Booger Jack holds a writer’s workshop on the second Thursday of each month – but don’t be put off by the name.
A booger-man is a name for a frightening apparition – and many people are scared to write, scared to submit their work to publishers, scared of rejection. The term ‘booger’ is slang for a problematic or difficult thing. A booger can also be an item that is unnamed or unnamable:
“It’s … like a pop-top … one of those sharp little boogers you pull off the beer cans,” said the late gonzo journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson. And writing entails countless encounters with the unnamable, with difficult problems.
John A. Ward (aka Booger Jack), host of the Sun Poet’s Society Writing Workshop, starts each program with a writing exercise. Titles of about 30 poems are presented and each participant is invited to select one or more as a springboard to their own creative writing. After about 20 minutes, guests are encouraged to share their draft with other members for constructive criticism. All visitors agree that such exercises will hone the writing muscle. Some pieces are later developed into works of their own.
Booger Jack said the next phase of the workshop improves works in progress. “If you would like your work critiqued,” he said, “bring about eight copies, no more than five pages, double spaced.” The group welcomes pieces of fiction, poetry, press releases, songs or plays.
The group met last month on the day after Elvis Presley’s birthday. And it seemed to be more than a coincidence because two writers contributed items dealing with the king of rock and roll. Both claim they did not know the significance of the date. And both are glad to share their work with Rivard Report readers.
“Shown Smaller Than Actual Size” by John A. Ward
As soon as she saw the ad in the newspaper ad, Erica decided that the King was the answer to her question about the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for Billy. She would surprise him.
“I’m going to decorate our home,” she said.
“Uh huh,” said Billy as he forked a glob of biscuits and red eye gravy into his maw.
“You’re gonna like it,” she said.
“Just don’t paint it pink or purple,” he said. “You look good in pink and purple, but the walls won’t.”
“Oh, nothing like that,” she said, “and you can change it if you don’t like it.” She could already picture him singing “I can’t help falling in love with you” and “Hunka, hunka burnin’ love” in the shower after he came home from a day of stacking hay bales at the fairgrounds, his skin itchin’ like a man up a fuzzy tree.
She filled out the send-no-money-now reservation application from the Bonham Exchange and mailed it the next day.
Billy was nice enough not to pester her about when it would get done, but she could tell he was excited by the thoughtful way he said, “Pass the biscuits please,” at dinner every night.
She took the first of the three interest free $16.65 payments out of the cookie jar and sent them to Niles, Illinois plus $9.99 shipping like it said in the small print and waited the 4 to 8 weeks, mailing the second payment on the fourth and the third on the eighth like she knew Billy would want to do in case the ad was a fake.
The house is looking nice,” said Billy every night at dinner time just to let her know he understood that one cannot completely redecorate a home overnight.
When it arrived, she hung it, measured it to be sure it was 70 inches wide by 72 inches high just like the ad said, and filed the 365-day money back guarantee in the junk drawer. Then she stepped back. There he was young adult Elvis in black leather, teenage Elvis in gold lamé, and middle-aged Elvis in his sequined jump suit.
Sure enough, when Billy got home that night, he didn’t wait to eat. He jumped right into the shower, lathered up, and started singing, but not the songs she expected. He sang, “Little sister, don’t you do what your big sister done.”
Erica called her two-minute-younger twin. “I don’t think he likes the shower curtain.” She held her phone so Estelle could hear.
“Oh, I think he likes the curtain,” said Estelle. “Maybe he’s been just a little distracted.”
As the truth washed over her, Erica looked for the d-CON rat poison to mix with Billy’s red eye gravy.
John A. Ward (aka Booger Jack) was born on Staten Island, attended Wagner College in the early 60’s, sold his first poem to Leatherneck magazine, and became a scientist. He is now in San Antonio running, writing and living with his dance partner. He’s published several book, links to his work can be found at boogerjack.blogspot.com and boogerjack2.blogspot.com.
“Being Elvis” by Steven Botts
You were the bard of lascivious joy
who made panties and bras fly onto the stage,
beloved and envied because you were Elvis.
You couldn’t read music and never wrote lyrics,
but you could sing and strum while you wiggled your hips
in a way to drive the girls wild and make preachers livid.
When you rocked the top forty and rolled in the cash,
you passed out Cadillacs like trick-or-treat candy
and no one dared step on your blue suede shoes.
You went to Hollywood and made some bad movies
but no one cared that you that were a poor actor,
because you were Elvis. Nothing else mattered.
When you went to Vegas, they were always shook up
When they heard you sing Hound Dog, Heartbreak Hotel,
and all those old songs, over and over and over.
The women still wanted to be with you
and the men still wished they could be like you
so you did your best to keep being Elvis.
You were worn out and tired, aching and sick
The shots and the pills didn’t help anymore.
But everyone still yearned to be Elvis
Steven Botts is a native Texan who has worked as a teacher of high school science, as well as adult education in the areas of English as a second language, GED preparation, and basic literacy. He is presently employed as a teacher and behind-the-wheel instructor of driver education. Most of his work has been published online, but he has also published poetry in the San Antonio Express-News, and is a frequent contributor of letters to the editor. He has also written and presented a number of sermons in his Unitarian-Universalist church.