Mocking My Betters—Luckily, the World is Filled with Them

I have a Philistine love of poetry—I like what I like and I ignore what I don’t. For instance, I like A.E. Housman way more than any other straight American male I’ve ever met. His plangent tone brings actual tears to my eyes, although they’ve never moistened my face. To most contemporary readers, he is a hack—sentimental, stilted and silly. For instance, XL from A Shropshire Lad:

“Into my heart an air that kills

From yon far country blows:

What are those blue remembered hills,

What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,

I see it shining plain,

The happy highways where I went

and cannot come again.”

Still, I like him, and because I do I find it easy to write poems that mock him and his style:

To a Child Starving Young

Empty my cereal box of Chex,

Dropless my jar of milk,

Starving before I have tasted of sex

Or worn a ribbon of silk.

Life in my skin is draining away,

Bones will be next to rot.

Lacking the energy to go and play

I am a famished tot.

That was written in real time just now with no rewriting. It’s not good or funny, really, but it amuses me.

A second example of this mockery dates back a while, and was written when I was brainstorming ideas for a date with a woman with whom I was smitten:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Dates (with apologies to Wallace Stevens)

I. Buy .a 22 rifle and ammunition at Wal-Mart. Save receipts. Shoot river rats. Return rifle for a full and courteous refund. Ask for partial return on unspent ammo. If denied, buy rifle back.

II. Check handles of parked cars. Split the take.

III. Fight over an obscure topic in a public space. The pronunciation of “salmon” at a church service, say. Invite the congregation to take sides. Join hands and sing “Let Us Break Bread Together.” Let the minister connect the fishes and loaves. She is, after all, a professional.

IV. Walk the streets with water balloons in each hand. Growl at any person who takes notice. Throw water balloons at those who don’t.

V. Meet at the vegetable aisle at Shaw’s. Make vaguely erotic but mildly disconcerting gestures with eggplants, tomatoes and string beans. Become offended at first mention of roughage. Leave without buying anything.

VI. Plot preemptive revenge against people who have done us no harm. Yet.

VII.Stare and point at strangers. If necessary, whisper in a gutteral and vaguely Eastern-European tongue. Serbo-Croatian, perhaps. If confronted, deny all knowledge. All knowledge of anything. Period.

VIII.Go to Friendly’s. Spot dead celebrities eating Fribbles. Request their autographs. Do not let Charles Laughton escape without taking his picture.

IX. Follow a man in a blue coat. When he arrives at his destination, accuse him of supporting terrorism at home and abroad. Accuse him of being a closet Moslem. Produce pork sushi and demand that he eat it. If he refuses, declare UN sanctions. Bomb the hell out of him.

X. Visit a tack shop. Ask the clerk for a saddle that would fit a 150-pound horse shaped like a man. Ask whether it is acceptable to taste the bits before buying them. Lick a riding crop. Ask clerk whether she has been naughty or nice. Giggle menacingly. Laugh in a way that suggests violence. Leave quietly. Don’t look back.

XI. Go to the dollar store. Request a price check on numerous items. Ask how to sign up for their bridal registry. Do not blink during the visit.

XII.Attend a youth hockey game. Cheer wildly for players with even numbers. Declare them America’s best and brightest. Initiate derisive chants toward the odd. Accuse them of heresy. Suggest that their fathers have had liposuction. And vasectomies. Before they were conceived. If tears ensue, accuse odd players of not being able to take a joke.

XIII.Play tag at the emergency room. When security is called, complain of a headache. Demand aspirin. Demand bottled water to wash down pill. Complain of anhedonia. Demand joy. Demand pleasure. Take hostages. Read this poem to them. Demand suggestions for future dates.

Stay tuned for future homages to favorite poets. “Homages” can here be understood to mean “insults to genius by far lesser mortals.”

A Miscellaneous Hodgepodge of Potpourri in a Ragbag Volume 1

–People worry about Sam (is a dog) and me in the Tiny White Box in this terrible cold. Really, there’s nothing to be concerned about. Gavin (the God of Custom Building) Beland, who did all the work foresaw any challenges. We are well-insulated, well heated and well-ventilated. With an electric radiator set on medium-high and one of the windows wide open, it stays at 70 degrees in the Tiny White Box. (Full disclosure: that 70-degree temperature varies by 10 or 15 degrees in either direction depending on where the thermometer is placed. If on the ceiling, it’s closer to 80, and lying on the floor, it’s more like 55. Practically what this means is I need to always wear slippers and when writing I put my feet up on a milk crate to keep them off the floor.) As a backup, we’ve got a propane heater, although that provides heat that is too hot—any physicists want to explain hot heat to me?

–I first heard the songs from Bob Dylan’s Street Legal (1978) live in concert at Nuremburg Stadium, with Eric Clapton sitting in on some of them. I then purchased a copy of the record on the street outside the concert, and ended up sleeping under a bridge since my ride was too drunk to drive us home. Seeing that little Jewish man on the same stage Hitler had stood 40 years earlier added huge resonance to the songs. All that said, this album is incredibly neglected and, other than one truly horrible song (“Is Your Love in Vain?”) this is one of my five favorite Dylan albums. The other four? Time Out of Mind, Blood on the Tracks, Desire and, quirkily, Planet Waves. No sixties, no eighties—I wonder what a friend 10 years older or 10 years younger would think of these choices.

–I had a dream last night I was wearing bright yellow knee socks and people kept looking at my feet.

–While in Manchester this past week, I ate a lot of vegetarian food—Indian for lunch, salad for another meal and a dinner I made for Becca of wild rice, mushrooms and mixed greens. Funny thing, but no vegetables magically appear in the Tiny White Box, and I can only eat so much canned spinach.

–The first five podcasts on my phone right now: The 40 Year Old Boy, The Christian Humanist Podcast, The Complete Guide to Everything, Ear Hustle, and Heavyweight. I can highly recommend all of them—please bear in mind this is alphabetical and on a Saturday at 3:09 pm. By tomorrow, all will have changed.

–Having no Internet means I don’t see Facebook on anything like a regular basis. If I’ve forgotten your birthday, not consoled you at a breakup or failed to recognize the cuteness of your baby, please accept my apologies.

–I know it’s early, but I’m already starting to look for a presidential candidate to support and work for in 2020. Among the folks I’m interested in: Ben Sass, John Kasich and Kelly Ayotte (really). Please, please, please—can my Democrat friends help me identify a smart, clever centrist I could support (e.g., Bruce Babbitt, Bill Clinton of 1992)? I understand my vote in either primary is a kiss of death, but I’d like my murder victim to come from a bipartisan pool.

–Finally, some notes to my mom from a 1989 journal, occasioned by her 60th birthday. I saw that milestone as the beginning of her dotage, and yet I’ll pass it in 10 months.

* * *

Not major insights, just some pictures from my childhood flashing by:

o Having you read “Uncle Wiggly” stories to me while I was in the first grade on Emerson Road. Even today, when I look at those stories, it is your voice they seem to have been written in.

o How careful you were to pass on good things you’d heard about me from Mrs. Fullam, my second-grade teacher, when you saw her in the bank. After all, she was the only teacher who seemed to see me as more than a smart-aleck.

o When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I was home sick on the anniversary of the day you got me from the adoption agency. You brought me a baseball magazine and made it a celebration.

o Standing in the living room on Beard’s Landing and singing as a family while you played old chestnuts from the teens and twenties. “Who Put the Overalls in Mistress Murphy’s Chowder,” “I Don’t Want to Play in Your Yard,” “Little Playmate.”

o For that matter, “I’m New Hamper born and New Hamper bred . . .”

o How often you told me that Dad was the smartest man you knew, and that he could have done anything he wanted to, but that he really liked working with his hands. I’ve not found many mothers build up their husbands in their children’s eyes.

o How regular you were about coming to my baseball games, soccer matches and track meets. Even though I was never very good, your presence made me feel like an all-star.

o Your driving of me and the Cilley boys to the MUB. Regularly.

o How much you tried to help your friend, Minnie McDonald, with her drinking. That tortured phone call from the hotel in Portsmouth still resonates for me.

o How you always tried to fight anti-Semitism, whether because of your friendship with Marie Myers or out of a larger sense of justice.

o Your love for Carl Yastrzemski, Mike Andrews, Rico Petrocelli and Jim Lonborg in the Impossible Dream year of 1967.

o How upset you were when the Sox got rid of Hawk Harrelson.

o How you always encouraged me to read, and never said a word about money spent even on comic books.

o More seriously, how during times of crisis in my life, you and Dad have always appeared to help pick up the pieces. With drugs eleven years ago and depression three years ago, you and Dad helped me put my life back together. Thank you both. I love you.

o Less seriously, how you managed to feign enthusiasm for my short-lived tuba infatuation. (What would you have done if I’d actually liked it?)

Regrets? I’ve Had a Few. Here Are Some of Them

As I approach 60, I’m starting to recognize I won’t do all I’d intended to do, learn all I’d intended to learn or travel to all the places I’d intended to travel. Since my goal had been to do all that could be done, learn everything and go everywhere, I can live with this reduction of the infinite to the realistic. Still . . . here are just a few items I’ve pared from my to-do list:

Understand How the Human Body Works and Eat a Healthy Diet

In my brain, my body is a connected set of imaginary systems. As one brief example, kkin is an organ—although I don’t know what an organ is—that keeps all the juicy and bony things in, sort of a rucksack for blood and pus. It needs to be kept clean and occasionally have Band-Aids placed over leaks. Acne is a plague to teenagers and is best solved through prayer and seven daily showers. Rashes are the result of plants you didn’t notice or using the wrong soap. They are treated with calamine lotion, which no one has ever purchased but is available in every medicine chest. Blood leaks out of cuts, which need pressure, elevation and bandages. In the olden days, cuts could get infected and people would die. The internet seems to have solved this problem, except for tetanus, solved by a doctor sticking a needle in you on an unknown schedule.

As for diet, green vegetables are the best thing to eat; therefore no one likes them, and they must be hidden under cheese, butter or, preferably, meat. Fruit used to be good, but now it’s made of sugar, except for bananas, which prevent muscle cramps and dementia. If you own a sailboat, limes will prevent scurvy. Baked potatoes are healthy; fried are not. Hence, we add butter, bacon, sour cream and, to be healthy, chives to baked potatoes, rendering them both healthy and edible. As for red meat, don’t use it as a between-meal snack, except for beef or buffalo jerky, which prevents death. Chicken is good for you, but fish is better. Thus, the healthiest meal in existence is grilled swordfish, baked potato and asparagus with hollandaise sauce, which is also my favorite. This is a pleasant coincidence, not a case of special pleading.

Cross the Ocean Alone in a Rowboat

At 10, I got my first boat, a flat-bottomed wooden one perfect for traveling around Beard’s Creek, which almost encircled the peninsula on which I grew up. A fresh-water pond, the creek was separated by a lock under a bridge from the estuarial Oyster River; although I never did so, I pictured myself portaging across the highway, and launching my boat. From there, I would set out downriver, first to Little Bay, then to Great Bay, then to Portsmouth Harbor and finally out into the North Atlantic.

Using no accurate information, I estimated this 15-mile journey, if I traveled with the tide, would take about an hour. From there, I’d row to Greenland, the island, not the town abutting Portsmouth, which I guessed to take a full day. This guess would be accurate if I could row a little over 90 miles per hour. In the North Atlantic. For 24 hours. After spending a couple days on Greenland, digging in the snow to find the ruins of medieval towns, playing with sheep and penguins, and becoming friends with the skraelings, whom I pictured as a combination ghost and Eskimo. From Greenland, I’d row to Holland, do a little skating there, then finish up in England. Overall, I figured the journey would take me a week, a shortfall of unknown proportion made moot by my certain death.

Learn Latin and Greek Well Enough to Write in Them

While I’ve still got a smattering of Latin, it’s mainly in epigrams (“De mortuis nihil nisi bonum”), short phrases of academia (“opera citato” or op. cit.) or nonsense (“raptus regaliter” (royally screwed)). I couldn’t properly translate Latin into English even given a dictionary and more years than are left me on the planet. As for composing in the language, anything I wrote would be used as evidence of a severe head trauma.

My Greek ignorance is different but no less handicapping. While I can transliterate, that is read aloud, the language—which seems impressive in a parlor-trick kind of way—the only thing I’ve ever read is the New Testament, written in Koine not Attic Greek. This was useful for me as a minister-to-be-and-briefly-was, but didn’t include any composing, few churches look for their pastors to write new gospels in an ancient language. Even Joseph Smith found the Book of Mormon in “reformed Egyptian” (or “deformed English”) according to the LDS; he didn’t write it himself.

Because of my shortcoming, I am unable to write these columns in Latin or Greek, and you are unable to read them in those languages. Luckily or not, Google Translate exists, and I’ve put the title and first paragraph through translation from English to Greek to Latin and back to English:

Consciousness? Had a few. Here are some of them

60 How to approach him, do you not recognize that it was willing to do to begin to be to know the things that I wanted you to me for the purpose and to know the rest of it anywhere with a road journey. Since the end of my object was to be done, to do according unto all that which is impossible for you to know that you collected all, I am not able to live in the free, with the reality they are in harmony with this the cut. However. . . Here are a few items I picked up the task list:

Were I to use my limited Greek and Latin skills, I doubt very much my composition would have been much clearer, and most certainly would not have the poetry of “I am not able to live in the free.”

Disagreement Isn’t Treason

In real life, I’ve got friends from all over the political spectrum. From Trotskyites (really) to borderline fascists, I’ve shared meals, walks and weeks with men and women far from my center-left point of view. After all, even the communist may be a pleasant companion while hiking, and the John Bircher may be a good chess player and conversationalist—until the topic of fluoridation comes up.

With social media, the field becomes even broader and weirder. I’ve also got Facebook Friends who are outside any spectrum, any measure of political conservatism or liberalism. This last sentence can be read as “thanks to the First Amendment, people can spew poisonous nonsense all the live-long day.” Or “free speech is protected; freedom from bat-shit craziness is a pious dream for some.”

So . . . I’m a defender of people’s right to rant and rave while recognizing that’s what they’re doing. That said, I have grown tired of the word “treason” being used to mean “an act of which I strongly disapprove.” Just now, for example, my Facebook feed showed a picture of New Hampshire’s two senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, labeling them “two treasonous gutter rats” for not voting for a budget bill unless it included provisions for DACA participants. Now, I think it’s disingenuous bordering on dishonest for Democrats to use a government shutdown to force action on a particular issue, particularly given the party’s holier-than-thou rhetoric five years ago when Republicans did the same damned thing. Not only is it ethically suspect, I think it’s also politically stupid, for the inconvenience—real or imagined—of a shutdown will simply make immigration reform more difficult.

While I like the sound of “treasonous gutter rats,” I like accuracy and honesty more. As I understand the word, “treason” involves trying to overthrow one’s government. aiding its enemies in time of war or murdering its leader. Stupid, short-sighted political grandstanding is not treasonous; it is stupid, short-sighted political grandstanding. Using the harsh and crime-tinged label “treason” simply cheapens the word, which carries, by the way, the death penalty as a possible punishment.

Before you send me notes of support, my Democrat friends, let me point out another hyperbolic use of the word treason. In Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury, Steve Bannon calls “treasonous” the meeting at Trump Tower among Russian emissaries, Russian attorneys, Russian translators, Russian pop-music impresarios and three high-ranking Trump campaign officials, two of whom are related to the president. That meeting was not treasonous, for we are not at war with Russia (cyber doesn’t count), and anyway they discussed adoption of Russian babies. Trump, Jr., Kushner and Manafort may have been criminally stupid, but they were not treasonous. No matter what laws they may have broken, they are not traitors and should not be shot.

And what a happy thought that is to begin the week! In these two cases, neither Democrats nor Republicans are treasonous and bound for execution. I do dearly love my country and its possibilities, but I’m often reminded of Chesterton’s “Saying ‘My country right or wrong’ is like saying ‘My mother drunk or sober.’”

Undated Journal Entry #17

I’m shocked—pleased, but still shocked—at the positive responses I’ve received for bits out of my journal. I mean, when I try to write well and thoughtfully, the response is, “That’s nice,” but when I throw stuff out from long-ago journals, I get praise. Go figure.

I suppose the lesson to be learned is, “You make it way too hard,” but that’s a double-entendre not even worthy of Michael Scott.

* * *

When I drank, I had lots of transitions just like that. I’m sure you’ve heard of blackouts, but you may not have understood what they are.

Normal people, if they drink too much, PASS out—they lose consciousness and go into a sleep-like state, waking up hours later with a huge head and a nauseated stomach.

Alcoholics of my type, if they drink too much, may pass out, but once the disease has progressed to a certain point, BLACKouts are much more common. Instead of having the good sense to shut down, the alcoholic continues to function as normally as a drunk person ever does, with one fairly major difference—he has no idea that he is alive or is doing any of the things he’s doing. I have spent entire evenings in a blackout, where I stop remembering anything at, say 7 p.m., but know by reconstruction of evidence, that I didn’t sleep until midnight. That evidence might be the testimony of people I encountered, dirty pans showing evidence of cooking or unexplained credit card bills. (In one summer, I blackout-bought about five-thousand dollars worth of stuff online—including a large-screen tv that was delivered a week later, much to my surprise.) One thing I know: I’ve never heard of an act of charity or a selfless action committed in a blackout.

In addition to blackouts, almost as scary (or more, in some cases) are GRAYouts, where the alcoholic has vague memories of what he did the night before, like seeing randomly-selected clips from a movie—no direction, no plot, just snippets. Even worse, he has interspersed with these memories all kinds of things that never happened—and he can’t sense the difference between true and imagined memories. Wow, I don’t know what got me going on that. The words just started flowing and wouldn’t stop.

* * *

Sometimes, and now is one of those times, my brain forms “poems” that are nothing more than silliness broken up by spacing. As Robert Frost would say, “Free verse is like playing tennis without a net.”

Not Saying What You Don’t Mean (and writing about it)

A. Conan Doyle never wrote, “Elementary, my dear Watson!”

B. James Cagney never said, “You dirty rat.”

Humphrey Bogart never said, “Play it again, Sam.”

P. T. Barnum never said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.

Please write five things you never said.

Don’t say them. Just write them.

Now choose one of these things.

Write a poem, story or essay to explain why you never said it.

Read your work out loud.

Now tear it up because you’ve said it.

Begin again.


* * *

Poetry Awaits—Just Add Inspiration!

Thank you for applying.

You have been accepted

The Clara Barton School of Battlefield Medicine,

Poetry-Writing Division,

Welcomes You.

Once your check has cleared.

Below are the pieces you will use to build your first poem!

This is an exciting moment for you.

Be breathless.

Now, remember to breathe.

Use each of the following sentences or phrases in a single poem.

Feel free to add other ingredients

Before baking.

1) Flying pigs used to be rare. Before last Thursday no one had ever seen one.

2) Sorrow flowed, along with blood.

3) The bones that weren’t crushed in the fall poked through my thih.

4) Dying’s not so bad, except for having just dial-up internet.

5) I’d never liked the way Felicia looked at my baseball-card collection.

Submit your completed poem,

Stapled to a fresh 50-dollar bill

To Clara Barton . . .

And await further instructions

* * *

Three Ideas in Search of Structure


The very first bomb

dropped by the Allies

on Berlin during World War II

killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.

What were his thoughts

When he glanced up

And saw that lion-sized

Black metal tube?


Please number and write 25 completely true things about yourself.

Tell no one of your task.

Carefully, very carefully, tear the truth into 25 slips

Hide them throughout your town

Hide them throughout your house

Hide them throughout your pockets

How many of them return to you?

These are not the truth.

How many of them remain hidden?

These are not the truth.

How many have you forgotten?



Get comfortable.

Stretch. Breathe. Burp. Whatever it takes.

Relaxed? Good.


Try to say the alphabet

without moving your lips

or your tongue.

Every letter sounds exactly the same.

How can you use this information to your advantage?

The disadvantage of your enemies?

Why do you have enemies?

The Tiny White Box Receives a Huge Gift! (and I’m not sure I like it)

It’s just before three on a Saturday afternoon, and I’ve just arrived at the Tiny White Box in the Great North Woods after a nine-day trip to civilization, or Southern New Hampshire at least. Each time I’m gone for more than a few hours, I worry I’ll arrive home to find a window broken, snow blown over the floor and bed, or the doors frozen shut, or heavy snows having shattered the skylight, or the electricity out, a downed power line outside the door. So far, except for having broken off a lock key—longtime time readers will remember my whiny recounting of that adventure—I’ve always returned to a home that remains my Tiny White Box.

Until today.

I discovered a serious blow to my solitary life, a slap to my hermitic face, a forced attack on my writer’s retreat. Some bastard left a bushel of progress at the Tiny White Box, and I didn’t have the opportunity to refuse to sign for it. Let me explain.

In my previous life, not just at Liberty House but going back until, say, 1995, I’ve loved and embraced technology. From our first computer, a Compaq Presario that did little but replace my typewriter and eat up hours of my wife’s and my time playing Myst, I’ve enjoyed each new personal iteration.

In 2004 my daughters were 12, 10 and seven, and I’d grown tired of being a one-man tech-support team, regularly removing bloated software the girls had downloaded along with the latest free game. Since I was writing a book at the time, and the computer was my means of production, I bit the bullet, and we switched from PC’s to Mac’s, a decision that’s paid off in hundreds of hours of saved time, along with a smug superiority that I can’t shake. When I was at Liberty House, we became a Mac shop, and it’s a decision I haven’t questioned for a minute. Likewise, I’m an iPhone guy, although here I’ve more sipped than swallowed the Kool-Aid, lusting occasionally over the personalizability of Android, and having been a strong proponent and consumer of the jailbreaking era.

So, I’m a guy who doesn’t know really anything about how technology works but has excitedly accepted that it does work. Still, life in the Tiny White Box has meant shedding 95 percent of my physical possessions, and, germane here, ALL of my instant internet connectivity. As you may remember, the main cabin at Warriors@45North has Wi-Fi offering a circa-1997 dial-up connection, and Treats and Treasures, a variety store three miles away, offers fast Wi-Fi. Also, my phone has zero connectivity north of Colebrook, 45 minutes south of here.

Strike that. Change the tense of that last sentence. “my phone HAD zero connectivity.” When Sam (is a dog) and I got out of the car this afternoon, my phone alerted me I had a text, something I’ve never experienced here. While we’ve been gone, apparently, a new cell transmitter has gone on line, and now my iPhone 7 Plus has three solid bars. Damn!

No longer can I rely on my own memory of Napoleon’s exile to Elba—or at least my memory of the history of it—or a quote from Hemingway or the spelling of Eppa Rixey’s name. I can look them up and get them right. It’s not that I object to fact checking, it’s the rabbit holes I enter during the process. If I could stop at knowing that Emperor Bonaparte was on Elba from 1814 to 1815 and leave it at that, I’d be fine. I can’t. Napoleon leads to the Napoleonic Code leads to Hammurabi leads to the Hittites leads to Jerusalem leads to Mediterranean beaches leads to Moorish culture leads to . . . a wasted 45 minutes.

On the positive side, I can now keep in touch on a regular basis with my daughters, my friends and the world at large. Good things.

Still, I miss my enforced ignorance already.

Please Turn Off the Alarms:  Two Words are Just Two Words

In the two-word phrase of the immortal Phil Rizzuto, “Holy Cow!” About 90 minutes ago, I posted a column, a relatively short one consisting of a brief update and an old, undated journal entry.  In the update, I used two words that appear, based on emails and texts I’ve received since, to have caused great and grave concern.

Those two words were not “cancer diagnosis.”

Those two words were not “paternity suit.”

Those two words were not “suicidal ideation.”

The two words were separated by a comma and were part of an eight-word phrase describing the folks I’ve met with during my trip south: “friends, attorneys, reporters, and a bunch of drunks.” Friends and bunches of drunks aren’t the issue, but the two words in between them seem particularly powerful.

attorneys, reporters.”

Before my friends, family and bunches of drunks have a meltdown, let me offer assurance that I am in no trouble, legal or otherwise, and that the conversations with reporters are related to the Tiny White Box, writers’ retreats and my plans for the future—not to any legal issues.  The conversations with attorneys were completely hypothetical, and in one of them we spent way more time discussing warfare tactics used by the Romans than the hypothetical.  Regular readers will not be surprised we also discussed the history of Durham, NH, the Washingtonian Movement of the 1840s and 50s, and the importance of the First and Second Great Awakenings.

I do apologize for conjoining two words that together seem to have such power, but I’ll admit to having a blind eye and ear to some things. Now that we’ve all calmed down and had a nice cup of tea, let’s just enjoy the weekend.  Sam (is a dog) and I are looking forward to returning to the deer, the cold and the Tiny White Box.