Chokes and Warbles, a book of essays and poems by Michael Channing

This is a collection of poems and essays about a lot of different things. Childhood, fatherhood, depression, joy, frogs, ducks. We'll take a trip to Acid Park and touch the car two people died in. We'll catch one of the last Alice In Chains concerts in the summer of '93. We'll wonder how all the alternate versions of ourselves are getting along. We'll boil our own pee.

Let's freeze this moment and look around at what we would otherwise miss. It's all unraveling, you know. Not even the heavens will stay put.

Chokes and Warbles is available as a download or physical paperback from Amazon.

Scroll down to read a sample from the book.


One Christmas, I got the best present a nerdy kid like myself can receive. I got a chemistry set.

When I tore off the paper and saw all the science happening on that box, my first thought was, I’m finally getting me some superpowers.

But, alas, the chemistry set did not contain recipes for web-shooters, or strength potions, or even ninja smoke bombs. It did come with instructions for an experiment in which you mixed a solution of water and cobalt, and then performed a test that would demonstrate the presence of cobalt, thereby proving the hypothesis that science sucks.

I went to the library in search of some experiments that were a little more interesting, a little more dramatic, a little more incendiary.

But, instead of a chemistry book, I accidentally checked out a book on alchemy instead. In case you don’t know, alchemy is what chemistry used to be before OSHA came along and screwed it up. Alchemists would set things on fire and not even wear goggles. They probably made ninja smoke bombs all the time.

I read about the guy who discovered phosphorus for the first time. Phosphorus, of course, is an element that glows in the dark and, under certain situations, will explode. So, of course, I decided to make some in my bedroom.

I tried to replicate his experiment as best I could with the materials at hand. He took two ingredients, put them in a crucible, and baked them at a high temperature. Bam! Phosphorus. I didn’t have a crucible, so I took those same two ingredients, put them in a test tube, and held it over an open flame.

It is at this point I should probably reveal those two ingredients just happened to be sand…and urine. I had a lot of both.

Turns out I failed to take a couple of things into consideration. One, the scent of boiling urine. And two, the speed at which that scent would fill a trailer home.

My mom caught whiff of my little experiment and burst into my room demanding to know why the entire house suddenly smelled like a ballpark bathroom.

And I, speaking out of genuine pride, said, “No you can’t get mad. I’m doing science!”

I held my creation up for her to behold. “Look what I made. It’s…” Right then my faith in alchemy began to falter.

“It’s…” And then it was gone, but still, I had to maintain.

“It’s blackened sand! That smells like piss! Eureka!”

As the shadow of a very near-future whipping crossed my mother’s face, I assessed my exit possibilities. I was in a trailer. Behind me was the bathroom. Between me and the closed window was a desk and its tall cubby shelf of books and computer equipment. My fate looked grim.

But then, light pierced the darkness as I slowly realized that in my left hand was a perfectly good, and perfectly usable, ninja smoke bomb.

Grab your copy and hold on to whatever brings you joy.

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