Gatorbaiting in the Sunshine State

Gator Time in Primordial Slime

MSU laxman Ted Swoboda was floating around Florida recently, sent this photo of critter sin Everglades National Park. MSU will celebrate its 50th anniversary of lacross on Saturday, April 6 and we’ll be there to see the boys of many, many springs ago. I was lucky to play ont he first three club teams. I wonder how many Yooper boys have played lacrosse.  Boda’s pix served to bring a poem to life, imagining I was there, and not Boda.


It seemed so very fitting

That I might soon be shitting

The length of my red Bermuda shorts.

Standing in the Everglades

The sun blazing hot from high

The water glazed with pestilence

I heard the gators roll and snort.

And when I burst into the lagoon

I found a mythic reptile port

Which nearly made me swoon,

 A dozen creatures all so large

800 pounders side-by-side

Parked like rough-backed Cadillacs

At a noted mobster’s funeral

It’s easy to teach the principle

Of peaceful coexistence when

The lessons linger lethargically

In water black as the

Hollywood Creature’s filmic home

I couldn’t help but think

Standing on the brink of all that stink

That this was life down to the bone

Where gators gazed sloe-eyed upon

Things they might soon make gone

Gaunt black vultures wading

With their own scant thoughts

Everything in that swamp was fraught

With death and rot, and my being

There, camera in hand,

Was sure to come to naught.

I left them the way Ahab

Could not, drove ten miles

To a more hospitable spot

To imbibe of fatuous libations

And themed rations

“Swamp syrup &  gator griddle cakes

Come to mind from the only menu

I could find, hand written with the note:

All meat here are served fresh

And cooked to your spellifications

That is to say by your  own directions.

There in the safety of a walled in bar

 I could  be the  puffed up sort

 To pretend I was a rugged outdoor sport

Which you see is fiction

Never mind the clumsy diction.

It is one thing to visit creatures

Born in god’s darkest plans

And put in steel caged boxes ringed with safety sand

And quite another for one to venture

Onto ground where your own breathing

Is the only sound, one the gators

Listen for as they wait in ambush on the muddy floor,

Their ancient brains filling with juice of hunger

Stewed slowly in archetypal seething, that and no more.

[Portage, March 28, 2013]

Event Horizon….

What’s ahead? I’ll be  speaking at the Iron Mountain Rotary Club in da Yoop, June 4. Time and location to be announced later in the events section.

Will be in Fremont Michigan, Thursday, April 25.

Next books: May 8 is pub date for HARD GROUND, WOODS COP STORIES.

Sept is pub time for next Grady Service, No. 9, KILLING A COLD ONE. (Will be getting pages from my editor tomorrow).

Next Lute Bapcat will be fall of 2014 title of MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN.

And I am one chapter from finishing BROWN BALL, a story of baseball in San Antonio in 1956. Don’t know when  it will be out, but I’ll sit on it this summer, let it ferment, revise as needed next fall. There is no such thing as instant gratification in the writing business.

This fall will start  writing  Grady Service #10. No title yet, think in terms of fall 2015 publication.

I’ll also be submitting a couple of pieces of nonfiction to a major mag sometime in the fall.

The magazine,QUARTERDECK, will publish and inteview this spring.

Still have two  manuscripts looking for a publishing home, an historical novel set in Manchuria at the end of World War II, called MAN IN SKY JUDGING SIN. And a collection of poems entitled, FISHING WITH THE FAMOUS.

I do love this work.

Signs That May Suggest Journalism is in The Tank

  1. Reporters interview other reporters as news sources. This used to be called hearsay.
  2. Daily now means 3-4 days a week. (New math or just new economics?)
  3. Newspapers are disappearing fast.
  4. Media advertise qualities such as fairness, which used to be assumed. And by the way, fairness doesn’t mean an article agrees with one view or another. It means opposing views are put forward and someone cited to represent each.
  5. People today prefer the yellow journalism of the late 19th century when news was political and slanted to the money.
  6. Costs are too high for readers, viewers, and media are pricing themselves out.
  7. Sometimes impossible to separate “news” from “opinion.” Most people no longer know the difference.
  8. When scouts come by for paper drives, there’s nothing to give them.
  9. How many kids have paper routes, or had one? Or even heard of such a thing? They can’t read analog watches or use rulers to measure.
  10. Antiquated beats: business, sports, news, family living, etc.
  11. New with-it millennial beats: digital life, social networking, multimedia, media technology…yadayadacom.
  12. What used to be called journalism is now assumed to be activism.
  13. Data-driven has replaced content -or reader-driven.
  14. Talk radio is all tapes and either far right or far left and nothing in between and nutcases behind microphones getting rich off  platitude-seeking knuckleheads who listen to them.
  15. Papers have lost 50 percent of their advertising revenue in five years. Back then 75 percent of a paper’s revenue came from advertising.
  16. Who the hell wants to read on line?
  17. Blogs are now being advertised for $19.95 a year and called “experiments in free market journalism.” In the old days these words were synonymous with “bullshit” and “hustle.”

Yooper Winter, 2013

For those who miss winter, here are some shots from Negaunee, up da hill from Marquette, eh.  Always more snow up dere, den down below by da lake an’ da college.

negaunee 1negaunee 2negaunee 3negaunee 2negaunee-5negaunee-6

Sojourn at the “Wasteland” (Nee Northland)

Last Saturday night (March 9)  we drove over to Auburn (just east of Midland) for the 6th Annual Michigan Conservation Officers Association  get-together. 200+people in attendance and no snow! Good time at the dinner.  Lots of animal sightings both directions. The Northland Motel in Kawkawlin? Not so much. We re-named it The Kawkawlin Wasteland, $60/night. Sheesh.

Color scheme, battleship gray, pea green, purple: priceless.  Stained carpet, small threadbare carpet, no blanket on bed, partial roll of TP and no spares, no tissue paper in holder, one lamp in room that wobbled like a bobblehead and had a 10 watt bulb in it. $10 nightly dog fee, a microwave and tiny fridge, but no cups and no  instant coffee or any coffee or tea, and the wall insulation was onionskin thin. Questionable “stains” on bathroom walls.  “People” and vehicles  still coming and going at 0300 and the dog would NOT settle down, and every time we walked him he got more hyped, especially after he kicked a skunk and, on the next walk,  a rabbit and both times he went ballistic, wanting to give chase and me holding on for all I was worth! (Which isn’t much.)  So at 0330 we hurriedly packed the green streamer, drove west to Shepherd, and pulled behind Micky D’s to catch some winks. THAT was then Shaksper decided he’s a guard dog and went ballistic over some poor schmuck out chaning the gas price signs. I  crawled in back with him, Lon took front seat and we crashed for 90 minutes before  driving on home. Every trip an adventure. Yes, it WAS nice to get home. But a good memory and a laugher now that it’s over. Over. Next book up is HARD GROUND, WOODS COP STORIES , pub date is May, but should be avail electronically in April. Next Grady Service will be in September, title of  KILLING A COLD ONE.  Next book event is Fremont Library, April 25th.


Walk me, walk me, I’m ready to carry my load!
Jeff and Vicky Goss, who do so much for MCOA.
The Thorns
Those Heywoods.
The Biggers

Starred Review in Publisher’s Weekly

Great news this morning from my publisher. The trade mag PUBLISHERS WEEKLY has given HARD GROUND, Woods Cop Stories a starred review, which is its top of the line. Great start for the short story collection, officially out in May, but probably in stores in April.  The review follows. I know, it sounds like my Mom wrote it:


Heywood (Red Jacket) displays uncommon storytelling versatility in this brilliant collection of 27 tales about the game wardens who patrol Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His two series heroes, Grady Service and Lute Bapcat, each make an appearance (in “Black Beyond Black” and “The Third Partner,” respectively), but neither outshines their colleagues as they handle a variety of challenges from scofflaws, fools, villains, and wildlife. In the deft “Double-jointed Trouble,” conservation officer Jill Flyvie learns from her rookie mistake in handling a prisoner, while in the tender “Symbiosis,” CO Steven Burdoni and an aging hunter come to understand one another. “Song in the Woods” touches on the supernatural; pilot Ralph “Buck Rogers” Haliday quits his job in spectacular fashion in “Airzilla”; and in “Henry VIII,” a bear causes trouble and heartache. This volume should be read for pleasure, but would do equally well as an instruction manual for aspiring writers. Lyons is simultaneously reissuing The Snowfly (2000), the novel that introduced Grady Service. PW’s starred review called it “a story about growing up and self-discovery, a fast-moving intercontinental romp and a good fish story.” Agent: Phyllis Westberg, Harold Ober Associates. (May)