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Saturday, June 20, 2015



Carol and Charles Orloski. A Charles Orloski poem from 2008:

Then Why Can’t I Paint You?

As material circumstances
of Jake’s life began to improve,
America became an enchanting place,
and Jake had made it.
He toiled for twenty years as a
machine operator at Popple’s Quarry,
had a juicy 401-K,
hit the Pennsylvania scratch-off  lottery
for half a million,
built a log cabin house,
owned a hundred acres, small pond,
and a little grove where he fed
apples and corn to the deer.
Jake knew where his next meal
was coming from.

He used to hunt to work-off stress
Joined Mr. Moe’s Total Fitness Club
and took yoga classes at
the Himalayan Institute.
His wife, Regina, got into
country-western dancing
and his eighteen year old son played
guitar at Cooper’s Seafood Restaurant
and sang for tourists in T-shirts.
“Things are as they should be,”
Jake beamed.

On Friday night,
Jake called all his friends
to brag about the “amazing”
birthday gift from Regina –
a $400 motion sensitive “Trail Camera,”
purchased at Gander Mountain.
Jake wanted to know basic stuff:
How to insert batteries?
How to secure the camera
to a Weeping Willow tree?
Jake’s goal?  “To have all the animals
in my Kingdom on C.D.”

Exposed to freedom too soon,
“Trail Cameras” tend to lose their
conservative surveillance roots,
develop great insolence, and begin
to shoot without ethical regard.

Sunday afternoon:
Jake sank into his black leather
Easy-Lift recliner, lit a pipe,
sipped ice-tea, listened to Kenny G,
and downloaded the precious
digital images on to his lap top.

1st Frame ...  a white-tail buck, pine tree
                    stump, diagonal sun rays.
2nd Frame ... blurry. Turkey and gray
3rd Frame ... high resolution.  Jake’s brother
                    Eddie fucking Regina on recently
                    painted picnic table.  Upturned
                    cotton sun dress.  Khaki Docker
                    shorts on sod grass.

“Animals fucking,” he seethed.
He began to shake, turned the camera
toward the recliner, sat, combed his hair,
and placed a Glock on a plate filled
with cold bacon and scrambled eggs.
The shot – heard outside in the wild –
frightened away a robin looking
side-to-side for a worm.
Jake didn’t want it that way,
Regina didn’t know the words to say,
and Eddie burned the pictures.



Chuck Olroski said...

Hey linh,

Thanks for posting our pictures. Come September when Pope Francis visits Philadelphia, perhaps the sober spirits of Jerry Garcia and Jimi Hendrix will visit our home? I'll try to sneak them into the Taylor Legion, Post 306! Wish you and Linky well.

crazyfacehands said...


Thats some hick shit right there.

Also, definitely illegal to bait deer. Up in the north country the DEC baits drunks with fake deer to catch morons headlight hunting.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you, Chuck, for that most excellent poem! Nothing else to say except I can see why you are so well loved.

Chuck Olroski said...

Dear Elizabeth, Thanks for the high compliment, I heard about the local horrible incident from a friend at work who actually knew the man who committed suicide. Frankly, the poem almost wrote itself. Also, your kind comment about me being "so well loved" was important to me as a father of two boys, Dan 23, Joe 19. Like my relationship with my late-father, my sons often look at me as a retro windbag.

As one who delights in your general "comments" on Linh's Blog, I note you're a better writer than me, and one day, I'd love to see you write about people, places, and things in your life. I for one would love to see more into your eh-hem, realm.

Dear crazyfacehands, Upon initial reading of your comment above, I thought you referred to my wife Carol and I as "hicks shit" and thought... my, my, how extraordinarily forthright are you; crazyfacehands has no guile. How easy it is for me to mislead myself.

Otherwise, thanks for the comment, and you are so correct about regulatory agencies and their highly developed forms of citizen entrapment. The otherwise honorable PA Department of Environmental Protection (D.E.P.) and PA Department of Conservation (D.E.C.) must raise revenues to sustain programs and salaries, and a percentage comes from fining companies and individuals for causing air, water and soil pollution. Thank you, crazyfacehands, for the strong image about baiting drunks with fake deer.

Elizabeth said...

Hey Chuck:

My daughter considers me a psych case, so she needn't hear a word. Does anybody think of having a 20-something person around--somebody who thinks it's all your fault--when they decide they can't resist having a baby? Not so irresistable then, what? Giving compulsory classes on THAT fact of life might just be the eugenicists' easy answer. Too late for us, though, so I wish you and your sons--and your wife--the best, and cherish your insights.

I love it when poems write themselves--it's a green light from, er, somewhere. But did that robin image come right to you? I always try to add a worm into all my poems. I wanna be called "the worm poet of Cleveland," but nobody but me is into it. We can maybe call each other "the worm poets of the USA!" Or even the world!!! Power in numbers!

Seriously, though, great poem. You deserve a piping hot plate of bacon and eggs, minus the Glock, for this one. How would you like your toast?

Chuck Olroski said...

Elizabeth: I really like earthworms and several weeks ago, I wrote a short-story called "O Susannah won't you cry for me?" Not surprisingly, an earthworm (bait) has a key role in the anthropomorphic story which is based upon Susan Smith's tragic 1994 drowning of her two small children, Michael and Alexander. Surprisingly to me, given the awful topic, the article was published on two web sites! It's extremely tacky to direct people to one's writing, but the story is weird enough to hold reader interest, and it focuses upon competition. If you happen to read the story, it's very short, please let me know what you think?

I love the name "The worm poet of Cleveland." Maybe you can start a series of poems on how the worm lives and survives both its environment and off springs? I am really into the possibility of getting your insights, and I'm sure I'm not alone! Indeed, the ruling class has made everybody bait, & we're connected to hooks of all shapes and sizes.

At present, I like Thomas English Muffins (lightly toasted) and I buy them on sale, you often get two for price of one. I butter muffins and dip them into the yolk of eggs, "over light." Bacon is usually a pay week treat and usually I micro-wave boiled ham. No Glock, no bow & arrow, I am not into Karate. At age 63, whoever or whatever comes to get me, Elizabeth, I'll do like Wardens do..., I'll offer executioner a B.L.T. sandwich, a bible verse, and the right to make one telephone call.

Thank you for the nice convesation, and having helped me laugh at myself!

Elizabeth said...

Tacky? No, not at all! How else would I get into your writing? It is so good! What's my favorite line? Well, there are several, but I especially related to this: "PLOP! Something hit surface water and the fish hearts fluttered. Gillie thought quickly, he needed a break from sensual tension." Whooooosh!

Now I'm not a big-time bacon eater, but I like mine cooked so there's some fleshy, fatty parts left soft, mostly crisp and just a few burnt bits. Then when that's done, I add butter and cook eggs over medium well, just a bit oozy but mostly dry. I prefer this with European rye, sourdough, although I do love the English muffins.

crazyfacehands said...

Chuck O

Ha! I didn't mean you are hick's shits. . . but on second thought. . .

The trail camera suicide is so perfect its gotta be true. And if it isn't then its only a matter of time, right?

Keep up the good work.


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.