Friday, November 10, 2006

Man of Steele

Maryland senatorial candidate Michael Steele, the state's Republican lieutenant governor and an African American running against Democrat and 35-year veteran Congressman Benjamin L. Cardin to fill retiring Senator Paul Sarbanes' seat, will be remembered not only for his ad with the trash cans, accusing the Democrats of dirty tricks, but also his expressed liking for puppies. He came across as a nice guy but a politician with no substance. I felt no inclination to vote for him. He will be remembered as a well groomed candidate who intoned in his "Real Ideas for Change" video: "Soon your TV will be jammed with negative ads from the Washington crowd. . . saying Steele hates puppies, and worse. For the record, I love puppies. . ." His following idea to ban on all gifts from lobbyists was worthwhile, if hollow coming from a Republican in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Possibly Michael Steele is no worse than any other politician, although he seems inexperienced and naive. As nice a guy as he might be, I felt about him the same way I felt about the last lieutenant governor of Maryland to run for higher office, Kathleen Kennedy Townshend, daughter of the late Robert Kennedy, who was repudiated by the people of the state in her attempt to run for Governor of Maryland four years ago in the election that saw Robert Leroy "Bob" Ehrlich, Jr., Congressman for Maryland's 2nd Congressional district, beat her handily to become Maryland's 60th governor.

The election fight between Ehrlich and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley in the Maryland gubernatorial race that saw O'Malley triumph to become the state's 61st governor on Tuesday was also down and dirty. As did many, I was not sure Mr. O'Malley deserved to be governor. Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodericks and the Baltimore City Paper both pointed out that O'Malley has not finished the job that he promised to do in Baltimore let alone to run for higher office.

Ehrlich's Republican administration was accused of underhanded tactics. A well publicized exposé showed Ehrlich and his henchman fired state workers from the state government to install Republicans instead. It was also reported in the Washington Post on Wednesday that the Ehrlich campaign bused in homeless people to Prince Georges County to campaign for Ehrlich and Steele, giving them $100 and two meals and misleading ballots to hand out. The ballots misidentified Gov. Ehrlich and Michael Steele as Democrats and failed to tell potential voters that they were Republicans.

There is no doubt though that the Dems swept to victory because of the mistakes of the Bush Administration, going into the disastrous war in Iraq, a major mistake on George W. Bush's part for which this nation will be paying for generations, along with the crass ineptitude shown following the Katrina tragedy, and the malaise of the numerous scandals that have dogged Republicans.

Under Arc Lights

It's election night in our nation's capital.
In Union Station, caterers lay power tables,
prepare designer meals, slaughter the fatted calf.

Under arc lights and a weeping sky, reporters speak
to the yearning nation, makeup perfect, faces shining
in the reflected light of silver photographic umbrellas.

And in forwarding bases, desert camouflage boots shuffle,
orders bark new recruits and men on yet another tour, move
off to the faroff land where their nation sends them.

Christopher T. George

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Don't Give Up the Ship!"

I gave a talk on Sunday afternoon at the Burlington County (New Jersey) Historical Society on the occasion of the 225th birthday of Captain James Lawrence, he of "Don't Give Up the Ship" fame (follow the link through the title for more information on Lawrence and his career).

Captain Lawrence's birthplace, as well as the home of James Fennimore Cooper, are on the grounds of the historical society, so it was quite an occasion. The education director of the society was dressed up as Captain Lawrence, looking remarkably health for being dead a couple of hundred years, a local band played naval anthems, and a wreath was placed on the door of Lawrence's house.

Though it was sunny it was blowing a gale and the wreath, of entwined twigs, blue ribbon and gold balls, threatened to blow away. Afterward we retired to the warm inside of the society headquarters for an awards ceremony for an essay contest held by the local newspaper for schoolchildren who had written essays on the meaning of "Don't Give Up the Ship."

Then I talked on the icons of the War of 1812, including Lawrence's words, other slogans and artifacts such as "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights," Old Ironsides, and the Star-Spangled Banner. My point was that although in truth the War of 1812 itself was a stalemate, with neither the United States nor Great Britain clearly winning and battles won by both sides, major symbols came out of the war and the conflict ended with the United States being united and having a new national identity which it did not display beforehand, being more competing states before the war.

Although the Kodak carousel slide projector (yes I am still in the dark ages) jammed partway through my talk, I continued the talk without a hitch to an interested and engaged audience. My talk was followed by one by Admiral Tobin (USN, retired), head of the Naval Historical Center, who spoke about Lawrence and other US Navy commanders. He also delighted the audience by showing them the first US flag that had flown at Iwo Jima after the famous battle which he and his wife had brought with them. During a refreshments period at the end of the event, I sold copies of my book Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay and promoted the Journal of the War of 1812 which I edit.

I had traveled up that morning by Amtrak to Philadelphia 30th Street Station and thence by New Jersey local transit rail and light rail to Burlington. A long and complicated series of changes but I made it in time to have a pleasant brunch with white zinfandel at the Gallery Café overlooking the Delaware River where reenactors of different periods were braving the wind, loosing off cannon fire and musket volleys.

The following poem was written on the rather cold journey back to Philadelphia on those local lines:

Under a Cut Penny Moon

I am stranded in Lindenwold
this freezing evening

on a deserted platform waiting
for the gambler's train.

Papa won't be coming home
to make bambino tonight.

I'm waiting for some hot tips,
my lucky number to turn up.

Instead I've got a defective
platform light flickering

above my head, my thighs cold.
On the one-line train track

I see a Wendy's styrofoam cup,
the paper's real estate section.

I bang the light pole,
make the halogen flicker

for a while inside
its fly-specked glass.

I am stranded in Lindenwold
waiting for a hot number.

Papa won't be coming home
to make bambino tonight.

Christopher T. George

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Chris George in the Spotlight at Triplopia

I am pleased to announce that there is a spotlight interview with me in the new "Fear" Issue of Triplopia magazine. Go to the link through the title above.

The interview is wide-ranging, covering, in addition to my creative writing interests, my thoughts on Jack the Ripper, the War of 1812, the Internet, and the writing art in general. I answered questions posed to me my e-mail over a number of months by Triplopia editors Gene Justice and Tara Elliott, and during part of the time Gene happened to be in South Korea so it was really an international conversation.

Included in the poetry section of the issue are my poems, "The Ghosts of Cambodia," "Morecambe Bay Cocklers Tragedy," "Apple Blossom and Roses at Auschwitz," and also two poems in the interview, "A Pack of Lies" and "My Book Is Eaten By Termites" and an excerpt from "Jack: The Musical" by Erik Sitbon and myself.

In the interview, I was able to share some of my ideas of what I believe makes for important and interesting poetry. I do think that modern poetry can speak to our world so it is a tragedy really that poetry is not better understood and appreciated by the masses. It behooves we poets to reach out and touch the people who say they do not "understand" poetry and bring them to a better or fuller appreciation of what poetry can say about modern life or life in general.

Basically, I am not the type of poet who writes only for myself and just puts my poems in a drawer, although I have heard a large number of poet say exactly that. In other words, in taking part in Internet workshops I am doing so to help become a better poet myself in order to write for publication and (perhaps) fame if that is possible, or at least to become more widely known. Thus, I do remark in the interview that poems should attempt major themes and that I don't think, in the main, poets are going to write important poems by just contemplating themselves and their own problems.

My fellow Loch Raven Review editor, Jim Doss, and I held a successful first reading for the magazine at the Load of Fun Galley on North Avenue in Baltimore on Friday, October 6. It was the first of a number of readings we are planning for the coming months. You can see some video excerpts from the October 6 reading by going to -- check it out! Also have a look at Jim Doss's blog where we both have poems about the reading. Go to Enjoy!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Kenneth W. Matchett

A celebrated member of my family has died. Kenneth W. Matchett, OBE, was my mother's cousin and they were the same age. He was manager of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra for some years for which he was awarded the OBE. Later, he managed a trout farm for Lord Shaftesbury. I have been trying to find an on-line obituary on him but have yet to be able to find one. I have been told there was an extensive obit in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. If anyone has access to it perhaps you could send it to me or direct me to the URL I would appreciate it. Thanks!

Ken helped set up the concert version of the show by Erik Sitbon and myself, "Jack--The Musical" at the UK Ripper convention held in Bournemouth in 2001. He thought that the singers would find the upstairs meeting rooms at the Suncliff Hotel to be rather dry for singing and advised that we hold the concert in the downstairs bar, which turned out to be an excellent location and enabled me to be a narrator and scene setter as barman of "The Ten Bells."

The below poem is a tribute to Ken Matchett.

Ammonite Fossil

To Kenneth W. Matchett, OBE
(Sept. 24, 1920 - Sept. 26, 2006)

I recall you as I trace with my index finger
the chambered whirl of the fossil on my desk.
I found it in Kimmeridge Bay amid the scree
of slate as we sought to fight for a foothold.

You demonstrated how to chip off cleanly
the excess rock with my miniature pickax
so I could transport my prize discovery
in my backpack. Curious seals coughed

and watched from sea-surged rocks
that diamond-bright Dorset morning.
Objective accomplished, we ascended
the cinder track to your Vauxhall.

Sun beat down upon us as we climbed.
You'd showed me how to soak a towel
in the sea to beat the sunstroke:
I wore it cool under my school cap.

Christopher T. George

Friday, September 22, 2006

Catching Up

Schlepping It

Hello, Bob, it gratifies my heart
to see you schlepping your luggage
through Union Station, tired, harried,
harrassed like yours truly--

you with your newsworthy mug,
your bestselling blockbusters,
reaping mucho buckos compared
to my thin Roosevelt dime, huffing

through travel delays to grab
a cab with pine scent air freshener
dangling with the cabbie's
prayer beads, his U.S. flag

as Columbus in the circle stands
burdened with pigeons that roost
on his folded marble arms like raisins:
Christo schlepping just like Bob and me.

Christopher T. George

The "Bob" I saw by the way was columnist Bob Novak, who has been involved in the Karl Rove - Valerie Plame affair. I thought of making it Bob Woodward, which would bring a whole other aspect into it and mentioning how the little affair in Iraq is going but then I thought that would take the poem into a direction and heaviness I perhaps did not want to go in. . . Any comments appreciated.

And in case anyone does not know the word "schlep"--

From the Free Online Dictionary: schlep: To carry clumsily or with difficulty; lug.

It's a Yiddish word.


* * * *

The Dockers' Clock

As I clock off with relief after
another day of ob-gyn editing in D.C.,
I recall the Dockers' Clock back home
in Liverpool where I toiled as a clerk
each day recording the ships coming in
and out of dock seeing the eight-sided
granite clock tower erected by Jesse Hartley
a full hundred years before my birth:
eight clock faces showing eight times
every day with corroded copper hands on
the stone tower named for good Queen Vic,
then a girl only ten years on the throne
and happy -- thirteen years before Albert's
death from typhus. Stalwart-named docks,
warrens of industry amid Liverpool's
poverty: Albert, Canning, Huskisson,
Nelson, Stanley, Wellington. . .

Christopher T. George

  • Jesse Hartley - Victoria Tower 1848, a.k.a. The Dockers' Clock

  • * * * *

    Wearing My Mother's Cardigan

    The first cold snap of Fall: a frigid
    northwest wind blows like a blast
    off the Greenland sea. I forget
    my jacket in work; Mother loans me
    her black wool cardigan with its
    hint of Calvin Kline's "Escape."

    I wheel her to our Crackpot meal;
    she hands me her shopping list
    with a white purple-veined hand.
    Her birthday's a fortnight away
    and she's scrawled on the bottom,
    in confusion, "What age am I?"

    Christopher T. George

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Winners of the "What Inspires You" Contest

    I am very pleased to award first prize in my "What Inspires You" Contest to New Zealander Christina Pater for her unusual and very personal "Writing a Hillside." Second Prize goes to Penny August for "Inspiration" which has a strong and memorable ending. Well done, Christina and Penny, and thank you to all who participated. The two recognized poems follow -

    First Prize

    Writing a Hillside

    You ask what things
    inspire me to write -
    they are like leaves of grass:

    The woman who waits in her bed,
    through her treatment torture
    with its symphony of pills,
    for her cancer to abate.

    All the drunks in bars
    crying to be saved -

    The way I scrimmage
    to garner my living.

    The fear of swallowing an apple seed
    and having a tree sprout from my belly button.

    The white she-wolf who pads beside me.

    The moon beneath her hood of night.

    Every life stolen by a bullet.

    Political prophecy on the wall
    of a motorway viaduct.

    Willow fingers rhinestoned with ice
    wafted above the steaming July river.

    Water dancing with light,

    light breathing in darkness.

    I write so that someone may read this
    and recognise me.

    I write to bind you in narrative threads
    and reel you in.

    I write the flute of wind
    through blades of grass
    along the hillside sheep tracks
    of my homeland.

    -- Christina Pater

    Second Prize


    Not the pinks, purples and oranges
    of a Colorado sunset
    nor the ever-changing profile
    of the Rockies every evening
    not the dew on the morning
    summertime new blades of grass
    nor the magpies sunrise
    chatter in my garden.
    Not the criss-cross pattern
    on the dragonfly's wings
    nor the swish of the horse's tail
    greeting me as I walk past
    not the changing colors
    of the fall canopy of leaves
    or the yellow swelling of my heart
    thinking of those
    I love.

    Words flow most abundantly
    when my mind is overwhelmed
    and my heart
    is overburdened.
    I still my mind
    and I rest my heart
    then I stop. and listen
    to the noise
    all around me,
    and quiet it
    with my words.

    - penny august

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    "What Inspires You?" Poetry Contest Deadline Is Here!

    What inspires you? Tell me in a poem of thirty lines or less, any form. Send your entries to me at by midnight on Thursday, August 31, Eastern time. Winners will be published here on my blog and first prize winner also receives a copy of the CD of the Charlotte production of highlights from the musical by composer Erik Sitbon and myself, "Jack The Musical: The Ripper Pursued." Good luck!


    Abbott and Costello

    My new white baseball cap says
    in front "Abbott and Costello"
    "Who's on First?" in back, bought

    for the yellow Seadog powerboat
    ride on Lake Michigan, a-chunka,
    a-chunka, a-chunka, spray

    in my face, grab onto my cap,
    keep the burn off my balding head;
    ride the Irish-green Chicago River,

    gaze giddy up at the Sears Tower,
    Chris, the kid tour guide, babbling
    about Al Capone and Patrick the Duck.

    And I think, you're there,
    and I'm here, hold onto
    my cap. "Who's on First?"

    God's Light Show

    Our plane begins its descent to
    Baltimore, distant clouds illumined
    with stark bursts of lightning
    which flare behind cumulo-nimbus;
    we reclaim our luggage -- it's
    midnight, streets drenched.

    This a.m., two monarch butterflies duelled
    in crystal light over zinnias as
    traffic surged on Chicago's
    Magnificent Mile. I dropped three bucks
    in a plastic cup with homemade sign
    by Nordstrom's: "Hungry. God Bless U."

    The Trouble with Fluff

    I find it in my pocket
    with my change and my keys,
    in the corners of this room

    that I clean because
    the computer tech's coming,
    dust and grit, fabric fluff,
    my old shed skin scales, cat fur--

    That girl's a nice bit of fluff.
    The world's in a fluff.
    Fluff in a navel.
    Fluff is just stuff.

    The TV's full of fluff,
    movie actors act in fluff,
    sequels to sequels to sequels,
    pure unadulterated fluff.

    Cut out the fluff
    and give us something real.

    I fluffed my lines
    on entering in "Bus Stop"
    watching the fake snow fall
    --all that fluff drifting down.

    I must clean this corner
    of all this fluff: sheddings
    of humans and cats and house --
    there's too much living going on!
    -- just wish there was more gelt
    in my pocket and less fluff.

    Christopher T. George

    Monday, July 31, 2006

    What Inspires You? New Poetry Contest

    Baskin's Baird

    On the lawns I anticipate
    a mewing catbird perhaps
    or a worm-hunting robin;

    thus this is not the bird I expected,
    the bronze of Baird, the naturalist,
    overtowering lush tropical foliage
    --a stern, upright long-
    bearded visage encountered

    on my trek this damp morning
    to another hard day of editing.
    I sniff a rain-drenched gardenia
    step over flooded paths to study

    Spencer Fullerton Baird, rendered
    aloof in the artist's conception
    of an uptight Victorian prof; and I squint
    closer at the plinth, read:

    "Opus Baskin 1976." Yes! The artist for Ted
    Hughes' Crow! But somehow

    like the stuffed avians Baird collected
    not the trickster ruffian Crow, still--

    O Baird! Welcome this damp work-
    day amid the jungle of palms and frangipani!

    Christopher T. George

  • Leonard Baskin's statue of Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887),

  • second Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution,
    in its original location when unveiled in 1978.

  • Studies of Baird and Crow by Leonard Baskin (1922-2000).

  • What inspires you? Tell me in a poem of thirty lines or less, any form. Send your entries to me at by midnight on Thursday, August 31, Eastern time. Winners will be published here and first prize winner also receives a copy of the CD of the Charlotte production of highlights from the musical by composer Erik Sitbon and myself, "Jack The Musical: The Ripper Pursued." Good luck!

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Adjustments by Mr. Bolton

    The world's a precarious and perplexing place,
    getting more treacherous by the day: Is this
    why our new U.N. Ambassador keeps adjusting
    his glasses over his "Got Milk?" moustache?

    Christopher T. George

    Desert Moon Review Summer Contest Results

    Results of the Desert Moon Review summer contest results can be read here. The judge was Sachi Nag, who has just been named a fellow editor with me at Writer's Block. First place was Jude Goodwin with "With your dry lips"; Second place was Fred Longworth with "Craters from the Sun"; and third was David Benson with "Inanna Whispers to Her Sister."

    The theme was to write a poem about one of the following or a similar angle on the earth's resources: 'Earth without electricity' or 'Earth without oil' or 'Earth without Water' -- that is, thje poet had to use his or her imagination to envision our Earth without some essential element. What would life be like then? How would we survive?

    Well done, Jude, Fred, and David. The three winning poems are to be published in the summer issue of Crescent Moon Journal edited by Mustansir Dalvi.

    Saturday, June 24, 2006

    Fireflies Rising

    As one goes out,
    another lights:
    hope emerging
    from darkness.

    Christopher T. George

    I had a nice experience Wednesday evening walking across the Johns Hopkins University campus watching a myriad of fireflies rising from the darkness of ground cover near Levering Hall. I live by the campus and it would have been simple enough to walk straight to the Milton S. Eisenhower - Sheridan Library to return a bunch of books and renew my library card. But it was a hot and humid Chesapeake Bay evening and I had brought work home to meet a deadline. So I thought I would hop in my blue-black Saturn hatchback and zoom round to park below the library by the Merrick Barn of 1804 where Theatre Hopkins perform. See link through the title. I always like to park near the theatre as I appeared there in a nonspeaking role as tavern owner Peter Taltavul in a special performance of Chris Dickerson's "Booth" twenty four years ago with William Sanderson as John Wilkes Booth expounding before he shot Lincoln. A zip I thought. . .

    Silly me. I didn't bargain with the major construction taking place in the southern sector of the Homewood Campus (what ARE they building? will Hopkins ever stop putting up more buildings???). I was turned away at the southern entrance by a security guard. I ended up parking on Wyman Park Drive by the Wyman Park Health Center, where my late father first received treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma thirty years ago. So I ended up walking as far if not further than I would have walked if I had walked from home!!!!

    I renewed a couple of books, returned the others, and paid to renew my card for another year (don't know what I would do without the valuable resources of the Hopkins library, which have been essential to my different writing projects). Walked back up the steps and bought a strawberry iced latté to cool me in the hot walk back to my car along with a New York Times to read about the mess in Iraq.

    Students were playing frisbee in the quadrangle (often students from the subcontinent are playing cricket there). The bell tower of Garland Hall chimed 9:00 P.M. (I received my M.L.A. diploma in the hall in 1977 and my grandfather and his second wife Olive were there for the occasion, as well as my parents).

    Read a new historical marker next to Wyman quadrangle about the gift of 151.75 acres of the land on which the Homewood campus stands by William Wyman and cousin William Keyser to the university in 1902. Wyman had received the land from the Carroll family and he deeded the land to the University, enabling it to relocate from its original location on Howard Street in downtown Baltimore. He wanted the land to be a buffer against the city which was spreading northward. The campus does remain a buffer, though I wonder what Mr. Wyman would say about the university's burgeoning building program?

    I pause in the humid dusk to watch fireflies rising. As one winks off another lights, and another and another. Some rest on the leafy ground cover, others rise and light.

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Totally Ekphrastic

    The Van Gogh Code

    If you play the last conversation
    between Van Gogh and Gauguin backwards,
    you will cut off both your ears.

    Ah, the conspiracy in those swirling
    stars! Sunflowers full of mystery!

    Now, touch the canvas, his thickly
    applied primary colors! Feel
    his pain, his life ooze.

    Christopher T. George

    Oh, I am feeling totally ekphrastic tonight at 3:00 a.m. as I bounce around in my Supp-hose in the kitchen drinking scotch and water and making banana sandwiches on wheat English muffins. Bread would be better for butties but since there appears to be no bread, I will have to settle for the English muffins.

    Suicide Before Breakfast

    Under a starry quilt, a cow
    squats on a thimble; lovers
    make their bed in yellow.

    Van Gogh sips absinthe,
    puzzles whether to cut off his ear
    or make love to Gauguin.

    He uses a knife to shlock the canvas,
    the bloody paint shocks
    with his pain: the stars

    and sunflowers mesmerize.
    Will it be suicide before breakfast
    or happy-ever-after?

    Christopher T. George

    I had an email a couple of days ago from a producer in the U.K. who is producing a program on "Great British Brands" for Channel Four. They are going to be filming June 12-16 and wanted to do a piece in which they would speak to me about my poem, "Ahh, Bisto!"

    The brands they are featuring are Bisto, Hovis, Kit Kat, Pimms, and Odeon. Unfortunately she had also gathered that I lived in the United States and when I asked if they would pay for me to fly over from the US of A for the filming thereof -- cheeky me -- she replied: "I'm afraid our minimal budget would not allow us to cover an expense of that size, we could just about manage a train from Surrey, but that wouldn't really help you!"

    Ahhhh, Drat!

    Ahh, Bisto!

    Redbridge stands by the dock on a wooden crate
    that proclaims, Ahh, Bisto! Use Bisto Gravy.
    As a child, he’d dreamed of being a Bisto Kid
    who’d convert the world to the wonders of Bisto.
    His daughter Molly hands out pamphlets to all
    who’ll accept one. He must get the Word out
    before the midday sun burns the pedestrians
    from the streets. Meanwhile, villagers hustle
    to market, tidy away their Saturday chores.
    He received the Word from the mouth of Jesus,
    he honors the Lord’s Word, swishes it round
    his tongue as he regales all who’ll listen,
    to assure them how good the Word tastes:
    an elixir for the world’s ills. He yells
    parables to passersby. The fishermen mend
    their nets; he’s a fisher of men. Ahh, Bisto!

    Christopher T. George

    Sunday, May 21, 2006

    Erik Sitbon and Myself

    Chris George and Erik Sitbon in the dressing rooms for "Jack--The Musical" -- note the red eye -- so many sleepless nights, ha ha!

    My songwriting partner Erik had an astute comment when we met in Charlotte for the U.S. premiere of our show, "Jack--The Musical: The Ripper Pursued." Erik came over from France and I flew down from Baltimore for the special weekend. Erik remarked, "You know, most writers of musicals are dead, so this is special for the cast to have the composer and the lyricist here. They can't talk to someone like Jerome Kern or Cole Porter. So this is unusual for the performers. They are able to meet us and discuss the show with us."

    I felt privileged to be able to witness the exceptional acting performance by Bryan Long as Thomas Dolan aka Jack the Ripper.

    As noted by Thomas Fortenberry on his blog, "Center of the storm was lead actor Bryan Long (as Tom Dolan). Physically and psychologically he inhabited his character like few actors ever do. He commanded the stage and gave an outstanding and truly haunting performance." Read Thomas's full comments on his blog, link through the title of my last posting below.

    And here is a photograph of the incredible Mister Long. This photograph and the above photo courtesy of Matt Kenyon, who played police divisional surgeon Dr. George Bagster Phillips (great name that! thanks, Matt!)

    I Am Jack!

    Tom/Jack to Betsy:

    Like a knife turning in a lock
    My life changed, I could not turn back
    Evil became my mistress, truth an enemy
    A sudden darkness divided you from me

    Sin and corruption took me over
    Embraced me like a sinister lover
    Satan knew me: became my brother.

    As the blood stained my hands
    Time was an hourglass with racing sands
    The stamp of policemen on my trail
    The incessant beating of a hammer on a nail

    Bloodhounds sniff at my trail, in a lather
    Suddenly my life seems to be over
    A death shroud falls over me — I smother

    Blood coffins me, I begin to choke
    Everyday life’s receded, become a joke
    Existence has turned sour, I am on a rack
    Betsy, there can be no going back:
    I am Jack!

    From "Jack--The Musical: The Ripper Pursued" Copyright © 2000–2002 by Christopher T. George and Erik Sitbon. Read an excerpt from the show published in the May issue of Fireweed -- link through the title above.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Ripping it up in Charlotte

    Photographs of the weekend of "Jack" in Charlotte follow soon but meanwhile you can get an idea of how my weekend went by following the link above that will take you to Thomas Fortenberry's blog. Thank you, Thomas for writing up your impressions of our show! Yes it was a great weekend. Bryan Long who plays Jack gives a bravura performance. As with any new production, obviously we have some things to work on but for the show never having had a full-scale production until now it performed well.

    A poem on the fly as it were--

    Leaving Charlotte

    In a black limo like a Mafia staff car,
    I am swept past Fat Boy's Lube Shop
    and the Love of God Ministry:
    playwright on the wing

    memorialized in triumphant
    tableau in backstage stairwell
    with my Victorian cast, each actor armed
    with digital camera, my visit officially sanctified.

    Now AirTran crams me into a last row windowseat
    without a window, the whining jet engine bores
    into my brain. I nibble baby pretzels,
    suck on a miniature Tanqueray gin.

    Christopher T. George

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Tap Dancing to Charlotte

    No, I don't play and that isn't my handbag back there. Chris in the Charlotte studio of Actors Scene Unseen last month. Photograph by James Vita.

    Tap Dancing to Charlotte

    The shoe-repairer taps on heel-savers
    front and back on my Cole-Haan loafers,
    now I can tap-dance my way to Charlotte
    for the opening of my musical on "Jack."

    In the airport, a handicapped lady taps
    the floor with her black cane like a doc
    with a stethoscope, a blind man uses white
    stick to probe the air with a thermometer.

    A dust bunny dances across the mosaic floor
    then a maintenance man taps it into a dustpan.
    And there's a dandelion parasol cozying up to me,
    brushing against me like a cat, then gets caught

    in the updraft of the ceiling fans, rising higher higher,
    and my mind is going with it, soaring toward the heavens:
    absolutely no upper limit, nothing for me to do except
    keep dancing, keep moving, never stop my feet dancing.

    Christopher T. George

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Cutting the Pages of a Hundred-year-old Text

    I slip the knife between another sleeve of pages
    to cut where no blade has cut and reveal
    secrets hidden from all eyes.

    I feel the gold inlaid title on the green leather spine,
    the text's crisp fine linen paper, sharp handset letters,
    and woodblock engravings. Mmmmmm,

    Bach's "Air on a G String" plays
    on the turntable. Now! I have a poetry contest to judge,
    a book to write. Yes, yet another book to write! Ah,

    I know it, the world awaits breathless.

    Christopher T. George

    As an explanation, apart from my full-time work as a medical editor in Washington, D.C., my upcoming musical, etc., I am working on the Bicentennial History of the St. Andrew's Society of Baltimore so I am knee-deep in men with kilts. Hope though to wrap up the final draft of the work shortly as the Society wishes to have the book out this year, their Bicentennial year. The organization was founded by immigrant Scotsmen at the Fountain Inn in Baltimore City on November 26, 1806, the founding president being Robert Gilmor I, born in Paisley, Scotland, and a leading merchant and banker.

    Fuldrum Contest Winner

    Hi everyone

    Many congratulations to Lisa Cohen who is the winner of the fuldrum contest just ended on this blog.

    Lisa's winning poem is as follows:

    Stephen Biko;
    Hope is a Lazarus, your murder
    a resurrection, hatred's reflection.
    You live.

    Lisa explains, "I introduced my kids to Peter Gabriel's song 'Biko' and they wanted to know what it was about. It's hard to believe it's been nearly 20 years since his murder."

    Congratulations also to the other entrants in the contest who write some very interesting fuldrums making my decision a very hard one.

    As promised, Lisa has won a signed copy of the promo CD of the musical by songwriting partner, Erik Sitbon and myself, "Jack--The Musical" being performed in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 13 and 14 next (link through the title above).

    Incidentally, the CD of the Charlotte production will be available shortly and details are below.

    Photography by Rita AmirAhmadi

    U.S.A. Premiere
    Jack – The Musical
    The Ripper Pursued

    USA Premiere Cast Album to be released and on-sale the day of the first show (May 13, 2006)

    Featuring the All-Star Cast of

    Bryan Long as Thomas Dolan
    Lauren Konen as Betsy Dolan
    Jason Barney as Alfred Corner
    Brooke Boling as Mary Kelly
    Robert W. Haulbrook as “The Boss”
    Micah McDade as George Lusk
    Tara Farrar as Annie Chapman
    John Troutman as Inspector Abberline
    James Lane as Sir Charles Warren
    Stefany Northcutt as Polly Nichols
    Louis Webster as Young Thomas Dolan


    Inga Draper, Matt Kenyon,
    Jonathan McDonald, Melissa McRae,
    and Caleb Newman

    Book and Lyrics by

    Christopher T. George and Erik Sitbon

    Music by Eric Sitbon

    Music Direction by Lauren Konen

    Stage Direction by Elizabeth Peterson-Vita
    Lighting Design by Rita AmirAhmadi

    May 13 & 14, 2006

    2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
    Duke Power Theatre, Spirit Square
    345 N. College Street, Charlotte, NC

    On Sale Now!

    Actors Scene Unseen (SEEN) presents its fully costumed and staged production of Jack – The Musical. In the autumn of 1888, the city of London was gripped with terror by a serial killer whose deeds have become legendary. Jack - The Musical tells the story of one possible conclusion to the enduring mystery of this most famous of unsolved cases. Jack - The Musical features the haunting music of Erik Sitbon and the evocative lyrics of Christopher T. George. After the Saturday performances (May 13, 2006), stay for a talk–back with the author and composer who will be attending the performances from Baltimore, Maryland, and France, respectively. These performances are live only and will not be broadcast.

    Thursday, April 27, 2006

    Poetry Contest Herewith!!!!

    Whoopee! I have won the weekly challenge at Desert Moon Review to write a fuldrum. I will let contest judge Charlene Dewbre explain, and listen carefully playmates because the best entry of a fuldrum received here by May 7, 2006 receives a signed copy of the promo CD of the musical by songwriting partner, Erik Sitbon and myself, "Jack--The Musical" being performed in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 13 and 14 next (link through the title above)--

    Here's an exercise in form that we call a Fuldrom (because we like the sound of the word.) Here's how it works:

    Line one introduces the topic.
    Line two creates an unlikely metaphor.
    Line three explains line two and should include internal rhyme.
    Line four must be a contradiction of an earlier line.

    Example #1

    My grandmother
    is a tinkling chain; empty
    on the wind, the windchime gone
    but still there.

    Example #2

    Ethnic cleansing and starvation
    are crumbs caked onto pages -
    ages-crusted, and trusted
    to easily wipe away.

    Brush off your metaphors and show me your Fuldroms!

    Charlene Dewbre,
    Contest Judge

    My winning entry in the Desert Moon Review contest just ended is as follows, another example for you to examine as you come up with your own fuldrum to enter in the new contest here. . .

    giraffes looking out over the lawn
    -- a galloping purple army! Am I barmy?
    They're going nowhere!

    NOW put your fuldrum in the comments section. Best entry received by 12 noon, eastern standard time, Sunday, May 7, 2006 wins the signed copy of the CD published with a numbered limited edition 16-page color book (cash value $35.00). Enter as many times as you like until the deadline. Good luck!

    Saturday, April 15, 2006

    More D.C. Impressions

    A Washington Moment

    The bells of the Taft Memorial Carillon chime
    the quarter; pale cherry blossom gives way
    to scarlet tulips, pink dogwood: sonorous
    bells to remember Senator Robert A. Taft, opposer
    of the New Deal and advocate of isolationism;
    in the murmuring distance, a siren howls.

    Christopher T. George

    * Follow the link through the title for more on the Taft Memorial Carillon.

    Impressionistic D.C.

    Raining in D.C. as drizzle streams down the cab windows,
    green traffic lights blur, red brake lights streak
    the glass as I travel this evening to Union Station.

    Smudge of pale white cherry blossoms, marble buildings,
    classical features distorted and smeared:
    nothing seems true any more. I've escaped

    my editing. On the lam, I am seated in a cab
    with a Congolese driver listening to Afro-Cuban jazz
    as the windows splurge with D.C. and spring.

    Christopher T. George

    Spring Storm in D.C.

    My! The heavens are black with mischief.
    Fork lightning fractures the sky north to south
    and thunder shudders the cherry blossoms.

    A red Circular bus ad libs in yellow: "Try Transit.
    Out of Service." Cop cars whoop warning,
    lights flashing as they corral a white semi.

    Yet nature's terror seizes center stage.
    At Union Station, I haul my stuff to platform 19
    as like a spoiled child, God hurls his soup earthward.

    We passengers weather a signal outage, pull off:
    window splurges with green lights, blue, orange,
    all gezpachoed with Mickey Dee arches, Sunoco sign.

    Christopher T. George

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Thoughts about My Father, Thoughts about the Theatre

    "The Dresser" Undressed

    Back in the theater world, I am upstage
    touring the black flats of the studio theater
    where my musical will go up in five weeks' time,

    recall learning the Dresser's monologue where
    Sir was Dad lying dead, and how I choked back
    revulsion but felt drawn like a magnet. "Enjoy

    Magnet Ale": the swinging sign in a damp jigger
    of some anonymous town: all in repertory, dead Sir
    and my late father, emotions laid bare, staged

    illusion, grief and fear, real and faked,
    my wounds bleeding and festering, exposed
    to the audience's stares and indifference.

    My coffee sloshes at the dining car breakfast:
    eggs sunny-side-up, hash browns; my guts watusi.
    I sit uncomfortable with two old geezers, strangers,

    on the Crescent heading north through the Blue Ridge:
    the playwright-lyricist-poet at breakfast naked
    as pink-purple redbuds smear the Virginia woods.

    Christopher T. George

    A Gaping Hole

    Here despite the day's temperature I am always cold
    in this hollow that holds memories of you and the others.
    I run my hands through the ashes: cold cold ashes,
    dampness in my mouth, the taste of earth, clay, bones
    and I know the absence of you, what you might have been.
    Argh! There's never enough of you to hold onto.
    I try to grab on but you sift through my fingers.

    An illusion -- of course, it's not really you,
    and you must think me crazy coming daily
    into this pit of absence seeking you
    -- when you have escaped, eluded this life,
    I do so hope, gone to a better place, leaving me
    in this bitter place, this puzzling hole,
    cold ashes, cold to touch, a taste of winter
    at the height of summer. Where are you, love?

    Christopher T. George

    Dad, You Never Knew Me

    Dad, I sifted your ashes through my fingers,
    secretly in their copper cube, while Mom slept.

    The urn sat on Mom's Scan coffee table;
    the spring night shifted as the light gray powder fell
    through my fingers.

    There was something blue and turquoise
    in there, plastic from the cancer clinic maybe,
    the color of the kidney-shaped plastic bowl
    into which Dad spat blood.

    Yes, Dad, if you died again
    I would do it once more.
    At that moment, a sudden urge to reach out to you.

    Dad, please don't hate me for what I did.
    Alright I was curious. Dad, don't be angry!
    Mom, sleep on sedated, sleep on,
    the St. George's ferry's leaving the dock.

    I received the ashes that morning.
    from the crematorium of Evans Funeral Chapel,
    from the young undertaker;
    he had shaken hands with me,
    his lilywhite hand was cloying, sweaty.
    The fuschia upholstered room was quiet, cool.
    Outside: mid-April -- forsythia thrust up
    strong, yellow against a blue sky. The smell
    of new-mown grass; kids batted a baseball.

    Why did I do it. Was it revenge? I don't know.
    Dad, you never knew me and I never knew you.
    My fingers passed like a pitchfork through
    your cancer-riddled body.

    As I left the funeral chapel, a white van braked.
    A Bob Marley lookalike got out, rainbowed knit cap
    over his dreadlocks; he delivered a basket of orange
    gladioli; "I Shot the Sheriff" blasted
    from the van, his totemic head bobbed in time.

    Mom and I had promised to sprinkle
    your ashes in the sea off Bermuda's south beaches.
    The holiday we spent riding by moped
    from one end of the island to the other,
    from St. George's to Somerset,
    the water on your knee you received when you fell.
    We smiled at lunch overlooking the reef:
    chomped liverwurst on rye with mustard and onions,
    sipped Heineken as we gazed over the crystal-
    clear Atlantic, surf broiling round the coral.

    Later, my wife accused Mom and I of exploiting
    your death by holidaying in Bermuda.
    The perfumed paths of snapdragons and lupins.
    Was it sick to share a bedroom with you, Mom?

    As I sifted through the ashes, a mockingbird stuttered into song,
    somehow off to the side I saw you nodding
    approval. At least I hoped I did.

    Dad, you never knew me.
    Perhaps by running my fingers through your ashes
    I could reach a union with you
    I never did in life.

    Dad, were you really watching me?
    I felt the movement in the air.

    Christopher T. George

    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    Chris's "Jack--The Musical: The Ripper Pursued" to be performed in Charlotte, NC, May 13-14, 2006!

    Hi all

    I spent 12 hours aboard a train yesterday travelling from Baltimore to Charlotte in western North Carolina. The train journey would have been long anyway but the train was two hours late so I didn't reach the hotel in Charlotte until 11:00 pm.

    I am here about the arrangements for my show "Jack-The Musical: The Ripper Pursued" -- subtitle added by the producer to better let the public know what the musical is about!! The show is due to be performed here May 13-14 in four performances.

    The train whistle out here by the way is pretty incessant since there are level crossings with red flashing lights and barriers at every road the rain line west passes over.

    Travelling West by Train at Night

    The train whistle blasts as we approach
    another level crossing and I find I miss you,
    alone as I hurtle west and the red lights flash.

    I journey to my destiny, a rehearsal, a performance,
    but will it be curtain up or will the room stay dark?
    Why must my damn choices always be so stark?

    What portents loom? Failure or success? No or yes?
    As we rattle down the line, I seek a sign.

    Christopher T. George

    U.S.A. Premiere

    Jack - The Musical

    Lyrics and Book by
    Christopher T. George and Erik Sitbon

    Music by
    Erik Sitbon
    Musical Direction by Lauren Konen
    Stage Direction by Elizabeth Peterson-Vita

    Four Fully Staged and Costumed
    Musical Performances

    May 13, 2006 at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
    May 14, 2006 at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM

    Duke Power Theatre
    Spirit Square
    Charlotte, NC

    Jack - The Musical tells the story of one possible conclusion to the mystery of this most famous of unsolved cases. More an opera than a musical, Jack - The Musical features the haunting music of Erik Sitbon and the evocative lyrics of Christopher T. George.
    This program contains adult themes.

    Tickets now available through the link in the title above.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    February 1 Musings and Another Upcoming Desert Moon Review Event

    Cherry Fool

    The power elite busies
    itself making the world safe
    for hypocrisy.

    A frigid wind blows
    off the Potomac, chastises
    my cheeks after warm January.

    Japanese cherry buds open;
    pale blossoms garland
    gnarled branches.

    Christopher T. George

    Desert Moon Review publisher Jim Corner and I are pleased to announce an upcoming Western Gathering of Desert Moon Review poets for the weekend of April 8-9, 2006. The weekend will feature a reading to take place at 8:00 pm on the evening of Saturday, April 8 at Bentley's Coffee and Tea House, 1730 Speedway Boulevard, Tucson, Arizona (tel. 1 520 795 0338).

    Jim Corner reports that he and his wife Kathy visited Bentley's recently. He stated: "The atmosphere is a fine old fashioned coffee house with seating for 70. The host at Bentley's, Jo, is a lovely smiling lady, and was cordial and informational."

    Jim and I are very excited about this upcoming event and we hope for a general get-together of Desert Moon poets and friends over the weekend of April 8-9 similar to the successful east coast Desert Moon Review reading held in Philadelphia in the fall. Feel free to contact Jim at or myself at for more details or to apply to be put on the program. Follow the link through the title above for more information on the plans for the weekend.


    A bottlenose whale beaching in the shallow Thames,
    spewing from blowhole off the Victoria Embankment
    as London watches the Leviathan within the Leviathan.

    Sick, disoriented whale, its gray flanks barging into barges.
    O Thames of Jimmy Whistler! Rocketing fire crackers
    welcoming in the bright new millennium, the city's Eye,
    the butterfly's dance with Mr. Ruskin, O suicidal Thames,
    river fog-shrouded, rolling past Big Ben in Monet rose-gold.

    Thames, take your dead with you, your mouths of river mud,
    at the Traitor's Gate to the Tower, Anne Boleyn's oak block,
    as black with blood as the Ripper's streets, O hurting London,
    needles in churchyards, meths drunk from brown paper bags.
    Disoriented whale, distracted humanity, desperate for a way out.

    Christopher T. George

    "Nocturne in Black and Gold The Falling Rocket" by James McNeill Whistler


    Cézanne Steps Out

    the door of his Les Lauves studio,
    a chair balanced at an angle in his left hand,
    a derbied liontamer come to whip the world into shape,
    Chaplinesque baggy pants bunched over his shoes.

    As his left foot challenges the sunlit air,
    he assays the stone steps for the photographer
    -- a lonely, obstinate geezer in white beard,
    the disturber of comfortable landscapes,

    six months before the seer of light and shadow
    is discovered collapsed in the rain, wheeled
    home in a laundry cart to die.

    Christopher T. George

    Cézanne in Provence: Introduction to the National Gallery of Art Exhibition to see the above photograph.

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    Random Jottings on Life's Little Games

    Julain for Julie Carter

    Someone's raised the stakes -- life's like that.
    As soon as you think you know the game,
    suddenly nothing is the same.

    Christopher T. George

    The above poem was written for a "casual contest" sponsored by poet Julie Carter on her blog, to write a Julain. I believe the julain may be Julie's own invention, a three-line poem of regular meter where the last two lines rhyme. See

    Julain Contest--Deadline January 31st

    Card Games

    In the capital, everyone is playing cards.
    It's how the nation's business is conducted:
    Three-Card Monte, La Belle Lucie, Forty Thieves.

    "I will trade you New Orleans for Iraq."
    "My hanging judge for your activist liberal."
    "An armored division for your aircraft carrier."

    Texas Holdem, Omaha, Draw Poker, aces are high.
    Noone above the fray, we're gambling for a robe,
    tax-sheltered retirement plans, Social Security.

    Eyes on the dealer's hands, sweat on upper lips,
    seek the Queen of Spades, playing hide the joker.

    Christopher T. George

    The Blue Iris of Estremadura

    The blue lips of the Virgin.

    The blue iris by the stream
    in the birth-village of
    Conquistador Pizarro.

    During the Civil War,
    a child suckling

    a mother's
    shrunken breast.

    Christopher T. George



    You whom I once called friend and lover follow me home.
    Your shadow poisons my doorway. You purloin my protests.

    Words become wounds, mouths speaking violence, violation.
    You are as unwelcome as a stain to be scrubbed from the carpet.

    We can have no converse, we will leave that to the lawyers
    and naysayers. The seer envisions another future.

    Christopher T. George

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    Special issue of Ygrasil: The Poetry of Barbara Ostrander

    I am pleased to say that the special issue of the Canadian e-zine, Ygrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts devoted to Barbara Ostrander is now available:

    Ygrasil, January 2006: an appreciation of Barbara Ostrander's poetry by Christopher T. George.


    Christopher T. George

    The Poetry of Barbara Ostrander (1956-2005):
    An Appreciation


    The Poetry of Barbara Ostrander:

    Africa Unleashed
    Intensive Care Nurse
    Raxaul, Armpit of India
    Yeti Airlines From Raxaul, India, Back to Kathmandu
    Shucking it down to the cob
    broken dreams
    story goes like this...
    I'll Never Get Used to These Words
    Cat Nap


    The below poem I include here because it is one of Barbara's best, and says so much about who she was--

    As I wrote in the introduction to the poem, Barbara began writing poetry as a child and a number of her poems are about her time in Africa. I view the following poem as one of her best, sensuously binding the love of her husband with longing for Africa, while ever mindful of the wildness, beauty, and dangers of the continent.

    Africa Unleashed

    I wonder if it is the way you pace
    soft-pawed by the window
    that makes me think of home.
    You watch for me to reappear,
    a lion on the move.

    Or maybe it's the way your nostrils flare
    that brings to mind the gazelle standing alert,
    knowing it's being watched
    sinew-tense, aware.

    I map out beneath my fingertips
    the parched plains of the Serengeti,
    feel along your spine and hips
    the urgency of the dry season,
    poised for the rains.

    Your heat soaks my skin,
    consumes like a bushfire,
    leaves me stretched spent,
    a lizard on the windowsill,
    limbs languid and still.

    I smell in you the raw nerves
    of Africa unleashed,
    close my eyes, breathe deep
    of home.

    Barbara Ostrander

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    The Shape I Am In

    Well, it's been a long haul, and I am sorry to have been so long away. But honestly I couldn't figure out to get back into this blog. But now I have finally managed it and I come skidding back in with my New Year resolutions just prior to my fifty-eighth birthday (this coming Tuesday, January 10. . . Happy Birthday to me! ).

    The first of the poems below was written for a challenge at Wild Poetry Forum and was not occasioned by my birthday (liar! liar!). . . I wrote the poem in October after returning from attending the Jack the Ripper conference in Brighton, England. In the poem I liken myself to Ariel Sharon in terms of size. Following Mr. Sharon's unfortunate massive stroke of the past few days, I have written a couple of poems since announcing my New Year resolutions to give up beer and Kit Kats -- [A sidelight for Ripperologists... the rotund man who inspired the poem is not Sharon but author and D'Onstonite, Ivor Edwards, seen in the bar of the Royal Albion Hotel, Brighton]

    The Shape I Am In

    It's my birthday... fifty seven today,
    and in a pub a man floats by with a pint of beer.
    I construe him as tubby Ariel Sharon drifting
    over porpoised carpet, as Sharon hovers blimp-like
    over the mosaicked, jigsawed Mideast. But with despair
    I realize I am the tub shape of Sharon -- reject
    workout for one more lager at the bar rail,
    more munchies. Where is that thin young man
    who sailed to Nixon's America,
    paddy fields with napalm or Canadian sanctuary
    -- I didn't get drafted, lottery no. 315
    of 365. But heard of another Liverpool boy,
    a non-citizen who died in Vietnam,
    could have been me, tear gas and blood
    at Kent State in Neil Young's lyrics--
    "Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
    We're finally on our own.
    This summer I hear the drumming
    Four dead in Ohio."
    Ah, but luckily at fifty seven
    (all those Heinz varieties of me!)
    I can sail above it all,
    rolling in the stratosphere
    like Ariel Sharon.


    No Belly Laugh for Me

    No, ma'am, now that
    I've given up beer,
    y'all cain't call me
    Mr Beergut no more.

    I'm a lean machine,
    venting my spleen
    at the couch potatoes,
    those spare tire folks.

    I WILL be thin; I WILL
    get in those duds I never
    could before -- now I
    have given up the suds.


    No Kit Kats

    on the train going home
    from D.C. to Baltimore, MD:
    no treats to munch between
    the Anacostia and Seabrook.

    In the poem I wrote, published
    of late in Words-Myth,
    aptly titled "The Shape I Am In,"
    I blithely compared myself

    to tubby Ariel Sharon,
    testimony to my flab -- but
    now Ariel lies near death
    in a Jerusalem hospital;

    blood flooded his brain
    after a second stroke
    brought on no doubt
    by his undue obesity--

    I remember the April photograph
    of Bush greeting Sharon
    in Crawford, after the overweight
    Israeli hauled from a limo:

    our slim leader accompanied
    by his black Scottie
    grasping the meaty paw
    of the rotund P.M.

    What a salutary lesson as I pray
    for Sharon's recovery and
    continue my fast, slimming
    down into the New Year.

    Christopher T. George