Please, slow down.

You’re movin’ too fast,

I want my lovin’ slow,

make it last and last.

Lately I’ve been thinkin’,

everything’s too fast,

but when it comes to my lovin’,

make it last and last.

Please slow down.

You’re movin’ too fast,

I want my lovin’ slow,

make it last and last.

I’m tired of the fast lane,

and my color TV,

workin’ nine to five

with nothin’ in between.

Please slow down.

You’re movin’ too fast!

I want my lovin’ slow,

make it last and last.

And when I’m lookin’  for affection

I need your full attention,

’cause when it comes to my lovin’,

Honey,  please slow down.

Please slow down.

You’re movin’ too fast!

I want my lovin’ slow,

make it last and last.



Out of nowhere, that unknown place where thoughts breed and memories thicken, a song keeps running through my head.  It is not a new song, but a simple old melody with quaint lyrics. Nor is this tune one that would ingratiatingly ingrain itself on a normal brain.  Yet it did—and all because to the word ‘purloined’.


CHORUS: He’d fly through the air with the greatest of ease, that daring young man on the flying Trapeze. His movements were graceful, all girls he could please, and my love he purloined away.”

‘Purloin’ is a word you do not here often in the modern world. It means to underhandedly steal away. Though the root of the word has nothing to do with ‘loin’ in the erotic sense, the lyrics in the chorus insinuate a sexual arousal.

Once I was happy but now I’m forlorn

Like an old coat that is tattered and town

Left on this wide world to fret and to mourn,

Betrayed by a maid in her teens

Ah, yes, the proverbial maid in her teens—when hormones run rampant, passions soar, and common sense often flies into the stratosphere.  The maiden’s  curves and appeal are often the most voluptuous when she is in estrus, giving off the primitive scent of ovulation.

The girl that I loved she was handsome

I tried all I knew her to please

But I could not please her one quarter so well

Like that man on the Flying Trapeze


He’d fly through the air with the greatest of ease

A daring young man on the flying Trapeze

His movements were graceful, all girls he could please

And my love he purloined away.

According to The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia, the 1868 song “The Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeze” is “arguably the most famous circus song in American popular music”.

JULES LEOTARDThe song has a known history. It was about the exploits—sexual and artistic—of Jules Léotard, who developed the trapeze into an art form in the 1860s. He invented and popularized the one-piece athletic wear now called for him. The suit clearly displayed his underlying physique, a look that charmed women and inspired the song about purloined love.  The song was first published in 1867, words written by the British lyricist and singer George Leybourne, music by Gaston Lyle. Thomas Hischak says the song was first heard in American Vaudeville in the 1870s, where it was popularized by Johnny Allen.

Léotard, of course, invented the leotard. This simple one-piece garment allowed for the unrestricted movement which was so vital in his death-defying act. Later,  it would become standard wear for ballet dancers.

Léotard was paid a hundred and eighty pounds a week for his act, the equivalent of five thousand today, but died at age twenty-eight from an infectious disease and not from a fall.

Purloined in a lovely description for stealthy stealing. The end result of “purloin,” is that the object is gone, stolen, lifted, pilfered, embezzled, or pilfered or swiped. “but the style or manner of the crime varies with the term. They terms all have shades of meanings. “Pilfering” or “filching” is a hidden crime. A “heist” is a major theft that often involves George Clooney or Frank Sinatra.

One famous use of the word “purloin” is found in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story written in 1845, “The Purloined Letter”. It was one of three works that were forerunners to the modern detective story.  The Origin and Etymology of the word seems to be from Middle English, to put away, misappropriate, derived from the Anglo-French purluigner.




Only about 60% of dog owners pick up after their pets, The 83 million dogs in the US generate more than 11 million tons of waste each year.

The real problem is that we view at the poop as waste rather that a resource that can be used and recycled for both compost and energy. Dog waste can be anaerobically digested to produce useful products.

The same biological process that makes compost of dog poo in used in Toronto, Ontario to produce a biogas that can be burned for energy. The residue can be used for compost for gardens, plants, and greenhouses. Toronto actually collects dog poop through a curbside bin program and makes a profit.

The dogs in the Denali National Park kennels produce around 50 pounds of poo each day. Alaska has had to deal with the problem for hundreds of years, as the natives have always had dog teams and the attendant problem of dog waste. Denali established a four-bin composting system where the nitrogen-rich waste is mixed with sawdust and/or leaves to provide the necessary carbon. This method—mixed with water, and rotated when it naturally heats up to 145 degrees—transforms the waste into a sweet smelling, earthy soil that is packed with nutrients. They use the soil to compost gardens and flowerbeds in the park.

When the microorganisms have broken down all the organic material, the compost pile is done “cooking”. This process can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks. The nutrient-rich material that is produced is called humus. It increases the nutrient content of soils and helps retain moisture.

San Francisco, with its 120,000 dogs produces 32 million pounds of poop per year. They began a program t divert dog waste into compost with biodegradable poop bags. The leader in that market is BioBags, who not only partnered with San Francisco but sells more than 19 million bags a year.

New York boasts the only dog park in the nation in which dog waste is processed right on the site. “This is the only one in the state and the city and possibly North America which has dog waste composting onsite completely handled by the people here at the park,” said Leslie Wright, the New York City regional director for the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The park provides poop scoops and paper bags for people to pick up the waste and deposit into designated compost bins. Park staff takes it from there, mixing the waste with sawdust and transferring it to larger composting bins.

“The recipe for composting is to have a carbon source, a nitrogen source and mix them together,” Wright said. “The waste is then cooked and cured to kill microbes and pathogens. Eventually, it will be used as fertilizer for nearby gardens on Kent Avenue. But more importantly, it will keep waste and those ubiquitous plastic bags out of landfills.”

In Boulder, Colorado, Rose Seeman started up EnviroWagg and now process more than three tons of poop a year to make her product called “Doggone Good Compost”. They are planning to expand even further and partner with collectors such as Pet Scoop and Duty Calls.

There is also a booming market in biodegradable poop bags. BioBags sell more than 19 million bars each year. Regardless of the type of bag used, when dog poop degrades in a landfill, it produces the potent greenhouse gas methane that rises into the atmosphere and contributed to the problem of global warming.

Dog parks, doggie daycares, veterinarians, and shelters can recycle their dog waste for beneficial purposes. Doing the right thing always has its own reward.




DOG POO BLUES ©2017 Kenneth Harper Finton


G                                       A

Stepped in that old dog poo and got it on my shoe

C         D           C                               D

A one, a two, a dogetty-doodlely dew.

G                                         E          E7

Stepped in that old dog poo and got it on my shoe

C                                           D                          G

A  a dogetty-doodlely dew-dew-dew.




First you take your left foot and set it down.


Then you find your foot’s not touching the ground.

D                               D7

It has landed in a pile of poo …


Do-wha , do wha, do do de do.


Then you wipe your left foot in the grass


Twist it to the right, then to the left.

D D7

Shuffle all around and wipe it clean

G                   C               D

It’s so easy, see what I mean.

G                                      A

Stepped in that old dog poo and got it on my shoe

C         D           C                           D

A one, a two, a dogetty-doodlelly do.

G                                  E                       E7

Stepped in that old dog poo and got it on my shoe

C                       D                                 G

A  a dogetty-doodlely dew-dew-dew.




2   Some be like the sun – some be like the moon.

Some they got the shine – some they got the gloom.

“Good morning.”

3    Some be like the day – some be like the night.

Some they like to  stay – some they cannot light.

“Take warning.”

4    I don’t need much from no one,

I don’t need much at all.

I like to spend my time with people I love,

and wake in the morning to say with love:

“Good morning.”   “Good morning.”

5    Some be like the grape, some be like the vine.

Some they hold you close, some they like to twine.

Good morning.   Good morning

6    Some be like the bee – some be like the hive

Some they come to sting – some they come to light.

“Take warning.”      “Good morning.”

7    “Night time love, never seems to be enough

Daytime cares,  see it ’round me everywhere.

“Good morning.”      “Good morning.”

8     I don’t need much from no one,

I don’t need much at all.

9   Some they like it hot – some they like it cold.

Some they can be bought  – some they can’t be sold.

“Take warning.”    “Good morning.”

10      I don’t need much from no one,

I don’t need much at all.

“Good morning.”   “Good morning.    “Good morning.”   “Good morning.”



It is said that writers “write to be read.”

Then painters paint to be seen, actors act to impress and singers sing to be heard.

If this is the case—and most often it is—the newer writers of the world are setting themselves up for great disappointment. They will not find the audience that they did in the past. They will not achieve the fame that others did in the past. They will quite likely not enjoy the riches that others have had In the past.

Technology and world Internet communications have obviously changed the world. Though it has democratized the ability to be read and seen and heard, by doing so it has practically eliminated the institutions that originally supported and brought culture to the world. Some vestiges of the old system remain, but they are losing ground with each passing year. They have been replaced by myriads of smaller, more democratized platforms that do not pay, do not develop and do not guide.

Moguls still control what is printed and sold in local stores. They chose the music that is allowed to be bought at box stores, the movies that are shown and the art that is displayed in museums and fine art shows. The competition for such space is fierce. The rewards to the artists have been drastically reduced from that it was just thirty years ago.

This leaves the would-be writer with a great dilemma. They feel that they have talent and should pursue an audience and readership, but the audience is slimmer and the finger of fate even more fickle than ever.

Only by applying a talent is the talent polished and sharpened. “Practice,” it is said, “makes perfect.” Perfection, though, is a subjective judgment that should be left out of that axiom. Practice makes us more exceptional. It is a fact, though, that natural talents of all kinds need to be performed and utilized to get beyond the level of the commonplace.

Writers now write blogs to keep their talents active and polished, but the readers of blogs are also a fickle lot. The individual blog does not really reach a substantial audience. Blogs and personal journals are worthy tools for a writer, as they can refer to them in the future, draw on them for ideas, and reference them for later promotion. There are few, if any, works that cannot be made better by multiple rewrites. So coming back to what you did before it quite valuable for the future.

Professional writing has not totally become extinct, but it is nearing that vanishing point. Professional writers are not free to write as their muse moves them, but are pressured to write what their superiors believe their readership wants to read.

Even with access to statistics that determine what people are choosing to read, the writer is often no longer free to follow their muse and write from the heart if they want to increase their following. Yet, writing from the heart and being true to your own voice is the only possible way to beat the odds. Only that will make you stand out in a crowd.

Even if you write from the heart, your heart and voice must be very special, very unique and quite original. Your perceived persona must be likable, strong and quite different from the masses. The vast majority of us will never be that person.

Chloe Thurlow recently spoke of  “the time before smartphones made the whole world a banal image and the photographer like the editor became a dinosaur.”

We have a changing dictum.

As writers, we must write for ourselves to be original. We will probably never make any financial profit from these efforts. Few in history ever have. We may not even achieve any large readership no matter how hard we try. Everyone has an opinion to share, a broken heart to express, a love that they feel they must share with the world about.

All lives are novels in the making.

The only thing we can do is persist or quit. Of course, if we quit, we never will have an audience. If we want an audience or a readership, our only alternative is to persist. To persist means to continue through depression and despair. It means we need to develop tools to combat and dispel our negative feelings. To persist means to struggle with the reality that we spend too much time doing things that we do not love in order to do what we do love.

It is easier to be a baker or a cook or a carpenter. All such work is creative, but the requirement of pleasing more than a few is not essential in many occupations.

Artists always had to pay their dues. The fees are even higher these days.

Inflation, you know.



Dearie” is a popular song written by David Mann; lyrics, by Bob Hilliard. The song was published in 1950. The Jo Stafford/Gordon MacRae record was recorded on January 14, 1950 and released by Capitol Records as catalog number 858. It first reached the Billboard magazine charts on March 3, 1950 and lasted 11 weeks on the chart, peaking at #12.[1]

The various versions of the song (combined, as was normal for Cash Box magazine reached #4 on the Cash Box Best-Selling Records chart.


Dearie, do you remember when we

Waltzed to the Sousa band

My wasn’t the music grand

Chowder parties down by the seashore

Every Fourth of July, test your memory

My Dearie

Do you recall when Henry Ford couldn’t even fix

The running board under a Chandler six

Dearie, life was cheery

In the good old days gone by

Do you remember?

Uh huh!

Well if you remember


Well Dearie, you’re much older than I

What? Hey, wait a minute, Honey, I just got a long memory that’s all.

Dearie, do you remember when we

Stayed up all night to get

Pittsburgh on a crystal set

Keystone movies, Coogan and Chaplin

Made you laugh and then cry

Test your memory, my Dearie

Do you recall when Orville Wright flew at Kittyhawk

But take it from me I would rather walk

Dearie, life was cheery

In the good old days gone by

Do you remember

Uh huh!

Well if you remember


Well, Dearie, you’re much older than I

Ha Ha! I’ll kill you

Dearie, do you remember how they

Loved Harry Lauder’s act

My wasn’t the Palace packed

Jenny Lind presented by Barnum

Sang her sweet lullaby

Test your memory my Dearie,

Chicago all in flames

Sure caused a terrific row

They blamed it on Mrs. O’Leary’s cow

Dearie, life was cheery

In the good old days gone by

Do you remember? Well if you remember,

Well, Dearie, you’re much older than,

Quite a bit older than,

You’re older than I.




























[Several years ago I came upon this story of a married duo on Facebook. It seems that Amy had died from a blood infection and her partner, Derrick, killed himself a few days later. The entire drama of their demise took place in social media.

The story still haunts me. Their Facebook page still exists at -KHF]


It began with a post from Amy Ross on  FACEBOOK.

AMY: Hey kids! Bad news! I died this morning and Derrick didn’t know how to tell you. I love you all and hope you go out and be nice to someone. Funerals are a bore so hopefully I don’t have one. Give Derrick some space… He stinks at this stuff so leave him be for now. Thanks for all the kindness… Please spread it around. -Whiskey

Juliya Pogrebinsky Listening to you was one of my absolute favorite things about Bisbee. It’s been a great privilege and a joy to have known you even a little bit. Much love and condolences to Derrick and the family.
October 14 at 7:25pm · 3

  1. Sorry to bring more bad news but Derrick decided to join me at some point in the night last night. I thought it best you heard it from me. Enjoy every sandwich. We love and will miss you all. Go be nice to someone for us.
    1. Charlene Mitchell No! This cannot be true. Please stop!
      22 hours ago
    1. Juliette Beaumont Oh dear God. Although somehow I am not surprised by this. They were inseparable in both life and now death. Rock on lovers!
      22 hours ago · 4
    2. Bill Higgins This is not funny. Was the page hijacked?
      22 hours ago · 1
    1. Bill Higgins According to Joel Carp
    2. This is not a hoax or hijacking. The police and ambulance showed up at their place about 45 minutes ago.
      22 hours ago
  1. Olivia Herman What!!???? Who’s posting for Amy Ross on FB? There are going to be a lot of VERY relieved but VERY pissed off people, if it comes out that this is a terrible prank.
    1. Rebecca Higgins Oh my lord, this cannot be happening! So so sad.
      21 hours ago via mobile

Nowhere Man and Whiskey Girl had ceased to be. Amy had an ongoing battle with Lupus and had to undergo frequent dialysis. She died from a blood infection. Derrick took his own life later that night. She was 40, he was 39.

Amy and Derrick Ross

Amy and Derrick Ross, “Nowhere Man and Whiskey Girl” Amy and Derrick Ross, the Bisbee couple behind popular folk/Americana duo Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl, have died.

Amy Ross, 40, died Monday. According to the Arizona Daily Star, the vocalist and keyboard player, who performed as “Whiskey Girl,” passed away at Tuscon Medical Center from a “blood infection brought on by ongoing dialysis.” She also suffered from Lupus. Derrick Ross, 39, who was “Nowhere Man” in the act and played acoustic guitar, reportedly committed suicide sometime Monday.

News of both of their deaths came via social media, albeit in a peculiar fashion, wherein Amy Ross seemingly announced the couple’s deaths from beyond the grave.

An update to Amy’s Facebook page on Monday evening stated the following:

Hey kids! Bad news! I died this morning and Derrick didn’t know how to tell you. I love you all and hope you go out and be nice to someone. Funerals are a bore so hopefully I don’t have one. Give Derrick some space… He stinks at this stuff so leave him be for now. Thanks for all the kindness… Please spread it around.


Reaction to the post was a combination of shock, surprise, and disbelief from her nearest and dearest. One person claiming to be a family member stated it was a hoax and that she was alive.


See Also: Comedian Doug Stanhope on the Death of His Friends, Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl

Earlier today, a second update was made to Amy Ross’ page that suggested her husband had taken his own life.

Sorry to bring more bad news but Derrick decided to join me at some point in the night last night. I thought it best you heard it from me. Enjoy every sandwich. We love and will miss you all. Go be nice to someone for us.

Stand-up comic Doug Stanhope, who lived next door to the couple in Bisbee and was both their landlord and close friend (as well as featuring them at some of his gigs), confirmed via Twitter within minutes of the second Facebook post that Derrick Ross had taken his own life.

UPDATE: It’s been reported by Tucson media outlets that Stanhope had access to Amy’s page and was the one who made the updates.

Amy and Derrick Ross

Amy and Derrick Ross


World Class Thugs and Psycho Square Dance performed many gigs with “Nowhere Man and  Whiskey Girl”. Their guitarist and vocalist, Jim Dustan,  posted the following on Facebook:

I remember the early days and the Bisbee days. We shared some treasured moments growing up. I will always cherish the way your music made me smile and how it inspired me. RIP Amy (whiskey girl) and Derrick (nowhere man), may you both find peace. Until we meet again someday.

Without a doubt, they were one of Arizona’s best acts in the Americana vein, offering a sometimes joyful, sometimes poignant pastiche of down-home lonesome, rootsy touches, and indie quirk that was made even more emotional by Amy’s meanderingly dulcet vocals.

The husband-and-wife duo, who were married for more than a decade, were self-described as a “couple of wanderers” who previously resided in Oregon and Tennessee. They formed the act in 2003, drawing its name from the Gillian Welch country song “Whiskey Girl.”

Although based in Bisbee (where they were regulars at the Copper Queen Hotel’s lounge), Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl were musical vagabonds who exhaustively traveled throughout Arizona for performances in Tucson, Flagstaff, and Phoenix. In 2009, they even participated in an episode of our now-defunct Sun Session series.

Singer-songwriter Brodie Foster Hubbard, a former Valley resident who shared the bill with Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl on several occasions, says that he hopes that the couple’s fans will “honor the spirit of what Derrick and Amy shared and the joy they put into their music,” instead of just focusing on the weird circumstances involving their deaths.

“The whole situation is surreal. With Amy, it’s not so shocking, because she has had health issues for a long time. It’s still very saddening, of course. But with Derrick, that’s shocking,” Hubbard says. “You can follow the logic, anyone in a deeply committed relationship would probably say they couldn’t go on without their partner. And other folks who have experienced that loss, I’m sure that option has crossed their mind. So it’s not unthinkable. It’s no less horrible, though.”

He also hopes the couple’s friends and fans will able to cope with their loss.

“The best-case scenario in these situations is that we bond and listen to our favorite songs, and cry and laugh over our memories, and we make pacts to stay in better touch and be there for each other,” Hubbard says. I’d really like to see us all see that through.”



Here’s how the duo’s website, no longer active, describes how the name was derived:

When Derrick and Amy Ross began performing as Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl in early 2003, their intentions were simple enough: Select a name that hinted at their roots in the American West and established their identity as a determinedly two-person operation.

The name also cast them as a couple of wanderers, too intoxicated with the possibilities of someplace else to settle down. In that sense, the name would prove prophetic as it charted the course of the next five years of their lives.

Unable to locate a satisfactory permanent home, they accumulated more than their fair share of temporary addresses. When it wasnt the pony-trail towns of Bisbee, Tucson, and Willcox in the Arizona Territory, it was cooler locales like Corvallis and Nashville. Upon the release of their debut album, they hit the road for weeks at a time, bypassing the metropolitan centers in favor of the oft-neglected smaller towns in between.

Wherever they went, they brought a simple musical proposition: Her piano and voice, his acoustic guitar, a love of lifes little details, and a sense of humor. Although they traversed a landscape of bleached-husk desolation, they arrived none the worse for wear. Their longing for home unfulfilled, they found something of greater value along the way. They found a legion of like-minded hopeful searchers who believed in what they had to say and how they said it…

“My Back Pages” – Bob Dylan

My Back Pages” is a song written by Bob Dylan and included on his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan. It is stylistically similar to his earlier folk protest songs and features Dylan’s voice with an acoustic guitar accompaniment. However, its lyrics—in particular the refrain “Ah, but I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now”—have been interpreted as a rejection of Dylan’s earlier personal and political idealism, illustrating his growing disillusionment with the 1960’s folk protest movement with which he was associated, and his desire to move in a new direction. Although Dylan wrote the song in 1964, he did not perform it live until 1978.

Bob Dylan wrote “My Back Pages” in 1964 as one of the last songs—perhaps the last song—composed for his Another Side of Bob Dylan album.[1] He recorded it on June 9, 1964, under the working title of “Ancient Memories”, the last song committed to tape for the album.[1] The song was partly based on the traditional folk song “Young But Growing[1] and has a mournful melody similar to that of “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” from Dylan’s previous album, The Times They Are a-Changin’.[2] As with the other songs on Another Side, Dylan is the sole musician on “My Back Pages” and plays in a style similar to his previous protest songs, with a sneering, rough-edged voice and a hard-strumming acoustic guitar accompaniment.[3][4]

In the song’s lyrics, Dylan criticizes himself for having been certain that he knew everything and apologizes for his previous political preaching, noting that he has become his own enemy “in the instant that I preach.”[2][5][6] Dylan questions whether one can really distinguish between right and wrong, and even questions the desirability of the principle of equality.[7] The lyrics also signal Dylan’s disillusionment with the 1960s protest movement and his intention to abandon protest songwriting.[5][6][8] The song effectively analogizes the protest movement to the establishment it is trying to overturn,[4] concluding with the refrain:

Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now


by Kenneth Harper Finton ©2015

songs1Cassie’s seventeen-year-old son, Rob, left home with his dog Ozzie more than three weeks ago. The dog was picked up by the dog catcher and taken to the pound. Rob had not said a word about it. When Rob finally called the pound, he found that the dog had been terminated.

Cassie was very upset, blaming Mark at first for letting Rob take the dog away. Mark was not happy either. It made him very sad, especially as Cassie said, “That should not have happened. That situation should not have been allowed to exist.”

In principle, Mark agreed with her sentiments. Life was at stake, yet something more as well. Rob made no effort to talk with his parents about the dog. He had failed to make arrangements for a possible home for the dog. Rob had quit several jobs and had not worked more than a day since he’d been back. He spent his time dreaming of making it quickly in the world without preliminaries, hanging out with his friends and drinking.

It was his dog and it was his decision. It was not a decision his parents could control. In fact, they had very little, if any, influence on Rob since he had been back. The past few months had been filled with stress and worry about whether or not they were doing all they could to help straighten out Rob’s life. They truly wanted things to work out for the best, but the stress told heavily on both of them–showing up as bowel trouble in Mark, a lack of ability to sleep in Cassie, and trouble keeping their minds on their tasks. There was an unaccustomed tiredness in their steps and an inability to enjoy their time and work.

Mark felt very bad about the dog. He wished there had been another alternative. He wished he had interfered and found another home for the dog. Yet, wishing changes little, and he doubted that much would have changed had he been able to live the past month over again.

They arose that morning with Cassie feeling quite ill. She threw up before noon. They were to have left for the mountains by four o’clock yesterday but were delayed with the news Ozzie the dog’s death. Instead, they talked to Rob for a while and went to check the pound in case an error was made, but the pound was closed.

While getting supplies for the trip, Cassie picked up a pregnancy test. When they returned home, the results were positive. Both of them were flabbergasted. They had not used birth control for more than ten years. They talked about having a baby four or five years ago, but since they thought it was not possible, they never took it further. Suddenly, a new, life-changing reality knocked on the door.

The weekend was spent getting used to the shock that they were to have a new family member. They were invited to a hot springs resort by Roy Frank and his wife Nancy when they stopped over at their home in Coal Creek Canyon to give them some copies of the wedding videos that Adam had made early last month. Roy is a chiropractor, Nancy a nurse. Roy plays bass, harp, guitar, and drums. Mark had been getting together with Roy to play music for the parties that he has been throwing.

They finally rolled out of town about four P.M. and drove down to the mineral hot springs just north of Alamosa in the San Luis Valley.

The hot springs are only open to the general public during the week. They sell memberships, limited to around five hundred yearly. Members can have guests on the weekends. Roy had been a member for a number of years and was often raving about the place, so Mark and Cassie decided to check it out. Though their minds were not entirely on relaxing that weekend, they managed to do so anyway.

It was cold and snowing Friday when they left. A bit of the chill had filtered far south, but the temperature was moderate and quite a few people were at the resort despite the chill. Mark and Cassie soaked in the main pool that first night for several hours. It was the closest of the two hot pools, the other being a twenty-minute walk up a steep mountain trail to the spring headwaters. The upper pool is generally warmer than the lower pools. The resort had accommodations, some of them free with admittance fees, others available at a small charge of $10 per night. There were also camping facilities spread in secluded spots about the mountainside. There was a hostel with a common gathering room, an Olympic-size pool with hot spring water and a fine sauna that had a cool brook running through it pool for dipping when the heat got too hot to bear. Bathing suits are optional, as there were no changing rooms at the hillside pools. Most of the members opted for that privilege, though it was not a nudist colony. Most of the members were old hippies who had become successful or affluent enough to afford the dues. They gathered often and partied like the old days.

Mark and Cassie stayed Friday through Monday. Perhaps they were not quite the enjoyable company they might have been, but they still had a good time. Much of the time their thoughts centered on the pregnancy and what they should do differently. They were unprepared. They had no insurance, little savings, and a lot of doubts about their ability to begin another round of child raising after all this time.

By Christmas, Cassie was four months pregnant. Right after Christmas, they went to the hospital for an ultrasound. The baby could be seen swimming around, moving quite a bit. It looked rather alien in the video monitor, skeletal features, strange colors, and a visible heart. “We’ll call her Demi if she is a girl and Frank if he is a boy,” Cassie said, her eyes a-twinkle. “We’ll name it after your grandparents.”

Two weeks later, on a clear, cool day with Colorado blue hanging in the heavens, they felt productive and well. Cassie had a routine appointment for a prenatal exam. Mark was writing as Cassie came in the door. The sun was seating itself behind the mountains. Outside, the air grew chill.

“Well, how’d it go?” Mark asked.

“Not well,” she spoke. She had a cry in her voice. Her mascara was smeared around her eyes. “They can’t hear the baby’s heartbeat.”

“What!”  Mark lunged forward. “Oh, nooooooo.”

Quickly, they dashed to the emergency room. Suddenly, the day turned cold, the night descended and hideous terrors lurked in the shadows. A nurse ran another heartbeat test, amplified for all to hear. Cassie lay awkwardly on the table, the stethoscope grinding out noises like an amateur disc jockey trying to find the groove. Between the grinds, Mark listened carefully for the pump-pump-pump thump of a living heart. He wanted to hear the sounds of life, but his ears were rewarded only with the cold sounds of silence.

Mark felt like a soldier in a foxhole. Part of him wanted to say, “Prime Mover, if you’ve got anything on the ball at all, you’ll let me hear something but this silence.” Like the soldier in the foxhole, he heard only the sounds of battle as the microphone head scraped against cloth.

A portable ultrasound was wheeled in the room. It soon confirmed the silence of the heartbeat. The only movement was Cassie’s. The baby was dead. It had been dead for a week. Mark could see it in the monitor. It was so strange––this moving, big-headed life form he had seen in negative just two weeks ago lay motionless. The heart that had pulsed so strong was stilled.

Suddenly, new ghouls appeared on the horizon. The baby had to come out. Cassie was carrying death within her. That bastard was much to close. Could more be lost to this hopeless battle? Could it be that Mark alone could return from this quick journey, return to a life changed, a self in pain and transition?

Shudder that thought and chill the moment.

But the moment recurs.

The mind–left to itself–thinks of itself, fantasizes the worst while hoping for the best, searches for expert opinion, and, in finding it, mistrusts it once again to hoe those fields of sorrow and despair. Like a bad dream, a nightmare waking, you need to shake it from you like dust from the rug. Rise up you blackened thoughts. Come quickly and rise to a positive acceptance, even while knowing the inevitable is always nigh.

Powerful drugs were administered to induce labor. Cassie began to shake like the leaves of an aspen, every muscle trembling without ceasing.

It went on.

The vomiting began. The pain in the stomach was not really tolerable, but tolerate she must. Her body heaved a sheet of pain––an electric, hurting spasm.

Adam’s throat hurt. His senses numbed.

In a close room, a woman screamed and moaned awfully. The remoteness of her pain, her unseen face, made tolerable the noise. Then the screaming ceased, she cried, “My God, he’s born.”  And moments later, a baby’s wailing cry.

Somehow it seemed right–in this specter of death, new life announcing itself … and, yet, for Mark and Cassie, how strange and how sad.

An attendant shot Cassie with a painkiller. Her trembling slowly stopped as she fell into a restless sleep to fight the demons within her.

By three o’clock in the morning, her water broke.

Mark had slipped off into the night, lit the furnace in the camper and plopped fully clothed on the icy blankets, pulling a comfort over and succumbing to the exhaustion felt inside. Gwen, a close friend of Cassie’s, stood on bedside watch.

At 5:30 Mark was awakened by Gwen, out of breath, running, “Come quick! It’s over. The baby came out.”

It was quick. Feeling the need to urinate, Cassie had the nurse bring the bedpan and began the final contraction as Gwen ran for the truck.

A young, lithe woman doctor with long brown trusses who attended the delivery stated the facts:

1. It was a girl. 500 grams. Two pounds.

2. Said infant was well formed and pretty.

3. Said fetus had been dead a week.

4. Death occurred from the separation of the placenta from the uterus wall. (The umbilical cord, the lifeline to the mother’s womb, was loosed and scarred. Smooth on the end as a leather shoe).

5. That which caused this to happen is now and forever unknown.

Pictures were to be taken. Footprints were made. Certificates had to be filled. Arrangements were made.

And did they want to see her?


They brought her to Mark and Cassie in a pink blanket. She was very small, perhaps seven inches long. Her skin was brownish blue and dark from the moist entombment in the black and bloody fluids.

Her face seemed covered partially by a veil, a beautiful woman’s face, well shaped and delicate, closed eyes that never saw the light of day.

“Oh, my,” Cassie said, “Oh, my.”

Visions of that face in negative, alive and kicking on the monitor of the ultrasound haunted Mark, came back to him in vivid color. This was the shape he had seen before, the colors reversed and not as brilliant.

Mark’s thoughts ran back to his grandmother, Demores, who was born smothered in a veil and went on to live a life of eighty years and bring much joy and creativity into this world. This Demi, her own namesake, was born only to the waters of the womb.

Be that as it is … was … perhaps will be again.

No pain upon this infant, no troubled thoughts nor learning. A mass of flesh and bone, sinew and nerve without experience?


And yet a woman’s face was there, unfamiliar … strange, enchanted.

Mark and Cassie spoke of wasting a name on one that had no life. But there was little choice. This was little Demi.

She only had her name.

They could not take it from her.

After a few hours rest, Cassie responded as well as possible. She was up and walking soon. They moved her out of maternity to a private room with a lovely view of the city and the mountains. They had time then to rest their jangled nerves. Later they could make new plans.

The plan was to bury her homestead style in a crude pine box that Mark would make himself. They wanted to take her to a high mountain valley and place her down beneath the western sky.

Red tape got in the way. The hospital would only release the body to a funeral home. The funeral home had to provide the state with a certificate of burial. Instead, they chose cremation and the burial of the ashes at a sight of their choosing at some later date. Above the grave, a carved board would read:

Demores Walker, born 1992, died 1992.

Never had a fucking chance.