How’s my stuff gonna get there?

Since Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the moving season, I dedicate this song to my friends in the moving industry. Did you know that repeating the phrase “easy does it” while moving large, heavy items—such as armoires and credenzas—helps to reduce drywall abrasions and gouges by as much as forty percent? Fun fact!

I was offered the job on Friday at nine.
They said, “We need to know—make up your mind.”
So I said ‘yes’ with some caveats:
Where in the world is this job at?
Is it cold there? Do they have baseball?

Will you help me move?

Can this board be fixed?

I like this headline. The PG-rated double entendre makes me smile. But before I can nod in agreement with the sales proposition, the last word in the second line hits me like a five-ton compressor dropped from a ten-story building.

Here’s the disconnect. Most consumers (including the men this ad targets) are not HVAC diagnosticians. When the AC quits working, we don’t know if it’s a major problem or a minor one. We do know this: we don’t want the expense of replacing a unit that can be fixed.

But this advertiser, apparently, is not interested in repairing systems. Regardless of the problem’s magnitude, the copy suggests I’ll be writing a big check. Ouch.

A clever headline may get attention. But it should lead to a common-sense conclusion. When I sense a shakedown, I recoil. Wouldn’t you rather know whether your AC can be fixed before you decide to replace it?

Wordman’s Assessment:  A near miss. Fix the copy by replacing the word replaced with fixed. Or change the second line to read: Is it time to replace the AC? (Picayune type correction: “is” needs an initial cap).

Postlude . . .  

To all who came out on a brisk ides of March to hear “Songs of the Wandering Aengus” performed by the Maud Gonne Musical Society, you were a wonderful audience. (My apologies to the few who had to stand because we ran short of chairs.)

Our musicians were gratified by the enthusiasm you showed, especially for the new musical settings of the five Yeats poems. I’ve included the lead sheets at the foot of this post; feel free to enjoy these for yourself. I think my favorite is The White Birds; however, our flute player most enjoyed The Lake Isle of Innisfree—the interlude caught her fancy.

It seems we all found a bit of Irish cheer to carry into St. Paddy’s Day. Laura’s whistling on Danny Boy haunts me still. For the record, this was our playlist:

1. Let There Be Love (Ian Grant/Lionel Rand)
2. Song of the Wandering Aengus (W. B. Yeats/Music J. M. O’Leary)
3. The White Birds (W. B. Yeats/Music J. M. O’Leary)
4. The Rose Tree (W. B. Yeats/Music J. M. O’Leary)
5. The Lake Isle of Innisfree (W. B. Yeats/Music J. M. O’Leary)
6. When You Are Old (W. B. Yeats/Music J. M. O’Leary)
7. Love’s Old Sweet Song (G. Clifton Bingham/James Lynam Molloy/Arr. J. M. O’Leary)
8. Meet Me Down At Micky’s (Lyrics J. M. O’Leary/Music J. M. O’Leary & C. E. Eakins)
9. Blue Moon (Lorenz Hart/Richard Rodgers)
10. Danny Boy (Fred Weatherly/Traditional)
11. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling (Chauncey Olcott & George Graff, Jr./Ernest Ball)
12. The Parting Glass (Traditional/Arr. J. M. O’Leary)
13. (Encore) Evansville Is Calling (Come on Home) (Words & Music J. M. O’Leary)

Special thanks to John Hendricks and Art “The Dude” Woodward (, fellow creatives and collaborators, for shooting and sharing their photos of this event. Special thanks also to Michael Woodall for his invaluable assistance in room setup, hospitality, and audio tweaking with help from Nathan Tester. The Maud Gonne Musical Society is: John Michael O’Leary, piano and vocals; David Tester, guitar and bass; Bret Birkhead, flugelhorn; and Laura Beth O’Leary, flute.


Lead Sheet for The Lake Isle of Innisfree. Lyrics by William Butler Yeats; Music ©2017 J.M. O'Leary.

Lead Sheet for When You Are Old, a musical setting of the poem by WB Yeats.

Lead sheet for Song of the Wandering Aengus. Lyrics by WB Yeats/Music ©2017 J.M. O'Leary

Lead sheet for The Rose Tree, lyrics by WB Yeats/Music ©2017 J.M. O'Leary





Pick a Golden Apple

Poster: Songs of the Wandering Aengus Concert for Beauty and LoveIt will soon be time for friends to raise pints of stout in honor of Saint Patrick. On the Wednesday before, I will offer a public musical prelude to the greenest day of the year with a tribute to love and beauty. On tap: new song settings of five poems by Yeats (The White Birds, The Rose Tree, When You Are Old, Song of the Wandering Aengus, The Lake Isle of Innisfree) plus a few traditional and popular tunes. It takes place from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM at the Arts Council Gallery, 318 Main St., Evansville.

This is a free concert—click on poster image at left for details.

Strange Occurrence

Photo from public domain, created by Hickey Bill, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


I don’t know how it happened, but I awoke with my hand in a lion’s mouth. I tried to withdraw, and the beast bit down hard enough to cause me pain. I relaxed, and so did the clench. I tried again. Same effect. I was trapped.

My wife came into the room . “You two playing again? Tsk-tsk. Time to get up.” She opened the shade and let in light. I looked at the cat’s face. It was blank. The eyes spoke with squinting. “You are mine.”

My wife left the room. I heard her moving about in the kitchen. The cat didn’t budge. I wondered how I would manage to shave. I gently tugged my arm. Ow. Still trapped.


My wife walked back into the room, dangling a slab of meat. It looked like a chuck roast. The cat released my hand and sprang for the raw red. My wife laughed and, as the animal chewed with vigor, she stood before it, scratching its ears and baby-talking. She left the room and the cat followed. I wiped my hand on the sheet.


I began plotting murder. I suppose “destroy” is the correct word. But the feeling was murder. I relished the fantasy of the creature’s demise. A bullet between the eyes? A tire iron on the skull as it napped in the sun? Too risky. What, then?

I walked to the grocery and returned with five pounds of ground beef. I crushed the contents of a bottle of ibuprofen and mixed it in.

“Here, kitty kitty.”

I went to my room and closed the door. In time, I heard thrashing and moaning. It lasted for hours. Eventually, silence. It was done.


I was resting peacefully, dreaming of warm Caribbean water and soft sways of palms, when I awoke with my foot in the mouth of a walrus.

Fortunately, I was wearing socks. I slowly eased my foot from from the tusked maw, leaving the sock behind.

I took my phone in hand and called the office of Animal Control.

First Draft

First Draft


Thoughts fall to paper,

pummeled to eruption 

like piñatas raining

on the playroom floor.

Pink and blue shreds of

luckless laughter

and barely dared joy


until the janitor

with stiff new broom

gathers and feeds them 

with careless ease

to the gray furnace.