Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holly Days

Christmas Holly 1

Happy holly days
hippie holy days
happy Doc Hollidays
happy dolly days
snippy doily days
snappy darling days
snappish dervish daze
sippy snappy dirges
sappy hoppy urges
happy holiday mergers

Union Station Christmas Wreath

Union Station Christmas Wreath

I stand beneath this
golden Christmas wreath

to take this photograph
with my picture phone.

Now, I'm not the only one
to see it... I am not alone.

Christopher T. George

Of Time and Tidings

It's Christmas week and I am driving to a local diner
to meet an old friend; Friday's snow skulks in the gutter.

Donna's CD "Best of Christmas Cocktails" plays smoothly,
Dean Martin slurring, "Winter Wunnerland." I imagine Dino

with martini clutched in hand, and I think, "Was it then
that we began to lose Christmas -- the holiday mutating

into the sell-out that it has become -- all honesty bartered
for commercial profits?" I order bacon and eggs; Dan, retired,

walking with a cane, orders omelette with scrapple on the side
-- such a proletarian meat! We've known each other forty years,

half a lifetime; we spend time talking about all the people we've known:
aye, so many passed on, but we survive. Later, driving to the bank,

I'm singing variations on "God rest ye merry gentlemen ... God pest
ye manic mental men.... Rod invest ye gentle merrymen... God rest

Christopher T. George

Saturday, December 04, 2010

How to Write Clerihews

Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark

Lewis and Clark were quite a pair;
together, they journeyed everywhere.
They explored to the Pacific in tandem.
Yet, at the end, their deaths were random.

Christopher T. George

Per Wikipedia:

"A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. The lines are comically irregular in length, and the rhymes, often contrived, are structured AABB. One of his best known is this (1905):

"Sir Christopher Wren
Went to dine with some men
He said, "If anyone calls,
Say I'm designing Saint Paul's."

Here are some more clerihews that I have written recently:

Laurel and Hardy

"This is another fine mess!!!" Ollie'd say to Stan.
In each flick, we moviegoers expected it, man, oh man!
Eternal victims of life's pranks:
Stan, the clueless Brit, and Ollie, the bumbling plump Yank.

Not Elvis

Elvis sang "I'm All Shook Up!"
swiveled his pelvis, didn't look up--
That was then. . . this now: it's all
Elvis sighted in every shopping mall.

The next one is not biographical but seems to fit here, given the season:

Soon, before we know, it will be another Blue Christmas!
Believe me, if you miss it, you won't miss much!
Nowadays, it's so tawdry, so indecently commercialized!
So -- hold your gifts, your offerings, whatever size!

And a couple more clerihews for good luck:

As a working poet, I always remember the example of Sir John Betjeman:
when they complained, "That's no poem!" Sir John said, "You betcha, man!"
He might have written near doggerel,
but he didn't pen it to earn his doctoral.

Siegfried and Roy

Ja, you knew better than to play with tigers
but those big cats paid your wages;
always disaster threatened
-- the sharp teeth beckoned.

Burns and Allen

You could always trust Gracie Allen
to play the dimwit, without failin' --
a lovable, clueless broad
that George and the whole world adored!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Passion of the Ripper by Nicholas Nicastro

LRR Fall 10 Nicastro Passion of the Ripper Cover

Here’s a novel about Jack the Ripper which right away shows its literary aspirations. The first section of the novel, which pitches the reader immediately into the poor districts of London of the day where the Ripper murders occurred, is titled, “The Morlocks.” Astute readers will recognize that title as a nod to H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine---and in fact Wells himself appears as a character in this novel.

Immediately below that allusive title is an appropriate quote from Shelley: “Hell is a city much like London, a populous and smoky city.” And the opening line of the novel may remind many of T. S. Eliot’s opening to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” when Mr. Nicastro opens with: “The guts of London are laid out as if on a surgeon’s table.”

From there on in, the novel is all Nick Nicastro as the London of 1888 is well evoked by the novelist, the author of five previous historical novels on various topics. The writer tells us that his aim in writing The Passion of the Ripper was to create “a different kind of Ripper story: not a whodunit, but a naturalistic exploration of the man, his city, and his times. It tells this well-known story from the inside out, from the points of view of the killer, the cops, and his final victim. It is the result of extensive research on the subject, but the aim is a kind of truth beneath and beyond the facts.”

It is not too forthcoming to reveal that the Ripper of the story is identified pretty early on in the novel when the scene shifts from London to Poland and we get a glimpse of the early life of an assistant surgeon named Severin Klosowski, who would later emigrate to London to work as a barber (being unable to qualify for licensure as a medical man), taking the name George Chapman. While in his native Poland, the suspect is portrayed as a man with strange sexual proclivities in the presence of an icon of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa—whose bloody-cheeked image is featured on the cover of Nicastro’s novel.

George Chapman is not a mainstream candidate for the unknown murderer of 1888 that we know today as Jack the Ripper. The infamous serial killer either gave himself the name or else possibly he received it--for better or worst and for all time--from an enterprising London journalist desiring to “hype” up the stories by writing the “Ripper letters” written to the authorities in which the writer claimed to be the bloody murderer.

Chapman was ultimately arrested for the poisoning murder of several common-law wives and was hanged in 1903. Although the main detective on the 1888 case, Scotland Yard’s famed Chief Inspector Frederick George Abberline, by 1903 retired, supposedly said to his former subordinate, Inspector George Godley, “You’ve got Jack the Ripper at last!”, most experts on the Ripper case point out the large gulf in nature between the types of crimes attributed to Chapman and those of the Ripper: Chapman’s disposal of his “wives” secretive and duplicitous and the Ripper crimes bloody murders and mutilations done on the public streets of the East End of London; the Chapman crimes done to women the murderer knew and lived with, and the Ripper crimes done to street prostitutes that the killer probably did not know beforehand.

Nick Nicastro expertly captures the passion of the moment of the murders and the psychology of the man who committed them. Whether the barber Polish barber was Jack the Ripper or not, the novel makes for an enthralling and informative read. The book is available through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

* Here's what Lord Dundreary thinks of George Chapman's candidacy as Jack the Ripper. . . .

Lord Dundreary

That's actor Edward Askew Sothern in the role of Lord Dundreary in "Our American Cousin," the play the Lincolns went to see on the fateful night of April 14, 1865 at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C., when President Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Sothern is wearing the "Dundreary whiskers" he made famous.

The above review (without the Dundreary afterword I might add!) is a taste of what is on offer in the Fall issue of Loch Raven Review just released. I join my fellow editors Jim Doss and Dan Cuddy in unveiling the issue. Check it out at

Loch Raven Review Fall 2010 contains:

Poetry by Eric Basso, Carol Bindel, Shirley J. Brewer, Joe Conard, Tobi Cogswell, Stan Galloway, Peter D. Goodwin, Lois Marie Harrod, Carl Kavadlo, May Kuroiwa, Michael Monroe, Joseph Murphy, Alan C. Reese, Susan Louise Sgroi, and Philip Wexler

Fiction by Paul Beckman, Carl Kavadlo, Elisavietta Ritchie, and Anna Sykora.

Review by Dan Cuddy of White Asparagus by D.R. Belz, and reviews by Christopher T. George of The Slow Creek and Other Stories by F. de Sales Meyers; The Passion of the Ripper by Nicholas Nicastro; Memoir of a Dog by Frank Prem with illustrations by Leanne Murphy; Palette of Life by Virginia Bates; Street Magic by Grant D. McLeman; and Manorborn: The Water Issue edited by Margaret S. Mullins.

For writers interesting in submitting to Loch Raven Review, the deadline for the Spring issue, which posts in March, is February 28th. (Reading period February 15th - March 15th).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lennon Triptych

Well I didn't make it into the slam final of the Liverpool Lennon Performance Poetry Contest upcoming in Liverpool a week on Saturday. Finalists in both the performance and paper poet categories have just been announced. In any case, here now is the full three-part poem. The winners in both the performance and paper poet categories will be announced by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, at the Liverpool Lennon Poetry Slam Final. This is to be held on Saturday, 6th November at The Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts founded by Sir Paul McCartney. Further details available though the Beatles Story website through the title above.

Lennon Tryptich

I. O, Johnny-O

O, where have you gone, Johnny-O!
Where have you gone, O, Lennon-O!

You left us too soon, so long ago
-- although we saw you, back then,

in the clubs of Liverpool: the Cavern,
at the Mardi Gras, at the Jacaranda,

or else supping with your mates in Ye Cracke
or The Grapes. Aye, lad, we grooved

hearing you, O Johnny lad, as you stood
with your legs-apart stance,

thrumming your old '58 Rickenbacker geeee-tar,
raunchily singing for us, mugging

for the birds.... oh, what a flirt!
Oh, aye, we know what took you away:

Sex, drugs....... and, yeah yeah yeah,
Rock and roll! Segs, dregs, and drool.

"The Smoke" drew you from us -- a date
with fame. The world yearned for you,

you and your mates. And you and Paul had a ditty
or two or three to write, anthems for the universe,

for better and for worse. O, such dead-on lyrics!
Said so much -- dead good, yeah, as any poet's verse,

the sound of your generation... and who will
deny that you two Scousers often said it best?

Aye, but we were your fans first
-- in the damp and grimy streets

of the 'Pool, within hearing
of the foghorns on the river.

O, Johnny-O, you were a giver and taker!
Listen to that Managua-bound freighter!

O, Lennon-O, you left your mark on us
-- and Liverpool left its mark on you.
II. Julia

I stand over Julia's grave
in Allerton Cemetery, sense
some of what you're about:

an unmarked grave, just like my
great grandmother's in this same
cemetery; faded teddy bear tribute.

The night that the car took Julia
away from you, liquor stinking
on the off-duty cop's breath.

Julia -- knickers on her head
-- adult and child all in one.

Leather-clad rocker's mum gone
but not! -- not! -- not forgotten!

No room for sentiment, except
in your songs -- somehow;

the girls scream anyhow.
III. Here and Yet Not Here

strawberry gooseberry
strawberry gooseberry
strawberry gooseberry

songs for us
listen to the chorus

strawberry gooseberry
strawberry gooseberry
-- sirens in the night

broken spectacles
flecked with blood

Here and yet not here

rags to stem the blood
rags to stop the bullets

Here and yet not here

The same greased-back hair
the same leather jacket
sweat on the ceiling of the Cavern
rocking in the warren
rocking in the womb

Here and yet not here

Something else inside
something else driving
the gum-chewing ted
slouched against
the smoke-black wall.

Here and yet not here

Not just a snide word
a mouth full of knuckles
circles encircle eyes
crazed squiggled figures
words encircle thoughts
in a Lear-nonsense tongue

Here and yet not here

Inside the black leather
behind the hard eyes later
dreams from one to nine
a dream of guns stuffed with rags
quiet over the fields of war

Here and yet not here

One of four singing love
to the virgin world
yet the orphan the poet
the renegade for peace

Here and yet not here

Christopher T. George

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Imagine John Lennon

John Lennon would have been age 70 today. The above photograph taken by JC Racing on Flickr is a beautiful tribute to the late singer. The photograper calls the photograph "A Shot in the Park." Yes I know, John was not shot in Central Park where this mosaic in his memory is located. John was shot on the night of December 8, 1980 as he arrived back at the nearby Dakota apartment house with his wife Yoko Ono.

Much is happening in John's home city of Liverpool to celebrate what would have been his seventieth birthday, including the unveiling of a peace memorial by his first wife Cynthia Lennon and his son Julian. (More on the monument and the unveiling through the link in the title above).

I have entered the international John Lennon poetry competition, to be judged by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and am awaiting word whether I might be a finalist. I entered the performance poet category rather than the paper poet competition. There is to be a poetry slam event in Liverpool on Saturday, November 6, at which the three finalists in the performance category are to perform three poems each. The information from Beatles Story said that the finalists in both the paper and performance contests would be informed on Friday. No word but someone who entered the paper poet competition received word that Ms. Duffy has the poems, implying that the response to the competition might be greater than expected and that it is taking time to select the finalists. No news, I suppose, is good news! Stay tuned.

The Lennon poem I have written for the competition is not the same as the following piece but if I am lucky enough to be chosen to perform at the slam event on November 6, I will need to perform three poems, and this is likely to be the second one I would do, part of a Lennon trilogy, as it were.


John, as I stood over Julia's grave
in Allerton Cemetery, I understood
a little of what you were about:

an unmarked grave, just like my
great grandmother's in the same
cemetery; faded teddy bear tribute.

The night the car took Julia
away from you, liquor stinking
on the off-duty cop's breath.

Julia -- knickers on her head
-- adult and child all in one.
Leather-clad rocker's mum gone

but not! -- not! -- not forgotten!
No room for sentiment, except
in your songs, somehow;
the girls screamed anyhow.

Christopher T. George

John Lennon by Judith

John Lennon by Judith

No results yet (as of October 19) for the Liverpool Lennon Poetry Competition. The Beatles Story site has the following information in its news release section:

"Liverpool Lennon Poetry Competition - Update

"15 Oct 2010

"Due to the high caliber and sheer volume of entries to the Liverpool Lennon ‘paper' poet competition, the announcement of the finalists has been delayed. The entries are being carefully selected by the poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. The finalists will be announced shortly - watch this space!"

Meanwhile information is out on the tickets for the Poetry Slam scheduled to be held at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts (LIPA) on Mount Street on Saturday, November 6:

Liverpool Lennon Poetry Competition
Date: November 6, 2010
Time: 19:30
Venue: Paul McCartney Auditorium, LIPA
£5 Per Ticket

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Lines to an Ex-Girlfriend

The names carved in the campus beeches
expand each year like our love

-- the cringe-worthy words I wrote back then
seem artificial to me now -- what art and artifice.

And we never carved our names in the trees,
although I implied we did. All those initials:

hearts peeled like beech bark. I remember
the ache even now, wonder if I was just
one more man who shared your bed.

Christopher T. George

Carved Trees on Campus 1 larger

Carved Trees on Campus 2 larger

Carved Trees on Campus 3 larger

Carved Trees on Campus 4 larger

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thoughts about My Mother, Yoria C. George (1920-2010)

The Terrible Shears

"The terrible shears went clack clack clack."
D. J. Enright

Today would have been your 90th birthday, Mum.
Last month, you were slipping away from us
in hospice care, diagnosed with kidney failure.

Such a well-appointed room; outside, a buddleia
swarmed with butterflies. Donna remarked,
you were too far gone to enjoy such luxury.

As with Dad, dying of cancer three decades ago,
I wished I could drag you back from
where you had gone, use the jaws of life

to restore you to what you'd been. But oh no,
the terrible shears, they never stop do they,
the terrible shears going clack clack clack.

Christopher T. George

Gibberish or Art

The Muddy Muddy Mersey

Tomorrow, at midday, I'll
receive Mummy's ashes
in a plain box, eschewing
an extravagant receptacle.

The time's come to collect
her and to take her home,
to the city she knew before
we sailed that ocean-blue.

Aye, come next year, I will
scatter my Mummy's ashes
in the muddy muddy Mersey
-- the Mersey of memory.

Christopher T. George

Gordon and Yoria Feb 22 1945 bigger

Chocks Away, Chaps

Thinking of my mother passing at 2:30 AM today,
I keep looking at the happy wedding photographs

from seventy-five years ago: all those uniforms!
Woollen gray of the Royal Air Force: Dad rakish

sergeant in the RAF medical corps, khaki jackets
of my Mum's fellow Auxiliary Territorial Service pals.

My Mum's Joan Crawford-plucked eyebrows;
Dad pulled her into the seclusion of the limo.

Christopher T. George

My father was a sergeant in the Royal Air Force medical corps. He told me a story about being in the French countryside before Dunkirk and seeing German Panzer tanks coming along the lane. He said he dived into a haystack to hide from the enemy.

The above image of my Mom and Dad on their Wedding Day, February 22, 1945, was taken while the war was still ongoing -- it didn't end in Europe until May when the Russians captured Berlin. My Dad wore his RAF uniform but Mum wore a suit though she was in the Auxilliary Territorial Service (ATS) helping to monitor the German planes flying over Britain. Her ATS friends, all in uniform, formed a guard of honor for Mum and Dad when they emerged from St. Anne's Church in Aigburth, Liverpool, after the service.

The fold-out Christmas card shown below was sent by my father to my Uncle Doug, Mum's brother, from northern Germany (Schleswig-Holstein) at Christmas 1945. It shows the occupied zones of Germany, with the Russian section shown by the Soviet soldier dancing with the Russian bear at top right.

Gordon RAF card Xmas 1945 smaller cropped

We had a nice memorial gathering at the Burgee-Henss-Seitz Funeral Home on Falls Road in Baltimore on Saturday, August 28. Following are some of my remarks at the memorial.

Yoria Christine George (1920–2010)

"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die."
—Inscription on an old gravestone, courtesy of Lisa J. Cohen

The Naming of Names
By Christopher Thompson George

A number of you might not know the origin of my mother’s unusual first name, “Yoria”.

Here’s the explanation:

My maternal grandfather, George Thompson Matchett, served in the First World War in the Lancashire Fusiliers as part of a British Expeditionary Force sent to Greece in 1916, a sideshow to the Western Front and the Allied forces disaster at Gallipoli in 1915. Grandad was there for nearly three years, mainly helping to guard supply wagons going to the front, where the British were fighting the Turks and the Bulgarians.

Grandad was based in Salonika, present-day Thessaloniki, the capital of the Greek province of Macedonia. The local people called him “Yori”—Greek for “George.” When he returned to England in 1919, he decided that when his daughter was born he would call her “Yoria.”

You also might not be aware that in our family Mum’s nickname was “Lule.” Yoria’s cousin, Frank Norman, whom Mum characterised as “a lovely boy,” could not pronounce “Yoria”—so he called her “Lule.”

I never had the privilege of meeting Frank. He was the only son of my favorite aunt, Auntie Mary, my grandmother’s sister. Frank was killed in June 1943, part of a crew flying a Lancaster bomber on a bombing raid on Germany.

My father, Gordon B. George, also had a nickname within the family. It was “Grod.” He received this nickname because as a little boy, he was unable to spell his name, and he wrote it as “Grodno Groeg.” So, to me, as his son, he became “Daddy Grod.”

I would like to think, if all things are right, that “Lule” and “Grod” are at this moment together again.

(The title above links to a memorial page for my mother on the Burgee-Henss-Seitz Funeral Home Inc. website)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Blitz in Liverpool

Liverpool Blitz Memorial by Tom Murphy, St. Nicholas's Churchyard, Liverpool

Liverpool Blitz Memorial by Tom Murphy, St. Nicholas's Churchyard, Liverpool

I recently had an exchange on a poetry forum with a fellow poet who thought that the word "Blitz" should only be applied to the German Blitzkrieg aerial attack on Poland in 1939. Tell that to the people of Merseyside who suffered greatly during the German bombing of the port of Liverpool and the shipyards of Birkenhead during 1941. Also hit during the attacks was Liverpool's elegant Gothic St. Luke's Church, which was gutted by an incendiary shell just after midnight on May 6, 1941. The church has never rebuilt but has been left as a memorial to those who died in the Blitz of the Second World War.

An acquaintance of mine on the Yo! Liverpool forum has now started a website on the church. Go to St Luke's "The Bombed-Out Church" at The church is also covered in an article in the local press today "Former glory of Liverpool's ‘bombed out’ church found after 80 years" by William Leece, Liverpool Daily Post, June 14, 2010 (access the article through the title above).

Liverpool Blitz Diary

A recent book on the damage sustained by the area during the Blitz is Merseyside's Secret Blitz Diary--Liverpool at War by Arthur Johnson. This supposed reproduction of a World War II diary kept by a Merseyside journalist might be totally on the up and up, although I am a bit leery given the questionable Maybrick "Jack the Ripper" Diary and the Bridget Hitler diary as well... and the mocked up Hitler Diaries that were exposed as a hoax after they were sold to Der Spiegel. Is Merseyside's Secret Blitz Diary a bit too good to be true?

The book was published in paperback in 2005. The book, reproducing the typed pages from the diary, was brought out with an introduction by the author's son who himself became a journalist but never knew his father -- Arthur Johnson Sr. died of disease while serving in the Royal Navy later in the war. It seems to be unexplained how the Diary, hidden at the time because it would have been forbidden to keep such a diary of local war-related happenings, came to light.

The narrator seems to know too much, right at the time, and there are also "add-ons" adding additional information that might not have been known till years later.

Possibly I am being too suspicious but I do think the document bears some scrutiny. For more on the book go to "Story of Merseyside's secret blitz."

The Day War Broke Out Evening Express

On the newspaper my Grandad
bought one evening in 1939,
the print is rubbed off along the folds
after a duration in successive drawers
in successive dressing tables
but the headline BRITAIN AT WAR
still stands out
like a burst of shrapnel
in a clear sky.

Half the front page is filled
with German troop movements in Poland
and the Prime Minister's announcement
broadcast at 11:15 a.m from Dowing Street:

"I have to tell you now
that no such undertaking has been received...
we will fight brute force, bad faith, and oppression..."

At top left, an announcement in red ink, to say
"Mervyn Russell's Film Fan Fare" is on page 4.

At the bottom of the page,
T. W. Garnett, sole survivor of the first test
match between England and Australia, has turned 81,
and J. L. Coleman has holed what's believed
to be the worlds longest putt from 220 yards.

An 18-year-old playing his first league match
has scored the winning goal
for Liverpool, first in the First Division,
against Chelsea, placed eleventh;
the season is one week old.

Miss Mollie Bowdler has married Walter Roberts
at St. Luke's Church; she wore a crinoline gown
of white lace and carried a bouquet
of red roses and lilies of the valley.

Christopher T. George

Friday, June 11, 2010

Do Not Pass Go

Monopoly Go to Jail Card

Parabolic curve!
Survive paralytic scare,
pass "Go", go to Jail,
trade Boardwalk for Water Works,
raid the Community Chest.

Blue Goddess 2

Blue Goddess

To think that hulking boy
arose from your thighs!
Oh Belladonna Madonna,
image of blue mystique,
intrigue me with your wiles
entertain me all the while,
haunt me like a phantom,
hovering on my horizon,
graveyard spectre,
eternal sceptre,
phallus and womb,
tomb and manger.

Christopher T. George

And your gilt-edged invitation to attend. . . .

Black & White Reading Barnes & Noble June 17 2010

I am planning to read poetry but also some songs from my songwriting partner Erik Sitbon's latest CD, Rusty, for more information on which, hit the link through the title above.

Erik Sitbon Rusty Smaller

Rhododendron Path

Sick of the photographs
of oil-slicked pelicans
from the Gulf oil spill,

the chat about culpability
of corporate executives
and playboy serial killers,

I wish instead just to dream
like Millais' "Bubbles" and wander
the rhododendron path
of a childhood park.

Christopher T. George

Bubbles by Millais

Bubbles (1886) by John Everett Millais (1829-1896)

Joe Neary Otterspool Park Rhododendrons smaller

Otterspool Park, Liverpool, by Joe Neary

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Bhoys and I

The Bhoys and I

set down for this portrait --
thought you'd like it real fine.

We're wearin our best duds.
Me, Butch, enthroned

on the right, derby hat at
a slick angle, and Sundance

settin in a wicker job at left,
Ben "Tall Texan" Kilpatrick

settin in the middle, weighin
down a rickety ole chair. Behind,

mindin our backs, en-bloomed
is Kid Curry and fobbed News Carver.

I confess we left our sixguns
a-layin on the photographer's

antimacassar by the aspidistra after
blowin smoke from the muzzles.

See our gold watch chains shinin
and our faces a-beamin more than

on any Post Office wall:
Five desperadoes is all!

Christopher T. George

See link through the title for information on Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Haiku and Hoku

Cherry blossom at Union Station

Rain coming
cherry petals
drift down

Christopher T. George

Aficianados of poetry will know that a traditional haiku has a set pattern of syllables, namely 5-7-5. I have been writing a number of haiku recently but also some shorter haiku, which I have named the hoku. It is also three lines, like the traditional haiku but less than the 5-7-5 syllables that a haiku calls for. No set number of syllables, just less syllables than the 17 syllables of a haiku. On a general basis, a hoku, despite the Oriental sounding name, is probably more fitted for Western verse than the usual nature theme of a haiku.

Herein are some examples of hoku and haiku.

Koi-ku Hoku

very fishy

Emu-ku Hoku

Emu chick
to go to good home.
-- You?

Grackles in White Narcissi (Haiku)

Sleek black grackles
move through the white narcissi
as silent as sharks.


I clear my
throat; you read
these lines.

Hoku Live

Here! Listen
to these
few words!

Astronomical Odds? (Haiku)

Path across night sky:
friendly visitor or foe?
You just do not know!

Christopher T. George

Funny Face

That smiley face bag stuffed in that space
has a certain imbecilic personality;
the snow's fast disappearing here in D.C.,
crocus in bloom in the Smithsonian gardens.

Dunned for a light by a bum with a dog end,
I see I've a hole in my crotch -- I mean,
my tan pants have a hole in the crotch area,
shame-faced when I'm supposed to be dressed up

for work, and the soles of my shoes need repair,
my wife and I need to go see the orthodontist;
our bought-used Saturn needs to be traded in,
our Twenties bathroom needs new grout.

I withdrew $50,000 from my retirement
to pay my mother's nursing home bills.
But -- just got word we'll get government help.
Gonna go around town wearing that smiley face.

Christopher T. George


What Mankind Hath Made

"Bay sees blue crab resurgence"
Baltimore Sun, April 15, 2010

As I smoke my cigar,
I watch a man with
bedroll on back pick
through an ashtray for
a gourmet smoke.

Tonight he'll sleep on
a grate in our capital;
I'll sip another Scotch,
toast my father who died
of cancer on this day,
a lifelong smoker.

Mankind giveth,
mankind taketh
-- despite the Dioxins
and Palmolive bottles,
the Blues survive!

And we remain the dirty
bomb in our own oyster.

Christopher T. George

Letter to Douglas Jemal, head of the Douglas Development Corp., owner of the Washington Coliseum, near the New York Avenue Metro station.

Hello Mr Jemal

I read in the Washington Post about the development about the "tombstones" appearing as an apparent anti-war protest on the roof of the old Washington Coliseum. [See link through title above]

As a rider on the Marc Train, as a Beatles fan, a man born in Liverpool, England, as well as a historian and a preservationist, I have been concerned for some time about what is going to happen with the Coliseum.

Have you thought of developing it as a Beatles Museum?

It would appear clear to me that the fact that the Beatles played there in 1964 is the building's greatest claim to fame, along with its long use for different events dating back to 1941 as a significant building in Washington, DC history that deserves to be preserved.

Washington, DC, is already a tourist destination and it would seem to me that as a museum on the famed Liverpool rock group that played there in 1964 this building could become a lucrative and interesting asset for the City of Washington and the Douglas Development Corporation much as the Beatles Story is in my native Liverpool. See

Best regards

Christopher T. George

Bioletti Penny Lane 2

Bioletti's Barber's Shop, Liverpool, from the Beatles' video of "Penny Lane." In reality, the barber's shop was at 11 Smithdown Place and not in Penny Lane, which is a road west of the old bus station.

You can download a copy of my article, The Bioletti Family of Liverpool: From the Maybrick Case to John Lennon and the Beatles, in pdf format. The article originally appeared in Ripperologist magazine at the time of the 2003 Jack the Ripper Convention held at Liverpool's Britannia Adelphi Hotel. Enjoy!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Staying On Message

According to news reports, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Michael Steele's "longtime political consulting firm, On Message" has parted ways with him.

Are those the people who have kept Mr. Steele so "on message" that over the last year he has been a barely credible voice for the Republican Party? Are they the same people who advised him back in 2006 when he was running for the U.S. Senate in Maryland that it would be good to run an ad in which he said he liked puppies (click on the title above for my blog post from November 10, 2006 questioning Steele's credentials back then).

In a fit of self-denial, instead of recognizing his own shortcomings in being unable to run the RNC, Michael Steele is now saying that he is being picked on because he is an African American.

When he was interviewed by George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "Good Morning America" he was asked whether his race gave him a slimmer margin for error. In the sort of barely coherent and rambling statement that has become typical of his statements to the media, Steele answered:

"The honest answer is yes. It just is. Barack Obama has a slimmer margin. We all -- a lot of folks do. It's a different role for me to play and others to play, and that's just the reality of it."

It might be a different story if Mr. Steele had shown any competency as chairman of the RNC over the past year. It is truly significant that Republicans are showing no confidence in him and are refusing to funnel money to the RNC. Time for him to admit his shortcomings and to step down.

Tour Duck at Union Station, Washington, D.C.

Union Station Impressions


This woman possesses
some powerful pheromone,
always has a man in tow;
pixie-like red hair,
leather knapsack on back.
Is she giving it away?


A little chap, a miniature
man like British comedian
Ronnie Corbett, black hair
carefully combed, almost
shellacked, black-framed
glasses; he runs beside
the taller woman as if
craving her attention.


Two elders: he walks
with aid of a twisted
briar, wears a safari
hat, grizzled gray
beard; she follows: jowly
with a sour look, gap-
toothed, wearing a yellow
t-shirt printed with coiled
snake, slogan exclaiming,
"Don't Tread on Me!"

Christopher T. George

Friday, April 02, 2010

"Oh, say can you see. . . ?"

Hello All

I spent a pleasant day Thursday visiting Maryland Eastern Shore War of 1812 sites in brilliant spring sunshine and during which yours truly got some accolades as a published War of 1812 historian. I also was able to have some input talking to the group at various locations. The last stop was a beautiful colonial farmhouse on the Chesapeake Bay that was burned by the British in 1813. The owners had arranged tea, both hot and iced with mint, on the patio along with gourmet cookies, and there was a brilliant view looking out toward the Chesapeake Bay with black and white ospreys making their peeping cry flying overhead and other waterbirds, ducks and cormorants out in the water. (You can hear the cry of an osprey here.)

My friend Scott S. Sheads, long-time ranger-historian at Fort McHenry, was one of the speakers on the tour. He is an entertaining and informative fellow. Scott always delivers whatever he is saying in a deadpan manner, a very funny guy.

Scott said he had a lady come up to him at the Fort who told him that "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the Baltimore Orioles (baseball team) theme song and that she amazed to learn that it was actually the U.S. national anthem. Hard to know if it was a true story. Donna pointed out to me that on the "Oh!" of "Oh, say can you see. . .", the crowd always shouts out the word "Oh!" for "O" in "O-rioles" so there may be some truth in the story.

Scott is co-author, with Ralph Eshelman and Dr. Don Hickey of the new book, The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Places in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia (Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010, which I highly recommend. Ralph was one of the tour leaders on yesterday's tour of Eastern Shore sites along with Mary Margaret Revell Goodwin who is working on saving part of the Slippery Hill Battlefield of August 1813 near Queenstown, Princess Anne County. See Eastern Shore 1812 Consortium.

For an article by me on Fort McHenry and the story of the Star-Spangled Banner titled "Birth of a National Icon" click on the title above.

I should add something more about Scott Sheads:

Scott is impassioned about honoring the men who fought in the War of 1812. In Spring 2006, when Robert Reyes and I were working on saving 9 1/2 acres at the center of the battlefield at North Point that had originally been slated for a supermarket that was never built -- land that is now, thankfully, safely in the hands of the State of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources as part of North Point State Park, Scott came along in a private capacity as a historian and citizen with Robert and myself to a meeting of the Board of Public Works in Annapolis. Some local Dundalk, Baltimore County politicians made a last-minute attempt to ask for an extension of Trappe Road across the piece of land, which effectively would have cut the land in half and defeated the object of trying to preserve as much of the battlefield as we could. (As many of you may know, a small section of the North Point Battlefield, known as "Battle Acre" was donated for public use to commemorate the battle by local landowner Jacob Houck in 1839; Battle Acre is on the west side of Old North Point Road south of Trappe Road, while the acres that needed to be saved, which formed the very centre of the Baltimore City Brigade under Brigadier General John Stricker on that memorable Monday, September 12, 1814, are on the east side of the road.)

Scott stood up before then-Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (himself a former Governor of Maryland and Mayor of Baltimore) and spoke passionately about the sacrifice the militia of Baltimore had made on the battlefield and that therefore the land should be saved for posterity. Thankfully, both Governor Ehrlich and Mr. Schaefer agreed with Scott. Obviously, the land needed to be preserved to tell the story of the battle for future generations.

And long may it be!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dear President Obama

Dear Mr. President

When you spoke in Baltimore in War Memorial Plaza prior to your inauguration I was impressed that you mentioned a brave African-American, an escaped slave, who as a private in the U.S. Army had his leg blown off by a British cannonball during the bombardment of Fort McHenry, September 13-14, 1814 when Francis Scott Key wrote the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Pvt. William Williams, slave name Frederick Hall, died a few weeks later at the Baltimore public hospital. In my capacity as a historian of the War of 1812 I have written about that brave man, Although African-American men in that period were forbidden by law to serve as fighting men in the U.S. Army or state militias, he was light enough to pass as a white man. (See "Escaped Slave Made the Ultimate Sacrifice at Fort McHenry" by Berry Craig.)

By contrast, at sea, this was a golden period of opportunity for blacks. We believe about one-fifth of men in the U.S. Navy as well as aboard American privateers and merchant ships were African-Americans and we know the stories of many of these men.

As you will know, the British on August 24, 1814 defeated an American army of mostly militia at Bladensburg. It is possible that Pvt. Williams was in that battle as there were several hundred U.S. Army regulars in the battle, fighting with D.C. militia, U.S. Marines, and the sailors of Commodore Barney's Chesapeake Bay flotilla in the area of what is now Fort Lincoln Cemetery. One of Commodore Barney's flotillamen was a former slave named Charles Ball who served helped service the cannons in the battle and later left an important slave narrative, Slavery in America. Barney's position was overrun and the Commodore was severely wounded with a bullet in the thigh. The British under General Ross marched into Washington D.C. and after his lead forces were fired on and his horse killed, this led to the burning of the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and other public buildings.

Mr. Obama, you might know that a War of 1812 Bicentennial bill has been considered in Congress but has stalled. This is perhaps not surprising because despite the great significance of this war in our nation's history, not every of the 51 states of our nation were touched by the war, so it can't be said that every state has a stake in the legislation. This is the reason the backers of the bill, including the Maryland congressional delegation, have had trouble trying to persuade other lawmakers to vote for the bill. I do believe you have had some difficulties getting legislation passed in the past year as well.

Mr. President, I have a better suggestion. I have a plan for a National Museum of the War of 1812 including an archives and research center and have identified a disused Federal building which might be ideal for such a museum. It is the Department of Agriculture's former Annex, also known as the Cotton Building, at 300 12th Street, S.W. The building is within sight of the National Mall and so just across from the National Museum of American History where the newly restored "Star-Spangled Banner" that flew over Fort McHenry can be viewed by our citizens as well as overseas visitors. I would like the proposed museum if it is to be in that location or any other to tell the story of the war, including that of African Americans and all ethnic groups that helped defend this nation.

Mr. Obama, I hope you will back this effort. On March 23, as I was instructed in a telephone conversation with Mr. Juan A. McPhail, General Services Administration (GSA) Building Supervisor, about the former Dept of Agriculture Annex, I emailed Mr Robert Roop, Deputy Director, GSA, but have not heard back from him. I include a copy of that email below. Perhaps you could be helpful in getting me in touch with Mr. Roop so we can explore whether the building in question could serve the needs I have specified. Many thanks in advance. I work near the Cotton Building and can see it out of my window. I cannot wait to see a replica giant 15-star flag flying over the building if it becomes the National Museum of the War of 1812, just as it did over Fort McHenry that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words of the anthem.

Best regards

Christopher T. George
Author, Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay


For an article by me on African-American Sailors in the War of 1812, click on the title above. Incidentally, in a cover article in the Washington Post on Wednesday, it was revealed the President Obama receives an astounding 20,000 letters per day, out of which he does personally read about 10 per day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Red Pencils and Blue Pencils: Of Slavery and Bondage

My favorite Maryland Republican, Michael Steele (above), chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), has been in the news again.

First, on the weekend of the final House of Representatives vote on health care reform, when Tea-Party activists verbally attacked Democrats entering the Halls of Congress to vote yelling out racial and homophobic epithets, Mr. Steele, an African American, failed to strongly condemn such behavior instead just labeling such people as "stupid." And this against the background of the long history of violence and hatred displayed at times in this country in the past.

Need Mr. Steele be reminded of the slavery, Jim Crow, fiery crosses and the Ku Klux Clan? The same weekend featured a number of instances of vandalism against the offices of congressman, apparently both Democratic and Republican as violence, even if just (so far) against property reared its head.

Second, Steele and his personal expenses for February, as revealed by the Federal Election Committee last week, totaled $17,514 and $12,681, respectively, for the use of private planes and private cars. And the RNC are reportedly in trouble for authorizing an undisclosed Republican's expenses of $1,946 spent at a California nightclub known as Voyeur West Hollywood that specializes in bondage and simulated lesbian sex.

A spokesperson assured the media that the person whose expenses were covered, and who will now be made to reimburse the RNC, was not Mr. Steele himself. Well, that's a relief. (Subsequently, it was revealed that the man who billed the RNC for their time at the club was Erik Brown, an Orange County, California GOP donor-vendor. Should we say, "Good work, Brownie"? The RNC staffer who paid Brown was fired by Michael Steele.)

Bottom line is, the GOP operatives have been enjoying themselves while the country faces serious issues. Remember this is the party that speaks about "Family Values" and fiscal responsibility. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns!

The U.S. Capitol in 1829 with the copper dome designed by architect Charles Bulfinch. H. and J. Stokes, after Charles Bulfinch "United States Capitol," The Jackson Wreath. Philadelphia: Jacob Maas, 1829, p. 87.

In regard to where hateful rhetoric can lead, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalist Eugene Robinson has an excellent column in today's Post, "Where the rhetoric of rage can lead." Check it out by clicking on the title above.

As a War of 1812 historian, I am reminded of the savagery of pro-war Baltimoreans against anti-war Federalists in the streets of the city in the summer of 1812 after President James Madison declared war on the British. A man who when I got into research on the war appeared to me somewhat of a hero because as a private in the 27th Regiment at North Point on September 12, 1814, made a statement that appears consistent with some of the nasty rhetoric we are hearing these days. Levi Hollingsworth, who owned the copperworks on the Gunpowder River where the copper for the Bulfinch Dome on the restored 1830's U.S. Capitol was made after the then Capitol buildings was burned by the British in August 1814, remarked about Federalist tortured and killed by the mob "They deserved it." Are such incidents and such sentiments the price of democracy? I hope not.

Meanwhile, talking about democracy Google has removed itself from Red China after the hopes of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who grew up in his native Russia under the Soviet Communist regime, to liberalize China through the internet were dashed after the Red Chinese hacked into Google to trace dissidents.

China continues to use strong arm tactics against anyone who opposes the regime despite the hopes of Brin and even Bill Clinton that the Internet might help open up the country. The former President reportedly in 2000 mocked Chinese attempts to control the Internet, "Good luck. That's sort of like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall."

And Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. . . .

Image and Words

Sometimes image comes first and words follow,
stumbling along in the wake of the eye candy.

Here are March raindrops I captured for you,
the photographer drenched in the downpour.

Was it worth it, a few words dripped on the page:
image to startle the eye, words to tickle the mind.

Christopher T. George

Of Asteroids and Asterisks

Health care got enacted and as Barack declared,
the earth didn't chasm, nor did asteroids attack us
tho' GOP eyes rolled and Obamacare's foes groaned.

Soon all those i's will be dotted and asterisks added
as the wheels of government creak into motion.

The new GOP cry has become "Repeal and Replace!"
But heading to November's polls, they best save face
-- to repeal the new reforms might bring more disgrace.

Christopher T. George

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Heap Bad Medicine"? Fellow Citizens! Is U.S. National Health Care Good For You?

Yes It Has Happened, America, Despite Republican Opposition! A Significant Victory for President Obama and for all of America, I truly believe.

As the Washington Post headline states this morning, "Divided House passes health bill. The Republicans who stirred the tea" -- the latter being of course a reference to the Right Wing "Tea Party" movement that has so vocally opposed what they call "Obamacare" which they liken to what they see as Socialized medicine and a significant shift of the country to the Left, if not a total Government take-over. (To read the Post story click on the title above.)

To hear the triumphant President and his Democratic allies speak, this is a great day for America and a great step forward. Even the Republicans admit it is the most massive social reform since LBJ passed Medicare in 1965, so the day is certainly significant whatever your political stripe! It will enact significant changes for the American people, including covering some 39 million Americans who are not currently covered by health insurance. It will enable individuals to purchase affordable health insurance and allow small employers to offer health care for their employees.

Republicans claim that Obama is saddling the American citizenry with debt for decades to come, taking us to the brink, wrecking the country. Of course that might not be the case if the last Republican President, George W. Bush, had not led us into an ill-advised war in Iraq in Spring 2003 (all that long ago????) on apparently trumped up evidence that Saddam Hussein had developed Weapons of Mass Destruction that Coalition forces were subsequently unable to locate, right? Oh, dear....

Arriving at Union Station this morning under stormy skies, I did hear some ominous booming sounds. What were they? Just thunder, Or the Metro rumbling under Union Station, or planes taking off at Reagan National Airport across the Potomac. Don't ask me. (There was a massive thunderclap at Noon today!) Whatever the case, this is an important day in the history of our nation. A whole new day.

I don't necessarily buy the rightist political argument that the Democrats will lose heavily in the Fall because they backed this health care reform package that supposedly, as they insist, most Americans do not want. That's not correct. As I have written before, powerful moneyed forces have been working for decades to defeat health care reform and probably no more so than in the last 12 months. And no doubt many ordinary Americans have been confused by the size of the bill, some 1,200 pages as the Republicans are quick to point out, and by the long and arduous legislative process. Health care is an intricate and complex problem and hard to explain. Most Americans when they are told about the good things in the bill, such as that you cannot be dropped by your insurer, no matter what or that you cannot be denied by an insurance company for a pre-existing condition, are for the health care package, once it is properly explained to them.

Now that the Dems have found the message, now that they have triumphed over the forces of "No" and have rediscovered their voice to explain the good that health care reform will do for all Americans. America should be proud. If only the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) had lived to see this day! Teddy Kennedy's dream as a Senator was to bring about national health care. It is finally happening. I understand Sen. Kennedy's widow Vicki will be on Larry King on CNN tonight.

Federal Eagle

Above the portal of the old Federal office,
a bronze eagle is emblazoned, green with age.
Health care reform has passed in Congress,
despite partisan foes and vested interests.
Gray storm clouds broil over Washington,
a thunderclap splits the air at midday.
I walk up a hill past pink cherry trees as
rain spatters my cheeks. On a rooftop corner
a roosting hawk silently watches and preens.

Christopher T. George

Citizens, Will You Join Me in My Dream to Establish a National War of 1812 Museum in Washington, D.C.?

I have an idea for a National Museum of the War of 1812 and have identified a former US Department of Agriculture building at 300 12th Street SW close to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., that possibly could be the home for such a major museum and archives and research center dedicated to the War of 1812.

What attracted me to the building which is only a block from where I work in Washington, D.C., was the lovely Federal Eagle above the doorway, shown above. Around the doorway is the fasces design from Roman history, seen both on Baltimore's War of 1812 Battle Monument honoring the city's dead in the Battle of Baltimore of September 12-14, 1814, and on the old U.S. Morgan dime of the 1940's, I was taking photographs with my cell phone camera when I noticed the glass doors of the building were padlocked and the building unoccupied.

Frankly, I think such a project for a National Museum of the War of 1812 in our nation's capital might be more doable politically than the Bicentennial Commission that has stalled in Congress but that we advocates of the war still bring about -- not every state has a stake in the war, but the nation's capital was clearly at the center of events when the British captured Washington, D.C., the only attack on the U.S. capital by a foreign attacker before September 11, 2001. And what location could be more appropriate to tell the whole story of the War of 1812 than our nation's capital? This is a way to raise the visibility of the war and teach American citizens about the significance of a little understood war.

I have made a preliminary enquiry with the Government Accounting Office and have been told there are no plans at this time for the presently vacated facility, known as the Dept of Agriculture Annex or Cotton Building at 300 12th Street SW, a block south of the National Mall and the Smithsonian Castle, and within a mile or so, across the Mall, of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, where the newly restored Star-Spangled Banner that flew over Fort McHenry in September 1814 is housed. The same flag that inspired Georgetown lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key, detained on a truce ship in the Patapsco during the famous bombardment, to write a poem entitled "The Defense of Fort McHenry" soon to be renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner"!

I hope within the next several weeks to arrange with the GAO to tour the facility and see whether it in fact could be adapted for the purposes expressed above. Meanwhile there are photographs of the building in question as well as posts about the proposed museum on the Maryland Star-Spangled Banner 200 list at To get put on the list contact Kate Marks at - you might need a Yahoo account to join.

Of course, as with the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail that I helped initiate along with Mr. Robert Reyes, I realise the founding of such a National Museum of the War of 1812 will not be an easy task. Even so I would like to inform the list at this early stage of the attempt to initiate such a significant institution which will help inform the American public and overseas visitors of the importance of the War as we enter the Bicentennial celebration of those events 200 years ago.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe Class and Tour with Christopher T. George

An unfamiliar, unmoustachioed Edgar Allan Poe looking more like he would have looked when he lived in Baltimore in 1829-1835 when he tasted his first literary success in his family's city.

I will be teaching a one-evening class with a day tour of sites associated with Poe in the Kaleidoscope program at Roland Park Country School (RPCS) on "The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe." The class will discuss the mystery of Poe's death here in Baltimore in October 1849 as well as his many connections to the city.

Class night Thursday, April 29, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, with field trip, Saturday, May 1, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Bus will leave the parking lot at RPCS, 5204 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland 21210 (located between Northern Parkway and Deepdene Road; RPCS is about 1/3 of a mile from Northern Parkway on the right) promptly at 8:00 am and return by 4:00 pm. Class registration includes lunch at Patrick's of Pratt Street not far from the Poe House on S. Amity Street, West Baltimore. Download the Kaleidoscope program in pdf form through the title to this blog listing or call (410) 323-5500 x 3045 with any inquiries.

Church Home Hospital, formerly the Washington College Hospital, on Broadway, East Baltimore, where the writer died in mysterious circumstances in October 1849, will be one of the stops visited on the tour.

A "Deeming Vote" for the Dems?

As reported in The Hill on Tuesday:

"Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday defended a tactic that would allow the House to 'deem' the Senate healthcare bill passed without actually voting on the bill.

"Hoyer (D-Md.) said at his weekly news conference that a rule deeming the Senate bill passed is consistent with procedures and practices used by Republicans and Democrats alike, and that it’s appropriate for a bill that will be moments away from being amended anyway."

A "Deeming Vote" is a new term to me. When I first heard the term spoken on one of the cable news programs I was sure that the pundits were saying "Demon Vote" which of course would be utterly consistent with the way G.O.P. politicos have been characterizing Democratic plans to finalize health care reform!

I wonder if any of the Dems who are considering such a "Deeming Vote" know that Frederick Bailey Deeming was a mass murderer who killed his family in Rainhill, England, and then went to Australia with another woman whom he had romanced in England. Then he killed her too. Deeming, a confidence trickster who also went by the name of Baron Swanston, was found guilty of murder and hanged in Melbourne on Monday, May 23rd, 1892.

Newspapers of the day thought that Deeming could have been Jack the Ripper, the notorious but uncaught serial killer of London's 1888 "Autumn of Terror." Above is a press conception of Deeming with fifth canonical victim, Mary Jane Kelly, killed and grievously mutilated in her one-room lodging at 13 Miller's Court, Spitalfields, in the early morning hours of November 9, 1888. Certain it is that Deeming did have a thing for bladed weapons -- he had a collection of South African assegais among other nasty killing instruments.

Yet most Ripperologists discount Deeming, seeing him more as the family murderer he appeared on the surface to be. It is believed that the con man and killer was in South Africa at the time of the Ripper crimes.

He may not have been Jack but the Public Record Office of Victoria, Australia, have done an extraordinary job of putting on-line documents and information about Frederick Bailey Deeming. Check it all out by clicking on the title above.

With Jackie O and Joe Cocker at Union Station

Okay, so it wasn't Jackie O
-- a woman hustled by me with
an oil of the late Missus JKO.

And it wasn't Joe C -- a bloke
with Joe's pushed-in fizzog
and scruffy ponytail scuttled

thru with groupie toward the
U.S. Capitol dome, maybe to get
health care reform passed at last, pray,

"With A Little Help From My Friends."

Christopher T. George

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Take This Bill and Shove It

According to a front page article in today's Washington Post (read the full article by clicking on the title above), "After laying the groundwork for a decisive vote this week on the Senate's health-care bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Monday that she might attempt to pass the measure without having members vote on it."

Well, yes, of course, because the Democrats are not sure they have the votes to pass the Senate bill, such is the strident opposition to it by Republicans both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

And the American public supposedly doesn't want the bill because they have been soured on it by critics who say it is too expensive or would jeopardize what benefits they do have. Or else, the more extreme accusations, because President Obama and his Democratic cronies want "to pull the plug on Grandma" or bring Socialist medicine to the United States, the nation that the deluded think has "the best health care system in the world" -- indeed, friends, it is the best system in the world, . . . er, if you can afford it. You can have all the latest tests and procedures. Save up, Americans! Keep playing the numbers! Pray to your fuzzy dice.

How Ridiculous!!!! Of course all Americans want Good Health Care!!!!!! And Health Care Reform, if Americans did but know it, would be Good for them. Swallow that medicine, America. We all know medicine can taste nasty. But it makes you better. . . in the end.

My friends, isn't it more likely that the citizenry have been brainwashed and misled by the vested interests and fat cats who love their health care and don't care for the rest of us who can't afford health care???? And people who have been denied by insurance companies because of "pre-existing conditions" as the industry notoriously does. Oh, dear. Will President Obama and his allies be able to deliver health care or not? Aaaaargh. Stay tuned.

All for Oil and Allah

Jihad Jane and G.I. Joe got on down, created
a clutch of blue-eyed G.I.-Jihad terrorists,

a mixture we found both unexpected and unsettling.
What happened to racial profiling: the filthy Arab,

the raghead, the stereotypical Jihadist?
Don't tell us you're right here among us,

in suicide vests, ready to detonate
as we kiss each other's cheeks.

Christopher T. George

Homage to Holy Frijoles

I'm in Hampden* to pick up our fajitas
because Holy Frijoles won't deliver,
they’re one of those go-to-places for
burritos, chimichangas, refried beans.

I'm waiting for them to finalize the order,
wonder if I should chug a beer at the bar,
a cool Dos Equis, Corona with wedge of lime
but instead I skulk around back with my cell-

phone camera, still with your ABBA CD ringing
in my ears (SOS!) that I heard on the drive over:
imagine I'm decked in turquoise spandex
and platform boots as I photograph detritus

left from the snow -- a crushed Bud can, myriad
cigarette butts and some mysterious eye graffiti
by the sign where the bank threatens to tow my car.
Finally, stroll back down the side of Frijoles, snap

the pictographs on the wall of the Aztecs
who used to populate Hampden centuries ago.

Christopher T. George

* Hampden is a working class area of Baltimore, maybe a bit akin to Wavertree in Liverpool, to characterize it for my Merseyside and British friends and other readers of this blog. The area has recently become yuppified with trendy restaurants, clothing boutiques, antique stores.

The neighborhood is a favorite place of movie maker and schlockmeister John Waters. He and I live about the same distance from the place. Johnny boy and his artsy thin moustache live just up the street from Donna and myself in an old carriage house. That's envy speaking.

But we can be the poor Waters neighbors. After all Donna put those two plastic purple flamingoes out on our balcony. :-)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Pop Goes the Weasel?

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, photographed while in detention at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


Wait, was that the sound of Obama's spine snapping?????

"Obama aides near reversal on 9/11 trial" -- a front page headline in today's Washington Post. Check out the on-line version of the article through the title above.

Despite Attorney General Eric Holder's earlier decision that the correct course of action would be to try the man who allegedly planned the Al Queda terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in a New York civilian federal court and the established fact that under the Bush administration almost all terrorists were tried in such civilian courts, it appears the Obamaites are caving to unjust and unreasonable Republican pressure. Reports suggest the White House will reverse itself and prosecute Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed genius behind the horrendous attacks, before a military tribunal.

An Obama administration official had said on November 13, 2009 that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees would be sent to New York to face trial in a civilian federal court. Well, guess what, now, three months later, after relentless criticism from critics who claim that decision showed weakness in the face of the terrorist threat, as well as complaints from New Yorkers including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that a New York location for the trial could leave the city open to attack, the administration seems to have backed down and reversed itself.

Sorry, White House!!! This just goes to prove exactly what your critics have been saying: the current Obama administration has a backbone of Jell-o when it comes to dealing with terrorism. You should be able to stand up to your critics just as you should be able to stand up to terrorists. For shame. And by the way, New York a target for attack??? Give us a break. When has it not been a target for attack.... just like the entire United States.... ever since the Age of Terror began?

Once again, this shows that the White House needs to take charge of its own messaging and lead rather than appear to be unable to lead. Get your act together, Mr. Obama, please. You've sounded better recently on health care. Forceful. It needs to be done. Yes. Then get it done. If you don't get it done, your foes will get the win they crave through your defeat. That would be bad news for you and for the nation.


Okay, so I was home watching the AM ESPN soccer
match I'd promised to show you at your nursing home.
I know you won't remember my promise. I should be there

to take you for a drive, the ritual Royal Farms coffee
but there's been overnight snow, if just a light dusting,
and I'm still tired from our Wednesday night outing,

wheeling you in and out of the ladies, you squealing
as I took you out to the chill parking lot; a man glared
as if I was abusing you. In our politically correct times,

I could be brought up on charges. So I phone you now
to say I can't take you: I'm guilty as sin, the guilty son.
You tell me "Go to hell" and hang up: guilty as charged.

Later I walk to the deli, buy a cheap green plastic bottle
of scotch, take cell phone photos of wall moss, lichen,
and snow, and a fossil leaf dimpling sidewalk cement.

Christopher T. George

The Jury Pool

I've begun this poem in the Quiet Room
of the Baltimore City Courthouse;
the name is a joke given the periodic

belching flush from the restroom
in the corner. I've been dozing--
snooze interruptus; my lunchtime

BLT's repeat. A slumped fat guy snores,
his "Juror" tag rises, falls on his chest.
Woman with scarf wrapped round her head

might be the first casualty of jury service.
Fellow awake jurors clack on their laptops.
And I feel consoled: I've made this poem.

Christopher T. George

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Signs of Spring?

Jonquil Advent

In soil free after weeks buried
under feet of frozen snow,

yellow shoots thrust up
hard by dwindling ice--

arise, jonquils, in gentle rain.
Arise! For your season has come!

Christopher T. George

A UK poet at FreeWrights Peer Review poetry forum (see link through title) questioned my use of the term "hard by" and some other elements of the above poem--

Hi C.T.G,

I had a job understanding line four, if the earth is clear of snow, where did the ice come from, I thought you said it was gently raining; it seems to be a contradiction in terms. Maybe you could explain what you mean by “hard by dwindling ice” did you perhaps mean that the narcissus were hard, or is it just some strange North American term. Last time I heard “hard by” used was at the Sheep Dog Trials at Keswick.
I rather like Poeticus they are rather appealing don’t you think...

The jack of doggerel.

I replied:

Hi Mor

Well I am from Liverpool as you may know but do admit some confusion any longer on what are Yankee or Limey terms. I would have thought "hard by" in the UK means "close to" just as it does here. And per the photograph and what I mean in the poem, the some 30-inches of snow we received here in the Baltimore-D.C. area within a week a month ago has now, through warmer temps and rain, mostly disappeared: what had been vast piles of snow turning into ice and melting away as described. I hope this helps. Thanks for reading and commenting.


look so pastel
pink by the red brick wall
-- the Korean rhododendron.

Christopher T. George

Photography and Poetry -- For Sale!

Gerry Temple, a talented photographer and poet in Derry, Northern Ireland, has made me aware that he is marketing some of his images combined with poems at a site called RedBubble.

Gerry reports:

"I've been putting a lot of my work onto another site that allows people who like my work to buy anything from a card right up to a poster.

"It's worth having a look there just to see some of the beauty some good photographers have captured."

Check out Gerry's beautiful poem and photograph "Calm":

Enjoy! I thought this might give a few of us some ideas on how to market our work.