Harry Crews

Source: Harry Crews


Hang a right at the deer skull…


Not any direction you would hear in Mt. Lebanon, PA. Seeing deer in the woods always excites the old archer in me. Not far from this spot I watched a 6-point eat acorns within 30 yards until I had to move and he bolted. Deer culls around here are called hunting season.

I know Leopold Bloom better than I know my own father (Umberto Eco)

I’m still finding things out about my father and grandfather, 15 and 24 years respectively, after their deaths that my perspectives of who they were are continually in flux. Forces me to consider who I am to those around me and how different that might be from who I am around me.


It has been said that fictional characters are underdetermined that is, we know only a few of their properties while real individuals are completely determined, and we should be able to predicate of them each of their known attributes. But although this is true from an ontological point of view, from an epistemological one it is exactly the opposite: nobody can assert all the properties of a given individual or of a given species, which are potentially infinite, while the properties of fictional characters are severely limited by the narrative text and only those attributes mentioned by the text count for the identification of the character.

In fact, I know Leopold Bloom better than I know my own father. Who can say how many episodes of my father’s life are unknown to me, how many thoughts my father never disclosed, how many times he concealed his sorrows, his quandaries, his…

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Mr. Machine Meets JFK

JFKMr. Machine

Something about middle age,
With two daughters grown and
Sent off into the world
That pulls me back to the garage apartment built by my dad in his off hours;
A skinny kid then, fueled by cigarettes, beer,
need and fear.
A tiny place-always bright in memory
Lit by second-hand lamps and high sliding windows
Where I could run endlessly down the hall between
Bedroom and living room and back again.
A distance I now cover in three strides when the
Current tenant needs something done.
In that living room, Mr. Machine:
Walking, talking, squawking, bell ringing robot
(Possibly the most annoying toy ever made)
Tried to drown out President Kennedy who spoke in shades of gray
From the tripod TV in the corner
About the Soviet military buildup in Cuba
About nuclear strike capability
About an attack on the US and
About massive retaliation.
Mom shushed me and pointed Mr. Machine out into the hall
Where I slithered after him on the waxed tile in my little fat-boy pajamas
Not noticing their sideward darting glances;
Or the rapid and deeper draws on their cigarettes.
I followed Mr. Machine into my bedroom as my old man leaned closer
To the TV, wondering if all the work that went into building our house
had been a waste of time.

Gerry Musinsky Died

Steel Living

The obit placed the day as April 5, 2008

Nine days shy of his fifty-fourth.

He passed in McKeesport-two miles from my house.

I didn’t know he was here; or ill. If he was.

We had lost touch twenty years ago, after working a couple of playwright’s festivals.

Writing, rewriting, rehearsing, drinking, building sets, cooking chili, drinking…

You get to know a guy.

He was a poet-

He was a teacher-

He was a pretty good friend for a while there.

He would hold court on the South Side before the great upheaval-

In a little shot & beer joint on a side street where

They sold copies of his “Steel Living” across the bar.

Politics, unions, religion, the legend of the Great Thunderbird-

He would talk just enough to start an argument-on the South Side then about a minute-

Then sit back and drink in the sounds.

He listened as I worked through words; trying to decide whether

Writing was an addiction that had worked its way into my bloodstream.

He was my first editor-

A brutal critic-

Reading my poems aloud in his actor’s voice he would toss words that I loved aside like cabbage leaves,

Then leave me a kernel that was right and true.

After doing it, I told him about a retaining wall I had built in front of my house.

“You should have called me,” he said. “I would have loved to help you with that.”

He would have too.

He had to content himself with coming by,

Drinking a few beers,

And telling me how I could have done it better.

Gerald U. Musinsky


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