The Apple Seller Tells His Riddle

June 19th, 2016

They walked together silently in the apple orchard that cool June night. It was a good season for the fireflies and the two wanderers were delighted at the wild profusion of scintillating, hovering living lights. As always, the beetles slowly converged in a space between the wanderers and the tops of the trees, aligning themselves and synchronizing their signals. In a few minutes their bioluminescent glow formed into a lambent quote, different from the ones on previous nights. Their lights spelled out “Thou shalt say a thousand things, and saying them a thousand times over, thou shalt still have said nothing.”

“Hawthorne?” asked the boy.

“Who else?” smiled the father. “That’s a pretty fine quote, don’t you think?”

“Well, for fireflies,” the boy grudgingly conceded. “They flash their lights to find a mate, don’t they?”

“So I’ve heard. I’ve also heard tell that they use their lights to attract prey.”

“Mates and prey: aren’t they one and the same? And the poor beetles go through all this trouble merely to die shortly afterward.”

“It’s their nature; but how beautiful they are while they’re here, despite the reason. To them it is a grim struggle for temporary survival or procreation, but to us their lights are things of intangible beauty. Things are always beautiful when you look at them from the outside, when you’re not the one involved.” The father smiled and studied his son from the corner of his eye. “And surely even you must agree that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have lost at all.”

“So you say,” the boy muttered. “Yet so many others, they tell me love is like death and that death is nothing… but I don’t know what that means.”

“That’s all right,” the father said, putting his arm over his son’s shoulder and watching the fireflies leisurely disperse, “they don’t know what it means either.”

And father and son walked away into the darkening night.


May 23rd, 2016

One inspiration for this piece was my thinking about Botticelli and a
couple of other Renaissance artists whose styles were strongly
hard-edged and linear. No matter the subject, their style suffuses every
work with a certain pale and quiet sadness that is easily felt but
difficult to describe, like that universal yet unsharable sadness which
is part and parcel of every life. There is no sfumato in the artists’
works to mellow or hide that sensation, nothing to compromise or lessen
its harsh representations. This sketch is merely my response to that
certain melancholy inherent in every linear work. The creature inhabits
a harsh, brittle realm of unyielding and emphatic demarcations that
allow no thing to really touch another, a world of sharp outlines, sharp
and stinging like nettles and barbs, a world of boundaries that cannot
be crossed. Yet the creature itself is also harsh, untouchable and
armored in its own severe outline. It belongs in its world. It’s a
little bowed and battered by its environs, but it is not broken. It
perseveres and is not overwhelmed. To me, that is part of Botticelli’s
genius. There is an ambient sadness in his work reflected even in his
smiling or dancing figures. Yet they survive in the sadness and somehow,
magically, impart a graceful undefinable happiness, even joy, to the
entire piece. And that is part of what makes Botticelli’s works beautiful.

They’ll Print Anything Nowadays

April 7th, 2016

Dante and Dostoevsky, Milton and Melville, Edgar A. Poe and Sarah E.
Potter… the world is filled with magnificent literature that ennobles and inspires. Doesn’t that get on your nerves? Don’t you wish there was a book which would allow you to finally, happily exclaim, “My pet gerbil can write better than this, and it’s dead!”? Well, your dreams have come true! If you like wasting your money on gibberish, then I penned a book just for you. It comes in both paperback and electronic formats, but don’t worry about which version is better since both formats are equally bad. For more information, please click on the link below. You’ll be sorry you did. Be sure to purchase multiple copies to give as gifts to your enemies. Seriously, the book in question was my attempt to write some scary stories…at least I hope they’re scary. If you do purchase a copy, please tell me what you think.


The Heart Stalker

February 6th, 2016

In the heart of the traditionally coldest month of the year we celebrate
the warmest emotion of the human heart. So here’s to romantic love —
hot or cold, new or old, living or dead– it always leaves its mark.

Rhyme and Reason

January 29th, 2016

First, a little tribute to Gene Lehman, without whom Mystic Dreaming could never have been what it now is:

A great friend,
A great, great lifesaver,
A great, great, great artist,
And a great many more things.

The wondrous event poetry lovers the world over have been eagerly awaiting has finally arrived. Sarah Potter’s second collection of original poetry is now available! It’s titled Mystic Dreaming and you can find more information about on it at the following link:

Buy Mystic Dreaming here

The Widow’s First Night

January 11th, 2016

Sarah recently told me about a fun website called “I Write Like” ( You type in some original text and it tells you what famous author’s style it thinks your text resembles. No matter what I typed in, the site invariably told me my sentences were reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft, Mary Shelley or Nathaniel Hawthorne. I have nothing but respect for those three and even I’m aware my choice of words can occasionally be a trifle archaically arcane, but since Edgar A. Poe has always held a special place in my heart I was always disappointed my style never matched his. Thus, as a test, I typed in a stanza and a half of “The Raven.” The site said the writing style was akin to James Joyce. “Ah!” I mumbled, “Poe must not be one of the available choices! NOW it makes sense!” Later I typed in the following and, lo and behold, it was analyzed as being in the style of Poe! Since apparently Poe himself wrote in a Joycean style, I consider my accomplishment to be a great and singular triumph of human will over computer stubbornness. Personally, I don’t see any similarity of the below to the poet’s work, but, given the circumstances, I’ll clutch at any straw. And now, the hard fought for pseudo-Poe text:

You hover silently in the shadowed edges, watching generation pass, each, before dissolving back into the darkness, momentarily illumined in its own ghostly light. Your fellow watcher, although close at hand, is a vague form in the void, being sometimes apart from and sometimes a part of the immuring gloom, like some dim star visible only from the corner of your eye. You sense his presence better than you can see him and you suspect it is better that way.

“The heart,” he suddenly whispers in your ear, “the heart alone knows its own misery, an inexpressible reality of iron sorrow. The injured body shrieks in pain: the injured soul stands mute. Do you ever wonder if all these generations are a species of idiot? Surely they cannot be unaware that every seed of hello flowers inexorably into goodbye. Yet they still spend their few allotted days chasing after chimerical happiness. And then, believing they have finally caught the great and wonderful thing and will forever hold it to their breast, their minds are opened to reality and they reel, silent, numb and shattered, at last comprehending they hold nothing but a handful of dust.”

“Lucky for the dust,” you answer peevishly. “Earthly dreams, by both their own and the dreamer’s very nature, can only be partly cherished yet always fully lost. But,” you shrug, half-smiling in spite of yourself, “perhaps that’s not the fate of their memories, of their echoes.” You pause for a moment, watching another generation’s light sputter and fade in the darkness. “Or their beloved ghosts.”

“Are you talking about the dreams or the dreamers?”

Bowing your head respectfully before turning away you mutter, more to yourself than to your nebulous companion, “Whatever offers the most comfort. Yet to them all in passing and to all their evanescent dreams, rest in peace.”

Merry Christmas!

December 4th, 2015

To those of you who view Potter’s Sketchbook (especially you, Jason Young), Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


November 7th, 2015


October 10th, 2015

Just in time for Halloween, Potter’s Sketchbook is back (after a long hiatus)! We give you something spooky, eerie, weird, phantasmagoric! ATLAS!

Daedalus and the Lithographer’s Stone

May 5th, 2015

This was a failure. It looks like a Halloween picture a second-grader might do, but without the childlike charm. Still, there’s an element or two that struck my fancy and that I may try to pursue later.