From The Window: San Francisco, July ’21

Some have fought me and lost, where other’s fought and won. Some of them turned upon each other, and the days ran into one.

Some fought the days and works of hands, golden dawns, wanna be crowley-esque mages. Other’s battled Faith and Fury, and came up with the losing hand. The Tower, the Hanged Man and Debauch laughed at me as I tried to outrun their hold.

Some fought the sound that thunder makes. Some battled against the flood. Some tried to hold back the tide. Some fought with the disease in their blood, others fought with foreign forces on that further shore. Some fought for less while others fought for more.

Some walk up to the top of the mountain, and once they get there realize it is but a hill. Some fought Strange Siturations: moving vans, antique tables, foggy mornings and their mother’s counterfeit pills.

Some pedal violently against the grain, chasing a fleeing dog. The leash is off, the sun is up, and the hill is bound to stop even the most determined of pursuers. That dog is free, even if freedom isn’t the best thing for him. Even if freedom is dangerous. Even if freedom is deadly. Even if freedom could crash cars, bite babies and end life under the wheels of the Uber that is coming to collect me.

Some fight against the clock. Some battle against change. Some, finding fighting boring, shout “Dharma is the Home of the Brave!”

A child battles with his laces, his shoe turning mortal foe. The moggie never catches the pigeon and wishes he were not stuck upon the earth, but fighting gravity never budges, and it wins each time in the end.

There’s battles with the bottle, campaigns against the spoon and spike, forward marches against go go leaves and lazy hanging lascivious Moroccan carpet rides.

The table will never fit into that van. That mattress cannot be folded. A square cannot be forced into a rounder hole, and you can run but never can never run quite far enough, no matter what your goal. That plastic bag will still float upon a wind that cannot be ghosted, and that tree’s branches will not let go, until a large gust comes along and it falls upon someone’s newly washed hair.

T____ walks on up the street, solemnly carrying a Starbucks bag. She takes a sip of coffee and regrets at once she had.

A young man crosses Geary, cardboard on his feet.

The sirens are unrelenting: there’s no warmth, no heat, no sun.

The door it knocks and then is knocked again. The questioners are unrelenting, and one roused me demand both my presence and my departure. Pick one or the other, I am no human yoyo to be bounced by my own politeness. I want to scream “what do you want from me!” but they don’t know even if they demand something other than what I am doing. My snowy disguise screams privilege in another person’s eyes….and I sit here hungry wondering what would have happened had I played the correct games. The secret is a woman has to apologize for surviving. “I didn’t want to’ is never enough. “he would have killed me” won’t suffice. “But WOULD HE HAVE KILLED THE KIDS” asks the woman, shaking her head disapproving as she demands to know if the man who smashed my head, who broke my stitches, who raped and abused me, who broke and starved me, was a good father. A boy doesn’t find it funny, as he watches my shoulders shake with laughter.

The circus is in town, the sporting hero is all a- bleeding. The shit is going down, the phone is smashed in anger: the bitter is on the rise, and the gall drips through the torn wineskin. I would have liked a pony. I would have liked a day. I would have wanted different. I would have coped with life. I could have accepted mundanity and not cut it up with this butter knife. I am not asking for mercy, and besides there is little in anybody’s eyes. The tongues are all telling fury, and the jackboots are on the rise, the lines are being drawn and cannot be revised. The Zeitgeist is drunk on hatred, Rip Van Winkle is rubbing his eyes, the wolf is blowing the trumpet, the sheep have left the fold but don’t understand the price.

The dice have been unloaded, the wheel is spun in vain, the old man he coughs maskless over the child with years ahead. He calls it freedom. I call it petty death.

I wonder about shouting from a balcony, “How do you like it now when it’s your lives being wrecked! Are you coping with destruction? How do you like looking at death?” It is one thing when it is me being pushed from pillar to post and strung upon some castle walls of motherhood that have been spray-painted with “someone else would have been for the best.” Paint me as the devil. Demon me with twisted history. Break me of my habits. Slice me with a word. It is another when the world is going insane, the mass graves are being dug, and more died from fentanyl here than covid and the city doesn’t care to give out free safer drugs.

There is no point in sermonizing. No reason to kick against the pricks. I think I’d like to be on the radio and play Television and The Circle Jerks.

In memory only waiting there’s a photo of you and you and me.

I never would have played

if I had known

what life


gonna be


  1. Niki Flow

    Paltry, I’m Niki, new to your blog. David Redpath brought me here. Every time I get a chance to read you, I have been blown away. Your honesty and realness especially is something I admire. It’s been so hard for me to tell my truth if it has to do with anything that makes people uncomfortable to read or hear. Reading you, I understand that I wouldn’t be here reading you if what you wrote it didn’t speak to me. It’s as if I am reading my soul through your eyes — the pain, the longing for beauty. And you bring so much beauty even to this suffering. I think your writing is beautiful and I think you’re writing because you have to write, like a shark has to swim — and if that’s it, I feel the same. But I’ve hidden my writing for a long, long time. Decades. I’ve published and deleted and published again. I’ll stop there — I’ve written a lot. I am grateful I get to know you through your writing.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      Hello Nikki, It is nice to meet you. I am a big deleter and burner of words. I’ve never met another. Stop deleting! There is hope the other side of the bonfire!
      I hope to read you telling your truth, speaking your words and holding your head up high. It is good to get to know y you too, I hope I have provided a little comfort in all this madness. You are right – I partly write because I have no choice, it is write or lose my mind, but it is partly because I want to throw out that big hello to my sisters and brothers, the freaks and the sufferers, to tell you I see you, and I love you for who you are….even when you are at your most unlovable. Write to me anytime, TPS x

      1. Niki Flow

        Thank you, Paltry. You writing definitely conveys your big hello and love wishes. I have felt it. I promise to try not to delete — or at least, not for long. I’ll keep telling my truth. Love and hugs to you and so much gratitude. ♥.

  2. Time Traveler of Life

    Your new friend, Niki is right, you need to keep writing. I can see, feel and want to come and make the people stop hurting you for no reason. But that is what the upper half of society does to the lower half because they can. I can’t wait for you to become famous, so I can say I know them when…

    1. The Paltry Sum

      You actually made me giggle out loud! Famous! When I spent so long hiding that would be hilarious! I promise I am keeping on writing. The last week has been absolutely terrible – I have been fire fighting trying to stop us being moved out of the Bay Area to some awful city in California where I will never cope. Hours and hours of my days taken up with meetings, and calls, and form filling. I think I have fixed it. I have one more hurdle, which means I am going to have to take a bit of a risk in order to move forwards, but it should lead to ID which a landlord will accept. I have funding to stay in the Bay Area now, I just have to keep on pushing. If I take my eye off what is going on, the people who “do” will end up pushing us out of the area. I am so very tired, my darling. Exhausted.

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