Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Editor's Corner


August 2018

"What we see depends mainly on what we look for. "
--John Lubbock

Truer words... what have you been looking for this summer whose days are rapidly dwindling? Here in this part of Texas and many other places School begins this month. Have you appreciated, loved, taught, shared time and conversations with your youngsters while they were on their break? One hopes so as time does keep racking up the minutes, hours, days -- until they are grown, off on their own, perhaps not near enough for a laugh or a hug. Perhaps you looked at pictures together from the longest Lunar Eclipse of the century. There is time to find them and share. Check this out Beautiful photos! Full moon eclipse and Mars.

Our authors have responded to an apparent burst of energy and there is a fine assortment of reading available this month. From columns and articles, stories and poems, entertainment awaits.

Melinda Cohenour's "Armchair Genealogy" delves into family scandals of the past, murder and assassination in your editor's home town, circa 1883. As a bonus relevant to the column, she includes a companion article courtesy of Find A Grave Memorial website with more info on Dr. Albert White Chenoweth.

Thomas F. O'Neill in his "Introspective," heading home from China for a Sabbatical, is missing his students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School already. For August he shares one of their videos where two students perform a scene from "Cats" the Broadway classic.

"Cooking with Rod" by Rod Cohenour brings us to the table with his Po Folks Swiss 'Steak.' Judith Kroll aka Featherwind presents some poetic advice in "On Trek."

Mattie Lennon's "Irish Eyes" covers an array of literary events in his entertaining manner. Dayvid Clarkson's "Reflections on the Day" includes both reflections and inspired insight with thoughtful advice.

LC Van Savage's still seeking that triple crown as she has article, story, and her column in this issue: "Neptune and the Boy," "A Kiss is Still A Kiss," and "Consider This" featuring "Last Words, Great Words."
Bruce Clifford's August poetry is "One Has To Wonder," "Just Like Him," and "The Severed Branch." Bud Lemire's poem "My Soul Sings" is an uplifting tribute for his cousin Paul.

Joel Joslin, a cousin of your editor, has shared the lyrics of his song, "Free Indeed." John I. Blair's poems this issue are: "Lace Curtains," "Two Sisters," "Patio Cat," "Motivity," "Routine," and "When Zander Snuggles Up." The Dayvid Clarkson's poem title echoes the first line - "May Your Spirit."

One of Phillip Hennessy's poems Judy Kay published in pencilstubs in November 2014, has been recorded by his friend and fellow musician, Alan Britton. This is an mp3 recording and you can click and play in Windows Media Player. Song:Judy Kay You can click both links and follow the words in the song that were chosen from the poem.

Once again our gratitude overflows toward our webmaster Mike Craner without whose patience and expertise this ezine would not have been in its 21rst year. Ovation for Mike.

See you in September!!!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Armchair Genealogy


The Murder of Joe Godwin by his brother-in-law, John Elbert Kirby on 5th February 1884

(Or, Strange How Facts Present Themselves)

      It is always a rewarding experience when one sets out to tend to the care and pruning of the old Family Tree. For it was on one such ‘gardening’ chore that your author came upon this most interesting tale. The story of this horrific killing, the trial, the setting aside of the original verdict, and the monstrous aftermath has formed the basis of several books, newspaper accounts, and a family website. The sources for this compilation are given at the end of the column as the facts gleaned from each have been intermingled by your author herein.

      One of the most scandalous and infamous murders in the history of Pineville, Missouri, was not the murder of Joe Godwin by his brother-in-law John Kirby; rather, it was the murder of revered Doctor Albert Chenoweth on 12th July 1883. However, John Kirby played a large part in the trial of his accused killer, Garland Mann.

      John Elbert Kirby (Kerby in some documents) was married to Laura Missouri Godwin, sister to Joe Godwin, on the 22nd of April in 1883. Only days before Laura would give birth to their first child, a son named Elbert Lee, on the 9th of February 1884, her husband John would kill her brother, Joe, on the 5th of February 1884. (Joe and Laura were siblings to our great grandmother Sarah Jane Godwin Joslin, all children of James Sparkman Godwin and wife Siletha Bridges Godwin.) The trial of Garland Mann and the subsequent outcome is rightfully one of the most outlandish occurrences in the history of the sleepy little farming village of Pineville, Missouri. My interest in this trial came about as a result of my research into the killing of Joe Godwin by John Kirby. As a result of John Kirby and Garland Mann being incarcerated together in not just one, but two Missouri jails, Kirby became a prime witness against Mann in his trials.

      As background, Gerald Mann was by all accounts a man who enjoyed his liquor and imbibed in it frequently and heavily. He loved that liquor so much he decided to open his own saloon. The building he chose for this franchise was owned by Dr. Albert Chenoweth, a fellow Union soldier during the War between the States. The men may have had that in common, but little else did they share in personality, beliefs, behaviors, or friendship. For Chenoweth was an avowed temperance advocate who strenuously opposed all avenues for purchase or sale of the devil’s brew. In 1877, Chenoweth had sold to Mann a building but then successfully opposed Mann’s application to sell liquor on the premises. This had, in effect, defeated Mann’s dream, cost him dear money, and sent him back to his hard-scrabble farm – an occupation he detested. Not only had Chenoweth caused Mann this financial hardship, he had also been party to another economic disaster for Gerald Mann. As mentioned, the two were Union soldiers and, in his duties as member of the local pension board, Chenoweth had written a letter opposing Mann’s application for a pension. Mann had been wounded in the War at the Battle of Stones River, a wound that would leave him with a permanent limp. It was in the course of his objection to that denial of pension that Gerald Mann visited Washington, D.C., and found among the file documents the letter from his arch enemy, Dr. Albert Chenoweth. Apparently, Dr. Chenoweth’s letter weighed heavily in the denial of Mann’s pension.

      Mann was a major suspect when one of Dr. Chenoweth’s buildings on Pineville’s town square was burned by arson. Chenoweth openly accused Mann of the mis-deed. Thus, the feud between the two men was similarly fired with the good doctor’s actions leaving the struggling, debt-ridden farmer with a thirst for more than alcohol – a thirst for Revenge.

      The name of Dr. Albert Chenoweth is not new to your author, because any review of the births, deaths, and illnesses of the good citizens of Pineville and neighboring Jane in the County of McDonald in the State of Missouri will result in the familiar signature of the attending physician – Dr. Chenoweth. He was a good man, well liked by most of the upstanding citizens of the county. But in the chest of one Gerald Mann beat a heart filled with but one driving ambition – to seek the final end to his mortal enemy, the death of the good doctor.

      On 12th July 1883, several witnesses would later report seeing a stylish buggy rounding the square. And they would, likewise, report one Gerald Mann inquiring as to whether or not the driver was, indeed, Dr. Chenoweth. Soon thereafter, the buggy was gone – and so was Gerald Mann. Within a matter of a half hour or so, gunshots would ring out upon the path between town and Chenoweth’s abode. His young son, Charley, was at home with his young stepmother, heavy with child, that night. Upon hearing those gunshots and the sound of the abandoned buggy and team dashing past the house and crashing against a post, young Charley went to investigate. He found his father with a large, gaping hole in his chest, already past help.

      So public was the feud between Mann and Chenoweth that the investigation turned quickly to locating the suspected perpetrator. Although on the square a mere half hour previous, inquiring as to the identity of the driver of the stylish buggy, Gerald Mann was nowhere to be found. The following morning he was taken into custody suspected of the killing and, soon after his questioning, accused and arrested of same.

      Inquiries about the town turned up numerous witnesses who would swear to having been party to Gerald Mann’s frequent and unceasing desire to kill Albert Chenoweth. He had been quite vocal for some time as to his intent to seek someone willing to carry out the deed or to accomplish the foul act on his own. The Neosho Times, a local newspaper, followed the trial and subsequent events closely, and provided verbatim testimony from the court. Among the statements of witnesses one stands out as the key to Mann’s ultimate finding of guilt – the testimony of his cellmate, the inglorious John Kirby. Any reader interested in the Trial of the Century (as today’s headlines might proclaim), the entire court case can be reviewed online as presented at:

      The following excerpt is from the book “Murder and Mayhem in McDonald County” by Larry Wood:

“In early February 1884, Mann was brought to Pineville for his formal hearing and lodged in the jail there for the duration of the court session. During his brief stay, he and another murder suspect, Jim Wisdom, were taken out of their cells at night and hidden in the woods near Pineville on one or more occasions because McDonald County sheriff Joseph C. Seabourn had heard renewed rumors of mob violence against Mann, and Seabourn thought that Wisdom might need protection too.”

A change in venue was pending to nearby Newton County in light of the heightened tensions surrounding the defendant in McDonald County. The new court date would not take place until April, however, and Chenoweth family and friends were not happy.

“In the meantime, Mann was taken back to Jasper county jail for safekeeping. Jim Wisdom and John Kirby, who had killed his brother-in-law in Pineville while the February court was in session and had been immediately indicted for murder, were also taken to Carthage from Pineville at the same time. . . . When testimony began . . . Several claimed that they had heard Mann threaten to kill Chenoweth on numerous occasions. . . .Perhaps the most damning evidence was given by fellow jailbird Kirby, who had known Mann for ten years and had shared a cell with him at Carthage. He told the court that Mann had made a jailhouse confession detailing his every move on the night of Chenoweth’s murder. According to Kirby, Mann said that he got the murder weapon from A. M. Dillon’s barn just off the square, ambushed Dr. Chenoweth, returned the gun to the same place he had got it, and struck off for home along a path that followed the river.”

Of course, Kirby was accused of offering testimony in return for leniency in his own case (and may have received it, as he was fathering children with his wife a mere four years later). And others, including Jesse Bonebrake who lived along the river some distance from town, offered exonerating testimony. Bonebrake believed he had heard Mann coming along that very path away from the Dr’s home, whistling innocently “Yankee Doodle Dandy” at a time that would have precluded him being the villain. (One must wonder if this is the very Old Man Bonebrake our mother told tales about, the Bonebrake whose hair and beard had never been cut but appeared short EXCEPT when he dove into the river from the tree off the cliff - Bonebrake Bluff - and emerged with Looooong hair and beard dripping water until he shook his head and both beard and long curls popped back into tight curls appearing to be short-shorned. So many times we heard that tale!)

The following testimony given by John Kirby against Gerald Mann was found on the website link provided above, devoted to the memory of Dr. Albert White Chenoweth that has been created by his great granddaughter. The testimony is quoted verbatim as it was originally published by the Neosho Times, a local newspaper in McDonald County, Missouri:

JOHN KIRBY: I live in McDonald County. Am acquainted with Garland Mann. Last February I was in Pineville. Have known Mann 10 years. I went from Pineville to Carthage with Mann and Wisdom in charge of the sheriff to Carthage jail. I was put in the same cell with Mann and two others. We were that way about two weeks, then we were left alone two or three nights. I know of the killing of the A.W. Chenoweth. We were taken out of the Pineville jail by deputy sheriffs and walked about a half-mile to the hack, which we were put in and started to Carthage. I did not hear of a mob in Pineville at that time. I stand indicted for the murder of Godwin, at Pineville last February. We left the regular Neosho road and drove through the woods. We met two men. Do not know whether they were armed or not. Got to Neosho about daybreak. Mann told me that he did kill Chenoweth, and that he didn't give a goddamn. He said that he was sitting on the platform of Thos. Clark's saloon when Chenoweth drove up. After they met, he walked up the street toward Dillin's place. He thought he would go in and see him, but changed his mind, as Dillin (JE note: as pointed out by Alicia Brown, the "History of McDonald County Missouri" by Judge J. A. Sturges--1897... states that "In October, 1884, A(lbert). M. Dillon, of Pineville was arrested as an accessory to the killing of Chenoweth, but was tried and acquitted by a jury of his own county, there being no substantial evidence against him.") was talking with his wife. He then went close to Dillin's barn, where there was a double-barreled shot gun placed, which he got. He then went across the hollow by Mr. Barr's, then across the Bradley Branch, going back of the widow Painter's and placed himself on a point a certain distance at the turn of the road near the school house and waited until Dr. Chenoweth came along. About 8 o'clock Chenoweth came along, Mann having been there only a few minutes. He said he then fixed him and that the team went on and he struck out for tall timber. He said he went home. He said he supposed the gun belonged to Dillin, but that he didn't give a damn, that he was killed, all the same. He said he placed the gun in about the same place he found it. That when he got home he looked at the clock and that it was about 9 o'clock. He said that his reason for killing Chenoweth was that he had interfered with his whisky and pension business and that he had accused him (Mann) of trying to burn the town. Mann's reason for telling me was that I was in jail, and that my evidence would not be admitted in court. In 1876 Mann had a whisky shebang in Pineville, and one day he took me back of his place and offered me or any other man $65 to kill Chenoweth. (When the cross examination commenced, the witness claimed to have been taken with a chill, and was examined by physicians who pronounced him unable to testify, and the court excused him until he was better..

CROSS EX. OF JOHN KIRBY: The prisoners in the Carthage jail were usually shut up at 6 o'clock, J.J. Irwin was jailer. He shut Mann and I in our cell together. I cannot say what time it was when Mann and I were talking, I was not in Pineville the night Dr. Chenoweth was killed, but was there when he was buried. Never talked to Henry Testerman about this case before I was taken to Carthage, nor heard what his testimony or that of any other witness would be. Did not talk with J.W. Brunk about the testimony at the preliminary trial. I was in town frequently, after the killing of Dr. Chenoweth, but did not hear what any of the witnesses would swear to. That is true. Never heard the evidence and didn't know anything about it. Did not state in my direct evidence that I had talked with John Mosier before and after the examination. Am acquainted with J.L. Barr. Did not have any talk with him about his case. He did not agree to defend me if I would swear to the confession of Mann. The first time I ever told of Mann's confession was in this courtroom. Dick Roberts brought me here. We stopped at the McElhany house. Did not tell the state's attorneys in this case anything about Mann's confession. Did not tell Sheriff Roberts about Mann offering me $65 to kill Chenoweth. Did not tell Sheriff Roberts that I was coming here to be a witness. Did not know what I was coming for. Did not talk with my brother about this case. Did not write a letter to Mr. Cole, telling him about a confession. Did tell the state's attorneys at the hotel after I came here. Told them that Garland Mann had told me that he killed Chenoweth. Told them that he told me he killed Chenoweth and didn't give a damn. That he was sitting on the platform at Clark's when Chenoweth drove past. That he went to Dillin's and got the gun which was near Dillin's barn, and then went up back Col. Barr's and the widow Bradley's until he came to the place where he hid himself, and waited until Dr. A.W. Chenoweth came along when he killed him. He then returned about the same route he came, put the gun close to where he found it and then went on home, struck a match and that it was 9 o'clock. He said he then went to bed, when Mann told me this we were all in cell no. 7. The last man discharged out of the cell leaving Mann and I alone was named Mitchel. Never told anyone about the confession until I told the attorneys at the McElhany house. Saw Mr. Lamson at Carthage but did not speak to him. Messrs, Barr and Lamson or no one else ever made a proposition to me to help me in my case if I would swear against Mann. Am under indictment for killing my brother-in-law, Godwin, on the streets of Pineville, on the 5th day of February '84. The killing was done about 10 o'clock in the forenoon.

      Whether or not Gerald Mann was the man who ambushed Dr. Chenoweth will never be known in this lifetime. The testimony of all the other witnesses both supporting that claim and offering exonerating testimony that would place Mann away from the location are all available at the website referenced above. Even J. W. Brunk, John Kirby’s attorney provided testimony – testimony that is not altogether kind to one John Kirby:

      “J.W. BRUNK: Live in Pineville. Am an attorney. Know Henry Testerman. First knew him in 1877. Henry Testerman asked me in Pineville, MO, at the Lamance hotel, "What have you fellows done with Garland. Will he give any money for a witness." I told him I did not know. He then said that for $500 or $800, he would clear Garland Mann. That he was a convict and an outlaw and didn't care anyway. On the day of Garland Mann's arrest, I, in company with Sheriff Seabourn, went to Mann's house. Seabourn found a shotgun above the north door of Mann's house, and also a breech-loading rifle. The shotgun belonged to me. I took it there last July. I took Alf Kirby into my room at the Commercial hotel and told him that I understood that Old Abe Price had hired John, his brother, to swear Garland Mann's life away. I am attorney for Kirby. Told him that I wanted to see him and see what he knew about it. That in the excitement in McDonald County wanted to hang him and the other to give him a fair trial. That I had so far been able to control the men who want him to have a fair trial. That Chenoweth's friends were the other element, and were not disposed to prosecute Kirby, and that he had better let the matter alone. That I didn't think John would swear to a lie except to save his life, but that I heard that inducements of that kind or threats would compel him to. That if he did swear that way Benton and probably Cravens would be hired to prosecute him. I asked Kirby if he did not want to live on my farm that I thought he was a good hand, but did not say free of rent. This is the substance of what I said to Alf Kirby about the Mann case in my own room at the Commercial hotel.”

It is an interesting story. One with passion, murder, and the added interest of having a family member intimately involved even through such a nefarious act as the murder of one’s own kin. It is a sad story in all aspects: the killing of the prominent doctor, the crushing of one man’s dreams and the absolute damage financially and by character assassination that Gerald Mann felt so passionately; the involvement of our family by the horrific act of murder – and the motive for that untimely and dastardly act still not discovered; and the ultimate outcome of the mob mentality that brought the actors together in this dance with Lady Justice. The story is succinctly told by another descendant of Dr. Albert Chenoweth: Shauna Harris, as referenced on the Chenoweth site:
FROM THE HARRIS BOOK: Doctor Albert practiced medicine quite successfully in his home town of Pineville in McDonald County, and was a most prominent citizen. From 1866 to 1870 he was the County and Circuit Clerk of McDonald County, and in 1878 he was elected to the Thirtieth General Assembly of Missouri, Democrat, Representative. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and a zealous temperance worker, a devotion that cost him his life. On the night of September 12, 1883, Dr. Chenoweth was shot from ambush while returning home in his buggy from Pineville. He fell to the road from his buggy, mortally wounded by two shotgun blasts. His antagonism towards liquor and saloons had made him enemies. Garland A. Mann of Pineville was an open bitter foe, claiming that Albert had prevent him from obtaining a liquor license and had interfered with his pension request, and was known to have threatened Albert. Mann was immediately arrested and jail. He was tried, but the jury could not agree, and a new trial was held. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to be hung, but the Supreme Court reversed the decision and ordered another trial. The third trial again resulted in a hung jury and mistrial. A fourth trial was begun, but on the night of August 3rd, 1885, an angry mob, frustrated by the delays, broke into the jail and shot the accused man to death.

Dr. Chenoweth

      The moral to this story is to tend that tree, take the time to dig for the STORY not just the FACTS. Because you never know what you might discover when you decide to explore Armchair Genealogy.
1. Murder and Mayhem in Missouri, author Larry Wood; Publisher: Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2013. (This book will deal with notorious incidents that occurred throughout the state of Missouri from before the Civil War through the gangster ear of the 1920s and 1930s”) Most noted murder case in McDonald County history: the Mann-Chenoweth affair.
(,+pineville&source=bl&ots=bs4NekjAWy&sig=4qAD6ltbeCANOwaxzEGm1Lu_L0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiI7MXEoMjcAhUTO30KHdvyD6gQ6AEwCXoECAQQAQ#v=onepage&q=John%20kirby%2C%20pineville&f=false) to access the preceding link, copy info inside the parenthesis and paste in new tab.
2. Dr. Albert White Chenoweth, “Assassinated September 12, 1883, Pineville, McDonald Co., MO;
3. SOURCE: )
McDonald County Missouri Marriages, Book C; 1881 – 1888; Copyright © 2000 by Patricia A. Scott. Transcribed from microfilm #0930075 by Patricia A. Scott ( for display on the USGenWeb Archives. You are welcome to print and use this information for personal purposes or distribution to a library. No commercial use or for profit use is allowed. This is the first book that has actual certificates of marriage. Where indicated, the parties married, date of solemnization, official and bond or consent is transcribed. If the marriage was not solemnized, the date listed is that of the license. Every effort has been made to avoid error. However, if you find that one has occurred, please notify the transcriber and copyright holder of any corrections or additions. There are two marriages listed on each numbered page.

(#078 John E. KIRBY to Laura GODWIN, both of Pineville on April 22, 1883 by John Mosier, JP at John Mosier’s residence.)
Researched and compiled by Melinda Cohenour.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Armchair Genealogy-Companion Piece

Biography of Doctor Albert White Chenoweth

(1835 – 1884)
Courtesy Find A Grave Memorial Website:
BIRTH 15 Oct 1835; Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio, USA
DEATH 12 Sep 1883 (aged 47); Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri, USA
BURIAL Pineville Cemetery; Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri, USA
MEMORIAL ID 13145719

Doctor Albert W. was a surgeon with the 14th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, enlisting in August of 1863 and honorably discharged on June 25th 1865 after 22 months.

A villainous saloon-keeper, whose nefarious business had been injured by the bold stand which the Doctor took against the evil and for the good of humanity, brutally murdered him on September 12, 1883.

He married (1) THURSEY L. HARMON on Jan. 17, 1861 in McDonald County, Missouri.
Their children: Lincoln Curtice "Linc", Emma Frances, Charles W. Blair, Thursey Lillian "Lillie", Albert William, and Stella J.

He married (2) LAURA VICTORIA YONCE on Jan. 1, 1881 in McDonald County, Missouri.
Their children; Wallace Carroll, and Henry Edward "Harry"

The photograph of Dr. Albert White Chenoweth in his Union Army uniform was generously provided Find A Grave Memorial website on 9 Mar 2015
 by T. S. Lundberg (Sternberg), a contributing member.
McDonald County, biography:

Dr. Albert W. Chenoweth (deceased) was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, on October 15, 1835. His father was Henry S. Chenoweth, who is now deceased. Dr. Albert W. Chenoweth was liberally educated in Circleville University, Ohio, and came with his parents to Springfield, Mo., in 1851. They resided in Springfield six years, and in Newton County one year, and came to Pineville in 1858. The subject of this sketch graduated from the Missouri Medical College, of St. Louis in 1858, and from the St. Louis Medical College in March, 1865. He gained a thorough knowledge of his profession, which he afterwards practiced so successfully. On January 17,1861, he was united in marriage with Thursey, a daughter of Mark Harmon, now deceased. Mrs. Chenoweth died on February 9, 1880, leaving six children, namely: Dr. L. Curtis, Emma, Charles, Lillie, Albert and Stella. Dr. Chenoweth married again on January 9, 1881, choosing for his wife Laura V. Yonce, a daughter of James E. Yonce (deceased). To this union have been born two children, Wallace and Henry.

The Doctor was one of the most prominent and useful citizens of Pineville, always taking a deep interest in anything that was for the public welfare. He was a devout Christian, an earnest temperance worker and a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. His zeal for temperance cost him his life. A villainous saloon-keeper, whose nefarious business had been injured by the bold stand which the doctor took against the evil and for the good of humanity, brutally murdered him on September 12, 1883.

The enraged citizens, seeing that the murderer was about to escape the punishment he deserved through some technicality, organized a company which took him from the jail at Neosho and shot him. For many years the Doctor was a Mason, and stood high in that ancient order. Prior to the Civil War he was a Democrat in politics, but afterward acted with the liberal Republicans. During the war, or from 1863 to 1865, he served in the Federal army, as surgeon of the Fourteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry. From 1866 to 1870 he served as county and circuit clerk for McDonald County.

The county, recognizing his ability as a public officer, elected him to the Thirtieth General Assembly of Missouri in 1878 which position he filled in the most satisfactory manner. Dr. Chenoweth has edited and published several different papers in the county.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.The Memorial Marker (see below) for Dr. Albert White Chenoweth and first wife Thursey was provided Find A Grave Memorial website on 20 Jun 2011 by Diane Cobb, a contributing member.

Memorial Marker - Dr. Albert White Chenoweth 1835 - 1884

Irish Eyes




       When I go into the voting booth, do I vote for the person who is the best President or the slimebucket who will make my life as a cartoonist wonderful?

      Since we have a Presidential election coming up in October the above quotation, from American cartoonist Mike Peters, came to mind. And speaking of cartoonists , since 2005 I have been secretary of CIE Writers’ Group. We were, and still are, completely dependent on sponsorship and artists and corporate bodies have been very generous with us down the years.

     I recently sent the following request (and it was a request and not a demand) to Allen Kavanagh one of our better known cartoonists;

       “We need a simple line drawing, for in-house distribution to Dublin Bus employees, during the Pope's visit. Unfortunately we won't be in a position to remunerate you but if you are willing to do it I'll send you the details.” Was Mikhail Bulgakov right when he said, “You should never ask anyone for anything. Never- and especially from those who are more powerful than yourself.” I don’t know. All I know is that Mr. Kavanagh was underwhelmed to say the least and replied as follows;

      “Explain to me why you think I'd work for free? How long would I get to stay on a Dublin bus if I didn't pay?”

      That was fair enough and I explained, as best I could, that I had no way of knowing that he wouldn’t be prepared to do a small job for free. I went on to explain, “We are not Dublin Bus; we are a writing group made up of Dublin Bus employees and retired employees.”

       To which he replied; “You contacted a professional about engaging his professional services and you had no way of knowing I'D CHARGE FOR MY WORK? What other line of business would you contact and expect free work? My time and skill have value. Stop expecting artists to work for free.”

      Notice the instruction at the end?

       I was soon told that Mr. Kavanagh had published my original request on a networking service. (He also posted our email address which had an unexpected benefit but that’s a story for another day.)

       Mr. Kavanagh did get a large volume of support from his fellow tweeters, some of whom used the “vernacular of the soldier” and the crutch of the crippled conversationalist a lot. One Nigel Bell from Brisbane managed to establish that I was, “Not brought up properly”. And somebody called “Fuster” provides a well-executed line drawing of a one-fingered salute which he suggested Mr. Kavanagh sends me a line-drawing of a one-finger salute.

      I have just learned that Mr. Kavanagh is featuring in a programme on national radio about illustrators / cartoonists being asked to do work for free. If he wants a list of artists who did work for our group free of charge I can supply it. He refers to red mist being on him and according to himself he has, “. . . A zero-tolerance name-and-shame policy when it comes to this...” It is not clear to me who he is going to shame.


      The Capilano suspension Bridge spans 450 foot across the Capilano River in North Vancouver. It’s a flimsy structure made of five-foot-wide wooden struts attached to swinging wire cables. If you were crossing it you would be aware that the wire handrails are too low to protect you should you stumble, as it wobbles badly. The river is 230 feet below. One day in the 1970's a very attractive young female stood on this rickety bridge, stopped some men and asked them if they would answer some questions for a psychology study of the effects of scenic attractions on creativity. They were asked to write a short story.

       The same woman, later, stood on a solid bridge further up the same river and asked passing males the same questions. They, also, were asked to write a short story. The stories of the swaying men was absolutely loaded with erotic content while those written by those who were on the solid bridge were completely lacking in such content, Also the rickety bridge men were much more likely to make contact than the solid bridge men.

      How do I know this and why am I telling you? Let me explain. Of the 69 events at Listowel Writers’ Week I attended as many as possible. Some stuck in my mind. One was a talk given by Clinical Psychologist, Ian Robertson who told the above story. He went on to explain how fear increases adrenaline which causes certain symptoms. You can guess the rest! If you ask people to rate the attractiveness of people of the opposite sex after they’ve been to the gym, on average they think they’re more attractive compared to when they haven’t had exercise. Mr. Robertson says it is, ” . . Possible to harness anxiety and turn it into that most positive and energizing of emotions, excitement”.

       It was one of the most informative talks I have ever attended. I came away knowing why I am a bit dopey (well, more dopey than usual) for about half an hour after getting up in the morning. It has to do with lack of noradrenaline in my puny brain. Mr. Robertson is one of the humblest of men who has no trouble saying things like, “I was a bit stuck as to where to go from here” or “Had I known what I know now.” “I didn’t properly think it through. . .”

       I have since read his book, "The Stress Test” in which he explain in detail and in lay-mans’ language why some people get so distressed over trivial setbacks while others live through life-changing tragedies with very little emotional upset.

      The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in the “Maxims and Arrows” section of his book, Twilight of the Idols in 1888, “What does not kill me makes me stronger."
Ian Robertson freely admits that, though in his early years, he did not fully agree with the great German philosopher he now would have difficulty disagreeing with him. But the well-qualified Mr. Robertson doesn’t agree with all the theories of many of his famous and well respected predecessors. Early in the book he refers to one belief that, ” . . . still clung like smoke to the curtain of assumptions underlying the world of psychiatry in which I trained and later worked.” This is the sort of flowery language which is to be found right through the book. And there is no scarcity of subtle humour. And, “A major discovery always triggers an avalanche of research, and over the next decade hundreds of papers appeared showing that an unquestioned belief for the last hundred years about the human brain was wrong; it is changed by experience.”

      This book outlines in detail how the right level of challenge and even stress can help us to flourish and achieve more than we ever thought possible. I have to endorse the statement of the Daily Telegraph critic, “Read this. It might just save your life.”

      The Stress Test is published by Bloomsbury.
John B. Keane Festival

      If John B. Keane had lived another sixteen years he would have been 90 on July 21st. Or, as his son Billy has written, he would have been 270 as, “He made three days out of every birthday”. In a wonderful piece in the Irish Independent Billy refers to his father in the present tense emphasizing that he is still with him in a very special way. “I tell him my problems and my worries and just the other night, I imagined him saying to me; ‘Thing-a-nothing, Bill boy.’ Everything was ‘a thing-a-nothing’”.

      The good people of the Seanachai Kerry Writers’ Museum, in Listowel, held a John B. Keane Festival in memory of the town’s most famous son. (See Poster bottom of page.)


      The KnockanStockan festival returned to Lacken on the shores of the Beautiful Blessington lakes for 2018, after a one year break in 2017, with an impressive first lineup setting a sensational standard for the many acts. . A true representation of the high caliber of music in Ireland, home-grown talent and international artists of critical acclaim fitting for all musical tastes were sure to impress even the most refined musical palate.

One of the 140 groups in the lineout for Knockanstockan 2018.

And while I’m on the subject of my own neck of the woods, Blessington songwriter Peter Keenan’s latest composition My Blessington Rose is in the final of the prestigious Mick McCarthy Ballad Writing Competition in Finuge County Kerry on Sunday 5th August.
Joxer Daly

      Dublin writer, Eddie Naughton, has taken O Casey’s iconic Joxer Daly and given him a new life in a one-man play Joxer Daly esq. It is almost at the end on a successful run in Bewley’s Grafton Street, in Dublin. The show is no less than brilliant with the immortal Joxer played by that multi-talented actor Phelim Drew.

      See you in September.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Reflections on the Day


How I became an Observer


All my life it seems I have been, for want of better words, a spiritual seeker. I started at a very young age. I was reading Plato and Bulfinch’s Mythology at age ten. I have explored the majority of the world religions and belief systems always looking for the answer, albeit I had not formulated the question, still working on that today. The majority of ‘self-help/spiritual’ books and programs have also come under my purview.

I have practiced Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Shamanism, Native and Indigenous Wisdoms. I have researched auras, chakras, lucid dreaming, meditation, parapsychology and quantum physics.

Although the foregoing is not a complete list of my pursuits yet it should give insight to part of my journey. I always seem to be looking for what appears to be unanswerable. I have been challenged through my journey with anxiety, depression, and addiction. The question ‘WHY’ became too enormous and I became overwhelmed.

Then I came across my realization. I sensed there was part of me that was my ‘Authentic Self’. Yes, there are many views on the authentic self, the truth within, the person you were meant to be, and no end to information about the ‘right’ path. I found I could not control the many thousands upon thousands of thoughts that raced through my mind. Most of those thoughts I saw as detrimental to my well being and progress. Then I realized that the majority of these thoughts were created by what I was taught. Concepts such as beautiful versus ugly, right from wrong, strong versus weak, like from dislike, and good versus bad are, in my opinion, essentially taught to us. These concepts will also be influenced by gender, parentage, age, ethnicity, cultural heritage, and geographical location to name a few. I needed to unlearn what I had been taught. A small example; you see someone unshaven, straggly hair, no socks with dress shoes, ass crack showing, overweight how do you react? I know how I do and I need to bring my ‘higher self’ into play in order not to judge them. How to unlearn?

Wait a minute. Bring my ‘higher self’ into play? Was that my ‘Authentic Self’ I was looking for? While all these thoughts and judgments were being played out, who was watching? Who saw these thoughts as flawed? Who was it that saw the majority of my ‘Monkey Mind’ as being thousands upon thousands of thoughts that were detrimental to my well being and progress? Just maybe it was my ‘Authentic Self’.

So I became the Observer. Now when thoughts that are detrimental to my well being arise I acknowledge them as not belonging to my ‘Authentic Self’ but rather my ‘Human Self’. The human self has been brainwashed beyond belief, through generational beliefs, political beliefs, and most importantly all forms of media, just to name a few. My human self is important in many ways. It keeps me from putting my hand in a flame for extended periods of time. It provides decisions on matters that I have not yet had time to explore.

I really like my Authentic Self. It is kind, compassionate, and altruistic. I do not dislike my human self for I see its purpose. I find myself appreciating the totality of who I am. I don’t believe it is about controlling the mind but rather understanding. Every thought you have someone is observing. You have already found that someone and that someone is a wonderful you.
Namaste, Dayvid
Dayvid, July 2018
July 25
Language has always intrigued me. For me, it is the English language. However, I am confident that my observations are applicable to other languages. Language is taught to children in order that they may communicate with us. To me, there is much more to it. As we teach language we are also defining that child’s world. In order for the child to understand the word, we put it into context for them. This flower is pretty, this weed is not. We feed them baby food at first. We give them strained carrots and repeat to them ‘mmmm’, ‘this is good’, ‘yummy’, and ‘You will love this’. Guess what? They love carrots. If you feed them strained spinach and they immediately spit it out and make a funny face you laugh and laugh. Now maybe next time they might like strained spinach, yet due to the positive feedback, you gave them they will continue to spit it out and make funny faces. Guess what they don’t love spinach.

You teach them the word ‘Beautiful’. They overhear you seeing some perfect 10 and you say, “She/He is beautiful. Now a 10 to us is one thing. A 10 in other cultures/ethnicities might be very different. In Polynesian areas, I understand that a four hundred pound man is really a 10. The point I am trying to make is that not only are we teaching our children to communicate but we are also defining their world. We are teaching them beauty, love, pleasantness, other esoteric concepts, and biases according to your culture and your viewpoint on life. Different people will have differing levels of influence on the child.

It seems that we carry these teachings throughout our lives. Yes, some like spinach when they grow older but they had to unlearn what they were taught. An inconsequential thing yet what other teachings lie deeper within us. For the most part, our worldview has been taught from an external source. It is time to unlearn everything we have been taught. Every thought, action, or reaction I question as to ‘Who taught me that?’ Search within to replace that knowledge which is the true you not someone else’s interpretation of this journey. That quiet voice of wisdom that is your soul.
Namaste, Dayvid

June 30
We are letting our Children slip away. We no longer seem to tell them stories with morals or lessons. We don't tell them fairy tales and simple stories of wonder. We don't sit with them in the forest and explain how trees talk. We seem to have lost the art of being while we are buried in living. Let the Children see the Child in you.
Namaste, Dayvid

July 23
Don´t be unnecessarily burdened by the past. Go on closing the chapters that you have read; there is no need to go back again and again. And never judge anything of the past from the new perspective that is arriving, because the new is new, incomparably new and the old was right in its own context, and the new is right in its own context, and they are incomparable.

What many are currently experiencing is the Universe giving them a kick in the arse! You are identifying a pathway you believe you want to pursue because your soul is telling you it is right. I caution you though this path you are choosing to embark on is very difficult. Without exaggerating it will prove more challenging than anything you have previously been through. I know what you have been through. Trust me it pales in comparison. The Universe will challenge everything you have learned and believe. At times it will seem like you are losing your touch on reality, keeping in mind you were taught your present reality. At times you will question your mental health.
One must unlearn everything we have been taught. Constantly ask yourself, the thoughts you think, the words you utter, and the behaviors you exhibit, who taught me that. There is a voice within that you will come to know as your truth. You feel as if you are in a battle of minds, the true mind and the ego. The ego contains all that we have been taught. The courage required to turn your back on everything that you currently perceive as real is enormous. Your progress is not measured in leaps and bounds but rather baby steps moving forward each day. And there will be days when you feel like you have gone one step forward and ten steps back. You will question why you cannot return to that connectedness yet, just remember it is there waiting for you.

Every bit of information we receive from any source must be applied to the concept of critical thinking and our own internal lie detector. Do not attach yourself to any one way of thinking. It may change tomorrow. For this evening my thoughts are with you for I see your heart. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid 

July 29
I humbly knock upon the door of the dream realm. A quiet voice intones, “Welcome dear one. Enter with an open heart and an open mind.” I sense it is time for a new adventure, to learn a new language, to hear the stories of my dreams. My soul fills knowing that this wondrous voyage will never end. It is both serene and exciting at the same time. I will let go of the outcome not trying to control. I will let the Divine guide my steps. Yes, I will falter, yet will not chastise myself for my stumbles. I will arise each time and learn to love myself more. My wish for you is an open heart and an open mind. As a wheel has many spokes please know they all lead to the center. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid
July 28
The day draws to a close. Father Sky paints with the colours of the wind in soft pastels. It signals the time of release and a time to gentle down. The worries of the day fade away as I remember the kindness given and received. This energy I release to my Family and Friends. Go softly into the night my fellow Seekers know you are welcome. Sleep well, Dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid

July 24
The end of a long hot day as Grand Father Sun drew the aroma of sweet grass from newly cut hayfields. Grand Mother Moon is nearing her fullness, yet she hides her face behind the clouds. I know she is there. Her light so powerful the crystals sing. She tells of fullness to come and bids us enter her realm. Grand Mother prompts us to leave every care and worry at the entryway. ‘Wipe your feet before you come in.’ For now is the time to lay your head and journey into a peaceful night. There to recharge and restore your power. May you awaken and continue your voyage not quite knowing where you are going but completely confident you are on the right path. As you rest upon your bed, stay the other thoughts, embrace your heart and listen for the crystals’ song. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid.

July 22
I drift into the transition from the clay world. Listening to my heart beat I hear the whispers of the Elders. “Come with us wind walker, come and listen to our stories of old. We will help you remember who you are. We will help you wash away everything you have learned at mortal hands. The beat of my heart melds with the deep vibration of the original drums. Coursing through it fills me with a vibrancy of returning home again. We are all just walking each other home. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends. Humble bow, Dayvid. Dayvid Bruce Clarkson
July 21 at 9:55 PM · Grand Father Sun has gone to rest. Sweet Grand Mother Moon takes over the brood. She shines her light to reveal the stars. At the end of the day, I like to Dusk Walk. A state between awake and dream. I wander the sky; imagine the star patterns connecting the path toward my lessons. It is a most pleasant time, drifting in and out, swaying to the Divine rhythm. I listen to my heart as to an ancient drum leading me forward until I peacefully great my Elders for another class. I am eternally grateful for every moment, every bit of serendipity, that gives my journey a magical synchronicity. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid.

July 5
Reflecting on the day. I was planting some trees, that will eventually become bonsai, and as I was filling around them with soil I recalled what a pain it was with the water running over the edges when watering. This creates dirt around the rims which need to be cleaned off. I usually have to water twice as most of the water runs off. Then the light went on. Why not put less dirt in the pots creating a natural well. Well, ain’t that smart Sparky? It sounds pretty simple. What I realized is that I have been container gardening for a very long time and suffered through the overflowing pots the same amount of time. This is not earth shattering but after all these years, and presently being mindful, this simple concept was a eureka moment. All these years I have been laying the foundation upon which to grow. At my age knowing that I can learn simple things that bring about simple joys I just have to wonder what the next day holds for me. Pay attention, be amazed, and tell about it. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid

July 3
Somedays you just need a mental health day. I chose today to put the Empath back in his cage along with all the drama. I went downtown and stepped out of my comfort zone and had a chicken, brie, and pear panni with a real mango smoothie at a local cafĂ© with sidewalk sitting. I cannot remember having such a delicious sandwich, not something I would normally order. The real mango smoothie was a first for me as well. This smoothie is a keeper with such deep flavour. Afterwards, I took a stroll down to the waterfront and had a maple walnut waffle cone while people watching and conversing with the seagulls. I was full of gratitude and disbelief that I am so fortunate. Yes, the Empath reared his head and I felt some guilt that I had what most don’t have. It re-enforced my commitment to share as much as I am able. The best way to share is with acts of kindness and compassion. It is absolutely okay to enjoy your bounty in a mindful way. As the day wraps me in the warmth of time well spent I will retire to the dream scape. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid.

July 1
The windsong carried me along this eve. Grand Mother Moon gently chided me to wash behind my ears so I could hear the silence. The sound between the whispers quickened my heart. A sense of accomplishment filled my soul. Yet I don’t know what I accomplished. I pause and quietly look around trying to see what is not there. I talk in riddles to myself; yet I know, surely I know. Surely I know. The mist draws about me and I am ready. It is time, it is time. I shall venture forth to see the new day but take time with the night. For at this time and in this place a peace shall surround me and I will share with all. This is our time. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid

June 11
Today there were feelings of humility leading to a great sense of gratitude. I took time to pay attention to these strong feelings. What wonder and what confirmation. I am blessed to be able to have a ringside seat. As you retire this eve please look to the skye. Look to all that you have and all that surrounds you. It is a miracle and you are the cause. Thank you … Off now to whisper secrets with Grand Mother Moon. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid

June 9
I reflect on the events that will vanish with the day. As well, any sadness or regret, in my sleep will fade away. The day is past and I savor every moment. The time is endless yet we will always collect these precious understandings, safe in the knowledge we are learning to be. Returning to our authentic selves is not an easy journey nevertheless our Spirit innately knows the way home. Have many Teachers, yet be the disciple of none. Your heart is pure and you will be guided. Sleep well, dream deep my Friends.
Humble bow, Dayvid.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


Cooking with Rod

As the years go by, when you realize you're heading into retirement and a limited income, it's great to know how to make a good meal inexpensively. This is one of my favorites! You can make it with good lean ground beef or, if feeling flush or you find a great deal, use round steak, sirloin steak, or tenderized chuck to make Honest to Goodness Swiss Steak.

Remember, smothering the meat with onions and peppers tenderizes beef and the acidic tomatoes and their natural juice also act to tenderize. The Swiss steak is great served with baked or mashed potatoes, egg noodles or another mild pasta, or with steamed rice. Whichever way you choose, it is delicious!

Bon appetit~!


Po Folks Swiss "Steak"

Serves 6 - 8:
  • 4 lbs ground sirloin (ground round or 93% lean ground beef)
  • 1 lg. can Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 2 sm cans French Onion soup
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 lg. green Bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 lg. red Bell pepper, cubed
  • 3 stalks celery, de-string and cut in thin half moons
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, juice and all
  • 2 Tbsp. Ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. Original Mrs. Dash (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Garlic powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup Minced onions


Press entire package of meat into large electric skillet. Season top side, using half of all spices listed, except minced onions. Brown thoroughly. Using standard spatula, cut meat into serving portions before turning. Season flip side with remaining spices, reserving minced onions.

Cover meat with diced onions, celery, and cubed Bell peppers. Add full can of tomatoes. Cover and smother meat.

Whisk together Cream of Chicken soup, French Onion soup, and minced onions.

Pour gravy mixture evenly over meat. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Allow to simmer about 25 minutes.

Delicious served with mashed or baked potatoes or can serve over rice or noodles.

(NOTE: If you're feeling flush or your grocer has a good price on sirloin or round steak, this recipe is delicious and transforms into Honest to Goodness Swiss Steak!)

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Consider This


Last Words, Great Words!


       Have you ever read the wonderful book called “Famous Last Words” by Ray Robinson? It’s macabre, funny, worrisome, sad and joyful all at the same time. Mr. Robinson has somehow managed to collect the last words of famous people. I’m not sure how he did that, but he did, and it makes for fascinating reading. To be sure not all of these last words were uttered as the speakers were gasping their last; some were said days before, while they were still upright.

      For example, Grace Kelly. Remember her? Well, she never got a chance to have a few meaningful last words of course, but her uncle did; he was George Kelly, a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. When he was on his deathbed his niece (a different one) came to bid him farewell, and he said, “My dear, before you kiss me good-bye, fix your hair. It’s a mess.” Now that’s one guy who was determined to be annoying until the very end, and he clearly succeeded.

      One of my favorite last-words guy was Francis “Two-Gun” Crowley. In 1931, he was convicted of robbery and murder, so while he was sitting in the electric chair in Sing-Sing and just seconds before they pulled the lever, he said, “You sons of bitches, give my love to Mother!” There’s really nothing quite so endearing as a son’s love for his mother, now is there?

       And let’s not forget Nero, that vainglorious narcissist who dabbled a bit in arson and forced everyone to listen to him play his fiddle. He said just moments before he took his own life in 68 AD, “What an artist the world is losing in me.” Talk about conceit! Classic.

       Well naturally, now that I’m 80, I’ve begun to rehearse my last words. I want them to be memorable, thrilling and of course motivational. I envision my being around 105, still lovely, and the whole scene right out of a good old Hollywood tear-jerker death scene. You know how that goes; the beloved departing person, that’d be moi, is propped up on 12 silken pillows with golden tassels. The lighting is muted and flattering. Music, soft and mournful, plays while impeccably dressed family and friends perch on chairs, weeping softly into scented tissues, all waiting for gentle pearls of great wisdom to fall from my still-ruby lips. I can hear the rich, soft music, I can see the beautiful quilts and pillows piled around me, I can see that I’m exceptionally beautiful, perfect coif, all my teeth in place, wearing a pale pink hand-made lace bed jacket, my fingers encrusted with diamonds and rubies and emeralds and vermillion nail polish ---and yet in this perfect scene in my mind, I can’t seem to think of a single final word to say to the sobbing congregation. Oh, I guess I can think of a few things, but not the gentle, poignant, forever-etched-in-the-listener’s-memories words I’ve been trying to get into my head in rehearsal for the real deal which will happen in 30 years or so.

       I could steal the words Noel Coward said; “Good night my darlings. I’ll see you tomorrow,” although that may be a bit optimistic, all things considered.

       Or I could steal from General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson who said to the medical people trying to save him after he’d been accidentally shot by his own men during the Civil War, “Let us cross over the river and sit under the shade of the trees.” Pleasant thoughts, that.

       And then there’s my all-time favorite from a great hero of mine; Oscar Wilde. He was dying, knew it, and a month before that happened he said, “I am in a duel to death with this wallpaper. One of us has to go.” The guy was a genius! I’m figuring though, that he went and the wallpaper stayed.

       And that’s about where it ends. I still have the entire last-scene in my head, and yet I can’t seem to come up with anything or original or memorable. Maybe it’ll be one of those things where one has to be there to make it happen. Maybe when I’m sweetly breathing my last I’ll have a verbal epiphany and say something important. Stunning. Meaningful. Heartrending. Catchy. Passionate. Clever. Amusing. Life-changing. Unforgettable. And not plagiarized.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


      One thing I am going to miss about China is the talent of many of the students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School.

      I will let this video speak for itself.

      Here are two of my former students performing Cats. Thomas F O'Neill's students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School performing Cats


Thomas F O'Neill's students at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School performing Cats on
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
           Thomas F O’Neill
           Facebook: https:/
    WeChat - Thomas_F_ONeill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

On Trek


Unconditional Love

   Have you ever felt a strong desire to change the world!
      Lasting change—
   to change the planet comes from within each of us.
–non judgmental,
perfect love!
Every person deserves love.
Love conquers all.
Love haults the negatives.

We HAVE love,
But.Can we
BE love?
Perfection comes from BEING love.
Choose wisely.
Let our love unite ALL.

Allow our lovelight
to shine thru
the fog of despair,
so all can brightly
BE a humanity..
of ONE.
©July 21, 2018 Judith Kroll


Always The One Blamed

I was always the one they blamed.
They pointed their fingers and felt no shame.
I couldn't figure what I did wrong
I was a broken record at the end of the song.
No one listened to my hurt and cries
I retreated within—behind my eyes
I saw the world from a different view
A place that was private—only I knew.

Now I could laugh and dance in my head
The mask I was wearing , I could joyfully shed.
My eyes were brighter, my heart was lighter
I could stay untouched and never be a bother.

There I was the real me
feeling the freedom no one could see

It didn't matter to me anymore
to think of what everyone thought
I just broke their mold of little ole me
And won the fight I fought.!!
©4-7-16 Judith Kroll

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

A Kiss Is Still A Kiss


       Kissing. Lovely habit. Feels so good to deliver and to receive unless the kiss is forced on us by a coarse and bearded old aunt who favors onerous and repeated osculation. Ah, but if a smooch is dispatched by a person one likes or loves, or even by an animal one likes or loves, there’s nothing sweeter, right?

      Kisses are given out in any manner of ways; a dry peck from an embarrassed kid, wet and startling from a towering blue tongued giraffe, slobbering from an adoring bull mastiff, or a long, lingering passionate performance by someone’s significant. All interesting. Or shocking. Or sexy. Or gross. It depends.

       And studies show (don’t you love that phrase?) that people who kiss goodbye every morning before work don’t get sick as much, don’t miss work as much, don’t have as many wrecks on the way to work, they earn more money than kissless people and live 5 years longer than the couples who merely snarl at each other every morning. Amazing. Who does these studies anyway?

       “They” say that around 2000 BC, certain cultures truly believed that if mouths were pressed together, it meant two souls were joined. And then there is/was an anthropologist named Vaughn Bryant Jr. who after extensive studies announced that the very first erotic kiss was given around 1500 BC. OK. Now don’t you think that’s just a bit assumptive of Dr. Bryant Jr.? I mean, the first one?? And he’d know that how? And who made the first move? Well, it probably doesn’t much matter when erotic kissing began since the habit has certainly caught on over the millennia.

      Egyptians considered kissing as the “giving of life” which in many cases it sure is. Celts had no word for kiss so maybe they just never did it. Romans sort of started the kissing practice as we know it today. They kissed as greeting on the mouth, eyes, robes, rings and even dropped a smack or three on nearby statues. Of gods of course. They were smart people and understood that routine groveling was just simply prudent. And the Romans also broke down kissing styles into 3 categories; osculum for friendship kissing, basium for passionate and savium for deep. Those Romans really knew how to categorize, you know, just as they did with the calendar and the census they sent forward to us. And some African tribes today will still kiss the ground over which their chief walks. Now that’s serious grovel.

      Lots of history around kissing. Lots of questions, and one of mine is this; who invented the idea of it? I mean when you think about it, two people pressing two organs together originally invented for tasting, eating, chewing, breathing, spitting and speaking is a little weird, right? And regardless of how circumspect one’s dental hygiene habits are, mouths are just simply, well, impure.

      So really, all kidding, where did kissing come from? Who thought it up and why? And who decided that a kiss on the cheek should be that quick sucking sound made with O-shaped lips? Strange when you think about it, right? Well, I suppose it’s more genteel than biting.

      Maybe kissing started from our ancestors watching animals hurl up their semi-digested foods for their hungry offspring. And if kissing did start that way, well, eeeuw. You see, when I do think about it, I get this vision of Mr. and Mrs. Oogglak passing a few bored hours with a bit of slap and tickle in their suburban cave 500K years ago while the kids are out scratching up a few bloodworm snacks. In this vision of mine, the amorous couple is distracted by a huge storklike creature on a nearby rock gagging up a few slimy gobs of bloody rats for their hungry chicks. Daddy Oolggak turns to Mommy Oolggak, grins, gestures toward the stork scene and cocks a large and very hairy eyebrow suggestively. Mommy O. looks at what the stork is doing, and back at Daddy O. and in very clear grunts says, “Not for all the mammoth blubber in the glade, Throg. Don’t even think about it!” and she rolls away on her pile of hides. But maybe Daddy Oolggak persevered on that long-ago afternoon, and with the use of a little love gruntage and cues from the stork, perhaps Mrs. O. finally caved, and that’s how kissing maybe got started. Gaggo.

      And yet kissing actually maybe did kind of begin that way. Mothers used to chew up food for their babies, and would transfer it to their children’s mouths from their own. When Fred Waring heard about that, I’ll bet he immediately invented the blender, and then of course it only followed that baby food was created soon after ending all that nasty chewing and sharing vulgarity.

      Along came 1896 and motion pictures had been developed by Thomas A. Edison. One of the very first films was called “The Kiss” which lasted for 47 seconds. A chubby woman and a mustachioed man kissed joyfully and it was so shocking that a movie critic, new to the business of course because there weren’t any other movies around for him to critique, said, “The spectacle of the prolonged pasturing on each other’s lips was beastly enough in life-size on the stage but magnified to gargantuan proportions on the screen and repeated three times over is absolutely disgusting.”

      Oh please, what a prude! I mean come on. But “pasturing”?? What is that?? An 1800s word for kissing? I don’t get it but I just love it! Would it not be of great interest to read what that rascally critic would say about any one of today’s adult films when pasturing is the least of what they show on screen? Impossible to imagine. He’d keel over in his buttered popcorn. But in spite of Mr. Prig’s film critiquing, even songs and poems, paintings and yes films have had bussing as a central theme, and nearly all of our movies end in the traditional, famous last-scene kiss telling the audience that all is well between the protagonists forever.

      But those movie kisses over the years have changed from normal, gentle, dry short kisses, such as between Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers, to today’s long, slobbering, open mouthed, tongue thrashing, tonsil sucking, growling, bacteria splashing, face-chewing kisses between every actor on screen, and the two kissers are not always of the opposite sex either. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that.

       The most famous of all kissing depictions of course is Auguste Rodin’s sensual, magnificent statue, “The Kiss” sculpted in the 1880s. The man and woman are simply beautiful, and they are nude. Their lips don’t quite touch, but they’re definitely about to. That great statue has been praised and worshiped. It has also been vilified as being “pure pornography.” But I have to make note; if those ignorant idiots who think the statue is pornographic were in the least bit clever, they would have called it “hard porn” because of course it is carved in marble. But how can they not see and understand that the couple in that fabulous statue, just about to begin pasturing, has given the world much joy, fun and sweet, deep, good feelings of love? Rodin’s work has been a primer and catalyst, a permission giver, and “The Kiss” is the stuff dreams are made of. Merci, Monsieur Rodin.

      LC can be reached at Her books are in local bookstores and on Amazon.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Patio Cat

Patio Cat, with patience,
Waits each day
For me to walk outside.

She doesn’t hide;
I’m bringing food
In a jar that rattles.

We never talk;
I nod at her,
Then fill the bowl

And sit apart
On cement steps,
Pretending I’m not looking.

After weeks
She doesn’t keep
A watchful eye on me,

Trusting that I will not pull
Anything suspicious
While she’s eating.

I’m the meek
And scruffy man
Who picked her as a friend.

She’s okay with this
Relationship, okay
I’ve never asked her in;

But when she’s full,
Off she strolls.
Discretion is good sense.

©2018, John I. Blair 7/25/2018

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

May Your Spirit


©2018 Dayvid B. Clarkson

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Lace Curtains

Past fifty years ago
When we wed
On the window next our bed
We placed lace curtains.

We both agreed
That season of our lives
Called for the gift of lace
To flatter, to beguile the eyes.

Into our lace-hung room
Sunshine cast soft images
Of leaves and flowers,
Filigrees and buds;

In the moonlight
The space became our secret bower
With shifting shadows on its walls,
Passionate possibilities.

This morning, on an idle whim
I pulled away the drapes,
Uncovering the dusty lace beneath,
And thought of you, those days, those nights.

©2018 John I. Blair, 7/10/2018

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Free Indeed

I used to face each day
Unguided on my way
Not knowing I was trapped
In sin my life was wrapped
Then the realization
Without hesitation
I found all I could need
By His light I was freed

I am Free,
Free in Jesus Name,
Yes, from this world of sin
That I've been living in
Yes I'm Free, Free Indeed,
Free in Jesus Name
Yes I'm Free, Free Indeed,
In Jesus name.

©Joel Joslin

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.Note: collaboration with cousin Mary E. Adair

Two Sisters

Two sisters show up every night;
Each wears gray fur
And points an arrow nose,
Totes a tail of body length.

Possums lead short lives –
Ten to twenty months –
And yet their family’s been here
More than fifty million years.

How to explain? Like us
Devouring anything
That doesn’t eat them first,
They trust to luck.

Nocturnal loners,
Holing up by day
When risks are rife,
Emerging after dark.

Beasts of little intellect,
They boast a brain
A fifth the size of coons
(To mention one example).

Profligate with babies,
They’ll hatch three dozen, with
Only thirteen teats for feeding;
Those who arrive in time survive.

If these facts contain a clue
Why, like us,
They’re so successful
I’m not sure I want to know.

©2018 John I. Blair, 7/21/2018

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.