Captain Atomic the Grammarian

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Captain Atomic the Grammarian – Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

Captain Atomic, our hero, changed by an accidental release of atomic energy at Fort Bliss, Texas, the incident called, ‘Wrong Coordinates Again,’ not a soldier, but a substitute English teacher, a grammarian, bombarded with radioactive isotopes, while reading a grammar book, entitled Grammar Girl, while sitting on a grammar book, Painless Grammar, all the while while thinking, ‘Why is grammar not spelled grammer?.” The man in the streets, Captain Atomic, searches out the villains of the English language, Mr. Paralel – misspelled, Mr. Mens Room – no apostrophe, Mrs. Dangling Modifier, – “Sitting in the lawn chair, the sun rose over us.” And, Mr. Error in Syntax. “I wish I knew to where him find.”

Episode One: Captain Atomic orders a Beer.

“Sir, may I please have a beer?”


“Sir, Budweiser is a fragment.”

“Miller Lite?”

”Lite is an informal spelling of light.”


“Are you referring to George Wilhelm Pabst, the 1920s era film director?”


“Yes, there are rings around the sun, but I would like a beer.”

“Samuel Adams?”

“One of the founding fathers of the American Revolution. But, let’s talk politics after I get a beer.”

“Pliny the Younger?”

“Greek lawyer and author. Now, I’m using fragments. And contractions.”

“Flying dog Raging B%&#$?”

“Excuse me?”

“Dirty Bastard? “Why are you resorting to name calling?”

“Chocolate Bock?”

“No, beer.”


“I prefer the guitar.”

“Banana Bread?”

“No beer.”

“Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier?”

“The winner of the spelling bee.”

“Magic Hat Circus Boy? Smuttynose? Hacker? Harpoon UFO Pumpkin?”

“No, not never.”

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.’

Monkey Business

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Monkey Business – Copyright by James Francis Keegan III

Zoo exhibit gone wrong, a species of monkey, a Japanese Macaque… what was supposed to happen: testing on macaque monkeys – a macaque what does it look like? A cross between a baboon and a teddybear with the face of a red balloon. Intelligence testing, stupidly the human scientist in the white lab coat left out his iPad, and the primate stole it, and given the chance with technology, the macaque learned English, probably from watching Animal Planet, and then got an online degree from the University of Phoenix, in Zoology, which to me in like cheating. And although the scientist reported his iPad missing, no one notice in the billing cycle or minutes used. And by and by the monkey named after, ‘Glen Miller’ the leader of a big band in the Swing Age, well Glen Miller, at monkey business, so much for results on Scantron tests and number two pencils, used his iPad to hack his way out of his high tech enclosure and left the tire swing behind and the poorly thought out survey questions, and all that scientific gibberish, mean, median, mode, and left it for Juke Box Saturday Night, Tuxedo Junction, and In the Mood.

It took two weeks to notice because Glen Miller put the scientist in the monkey cage, and because monkeys mimic, everyone thought the scientist just a waving monkey. And out of spite Glen Miller instituted his own intelligence test on the good doctor: Program a satellite t.v. remote, use iCloud, add to favorites on a cell phone; scan codes in an automotive class, and finally, download a new version of Adobe.

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.”


“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…