called a place "home" that is not a place anymore

made pea shooters from the long, hollow stems of papaya leaves, and cut long stalks of yellow bamboo with a machete to build forts that could withstand papaya bombs

Boy Scouted on a trail built by the conquistador Vasco Nunez de Balboa, camped in old Army surplus canvas pup tents with bullet holes from unknown WWII battles, and dined on k rations, complete with little packs of chocolates and cigarettes

kicked huge venomous toads across the lawn until they were skin-bags of bones and mush, back into the sewer from which they came

ate bunches of guinups and boxes of Chinese plums, never worrying about the rat hairs the mothers warned were in there

had a nice little Panamanian maid who spoke no English and made big pots of arroz con pollo while stirring a hormonal stew that could only be eaten by hand

paddled a cayuco in Gatun Lake and surfed at Rio Mar and Tits Beach, so named for its voluptuous break, only to find the car trunk burgled and unwarranted blame laid on his skinny shoulders

ran barefoot across blistering black iron sand that you could pick up with a magnet

saw both oceans on a clear day from the top of Baru

got wasted on lil green devils and Panama Red and yearned for that girl, you know the one, the blond with the heavenly rack and the horned rim glasses

saw a friend, no more than a budding teen, run off into the slummy wilds of Panama City, never to come back, because he got wasted on Manchild in the Promised Land

waited for the little Panamanian pin boys to set up the pins before bowling the next frame

never considered the strange blessing of it all

It seems that the Alabama Humanities Alliance has deep-sixed the Alabama Book Festival for the foreseeable future. I exchanged some messages with a couple of their reps online, who told me they're not having one this year, and probably not next year either.

I asked whether it was the lingering effects of the pandemic, or a downturn in the market, or just a changing priority for the organization, and I got somewhat muddled answers. They shut down in 2020 as a response to covid, and that combined with fundraising difficulties and changes in the organization have taken the wind out of their sails.

I've only exhibited at one actual book festival, which was the one in Decatur (Georgia) in 2019. I made some sales and had an interesting time, but it was way too expensive for me as a bootstrapper. I did about as well at a couple of free small-town affairs last year, even though they weren't book festivals and I was the only author there.

I think it's sad how many book festivals shut down or went "virtual" because organizers decided to let the pandemic panic pornographers take the lead.

Maybe people are reading less these days. Well, more tweets and posts, fewer books. Maybe the book publishing industry has gone woke/broke and sloughed off legions of readers and writers. I don't know. But I'm looking for some revivals.

Let me know if you think of any.

Rest in peace, cuz. Thanks to God you found such a beautiful love before you left us.

Tom Waits wrote a song for you. It says:

In the land, there's a town And in that town there's a house And in that house there's a woman And in that woman is a heart I love. I'm gonna take it with me when I go.