Author Archives: Monsieur K.

The State Trooper and The Biker


I still remember taking my first motorcycle license test. It was February, 1967 and the temperature was 17 degrees Fahrenheit.

I had already passed the written test a few weeks ago, on a piece of paper that was turned in to a human police monitor. I rode in, nervous but determined to pass. The motorcycle I was riding was a two-stroke 305cc Yamaha. The motorcycle I had waiting at home was a 441cc BSA, a single cylinder 4-stroke with an ultra-high compression. It was running loud and ugly so I knew it wasn’t
the bike to bring in for the test.

The motor vehicle inspector examined my paperwork and said, “Anyone who comes out in weather like this to take a motorcycle test knows how to ride,” It was an assumption on his part but it worked to my advantage. Maybe he just wanted to get back inside, maybe he was a nice guy; maybe the unknown. He pointed to the motorcycle course and said,”Just ride around it once, no fancy stuff and get back here.”

I did what he said. When I got back he handed me the paperwork to get my license. “Be careful out there,” he said.

Many years later I had lost all my driving rights for various nefarious activities. Police chases, drug arrests, driving to endanger, etc. etc. In May of 2004 I rode in to the Massachusetts Office of Motor Vehicles to take my riding test again, having already passed the written test. If I remember correctly, the written test consisted of 40 simple multiple choice questions flashed on a computer screen. I was 58 years old. The Massachusetts State Trooper looked me over. Here I was, a grey-bearded hippie type guy riding a beat-up 1985 Honda Rebel with a 250cc 4-stroke engine. All original stock except for the mirrors, with dents to the tank and everything.

The trooper put his finger on one of the dents.

“Been down?” he asked. “No,” I replied. “This was my wife’s bike and I just put it back on the road again.”

He asked me to show him the hand signals for right turn, left turn and stop. At first I showed the right turn signal for a left turn, and didn’t show the proper sign for stop because I was nervous. I realized my mistake and said, “Oh, I forgot,” and then showed him all the proper signs.

He looked at me sternly. “Improper use of signals fails you automatically. You’ll have to take the test again. But tell me, why are you learning on your wife’s bike?”

I told him. My wife had died of a drug overdose in 1998 and I inherited it. I let him know I had been riding from 1967 up until 1987 when I lost my license because of a number of offenses related to drugs.

“How are you doing now?” he asked. “You look pretty healthy for someone who used drugs.” I explained that I had gotten clean in 1994 and that was when my wife and I separated. I had taught her how to ride in 1986. “So you haven’t been riding since 1987?” he asked. “Well,” I said. “I haven’t ridden since 1993, to be honest.” His eyes sparked in the sun as he tilted up his mirror-sunglasses and looked at me for a long minute. “Show me those hand signals again,” he said.

I got them right this time, although I knew I had already failed. Acceptance of what was actually happening was the key to emotional success. Sometimes I could make it work for me.

“Okay, take the bike out for a spin around the parking lot and weave through those stations I have set up over there,” he said.

I took it out, putting on the blinker as I pulled out, and cruised the course with ease. I know how to ride. I pulled back over to him, using the stop signal. “You know,” he said, “I think I’m going to pass you. You obviously know how to ride and I can tell you’ve had a hard road. It’s not my job to make it any harder.” He handed me the paperwork and I thanked him.

He said,”Just a minute. I want you to know that the roads have changed a lot since you last rode. They’re not friendly anymore, so look out for the other guy. They won’t be looking out for you.”

I peered back at him and nodded my head, said thanks again.

“You seem like a good guy. I hope things stay good for you.” was what the trooper finally said.

As I went back into the Motor Vehicle Agency I thought about that state trooper. I remembered all the bad experiences with police, but I couldn’t get this guy out of my mind. “I guess they’re not all bad, eh,” I thought.

Two assessments had taken place that day. He’d passed me and I’d passed him. I rode out of the parking lot with my motorcycle license in my pocket, riding legally for the first time in over ten years.

Greta Thunberg, 15 Years Old, States Humanity Is Nearing It’s Own Extinction Event


The temperature is soaring. In the Northeast water tables are going crazy from all the rain we’ve had. The sun, like a malevolent eye, glows hot in a hazy sky as the world thermometer climbs; mercury like spinal fluid rising, rising, then bursting through our heads, our brains exploding under pressure.

Humans pack the city streets, panting with heat as power stations go down trying to feed the electric monster of civilization, sucking hungrily while every air conditioner in the city growls and strains. The highways are jammed with hot engines that spew carbon dioxide. Elsewhere, in Brazil and other countries, forests are eaten by chain saws and bulldozers; rain forests burn, soon to become barren desert.

We have seen the future and it is heat. In Greenland the ice is melting faster than it ever has; the polar icecaps are shrinking. Global warming, global turbulence is upon us and we, in the United States, fail to take action, spurning the warnings of scientists all over the world and spitting hot air from the mouth of a President who might as well be a red-headed stepchild. We pull out of the Paris Accord and the world environmental summit in Kyoto is dead to the United States.

I have a new heroine and she is only 15 years old. Her name is Greta Thunberg and she is the most vocal of all of the Global Warming protesters. She skips school every Friday to protest the coming Extinction Event and do-nothing politicians all over the world.

But why should she go to school on Friday when the world she will grow up in is threatened by all of us who continue to act as if nothing has changed in our world? The giant fires in California have destroyed the city of Paradise, an ironic name that now stands for Ashes, California.

The exhaust pipes from all of the cars are lined up on all the interstates around the world and we are sucking down all the fumes as they heat up our atmosphere. If you took all the exhaust pipes from cars and trucks and SUV’s in the Boston area and fused them into one pipe, how big would that pipe be? I’ll bet you can’t even imagine it, can you?

I can tell you one thing and that is our noses are stuck up that giant unimaginable exhaust pipe. Greta Thunberg knows this is true and she is standing up for what she believes in.

Greta has been protesting for more than a month and she has no intention of stopping. She wants to wake up the world and shake us out of our complacency! Before Sweden’s parliamentary election on September 9th, she began her Friday strike from school, sitting on the steps of the Stockholm parliament building. She has done this every Friday during school hours. She goes back to school on other days, but every Friday she demands that the government take a radical response to Climate Change which is not creeping up on us but roaring our way with the intensity of a
category 5 hurricane.

Greta Thunberg’s parents are Svante Thunberg, an actor, and Malena Ernman, a well known opera singer and writer in Sweden. Greta’s mother has written and published a book describing both of her daughters’ special needs. Greta and her younger sister, Beata, have been diagnosed with Autism, A.D.H.D. and Asperger’s Syndrome.

As Greta states, she sees the world in black and white, not in shades of grey. In her own words,”I see the world a bit different, from another perspective,” she states in English. “I have a special interest. It’s very common that people on the Autism spectrum have a special interest.”

Climate Change when she was nine and in the third grade. She says,”They were always talking about how we should turn out lights, save water, not throw out our food. I asked why and they explained about climate change. And I thought this was very strange. If humans could really change the climate, everyone would be talking about it and people wouldn’t be talking about anything else. But this wasn’t happening.”

Greta began to study Climate Change in depth and has stopped eating meat and buying anything that is not absolutely necessary. In 2015 she stopped flying on airplanes and a year later her mother followed her daughter’s example which meant that she was giving up an international performing career.

The family installed solar batteries and they have started growing their own vegetables on a planned space outside the city. They bicycle almost all the time and have an electric car which they use only when necessary. They don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk, and I am totally impressed with them.

Sweden’s parliament reached a consensus that rich countries should cut their emissions by fifteen percent a year. Greta Thunberg calls bullshit on that because, in Sweden, actual emissions have gone up 3.6 per cent in the first quarter of this year. Greta says, “Sweden is not a role model”. She points out that even the best plans to address Climate Change make no attempt to look beyond the year 2050.

“By then,” Greta says, “ I will, in the best case, not even have lived half my life. What happens next?”

In the United States our Trumpian president is a Climate Change denier and he hasn’t even tweeted about it! Greta states, “I can become very angry when I see things that are wrong.”

When Greta Thunberg is at her Climate Change protest post outside of parliament, many people come by to chat with her and bring her food. She really likes falafel and noodles. Greta Thunberg is my new heroine and I hope the whole world takes radical action to avoid the Extinction Event that is hurtling towards us like a rocket ship out of control.

Greta says, “The climate is not going to collapse because some party got the most votes. The politics that’s needed to prevent the Climate Catastrophe—it doesn’t exist today. We need to change the system, as if we were in crisis, as if there were a war going on.”

Shock Treatment


The first time I met Chuck he was coming back from escape at the state hospital where I worked. It was mid-winter. The frost bite on his feet was so bad that he had to be rushed to the medical wing. The front parts of his feet developed gangrene and were removed.

He would stump around the hospital on his bandaged feet, sometimes falling, sometimes leaning against the walls like a wounded tree, chanting songs from his tribe that his grandfather taught him, songs that echoed echoed through buffalo ages, songs that moved the leaves on trees filled with passenger pigeons, songs that traveled with the ghosts of tribes long dissolved into the Red American Earth. When he was tired he would spin through the dingy green institutional hallways, roll to the end by the window that overlooked the gnarled oak tree on the back lawn and his cries would shatter the white noise of the psych ward for the acutely disturbed. Then he would fall asleep in his wheelchair.

Shoulder length brown hair fell on his face. He constantly brushed it back with his right hand as his left hand flew over the keyboard of the hospital computer. The bugs in our computer system would vanish as his fingers danced on the keyboard. Chuck was a master hacker with a Bachelor of Science Degree that he earned before he reached the age of twenty and the electronic brain would respond to him like a dog to a stern master. After working out a glitch that had stumped us all he would turn to us, grinning the the Cheshire Cat, sweat glistening on his dark forehead and say, “The machines eat our souls. All I have done is learn the pathways of the false mind. I cannot walk that way any longer.”

Then his dark brown eyes would become filled with a dense mist. Lines of tension would arc down his cheeks and the space above his nose would pull together. His hand would firmly grasp the edge of the desk and the sinews on his forearm would ripple and define themselves. He would continue to speak and his voice would echo through the office as if it had the acoustics of an amphitheater.

“This is a troubled time. I am one of the Earth’s pain receptors and there is much wrong with the Spirit during this period when the air has become foul and the waters dark with dirt and melt the icecaps under the eye of an angry sun. I must return to the Spirit because the pain is too great for me. I am not a defective but the pulsing nerve of nature exposed and I must extract myself from it all.”

Then he would turn away from us, push away from the desk and, as if hauling the weight of the Earth on his shoulders, stump laboriously down the hall. The doctors determined that Chuck was schizo-affective and delusional and he was placed on suicide watch. But Chuck had determined that the hospital was a symptom of the disease of the human soul. He instituted legal action to overturn his commitment.

One day, as I escorted him to the whirlpool bath, he and I talked. “I trust you,”, he told me. “I am going to win this court fight because I know what the judge needs to hear. You know this is true.”

I knew in my heart that he would succeed in his court battle and asked him what he was going to do when was released.

He smiled and his strong teeth seemed to beam in the fluorescent light of the institution. “The task you and the doctors have undertake is immense. It is your job to convince me not commit suicide. It is my job to ensure I return home. I am convinced that may course of action is correct. You must convince me otherwise before I get out. Time is on my side, no?”

I nodded my head and grinned at him. He shook his head and his nostrils flared as he flipped his long hair with his hand. He grinned back.

“Look Chuck, I know that I am supposed to stay within an arm’s length of you because of the suicide watch but I want to give you privacy in the bath. Are you going to be okay if I leave you alone?”

“You sure you can trust me?” he replied laughing.
“I will be if you say I can.”
“You would risk your job to give me privacy?”
“Yes” I replied.
“Thank you. You have my word.”

I lifted him out of the chair and lowered him into the swirling water. Then I stepped out of the room and shut the door. Suddenly a chant I had never heard before made my ears dance. There was splashing and laughter and song and my eyes became wet as I leaned against the wall. It was the first time Chuck had been left alone in a room for at least two weeks.

One week later Chuck successfully fought the order of committal in court. On his third day of freedom he stripped down to his skin, wrapped himself with a thin layer of sheet metal, stripped a heavy duty extension cord and splayed the conductor metal onto his tin suit, taped it with black electrical tape, placed his half-feet into a large pan of water and then plugged himself into an electrical outlet.

I can still hear the stumping of those half-feet and his chant haunts the corridors of my mind. He was right! Time is on his side.

Central Square, Cambridge, MA

“The form of a city changes faster than the heart of a mortal.”– Baudelaire

The streets teem with activity. There is a giant hole where the building filled with many small businesses, owned by individuals, flourished. There was a clothing store over 90 years old, a breakfast place where one whose pockets contained only a few wrinkled bills could eat. Lucy Parsons Bookstore has been chased to Davis Square and then from Davis Square to where? City Foods closed in the dead of night, leaving only a store that sells liquid spirits. A giant hole. A husk. A ghost of a place where the homeless drift side by side with shoppers and lawyers. The rents rise and the area of the square fills with yuppies moving amidst the many shelter dwellers who have no place to go.

Two coffee shops owned by young entrepreneurs; the Liberty Coffee Shop, a place where bookshelves spilled over with donated novels and reference books and computer set-ups rested side by side, and the Phoenix Coffee Shop, which was the last bastion for people who enjoyed a cigarette with their coffee with regular poetry readings that took place, where musicians could come and play and put out a basket for donations, the Phoenix; a place where genius sat side by side with minds cratered by madness and drugs—both gone.

A Starbucks has taken the place of an old breakfast shop. They modified the property they purchased so now all the stores on that corner have the same look. Starbucks. Where wage slaves work for corporate overseers.

The shelters. The wet shelter on Albany Street. Shelter Inc. The Salvation Army. Will it come time for these dwellings to disappear in the middle of a moonless night?

How do you change the face of Central Square? First you sew up it’s mouth, then you rip out the eyes, fill the nostrils with cement, and then you finish with a proposal for a frontal lobotomy. Is there a second for this proposal? All in favor?

Pass!

The City Council, none of them poor, rub the cash in their pockets, or is it their Visa Cards? Like a wishing stone of old. Beg for our votes and then do whatever they want.

Massachusetts Avenue has narrowed in Central Square, a clogged artery. The heart of a city is mortal; rip it out; only the husk of a city remains.

Dope by Sara Gran

“Dope” by Sara Gran; Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York; The Penguin Group; ISBN:0399153454 in 2006: Available on Amazon and other places; Google Sara Gran Author.

All of a sudden the reader is thrust into the 1950’s, but not the false innocence of that era. You are in New York City with Josephine Flannigan, a former heroin addict who has been abstinent for two years, who still struggles with the desire to use. She supports herself still by boosting small scores from department stores and selling her ill-gotten gains to the fringe buyers who turn the stuff over for a higher price to their customers.

This is “Dope.” It is a period of time where there are no Narcotics Anonymous meetings; the junkie is on her own. Out of nowhere, Josephine is approached by what appears to be a lawyer and his wife whose daughter vanished into the netherworld of heroin addiction and hasn’t been heard from for a long while. They offer Josephine $1,000 up front to begin her search for Nadine, and tell her another thousand dollars will be waiting for her if she wirings their daughter home to them. For a start, they give her a picture of Nadine and her junkie boyfriend.

Josephine has kept away from her using buddies for a long time, occasionally running into them on the street, but only by accident. This is the first time since she quit that she thrusts herself back into the world of junkies, whores, pimps and everyone else that inhabits the world of dark clouds and dreams that lie.

Josephine’s boyfriend is a guy named Jim Cohen, a man who seems nice but a shroud of mystery surrounds him. He doesn’t use, has a nice apartment and drives a brand new Oldsmobile ’88. He asks Josephine if she’s going to just take the grand and disappear or really look for Nadine.

Josephine thinks of her sister Shelley, whom she has extricated from one jam after another, who has finally made it good in the modeling world. She decides to look for Nadine.

Little by little, Josephine digs into the underworld she knows so well. Or thinks she knows. The trail winds and twists as she goes from one place to another, finding it easier to track the boyfriend first, a guy who goes by the name of Jerry McFall, a small time pimp and dope dealer who no one seems to have anything positive to say about him.

Old contacts are made and, as the job begins to wear on her, she finds the cravings to use drugs rise to the surface. She also notices someone driving a black Chevrolet following her. She keeps losing him but he always resurfaces. Sara Gran, the young author who has also written a horror story named “Come Closer” which is regarded as one of the best horror tales of the last 20 years, has a feel for the era as if she lived it. And she’s got the junkies pegged for sure. “A junkie could talk about junk from sunup to sundown. It was a conversation that began when you took your first shot and didn’t end until you’d had your last. Every junkie in New York, probably every addict in the world, could step into the conversation at any point and join in. There were a thousand and one topics, but they were all one topic: dope.”

When it comes to twists and turns, Raymond Chandler couldn’t do better. As Josephine searches, the light around her dims and then, suddenly she falls down the rabbit hole. No one is who they seem to be and, as if often the case with narcotics cops, they come roaring into the story, and all they can do is talk about junkies, dealers and whores and “tell us the truth because we know everything anyway” is what they say in the book.

When the trail seems to get hot, the heat is scalding and Josephine finds herself with complex choices to make. This story gets into your gut and it isn’t really a story about junkies but about us. The only time people in the underworld are lying is when their lips are moving.

This book will make a great gift for anyone who loves to read.

When I Smile

from the book Poison Pen written in Worcester House of Correction 1982—83

Warm water. Pumping blood. Dream dust homing in, stick a pin to my eyes. Ahh, I can see no
longer, riding a sweet monkey — when I smile I’m a liar.

The Land of Nod, my castle keep. Sailing through the mist on my Chinese Junk, they speak of
rough seas, surely they jest. Calm seas, calm seas, the Dragon is floating. All is well, I am
smiling.

This train is bound for glory. Riding hard on the rails, we’ve got the best tracks around. Sweet
loco-motive. Dragon powered, dusty rocket fuel. The Head Engineer reaches for steerage, he
can balance his pupils on the top of a pin. I shoot down the tracks, no free rides. I am smiling.

All flows smoothly, high powered, good connections. High tension wire walking, searching for
the red flag, dust storms, dust warms. Balancing on the head of a pin, all is peace, all is well,
can’t you tell. I am smiling.

Target practice. Micro fine arrows, shooting high, dust in my eyes. Trying to see the point of it
all. Anti-life, anti matter, does it matter? Balancing life on the head of a pin. When I smile I’m
a liar. I’ve got some good news to tell you, I can’t stop smiling

What I See From The Balcony At Moore’s Way

For Diane who finally rests in peace, May 18, 2000—written in Moore’s Way
Recovery Center at 23 Duncan Street, Gloucester**

I’m looking at her room now. She was disappeared
by something, none of us knows what it was. Some
think it was her disease. Others
think different. I’m looking at her room. The shades
are drawn, her door is locked. No one can see
in. I’m looking at the ocean from the balcony

next to her room. The sound of seagulls. A man walks
on the pier. Fishing boats at anchor. An island with
grass, a few small trees. This is the view from her room.

I’m looking at her room now. Thinking of her. I hardly
knew her. Saw her once at an NA meeting. I remember
even though it was months ago. I was quite taken
by her. I was about to ask for her phone number yet I decided
to wait for another time. When I get a sudden impulse

to do something, I’ve conditioned myself to wait. I acted
on impulse for over three decades, never hesitated to take
that first shot of heroin. I’m looking at her room.
It is still empty. She has been disappeared for a week.

Her car was left behind. Did I say she walked
with a limp and used a crutch? The crutch was
left in her car. She had a favorite pair of shoes. One shoe
was still here, the other is missing, like her. What God

turned it’s back for a second, busy somewhere else, when
she was taken? I am looking at her room now, wondering
what it was. What was it that came up behind her, beside
her, maybe inside her and took her out? There are many

of us here. Waiting and praying. When I think
of her I think of baseball, laughter, long brown
hair, the twinkling of a smile. I never really
knew her, just watched her walk, said hello, smiled

when she smiled at me. I’m looking at her
room now, a prayer resting on my tongue.
For me she was a light walking,
walking around Moore’s Way, something I could

believe. Everyone here is like that. I’m looking
at her room now, looking for the light, waiting
for her to reappear, say it was just an accident, a
lapse of faith, but everything is all right now, I’m

not disappeared now.

I’m still looking at her room. She hasn’t come home yet.

**When the staff at Moore’s Way opened her room, they found her body— her spirit had flown.**

The Bicycle Ride

She thought it was a beautiful bicycle
knew she wanted to ride it
gently touched the tubing
hard carbon steel
wrapped her fingers around it
stroked it
then threw her leg
over to straddle it

It felt good between her legs
she pumped
the pedals and began to move
her seat felt a little uncomfortable
with the newness of it
she wiggled around on it
till it fit right

It was better than she remembered it
doing it outdoors
somehow doing it indoors
in front of a tv set
just wasn’t as exciting

pumping furiously
wind blowing her hair
sweat beading on her face
and dripping down her hot body

She became lost in the riding
and could feel every bump
every ripple
faster and faster
and throwing her arms
into the air
she screamed out,
“Look ma, no hands!”

An Ode To The Kids Who Tried To Steal My Bicycle, Failed Miserably, And Wrecked It At The Train Station In Gloucester

Grey. Not the sky but the bicycle
left locked. If the iron rails might
talk, or the crosswise snitch, or the bicycle
be gifted with tongues, a broken
mouth cursing from a beaten frame
warped by shod feet, the rider
could know who to hate. The lock

was too good for these shrunken
minds. A good thief takes
or leaves it alone. Fools frustrated
by their own limits kick, bend,
render the bicycle useless as
their wits. Grey. The night

hiding reptilian idiots in frenzy
spending the remnants of their
fury at their own ineptitude destroying
what they cannot take. Greased
hands, they return home to parents
who plan to deny them sooner

than anyone can see it coming.
“Boy,” the father thinks as his
son walks in the door, “the best
part of you dripped down your
mother’s thigh.” Grey. The bicycle
lock won’t be the last obstacle

to defeat these bastard children.