(Note: Dedicated to a friend, stuck at a fork in the road).

Came early for us.
Soon after we met.
Just appeared one day.
Caught it like a cold; still, it felt warm, coming at us, on tiptoe, like a storm.
We welcomed it.
I recognized it, having had it when I was a kid.
We both did.

Neither of us spoke about it at first.
Neither wants to play the fool,
to dare
to see, and say, what really might not be there,
might not be shared.
Not willing to risk hearing,
“Oh, I care, but not like that.”
Fear’s the killer – murmuring it might not be, it might not last.

Early on, it was far too early to tell friends or family. What if it were just an aberration or an anomaly?
Oh, we talked around it, the way Beginners do, via banal metaphor or
You are sunshine, or this feels like a warm summer’s moonlit night.
Silly stuff.
Couldn’t get enough.

See, the thing about Beginnings is you don’t want to be first to say that Word.
Better, safer, to let it be, like a song well written but unheard.

We weren’t sure what to do with this Interloper, this thing between us, this
Colorless, odorless, tasteless thing that we couldn’t see, nor touch, but sensed was encompassing us;
Oh, it was there all right –
We awoke with it and bedded with it every night.

Then, at that “this is too good to be true” moment, that suspicious, inner-voice slowly awakened, questioning and dissecting this Mystery,
this thing without
Next, Doubts pull into the Station,
with what sounds a lot like Cross-examination:
“Has this happened before to you?”
“Too often”?
“With whom and when?”, and
“How did it end?”
“Do you want this, now?”
“And, if you do, what do we do next, and how?”

And, if, somehow, it survives that full-frontal attack, the Doubts, the Inquisition, then the Beginning is no longer;
its roots take hold, gets stronger,
taking on a life of its own, writing its own
as it moves forward, giving birth to stories and memories of “us” and “we”.

For years we said surviving the bumps, and forks, in the road defined us, strengthened us.
Two halves had become one,
We were a couple,
a united and inseparable nation.
Then, over time, came a settling, a small crack in the foundation.
Something said, with regret,
something not really meant,
and there it was – it’s first Dent.
Now, that which was perfect was no more.
Cut and Bleedin’,
we were cast out of Eden.
How would we garnish,
this thing, now so indelibly tarnished?

Where did it go?
Why is it different?
Are we at a new Beginning, or the end of the Middle, or the Beginning of The End?
That fragile thing which survives on Faith alone cannot tolerate questions as to its validity, its permanence.
Do we have an appointment
with Disappointment?
And as the questions, the doubts, hammer on,
more Dents appear.
Is it a thing now weathered or a thing worn-out?
This is a time to choose words wisely,
We dare not let the words be spoken:
“Is it broken?”

And then comes the inevitable Parade of Platitudes:
“This too shall pass.”
“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger”
“We will be better for this.”

Have we come full circle?
The “I” and “Me” return, replacing the “Us” and “We”:
“I don’t know who I am anymore”.
“If I don’t think of myself, who will?”
“I’ve lost me in us.”

That Fickle thing. That Fickle thing.
Is it forever lost or just misplaced?
Did we ever really have it, or was it just some illusion we both wanted?
At the fork in the road, lies that Fickle Thing.
That damned damaged Thing.
Do we hold on to it, or do we each start anew, somewhere else, with someone new?
Do we really want to travel again, and again, upon a new Beginning, a new Middle, a new End?
Only a Sisyphus
would want This.

Or, perhaps, is this our Intermezzo?
A pause to compose a new Libretto
for Our Second-Act Concerto.
Perhaps, from our cloistered cocoon, there’s a butterfly awaiting us, still fragile, but more beautiful, more wise, more mature, than ever we thought or hoped possible.
Isn’t that dented Fickle Thing our priceless antique, built with our own hands, most worthy of polishing, protecting, and possessing together?
Answer this: aren’t we worth the risk?

Robert Lipkin

Breaking News: My Muse Is A Pain In The Ass











From a deep peaceful sleep, I awoke surprised to find,

I had my muse on my mind.

I’m speaking of She who calls herself Shirley…. Alas.

Let’s be quite clear about this from the start: My Muse is a pain in the Ass.


Speaking candidly – with no punches pulled, without embellishment,

as any artist Might.

I want to understand her, to get her Right.

Why would my muse declare herself to be average? Not only average but Average-ish.

No one aspires to average; why waste a Wish?


If you don’t know it – then know it now – every artist, in accordance

with Greek Mythology, is entitled to one muse – and only one – per

lifetime to inspire the artist. Ergo, no artist would accept a muse who

is – or perceives herself as – run-of-the-mill-ish;

you know, Average-ish.

I hope I’m being clear about This.

My Muse is a pain in the Ass.

DSC_0657A - Copy












One ought not underestimate the influence of a good muse. Someone

once said, “Only Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread.” Not

True. Not True.

Muses always Do.

When a critic opines negatively upon an artist’s work, concluding it to

be, at best, a Work-in-Progress-Disaster,

it’s the Muse to the rescue, filling air and artist’s ear with, “No, no, no.

You are a Master.”


My muse – Shirley – too often asks rhetorically about

herself, “What do I do Well;

I mean, at what, if anything, do I Excel?”

I don’t get it. Never will. My insisting, “It ain’t so,”

changes not the status quo.

Reluctantly, I give up. I Surrender,

But first, I dare you to deny that this is all about Gender.


Every man, any man, would never depreciate or diminish himself so.

This we Know.

Were my muse a Man,

He’d be all about himself, boasting, “I can do anything. Yes I can, yes I Can.”

But Women, some, not all, self-deprecate, seeing less, making less of

the sum of their Parts.

Is this not the product of centuries-old practiced or feigned

subservience, of hiding larger hearts, and greater Smarts?


The Oxford English Dictionary defines (or so it should) “Shirley-ish“, a noun, as, “1. that which never gives up on anyone;  that which is integral to the creative process; is a lover of art and artists and whatever they might Create.”

But  Wait.

The Dictionary includes a second meaning – a bit shocking, I admit,

and a bit Crass –

It says – I swear it does – 2. Shirley-ish denotes a muse who is a pain in the Ass.


QED. It must be so. Who’d challenge the Oxford English Dictionary?

Not Me. Its reputation too Legendary.

But still I’d add a third meaning; Shirley-ish as a verb: “3. to be Shirley-ished is be blessed with the kind of a friend, that most mere mortals only dream about.”


Lucky Me,

Lucky her friends and family,

Lucky Jim Lee, whoever he may be.


One closing uncontrovertible truth about my Muse:

If her vision and confidence that this world stripped from her were

restored, she’d be the artist, not the muse.

Until that day arrives, a better me will remember to Be

to her – what she is to Me.

Accepting Nominations For Horse’s Ass Of The Year


Satire-ish's Horse's Ass Award











A surveillance camera, today, captured this poignant scene, between National Football League Commissioner, Roger Goodell, and his bedroom Mirror:

“Mirror, Mirror, on my Wall,

Who’s the bestest, most powerful Commissioner and has the biggest dick of All?”


“You Roger, you Do,

yet the whole World laughs at You –

so sad but True.

Now stop crying, Roger. Put down Rubber Ducky – use your Wit,

and show the world you’re not an empty suit, a corporate tool, a bigoted Hypocrite.”


“This is about the Rooney Rule isn’t it? That stupid Rule requires a minority candidate be interviewed before a head coach or general manager can be hired by any, and all, NFL Teams.

But, golly gee, it doesn’t really mean what it purports or Seems.

We promised to interview minorities – raise their Hopes,

Nobody promised to actually hire black coaches. Christ!! What are we – Dopes?

Nothing I do is ever enough or Ample.

I mean this year alone we hired 15 new head coaches and General Managers, all of whom were…….. well, very white. Never mind; bad Example.”


“From my side of the Mirror, Roger, not to be Crass,

but if you aren’t, then who is a bigger horse’s Ass?

Poor, poor Roger Goodell, listen to me, baby, my mirror-imaged Honey,

the general prevailing view is: you care only about the profits, the Money.”













“This is about the name ‘Redskins‘, right? There’s nothing wrong with the name Washington ‘Redskins.’ Like I said to the Congressmen that asked me to have the name changed, ‘”For the team’s millions of fans and customers … the name… stands for strength, courage, pride and Respect….

Any conclusion to the contrary is simply Incorrect.”

“Roger, Roger, use your Intellect,

When in doubt, deflect, Misdirect,

What would you think of the Atlanta Slanty-eyed Bastards or the Memphis Klu Klux Klaners?”


“Pardon my excitement, pardon my Manors;

Oh, Mirror, Mirror, what a great corporate Name;

don’t tell me it’s taken. Oh, oh, that would be such a Shame.”


“Roger, Roger, do you care at all that some are truly offended?”


“Oh, Mirror Mirror, see the pecuniary opportunities; fences can always be Mended.”


“Roger, Roger, don’t you ever yield to old open Wounds?”


“Of course we do; that’s why we rejected the Selma Alabama Coons.”


“Bottom line, Roger, Roger, do you think the world is better off keeping the Redskins Name?”


“Mirror Mirror, they hired me to make more money, not change the world; that’s not the Same.

We are about the money, about the paying Fans,

Pardon my candor but nothing I, nor we, could possibly do will relieve the pain of the Native Americans.

Why bother?


Will Supreme Court Awaken from Self-induced Coma to Decide DOMA & Prop 8

2013 SC JusticesDear Honorable Justices,

Born in Louisiana, May 18, 1896, I will celebrate – unless God remembers where he left me – my one-hundred and seventeenth birthday come next May;
And I hope, you all, have the inclination to listen to what I now Say –
regarding my accumulated knowledge, suffice it to say, I Knows,
not from any wisdom gathered in my sails – but from my long view, the way the Wind Blows.

I query, please Note:
Are we sailing forward, backward, or about to scuttle this great Freedom Boat?

How do I awake thee from thy judicial Coma –
in time to muster the judicial testosterone necessary, to decide – yes or no – the legitimacy of Prop 8 and DOMA?
Interpreting our Constitution – I know – takes a long, long tedious Time.
Well, frankly, as none of you are in a hurry, I’ll tell you how I see the Defense Of Marriage Act, and I’ll do it in Rhyme.

I took my first breath the day Plessy v. Ferguson decided Louisiana could mandate  blacks and whites be accommodated by separate railway Car,
because the color of my newborn skin offended a majority of my white neighbors, both living near and Far.
That “experiment”, as Justice Alito might call it today, in segregation and “separate but equal“, ended, thanks to the courage of the Warren Court, in 1954,
when Brown v. the Board of Ed. held the States could hold me back no More.

See, while the black male part of me could vote since 1870, via the 15th Amendment,
my female part couldn’t vote until 1920 – via the 19th Amendment…
But I digress… for by ’54, though controversial, thanks to the 14th Amendment, I was finally, a full-fledged member of the human Community,
And no one could – any longer – deny me equal access or Opportunity.

Well, not quite. See, even with the female impediment and the black impediment clearly behind me, I was still destined, human being-wise, to Fail,
Cause my partner of fifty-two years, my mate, my wife – well, you guessed it, she is, like me, a Female.

So you can understand, your Honors, given my advanced age, how I hang on your every word trying to guess, whether my wife and Me,
Can finally marry wherever we choose, you know, Legally.
As I get it, Justice Alito, regarding same-sex marriage doesn’t want to be rushed in to extending this Equal Protection Thing,”
For, as he said, “It may turn out to be a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good Thing.”
Judiciously Logical?
No, no, just Alito’s keen grasp of the obvious, of the Tautological.

Oh, Let Freedom ring, let wedding bells ring; well, but not until, as Justice Scalia insists, we stop and tabulate whether most folks Concur,
as if it would take a decent man, a learned man, time to know, that denying equal opportunity could ever be right and fair for us, for me, for Her.

Scalia & Roberts






I’m Worried;
cause I’m afraid I’ll be long gone and Buried,
before someone slaps Chief Justice Roberts upside his chalky, white, uptight, heterosexual
for saying, [Other than the right to marry], “you same-sex couples have every other Right.” Don’t be coming to us for more; go to your lobbyists Instead.

No disrespect intended here, your Honors, but either go with the winds of Today,
Or get out of the Way.
You all may be destined to share a footnote in History, with all admiration and respect Denied,
and Remembered as the Roberts’ Court – the one that stood on the beach and Tried,
with a broom, to stop the incoming rushing Tide.

I refuse to accept the best you can do is defer, delay and honor Procrastination,
by finding, or implying, that one-hundred and seventeen years since my birth, since Plessy v. Ferguson,
I might, once again, be deemed to have less human rights than a Corporation.

Stay asleep, your Honors, with a safe “dismissal on jurisdictional grounds”, or awaken from your self-induced Coma,
But either way – know that I know, as will those who replace you, our equal protection clause unequivocally requires you to decide Now the legitimacy of Prop 8 and DOMA.

Falling In Love With Negative Space

A Sean Elias Audio Interpretation:

Ever have someone compliment you for not being a certain way?  Ever been attracted to someone mostly because they were so different from someone else from your past?  If so, you know all about obsessing on negative space.

Falling In Love With Negative Space 

What is it about the way we choose lovers that too often makes us wonder, “Of all my many choices made, was not that one my Worst?”

I’m listening for clues today, my love; playing our first Words slowly forward, then again Reversed.

Scratching beneath the surface to see how we process what we first discover about the other — what we hold, discard or Replace.

And in that process, do we not – too often – focus on Negative Space?

Judging each other based on what each of us is Not,

as if I were the sum of all I Ain’t; as if you were the sum of all you’re Not.


If my Soul, you were inclined to Paint,

would you upon your canvas reveal me as the total of all I Ain’t?

Before making yourself a double martini or stealing from your son’s desk draw another Joint,

let me cut to the chase and make my Point.


In the beginning of our Beginning, you said, “I am so very attracted to you because you are not: a big drinker, a gambler,  a right-winger, an obsessed religious fanatic, a womanizer” and lots of other stuff  I’ve never Been.

When focusing so on what I ain’t – that so perfectly describes your lovers left behind – how will you decide whether I’m worth selling or buying, whether I’m out or In?


I’m describing your behavior, but not pointing fingers or casting Blame;

in fact, I’m afraid I behave the same.

As we Glance through our Rear-View-Mirrors, we’re shocked to See:

we’ve been attracted – Subconsciously –

to traits exactly opposite of those we Hate,

Possessed by the Mate,

Last left Behind,

whose larger than life negative parts we can’t, evidently, shake from our Mind.


I’m suggesting nothing but a small change in how we process, how we use Intuition,

a slight alteration – as sailors say – in tacking Position.

I recommend we focus on what each of us Possesses, on what we each have to Offer,

And let’s deposit those assets,  those  jewels in our Coffer.


In short, my thesis on obsessing over Negative Space is easy to Summarize:

When alone, when we privately gaze to the heavens and make a wish upon a


We should wish not for someone who Ain’t but for someone who


Ode To Ish

Second Place

A Sean Elias Audio Interpretation:

Yesterday, after yet another deadline missed, I thought of This:

Though not submitted “by precisely seven p.m.” – as required by the rules –

it was, in fact, delivered at Seven-ish.

And then I wondered whether I – and the world too – have long been Remiss,

in failing to acknowledge how much I – and we –  owe to Ish.

If you can’t be the best in your field, in your time, or even be on time, at least be close; be Ish –

make that your goal, your niche, your Wish.


In this competitive world, where non-winners are too often labeled losers, it’s Nice,

when something less than best can Suffice;

I cheer whenever an Olympic champion, unable to capture gold –

any average Joe, Pierre, Juan, Gretchen, or Hans –

comes home a hero, proudly wearing silver or Bronze.

God bless those of us who were never the best but had the Stuff –

to be, well… just good Enough.


It’s hard, is it not, to see ourselves as others Do?

I, for example, was always a wonderfully attentive lover, as many along the way would testify acknowledge as being True.

I never once had cause to ask, “Was I your Best?

Or, “Are you satisfied, my Dearest?”

For I suspected that even if not completely satisfactory as I might have aspired or Wished,

I was surely – between the sheets – sexually speaking, Satisfactory… ish.

But I must confess how deeply it pained me when a lover,

seemingly spent, whispered moistly and softly in my ear, “I am Satisfied… ish.”


There should be a marker somewhere, maybe even a monument, made of marble, to honor the contributions of Ish;

something like the Washington Monument would do.

Well, maybe not that big, and, maybe, not that monumental but surely, you know, well…

Washington Monument-ish.