Christmas Eve party. First images featured enormous Wild West living room and, through giant windows, sunny canyon winter green in Calabasas background. Narrative then presented hostess, preparing food and caressing holiday tree, garlands, stockings and reindeers amid permanent antiques and decorative items. Party started in photo […]

Also posted in Calabasas, Christmas, Food, Health, Hospitals, Mushrooms, Pigs - Oscar

Edna Wallace: 1916-2009

This is a tribute I wrote for a family anthology about my Aunt Edna Wallace, whose memorial tribute is Saturday One of my most exciting memories as a kid came when I was about 12 in the mid-1960’s and visited the Wallaces in big L.A.  I thought it was cool I had an aunt, Edna, […]

Also posted in Aging, Death, George Thomas Clark