Slugfests, Southpaws and a Summer Wind

The historian Bruce Catton once referred to baseball as the greatest conversation piece America ever invented. While it was a critique of the game’s leisurely pace, he unwittingly pointed out one of its best qualities. Because the game is meant to be talked over, in stops and starts for its better and worse.

I recently took in an Atlantic League baseball game with my pal Gus. It was the hometown Lancaster Barnstormers against the Sugar Land Skeeters. The league is independent, which means none of its teams is affiliated with a big league squad. As far as household names go, the ‘Stormers have Lastings Milledge, an outfielder who played parts of seven seasons with the Mets, Nationals, Pirates and White Sox before opting for free agency after the 2011 season. He hasn’t seen a big league clubhouse since that day, which makes him the baseball equivalent of Tom Hanks in Castaway; holding onto a slim and distant hope. And aside from owning one of my favorite baseball names, he owns a dream that won’t let him quit the diamond just yet.

The dreams these men carry aren’t big ones. Most of them would be ecstatic to score a thirty day contract with some minor league club. Because a thirty day contract somewhere else, is somewhere closer than the last exit outposts they’re toiling away in.

I told Gus that I had a good feeling about things, because our starting pitcher was a lefty. In my humble baseball opinion, left-handed pitchers are a magical thing. Never mind that I didn’t know his name and had no blessed clue whether he could pitch worth a damn. By the time the top of the first inning had concluded, I had received my answer to the tune of a 5-o lead by the visitors.

We made our way to the concession stands and dug into some barbecue while the home team began chipping away at the lead. The game settled for a bit and we watched as our lefty pitcher battled despite the fact his curve ball wasn’t curving and his fast ball was playing around with other men. And then the Skeeters were jumping him again and so me and Gus, we changed the subject for a while.

When it comes to the company you want to keep at a baseball game, you’re not going to get much better than Gus. His conversation chases the ebb whilst paying all due respect to the flow. Sitting in the stands on a summer evening is like listening to a thousand radio songs- filled with white knuckle debate and the laughter of reminisce.

Gus is from Lafayette, Louisiana- born and raised. His vowels are clipped and his drawl goes long when he’s slow dancing with a story. I asked him about Vietnam and he talked about his brother Roger who served in the Army, Special Forces. He made it back, but a part of him never returned; like a jigsaw puzzle with a few really important pieces missing. There was Anthony, his other big brother who served in the Marines before being sent home after stepping on a land mine. While the rehab on his mangled leg was tedious and painful, Anthony was one of the lucky ones.

My pal tells stories in thickly painted vignettes whose mystic is dressed in the scenes of a long ago time. In this instance, he had delivered up suede and bell-bottoms, long hair and peace signs with a fresh vinyl feeling to that Buffalo Springfield war song.

And so a baseball evening’s worth of conversation began in Vietnam as the home team tried digging out of a 5-0 deficit. The talk moved into family as they tied it at 7 and it nestled into thoughts on religion as the teams made the scoreboard operator earn his paycheck on this night.

It was at the end of the sixth inning when Gus took his leave. He had a lovely bride of forty eight years to get home to and so I walked with him to the outfield exit before I asked him for one more baseball night before the leaves turned.

I walked down to the benches behind the outfield wall and took a seat for one more inning. Baseball might lend itself to conversation, but there is plenty of come on to be had in the silence as well. The Skeeters were clinging to a 11-9 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Beau Amaral delivered up the kind of magic our starting pitcher wasn’t able to find. He smacked a 2-2 pitch into a gaping stretch of real estate in left field that Steve Bartman would’ve appreciated. He rounded second before the left fielder could turn to pivot and he was racing home as the throw hit the third baseman’s glove on the relay, and he was sliding across home plate with an inside the park home run as the ball went sailing over the catcher’s head.

Beau Amaral has a great baseball name, and he has something many of his teammates have run out of. Time. Twenty six and fresh off a stint with the Reds Triple A club, he’s tearing up the ball to the tune of a .359 batting average with the ‘Stormers. He’s killing it for another shot at the big time, in the hopes he can catch a scout’s eye and start that most time honored of baseball things.

A conversation.


I’m a Neat Freak!: Real Neat Blog Award

Didi Oviatt recently nominated me for The Real Neat Blog Award, and I am honored to accept. Because it means I’m real and I’m neat, which are two very fine qualities to be in possession of.

As for Didi Oviatt, she’s a blogger with plenty of boom. She writes, she reviews and she presses the virtual flesh with bloggers from all around the world and back again. She does all this with a charismatic flair that has her readers begging for more. To which she always provides.

Thank you so very kindly, Ms. Oviatt, for the award; for taking the time. Both.

Now, as per the rules of my award . . I got a few questions to answer:

1. If your voice could sound like any artist, who would you want it to sound like?- This was a really difficult one, but I would have to say Mariah Carey. Reason being, I love singing her tunes in the car but I know I ain’t doing her justice. I want justice for Mariah.

2. What is your favorite recipe?- This is another really difficult one but if I HAVE to choose I am going to go with a lamb roast. For one thing, it allows me to play with some of my favorite ingredients such as garlic, thyme, rosemary and dijon. And for another, it’s a simple dish that feels elegant and I like that. I refer to it as provincial simplicity.

3. Do you have a favorite genre to read?- No. I don’t. Historical fiction . . . Maybe. But no, I really don’t. An example? Why not. I just finished reading Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. Before that it was Shutter Island . . Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden and The Prophet (For the thousandth time . . I think). And I am currently engrossed in The Alchemist. 

4. What is your favorite movie?- Of all time? The Godfather. There are so many life lessons to be culled from this masterpiece. I could have gone with Godfather 2 because it’s probably a better movie, but my favorite will always be the original. Interestingly, my least favorite movie is Godfather 3. 

5. What did you do today to improve your future self?- Today? I didn’t murder the asshole who cut me off on the way to breakfast with my kids. Hey, it means I don’t have to get used to wearing an orange jumpsuit and catching up on my smoking habit whilst guarding my ass as if it were the Mona Lisa. Yesterday was a bit more constructive, because I spent some time with pit bulls. As far as God’s creatures go, they are severely misunderstood. I was hand feeding a pit bull yesterday, who only a couple weeks earlier was unapproachable and had been designated as “Staff Only”. As a volunteer, I still can’t walk Maximus, but thanks to some wonderful people who’ve been working with him, I learned the color of his beautiful eyes- hazel with a touch of vermilion. And now he doesn’t bark at me, and now he doesn’t charge. Now, we just sit together. These people reached him with patience and love and understanding, and I became the lucky recipient of their dedication. It is in these small victories where I find God.

As to who I nominate for the Neat Blogger Award?

Every single blogger who visits this place. I know, it’s not exactly in keeping with the rules, but I won’t choose. Because I am thankful for each and every one of you. To take the time from your busy day to venture over here, it’s more appreciated than you know. You make this blog what it is- a neat place to come to. Without you . . . there’s no Cayman Thorn.

To peace and love, and to you.




Sunday Morning Coffee Love

I thought I could write on anything, until it occurred to me this year that I cannot. It was a mysterious development, and one I was not used to. Until I delved further and studied its roots more deliberately, just the other day. Then, it made sense- an infinite amount of the stuff.

In this instance, I speak of politics. Of a topic that was always ‘on demand’ simple in my brain. Until last November, when it turned my creative juices on the topic into a hazy shade of winter. And maybe this sounds crazy, but I can’t bring myself to write on the happenings since November changed the world we’re living in.

Perhaps I should make excuses. Like, “Hey, you can’t satirize satire.”, or “Why parody the parody?”. And I have done that, made excuses. But I shouldn’t be making excuses. I should accept what’s happened to this particular part of my brain and just wait it out. Because I know, full well, that there will come a day when the dam will burst and the words will come pouring out and then all those excuses will seem like elegant sounding absurdities.

So yes, I have learned I cannot write on just anything, at any time, as I damn well please. I have come to understand that there are some things to which I have no answer. And you know something? Good. Because it tempers me, humbles me, teaches me. About the writer I am and the process I choose and the treacherous path that begins with a blank white sheet.

The ability to convey your thoughts into some better sounding thing is a gift, and maybe I forgot that. Maybe I was taking it for granted. I don’t know. What I do know is that I am grateful. To be a writer. To know what writing means to me. And I am eternally thankful to one writer in particular. My favorite one. Because I talked this out with her the other day, and she listened. As only she can do. And her thoughts on the matter behaved as a salve to my senses.

She’s something I could write on. All day long. Which is why I’m plenty fine with throwing any political diatribes in the rear view, for now. Because I have a topic on which I can spin tales from here to the moon and back. And it matters more than all the other things I could write on.

It reminds me of a poem by Pablo Neruda . . . .

You can crush the flowers, but you can’t stop the spring. 

My political flavor has indeed wilted, and while it hasn’t died . . it has been crushed in the cycle of stupid that perpetuates our trending news. And she lets me know it’s a ‘so what’ proposition. Because there’s plenty ’nuff to write on. Like the spring time I feel in the ways of a girl who put a spell on me. So there.

Here’s to you, Cat Woman. I love your purr and your poetry, your rhythm and your rhyme. I love the way you make my world feel, just by being in the grand ballroom of my existence.

Like that.


The forever after quality of keeping the faith

There’s a line in the Ray Bradbury Sci-Fi classic “Fahrenheit 451” that describes friendship as a gradual progression; a drip by drip construction of innocent ripples whose mighty is a hidden gem of tidal given proper, pouring itself into a cup over the time and space of a person’s life. The evidence remains a mystery until the cup overflows.

Apologies for not googling the verbatim, but I felt like the imperfections of my memory as per this particular line dovetail much more effectively with the very idea.

Because love and friendship? Ain’t perfect.

But love and friendship are quite necessary things in a world whose market value changes for the better and worse on a daily basis. It seems that the times we’re living inside of are made of equal parts mercury and stardust. The sobering realities, tethered to the boundless dreams.

The weekend was all work for me, and it began on a very melancholic note because I lost my best workplace friend. Which is never a good thing in retail, where the weather changes every five minutes as it is.

How to describe Gus? He’s an Elmore Leonard character who makes the day worth figuring out to its better end. He’s a cool cat who still possesses that Louisiana drawl when he gets riled up. And he’s treating seventy as if it ain’t no thing at all. In his previous life, Gus was a minister. And that’s what he’s going back to now. My loss inside the day to day travails is going to be the gain of a great many people, and it’s how I had to frame things on Saturday . . when I wasn’t busy crying.

Before I left for the day, I found Gus and we hugged. I was tearing up as we embraced and then he went and did it.

“Hey man, I’m gonna be around.” He smiled.

“You better. We have a ballgame to get to.”

“You know it, Bubba. I love you.” He said.

“I love you too Gusto.”

And that was that. My day to day, changed, permanently. My forever too. The former will remain melancholic for a time, but the latter has become a better place thanks to Gus. Because he filled the void left by my good friend, George; who left me just when I needed him most. And it’s okay to be selfish about these things. When it matters this much, it is.

With love, it’s more complicated.

Love is a four letter word with sugar on top. It’s that honeyed up quality to the thing that allows it to have its way with us. Because love is a drug that doesn’t quit your system, even if you swear you will never . . ever . . ever . . never, dabble in the stuff again.

The way I did. When I started this blog.

This blog was my broken hearted pledge to the fates. It was a commandment to myself. To never again venture into something deeper than the shallows. And most certainly never to do such a thing on a blog . . with a writer . . whose words I loved to listen to as they roamed through my brain and tickled my heart and provoked my soul.

Never. Ever. Ever. Never.

I think I did one hell of a job of keeping this promise to myself. At least until she walked in the room and changed those plans. And it was like that line from the Harrison Ford flick Six Days, Seven Nights. She got me excited just by showing up. That was it. I was that easy. For her I was.

It’s just a certain way a man conducts himself when a certain woman enters his domain. He may not even be aware he’s behaving in a different way, but oh man . . he really is. Okay, imagine this dude’s life is a grand ballroom. The music is sizzling, the crowd is familiar and the mood is predictable. The dude is plenty fine with this, because he just so happens to be a creature of habit.

And then she makes the scene, and every single best laid plan goes up in the smoke of her fire. She steps into the grand ballroom wearing an indigo dress and it’s like every other woman in the place is dressed in monochrome. And the only music he can hear is coming from her. And all the sense in a world that’s busy making no sense at all, it’s tucked inside that smile of hers.

She gives him all the most important things. Love, friendship, support, understanding and faith. And sometimes, she gives him funny memes in the morning. And they end up having a gangsta rap meme showdown and it’s just the thing he needs, because the coffee ain’t working and the run didn’t feel so amazing and there’s so much to do and there’s so little time . .

And then he sits down, and in his best James Taylor he pens this. For her.

She’s got honey in her veins, and the breath of mountains in her soul and Keats in her movements and Cupid in her curls and mayhem in her silence and Broadway in her dancing and storms in her flirtatious wink and Hendrix in her rants and scandal in her steps and Gandhi in her whispers and the ocean in her tears and the age of disco in her laugh and she has the magic of all those crazy stars in the words she weaves.

He pens the words that fill him up, the words she created just by being in the grand ballroom of his existence. And he knows. He knows that it takes a certain woman to convince a certain man that you can never, ever say never . .



When you come to the fork in the road? Eat.

As most of you who read this outpost of a blog are well aware, I do so enjoy being an envoy for the absurdities that define our doomed existence. I dabble in all manner of trouble. So you don’t have to.

And . . . you’re welcome.

So it was that this afternoon, I was having a legit conversation as per my latest storytelling idea with a dude who used to do Summer Stock, all over the map. Richard is sixty-ish, semi-retired and he lives in a condo. He’s also fairly ambivalent when it comes to his live-in girlfriend. The dude is loose threads in the cosmic sense, but he’s why I love actors. Because they jump first and ask the more pertinent questions later on.

“I’m going with my undertow story.” I say.

It takes a few moments for words to catch up with what’s left of his cerebral cortex- which no doubt resembles a taco stand. But when he finally gets around to collating, it’s Climax Blues Band on methamphetamine sprinkled chalupas. Which means, it’s delicious sounding shit.

“Oh shit yeah that’s a funny story! The waving? Priceless. You have to go with that one. Shit yeah!”

If I had a dollar for every time Richard says “Shit, yeah.”, I would own the New York Yankees, have PSL’s to Golden State Warriors games and Oprah would be on speed dial. Richard may speak in clipped appraisals, but when he throws a Hallelujah at you, it’s as if you just watched Jesus in a fist fight.

From there, I go long form with him. I spill a few loose thought ideas so’s he can reduce the elements whilst identifying the cutting room floor material. Dude has a sixth sense about these things. He’s a modern day proverb dressed in stage lights. I love the systemic advancement he uses in order to shelter the wild nature of feral thoughts.

The moments are so very elegant and purposed, and then Sesame Street goes drive by on my ass.

“What are you talking about?”

It’s Danielle. She’s all of twenty one and her interests include Instagram, breaking up with boyfriends, Snap-chat, breaking up with boyfriends and Taco Bell. I’m sure there’s more where that came from, but really . . that’s enough.

“My story.”

“For what?”

“Story Slam.”

“Oh my Gawd! Your video was soooo funny. Is that like stand up?”

I explain to her what storytelling is all about as if I was a human GIF, because that’s the language she speaks. While I’m attempting to send her on her way, she asks if I heard the news about Linkin Park front man Chester Bennington.

“Yes, he committed suicide.”

Richard chimes in with, “Strange day, Chester Bennington hangs himself and O.J. Simpson gets cut loose.” The man has a chime to his rhyme, tell you what.

“Who’s O.J.?” Danielle asks.

Not that long ago, this was a two syllable trivial pursuit question with one hell of a racial slip-switch. (Not that long ago? Meet a million years ago. And even though the two of you have absolutely nothing in common, go have sex. And make babies that ask questions like this.)

“Simpson.” I replied. “O.J. Simpson.”

Her hesitation was a notarized reminder of how quickly time flies. And it signaled my removal from this Bermuda Triangle of crimes and misdemeanors. Hey man, I can run five miles on a ninety five degree afternoon, but I just don’t have the patience for this. It’s fucking exhausting.

“Go with that undertow story, Marc.” Richard winked.

The universe came calling, and it was dressed in a ponytail with yellow colored shades and a forever sounding reminisce of big mistakes dressed in fine solutions.

I winked back.

The aFrank Angle Challenge- Day Late/Dollar Short Edition!

Okay, so Frank over at aFrank Angle gave his readers a challenge.  Or in WordPress parlance (?) a ‘prompt’. He supplied an image, which I have included below and he asked his readers to create a fictional piece out of it. In 150 words or less.

Truthfully, I haven’t done a ‘prompt’ in ages. But hey, if our President can settle the country’s business in 150 characters or less, I think I can handle a fiction challenge.

I realize this entry will not be considered by the Academy due to the late nature of its submission. Ironic that I’m calling it a ‘prompt’, huh?






            Footprints in the Sand – by Cayman Thorn

Taylor’s feet scalloped the minute shards of ocean glass into small indentations whose evidence was being stolen with each musical sway of the tides. His roam transformed inside the short walk- from confusion to recognition, and finally to a seething rage.

He dropped to his knees at the sight of the oxidized wreckage whose spires fought the darkness but whose symbolism had long since been stolen away in the name of a manifest power whose intention had never been to serve better angels.

“Trump did it . . he finally, really did it. You maniac! You blew it up! God damn you!” He screamed, as if his lungs could reach the wicked depths and all those long lost souls.

Nova gripped the reins of their horse and stared silently into the face of a murdered ideal, whose body was being interred by the fates.

They had reached the end of the world.

(Muchisimas gracias to Frank for allowing me to stay after school and finish this assignment. The link to his challenge is below just in case you didn’t click on my hyper-link up top.)

Wednesday Morning Coffee Love

If an alien from another galaxy asked me about love, I would tell him to imagine the craziest thing and then multiply it by infinity. I would warn him as to how dangerous a thing it was, and how wars have been fought over the stuff and countless hearts have been crushed inside its grasp. I would let him know there are people who search for it their entire lives and never find it. And how there are people who wish they had never found it. I would liken it to jumping off the moon, sans gravity, and diving head first into the oceans below.

And when he asked me the obvious question . . .why? Why do humans yearn for something so crazy and dangerous as love? I would just smile before replying, “Because our bodies were made from the earth, but our souls were born to fly.”

It is within the extravagant mysteries of a universe that each and every moment is created. It created mine through the pulse of a story about the end of the world. And how ironic a thing that the end of one world was the beginning of another. Because that’s where love happened, in the telling of a story about living and dying, music and mortality . . . the here and the not here. Love was busy introducing itself inside the soft hums of labor that were unleashing themselves inside every provocative sounding verb, until the light of day caught its bloom and named it after the two of us.

And so we wrote, together. We wrote a love story whose madness was a brilliant tease for what was really going on between each line; as fiction became something less so and reality became the kind of fantasy you only see in movies. And so from the writing, we offered precious little sips of our respective worlds. I only found the nerve to tell her the good parts of me; afraid that sharing more might send her running. She cured me of this fear by sharing more of herself. Our fears lessened as our familiarity with each other grew.

I could sense it in her voice, that she had been waiting for someone to walk through that door for a very long time. But the something in her voice was also quite clear that she didn’t need me, or any other man to define her. This was a good thing, because I dig a woman who knows herself.

When we talked, everything in my head went quiet. I was convinced hers was the voodoo of ancient rituals. I would stare at her picture as we spoke on the phone and I would lose myself in her smile. That smile of hers was like an IV drip of sunshine straight into my veins. Her voice was this sensuous purr that made me tremble. It was as if she dipped each syllable in honey, because they reminded me of every Van Morrison song that ever caught fire. And her laugh . . . .it was the kind of laugh you leave the lights on for. Like . . forever.

They say that ninety percent of human interaction is non-verbal, and I would have to agree. Because we had a knack for turning texts into jam sessions and emails into advanced placement classes on pop culture. We made a glorious sound together, even when we did not utter a single word.

Of course, there were potholes along the yellow brick road, and when we ran across them it was as if that famous poet/philosopher Rudy Francisco was talking to us when he bitched about Cupid being fucking irresponsible. It was inside these times that old wounds became echoes and windows became reminders and the past seemed a prologue in spite of all those wonderful ‘coincidences’ wrought of sunflowers and stardust.

The absence of her was like watching a dandelion lose its mind in the wind, scattering a thousand seeds worth of memories across my everyday. Because she followed me wherever I went and there was no escaping her. And here’s the thing, I didn’t want to escape her. I wanted to be that vulnerable. As if to remind myself that ours was no ordinary thing. That it was different, unique.

And so, from the spaces in between she kept me company in my heart and in my mind. When a friend would tell me of their romantic entanglement, I would think of her. Or when I chilled to a certain song, she would be there inside the lyrics . . dancing. First thing in the morning, last thing at night.

Our separation, it was like our hearts had skinned their knees. But this was a good thing, because not having training wheels or elbow pads allowed our scars to tell a story. And ours was worth telling. And so we owned the bloody and the scabs and we could own the healing. And if the only thing we gained in staying was each other? Well my God, that was plenty and so very much more.

If I could tell that alien one more thing about love, it would be this. Try. No matter the odds, no matter the risk. Because in the trying is where you will find the some kind of wonderful that no other potion in the world can match. Because loving someone is the most exhilarating form of danger known to man. Because knowing how it feels? Is everything.

That’s how I feel, when she’s around. She makes me feel like Broadway. She makes me feel like I could swim the oceans. She makes me dance while standing still. She makes me feel like I could miss twenty three balls in a row at the batting cages and she would flash me this winning smile as if I just hit a home run in the ninth inning of a World Series game.

Maybe love stays, and maybe love can’t and maybe it shouldn’t. And maybe . . just maybe, love arrives exactly when it was supposed to. And maybe I need her. The way that big moon needs that open sea.

Like that. Entirely.