Maxine Taverner of Lakeville, New York, writes that last time she read some of my work, she was impressed by bits and pieces of it but, overall, thought it could use some work, still. “You apparently thought so, too,” she says, “for I see you’ve rewritten a lot of it—and what a difference! Love your new stuff, too! Especially ‘rising waters’, a look ahead which, oddly enough, takes me back. In a previous life, I raised goats just east of Holland Landing and used to gas my truck at that service centre.”

Gladys Thorne of Meaford, Ontario, has written to thank me for “so eloquently preserving the memory of Meaford’s all-but-forgotten Daisybacks. For this and other contributions to Canadian lore,” she writes, “I’m not alone in considering you one of our more notable native sons, so am outraged that Council continues to do nothing about your ‘Birthplace of Tom Dickson’ sign at the north end of town, which has been an eyesore, now, for years. The least they could do,” she writes, “is plug the bullet holes and give it a fresh coat of paint. I don’t buy into their argument that, since you put it there, you should maintain it, and I shall go right on being a Thorne in their side till they come to their senses.”

Walt Windermere of Cape May, New Jersey, says that my writing reminds him of how his father talked, so he really enjoys it. “And I’m sure he would have, too,” he writes. “And your illustrations, as well. Especially ’painter’, which is a lot like looking out our front window. There’s even a guy like that walks by from time to time.”

James Musky of Anchorage, Alaska, writes that he moved there, recently, from Bob’s Neck, Nebraska, for no other reason than to get away from Truthers—his two younger brothers, in particular. “I couldn’t listen, anymore, to their cockeyed conspiracy theories,” he writes, “I had to get away, and the farther the better. Turns out, though, I haven’t gone far enough—they’re here in Alaska, too. They’re everywhere, I suppose. The other day, one of them told me there’s a guy living in a cabin in the backwoods of Quebec who’s discovered a cure for cancer and that the medical profession is doing everything in its power to suppress news of the discovery so they can keep people sick and paying medical bills. I asked him how, if they were suppressing the news, he’d found out about it. And I told him, if this guy could cure cancer, he wouldn’t be living in a cabin in the backwoods of Quebec, he’d have a penthouse suite in the Chateau Frontenac and a couple of villas in France. Wasted words, of course. I should know enough, by now, not to bother. Happening upon your ‘golfing story’ was perfect timing.”

Al Wickers of Johnson County, Wyoming, writes that he's never liked poems much but likes mine. “I think it’s because they're short and make me smile—most of them do, anyway. The notable exception,” he says, “is ‘no kisses today’, which I still can’t read beginning-to-end without choking up. My dog, Bill,” he explains, “was carried off by a tornado last fall. Still and all, to be choked up by a poem—that’s not something I’m used to. I’m amazed you can plumb such emotional depth with so few words. I’m also amazed that I wrote what I just did. I don’t think like that. You've shaken my foundations!"

Jonathan Hertz of Evanston, Illinois, writes that he and his wife, Maddy, are not much into art and only have pictures on the wall because they came with the house. Encouraged to do so by an old friend, however, they’ve been checking out my illustrations and, to their delight, my ‘the last straw’ has roused some long-dormant memories of a crazy but fun time. "You never hear about central poppers, anymore—it's like they never existed.” Maddy, he writes, being an animal-loving identical twin drawn to men with boats, is especially fond of ‘chance meeting’.

Alfred Carson of Blackjack, Missouri, writes that he’s never had anything, himself, he wanted to say on a shirt, and has always felt like a billboard wearing other people’s words, so, all his life, has been a plain-shirt guy and was expecting to die one. “But then, while surfing the net, I chanced upon your ‘dirt shirt’,” he says, “which struck a chord like no shirt ever had, and I simply had to have one. I’ve ordered a couple of them, in fact, and three others, as well, including a ‘relax shirt’ for Doris’s older brother, Bert, who has taken to shouting nasty things at himself in public places. He’ll get into fewer scraps wearing your shirt." 

Marvin Couch of the Bronx, writes: “Last weekend, I gave a 30x20-inch print of your ‘Lenin and McCarthy’ to my Beatles-crazy friend, Pete, for his 50th birthday. He always wants Beatles stuff and it’s hard to find things he doesn’t already have but I doubted he’d have one of these and I was right. And I could tell, the instant he tore off the paper, he didn’t want this one, either. He pretended he did, but he’s a lousy pretender. And it wasn’t necessary. I’d have been fine with his coming right out and telling me he didn’t like it. But that’s not Pete’s way. He took my arm and walked me through the entire house pretending to look for the perfect spot to hang the unwanted print, had me hold it up a half-dozen different places in every room to see how it looked. Some rooms we revisited a second and third time. On our second pass through the kitchen, I saw an out—I suggested he might prefer your ‘Lenin & McCarthy’ as a fridge magnet. Boy, was he relieved! He thought that would be perfect! So I’ve ordered him a magnet, which he’s cleared space for on the side of his fridge, and I’ve hung the unwanted print in my game room next to the pinball machine. It looks pretty good there, though it is a touch small for the space and I’m wishing, now, I’d given him a bigger one.”

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