After a certain hour most nights, there's no question that I seem to become functionally illiterate. That's why I can't get nearly the amount of pleasure reading done that I'd like. After five minutes of trying to read (regardless of position) I'm done, off to dreamland.

So unless it's a weekend or vacation, I usually have to depend on others to tell me about the various books of interest out there. One of them is Margaret B. Thornton's "Charleston," which I've heard is interesting and entertaining - particularly if you happen to be from 'roun yuh' and recognize all of the places and perhaps some of the characters (with names changed to protect the characters.)

And ditto for the new books by Virginia and Dana Beach.

Speaking of plugs, here's one for Professor Richard Porcher, the prolific writer, naturalist and historian who will be featured by the Charleston Library Society and the Agricultural Society at a Sept. 11 talk about his latest book on the rice culture. Go the Library Society website for details, or call.

On a separate matter and pertaining to issues of general annoyance, it's gotten to the point where we rarely answer the land line phone at home any more. Between recorded announcements, old political robocalls, solicitations and so forth, it's just not worth picking up the receiver. We'll end up checking the answering machine late in the day and 90 percent-plus of what comes through is trash.

The worst are from credit card companies - those "urgent" phone calls to "update your account." They come in at least three times weekly. A letter to the editor recently explained how to handle these types of calls and I wish someone would refresh my memory. Even the cellphones are starting to get infiltrated despite our having called a number to prevent that type of thing.

About as aggravating is spam email. It used to be pretty easy to unsubscribe - just a click and that's it. Most of the time that still works, but more and more there's the requirement to go through the added layer of typing in your email address to "confirm." It's the spammers' hope that the inconvenience will stymie completing the unsubscribe process so that they can keep sending. What a pain!

Oh well, what better way to unwind from such distractions than through the meditations of verse. A few weeks ago I mentioned "Lowcountry Poet" Joseph (P-nut) Johnson. P-nut, a well-known character, has been writing poetry for years, and I had the privilege of sitting in for a reading at the County Library a few weeks ago. Here are a couple of his favorites (used with permission), in the author's own folksy style.

So, wow! Look at Charleston now.

A hotel in every corner

And many bars and restaurants in between.

Carriages everywhere and tourist every day.

Streets crowded by day and night. But is this right?

Well honey it's all about money.

But then I walked across Calhoun Street uptown

and I see anger, poverty and violence.

No silver, no gold.

So let's break the silence and try to stop this anger,

crime and violence.

So let's get together, throw away the frown and all

of Charleston will be like downtown.

Hello you can give love

You can be in love

You can be hurt by love

You can share your love

You can try to buy love but

None of that any good until

you yourself has been loved.