Tag Archives: Paris

The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode II)

The Unexpected Meeting

The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode II). Photo shows man in white hat and white shirt holding a loaf of bread while he works in a bakery.

When things had quieted down and most of the other stormtroopers were settling into the barracks for the night, Karl retrieved his secret cookbook from its hiding place and snuck off to the communal kitchen to bake bread.

He rummaged through the cabinets to gather bowls and utensils and pans and all the ingredients he needed to make a hazelnut 12-grain bread. He joyfully busied himself in the quiet of the kitchen and he thought to himself how much better it was to be baking bread than blasting shit.

While he gave the dough time to rise, he sat down at one of the tables and retrieved his personal communication device. He searched for information on Paris and all the different patisseries there. He got lost in the pictures and the descriptions and he studied maps and he tried to remember the names of streets and the different arrondissements, or districts.

He fell so deep into a delightful trance of study and inspiration, that Karl the stormtrooper didn’t realize someone else had come into the communal kitchen. Suddenly there was someone menacing standing above him and looking down.

“What are you doing in here?” the intimidating figure asked with a hint of evil in his voice.

Karl suddenly shot up from his chair and stood at attention. “Commander Altiar. Sir. My apologies, I didn’t notice you had come in.”

Commander Altiar was dressed in a stiff gray uniform, and he wore black gloves and shiny black boots and his hair, the color of the planet Tatooine, was perfectly combed and lightly oiled against his head to ensure not a single strand would fall out of place. He slowly walked around the young stormtrooper and looked him up and down judgmentally. “I asked you what you are doing in here? It’s past curfew. Why aren’t you in your bunk?”

“Sir, I’m sorry sir. I’m baking bread and I’m afraid I lost track of time.”

Commander Altiar stood toe-to-toe with Karl and scowled menacingly into his eyes. “Did you say you’re baking bread?”

“That’s correct sir. Bread.”

Commander Altiar nodded as if he was overly suspicious of the young stormtrooper’s story. He walked around the kitchen looking over all the things Karl had laid out on the counter. The commander ran a black leather finger through a scattering of flour. He studied it intently for a moment, and then asked, “What kind of bread are you making?”

Karl cleared his throat. “Sir. Hazelnut 12-grain bread.”

Commander Altiar returned to where Karl was standing and got in his face again. “And what exactly do you plan on doing with this hazelnut 12-grain bread?”

“I plan on eating it, sir,” Karl nervously answered.

“You know,” the commander began, and he looked at the number tattooed on Karl’s neck like a black ink branding, “No. 14788. I’m also quite fond of bread.”

“You are, sir?”

“You seem surprised by that, No. 14788.”

“I didn’t realize commanders enjoyed bread, sir.”

Commander Altiar chuckled softly and looked young Karl the stormtrooper in the eyes again with great sincerity. He even smiled a bit. “Have you ever been to Mamiche on the Rue Condorcet?”


“It’s a wonderful little shop in Paris, France. On Earth. They have the best damn bread in the universe. Have you ever been there?”

Karl felt a tingling sensation rise within him. He couldn’t believe what the commander was asking him. “No, sir. But I would love to. It’s one of the biggest dreams in my life.”

The commander moved his head back in attempt to further survey what the young stormtrooper exactly meant by that. “Are you not satisfied as a soldier in the Evil Empire, No. 14788?”

“Permission to speak freely, sir.” Karl announced.

The commander took a seat at the table, folded his hands as if about to pray and looked up at Karl. “By all means, No. 14788. I’d love to hear what you have to say.”


“Yes. I’m not a complete tyrant lacking passion for things in life. Go on. Speak to me about it.”

Karl sat down at the table with him. “I don’t believe I’m cut out for a life as a stormtrooper, sir. It’s just not me,” he began. “What I really want to do is bake bread and make pastries. I’ve done a lot of research and I know the city of Paris, on Earth, is the best place to be if I were to truly make my dreams come to fruition. I guess what I’m saying is, if I had an opportunity to not be a stormtrooper and I could travel to Earth to learn about making bread and pastries, just like they do on the Great Intergalactic Baking Show… I believe I would be very happy.”

The commander nodded his head silently for a moment. “And what if I told you, No. 14788…”

“You can call me Karl, sir.”

“All right then, Karl. What if I told you I could turn your dream into a reality.”

“Sir!? What? How? Why?”

“Calm down, soldier. I can see your passion is genuine, but I want you to prove it to me.”

“Absolutely, sir. How?”

The commander nodded toward the area of the kitchen where the ovens were. “I want you to bake me the best damn hazelnut 12-grain bread you ever made in your life. I want you to bring it to my quarters for me to taste it. I want you to utterly overwhelm me with your understanding of rise, flavor, and structure. I want a perfect bake, Karl. I want you to blow my balls off with this loaf of bread… And if you do, I will excuse you from your duty to the Evil Empire and allow you to leave this place, forever. What you do after that is entirely up to you.”

“Sir? I, I can’t believe it. Are you serious? You would do that for me?”

The commander got up from the table and adjusted his gloves for a moment. “I know that you and the other men talk shit about me behind my back, Karl. I’m not an ignorant man. I know you all consider me to be this growling, unfeeling brute of a commanding officer, and that’s fine. I expect that in my position, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a soul or a heart underneath it all.”

“Yes, sir.”

“I was a young stormtrooper once, just like you. And I had dreams as well, other dreams, dreams that didn’t include…” And he looked around the room at something invisible. “Didn’t include being on the side of evil. I, like yourself, Karl, had a passion for baking. I wanted to follow your exact dream. But I didn’t. I didn’t take the risk, Karl. And now I’m just an ill-fitted officer hated by the men serving beneath him. I regret that every single day. I don’t want that to happen to you, Karl. I don’t want you to have this same sickness of regret. It’s what a good leader should do for a soldier with real spirit, Karl. So, what I’m saying is, don’t disappoint me with a bad bake… And no soggy bottom. Carry on, soldier.”

Karl clicked himself to respectable attention and watched as Commander Altiar walked out of the communal kitchen with a swoosh. Karl felt himself all over to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. “I can’t believe this,” he whispered to himself. And then he smiled, and his guts roared with a feeling of ecstasy, and he jumped up and down like an excited child and cried out loudly, “Yes! Yes! Yes! I’m going to be a baker! I’m going to be a real baker!”

And then reality suddenly hit him, and he remembered what the commander had said: “I want you to bake me the best damn hazelnut 12-grain bread you ever made in your life… I want you to blow my balls off with this loaf of bread.”

Karl suddenly sunk down in his own self-doubt. “But what if it’s not the best damn hazelnut 12-grain bread I ever made in my life? What if I don’t blow his balls off? What if I just mess it up? I’ll be resigned to a life of just blasting shit.” He sighed. But then he brightened with determination, he slapped himself in the face, pulled himself together, he reiterated his dream in his head and heart. “Come on, Karl! You can do this!” he encouraged himself. “You’re a good baker, you’re an excellent baker, and you’re going to go far… Farther than you have ever been in your whole damn life.”

Keep an eye out for Episode III. You may read the previous part of this story here: The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode I)

The Misty-Eyed Stormtrooper (Episode I)

Stormtrooper action figure looking out at the ocean.

A Longing for More

On the planet Placitas in the far away galaxy of Fresh, a young stormtrooper bemoaned his place in the endless universe from the comforts of his bunk in the barracks at Outpost 9.

His incessant sighs and puzzling mumbling caught the attention of his bunkmate who was just below him casually flipping through a dirty intergalactic magazine and saying “Oh, yeah,” with a boyish delight.

He looked up at the bottom of a mattress, which was his ceiling in sleep, and yelled out, “Can’t you ever be happy!? Your misery is making the rest of us miserable.”

The young stormtrooper looked over the side of his bunk. “Sorry, Toby. I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“You didn’t disturb me. I just hate to hear you being so bummed about life. Why don’t you come down here and look at these pictures of great space tits. That’s sure to cheer you up.”


“What’s the matter? You don’t like space tits?”

“You don’t need to be so… So gross about it. Don’t you know anything about women? They don’t want to be treated like objects and spread open like a roasting chicken in a glossy magazine for your salacious appetites.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Toby climbed out of his bunk and stood so that he could see the weird young guy he was talking to. “What the hell is wrong with you?”


“You don’t go for chicks anymore?… Because if you don’t, I’m going to request a bunk transfer.”

“I like chicks just fine. But I want a real relationship with a real woman, not some picture in a magazine.”

Toby scoffed at his remark. “Good luck with that around here, space boy. Not much to choose from.” He waved the magazine in the air to show it off. “Sometimes you gotta take what you can get.”

The young stormtrooper rose and sat up on the edge of his bunk. “That’s just it. I want more than just what I can get. Can I tell you something in confidence?”

“Yeah, buddy. Sure.”

“I don’t want to be a stormtrooper anymore.”


“Would you be quiet.”

“What the hell do you mean you don’t want to be a stormtrooper anymore?”

“I’m sick of blasting shit. All we do is blast shit. And if we’re not blasting shit, we’re just standing around waiting to blast shit.”

That’s the life we chose, Karl. That’s what we do. You made an oath to the Evil Empire.”

“I know, I know. But I’m really struggling with this as a career choice. I can’t believe I made such a stupid mistake. I don’t want to be on the side of evil.”

Toby threw down his dirty intergalactic magazine on his bunk and put his hands on his hips. “I don’t know what to tell you, Karl. You’ll just have to wait until your service time is up.”

“But I can’t. I can’t wait 15 years. That’s like a prison sentence.”

“You have to. Otherwise, it’s considered desertion. Do you know what they do to deserters?”

“Put you in a cage with a hungry Wookie and no way to get out.”

“That’s right, Karl. Do you want to get your head ripped off by a Wookie?”

“Of course I don’t want to get my head ripped off by a Wookie. I’m not stupid.”

“Then you better watch yourself. Do your job and keep these wayward ideas to yourself. What the hell would you do anyways?”

The young stormtrooper named Karl, serial No. 14788, looked around the barracks to make sure no one was eavesdropping. “If I tell you, promise you won’t make fun of me?”

“All right.”

“Do you ever watch the Great Intergalactic Baking Show?”


“Oh man. It’s great. I stream it on SpaceFlix.”

“What the hell is it?”

“It’s this amateur baking competition but they take it very seriously. There’s like 12 contestants from all over the universe and they bake all kinds of different delicious things, and they get judged on it by this stodgy bastard and this old chick and the ones who do well move on to the next round and the ones who do bad get kicked off. Then at the end they announce the winner, the champion baker.”

Toby shrugged and made a silly, mocking noise. “A baking competition? You watch people bake? It sounds stupid to me.”

“It’s not stupid, it’s awesome. It’s relaxing and helps me take my mind off having to blast shit all the time. In fact, the show has totally inspired me to do greater things in my life.”

“What greater things has it inspired you to do?”

“I want to go to Earth and open my own patisserie.”

“Earth!? Earth sucks. Why on earth would you want to go to… Earth.”

“Keep your voice down. Yeah, I know Earth sucks…”

“That place is populated by a bunch of idiots. All they do is kill each other and destroy their environment.”

“Yes, yes. I’ve heard how ridiculous Earthlings can be, but they have the best pastry schools in the universe. I want to go to Paris, that’s a magnificent city in a place called France, and learn about something more than just how to use a blaster. It’s my dream, Toby. I have to follow my dream. I need more out of life.”

Toby scoffed and shook his head at the young stormtrooper. “Wowza. I don’t know man. Earth is pretty far away. And you have to have a lot of space bucks to travel, let alone go to school and open your own patisserie.”

“I’ve been saving up for a long time. I’m sure I could find a good pilot with a fast ship at a reasonable price. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and planning. But I need you to promise me that when it all goes down that you won’t rat me out.”

“Nah. I wouldn’t rat you out. But at least let me know when you’re about to fly the coop. You better not leave without saying goodbye.”

“I will… And I won’t.”

The barracks suddenly illuminated with a flashing red alert light and an alarm started yawning in and out. “Great. Another drill,” Toby said, looking around. “Looks like it’s time to suit up and get to work. And don’t forget your blaster this time.”

Keep an eye out for Episode II

The Skyscrapers of Henry Miller

Skyscrapers of Henry Miller
Photo by Nate on Pexels.com

Henry Miller twisted the valve
He spoke of animals and wet love
with the voice of a typewritten angel
Big Sur.
New York.
1930-style suffering in a cup,
a golden flask
a Barbados map
all channeling the energy of my road.
Red tilt-a-whirls spinning madly
in some garden of red
on a warm summer day far North
where the ice cream vendors bleed blue
and the bank is some giant morgue
Airplanes streaking across the sky
on the same warm summer day
wrecking balls sexing up dirty brick walls
all in the name of pain
holding robotic Christmas cheer at bay
with a knife
or a guillotine
or a child’s empty tear.
Christmas morning glories
gory stories
of long lines and the word ‘bitch’
Clicking consumers all a bedazzle
by the gold and green
and other colors unseen
the underscore
of black and white dreams.
But what of Henry Miller then?
His days in Albuquerque long ago,
walks to the park
with children not his own
the desert blur
sparkling with real country dark.
3:38 a.m.
in the den
with the TV rhyming with the buzzes of saviors
and someone old
is having difficulty breathing
on the wrong side of town
on the wrong side of this dimension
Someone … Don’t be afraid
the solid background isn’t black anymore
it’s white
in the night
of Christmas lights
and the snow
that blows
up the alleyways of this city bright
The skyscrapers are needles of light.

From the Naked to the Water

silhouette of tree near body of water during golden hour
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You can’t say no to that
when she feels so good naked

The guide drew me to the edge of the river
where a steamship was piping some smoky tune
the flags that hung on its mast
depicted the reality of falling over the waves
and time takes a sleigh ride to another globe
somewhere far, far away

To this blue and silver house
on Sandra Lane
with windows like little squares of chocolate
veiled with thin curtains of muscle gone wrong
the snow was thick and heavy on the ground,
in the trees, across the spread wings of aeroplanes
He noted that the queue
was winding round and round
like a child’s roundabout in the park
a metal pinwheel with rainbow gills
spraypainted upon the buttons of industry
hammered by the Goliaths of war
where friends never die
and the sandwiches are made by clean hands
in a turbine called Eden
the glass wands spin threads with oil beads
running like little mercury balls on fire
no one to conduct them
no one to stop them
as they blur oblivious
to the appreciation factor
of the untamed heart

Howie went to Paris
with a pair of gloves and a cane
he was studying the effects of ice
on large groups of people
winter lasted forever for him
it was his paradise
his burning drum
unkempt by any silver maiden
and he threw his arms up in the square
and shouted to the whole city
“Let me entertain you!”

Gene drank a bottle of Scotch
and tried to play cards
with diving flippers
his old stash from the islands
where he almost got stabbed in a bar
and he wondered if it was love
or just the thought of being in love
and in the end
he knew it was love

There are police knocking at the door
German guard dogs scratching at the wood
pistols are drawn, batons raised
and man takes another whipping
from the guy who doesn’t like water.

Radio-free Lamp Ray

This frustration of motion
this inept spinning of my tangled web
all the deceptions we weave
all the arrows we sling
at ourselves
when there is no reason
and I am empty without her
as lovers fill the home
and I still spark the sunset
bewildered and alone

I come from a place not known
a high hill tucked far away
behind the sugar plants
and the factories
belching out babies
in bleached Red Radio Flyers
bleached by the sun
bleached by the burn of innocence aged
and I am an astronaut floating untethered
a radio-free lamp ray
looking for a light bulb to suck and swirl

I came upon a disillusion
a fair lady needing to escape
and I have the power at my foot
but I am empty and frayed
for love is a magic trick
something splayed secretly in the shadows
and I have knife points in my heart
slowly choking on the trickle
a scissor slice
an orange wave
salting the wound
and when I am brought down by Paris
will I ever be enough?

Where has my patience gone
where has the image in the mirror dissolved to
and the bottle keeps me warm
as I pace restlessly in a chill
and maybe when I meet God
I’ll just come out and ask her
when is love ever real?

So nothing ever works out as planned you see
winds up being just Gallo and me
my empty need
raining through the moon
sparks dripping off the razor’s edge
and me bleeding helplessly
until she comes to me
but my fate is drowning
so stop being so pained and jealous
but I can’t help the shiver inside
that nervous twitch of wonder
left adopted by the night sweats
so why don’t I just give in
and count all my blessings in disguise?

I am not an iron cross
I am not a thermostat
so what am I?
the unexplainable
the paintable tab in a ghost story
the sexed up frolic
on a smooth hardwood floor
come on
give me a moment
to explain my reckless stance
and I know I feel too much baby
broken clouds weep my name

I don’t understand
maybe I don’t need to understand
this ritual of disturbances
I just want to care

I could tell when I walked in the door
that I was motionless moving
some parade of wrecked divinity
caught off guard
by the sizzle frying my heart
an empty line
an empty space
a tent stake
forced through my handicapped resistance
I don’t want to feel the shock again
of another love left abandoned
just whisper to yourself
it’s all right
it’s just life
it will all end someday soon

So fuck this feeling game
it will never be the same
I’ll always be capsized
my soul is a hurricane
aimed directly at myself
and I am not some Wizard of Oz
with a magic touch and spit
my road isn’t yellow brick
I’m getting sick
in a Denver trash can
you can see how my madness wanes
then comes back again in waves
I’m just crazy about her
sticky needles in the haze
I’m just a camel with no Baghdad
a radio-free lamp ray
electrifying the endless sea.


Internet Archive Book Image / Saturday Evening Post (1839)

My apple polly logies
for not being a lime with a twist
perhaps a good hard rain
washed away all my wit
maybe a black cloud scoured me clean
maybe all that’s vanished
will never be seen
I’m just a monopod
bolted to the gravel
peering out over the shiny edge
a bruised leaf wilting in my chest
and a dime-a-dozen mind
begging to be put to rest
the underskin packed tight with tears
where have I been all these tragic years

My apple polly logies
for not being a fashion faglette
a primrose medallion
strung about my perfect pink neck
white suit and perfect pants
not an inch to squeeze about my middleland
Hollywood breeze and the smell of margaritas
dreamlanding me up good
to a Manhattan Beach boardwalk
and the need to swim slow
from here to there and back again
the potion transforms her
from a widow’s walk walker
to a barfly talker,
a sex stalker,
a need to breather
in a better place
where are you going…?

The barn door was cold
the red paint peeled off like dust
as I ran my worn hand across it
the souls have all been put to rest
the wind whispers hollow through the trees
no fashion fags on the farm
they’re milking elsewhere
Frisco and the Moonies by the Bay
my favorite lamp burns the light of a soft heart
from behind the thin curtain
veiling my living room chair
where he drains another lager
and remains illogical
in his attempts to believe in the world,
a world, any world, a hurtless world —
unkempt by the savage graces of the girl

My magazine caught fire
whilst I was drinking the gasoline
the cigarette ignited badly
and I sat down on the porch in a blaze
a temperature rising conflagration
a hot hot tick tock world
the cuckoo nest crying
over the deception of golden eyes —

And all that remained
in the misty morning cold
was I and my burned-out lawn chair
sipping burned out fireflies
and monotonously stirring the pain
with a rosy crucifixion swizzle stick

Church bells tolled God-like in the distance
the hammer tapping the gong on contact
rained down peace and prayer
and the memories of the burn
I rolled in the wet grass
leaving charcoal marks on the blades
a smokestack coffin
pierced the land like a needle
calling, calling, calling…
calling for the burning man
step inside the barrel of the cannon
slide on down the sooty vein

The chocolate bar in Paris was good
as I admired the disheveled traffic
winding like a snake through the streets,
car horns honking
disrupting the calm of a crisp blue sky
it came special delivery, the chocolate that is
He said: “Candygram for burning man,
candygram for burning man…”
Like a raven with a yellow beak
mocking my newfound pleasure in Paris —
candy and wine, streetlights and noise,
cafes frothing over with people
my bandages bleached white like some distant savior

And when I came up from the street slush
I stretched myself out long on the big bed
and as I laid there
mesmerized by the clinical softness of it all
I thought to myself:
This is it, this is life
the apple blossom brutes wailing on the floorboards
etching out some mystic rhythm with their fists
howling at the skirts
pounding down another round
then I felt the cold hand
pressed against my junk
she had just come in
from the lucky charms and the din of the crowd
to say goodnight, goodnight
and to let me know
she was headed out on a flight
to save vanishing self
from the dependence of an emotional cripple.

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