From Whence, Fragment?

What the Leopard Was Seeking At That Altitude

“Kilimanjaro is a snow covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai ‘Ngàje Ngài,’ the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”

epigraph to Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, 1936

The leopard here. So listen, fools.

Before my weary carcass cools.

I’ve climbed to nineteen-thousand feet

To turn to freeze-dried mammal meat.

Up here on mighty Kilimanjaro,

My bones will just be chillin’ tomorrow.

As I expire upon this peak,

I’ll tell you gladly what I seek.

When nightfall struck the western summit,

My body temp did greatly plummet;

And once I reached this altitude,

Ferocious bites of frost ensued.

Yet still I seek one thing, in turn,

For which I bet you also burn:

To simply, deftly, sans delay,


See, Hem for years has hunted me.

No jungle’s safe. No town. No tree.

From north to south he’s had me chased.

It’s such a dreadful Hemingwaste.

He’s hounded me from east to west;

Pursued me like a man possessed.

A harsh revenge would he exact.

Won’t rest till I’ve been Hemingwhacked.

What happened was, in ’22,

When Hem to me was known as Who?,

A stunt I pulled in Paris, France

Converted Hem to crazypants.

I’d long indulged, at Lion Station,

In bouts of baggage confiscation,

But here admit I bit it badly

And stole that suitcase off of Hadley.

It gave me then the leopard vapors

To find the case held merely papers.

A stack of stories short and lengthy

Of fragile femmes and sportsmen strengthy.

Such empty prose! Such aimless plots!

Like me, they only worked in spots!

I skimmed them idly, shrugged and laughed,

Then ate up every page and draft.

Well, Hem found out his manuscripts

Had passed this leopard’s whiskered lipts;

And I, from there, to meet my fate

Did not have long to Hemingwait.

For Hem, with fury incandescent,

From Yucca Flat to Fertile Crescent,

From mountain-top to ocean floor,

Let slip the dogs of Hemingwar!

And Heaven’s rafters belled and sang

As out burst Hem with sharpened fang!

My feasting on his written work

Had made me full, and him berserk!

He tracked me down without relent,

His thoughts on darkest vengeance bent,

And all of Hell’s foundations shook

As Hem closed in to shut my book!


He swore he’d leave me chopped and diced!

He’d snap my femurs, flense my coat,

And tear my soul right out my throat!

My skull he’d split, my brains he’d dash!

My guts he’d pound to leopard hash!

He’d make my slaughter slow and gory,

Then stash my corpse inside a story!

Your leopard fled in great alarm

Lest Hem inflict this grievous harm.

Since then he’s tailed me day and night,

His hatred burning Hemingwhite!

And though I’ve dodged, in countless lands,

Those grappa-pickled grabby hands,

At last these handy mountain snows

Are ending all my Hemingwoes!

So leopard out. And just in time.

For surely Hem’s begun his climb.

Let no one call my death explainless.

The marvellous thing is that it’s painless.

When President O

Originally posted on on 22 July 2010

When President O stands up and speaks

A thousand eagles ope their beaks

When President O sits down and thinks

A thousand hawks go out for drinks

When President O gets off a plane

The coasts uncork their best champagne

When President O turns on the charm

The heartland wants to buy the farm

When President O removes his tie

The press corps all goes Ay yi yi

When President O does live TV

The talking heads go Wee wee wee

When President O says lengthy words

The red states flip their lids and birds

When President O says YES WE CAN

The blue states holler WHO’S THE MAN

When President O wakes up at five

The godless left says Christ alive!

When President O beds down at one

The Christian Right says Git-R-Done!

When President O goes out to dance

All nations sigh in sheer O-mance

When President O stays in to read

The U.S. wonders: O, indeed?

2015 Addendum

When President O deploys a drone

Explosives chew up flesh and bone

When President O approves some spies

Devices grow more ears and eyes

When President O concludes his term

His haters all will writhe and squirm

When President O departs D.C.

Then President Hill can say YAY ME

2017 Correction

When President O said I’M WITH HER

The Great Unwashed did not concur

When President O retired at last

The U.S.A. turned fascist fast

I Ate iPod Shuffle

Originally posted on on 19 January 2005

“Do not eat iPod shuffle.”

Cautionary footnote at the bottom of
Apple’s iPod shuffle page, circa January 2005

No need to make a big kerfuffle.

But yes, I ate my iPod shuffle.

The websites warned me not to, sure.

But sometimes one must ask: WHEREFURE?

Its sleek design was so damn sweet,

It just looked good enough to eat.

So bite-sized, so petite and cute,

Made by a company named for fruit,

Its product name based on a veggie

(With prefix “i” to make it edgy),

And even the site I bought it from

Said Smaller than a pack of gum.

Such was the power of suggestion

That all signs pointed to: ingestion.

I hungrily sat down to start

My iPod shuffle à la carte.

I shut off my Sad-Cube-Drone Mix,

Impaled the ’Pod on two toothpicks,

And faster than a Mac reboot,

I tossed it back like escargoot!

It really tasted quite fantastic

(Apple’s peeps use primo plastic),

Evincing a refined bouquet

Of silicon and Chardonnay.

(Nutritionally sound, I think,

With RDAs of iron and zinc.)

In all, quite pleasing on the palate.

If less so to my empty walate.

But soon that meal of small machine

Began to make me feel non-keen.

My stomach first began to churn,

Thus redefining Rip-Mix-Burn;

I then broke out in sweats and chills,

Got oh-eff-oh around the gills,

And then began hallucinatin’:

I worked in tech support for Satan!

He growled to me in tones satanic

That I’d just died of kernel panic,

And now would, for eternity,

Help sinners find the “Any” key.

These visions made me cower and quake,

Like something out of William Blake —

(Tiger! Tiger! burning bright,

Searching hard drives in Spotlight,

What immortal hand or eye

Improved thy fearful G.U.I.?)

My point is, I was suffering from

Severe ctrl-alt-delirium.

As I began to fade to black

(My best impression of Sad Mac),

I saw within some colored blobs

The floating face of old Steve Jobs!

His voice resounded like a god:

How DARE you dare defile iPod!

You’re not supposed to eat that thing!

Just swallow all the MARKETING!

Yes, choke down all the Day-and-Chiat!

But cough that iPod up, you shiat!

The iPod shuffle’s not a snack!

Don’t make me go get Wozniak!

Then faster than a broadband pipe,

He vanished in a flash of hype.

I woke up after hours of resting,

The iPod shuffle still digesting.

It’s since become a part of me.

So now I talk more randomly!

(What really makes my girlfriend swoon:

The merest tap, I change my tune!)

I never heeded Steve’s command.

In fact, I think I helped his brand —

The ergonomic single-serve

And random-ordered hot hors d’oeuvre:

Next time you need a snacky-treat,

Think different — iPod app-e-teet.

Thank you to David Pogue at the New York Times for the kind notice.