I just want to say

I just want to say
that it doesn’t hurt much
when a crow pecks you
accidentally
trying to get the doggie treat
you are holding out for it
while sitting on the park bench
surrounded by crows
regarding you like acolytes
waiting for words of enlightenment.
It is scarier feeding a bagel to a juvenile seagull
than a snack to a crow.
This is especially true if you grew up
getting pecked by chickens all the time.
I just want to say
my thing with the crows
is not going unnoticed at the park,
a young family walked by
and referred to me
as “Professor Rabe”.
I just want to say
that I am still sadder
and more broken up by
my mother’s death
than I had expected.
But the crows help.
If someone asks me about them
I will say, “I have to come and feed them,
they know where I work and
come and shit on my balcony otherwise,”
but that is not the reason.
I know it’s just crows and doggie treats,
but it’s a comfort.

Notes on the proper selection of an appropriate amulet

Ask the sun, when you fell upon me, reflected off the orange garbage truck my streetcar was stuck behind on the way to work this morning, filling the streetcar with bright amber light and turning the interior into mysterious silhouettes, was it a judgement or a blessing? Or do you not perceive any of us at all?
Ask the crows, what say the slain? And listen to their answer: they are waiting for you to delineate your sadness over your mom dying, to put a name on it, for you to find a balance for it between heart and head but for that to happen it has to come out of the dark. They are waiting for you to understand something ununderstandable.
Ask the bear, do you feel like I do when I am walking down the stairs at the subway station and faster descenders pass me right and left when you stand in the river and running salmon crowd past you on their way to spawn, or is there a difference bc you are eating them and I am not? And are people right who say a fish does not perceive the water surrounding it, or are fish as aware of it as we are of air and ground, do they even hold swimming contests and do they maybe, crowding into the mouth of a river on their way to spawn, arrange dates when they hit it off, baby that shady spot under the alder tree, lay your eggs there, I have so much milt for you.
Walk in a circle while reading the instructions on the can of blue insulation foam, especially the bit that says ‘only fill the space 1/3 of the way with foam, as it continues to expand after application’ because if not the foam will expand uncontrolled and drip onto the floor and onto the attic ladder/steps, the bookcase, two books, your slippers, your shirt, your glasses and your hair, and if that happens do not try to wash it out of your hair because the instructions also say, For better adhesion dampen target area prior to application, and if you read that after making your hair wet you will feel like a moron, justifiably, and the insulation foam remover you rush to the hardware store for won’t work for you either, although if you make an emergency appointment with your hair stylist she will, together with two colleagues, in the emergency hair salon operating room you didn’t realize they had, using the foam remover and some stuff they use to remove hair extensions, in a dramatic and slightly painful medical-drama-style operation not only successfully remove every last bit of foam (which is, chemically, a close relative of super glue) from your hair, which you had expected would have to be shaved off, they will also laugh while working on you and say, “This is a first, this is one for the books, we have never had anything like this,” and ultimately style your hair and leave you looking nicer than ever, and charge you such a paltry sum you give everyone big tips.
Ask the crows, what say the dead, to which they will answer, nothing today.
Then wander into the junk shop with your eyes closed and hold your hands over the amulets and feel the vibes.

Welcome to the 2022 metamorphosism.com International Valentine’s Day Limerick Contest

valentine2022
Time and space have grown elastic.
Words have no meaning.
The free market isn’t the perfect solution we were always told.
The matrix just can’t be arsed anymore to chase down all those glitches.
But there is one immutable perennial constant that never changes:
Welcome to the 2022 metamorphosism.com International St. Valentine’s Day Limerick Contest.
Anyway:
Read all the rules before entering.
Like always, please leave your entries in the comments to this post.
Enter as often as you like.

This year’s themes:
(Also check further down the rules for newer and/or more specific prompts/themes)
Sex
Love
Cults, religious and otherwise
Your favorite parasite
Life hacks
Personal growth
Apocalypse
,
plus bonus themes to be added as the contest progresses
All participants are required to consult the combined FAQ/rules below BECAUSE THEY CHANGE WHILE THE CONTEST IS GOING ON.
Like every year.

FAQ/Rules

  • Does it have to be a limerick? YES. This is strictly enforced, and non-limericks will not be accepted. Google correct limerick form if you are not sure.
  • How do I enter? POST YOUR ENTRY OR ENTRIES in the comments to this post. Click on comment, or whatever is down there, and add a new comment.
  • When is the deadline? THE DEADLINE is 14 February 2022
  • Do you mean 12 midnight on the night of the 13th or midnight on the night of the 14th? And which time zone shall have seisin of jurisdiction? We have had considerably confusion in the past! NINE AM (CENTRAL EUROPEAN TIME) 14 February 2022.
  • Is there a prize? Maybe. I have been making a lot of marmalade, maybe I could send you a jar subject to transport costs, customs regulations etc.
  • Is there a limit to how often I can enter? NO. You are encouraged to fall into a limerick frenzy and enter as often as you like. The more often you enter, the better your chances.
  • HOWEVER ONLY ORIGINAL ENTRIES ARE ACCEPTED. PLAGIARISM RESULTS IN DISQUALIFICATION. No exceptions.
  • Can entries be bawdy? YES, absolutely. These are limericks, they can be bawdy, gross, you name it. It’s not required, but it is in the nature of the genre. ALSO: this is for St. Valentine’s Day so points awarded for love/romance/sex-related poetry. However, entries offensive to the contest operator will be deleted at his discretion, for offenses including but not limited to racism, and misogyny, and politics to which I object.
  • Complaints and other negative trolling will be deleted. There is no avenue of appeal. Decisions of the judges are final. Be nice, and have fun, and don’t take this too seriously.
  • Is there anything else I can do to be deleted? Yes. Besides complaints, anything else that is not a limerick will also be deleted, especially anything remotely similar to trolling, nastiness or disagreeing with me. That will get you deleted, and whatever else our technicians here can think up. This is meant to be a fun and light-hearted.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yes.

  • Bonus points are awarded for any of the following (No limit to how many themes you may include, the more the better):
  • Feel free to write me and suggest some!
    Alternate solutions to J3ff Bezos’ yacht/bridge problem
    Your favorite carbonara recipe
    Something involving alcohol
    Your favorite high-end booze
    A kink
    Legal systems (historical and present-day)
    Party drugs
    Dr. Kellogg’s anti-masturbation cure
    Historical cures for idiocy
    Deviance
    The worst thing your cat ever did
    Insects
    1970’s porn movie plots
    1970’s porn movie plots involving insects
    Scientific theories
    Obscure scientific theories
    Something that gives you joy

    Check back often, more will be added (and others eliminated) as the month progresses

    (More themes to come, watch this space.)

By entering you grant metamorphosism.com permission to publish your entry electronically on metamorphosism.com, in social media (including but not limited to twitter.com, facebook.com and anything else) as well as in book form, although the latter is REALLY unlikely, and has never happened yet, without compensation (this is a non-profit venture, and any possible, although unlikely, book would be, you know, for charity most likely). I have never published them anywhere but here, but who knows?
AS ALWAYS, RULES ARE SUBJECT TO CONSTANT CHANGE DURING THE CONTEST, SO CHECK BACK OFTEN.

Calibration

I don’t know if you do this.
Maybe you do this. Maybe it’s universal:
measure all other memories by this one memory you have.
Not necessarily a dramatic or rambunctious one.
For me it is the time I sat in the bamboo patch next to my uncle’s junk pile.
The main quality is one of peace. I was about 3-4 years old, so not in school yet.
No obligations. Summer. Warm – I had a beagle pal cuddling and watching out for me.
I was wearing bib overalls and a felt hat.
Watching chickens, those nourishing animals, scratch in the dirt.
Watching their shadows, and the shadows of the bamboo, playing in the light.
Listening to the sounds the chickens made.
No other humans to make happy or proud or otherwise perform for.
Just the peace. Lots of time. Animals. Plants. Smells. Interesting light.

Christmas Eve at the wrong supermarket

The line at the deli counter moves slowly,
but it moves. Everyone is calmer than I expected.
A young woman, maybe she’s 30, or a little younger, appears beside me,
touches me softly on the arm. Behind her the rain
stops and the sun comes out.
She stage whispers, “I’m at the wrong supermarket!”
The man in front of me, same age as her, smiles, watching this unfold.
“Not only that, you have the wrong man,” I whisper back.
Only then does she see me, old guy unlike her man in every way.
The other man chuckles with warmth.
So do I.
We have all felt what she is feeling.
She hooks her arm into his.
They leave for the right supermarket.
I stand where I am,
waiting for my cold cuts,
still feeling that touch.

Public service: How to decorate a Christmas tree when you have cats

Mostly, it is up to you. I claim no expertise. An online search for this information turns up far more ingenious solutions than I could devise.
But this is what I (with 3 cats – that is, I live with 3 cats, I decorated the tree with my daughter Gamma) did:
First, I got a nice tree. A few weeks ago, my wife Alpha and I went to the tree guy (local tree farmer) as early as possible. We weren’t the first people to go there this year, but we were the first ones to buy a tree.
In fact, they were still setting up when we arrived. Only one tree was standing. Viennese people (they had Vienna license plates) were looking at a pile of trees lying against the barn. Alpha and I looked at the first tree standing. “What about this one?” I said. “Ok,” she said.
She did insist the owner measure it before we bought it, and the tree was a little tall for our living room but I always cut a bit of the tip off to fit the red star on the top, and she raised her eyebrows but relented. It was, after all, a very nice, thick, symmetrical tree. And it is such a pleasure to buy the first item you inspect when you have been dreading an hour of comparison shopping.
We asked them to deliver it, as every year, and NOT to grind the end that fits into the holder because we have our own holder and it has a big hole.
They delivered it with the end ground down to fit into a wooden base that they had attached.
We like to use our own holder because you can put water into it and maybe the tree lasts a little longer, or at least the needles might not fall off as fast. I don’t know if there really is a difference because we have never tried the old-school wooden cross holders. So I considered using it this time because 1. it was already attached and 2. I might find out experimentally if the needles fell off faster without water.
My daughter came out on Sunday to decorate it with me while my wife Alpha did a writing retreat with our daughter Beta.
The most important thing Gamma and I did was, we didn’t get high before decorating the tree.
The weed kids smoke nowadays is stronger than it was 40 years ago etc etc.
I will spare you the comedic anecdotes.
So, sober, we stood up the tree.
That wasn’t so easy, it turned out because this was the biggest, heaviest tree I had ever purchased, I noticed when I tried to carry it into the house. But eventually it was inside, and standing.
Gamma determined that we had an appropriate tree for our family Christmas, because it was left-leaning.
So we took off the wooden base (with a hatchet) and stuck it into the holder thing and eventually, after some trial and error, got it to stand straight.
Then I put the red star on the top, which involved some clipping and trimming, then more clipping and more trimming and a little carving. (I was happy because I had a chance to use my Japanese carpenter’s saw.) The tree was so much too tall that not only the tip, but also the top tier of little branches had to go.
But we got the star on in the end, and didn’t damage the ceiling very much in the process.
We had received a little bit of friendly derision from family members when it was announced that we would be decorating the tree this year all by ourselves, for examples predictions of an “ADHD Christmas tree”, so we knew we had to have a plan.
This is the plan I came up with: because cats in the Pacific Northwest DO NOT climb Christmas trees due to there being cat-eating eagles at the tops of evergreen trees there (story my sister told me backs it up: a tree fell on her property one year in a storm, they found an eagle nest with a bunch of little dog and cat collars in it, minus the pets) we would put an eagle at the top of our tree. And because cats are afraid of snakes, according to the Internet, we would put a snake at the base. And because there is also a snake at the base of Yggdrasil (the tree of life of Nordic myth), that snake being the terrible serpent Níðhöggr, the eagle at the top of our tree could be the nameless eagle at the top of Yggdrasil, and so we would also need the squirrel Ratatoskr running back and forth between them, carrying messages.
Gamma and I were at an advent market at Schönbrunn a while ago and all we found was a felt squirrel, but no eagle or snake ornaments. I did however buy a deep-sea diver ornament along with the felt Ratatoskr.
So anyway we still need an eagle and a snake, maybe next year.
Alright. That was how the Yggdrasil plan played out this year – cute squirrel, in the upper third of the tree, with the deep sea diver.
That is because of our damage mitigation plan – cheap, sturdy, unpopular ornaments at the bottom, within cat range. Medium ornaments in the middle, where cats might jump, precious ones in the upper third. Then, candles everywhere. We now use LED candles, powered with one AAA battery each, because burning candles on a Christmas tree indoors scare me too much. Alpha bought 3 boxes of 15 candles each at a local discount supermarket and they are cool – not only can you choose between 2 shades of white, they also have an RGB mode where they cycle through the colors slowly, which is really hypnotic and makes me want to get high and watch it although we don’t really need to get high, we just turn off the TV and sit there on the sofa staring at the tree in the dark. (We like them so much Alpha bought 45 more but we still have to install them.)
And after the candles are on the tree, the chocolate. We overpurchased the chocolate ornaments (Mozartkugeln, chocolate umbrellas (those you hang with the little hook handle things), various chocolate ornaments, and, for the kiddies, little chocolate bottles filled with booze.
Then Gamma and I let the cats in and they were well-behaved for the most part, only 66% tried to climb the tree. Then Alpha came home later and kicked them out of the living room.
So now the cats are nonplussed and a little insulted and a little insecure, and when you enter the living room you have to first go into the kitchen, and close the outer kitchen door after clearing it of cats, airlock style, and only then can you go into the living room because if you don’t, no matter how careful you are, a cat will sneak in with you otherwise.
Between the end of Christmas tree season and the day the garbage truck collects our tree, we plan to leave it standing, sans ornaments, and grant the cats access to it.
But they don’t know that yet, all they know is they have been banned and they are mystified why. Certainly not that little bit of furniture scratching, or that negligible amount of peeing.
What could it be? They must be crazy, the humans.
Happy holidays to all who observe.

For those of you who have always wondered: Subway terminus

If you are like me, you have had, since childhood, at the back of your mind, a question, among all your other questions: what happens if you don’t get off the subway at the last stop?
Say you are a combination of exhausted, tired, in a Friday mindset on a Thursday evening, and engrossed in your device.
For example. Or you could be reading a good book.
Or just curious.
Maybe you glance out the window and wonder, is that my stop? (doors close) was that my stop?
Metamorphosism.com researchers decided to find out.
Here is what happens:
The train drives a while through a dark tunnel, lights off.
There is graffitti. Are graffitti?
Really, almost dark. Most train lights off.
Train stops.
You look out window, gee that’s odd, stopping in a tunnel. Maybe there’s traffic. Then it dawns on you what happened.
You sit that way for five minutes, wondering if someone is watching you on a security camera. You feel watched.
The train driver walks past, probably going to the other end because if there is a driving end at both ends, you don’t have to turn around the train, right.
You hear something behind you. At first you don’t know if it is tinnitus, a hearing aid malfunction or a tiny man clearing his throat.
Feeling silly, you glance over your shoulder. A man about ten inches tall, dressed in a black business suit, with a neat haircut is sitting on the seat near the door normally reserved for the elderly, pregnant and so on.
Apparently he was just clearing his throat of tiny phlegm and not preparing to say something, because he pays you no regard.
You notice more tiny businessmen in the shadows.
Just then, the train begins to move again, back in the other direction. It stops at your station, the terminus.
You get off before other passengers can embark, wondering how many will wonder if there are additional secret stations after this one, and how many will assume you are a rube.