A. B. Clarke


by abclarke


The water has passed.
The water wets the stone.
The water is coming.

But the birdsong
Has a start
And a finish.

Devastating Encounter!…

by abclarke

In December 2015, my friend Adam’s email account was hacked, and a spammer started using it. The e-mails that follow are my entire exchange with this spammer verbatim except I have disguised the actual e-mail addresses (and made some formatting changes).

I hope you have as much fun reading this as I did engaging with the spammer. And in case you’re wondering, Adam’s girlfriend is not named Marge…

From: adam wooley to me 11/26/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

I hope you get this on time, I and my family made a trip to Manila,Philippines for a Conference Meeting and am having financial difficulties here because our bags were stolen from us with our mobile and personal effects therein. I do not know if you can help me with a short loan, the bad news is that our flight will leave very soon.Let me know if you can be of any help.I promise to refund you once I return back home and I am sorry for any inconveniences caused. Hope to read back from you soon

From: me to adam 12/6/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hi Adam, sorry I just saw this now (e-mail overload). Hope everything is ok? Where are you now?

– Art

From: adam wooley to me 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hi Art, How are you?I have been here since then,apparently my email did not get delivered to my other attached contacts..I am so glad you replied,I am still in the Philippines.If you can help me out please,Western Union is the only way you can wire money to me. All i need is $2,850 USD. You can have it wired to my name via any Western Union outlet I’ll show my passport as ID to pick it up here,I promise to refund it back as soon as i arrive back home. Here’s the info you need:

Name: Adam Wooley
Location:Stl 1 Gf Super 8 Grocery Wareh 1985 Cm Recto Ave,
Country: Manila Philippines

As soon as it has been done, kindly get back to me with the Western Union transfer details.Let me know if you are heading to the Western Union outlet now.

I owe you a Lot

From: me to adam 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

I will get the cash and mail it to you on Friday (I am in Antarctica right now, and will not get to the Falklands until Thursday). Is Marge okay? Is she getting her medication and do you need me to send that?

– Art

From: adam wooley to me 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hi Art,
Friday is a long day away,Yes Marge is fine and she still has her medication here.Western union is the only way you can wire money to us, you can just visit www.westernunion.com/locator to look up for a nearby WU around or you can try and wire it online by visiting www.westernunion.com with your credit card….you will have to choose the country you are sending the money from and the country you are sending it to which is Philippine, remember to be a new user before proceeding it..
Can you do that please?

From: me to adam 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

So glad to hear she has her medication. If the growths come back, stay away from the yellow ooze that comes out. That’s how she got it in the first place. I probably should have mentioned that before you left. Also, while I’m thinking of Marge, can you ask her if she got the copy of Mandel & Douglas’ Principles & Practices of Infectious Diseases, and if so, could she send that to me. I’m almost 100% sure I had the right diagnosis for her, but best to be sure.

I’ll see what I can do about getting some money to you faster than Friday. I have limited e-mail now (satellite coverage now that I’m finally on the boat to the Falkland Islands). It costs me $3 per minute, so I have to type really quickly. Apologies if I misspell anything. By the way, there are now penguins swimming along side the boat — never thought I would see that. Reminds me of Marge’s Nun Halloween costume.

I tried going to westernunion.com and it’s asking for your address (which I have, thank you), and your current weight (which I don’t have). Don’t know why it’s asking for your weight (seems very strange), but can you let me know what you currently weigh? Did you gain any from the food in Manilla? I think you were around 190lbs before you left? Should I still say that?

– Art

From: adam wooley to me 12/11/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

How do you do?Just like you i had limited internet connection and we are still here and i am looking to hear back from you with the details,i am still the same weight and wonder why it has to ask that?Hope to read from you soon….

From: me to adam 12/7/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Sorry the internet connection is bad where you are. I’ve landed at Stanley in the Falklands Islands. Having a little bit of trouble getting good access, as the place has been invaded by Argentinian tourists (who oddly, are wearing camouflage and keep chanting “Liberar a las islas malvinas” — not sure what that means).

Also, you didn’t tell me if Marge could get me a copy of the book on Infectious diseases? If you have a chance, could you tell me what her temperature is right now (and I’m totally sorry, but yes, like last time, you’re going to have to measure it from her ‘below’, if you know what I mean. The doctors I’m working with are Analogists — those types of Doctors are like furtive junkies, always looking up dark alleys).

Yesterday I gave up on Western Union (I don’t know why they asked for your weight. I tried entering 300 lbs, but it said something about “Obesity fee” and was going to add 20% markup, so I didn’t do that).

I did manage to find a Moneygram in the Phillipines, and I figured since you’ve been there so long some extra cash would matter. I wired $5,000 to them. Unfortunately the only store I could send to was the Moneygram in E Quirino, Clark Freeport, Angeles, 2009 Pampanga, Philippines. I’m hoping you can get up there.

When you pick up the money, you’ll need to use my legal name (Art’s a nickname). Just ask for the wire to you from “Alfred E Newman.”

Please do not take Marge with you on the train up there — while I don’t think she’s contagious, people will not treat her well, and will look at you strangely, if she starts barking again. Then again, I’m hoping with the medication that side effect has abated. Let me know.

Directions from the other location you wanted me to send the cash to are here.

Hope all is well, and let me know when you get the cash. We’re all worried about you back here.

From: adam wooley to me 12/12/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…


Thank you for the money.Would be of much help,I am yet to pick it up as i do not have the confirmation details(The 8 digit Pin number on the receipt),please send that to me as soon as you can.

I am awaiting your urgent reply,



From: adam wooley to me 12/13/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hello Art,

I am guessing you have not checked your mail…Please send me the confirmation number on the Money Gram receipt to enable me pick the money ASAP.

Awaiting your urgent reply,



From: me to adam 12/13/15
Subject:Devastating Encounter!…

Hey Adam,

I have bad news, but I think if we can work together, we can get through this.

First off, sorry it took me a few days to respond. In an irony to end all ironies, once I finally got the money sent to you, I decided to find a bar in Stanley to have a drink to celebrate your good fortune. One drink quickly became two, and I got to celebrating with the locals. However, on my way out of the tavern, I was, similar to you, accosted by three short men (dressed in what I think were tuxedos, and who were braying like donkeys the entire time). Alas, I can’t be sure though as to their identity, for I was, as I’ve learned they say in the falklands, ‘out to pasture,’ ‘in league with the jolly devil,’ or ‘enough drinks down to fall for a Nigerian prince.’ My assailants took off with my id, credit card, and wallet, and now I’m somewhat stuck in Stanley. Normally I’d ask for your help on this, but given your situation, I think we’re both in the same boat.

I did spend most of yesterday on the streets to the capital here begging folks for help, and was finally taken in by a kind, generous, and phantasmagoric old woman, who took me back to her house. As a slight aside, to demonstrate what a small world we live in, I got to telling her your and Marge’s tale. (Incidentally, you did not let me know what Marge’s current temperature is, and her doctors have e-mailed me several times asking — a response on that would be appreciated.) The old woman told me that her sister suffers from many of the same symptoms — making me think that perhaps lycanthropy may be the cause. It certainly explains the barking and the hair growth and her symptoms’ strange re-emergence every 25 to 30 days. Also, upon reflection, it is entirely possible that the yellow ooze was a red herring given that you, Marge, and I had just won first place in the Indiana Mustard Pond 10k Meter Swimming tournament. If correct, you should see Marge’s symptoms die down, until around December 25th or so, by which time you should be back home in Lake Woebegon.

But I digress. The old woman kindly allow me use of her computer and phone, which is where I’m typing from right now. I did attempt to find the Moneygram 8-digit number you refer to, but I had used a different computer to send the cash, and stupidly didn’t save the reference number. I ended up calling Moneygram, and they directed me to the local office in the Philippines. It took a while for me to get through (my Tagalog is very bad — and the connection was poor), but the woman I talked to, Betty, said no one has been by to collect the cash.But, and this is the unfortunate thing, given that I’ve already sent it (meaning the cash is already there), and I don’t remember my 8-digit number, there are only two ways to collect it.

  • Option 1: You could actually go in person. Betty assured me you should be able to pick up the cash. I told her you didn’t have ID, but we came up with a way for you to get the money. Just ask for her by full name (Betty Crocker), tell her you’re picking up the package from Alfred E Newman, and you know the secret phrase of “my, your buns are gooey and moist.”
  • Option 2: if I pay a 100 peso (Philippine Peso) fee, she can give me the 8-digit number. Alas, the only way I can pay that (moneygram policy I’m afraid) is with a credit card from someone who actually lives in the Philippines.

So that means, there are two ways you can get the cash:

  1. Take the train up to the office, and pick it up directly from Betty.
  2. If you happen to have met someone in the Philippines who can help you, just send me their name, address, their credit card number and expiration date, along with the code on the back of the card, and then I’ll call Betty back, pay the 100 peso fine, and send you the 8-digit number, and then you can pick up the $5,000 USD.

I look forward to your response,

– Art

< No-Response>


by abclarke

Most escape it.

Some face it.

Few make it.

Times of Confusion

by abclarke

In times of confusion fall back to principles, not planning.

Dear Liza’s Bucket List

by abclarke

Build sand-castles.

Fetch water.

Rinse mops.

Bail boats.

Sort items.

Ask Henry to fix it.

The Blood of Enlightenment

by abclarke

My friend meditates more than me. Fifteen minutes in the morning. Fifteen minutes before he goes to bed. He told me this over Peruvian omelettes and I sensed there may have been a moment of glee in his voice.

As he boasts, I listen, and am appalled – I sit once a day, sometimes, for ten minutes. Two men competing on the field of non-competition, one is found wanting, and it is me. To be defeated by someone so ordinary, who is not even a monk, is too much to consider.

So I craft new resolutions: Each morning, I will become one with the universe; Each evening, I will focus inwards and touch the smallest point of the smallest point that connects back to everything that flows within and without; As I walk each day, I shall maintain total awareness; I will, with every movement, feel the sole of my foot grasp and release the sole of my shoe as it grasps and releases the surface of the earth as it grasps and releases the mantle under my presence; Before I begin my tasks for the day, I shall contemplate the nature of my face before it was born.

I will do this all with focus and with strength of will that he cannot match. I shall out-center him, out-bliss him, and out-joy him. I shall be so present there will be no room for him to be present. And next time we meet I will be ready. As he starts to crow of his practice, of how he attempts to meditate his way to contentment, I shall crush his dreams and show him how I have risen to the battle. All who watch shall be amazed as the blood of enlightenment is spilled on the carpet of serenity and only I shall remain standing (I mean sitting) on the zafu of victory.

Alternately, he was trying to tell me that even with meditation twice a day he is not finding peace? Reaching out and asking for sympathy, for understanding, for love?

No! More likely he was just boasting.

Impossible Beauty

by abclarke

The smith labored
To create an object
Of impossible beauty.

Brow drenched, as
The crowd outside the forge
Laughed at his hubris.

Still, he lifted his arm,
Dropped and raised again,
Because he knew

While the impossible-impossible is folly,
The possible-impossible is just a chain of possibles
Welded together with the rhythm of the swing.

Both look the same
Under the hammer
With sweat in the eyes.

“Yet keep hammering,” he smiled,
“For there is no beauty
Without swing.”

06 – Fish

by abclarke

To find rhymes I have to deeply fish,
Using words that at times seem amiss.
And some lines are a crime
Needing prison lifetimes.
I have stretched it too far with this: ghoti.

21 – Philosophy

by abclarke

Philosophy has taught us railings —
The concepts key to social scaling.
But the focus on the moral
Is the locus of my quarrel:
Perfection-seeking leads to failing.

23 – The Beast

by abclarke

A beast drives our strange compulsions
And after, we wallow in revulsion.
But secret be told,
We love it uncontrolled
And recoil from thoughts of expulsion.