Your Own Back Yard – Michael Gillan Maxwell

Visual Art – Creative Writing – Social Commentary


August 2011

Nine Doors

Nine Doors

Guest Post: Mikey & Me

This is a Guest Post from D.S. Hoffman. Daniel Hoffman studied with Charles Simic at the University of New Hampshire. He was co-founder and co-editor of the literary journal Durak. Daniel also wrote several chap books of poetry, including the classic Whisker Kisses. Daniel has been a luthier for the past 25 years. He currently resides and practices his craft near Santander, Spain, where he makes cellos. You can find him on the web at:



Mikey & Me



You think this is the first go-round

we’ve been tag-team mates on?????????



Gonzo the Great,

who chews his beer glass

after drafting it whole …


and Me

the phased out Whacky little Pud

who bump jumps from the ropes

just in the nick of time


to Back-Hand Swat

the opposition

with a folding chair


Been There …

Done It, Seen It, Played It …


Together …


D.S. Hoffman   2011

On a Ridge Top

On A Ridge Top

Pandora’s Box

“Only Hope was left within her unbreakable house, she remained under the lip of the jar, and did not fly away.”

Hesiod – 7th Century B.C.


The Earth is quaking, roiling, shaking,

churning, spewing ash and belching fire.

Her core is bleeding, leaking. We are waging endless war.

Someone let the genie out of the bottle.


Someone opened Pandora’s Box,

let loose darkness that swirls

out from the deep and won’t stop

until it covers the whole world.


I ponder the fragility of life,

curse our ridiculous vanity and conceit,

bless the frailty and resilience of the human race,

pray to the angels and call in my guides.


I do what any reasonable man must do

in the face of such chaos, insanity and disorder.

I confront the pile of laundry head on,

folding underwear, hanging shirts and matching socks.


I take the dogs, jump in the car, and go speeding

down country roads, all windows down,

wind buffeting my head, music blasting

black lab hanging out the window, ears flapping


on my way to no particular destination,

past horses and cows grazing in fields,

yellow dandelion and purple clover,

lilacs in full bloom, bobbing madly in the breeze.


Going nowhere, somewhere, anywhere, everywhere

on my way to places

I’ve never been

and may never be again.

Let’s Get This Party Started

So here’s what happened,

this is how it all went down…..

It all began

with a single intention,

something we might call thought,

a spark of light,

a vibration that hummed

until it became a steady tone.




Before there was matter,

or form

or what we call


for that is a human construct,

a boundary against which we push,

to try to mark and to measure,

our journey.


Universes were born ~

expanding outwards

from the center

all at once

in every direction ~

galaxies, star systems, planets, suns,

space, light, atoms, molecular structure,

celestial bodies without name or description, cosmic dust….


In the beginning, there was

The Word.




It all started just like that.

I’m serious … that’s the way it happened.


At least that’s the way

I remember it….


Ernest Hemingway in Your Living Room

When I die you have my permission

to have me stuffed and mounted

over the mantel of your fireplace,

next to that portrait of Ernest Hemingway

you are so fond of.


You know the one ~

He’s standing

next to an 8 foot marlin,

glistening in the sun.


When I die you can use my ashes

to glaze a stoneware bowl,

and display it on the mantel

under that black and white photograph

you like so much.


The one of the huge fish

hanging by its tail

next to the old man

by the sea.


When I die I could be a scarecrow

in your flower garden,

between the dogwoods and delphiniums.

Dressed like the Great White Hunter

to frighten away the crows and magpies.


But then again,

I guess

just about any outfit

would do.


When I die I could be a weathervane

in the shape of a marlin

spinning in the wind

on top of a lightening rod

on the gable of your roof.


Although it probably makes more sense

to simply have my photograph

hung over your mantel

next to that other portrait


you are so fond of.

Honk If You Love Elvis

I’m slowly climbing a hill, when a Dodge Caravan

drives right up my tail and blows past me

going about 80 miles per hour in a no passing zone.

“Baby on Board” is fixed to the rear window.


I wonder if baby is driving.


I used to think  “Baby on Board”

was an admonition to the rest of us

to drive with tender, loving care

out of  respect for baby.


I now understand

the real intent of the message is to indicate

where a young child is located in the vehicle

should there be an accident or breakdown.


Signs that tell me what to do

just make me want to do

all the things

I was taught not to do ~


drive fast – take a lot of chances, stick my fingers in the fan,

run with scissors, touch a hot stove,  lick a frozen flag pole,

walk under ladders, step on cracks on the sidewalk,

go swimming right after eating, play in traffic with a sharp stick.


While we’re at it, let’s talk

about messages on bumper stickers.

There are common ones with political or religious content.

I even have one on my own car, but I think they’re really boring.


My favorite bumper stickers convey a message

that is irreverent or  contains at least some a sense of irony,

not the annoying: “I brake for unicorns”

but messages with more hair and teeth ~


“Rugby Players Eat Their Dead”

“Dial 911- Make a Cop Come” – or –

the mother of  all politically incorrect:

“Nuke the Gay Whales for Jesus”


Anyway, I think bumper stickers are dangerous.


You have to tailgate in order to read them,

and now you’re reading, when you should be driving

with tender, loving care, in case the car in front of you

has a baby on board.


Honk if you love Elvis!

Kind of Blue

Spiritual Direction

This Guest Post  is from Lawrence Kessenich. Lawrence’s most recent Chapbook is titled “Strange News” by Puddinghouse Publications

Spiritual Direction
No one gets lost anymore. If they don’t
have GPS, they have a MapQuest printout,
thick blue line indelibly marking the way.
Lacking those, there is the inevitable
cell phone link to someone with a better

sense of direction. No one gets lost anymore.
They may not know who they are, but,
by God, they know where they are. Even if
it’s nowhere in particular, they can
tell you exactly how far it is from here.

Even if they’ve no idea what they’ll do there,
they can tell you—to the minute—how long
it will take to arrive. No one gets lost
anymore. Travel is predictable as
California weather, and as unrelated

to life’s vicissitudes. We all get lost,
lose our way in love, career or spiritual
seeking. There is no GPS to calmly
guide us down the side roads of the
human heart, no MapQuest for career paths,

no guru on speed dial to direct us through
the dark night of the soul. We need to
practice getting lost again, learn to meander
and cope with uncertainty, to trust

dead reckoning to get us from here to there,

from where we are to where we want to be.

Lawrence Kessenich 2011

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: