The Canoe Of Death


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are trying to keep up with the overwhelming demand for parodies of poems by D.H. Lawrence. You may not be aware that Lawrence wrote poems, but he did, and many of them were pretty damn great. Of course the greater the poem, the riper for parody. This week’s bit is to be read only after clicking on the link below and reading what is arguably Lawrence’s poetic masterpiece, “The Ship of Death”:

(With no apologies and a taffy apple to D.H. Lawrence.)


Now it is Fall and the falling fruit

falls on me and sends me on the long journey towards oblivion.

Like swollen balls of dew they fall

down my shirt and briefs and seem to say, “No exit,”

but Jean-Paul Sartre used that already

and what is he but a fallen fruit?

Perhaps it is Springtime instead?

Anyway, it is time to look in the mirror

and wave bye-bye at one’s self. So long!


Have you carved your canoe of death, O tell me have you?

O you must carve your canoe of death,

I insist, really you must,

for they come in ever so handy when you are dead.

I’ve ridden in mine countless times.

But now Suzie Snowflake is nipping at my nose.

Was that thunder I heard, or…No, it was just another

apple that fell on my head. Silly me!

And death is on the air like an old cardigan sweater.

Dear me, can’t you smell that nasty smell?

Someone is burning leaves.

And in the bruised apple, yes, the very same one

I told you about, the little worm is wriggling.

How tiny and cold he is!

There’s a lesson there, don’t you think?


Quiet, please, O I beg you be quiet,

I can’t hear myself think, it’s such a tiny sound

like a dagger bruising a bare bodkin

or a bullet being bitten, O don’t you see?

If you don’t shut up I shall murder you. Ah!


(A minute of silence.)


So build your canoe of death, you’ll need it

where you’re going, bye-bye, far away

where the sugar plums grow and never fall

nasty plop! on your head and make it all sticky

like a slimy nasty old worm. Ugh! O ugh I say!

Already something has soaked my breeches,

the waters of the infinite sea of boredom

are drenching my codpiece.

O carve your canoe of death, you witless twit,

stock it with tuna fish salad and candied apples

and powdered milk and sugarless gum — anything,

just so you go away

and don’t come back.


We are dying, O please let us die dear God,

I won’t forgive you if you don’t

for we are dying bit by bit,

our noses are falling off,

I feel dead already, don’t you?

O say that you do!


(A minute of quiet, bitter sobbing.)


(Several minutes of uncontrolled weeping, followed by

the Author falling to his hands and knees

and banging his head on the floor.)


(The sobbing gradually becomes a violent, hacking cough.)


Let us sail our little canoe through the lagoon of life,

Let’s see if we can sink it, shall we?

O dear God the doctor says I will live after all!

I threw an apple at him and he bruised beautifully.

Then he smiled and sank my boats in the bathtub.

I could have kissed him for joy.

But instead I held him under the suds

and started him on the long journey towards oblivion.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where our good friend Michael Fowler confesses to his literary crimes but with his typical bravado, offers no apologies. How like certain presidential candidates! After you've read his latest nonsense, find out what other authors he's been plagiarizing by clicking on the link below to buy his highly derivative yet annoyingly addicting humor collection, "Nathaniel Hawthorne Is Dating My Girlfriend."

Damn Right I’m A Plagiarist!

By: Michael Fowler

You can bet I have been called out on my plagiarism, not once but many, many times. But I have prospered nonetheless and never considered giving it up. I’ll tell you why.

As early as elementary school I freely appropriated the words of others to bolster my insipid attempts at original essays and theme papers. In the fifth grade, penning a report on my favorite book at the time, Winnie the Pooh, I lifted lines from Jacqueline Susann, whose novel Valley of the Dolls I found on my mother’s bedside stand, and from Vladimir Nabokov, whose Lolita I found on my father’s. My teacher was stunned and thought I had misunderstood the Milne classic. Still I passed, and a light went on in my head.

In grade six, in a theme describing my activities over the summer, this time for a different teacher, I quoted liberally and without attribution Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway, and Caitlyn Jenner. My teacher, old Mrs. Slayheath, may have suspected some exaggeration and even fabrication on my part, but she was far too old to penalize me. She merely reminded me, in red pencil, to credit my sources in future. I did not.

In junior high my thievery ran rampant. By that point I was convinced, and I think rightly so, that my plagiarism offered new insights into the real authors’ words and ideas. My pilfered words were actually an improvement on the originals! It was all due to place and timing. In a clever story by author Jorge Luis Borges, a modern writer replicates, through his own inspiration, the exact book Don Quixote. But because he lives in a different place and writes in a different era than Cervantes, it is a completely original work! So this isn’t as stupid as it sounds.

I won’t go so far as to say that my stolen words are pithier or more coherent than the exactly identical originals. After all, they differ from these by not so much as a comma. But in their new place within the dull word salad produced by the floundering and harebrained essayist that is yours truly, these appropriated gems gleam with a fiercer light than perhaps they ever shed before. So how can this still be plagiarism?

Tell me that. Tell Borges that.

Okay, it’s still plagiarism. But plagiarism never sounded so good.

I really came into my own as a word thief in high school. In an essay for American History class, I took a deep breath and passed off as my own a passage beginning “I hold these truths to be self-evident…” Of course I didn’t get away with it, not at first. But before my obviously bogus work dragged my final grade down to a humiliating C, that teacher died. Let me say at once that I had nothing to do with her demise, though I can’t say I grieved much.

For the substitute teacher who took her place, I wrote a putative biographical paper on the young Abe Lincoln, drawing equally from the Bible’s Book of Jonah, Jack London’s Yukon story White Fang, and a speech of Mussolini’s. She recognized the biblical part! The old lady wasn’t as dumb as I thought. But all she did was write a note on my paper that I must acknowlege any quotations. And I got a B+!

On to college, where I determined that the secret to not getting caught was to plunder works far afield from the subject I was writing about. Thus in psych class, my so-called original papers didn’t crib from famous experts like Freud or Jung, but instead I inserted whole paragraphs of Ann Landers, J. Edgar Hoover, and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. For my philosophy essay, I avoided Nietzsche and Marx and inserted a disguised essay by Woody Allen, and once, in a paper called “The Humorous Side of Solipsism,” an entire routine of Rodney Dangerfield’s. For my journalism class, I had the inspired notion of submitting an already plagiarized piece by the recognized plagiarist Jayson Blair. I was really proud of that one. I had other tricks as well. For my creative writing course, I handed in Gogol’s “The Nose”, with this subtle difference: wherever Gogol used the word “nose,” I substituted “elbow.” Consequently my story was called “The Elbow,” but was otherwise the same as his, practically speaking. I also submitted Kafka’s Metamorphosis with Gregor Samsa turning into a deer.

Some of my instructors had their suspicions, of course, but hardly any called me out. Probably they assumed that, like everybody else, I bought my papers for $50 from an essay mill. And why interfere with tradition? Those that did question my authenticity only received another plagiarized effort in exchange for the first, and in the end I always got by, sometimes with praise.

In my current occupation as speechwriter for the mayor of a small Midwestern city, I continue to plagiarize with both hands in the cookie jar. No one cares what a small-town mayor says, not enough to reconstruct its provenance anyway, and so my sticky fingers sift freely. It’s a fun job. Only last week, while the mayor spoke before TV cameras on the need for more diversity at city hall, he had no idea he was quoting Jefferson Davis, Muammar Gaddafi, and the Unabomber. I agree with the positions of none of those folks, let me add, but remember: it’s all about time and place. My time and place.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we would be more than happy to let you tell us, in meticulous detail, how to run our lives. But first you have to pass new contributor Katherine Shaw’s vetting process. So yeah, right now we're telling you how to run YOUR life. That's life!

Ten Interview Questions For A Part-Time Life Coach (Who Doubles As A Therapist (Who’s Actually An Adult Nanny))

By: Katherine Shaw

Congratulations on making it to the second round of the application process! As you know, our client is in need of a part-time life coach, preferably one with a background in psychology. However, spending a few after-college summers as an au pair will suffice.

Our client seeks candidates with a passion for resolving existential crises by providing soothing affirmations that life has meaning despite:
1) The looming environmental catastrophe that scientists believe will end civilization by 2050,
2) Women losing bodily autonomy, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the End of Days, and
3) finding love and a fulfilling career is passé, boring, stale as a cracker at Grocery Outlet.

Note: delivering affirmations in a sing-songy tone will be considered an act of gross condescension and will result in immediate dismissal. 

Please take a few minutes to review the following interview questions. Today’s interview panel consists of our client, along with dissociative embodiments of herself at ages 6 and 13 and 24.

  1. In your professional opinion, can I get pink eye from drying my face with my body towel?
  2. I’m asking because my bum area never seems to dry after a shower unless I get the towel really up there.
  3. I mean, my bum area is definitely clean after showering. But what about cross-contamination and micro-germs? Or do I just call them germs? I suppose germs are microscopic…
  4. TMI? Dang, I always have issues with that! In your experience, how do you know when you’ve gone too far in a conversation?
  5. Oh! So, you’re saying that this interview is an obvious example of TMI. Would you say TMI is a bad trait? Cause I’ve been told it’s not good. 
  6. But, if you think about the concept of TMI in relation to gender, isn’t it a bit un-feminist of others to ask me to “simmer down” and to speak my mind less often?
  7. Shhh – hold on! I’m not finished speaking. Here’s my hypothesis: if I’m consistently TMI, does that mean others are just TLI, too little information? Perhaps my intelligence just intimidates most…
  8. Don’t you start with this “your arrogance is showing” lecture. I wish I was just a pinch arrogant! Do you even want this job?!
  9. A nap? Why would you suggest a nap?!

15 restful minutes later…

  1. But seriously, can I get pink eye from using my body towel on my face? I keep waking up with crust in my eyes. Okay, yeah, I could use a separate face towel, but I’m trying to be environmentally friendly. No, I’m not just being lazy! But also, how do you feel about doing my laundry?

We plan on contacting interviewees next Tuesday and will invite the top two candidates for a final interview. The final interview will be a skills lab.

In this skills lab, you and our client will discuss the application of Brené Brown’s work to everyday issues such as online dating and realizing that you might have wasted your youthful potential in a soul-sucking career. Chardonnay, lavender aromatherapy, and weighted blankets will be provided.

Until you hear back from us, please refrain from contacting our client for questions. Our client especially does not want to receive feedback on the structure of today’s interview.


Katherine at ages 6 and 13 and 24, and also a version of herself that recruits for part-time life coaches (and there’s a sixth identity in there somewhere…)


* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where the literary stars of tomorrow were practically born yesterday! Just ask that shameless gossip-monger and hilarious woman about town Catherine Weingarten.

The 6 Hottest Writers Under 6

By: Catherine Weingarten

Five years old, her love of eating Polly Pockets is used for material in her new powerful eating disorder memoir, Polly Pocket Eater, This is Me. She’s already won the Glamour Activist Baby of the Year Prize, but the award was taken away from her when she tried to eat it.

Four years old, after two whole years in timeout for an undisclosed crime. Her tell-all has been much awaited and hailed as the new Orange is the New Black for cuter and younger people. Jupiter is the bad girl of the baby literary world and recently got in trouble at a People Magazine shoot for throwing up on her outfit and then saying she’d only pose nude.

Three years old, Daffodil’s famous novelist father encouraged her from a very young age and helped her get her first book of poetry published, My Father Is Famous But What Is Fame? A stirring line from one of her poems, “Roses me likey, Mommy cheat on Daddy,” recently went viral and can be seen on onesies all across Brooklyn. In her spare time, she likes to eat daffodils and cry loudly on the subway.

Five years old, his take on male privilege has set the baby literary world afire! He wrote a four-page waterproof book that you can read while bathing about his journey realizing he was white called, I Am White But Also Ned! The book also contains some fascinating tidbits, like “I like baths! Showers suck! Is race but a construct?”

Two years old, her fashion self-help book was inspired by the unbearable pain she felt when seeing more unfashionable babies at the playground. She is the first baby ever to share her style guidance with others, and her new book Me Cute! is trending in baby communities! Her #1 fashion don’t is “One-year-olds who dress up like bears…Like, they aren’t bears. So stop trying to make it happen…”

Baby Bo
Fetus, his scathing tell-all about what it’s really like to live inside his mother will be out as soon as he is!



* Welcome to The Big Jewel, described by many readers as a form of literary sleep apnea. Say hello to first-time contributor Kelly Mack.

How To Adjust To Using A CPAP Machine In 31 Easy Steps

By: Kelly Mack

Recently, doctors discovered a new and terrible condition called sleep apnea. It can cause heart damage, as well as assault the ear canals of any person within 10 miles of your reverberating snores.

Fortunately, a handy device called a CPAP machine was invented to address this pernicious problem. It prevents death by self-suffocation while sleeping by inducing death by sleep deprivation through blasting sudden, strong air puffs up your nose. Doctors have diagnosed millions of people (whom they didn’t like much) who require this ingenious treatment.

While some people complain on the Internet about the usefulness and utility of such a device, this article is not intended to address those concerns. However, the good news is that it is plenty easy to adjust to the CPAP machine by following these 31 easy steps:

  1. Open the box and marvel at the tangle of tubes, mask, and machinery to be assembled.
  2. Groan loudly and relinquish the box to verified spouse for assembly.
  3. Watch as spouse flips through one of many instruction booklets for guidance on proper assembly and cleaning.
  4. Cry softly to self with anticipated agony when the machine is finally assembled.
  5. Sit patiently as spouse fits mask over your head and nostrils.
  6. Start hyperventilating and rip mask off head after spouse turns on machine.
  7. Waste time flipping through one of many instruction booklets to see if machine can be adjusted to human body (not “Woolly Mammoth” settings).
  8. Make some other excuse for delaying putting mask back on. (Example: “The dish washer isn’t going to clean itself!”)
  9. Realize that machine wasn’t working because vice-like mask (think face-hugging alien from Alien movie trilogy) was really not tight enough.
  10. Put mask on again and have spouse tighten until you scream. (Luckily, screams are muffled by mask.)
  11. Sit for a few minutes with mask on, but device not turned on.
  12. Do NOT think about fact that you cannot breathe and face feels like it is wrapped in rubber bands better suited for a sadomasochism orgy. (Note: Better not to mention this thought to spouse.)
  13. Ask spouse to turn on device.
  14. Ask spouse to turn off device.
  15. Ask spouse to turn on device.
  16. Ask spouse to turn off device.
  17. Ask spouse to turn on device.
  18. Realize that you are breathing through your mouth, which defies purpose of device.
  19. Breathe in through nose and observe musty, plastic smell of mask.
  20. Ponder risk of someday acquiring nostril cancer from plastic inhalation.
  21. Breathe out through nose despite blast of cold air shooting up nostrils like an air cannon.
  22. Try to calm fear of brain exploding due to air pressure.
  23. Realize this is worse than scuba diving and daydream about being under water (drowning).
  24. Lie down and pretend to sleep in order to fool spouse.
  25. Fall asleep despite wind tunnel effect in your nose.
  26. Wake up to to hurricane-like weather blasting your face.
  27. Fall back asleep due to exhaustion from sleep deprivation.
  28. Wake up wondering why a tornado is attacking you.
  29. Start crying only to realize tears may gather inside mask and suffocate you.
  30. Realize that you are accepting this scenario.
  31. Congratulations, you are adjusted!