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3 (different) short stories



Please Slow Down.

Last Friday about noon a 12 year-old boy named Ramon was struck and killed after he drove a motorized scooter he had received for Christmas into the path of an oncoming car. The accident happened on East 24th street. I happened to be driving by just moments after the accident occurred. Ramon was airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The driver was not cited. A handmade sign has posted outside Ramon’s home that reads “Please Slow Down.” I believe that people have slowed down.


Veterans Day.

I served in the Army Infantry (Feb. 1971 to Jan. 1974) in West Germany. I remember there were three basic categories of soldiers then:

1) Those who drank.
2) Those who took drugs.
3) Those who drank AND took drugs.

It was all part of the Army lifestyle during that era. I recall the night when a couple of GIs who worked in the battalion motor pool were killed after they got drunk and crashed the VW bug head-on into a stone wall. Our Commanding Officer was furious. He ordered that the wreck be displayed outside the mess hall for a week. “Now I’m going to have to write a letter to the parent of those stupid morons,” he told us. And I will have to try and explain to them why their sons are never coming home.”


The 13th U.S. Poet Laureate.

I discovered Ted Kooser in 2004, when he was the 13th U.S. poet laureate. He became famous in his spare time. Ted Kooser worked for an insurance company for decades and wrote his uniquely descriptive poetry on the side. Now he’s 75 and still lives in tiny Garland, Nebraska. He’s known for poetry that reflects his conservative midwestern sensibilities. But Ted Kooser’s latest book is an 81 page memoir called THE WHEELING YEAR. It’s comprised of around 300 brief observation about nature, place, and time. I used to describe Ted Kooser as the “Thomas Kinkade” of poetry. But no longer. Now I get the feeling he’s been studying Picasso, because his writing has taken on a tangible “cubist” dimension. Many of the entries in the book are strangely written or difficult. A few are surrealistic. It’s as if Ted Kooser has written a dark and melancholy parody of himself. THE WHEELING YEAR isn't bad. It’s just disturbing.


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