Sunny and Balmy

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Interstellar Comedies

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The Cat Man of Alcatraz –
Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

The new scientific breakthrough, miniaturization, and I purchased a birthday present for my ten-year-old son, a 379 liter – about 100 gallon – terrarium, called ‘Sunny and Balmy,’ which is the Florida Everglades edition, and inside are hundreds of miniature animals. An entire flock of flamingoes, all 6mm is length, wingspans the size of nail heads. What do they eat? Microscopic plankton. You can feed them little bits of shrimp too. Next, a fan favorite, alligator pools, and I bought a package of mosquitos, and when the mosquitos land on the surface of the water, how the 32mm alligators eat them, by barrel rolling. Fauna as well, hundreds of plant species, my favorite, a row of orange trees which really fruit. I had a hard time lifting the display off the dolly by myself. Song birds which I can watch on the view-screen or with a magnifying glass, like I purchased an entire zoo, a package of animal crackers but real, the song birds singing to me every morning, which I can hear by way of the amplification speakers in the back controlled by the remote control. Other functions on the remote control? A button called the sun. Which I can brighten and dim, and some observers get sunburn by sitting too long or too close, and the overcast setting, just a dimmer switch. As well, like how Chicago’s Brookfield zoo, in the monkey house, turns on its sprinkler system every hour to simulate a rainstorm, I too can press the thunder and lightning buttons.
However, the star of the show is a Florida Panther measuring 29mm; a one inch mountain lion muscled like a walnut. I feed the lion crickets, one a day, or melee worms. Or even bits of lunchmeat or parts of steaks, porterhouse, new york strip.
The next day:
I wake up and part of the glass is broken, stupid of me to lift the aquarium by myself. At the corner, where the two panes of glass meet is the small pill of a hole. I put duct tape over the crack, and go online for Realtime terrarium attendance to determine what is missing. Nothing died overnight, but one animal is missing, the Florida Panther. I cannot believe the birds did not try to get out.
Then on the floor in the kitchen, a dead mouse. I look closer. And, the carcass is chewed open at its ventral line, internals like balled rubber bands. There are the pop culture newswire stories, owners having fingers bitten off while sleeping, eyelids too, mostly though stitches in big toes while putting on slippers, and I pick up a fly swatter, but no that won’t do, and not wanting to call 9-1-1 out of embarrassment. The neighbor’s kids own hamsters. What to do? I brainstorm, what if I leave the doors and windows open, maybe a wasp will try to carry it off. I Know Best Buy electronics will not sell me just a Florida Panther. Maybe I should call an exterminator. I put layers of duct tape over my nipples and wear boots and leather gloves. I already spent one thousand dollars on the terrarium, And now, my son’s birthday will be ruined.
That is when I hear it, I thought it the television, but no, the distinct sound of a roar coming out of the living room.
Trying to figure in my head, a life-size mountain lion can jump fifteen feet up into a tree, climb a twelve foot fence, and reach a speed of fifty miles per hour in a sprint, but how does all that translate down into a lion slightly larger than a metal game piece in Monopoly?

Chemistry Set of the Future

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Chemistry Set of the Future – Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

 

 

…What will the chemistry set of the future look like?

 

Blow bubbles that take a half hour to land and two days to dissipate.

Make own chewing gum out of banana peels.

Prism contact lenses – rainbow everything.

Throw your voice using radio waves and make grandmother think she’s hearing voices.

Fingerprints which become visible a half hour later in hundreds of places, coffee cups, on pens and pencils, and the crotch of pants.

Use dry ice to make a cactus edible.

Scratch and sniff skunk smell.

Volcano experiment with lava but the lava is orange sherbet.

Make tissue paper out of typing paper.

Paper airplane which flies for four minutes.

Capillary action using celery, but when someone bites into the celery, six tablespoons of black food dye comes out.

Motion Potion, skin cream sixty times more slippery than Baby Lotion.

Ghost pepper drops, make concentrated ghost pepper syrup, 30 times hotter than jalapeño.

Stink bomb, origin circa 1910, the same idea, the same recipe, ammonium sulfide and iron filings, ‘Something smells like rotten eggs.’

Chewbacca Gets a Haircut

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Chewbacca Gets a Haircut – Copyright James Francis Keegan III

 

…“Ow my God! Look at your 11 o’clock! He’s like eight feet tall and hair longer than a wedding train. And look, matted like a shitzu.”

“Gross.”

“Maybe it is part of his religion.”

“If I get any of his nasty smell under my fingernails, I’ll sue.”

“Haircut today? How did I know? Ow, and a manicure too.”

“What’s the name? How do you spell that? Quepecco? Kibacca? Chewy, your nickname? Okay. This way Mr. Chew.”

“Just as trim, an 1/8” off? Seeing that I lost a comb in your hair, maybe we should go a little longer, two or three feet or so.”

“No, you will look fabulous. This is your first haircut? We have a sucker for you if you don’t cry. Cosmopolitan is a woman’s magazine, but if you found something you like in there…”

Yes the bald stomach look is in, yes, bald elbows, and bald hands, everything bald.”

“No we don’t shave armpits. We don’t do pubic hair – no pubs. Why? Health department.”

“I am just going to pour a little of this Barbacide on the top of your forehead.”

“Why am I holding my nose?” Sneezes.

“Sorry I keep sneezing. Your dander could be used as drink coasters.”

“I am not into politics. What is it called, The Empire? And you are part of the Rebel Alliance?”

“I voted for Darth Vader. His campaign ads are the cutest.”

“He did what? Ow, my god…No way. Thank you for telling me. I don’t watch the news much. You are so smart.”

“What did you say you do?”

“How much money do you make? Wow. That is a lot. Smuggler? I wouldn’t say that too loudly.”

“I’ll shampoo you myself. We’re going to put you in the middle sink so we can wash your hair in all three sinks.”

“You are such a nice guy, donating your hair to charity.”

“How many wigs for children? At least thirty I’d say.”

“Wow, you look like two Brad Pits.”

“Don’t forget your belt.”

“The total? $42.00 a haircut at thirty haircuts, $1260.00 please.”

“Thank you, wow, no one has ever given me such a big tip. Sure, I would love to give you my phone number. Maybe we can hang out.”

“Is that you car? Does it go fast? I love fast cars. What do you call it? The Millennium Falcon?”

A Domesticated Something

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A Domesticated Something – Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

…You have heard of a golden doodle, a dog, have golden retriever, half poodle, from the year 1992. But have you heard of a Hodge-Podge? Shopping for a family pet, and my sons all wanting something different, “A bearded lizard,” “A Dalmatian,” “A box turtle.”

Thanks to geneticists now we can have “200 Animals in one.”

“I want housefly eyes, 6,000 simple eyes.” Myself, “I want something hairless that doesn’t shed, the Mexican hairless dog, xoloitzcuintle.” “I want part panda, part koala bear.” “I want one cat eye.” “This sounds like a witch’s incantation.” “Mom said no scorpion parts.” “No little yapper dogs; how about the basenji, the voiceless dog that does not bark?” “I want sharkskin.” “It must have the intelligence of a dolphin.” “It must have the mane of a lion.” “It must have a tiger’s brindle stripes.” “Why don’t we just shrink down an make miniature an elephant?” “How do you get a sun conure, a toucan, a macaw, a snow owl, and a peacock into one finch?” “How do butterflies fit into all of this?” “Horse strong and cheetah fast.” “Manatee gentle.” “Cat independent and the cold nose of man’s best friend.”

“How about an animal that leaves no droppings?” “That hasn’t been invented yet.”

“And no puppy breath.”

For the Fans

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For the Fans – Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

…Nothing sexual, she just a close friend, a former colleague, she always found herself fallen over on the ground, the woman sober you understand, but drawn over. Something about which to gossip. She makes her muscles taunt, and I prop her up either against a wall or in the open by use of a stick in the small of the back. Once a week, then twice in four days, now more.

I bring two shirts, because of my body sweat.

Accidentally, I’d brush up against a part of her body to which I’d either say, ‘Excuse me,’ or, I’d pretend it never happened.

I do not wear the Good Samaritan well.

I began to find others, men, children too. It was cruelest seeing the children, and they’d say, “I could be playing,” or, “I wish I was like the normal children.” At a loss for what to do what to say to all the fallen over citizens, I’d say, “Once upon a time…” They’d smile, and then their compliments.

I’d continue, “What about a story about vowels at revolution and refusing to work, and the English language without a,e,i,o,u, and sometimes y.”

“What about a story about a favorite drinking glass the contents of which when finished reconstitutes itself, and drinkers of alcohol, made fun of, ‘Look he got drunk on only one drink.’?”

“What about a story of a family of invisible people who live in a very small cottage and on accident keep bumping into one another.”

“What about a story of the seven deadly sins repenting, wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony becoming: merciful, giving, hard-working, respectful, caring, and fasting? Renamed the Seven Boredoms.”

A New Insect, a Mayfly, But Mechanical

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A New Insect, a Mayfly, But Mechanical – Copyright James Francis Keegan III

…Found by child, a new insect, a mayfly, but mechanical, which flew about in an apparatus metal, its wings like cactus wool to the touch. A little scary, how once the insect, named Baby by the little boy Tom, a six-year-old, witnessed a jumping spider attack his mayfly. Then a burst of light like playing with the drapes, and the spider congealed into itself, dead, a smoking black candle wick.

Baby played music, but the boy, Tom, would have to keep his ear close. “Sounds like waltzers.”

A second not so good act when a large mastiff, a dog, a cane corso got its gate open, but Baby following, flying above, sent a loud noise, a steam whistle down, and the dog ran away, but Tom couldn’t hear for fifteen minutes.

Other occasions Baby chasing sparrows through fence bars and even flying beneath women’s umbrellas, through stretcher bars.

Mostly, though Baby kept itself in the reading room at the library, where Tom’s aunt worked. It hovered above the readers’ books for hours. Tom thought it funny how Baby would play practical jokes on the librarians, flying about them like a horsefly, and then landing on a desk on purpose, and the librarians with their fly swatters swatted him, but undamaged Baby would fly on again, and the liberians thought themselves just weak.

Then, the death of a first pet, Baby died, by way of being kidnapped by a dragonfly, a red one, which auntie called, “Probably a female meadowhawk dragonfly.”

Marooned on Plant World

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Marooned on Plant World – Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

After my S.O.S. broadcast, and after I ejected safely in my escape pod, and against odds, a successful reentry, having landed safely, on a habitable world, a world without animals, a planet of only plants, and here I am, and no one will even start looking for me for at least six months, and the chances I’ll be found, a needle in a haystack.

Dusk, and I sleep my first night in a bean pod, like a snow pea, a hammock, with a pea for a pillow. A good night sleep between parchment walls.

In the morning, I fashion a walking stick out of what looks like asparagus. I spend the morning hiking. I had a horticulture class in high school. Thank You Mrs. Borer for forgiving me when I giggled about the word, ‘Angiosperm.’

I breakfast on what looks like an artichoke but tastes like a honey tangerine.

A George Washington Carver, but I have to find my peanut, the right peanut.

“Horses would love this place.”

Vines with what look like ladder rungs, and flowers like bird of paradise, but nothing compares to Earth orchids.

I tie grass stalks, which smell of vanilla, to button holes. This will be my cologne.

Mid morning hot, and I use a leaf for a hat, a leaf like the common garden weed elephant ear, burdock.

Trying to remember what hispid, hoary, villous, and appressed, the hair on plants, which one is which. Thinking on the word biennial. Worried about poisonous plants, but remembering the survival manual trick for unknown plants. ‘Do not eat, but put the plant in your cheek pocket for an hour. And, never eat mushrooms.’

Pants knees, elbows turned green. The good smell of dirt, like a favorite shirt.

Wind pollination, entirely.

Four hundred thousand species of plants on Earth; here, maybe more, but one must be olive oil.

I hear someone following me, quietly though, but it scares me deep like noise shock, the sound quiet like dragging a coat behind me by one arm. I do not turn around. Instead I look for rocks on the ground, some weapon, after picking up a cobble, and feeling like an old world ape armed with a stone, only then, do I turn. What I see. Everything is still. Nothing out of the ordinary, and then I see it off to the right, a common weed, creeping charlie, also called creeping jennie or moneywort and according to the U.S. Forest Service, also, cat’s foot and robin-runs-away. I should have known. Backyard weeds! Creeping charlie a ground ivy. “You invasive bastard.” We fight, my first hand-to-hand combat with a plant. It goes for my throat after tangling up my legs. I win though because I went for its roots, the hamstring of its achilles tendon.

Now I know who my enemies are, creeping charlie, crabgrass, white clover, plantain, bindweed, and thistle. “I am just glad I didn’t stumble into a field of dandelions.”

For the seventeen victims in France

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For the Seventeen Victims in France – Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

 

 

…Millions of light years away, past the Dumbbell Nebula, past the Footprint Nebula, out past even the Hourglass Nebula, what has taken a four year journey… on a spaceship the size of a football pitch. If you will, I am the lighthouse keeper of science, Captain over the common captains, both decorated and in de facto, and here I sit writing poetry:

 

“All these Things…”

For the seventeen victims in France

I could find little meaning in a plastic bag caught in an oak tree at the height of thirty feet a windy day and being ripped apart,

the god howling sound it made like a witch whistler.

 

I could find little meaning in dead leaves under snow

where is their color now?

where are autumnal yellows? leaves browned – the color of dead stag beetles.

 

I could find little meaning in bird prints in snow,

walking heels and feather imprints like chinese characters.

 

I could find little meaning in a boyhood memory, me walking to the candy store,

it so cold making a game of spiting on the ground listening to my own spit freeze before it landed;

the cold front, adjectival, called Siberian by the weatherman.

 

I could find little meaning in reading about the largest snowflake ever recorded,

not palm sized, but bigger ‘milk pan big’

 

 

I could find little meaning in fog above a river thick like catgut

wrought iron palisades; snow on handrails,

the watchman’s window, the bridge keeper, bell ringer, he towered inside.

 

I could find little meaning in the exposed flesh of frostbite in ten minutes

or factually, colder even than the planet Mars

 

I could find little meaning in staring at constellations through a ski mask

the cheese cloth of stars

constellations named after scientific instruments their names, Sextans, Telescopium, Microscopium.

 

I could find little meaning in being a convert to the pleasantries of religion

or putting on a face religion

or having to be polite religion

or smiling to accommodate religion

and no meaning in how all religions are found at the end of a gun.

 

I could find little meaning in the first part of a quote by Herman Melville “All these things are not without their meanings…”

I could find little meaning in the rest of the quote: “All these thing are not without their meanings… but faith like a jackal feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hopes.” – Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Invictus, Unconquerable

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Invictus, Unconquerable – Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

…The Age of Discovery, Portugal and Spain drinking heavily, and slurring words, reconquista firstly, later circumnavigation.

Me, five hundred years later, penniless in a antique map store, looking over five thousand dollar maps, all hand colored. The maps mostly oceanic. The Greek God Atlas holding up the world. Hundreds of intersecting ink lines as thin as horsehair. Readily, the words Terra incognita, meaning unknown lands. Star charts too. Constellation maps. Drawn compasses in the form of human nudes.

An oil-on canvas artist, exploring consciousness, circa, the year 1935, set his bell-hat alarm clock and woke during his dream and recorded his wanderings there, and then reset the alarm clock every bottom of the hour, for months, until he had a notebook full. Some prefer a white paper landscape.

Hand-me-down paranoia, of what have you inherited? Your father’s rage? Your mother’s apprehension? Come now, what mischief is this modernity? How many had to die to for an astrolabe, and for what? …Counting days on a coffee can in winter the straight number of days without sun… ..the reverberation of the glass amplifies human voices… …Famous graffiti, “Kilroy was Here.” …a musical staff made of three parts of clover honey to one part of rice vinegar, bring me a wineglass of postage stamps and my lap desk, no more being the alias of average. Now, I would like to name the next generation: Invictus, which mean unconquerable in Latin…

Janis Joplin and the Planet Heddle

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Janis Joplin and the Planet Heddle – Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

…The textile makers of planet Heddle. Extended families, some three hundred individuals or more, sit side-by-side, weaving blankets as they have done in their history for eight thousand years, longer than recorded human history. The women bite with their teeth to soften fibers, and the sixty year-old women their teeth are worn down to the height of two coins stacked on one another, or even one coin.

Me? I am a sightseer, a tourist.

Carpet makers, like how in Afghanistan after the 1979 invasion by the Soviet Union, history recorded in carpets, instead of floral motifs, a border of helicopter gunships.

The blanket smells of uncooked oats and feels like a peacoat. On Heddle carpets look of iridescence, local flowers like how an Iranian Carpet is a darker shade of blue because of the wildflowers there compared to other regions. Iridescence like the chemical element bismuth.

And always the same question, “You come from the planet of spiders?” “Yes.” Their word for spider, ‘Tailor.’ More, “What is your favorite spider?” “Daddylong legs.” I give them other names, ones they’ll like, ‘Nursery Web spider, Tooth Cave spider, and Bowl and Doily spider.’

The pattern of the carpet, a portraiture, and lettering, the word Missouri, and I do not understand, and I ask about it, “Why Missouri?” And am told Earth music introduced only ten years ago. And then the word Janis, and I get it Janis Joplin the singer, and her last name like the city of Joplin, Missouri, although Janis is from Texas. How the aliens translate her surname by using a rhyme.

The Heddles unfold the blanket more, and I can read quotes by Janis Joplin, “Audiences like their blues singers to be miserable,” and “On stage, I make love to 25,000 different people, then I go home alone.” One creative act memorialized by a second creative act. A last quote from Janis, “I always wanted to be an artist, whatever that was, like other chicks want to be stewardesses. I read. I painted. I thought.”