Thursday, April 28, 2011

Election Day

I voted once and only once.  It was on a Tuesday morning.  An old lady looked at my ID, smiled, showed me to a booth.  It was a powerful, cathartic experience as I left, taking my sticker.  I knew no matter what the critics said I had made a difference in the world that day.

But as always when things appear too good, it had to change.

The people in Washington, in their infinite wisdom changed the voting day to Monday.  And then to Thursday.  And finally back to Monday.  No one was exactly sure what motive lied behind this.  Some said they were angry because too many people were voting that shouldn’t.  So they had to make it harder.

They most definitely succeeded if that was their intent.  The polls the next year opened at 4 a.m. and promptly closed at 4:15.  I wasn’t one of the lucky ones that got inside.

A friend of mine, who had camped out the night before told me getting in was merely the easy part.  Once inside he was required to provide a valid driver’s license.  Then a long form birth certificate.  Then a social security card.  Then fingerprints.  Then toe prints.  Then an iris scan.  In between the administration of an IQ test and paying his poll taxes he asked what all this was costing the American public.  They didn’t answer.  They did however, conclude with a full body cavity search and determine he was indeed a United States citizen.  But the polls were long since closed by then.

The election results came as little shock to most.  Coca Cola became the new Senate majority with 51 seats.  Frito Lay managed to maintain their hold on the House of Representatives, but it was very close call.  As expected President Exxon Mobile won reelection in a landslide; 100 million percent! 

As I drank my Mellow Yellow, with drinking Mountain Dew now punishable by death,  I considered the new world order.  The companies had always had the power they possessed but still.  I missed the feeling of democracy.

Babich Reading Room

Party lights
Below fluorescent bulbs
Above two lamps.

Black and white
Near colored art,
A wall toned grey.

Chairs blue, blue, red,
A love seat blue
The sofa red.

Old fashioned oak
By torn, stacked
Cardboard boxes.

Trash collecting
In a corner as the bin
Stands empty, waiting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Man Cave

Bare insulation –
Early Bronze Age.

Red ochre paints
A rebel flag.

Strobe lights, stripper pole
Some ancient ceremonials?

Bar, pool table, arcade machines
Primal Aurochs from Lascaux?

Blankets spread across an easy chair,
Spider webbed antlers from a Megaloceros?

A leathered Hall of Bulls
Their Last bastion of masculinity?

Monday, April 25, 2011

First Sight

Palm to mouth
She whispers "he's a catch"

They both walk by
Averted eyes.

Each looks back
And sees the other.

Window light shines
Illuminating moment.

Birds appear and sing
From out of nowhere.

"Honey" says another man
"Are you okay?"

She takes his hand
And leaves the scene.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Triangle, triangle
Above two lines
Inside a circle.

Pushing play, play, play
Won’t stop you going.

All night, all day
Reverse, rewind.

Exponential nothingness.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Another Ten Minute Play!


by Benjamin Ditmars


MITCH BRAYER: Young with surprisingly grey hair.  Shakes and stutters when he talks.

ROSS BOWMAN: An average politician.  Nice suit, tie, perfect face, a master of ambiguity.


An abandoned mall.  ROSS BOWMAN sits tied up between a tornado machine and a gumball dispenser.

              [MITCH approaches ROSS]

I – I bet you wonder why I brought you hear.

            [ROSS’s mouth is covered so he settles for a puzzling stare]

There is a very good reason.

            [ROSS continues to stare daggers]

You see…
            [MITCH rips the duct tape off ROSS’s mouth]
Now, that’s better.  We can talk more –


They can’t hear you.

And why not?

No one has a job in this part of town.  No one lives here.  No one hardly even comes here.

Then why I am here?

You could say the remoteness, you could say the symbolism.

What do you want?  Money?  Some sick type of notoriety?  You’ll get neither!

I want answers.  That’s all.

Let me go first.  My secretary will mail a letter you can read in prison.

I don’t want cookie-cutter talking points!  I want a real conversation.  Right here.

I don’t give preferential treatment nor do I negotiate with terrorists.

No, no, of course you wouldn’t.  You’ve never given out any kind of treatment your entire career.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Have you looked at your district?

I fly over it all the time.


I see plenty of factories and farmlands; the fruits of my Washington labor.

Did you ever stop to think how many of these factories have closed and moved to Mexico or overseas?

Listen here, I do good for this district, this state and this country.  I have met with every single interest group that’s financed my campaign for reelection!

And those that haven’t?

I’m sure they have other voices that speak on their behalf.

That’s the answer I expect but far from what I want.  You’ll be staying here a while yet I feel.

How long is a while?

How long did it take you to respond to my last letter?

It’s not my fault!  I get a lot of mail!

And enough money to hire more staff.

But that’s my money, you see –

And this is your hostage situation.  I hope you enjoy it as much as six-figures.

Let me go!

A command might get what you want on the Hill but it won’t here Mr. Bowman.
            [HE starts to walk away]

Where are you going?  You can’t leave me here!

Unlike you I have a real job.

But this neighborhood sounds dangerous!  God knows what these hooligans might do to a confined person.

And I want you to think real hard about who made it that way.
            [HE exits]

            [Lights fade leaving ROSS BOWMAN alone in the dark]

This isn’t right!  Can anyone hear me?  It’s Ross Bowman, your state representative!

            [Lights return]

Who’s there?  Let me go or you’ll be an accomplice to all this!  I promise!

            [A masked man enters with a baseball bat]

Put that bat down!

I bet you wonder why the lights are on?

It doesn’t matter.  Put the fucking bat down!

I’m going to give you a choice.

            [ROSS rocks his chair trying to break free]

No one hears you, and no one hearing you would care.  The sounds of suffering are all too common.  Now… if you don’t calm down there will not be a choice in this at all.

            [ROSS looks at him terrified]

The choice is: answer every question to my satisfaction or get hit with this bat.  Is that clear?


Good.  First question: why did you first run for congress twenty some odd years ago?

I honestly thought I could do good things.

And why didn’t you?

It’s far more complicated than doing what’s right.

            [MASKED MAN raises bat as if to strike]

I mean – I tried, God, I tried.  I got on committees for development and farms.  But every step I took in the system to forge alliances and get sponsors for bills the more diluted the impact of everything.  I wasn’t jaded but I kept telling myself I could keep the worst away by getting reelected.

But you couldn’t, could you?

No, I couldn’t.  So I stopped listening and dismissed critics, knowing I was doing the most anyone could in my situation.

Is that why you responded so vaguely to all my letters?

They were… prewritten by my staff.  I read most letters at one point but peoples’ problems were just too much.  I have no answers for orphans or widows.  Can I really afford to send everyone help that needs it?  They’d laugh me out of congress or I’d go bankrupt trying on my own.
So I focused on national issues hoping they might make some difference.  I thought larger employers might start up back home if I loosened some restrictions.  They just used them to leave faster though.

I appreciate your honesty, Mr. Congressman.  You’ve earned more quiet contemplation in the dark.
            [Lights fade]
And don’t try to escape.  You won’t get far.  Not in this town.
            [Muttering to self]
Not in this town.

What more do they want from me!?  Get a hold of yourself Ross.  You’re safe for now.
            [Lights return]
Who’s there!?

            [Mitch reenters]

I’m back.

You were barely at work!

Part time is a rare blessing any more.

So here’s the bit where you continue blaming all your problems on me?  I’m not responsible for the whole economy!  I’m one congressman from a hick little district!

I never wanted to blame you for every problem.  I simply wanted answers.

And you have them.  You really don’t think I saw through the whole masked man charade?

You can’t prove you did.

You’re really banking for an insanity plea, aren’t you?  Regardless, there’s no way you’re getting away with this.

Do you even know if I actually live in this town?

I know you live close.

You don’t know anything.  Not even where you are.

You’ll let me go.  I can tell you’re no killer.

But maybe the Masked Man is?
Maybe it’s time you meet him again?
            [Lights fade and swiftly return with the MASKED MAN]

Did you miss my bat?

Not that it matters.  You’re too much of a coward to hit me.

Am I?  AM I?
            [HE raises his bat without ROSS flinching]

I knew you wouldn’t.  You might as well let me go.

            [The bat drops from MASKED MAN’s hands]

Good, good.  Now untie me.

Shut the fuck up!
            [HE punches ROSS]
Now what do I do?

You’ve got what you wanted.  Let him go.

He knows too much!

He knows nothing!

Beat him bloody with the bat and send a message!

No!  That wouldn’t solve anything!  We’re in enough trouble as it is!


            [HE falls to the floor fighting with himself]
            [ROSS is untying his ropes in the distraction]

I always win!  You refused to kidnap Bowman, and look, here he is!

Stop it both of you – or one of you – whichever!

Shut up!

You don’t own us!

            [ROSS sees the bat and goes for it]

            [HE hits MITCH/MASKED MAN over the head]

I do now.
            [HE proceeds to tie up MITCH/MASKED MAN]
Time for you to answer my questions.

What do you want to know?

Where am I?

The old mall in Laudenville, off Route 16.

Good.  Do you own a car?

No, I walk.

A phone!?


I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.


I’m going to get out of here… as far away as possible.  But I’m not turning you in.


You’re turning yourself in.

I am?

Yes.  But not to the police.

Where do you want me to go?

You’re getting real help.

I can’t afford it.

This… is my treat.  I’m going to do more for this town and district starting now. 
For the longest time I’d forgotten what public service really meant.  You showed me here tonight.  People need more than talking points and lip service solutions.  Now I’ve got to get working… so tell me, which way is out?

I’ll show you.

You already have.

            [LIGHTS FADE]


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thoughts on Shortcake

I like to think of my car
as the Millennium Falcon.
Sure, it’s old, beat up but
still it rescues Luke on time.

I like to think of my car
escaping from Darth Vader
while the stars become straight
lines to guide me home.

I like to think of my car
as that transport between two worlds,
Of light and dark forces.

I like to think of my car
victorious on Endor
as the fireworks and drums
sound off a new beginning.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

God a King!?

God a king!?  Not in the free market.  At the start of the 1980s the heavenly father had decided like much everyone else that deregulation was a solid counter for rising inflation.  Local angels simply put could manage their affairs more efficiently than a distant Lord.

Thus, the pearly gates were sold off and tolled.  Hell became privatized.  Prayers, once answered, were replaced with vouchers redeemable for a small percentage of the overall need.

Times were changing.  St. Peter had left his post for the private sector.  He made millions in the flight insurance business.  Every winged angel was required to own coverage.  Or at least liability.  But premiums hardly ever paid out.  Most tears as well as horrible damage were categorized preexisting conditions despite eyewitness testimony and an all seeing God. 

HE was mostly busy playing golf, however.  The market will work things out, he thought sinking his last hole one rainy afternoon.  There might be lightening but it did not bother him.  Getting struck was just about all that made his life interesting anymore.

“Yahweh,” an aide said approaching, “the CEO of Oxyribocarbine wants to speak with you.”

“Tell him I’ll be right with him after an electrocution or two.”

The Lord of All Creation closed his eyes and held his golf club in the air.  Lightening rose from the cloud beneath his feet, coursing through his form and illuminating bones.  Yes he had bones.  Humans were made in his image after all.

“Sir,” the CEO said approaching.  “It is good to see you.  Your hair looks…”

“Static,” interjected God, his hair and beard practically starched straight.  “I feel it’s nice to take the edge off every now and again.”

“Naturally, now onto business.  I need your authorization to put down a slight rebellion.”

“What sort of rebellion?”

“It’s nothing really.  A relatively small group of angels threatening sedition.”

“How many is a small group?” 

“About 86 billion.”

“86 BILLION!?”

“Give or take a couple hundred.”

“Why do you need my authorization?”

“Normally the congress of archangels would merely stamp past legislation my associates and I had written but they were taken captive.”

“All of them!?”

“No, not all of them.  Don’t be ridiculous.  A few were killed.”

“What in heaven is happening?”

“They wanted to unionize.  So we just need the launch codes to your divine arsenal and the market will be good and free again.”

“Is it really worth that?”

“If there’s a heaven where I can’t live on a yacht and brutally suppress those inferior to me, I certainly don’t want to live in it.  And by association, I’m sure no one else does too.”

“I’m sorry; I can’t give you the missiles.”

“But,” said the CEO handing over a title, “I own the rights to them already.”

“I don’t care.  I’m taking back this heaven and this earth.”

“I feared you might say that.  Boys, get him!”

A group of burly looking horned creatures emerged onto the golf course.  They cracked the knuckles of their claws approaching.  Gold shined off some sort of blackish halos.

“What are these?”  God asked.

“These are my new breed.  Demons and angels.  The fallen and the risen mixed together once more.  The diminishing of barriers has allowed me to create a truly greater race.  All the strength of hell without the vanity, disorderliness.  Now give me the codes or face pain you never thought possible.”

“Never,” HE replied.

As ordered the creatures approached.  God closed his eyes, resigned to the suffering he had known before on earth as savior.  Their clawing, scratching, biting, tearing flesh could not move him as bloody as it left him.

“This will go on for all eternity,” the CEO stated.

“So be it,” replied God.  “I’ve realized what’s important now.  It’s life, existence, compassion and not some brand of dogmatic philosophy.”

The CEO stared for a minute or two as if he might have had a moment of epiphany but it was short lived.  Rolling his eyes, he walked off the course and left the Lord to endure.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


According to the reports, should a locality’s financial position come up short, the Walker legislation would empower the governor to insert a financial manager of his choosing into local government with the ability to cancel union contracts, push aside duly elected local government officials and school board members and take control of Wisconsin cities and towns whenever he sees fit to do so.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poetry & Song

The lonely ones write poetry and song,
Bleeding out their hearts through pen
They look to belong.

Nights compared to day are always long
Staring at the clock and asking when.
The lonely ones write poetry and song.

Verse will make the weak will strong
Next time, over and again
They look to belong.

Finding the right verb just might prolong
A twinkle in the eyes of women, men.
The lonely ones write poetry and song.

Minds chaotic, faces long
Holding breaths, some count to ten
And look to belong.

A copious and tragic throng
Composed of souls struck now and then.
The lonely ones write poetry and song;
They look to belong.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


They say it gets easier with time –
This abortive sting of loss, rejection
Snaking through my cerebellum,
Feasting off of vision and old memories.

They say it gets easier with time –
These weathered eyes, these iris clouds
Slamming up against my pupil doors,
Turning a once vibrant world to grey.

They say it gets easier with time –
My sinuses will clear and I
…will smell the roses.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Obama '012

The Spice in general does not give endorsements to political candidates.  However, on this rare occasion it has decided to make an exception.

So, hey this is Ben.  We haven't had a heart to heart in a while.  Or even much finger to keyboard for that matter.  I've been good.  Trying to get coursework finished so I can apply to grad school and what not.  But also, I've been thinking.  No, not just in poems.  I have non lyrical thoughts.  Don't let the recent consistency of posts fool  you.

I've been thinking about President Obama's reelection campaign.  People had high hopes for him in 2008.  I was one of them.  But I didn't think he was going to fix everything.  And, of course he hasn't, but he's made progress and worked harder than most other presidents in recent history.  He could have given up on health care reform, he could have on financial reform.  But he didn't.  Whether you agree with his policies or not, it's hard to doubt his leadership.

He led America back to growth after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  He's widened the safet net, allowing young adults out of college to stay on their parent's coverage longer.  He's given the FDA more power to keep the food we eat safe, which given the amount of recalls and illness in recent years was a great necessity.

Tax rates have not gone up, countless women still have access to reproductive care and millions of federal employees are still employed because of his actions merely in the past year.

These are but a few of the reasons Nice Old Spice endorses the reelection of President Barack Obama.  And why I personally will vote for him once more.

Friday, April 08, 2011


My eyes feel dry
And worn.

Somewhere between
Awake and dead.

Heavy lids droop down
Revealing plein air water lilies.

They float in ripples –
Though they’re still.

Separate yet at
One with color.

Monet has brushed
Inside my head.

Monday, April 04, 2011


Tiger blood pours down like rain
As warlocks wield machetes.

Red stains opal talismans –
They’re winning.

A chant begins,
It’s dark and cold:

Dying’s for fools,
Dying’s for amateurs!

Women taken from a nearby
Village are soon laid on skulls.

Goddesses they’re called
Before rape, decapitation.

The warlocks fight to fuck
And lick cascading fluids.

Dying’s for fools
Dying’s for amateurs!

Their leader in a gold sombrero,
Gives his blessing.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

And Now a Collection of Fake Quotes About Katy Perry…

“The worst thing to happen to women since Sarah Palin.” – Diane Keaton

“I’m a feminist and listening to her latest single... even I started reconsidering the 19th Amendment.” – Sandra Day O’Connor

“The most misogynistic man alive with a really nice boob job.” – Cher

“The best thing you can say about Katy Perry is she silences the calls from chauvinists that women should stay in the kitchen.  If she so much as turned on an oven, she would surely burn herself to death.” – Rachel Ray

“The most valley of the valley girls will be offended by her valley.” - Janeane Garofalo

“Susan B. Anthony is rolling over in her grave… with a bazooka to shoot Katy Perry.” – Ken Burns

“A time machine was invented to send Katy Perry back with the flappers where she rightly belongs.  They invented one themselves to send her back.” – Doris Kearns Goodwin

“Zooey Deschanel with a lobotomy.” – Anonymous Doctor

“Marilyn Monroe without her movies… or the Kennedys.” – Greg Kinnear

“I imagine if she so much as uttered an intelligent word gravity would cease to be and all the rules of physics we have come to know would mean the slightest.” – Stephen Hawking

Friday, April 01, 2011

The Moonbat

Those astronomers –
So unimaginative –
Would have you focus
And adjust your lens
To see what’s right.

But in doing such
You lose the moonbat.

What are moonbats?
Why should you care?
Many a Galileo and Copernicus
Have asked the question.
The scientific mind might
Call them specks of grey
Or interference.

Yet I am here
To tell you different.

Moonbats used to live
Throughout the galaxy
When insects flew as
Stars in open space.
But they died out – galactic warming –
And bats took refuge on the earth and moon
Where they ingest, refract the solar light
For sustenance.

The lunar habitat, though small
Blessed bats with a lovely view.

As nighttime comes they still
Will flock to catch a glimpse.
With their ears – once listening
The depths for food –
They hear humanity,
The crust and core.

But we – so apt for focus –
Tune them out.