My Favorite Martian


Detail of Phantasmagorical painting from Pripyat. Original photo by Simon Smith via Flickr, cc-sa2.0

I’d never met a boy like you
with green skin and a tender heart.
Your pain hid behind a goofy smile
My soul brother from the very start.

You were out of this world, fantastic
Above the earthling’s rough and tumble
And if you wanted to fit in
You never let us see, nor stumbled.

If fate does let us meet again
In another life or dimension
Share heart & wisdom one more time
I promise to pay better attention.

You were out of this world, fantastic
Your friendship always was sublime
My soul brother from the very start
Share heart & wisdom one more time.

( A eulogy for a friend who died unexpectedly.  Requiescat in pace, lab partner.)

Golden Age

He said he lost her in an ion storm
hard-hit on the portside in a Ceres high-orbit
a sudden flash and she vanished forever.
lost in space, out in the black, no one can hear you scream.

He said he lost her in a poker game
to a blue haired Antarean girl with a treacherous smile
a beautiful pirate queen who stole his heart
once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away.

He said: all we know is this: she’s gone.
she left us with nothing but stories of past glories
tales that fill the infinite expanses
in them, we chase the stars. We live on the edge of forever.


Triple Time

If heaven’s angels flew down to dance with me
from that glorious host, I’d choose you
We could dance all night and day
pause, and start anew.


Wiener Walzer by Leo Rauth, circa 1911.


If all of our dance were spins and sighs
because we knew not where to begin
Still, I’d hold my arms open wide
and welcome you right in.

If in the beat our steps went awry
we could count the measures anew
knowing that despite the count,
our dance will always be true.

Why I’d like to punch Chuck Norris

(and a bunch of other people!)

Public perception about asthma seems to remain the same despite advances in science, information campaigns, and famous athletes discussing the condition. It’s been a long time since I saw that Chuck Norris movie in which he cured a boy’s asthma with karate training, but it still makes me angry when I think about it. I once had someone try to cure me of asthma with physical exercise, and she almost killed me.



Enter a caption

I was a sickly kid. I’ve had asthma since before kindergarten. When I was a freshman in high school, we were all required to take P.E. (physical education).  There were the star athlete students, and then there were the rest of us. I was super clumsy from a recent growth spurt and my team sports skills were negligible. The P.E. teacher did not hide the fact that she loathed me.


This came to a climax one day when a P.E. class ended with running laps. I was sick with asthma during the rest of class and I had been light-headed and even more incompetent than usual. By the time lap running came, I could barely plod around the gym. The gym teacher started yelling. I gasped out something about asthma and she yelled some more about excuses. She was not going to let me go until I ran every lap, even if I was late to my next class.

By that point, I was wheezing so much that girls running by me could hear it. Some of the star students tried to tell her that I was really sick while a couple of my friends stayed with me as I staggered round and round the gym. She ordered the friends away and told the star students something along the lines of “I needed to learn a lesson”.

I finished every lap though it took me through both tardy bells and into the next class. She finally dismissed me. A couple of my friends half-walked, half-dragged me up to the principal’s office. I was so bad by then that the office didn’t waste time calling the school nurse. The principal drove me straight to the emergency room, where they shot my thighs full of adrenalin (a fairly standard treatment of my youth before all the great medicines of today) put me on oxygen for hours, and prayed.

Obviously, I lived. The principal had stern words with the gym teacher, who in turn had stern words with me, in front of the whole class. I should have let her know that I was ill. I shouldn’t push myself if I was feeling that badly. The important thing for us to know was that this incident was not her fault, it was mine, and by golly she wasn’t going to have her teaching record ruined by the likes of me. By pure happenstance, I never had another bad asthma episode in her class again.

Since I can’t really punch Chuck Norris or my former gym teacher in the face, let me try to spread some knowledge instead. We asthmatics are not just being lazy. We don’t have asthma because we’re fat and out of shape. P.E. won’t cure us. We don’t always outgrow it. We aren’t “wheezing on purpose for sympathy”. And if you force us past our limits (or if we force ourselves), you CAN kill us.

Don’t be all Chuck Norris about asthma.

P.S. I grew up to be a reasonably active adult. I hike. I dance. I do other stuff. I still have asthma.