You are the only one who
Puts up with all my crap.
You listen when no one else will
To all my groaning and moaning.
You share all my private moments
And follow me from the bowels of hell
Into the plumbing of despair.
You have seen my most private parts,
The dark crevices of my flesh,
Where no one will go.
And should I sneeze
You will wipe my nose.
You will take away my filth,
And your softness can embrace
The sewage of my soul
And the flakes of flesh
That my heart has discarded.
You are the only one I know
Who kisses my ass.
By Phyllis T. Halle February 26, 2006
Growing up in a tiny coal mining town in the hills of Eastern Kentucky,
I frequently heard a response out of the lips of stooped, arthritic miners, toothless women, old before their time,
wretchedly poor widows with six children to feed.
It was just a common reply to the courteous, "How are you?" -
The high pitched voices of those descendents of English, Scottish, German, Irish pioneers still echo in my ears and I wonder always at the tenacity, strength and wisdom which resounded firmly in those two words,
Very few people had indoor plumbing, telephones, cars or two pair of shoes. Health insurance, retirement plans, paid sick days, furnaces, pizzas, air conditioners, jet planes, paid vacations, job security, career planning were all unheard of unknowns.
When someone became ill, the ‘‘kindly old general practitioner would come to the house and dispense his little pills and words of encouragement and instruction, knowing the limitations of his skill and ability to heal.
Mothers and fathers still buried their little children who died from diphtheria, pneumonia, whooping cough, measles, diarrhea, croup ( a disorder known in later years as asthma).
Husbands buried wives who died in childbirth, at an alarming rate. "Caint Complain," they'd say gently, with a soft 'almost' smile and deeply troubled eyes.
Sanitation was fought for, vigorously, by hard muscled women, who scrubbed and washed, and swept and mopped.
They'd boiled the family’s clothes which had been worn for a week, in pots in the back yard, "to get ‘em clean."
Killing germs was not in their vocabulary, but that is what they'd were doing. Ask that little old gal who was out in the yard, stirring the clothes around in boiling water, over an open fire, "How are you doin’?"
"Caint Complain, " she would invariably say.
WHY couldn't they'd complain? Where did their tenacity come from?
Where did that philosophy of not complaining come from?
Where did they find the resolve to place dire, critical deprivation, hard labor and malnourishment behind them and place a smile on their faces and say
I knew some of those people when they had grown very old and faced birthdays in their late nineties. Without exception, they had the sweetest dispositions, most grateful hearts, kindest words and calmest old ages of any among the many I have known who reached that age!
When the pressures of their life had faded and they had nothing remaining that had to be done except to live out the final part of their life, they did not have a habit of complaint.
Some recent phone calls I have received were what prompted me to think about this. One right after another, friends called and for the first ten minutes of each call, I listened to a long list of complaints about the trials and travails my dear friend was suffering.
Each friend has: no financial worries, a wonderful primary care doctor, prescriptions to keep their heart pumping, eyes seeing, brain focusing, stomach digesting and body sleeping, each night.
They are protected from financial ruin, by medicare and/or HMO, social security checks, pensions, savings and inherited wealth. They have loving, devoted sons, daughters, nieces and nephews who keep in touch and are there for them.
They each one have lovely heated and cooled homes, apartments or condos with every convenience known to Americans; cars or taxi/bus services to get them out and around. More than that, each has beautiful memories which they can call upon to bring a smile to their face at any moment of the day or night. But somehow we find plenty to complain about.
Why haven't we formed the habit of Caint Complain?
Maybe the philosophy of always seeking more comfort, more possessions, more money, more- more- more- of everything, has driven us to achieve, accumulate and accomplish but it required us to never know what the word contentment means.
Contentment doesn't mean having everything at one’s fingertips. It doesn't mean lacking nothing. It certainly doesn't mean every dream and desire fulfilled.
Yet there are many who have enough of everything except the common sense to know when they really "Caint Complain."
Happiness is a fleeting moment of joy. Contentment is finding peace in what you have, what you are and what you have accomplished.
Having the serenity to know which one brings lasting goodness into your life is wisdom.
A SMILE IS THE KNIFE GOD GAVE US TO CUT THE SIZE OF OUR TROUBLES DOWN TO A BEARABLE LOAD.
Lots of love and hugs, Phyllis
I'm startin' to run out of nursery rhymes
So, I made up one of my own
It's about a nearsighted plumber
That was accidently glued to his throne
Once upon a time, long, long ago
There was a plumber, who I'll call Dale
Poor old Dale had a hard time plumbing
Cause he really couldn't see very well
He'd gotten a call, "The toilet won't flush!
Please, can you come right away?"
Well, old Dale got in such a hurry
He forgot to take his glasses that day
Well, by the time old Dale had got there
The house was in quite a mess
He realized he'd forgotten his glasses
But he'd give that toilet his best
He'd not seen this since plumbing school
But then, he only saw it on a test
And by the time, he got his tools together
The water was starting to crest
He had spotted the problem right away
But remember now, he can only half see
The water was squirtin' six feet high
And poor Dale was only five foot three
He laid his glue on the toilet seat
While trying his best not to drown
He couldn't see where he put it at
And, of course, that's where he sat down
He didn't even know 'till it was too late
He'd bent over to loosen a nut
And that's when he first noticed that thing
The toilet was glued to his butt
So, if you ever need a real good plumber
He's the man for the job, without fail
And I hope you enjoyed this story
About the nearsighted plumber named Dale
I forgot tell you, there's one more thing
About the nearsighted plumber named Dale
That man still has that toilet seat
For the thing's still glued to his tail
© All Rights Reserved
The photographic chamber of the eye
records bare painted walls, while an electric light
flays the chromium nerves f plumbing raw ;
such poverty assaults the ego ; caught
naked in the merely actual room,
the stranger in the lavatory mirror
puts on a public grin, repeats our name
but scrupulously reflects the usual terror.
Just how guilty are we when the ceiling
reveals no cracks that can be decoded? when washbowl
maintains it has no more holy calling
than physical ablution, and the towel
dryly disclaims that fierce troll faces lurk
in its explicit folds? or when the window,
blind with steam, will not admit the dark
which shrouds our prospects in ambiguous shadow?
Twenty years ago, the familiar tun
bred an ample batch of omens ; but now
water faucets spawn no danger ; each crab
and octopus - scrabbling just beyond the view,
waiting for some accidental break
in ritual, to strike - is definitely gone ;
the authentic seas denies them and will pluck
fantastic flesh down to the honest bone.
We take the plunge ; under water our limbs
waver, faintly green, shuddering away
from the genuine color of skin ; can our dreams
even blur the intransigent lines which draw
the shape that shuts us in? absolute fact
intrudes even when the revolted eye
is closed ; the tub exists behind our back :
its glittering surfaces are black and true.
Yes always the ridiculous nude flanks urge
the fabrication of some cloth to cover
such starkness ; accuracy must not stalk at large :
each day demands we create our whole world over,
disguising the constant horror in a coat
of many-colored fictions ; we mask our past
in the green of eden, pretend future's shining fruit
can sprout from the navel of this present waste.
In this particular tub, two knees jut up
like icebergs, while minute brown hairs rise
on arms and legs in a fringe of kelp ; green soap
navigates the tidal slosh of seas
breaking on legendary beaches ; in faith
we shall board our imagined ship and wildly sail
among sacred islands of the mad till death
shatters the fabulous stars and makes us real.
The silver fog slithers around
my ankles, slowly winding up
my legs with a serpent's silk move.
Squeezing her fingers, my mother
and I approach the barn-red house.
It breathes heavily and its exhale
reveals a backyard cemetery.
As the mist settles, a limestone
hand reaches out to snatch her away.
Down the street the dollhouse neighbor
cannot see me screaming, weeping,
I call for help.
Brown-green water drips from
the bathroom ceiling--
the plumber continues plumbing.
Sweat beads form on the tip of
the fat priest's nose, as he climbs
the broken stairs, he continues preaching.
The porcelain girl wears her mother's
brown-stained ivory prom dress.
Chanting, Sonofabitch. Sonofabitch.
They cannot see me--
I flail my limbs.
They cannot hear me--
Their own cursing drown out my voice.
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world... Moby Dick, Herman Melville
I am the
of an upright
in a bakery
I fire the
but it seems
and serve it
to a people
likes to say
if we wish
to feast at
in Darb Al-Ahmar
is one of a
The roofs leak,
no heat in winter,
it’s a sweltering
handiwork of a
to the freezing
to live in.
In their eyes,
our sole purpose
in life is to feather
that the rent be paid
on the first of every month
and will make our life miserable
if we’re one day late
or a half a pound short.
fail to relieve the
of fire they
of the police
freely swing to
crack a head if
we fail to bow to
tributes to their
The big guys
spaces in our lives;
leaving less room
for us to park
our tiny scooters.
in parking meters
for them and get
compensated for it
by being offered
to wash their cars.
that I get
I was talking
to my friend
Isa at the
live in a constant
want and fear.”
A young man
the next table
was a zealous
His name is
he hands me
The Holy Quran.
He says that is
the way to a
free of any
breathed on to
the pages of
The Holy Quran
The Prophet Muhammad’s
-(may peace be upon him)-
the holy pages
out by the
Mubarak also boasts that
he too has all the answers to
alleviate the ills that plague us.
been ruling us
for forty years;
as we yearn
for these promises
to be filled.
he knows what is best
for the children
that the way to
want and fear
is submission to
his perpetual rule.
I get uneasy when
I accept the
and divine knowledge
of the Quran and Hadiths
but I’m not too sure
that the Imams,
swore by its
I am left
if any of them
even see me?
I am more of a
person then a
the peril of
I wonder have
I look into
to see if
I am real.
I am relieved
to see my image.
I have not
that I am a
of flesh and bones
with a mind
full of conviction
with the blood
of a warm beating
I remind myself
I am a man,
not a faceless
to be ruled.
I am an individual
not just another
under the control
of a pious Imam.
I am Ishmael.
I recognize the fire of
life in my own eyes.
I can see the scars
of my decisions,
that my life has
etched upon my face.
I am not invisible.
I am not a casualty
of the twists of history
or the events of fate.
I am not a fish
a giant school
trapped in an
of a well
I am a man.
Let it be known
that I claim
for my manhood
and I will
those who now
lord over me.
Like my father
me as an
As I stand
I will raise my voice.
I will not remain
I am one voice
who like me
We were once
that have been
into free range wolves,
set free from its cage,
we now form in packs
howling for justice.
Call me Ishmael.
in that moment,
when your hand first
brushed past mine,
could have lit up New York City
for the night.
I could have lived in that moment.
But, in the same way we got used to
light switches and indoor plumbing,
I got used to your touch.
What I wouldn't give
to go back to candlesticks and outhouses
for just one night
so that when you reach for my hand tomorrow,
I won't be jaded by the light that now seems
so perfectly ordinary.
"What kind of a person are you," I heard them say to me.
I'm a person with a complex plumbing of the soul,
Sophisticated instruments of feeling and a system
Of controlled memory at the end of the twentieth century,
But with an old body from ancient times
And with a God even older than my body.
I'm a person for the surface of the earth.
Low places, caves and wells
Frighten me. Mountain peaks
And tall buildings scare me.
I'm not like an inserted fork,
Not a cutting knife, not a stuck spoon.
I'm not flat and sly
Like a spatula creeping up from below.
At most I am a heavy and clumsy pestle
Mashing good and bad together
For a little taste
And a little fragrance.
Arrows do not direct me. I conduct
My business carefully and quietly
Like a long will that began to be written
The moment I was born.
s Now I stand at the side of the street
Weary, leaning on a parking meter.
I can stand here for nothing, free.
I'm not a car, I'm a person,
A man-god, a god-man
Whose days are numbered. Hallelujah.
You can hire me for whatever
I'll fix your broken heart
Repair the plumbing within its walls
Repair the wholes in it
I'll do it all for free
You can hire me to kiss you
To hold you
And I'll never charge you anything
As long as you tell me you love me
And I'm able to love you
With a love even a god himself
Cannot buy with anything
I'm your free handyman
I'll do whatever you want
Give you what you need
Even if I don't have the power to do that
I will try anyways
Ti amo con tutto il mio cuore
Strange question indeed,
So I asked one and all;
Explain to me:
“What's a plumber's ball?”
Family and friends
Heeded my call,
But none could confine,
Refine or define it,
Yet Paul was sure
He could design it.
Still, none could satisfy
“What the hell is a plumber's ball?”
Does it sweat the pipe
Or wiggle the snake:
Can it clamp the nipple
For Heaven's sake?
Could it snap on the cock-hole cover?
All these queries
Made me wonder.
Has it something to do
With hardness leakage,
Or screwing the ball-cock
To stop a seepage?
Has it anything to do
With a saddle valve dripping,
Or two pipes mating?
And, I heard of male and female fittings,
And should I worry
If I'm standing or sitting?
If you're discharging the head
Or elongating the pipe,
Does the plumber's ball
Help it snug tight?
Is it in my tank,
Or in my bowl,
Beneath the floor
Near the drainage hole?
Is the plumber's ball
In the back of the truck
(Jeff laughed and said
One could rub it for luck).
I asked Michel
If he could tell,
He sensed it was something
He could smell.
I sought out Ray,
Perhaps he'd know,
But he was on call
To restrain a back-flow.
I couldn't ask Gary
For his wisdom and sense,
He was wigglin' the snake
To unclog a wet vent.
Henry, Rick, Scotty and Brian,
Gave shameless answers
I couldn't rely on.
It's not a crapper, tail piece
Or catch basin, reamer,
O-ring or pipe dope.
So I searched the Net
With a fool's wonder,
And read of ball-checks,
Gas cocks and plungers.
I know it's too late
To ask Rolly or Ross,
For both of them knew,
And that's our loss.
And Ernie's gone golfing
So I can't ask the Boss.
With final resolve
I fell to my knees,
To pray St. Ferrer
With grace intercede.
His silence left me
In a state of depression;
Had Ferrer washed his hands
Of the plumbing profession?
So nothing could settle
I still didn't know,
What's a plumber's ball?
Suddenly, it hit me,
He's never wrong,
The Dalai Lama of dip-tubes,
I'll ask John.
Where others did falter,
John's a rock:
He knows the difference
Between a gas and ball cock.
With a knowing smile
He embraced our Hall:
Here, good friend, is your Plumbers' Ball.
As a bisexual, I fear
Few will want you to be proud.
They will bend your ear
Saying things to you out loud
That would be better left
Totally, embarrassingly unsaid
Instead of rattling around
Inside the cathedral of your head.
Too many try to make it
Seem like a kind of venal crime
To want to make love with
Someone of your own kind
And maybe with the same
Gender with which you were born.
To some it is very biblical
And subjects you to public scorn.
Finding someone sexy
With the same plumbing as you
It not only delightful
It can be a dream come true.
It feels correctly natural
And works like the other way
Even though people scorn
And use words like ‘fag’ and ‘gay’
Or ‘lezzie’ and even taco
Whatever that might end up meaning.
The important thing to me
Bisexuality is so powerfully appealing.
So, those who dislike me
And feel so righteously zealous
That bisexuality is wrong
Are very possibly just jealous.
Or maybe just uptight
Living by someone’s else’s rules;
Not what they’ve learned
And therefore are bigoted fools.