A Noiseless Patient Spider, wrote Whitman

Whitman’s 19th century poem reads like this:

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them — ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, — seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d — till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul

In my alter ego as the spider whisperer, I gently collect those who find their way indoors and let them out with a message they may not understand—”have a nice day”. More patient some may be than others of their ilk, meandering about my hand or clinging to the tissue that holds them softly.

As for those along the way my dog and I walk, they are never to be seen. Silk runs from one rock or weed to another, inches from the ground. Is it intentional, leaving the trail to remind themselves where they have been or how to get where they’re going? Perhaps it’s a leaky spinneret that leaves web material as the arachnid moves hither and yon. Not for me to say.

As for my own soul, it’s more impatient than serene. Persistent though, I am—continually searching for those connections with prospective readers of the words I assemble in blog posts and stories. Networking, promotions and responding to others like me—that’s a less than well spun web. What might have Whitman made of the tools our 21st century writers use? The writing is coming now, better than ever before; the web spinning will progress from my soul too. All in good time.


Third Review of Jumped by a Deadly Cholla

I am gratified to share a new review on Amazon, 4.0 out of 5 stars, posted by published author Pete Springer. Here’s what Pete had to say: 

Speculative fiction is not a genre I typically read, but I decided to give this book of short stories a go. Undoubtedly, author John Maberry enjoys taking elements of the modern world and incorporating them into his science fiction tales. His playful sense of humor comes through in many ways.

There are eleven stories of varying lengths that make up this collection. One story, Dog is My Copilot, encompasses half of the book. Be prepared to follow some young people on their werewolves’ adventures. Like humans, we learn that some are good with ethical boundaries, and others can’t control themselves.

I’ll highlight the three short stories that I found the most appealing:
1. Fencing the Sky—A shady entrepreneur comes up with a moneymaking idea to start the aptly named company, BS Fencing, to fleece others out of their money by selling unrestricted fencing rights of the big sky over their ranches for the “bargain” price of $25 per month.
2. The Wishing Bell—A mysterious wishing bell is passed on from one bar patron to another with a three-wish limit and the warning that no wishes can be unrung. After the first wish goes horribly, Jim must find a way to make the following wishes work to his advantage.
3. Jumped by A Deadly Cholla—An amateur photographer, Lois, is looking for the perfect photograph. Unfortunately, she gets too close to the deadly cholla and is injected with their painful needles. What ensues is that the living spores begin to attack her body as she works with her doctor to try and save herself. Which side will win?

Those who want something out of the ordinary and enjoy science fiction likely will enjoy this eclectic collection.

Check out Pete’s blog, tagline: Passionate Teacher and Future Children’s Author

Buy the book on Amazon or check out this preview.

Waters of Life Flow Within

Yes, it IS another mashup; do you like them? 

Snippets of time, places, people and events juxtaposed.

Either you like the Talking Heads or you don’t (the song is “Once in a Lifetime”). Maybe waterfalls? Dune? Traveling the US?

Same as before, but my water of life needed more than a Kwisatz Haderach could give. Searching for answers. Nearing age 30–with two former wives.

Minnehaha Falls laughed.

Cracks in self-confidence were widening after Liz left. I thought a path would appear once I learned enough. It hadn’t. Couldn’t blame Liz after five years of indecision. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The over-examined one is very frustrating.

Falling Water—loved it but wouldn’t want to live there—even if Frank Lloyd Wright built it.

Amidst the dull peoplescape of the party, Lisa sparkled like a mirrored ball above a dance floor. Who is that person? Why is she so alive, so different from the rest? So I asked her. “I’m a Buddhist. I chant,” she said. Words I’d heard once, two years before—out of mind but not forgotten. She wound up in my lap, where we blissfully exchanged kisses, heedless of others. Eventually, she stood up to go.

Blitzed, I said, “I’ll remember your number,” repeating it several times.

“I’ll remember your kisses,” she replied, with a blissful smile promising more.

I called her the next day. I had to know more—and how I could get the zest for life she had. She gave me a thick book and took me to meetings.

We were on the phone at all hours—day or night. I wanted it all—her mind, her power, discipline and self-control. I wanted her body too, but I couldn’t have it. She was trying to remain objective about whether she’d be marrying this other guy. That didn’t keep us from getting very intense. Like her unexpectedly spending the night.

Liz and I still talked. I visited her in an apartment miles away. While there, in a bedroom voice, she called a guy. For my benefit? My heart bled on the 30-minute drive home but I got over it. She called me for rides. Were we still friends or was she was using me? I didn’t care. We spent one night spooning naked after she had had an abortion.

Journal notes  3/2/77—What a curious state of affairs; I love two women yet may have sex with neither! But I’ll settle for two birds in the bush in the absence of one in the hand.

And—It is truly exhilarating to perceive the prospect of finally leaving the postgraduate womb and entering the world. A rite of passage nears. It inducts the spirit of joy into the coming challenge. Change will be abounding; in change there is growth.

On March 31, Lisa and I stopped for drinks at Coco’s, an Arlington bar. The next night, I went with Liz to a Fools’ Party. How apropos. There were no singles at the party. It was all couples, whose common thread was wives working at the same place as Liz. While there, Liz made a remark of some sort to which I jokingly said, “You can be replaced.”

“I already have, by Lisa,” she retorted—she knew about her.

The following night, as typical as it had become, Lisa called me at 1:30 a.m. We stayed on the phone until 3:30.

Waters of life flow within.

In between time spent on Lisa and Liz, school, clerking 20 hours a week at the law firm and odd hours devoted to sleep, I continued going to Buddhist meetings. Toward the end of law school, Liz and I saw a movie.

Liz insisted on attending my graduation. She did, after all, work at a shitty job during my first two years of law school. Afterwards, we had a relaxed dinner at the Magic Pan Créperie, reprising the ending scene from Annie Hall. As Diane Keaton [Annie Hall] departs, Woody Allen so oddly but aptly concludes with, “Guy goes in to see his psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy. He thinks he’s a chicken.’

‘Why don’t you turn him in?’ The psychiatrist asks.

‘I would, but we need the eggs.’ I guess that’s pretty much how I feel about relationships—they’re totally irrational and absurd, but we keep going through it because most of us need the eggs.”

Water flows below ground, like the spring fed Cedar Lake in Minneapolis where Jill and I went six years before—the cold water upwelling if you swam over it. Similar, but not like life’s water within.

Soon, Liz and Lisa were gone. A break from serious relationships was past due. I had been chasing intimacy as a substitute for happiness through someone else. I had been worshipping the womb, insistent on a communion of souls through the offerings I left there. I needed to find happiness first within myself.

In the summer of 1977, I went looking for the social life I had never had. In 15-months, I went out with more people than I ever had before. Mostly fellow members. Strong, self-assured vital women. Like fish, they needed no bicycles. I went to bed with none of them. I enjoyed conversation and company for a while, calibrating my interpersonal sensor for the future.

At a Halloween party in 1978, the sensor went off. I had known my future third wife for over a year. An attractive woman, trim at 5’6”, with relaxed hair falling around her café au lait face. Not among those I had casually dated. Now we hit it off dancing. I came dressed in a caftan, carrying a staff. I was Gully Foyle, from The Stars My Destination, with his Maori tiger-face painted on mine, NOMAD and all. She was a silver-skinned alien of uncertain origin. No lap, as with Lisa, just bliss.

The next time, we had just returned from a midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We smoked a little dope at a gathering of friends. That led inevitably to the munchies and then the cheap wine.

“Whoa, man, skip me on this round,” I said to the proffered produce. “I’m green enough already.” She was warmly sympathetic, compassionately comforting me in my discomfited state.

“That’s OK, John, just sit back and relax for a few minutes,” she said, stroking my cheek. “Do you want some Alka Seltzer or Mylanta?”

“Nah. I just need to sit still for a little while.”

“All right.”

Nobody had been so felicitous to me in a long time. Maybe she cares about me. It had to be time to go for the eggs—she even liked SF! Soon enough we were an item, going together to one party or another.

Caught in Anita Baker’s rapture of love? Yes and no. Same as it ever was? No. The water flowed above the ground. Then I told her father we wanted to get married. Told you that story already.

Niagara Falls, Maid in the Mist. Blackwater Falls, West Virginia. We like falls. Trails in the woods. Sci-fi. Trains.

The kayaker paddled silently in the still waters of St. Mary’s Lake, Glacier National Park, leaving a widening wake behind him.

Her words and phrases start stories or scene snippets. She is my muse. She is my beautiful wife who lives with me in a beautiful house. A house that comes from causes made in decades past. The third time is the charm in this lifetime.

The Depot—a Short-Lived Club and Music Venue

More Concerts—or at least where I caught the tunes.

The Depot in Minneapolis once was a Greyhound Bus station, reincarnated as a club in early 1970. I’m unsure where the buses went, but a bar and a dance floor with live music replaced them. [Interestingly, a man who became a father-in-law two and a half-years later, worked at the place as the steam engineer before it’s renovation.] Joe Cocker opened the place in April (I didn’t see him). Many more stars followed during its two-year existence. Early in the Depot’s brief musical days, I caught Mitch Ryder there in May 1970. The memories of the set are dim, but I remember the hits included “Devil in a Blue Dress.” 

Fall became a time for music and dance, following the summer of lust and adventure with Jill. Much to my surprise, I recovered quickly from her abrupt sayonara in early October. The resilience of youth is a fantastic thing.

Tickets for the performances I saw there were cheap by today’s standards. Just $4.50 for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Happily, “Call Any Vegetable” and “Duke of Prunes” were part of the Mothers’ 35-minute session. Quite an ensemble: George Duke, Aynsley Dunbar, and happily—Flo and Eddie! The last two were founders of the group known as the Turtles. They sang Bubblegum hits like “Happy Together.” Hard to imagine them pumping out the very different “Tell Me You Love Me” with Frank not much later.

Side note: I saw the 200 Motels movie soon after. The cast includes most of the group at the Depot—plus Theodore Bikel, Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, and more. I have the LP; delightful memories.

I heard one more group in November ‘70, Exuma, led by a Bahamian man professionally known as Tony McKay. Unknown to me before, but I liked the sound enough to buy an LP of theirs with “Obeah Man” and “Junkanoo” among the tunes played at the Depot. It sounded like voodoo stuff. A recent Wikipedia article on him and his group says no—a spiritual healing thing.

Meanwhile, I went to the Depot and hit the dance floor between the shows I paid to see. Platform shoes, elephant bells, and a polyester shirt covered by a pullover sleeveless sweater; that was me, then. One night, a fine young lady mirrored my every move on the dance floor. It was as if we had known each other in another lifetime. I don’t remember what she wore, but it fit the scene. The encounter ended with a one-night event. A result seldom repeated in my life.

I caught one more show at the club, March 1971, not long before its closure. A good one: Eric Burdon and War. Probably his last appearance with them. I didn’t spill any wine, but I liked the song. There were other bits by War mixed in, of course.

A New Review of The Fountain

The Fountain: and six more fantasy and sci-fi stories came out in 2017. We recently did a discount for a week. This result came of it–a review by a fellow writer friend.

D. W. Peach

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 14, 2023

I like speculative fiction, and every once in a while, a collection of short stories is a nice break from longer novels. “The Fountain” is the lead story in this collection of seven fantasy/sci-fi tales. I read the book in one sitting of about 90 minutes.

The stories offer a lot of variety from an ancient curse to a confused vampire, alien reconnaissance and alternate reality, a love spell gone wrong, and inspiration for a struggling writer. The alternate reality story, “The Closet Door” was my favorite with some surprising twists at the end.

The final tale in the collection, “The Fribble,” is novelette length, taking up the second half of the book. It’s a tease for a longer story and doesn’t come to a wrapped-up conclusion. Fans of Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles” will see a few similarities, but this story goes in a far different direction, retaining plenty of cuteness, but adding lots of danger too. I would have enjoyed seeing what happened at the end.

This is an engaging speculative fiction collection that I recommend to fantasy and sci-fi readers looking to fill some free time with enjoyable short stories.

D. Wallace Peach is a well-regarded writer of many award-winning fantasy novels, anthologies and more. 

Living Lint

Something she said or did inspired this. Dry humor, in old styling.

With good reason, she calls me the spider whisperer. I always try collecting a spider gently in a tissue before letting them loose outside. It can be a challenge, with the fast ones or those simply trying to escape. They must suppose I am a predator. Yet some relax and accept the transport. Occasionally, some will fearlessly crawl on my hand. Probably it’s too much to credit them with high intellect. But then, I am not an arachnologist.

The odd event came the other day. What looked like a tiny spider moving along the floor. Larger than microscopic, but smaller than any I’d seen. The camera on my phone helped not at all—other than enlarging the lint. Lint that continued it’s slow crawl, without the least breeze or other obvious sign of propulsion.

No legs, no wings, no means of motion became apparent, no matter how much I studied it. Left with no other alternative, I picked it up with a tissue for closer examination. Within the mix of dust, hair and other typical detritus, I could see no insect or arachnid. That’s when the lint began moving again—in the palm of my hand. OK—must be microscopic after all.

That worried me. Could it be dangerous? If it could move with nearly no mass, it seemed a peculiar phenomenon. Tempted to ball up the tissue and dispose of it, I hesitated with the thoughts running through my head. It was then that it fell or perhaps jumped from my hand, linty tissue and whatever else.

The lint quickly left the tissue for another excursion on the floor. That’s when I realized the possible discovery I had made: Living lint! Few people would accept the notion. Yet, imagine how many specimens of living lint have been swept or vacuumed up across America or round the world. Worse, consider the potential biological harms. Harms to humans, from allergies or infections that might have come from this hitherto unknown rare species, .

Ah well, it may make for an interesting story. I think I’ll pass on it for now. Maybe some other time.

DGKaye’s 5 Star Review of Jumped by a Deadly Cholla

We have the honor of reposting this review by DG Kaye.

My Sunday book review is for John Maberry’s new release – Jumped by a Deadly Cholla. This is just one of eleven stories with twisted endings in this collection of speculative and science fiction. As many of you will know, I am not a sci-fi reader, but my friend John has recently released this collection of short stories and asked if I’d read and review. He is a wonderful storyteller.

Buy on Amazon or look at a preview




My 5 Star Review:

Maberry is known for his speculative and science fiction short stories. In this new collection of stories, he takes us in to some strange environments with his stories, a mixed bag of funny to scary to things that leave you thinking. You will find stories about a deadly Cholla plant, werewolves, vampires, time travel, and a trip into the future after climate change has reached its capacity, if you enjoy futuristic and sci-fi stories, you will enjoy this book.

A few notable stories: A Climate Crisis Changes Humans – In the 22nd century devastation left from the previous century, Grelm says, “The humanoids will listen now.” Melanie and Josh discover a scentient plant. Fencing in The Sky – Big Sky county Montana, nobody needed fences. But a cyber scammer finds a way to sell his “BS Fencing” to the builder to include in the sale of land parcels complete with a digital fence.The Wishing Bell – Smitty is given a wishing bell and told he can make three wishes and must ring the bell after each one and must then pass the bell on to someone else and if not, there will be consequences. But after what happens after the first wish, Smitty decides he doesn’t want anymore wishes and doesn’t want to pass it on to anyone else.

Continue reading the review by DG Kaye here.

Musings from Long Ago–Hippies and Freaks

A repost from March, 2015 that no one noticed then.

I never fully embraced the hippie life. I had more essential things to do with my life–protesting the war and trying to get an education post-Vietnam. The nuance between freaks and hippies escapes me now. Which countercultural group did I identify with more? Hmm, can’t say that the issue presented itself forthrightly as a decision that needed making. Unlike my favorite Pres., Bill, I must confess to inhaling–frequently. So when it came to freak versus frat on campus, there could be no doubt in which camp I belonged. Boozers and dopers in Nam were analogous to the squares versus hippies. I didn’t drink there.

Did stick-on yellow flowers adorning my blue Chevy Malibu make me a hippie? I don’t know. I bought the car through the PX while still in Vietnam and drove it to and from Ft. Knox during my final year in the army. I kept it for a few more years until it became too trouble-prone. Those were not the best years for GM.

In 1970, I attended ‘Galena in Wadena’ (Iowa), a three-day rock festival. The event featured 30 bands. Like Woodstock, it happened on a farm. Unlike Yasgur’s place, there were only forty thousand people—according to later news reports. Galena had no rain or mud, either—thankfully. Some weed sold as Panama Red seared my throat with only a little buzz. My single day there included the Chambers Brothers, Poco, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, among others. Time Has Come Today and Love, Peace and Happiness alone were worth the trip–Chambers Brothers were one unto themselves. 

Elephant bells and platform shoes became my club apparel soon after. In ’71, Liz, my second wife, pierced my left ear. I wore the earring through the remaining years of college and most of law school, taking it out only when it came time to venture into the uptight legal world. Later, with just a few more years left before retirement from the Fairfax County job I had in Northern Virginia, the post returned to the ear. Why the hell not? No more need to dress for success. A ponytail came next, preparing for our move to New Mexico a few years hence.

Finally, all the guys who never had posts, studs, hoops or dangles in their youth began piercing their ears long after I did. Some even went with tats a few years later. Getting tattoos in your sixties is silly, in my opinion—the era passed you by on that front if you weren’t a sailor or a marine in the 1950s or 1960s. The times are always changing. Like the width of neckties, something I never wear now, except for funerals or weddings. You do risk other people snickering trying to be of another cultural age than your physiological one. But hey–it’s your life; do what you want to do or be. 🙂

Neil Diamond, June 1970, Minneapolis Auditorium

The next concert–way more to come in a long list.

Not a big fan of the guy—then or now. He definitely had a great voice then. But it wasn’t about the music. That was a warm-up, a reason to be out for the evening and part way into the night. Jill liked Neil; me occasionally. I heard the hits—including:

  • Cracklin’ Rosie
  • Sweet Caroline
  • Cherry Cherry
  • And more, of course

I did enjoy the concert–albeit quite different from the Beatles, Strawberry Alarm Clock and Steppenwolf. The packed house for the very popular Neil Diamond loved it.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning. I finally began college at the University of Minnesota six years after high school; money and the military intervened. I excerpted the text below from the memoir, Waiting for Westmoreland.

During the first week of classes, an attractive but married woman started hitting on me. . . . Over a few weeks, during between-class coffee-fueled dialogues, she explained, “Dave and I have an understanding. He doesn’t mind if I go out with other men.”

“Are you sure? It just doesn’t seem right to me to go out with a married woman.” 

“John, it’s OK. He doesn’t have time to do everything I want or care for all my needs. If it’s OK with him, why should it bother you?”

The attention was flattering, but I was trying to reclaim my ideals, not corrupt them further. I was hooked when she casually provided a peek at a model portfolio a photographer had created for her, including an array of classic nudes


Jill and I went on our long-awaited first date, [the Neil Diamond concert] after my divorce. I picked her up at her home, still wondering whether I should be doing this and why she had picked me out of a university crowd. Despite my doubts, I couldn’t help being excited about it anyway. Nearly to the open car door, she turned back to wave goodbye to her husband Dave, an average-looking guy perhaps a few years older than she or I. He was standing in the doorway, leaning down a little to get a look at me, waiting behind the wheel. It would be 2:30 a.m. before I brought her home. While the agreement with Dave did not extend to sleepovers, apparently, it didn’t preclude wild sex. In the face of my earlier self-doubts, Jill assured me I had nothing to fear in future amorous adventures with women. How encouraging. 


Then it was on to a summer of sex. It was the best sex I had ever had, not that I had had so much sex by age 23. I sublet the attic apartment of another antiwar veteran that summer in a house on Clarence Avenue Southeast, near the campus. He had painted the entire apartment in monochrome black—the walls, the trim, the bathtub and sink, the pipes, everything. It was an unusual but not very inviting color scheme. So I livened up the wall with a life-size poster print of Jill in a two-piece swimsuit, posing on the grass at Lake of the Isles. We also went to other Minneapolis lakes that summer, Calhoun, Harriet and Cedar, where we could swim or sun. With Dave working during the day and Jill taking only a few summer classes, there were plenty of free days for hitting the beaches. There were also opportunities for afternoon delight before I went to my job at the Post Office. Other times we met between classes, making out in one or another of the lover-friendly alcoves of Coffman Union once the student occupation [Vietnam War protests] ended. 


In October, Jill gave me the news over coffee at Coffman Union. “It’s over,” she said.

“What do you mean, over?”

“I’m leaving Dave.”

“So,” I began optimistically, “Does that mean you’ll spend more time with me?”

“No. It means I need space to consider what I really want and need.”

“OK. So where does that leave us?”

“There is no us. There is you, and there is me. If I continued seeing you now, it would remind me of Dave. It just wouldn’t work.”

“So you’re leaving him and me?”

“Yes. We’ve had some great times together, which I will always treasure, but all good things must end. This is the end.”


“Don’t worry, John, there will be other women after me,” she said as she stood to walk away.

I sat in shock at the table. I had put too much of myself into our relationship. Jill had left me bleeding raw, ripping away the tendrils of heart and soul I had foolishly attached to her. Jim Morrison’s voice ran through my head, singing the Doors’ slow dirge, “The End.” I felt sure that Jill was wrong.

REMINDERThe Fountain is on sale on Kindle at $1.99 from 4pm PDT today to midnight June 8th

Born to Be Wild, on Incense and Peppermint–Steppenwolf Live in Louisville

No, not exactly born to be wild.

Well, check the drive from Shively to Louisville, fourth paragraph below–maybe a bit wild. Never much for the spices either. I got started on Mary Jane in Vietnam. That ended with the return to the US–and my very straight-laced first wife, Gloria.

August 1969, Strawberry Alarm Clock opened for Steppenwolf at Freedom Hall, Louisville. The one-hit-wonders must have sung other songs; I recall only “Incense and Peppermint.” I remember many more Steppenwolf hits—ones they did that night, “Magic Carpet Ride,” “Pusher,” and “Born to Be Wild.” My first concert since the Beatles in 1965. See that story here. 

The hall was just a few minutes from our apartment off Dixie Highway in Shively, a suburb of Louisville. Low-ranking married soldiers weren’t eligible for base housing. Even if I were, it would not have made sense to live there because Gloria couldn’t drive and we needed her to get a job to help us make ends meet. She worked as a nurses aide in Louisville.  I repaired radios in the tank park at the Armor Training Center at Fort Knox. While that was just 25 miles away from Shively, I had to be in formation at six am. That meant being on the road at 4:30 to drop her off for work. she got a ride home with a coworker.

I had less than two months left in the US Army when we went to the concert. Despite the sound blasting from the speakers within the arena, Gloria had trouble staying awake. I didn’t have that problem, maybe because it was the weekend. Our usual bedtime was 7:30 pm. We had an early rise on weekdays. It was a dark and dangerous trip every day, taking Gloria to Louisville and driving on to Ft. Knox along Dixie Highway. A 75-mile total trip. The locals nicknamed the road “Dixie Dieway” for all the traffic deaths along its route. I stopped for coffee and a donut at a diner a couple miles south of our apartment every morning, to make sure I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel.

But it wasn’t Dixie Highway that almost got me. It was the interstate near the nursing home. As I sped along in the right lane in the pre-dawn hours one morning, another car suddenly appeared half a car length in front of me. He had entered the road from a ramp beside me, hidden by the darkness and apparently without looking. At 60 miles per hour, there was no time or point in honking. Instinctively, without having had any training in the maneuver, I executed a four-wheel drift—letting off the gas and cutting the wheel sharply to the left, then cutting the wheel back to the right and stepping back on the gas. The car slid to the left lane and kept going forward, saving us from almost certain death. 

The ladies at the diner where I stopped every morning, baked me a cake for my last day. It wasn’t the first close encounter; it wouldn’t be the last. I had more to do in this life. Click on the link  to find out about my path from Vietnam to Enlightenment. Waiting for Westmoreland,  

REMINDER–The Fountain is on sale on Kindle for $.99 starting tomorrow