I have written the occasional poem since I was in high school, when I penned a dada poem entitled “The Typhoon’s Name is Babette.” Alas, while I recall the title, I do not remember the contents of said poem and do not have a copy, because I lent it to a girl named Story in 1967 and never got it back.

I have a friend who’s an incredible poet. Years ago, I showed him some of my poems and he said, “They’re not poems, they’re songs.” Sheesh.

I have written some impressive poems. I was invited to read for a poetry group many years ago and I think I shocked them.I know I scared a couple of them with a frightening poem about my dark side.

I have a book full of poems — and songs — called A Bus Ride to Cuba. I’ve written a couple new ones recently.

I think I write poems now and then because I dislike most poetry. I suppose I like realistic poetry, although I’m not sure what that really is.

I like Charles Bukowski’s poems. I like Richard Brautigan’s poems. I like Jack Veasey’s poems.

Much of my poetry is written with tongue in cheek. Some is not.

Now that I’ve beaten cancer, I am reconsidering what I want to do with myself. Do I resume covering Gloucester County news for my website? Do I just remain retired?

I do know that I plan to become a philosopher, so why not become a poet, as well?

Poet/philosopher has a very nice ring to it, don’t you think?


It was in the spring of 1991 when  a young Moroccan man tried to buy my Closest Companion.

We had arrived in Casablanca, then we drove to Marrakech, which we loved enough to hang around for a whole week. Then we’d drive to Tangiers, then back to Casablanca to catch a plane home.

The biggest attraction in the Medina, or old city, in Marrakech was the Jemaa el Fna, or Place of the Dead. It was a huge open-air square at the outer edge of the covered souks, or shops.

Wow! What a place! There were guys who pulled teeth, who wrote letters, who sold water, shoes, clothing, souvenirs, you name it. It was noisy, colorful and scary. There were guys with monkeys and guys with snakes, making their animals available to pose with you for photos. My Closest Companion posed with monkeys. I posed with snakes hanging around my neck. (When we later examined the pictures, we realized some of the snakes draped around me were pit vipers and extremely poisonous. Yikes!)

There were shops all around the square and, when it started to rain a bit, we headed there. One shop was a fragrance shop, chock full of interesting aromas and colorful stones that looked like geodes.

The shopkeeper was demonstrating on my Closest Companion and blue color from a geode, which made temporary facial designs of the type worn as tattoos by Berber women. The blue designs under her red hair had a striking effect.

It was then that a young man approached me and, through our guide/interpreter, politely offered to buy my Closest Companion for 100 camels.

I was, you might say, taken aback. I chuckled and said, no, thank you.

The man was not put off. He upped the ante, offering me 200 camels for her.

No, I said, she is not for sale.

The young man got serious with his bidding.

Three hundred camels.

I got serious with my refusals.


“I will give you 400 camels for her,” he said finally.

“Look,” I replied. “There are not enough camels in the world.”

He gave up then, thank goodness.

All these years later, even after I calculated that those 400 camels might have been worth as much as $1 million, I still occasionally remind my Closest Companion that there are not enough camels in the world.


Last week I made it back to the river. It was marvelous.

The temperature, as you may recall, reached 80 degrees or so last Wednesday, so I drive myself to RiverWinds Point in West Deptford. Sadly, I was not the only one who thought it was a great idea to visit the Delaware River in such gorgeous weather. I got what appeared to be the last available parking space and had to walk farther than usual to reach an empty bench upon which to park my carcass.

But none of that mattered. For the first time this year, the weather was warm, the winds minimal, and I was once again back at the river.

(I’ve been at the river a couple of times when the weather was a little too cool. My Closest Companion and I had a little picnic inside the car. It was quite pleasant, but it’s not the same as sitting closer to and hearing the water, feeling the water.)

It’s the proximity to the water that does it for me. The negative ions bring me peace. Sitting by the river — sometimes for hours — is healing for me. Don’t ask me why. I haven’t a clue. But it works wonders for me, makes me feel good, makes me happy.

Last week, I stayed at the river for about an hour before starting to feel exhausted. I walked back to the car and drove home — the drive felt very long, I’m afraid.

Still, it was shirtsleeve weather and I was at the river and it was just terrific.

Aside from the negative ions imparting a feeling of happiness when I’m at the river, I’m not sure what the appeal really is.

Oh, sure, I watch the planes land at and take off from Philadelphia International Airport across the river. Sometimes there’s a lot of river traffic and it’s not always barges and tankers and container ships — sometimes a luxury yacht cruises by. And, of course, who can forget when the Pope landed at the airport last September. There were hundreds of people at RiverWinds Point to see that.

But it’s the peacefulness I crave when I visit the river. And there is plenty of peace to be found there.

The days will be warmer soon and I’ll get to spend more and more time at the river.

I think it was the jingling of the spurs that got me.

It was a beautiful, sunny day in May, 1980. I was playing music for a living, such as it was, and looked pretty much like a traditional cowboy. Nights I wasn’t playing, I hung out  at the old Lakesview Inn in Almonesson, Deptford. The USS Saratoga was berthed at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for an overhaul, so we had gotten to know many of the crew members who considered themselves cowboys. Some of them had been  rodeo bull riders at home.

I learned that Cowtown rodeo in Woodstown had what was called buckouts every Sunday afternoon in May. Cowtown not only supplied livestock for its own rodeo, it provided horses and bulls to other events across the nation, so officials wanted to see what the bulls could do.

During buckouts, any fool with 10 bucks could ride — or try to ride — all afternoon.

So, eager to show I was at least game, or maybe even a legit cowboy, I plunked down my $10 and waited my turn. Two sailors, J.R. and Rusty, tutored me through the event.

I wore J.R.’s spare spurs and one of my own kidskin gloves tied to my wrist with a leather thong. Rusty tied the rig — a rope — around the bull for me.

I was at Chute #10, the first bull in, but the 1800-pound animal was nervous because he couldn’t see any other bulls. He was trying to climb out of the chute — and, when he was being herded into the chute, the sliding gate separating #10 from #9 accidentally cut off seven or eight inches of his curly black tail, which fell into the mud. Well, mud mixed with bull manure.

The bull in #10 was a brangus — a brahma-black angus mixture.

Rusty explained how I could calm down the nervous bull. He knelt down on the back of the bull and rubbed his knees back and forth.

I, in turn, explained that I had come to Cowtown this day expecting to be hurt, but I was going to by God be hurt out in the arena, not in a closed chute. So I settled  down onto the quivering muscle of the bull’s back.

I hunched up as tight as possible on the bull’s back. When it came my turn, I threw my left hand high into the air and, as cowboy-like as possible, I shouted “Outside!”

The chute was thrown wide open and my bull stepped outside the chute … and fell down. I stepped off the bull, took a couple steps, and fell down.

I didn’t loiter. The bull was up and headed my way, so I scrambled up the side of the fence as a rodeo cowboy lured the bull away.

I was covered in mud. Well, mud mixed with bull manure.

Adrenaline was still coursing through me as I walked away, on the blacktop pathway, headed around the outside of the arena to where friends were sitting.

All the way around, my borrowed spurs rang loud in the quiet May afternoon. All the way back, they seemed to ring even louder.

When I got back, it was my turn again. Of course I went again.

A different brangus this time. The same cowboy coaches. I climbed down onto this bull, took a tight hold, threw up my arm and shouted “Outside!”

The bull roared out of the chute and went airborne. I was hanging on for dear life but eventually was tossed like a rag doll off the back of the bull. Again, I made for the fence as the clowns baited the bull away.

I learned I’d hung on for four seconds. A qualifying ride is eight seconds. I’d lasted half a ride. I’d seen professional cowboys last less than four seconds, so I was proud of my achievement that afternoon.

That night, I couldn’t buy a drink. My friends at the bar never believed I would do it, but I did it.

I must note that, in 1980, bull riders did not wear helmets and protective vests like they do today. That makes me stubbornly even more proud.


By the time you read this, I should be out of surgery. At least, that was the plan as I wrote this.

Back in June, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. The plan: Treat it with some chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, then perform surgery to remove the tumor.

The cancer had already rendered my left kidney nonfunctional, so the plan was to remove the kidney, the ureter and my bladder. While in the neighborhood, so to speak, the surgeon planned to remove my lymph nodes and prostate, as preventive measures.

I had surgery in June to remove a fistula that had grown between my bladder and my colon and it was during that surgery that they were able to do a biopsy and confirm my bladder cancer.

I had out-patient surgery in August when a power port was placed just under my left clavicle that would enable easy administration of my chemotherapy chemicals.

Then I was scheduled for cancer surgery on Dec. 28. But I mentioned to my oncologist that I was experiencing some tightening in my chest when I walked or exerted myself. I didn’t think it was a big deal, because it went away as soon as I stopped whatever I was doing.

But my cancer doc insisted I see my cardiologist, who insisted I have a cardiac catheterization, just to be safe. That happened on Dec. 8. That’s when they discovered I had serious blockages in four coronary arteries. So they performed open-heart surgery on me on Dec. 11, bypassing the four arteries.

Which, of course, caused me to cancel the cancer surgery scheduled for Dec. 28.

So now, here I am. I’ve had surgery at Inspira Medical Center in Woodbury, Our Lady of Lourdes in Camden and, now, at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, at the hands of an extremely talented cancer surgeon. (I suppose we could call this my South Jersey Hospital Tour 2015-2016.)

There will be some major changes in my life as a result of this surgery. They will take some getting used to, but I will get used to them, you can believe that.

And, if all goes according to schedule this time, by the time you read this, I will be cancer-free. Your support in all of this has been greatly appreciated.


When I was laid off from the newspaper in September 2014, I wasn’t really ready to retire.

Instead, I launched the Gloucester County Online website, featuring Gloucester County local news, my column and my own photographs.

The website was taking off pretty well at first. Someone at the paper I used to work for even asked a police chief how I was able to get news before them. I found that pretty funny. I’d gotten the news first for them for 30 years. Why would they think I couldn’t get the news first for my own website?

It was great fun, although it quickly became a full-time, one-man job for which I was not getting paid. I was selling advertising for the site, but not many businesses were buying, even though my rate was pretty reasonable.

When I started having to focus more on my medical problems, I informed my advertisers I would no longer be regularly be producing news. Since then I have pretty much  written nothing for the site but my column.

Now, as I recuperate from my last surgery, I have had to consider what I will be doing.

Do I want to return to trying to cover Gloucester County single-handedly?

Scott Edmonds at New Dodge’s Market in Elmer contacted me to book me for this year’s summer concert series but it has been more than a year since I played last. I’m no sure I can go back to performing in public quite yet, so I canceled that appearance.

I think I might be ready to be retired now. Although I am considering becoming a full-time philosopher.

So, if you see me sitting at the river, don’t just rush over to say “Hello.”

I might be philosophizing.


When I was growing up, I often considered getting a tattoo.

Nothing outrageous or scandalous, mind you, just something virile. My original idea was to utilize all the initials of my given name, James D. Six Jr. The design I came up with was pretty complex: The J from James and the J from Junior made up the larger center, with the second J backwards and attached to the first J. It kind of looked like an anchor.

Smaller, the D was on the left of the anchor and the S was on the right.

Because it looked like an anchor, I was satisfied it looked quite manly.

And because it was the era of the Marlboro man, who had a tattoo on the back of his hand, that’s where I figured my monogram tattoo should be placed when I got it.

I never did get that tattoo. In the end, it would have taken much too much explaining, telling everyone what the heck it meant.

In fact, I ever got any kind of tattoo. My Closest Companion got a tattoo. Our friend Pete took her to get it.  She wanted to see if if hurt, so Pete got a spider tattooed on his calf. She decided against it, but we figure her tattoo is actually on Pete’s leg!

Now, however, I am considering a tattoo.

Through all that I have gone through in the past several months — colon surgery, a cancer diagnosis, surgery to implant a chemo port, chemotherapy, open-heart surgery and now, finally, cancer surgery on Feb. 15 — my friends and supporters have repeatedly told me how tough I am to be taking this so well, and what a bada** I am to be going through this.

So, as the end gets nearer — I DO expect to be cancer-free when surgery is complete next week — I am thinking about getting a tattoo that says “bada**,” only with the letter S replacing the asterisks. (Although it might be funnier if I got the tattoo WITH the asterisks. I’ll have to think about that.)

Now I’ll be needing your help. I’m open to recommendations for who should do my tattoo and suggestions for where to have the tattoo placed on my body. For the record, my cardiologist has already suggested the tops of my buttocks, but I’d like the tattoo to be small and yet visible, at least on occasion.

So, let’s hear from you out there: Send your ideas to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I’ll take prayers, good vibes, positive thoughts and terrific mojo, as well.

My mother, Elaine, was kind of a hypochondriac. Back in the 1970s, she experienced what, at most, could be called an episode of angina. She forever more referred to that as her “heart attack.”

My friends, Pete and Wanda, used to have written on their calendar, right next to my mother’s phone number: “Don’t ask Elaine how she is unless you really, really want to know.”

We used to laugh at that. Elaine loved to talk  about what ailed her, that’s for sure.

Recently, however, my Closest Companion tells me I have become Elaine. I insist on telling everyone I run into about my three major surgeries since June: stomach surgery, open-heart surgery and cancer surgery.

I tell people about all this because I am proud to be a survivor of all three surgeries. I didn’t think I was being Elaine by relating the details. I thought I might be inspirational to others. But my Closest Companion is usually right about things like this, so I guess I need to reel it in a little.

I loved my mother, but I certainly don’t want to be her. Yikes!

Elaine died in April, 2002. She died, I believe, because she just didn’t want to live anymore.

I survived those three surgeries. I am cancer-free and consider myself quite healthy. If only the pain in my lower back and hip would ease up I’d be a healthy and happy guy.

With the help of my Closest Companion, I continue to sort through junk from the Black Hole that was my home office.

Not everything I find is a treasure. I’ve filled up several bags of trash and several bags of material that will have to be shredded. And my super-organized Closest Companion helps direct much of the rest of what I find: We have boxes and bins for yard-sale items, photographs, blank notebooks, partly used notebooks, CDs, cassettes (for you young folks, I’m not going to go into an explanation of cassettes right now — just Google it, OK?)

We ought to have a place for dust. Right now, I am pretty much covered with it. It’s everywhere.

I’ve already related how I found my deed to one square inch of the Yukon — unfortunately, my additional research revealed that the cereal company that gave the deeds away never actually registered them, so we deed holders never actually owned the land. You have no idea what a disappointment that was for me.

Still, I have been finding things I had considered missing or misplaced: Blank notebooks galore, at least four different notebook covers — you can discern a certain pattern, can’t you? Lots of books to write in. Lots and lots.

I have also unearthed films from MRIs of my shoulders and of my brain, head and carotid arteries. No, I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with them.

I’ve found old photographs of me — and pretty much posted them on Facebook as quickly as I found them. With me, there’s no such thing as over sharing.

The living room is filled with all these newly sorted boxes and bins. They’re everywhere. My office, on the other hand, is looking quite emptied out. I’m hoping that, when this sorting is all over and these newly filled bins and boxes are returned to the office, I can see some difference. Otherwise, well, this is just an exercise in, well, repositioning my personal junk.