Wednesday, August 16, 2017



--EVERY DAY THE GRASS GROWS OVER ME

…You can’t judge a book by its cover, but I'm telling you, you can almost always judge a story by its title.

…There’s a hole in the ceiling where the rain comes in, yet the sun can’t seem to find it.

…I’d like to laugh more.

…Do you ever wonder what would have happened if Lincoln or Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated?  I do.

…I saw this really cute, tiny chipmunk the other day.  I’d forgotten how adorable they are.

…I wonder what God’s thinking about right now. 

…Several years back I listened to the entire Old Testament on cd’s in my car.  The cast was all African American.  Now, when I picture God, he’s Hattian with a deep baritone voice.  He often sounds agitated.

…When I was really young, around seven or so, one of my brothers dared me to shoplift and I did.  I stole a bazooka squirt gun.  I still feel guilty about that, yet at the time I really enjoyed the thrill of stealing.

…It’s pretty pathetic, but for a long time, when I was very young, the wind was my best friend.

…There’s not a soul out on the lake right now.  That’s pretty unusual.  I might swim across it this afternoon.

…“In between the moon and you, the angels get a better view of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.”—that’s one of my favorite lyrics.  This too--“I will follow you into the dark.”

…If you really think about it, sleep is a strange thing.  I wonder what it would be like if we didn’t have to sleep.

…If you repeatedly butt dial someone’s number, is that fate’s way of telling you that you should call them for real?

…Scott McClanahan’s new novel, “The Sarah Book” is pretty terrific.  Read it if you can, but be forewarned that it’s gritty.  I like the name, McClanahan.  It’s fun to say and there’s a lot of alliteration in it.  (A lot of alliteration is a lot of alliteration.)

…If you can, you should watch “Ozark” on Netflix.  It has Jason Bateman and Laura Linney in it, and it’s terrific and unusual.

…There were a lot of places in India that people with leprosy could go, but they went to Mother Theresa instead because she wasn’t afraid to touch them with her bare hands.  That says a lot, if you think about it.

…It’s tragic when your heroes let you down, but it’s important to realize they’re just human after all.

…What if I turn into Truman Capote and never write another thing?  That’s a terrifying notion.

…I took a novel writing class once.  The instructor said she doesn’t believe in writer’s block, that it’s just plain laziness.  I think she’s right, but still…

…I’m a little shocked (is it possible to be “a little” shocked?) that Brett Easton Ellis gets his books published.  They’re fascinating, but utterly gruesome.

…I think it’s important to have opinions.  I have a lot of them.  I just wish I wasn’t so cynical sometimes.

…Late in life, my father was prone to sentimentality that he never expressed early on.  He would cry quite easily at touching things.  I think I’m becoming him.

…They say letting go is the hardest part, and I think they’re right, whoever they are.

…I never realized how random I can be.  Not sure if that’s a good thing—my being random.

…I think my computer is trying to tell me something, but I’m not sure what it is.

…The problem with country songs today is they’re too catchy--in the same way popcorn chaff gets stuck between your molars, country songs get stuck in your head.  For days, they do.

…There was a time when I wanted to be a lawyer.  I’m really glad that never happened.  Pretty sure I would have sucked at it.  Pretty sure I would be miserable.

…The end of a story is as important as the start of it, if not more so.  That’s what I’m thinking anyway.
 
...We should all be completely honest, yet, if we were, wouldn't that be trouble?
 
...Let's just try some honesty and see how it goes.

Monday, August 14, 2017



 
--ONCE IN A WHILE, LIGHTNING STRIKES, AND IT’S A GOOD THING


…Hey Monday.  I’m ready for you.

…It actually rained here yesterday, the first time in 62 days.  It’s strange how you can despise something, then when it’s gone for a long time, you welcome it back with open arms.

…I’m feeling okay, like maybe I can write again.  The stone has rolled away.  My aim is to create all day and to appreciate being able to do so.

…I have a lot of flaws.  One is I’m not very good at sharing my bad things, the shame things.  I’m going to work on changing that.

…My dog, Lucy, is curled up under my chair.  It’s pretty adorable how loyal dogs are, how much they can love a human unconditionally.  It’s love in a different sphere.

…I need to stop thinking about mortality, although it’s helped me get busy figuring things out.

…I used to feel awkward and embarrassed to tell people I was a writer.  I’m not anymore.  It’s interesting, though, that when I tell them now, eighty percent of the people reply with, “I’m going to write a book someday.”  Everyone thinks they can write a book.  Not a chance.  It’s fucking hard.

…I’ve seen a lot of deer lately.  It always makes me happy.  They are so svelte and serene, languid.  Most of them have been really tame.  They move slowly and I’m able to chat them up.  They seem to hear what I’m saying.  I know how weird that sounds, but if you were there you’d understand.

…In high school, I was so shy I would eat lunch in the back of the library by the poetry section.

…When I was in the corporate world, everyone who knew me didn’t really know me at all.  They thought I was an extrovert, this guy who was comfortable in crowds, who was a great public speaker, who had a lot going for him.  It’s funny how wrong people can be.

…When I think about how old I am I never think I’m as old as I am.  Most of the time, in my head, I’m either nine or sixteen.  Sixteen is better than nine.  Trust me on that.

…There was a guy I worked with who had pool water blue eyes.  I once told him, “You have beautiful eyes.”  He looked at me like I was insane or someone to be feared.  It was very awkward.  Sometimes you need to keep the truth to yourself.  But the problem is I do that a lot.

…Most of the time I feel very lucky, fortunate and blessed.

…I worry about strange things, like the drug violence in Mexico, like the 30 children in India who died last week in hospitals because there wasn’t enough oxygen.  It’s probably unhealthy to worry about things I can’t affect.

…My mother was a complicated woman.  I hate how much she still lives in me, yet in a lot of ways she made me a better person.

…I used to believe “there’s a reason for everything” but not so much anymore.

…Sometimes you need to take a second look at things, and look very closely, even if it hurts.

…The one thing about God that always troubled me was where did God come from?

…My neighbor is building a shed that’s as big as a house.  Truly, it is.  Guys and their sheds/garages…  I’d like to build a big bookstore in my back yard.

…I think the worst thing about people is their ego.  It’s rare to meet someone who’s truly selfless.  My ego is a boulder I keep trying to toss over my shoulder, but it’s too heavy.

…Sometimes when I’m in my car I turn the stereo (is it still called stereo?) up as loud as it can go and sing along, shouting.  When I’m really angry, my go-to song is “Pocket Full Of Shells” by Rage Against The Machine.  Give it a listen.

…My big question about God is, if he is all-knowing, then didn’t he know Adam and Eve would sin, and if he did, what is all this other shit about?

…Once you realize there’s no going back, you have to try very hard to hold steady.

…The Hold Steady is the name of a band I was really into a couple of years ago.  Give them a listen.

…I sometimes think about Helen Keller and wonder how she did it.  What an incredibly strong person.

…I know I’m rambling here, but it feels kind of good.  You should try it yourself sometime.

…One of my favorite moments was when my son was young and saw a double rainbow.  He was pointing and bouncing up and down on the grass shouting, “Double rainbow!  Double rainbow!”  I don’t want to lose that childlike sense of wonder.

…One of my least favorite expressions is, “I’m just killing time.”  No one should kill time.

…When I grow up, I want to be authentically happy.  I’d like to know what that is.

…”Reasons for living, never come cheap…”  That’s a Duncan Sheik lyric.  It plays in my head often.  Same as, “I am barely breathing…”

…About his second album, my old Admin said, “Duncan has sunken.”  I thought was pretty funny and clever, yet also sad.

…”People should smile more…”  That’s a lyric from Newton Faulkner.  He’s definitely right about that.  Let’s try it.

…It’s a little alarming how much music means to me.

…”I am ready to say goodbye.”  That’s never something anyone wants to hear.

…”I really miss you.”  That’s something everyone wants to hear at some point.

…Sometimes I think I’m too easily fascinated.   

…I try to pay attention, but I could probably be better at it.

…From now on, I’m going to stop and smell the roses wherever they’re growing, even if I get stuck by a couple of thorns.

…It’s time for me to get busy.  Have I ever told you how grateful I am that you read my scribbles, whoever you are?  I am.  Grateful.  For you.

Friday, August 11, 2017



--THERE’S NOTHING TO COMPARE IT TO


                                                            The Clean White Pieces

 
            He watches his mother stare at the paring knife, squinting, staring a bit too long, puzzled by something having to do with the blade, or maybe she’s summoning past events, perhaps future ones.

            The boy, her son, her only living relative now, sits like a thin piece of driftwood on the vinyl chair.  Inside his mind he sees a sign.  It reads: RUN. 

But he never can.

When she walks around the counter and comes over to him, the boy’s heart is shooting rivers of blood through his organs.  She has the knife in her hands.  She moves it into the air.  It swings slowly.  Comes to rest a few inches from his face.  “Is that rust?  Can you see it?” she asks.

There’s no rust.  The metal gleams beautiful silver.  It is so clean it is almost white, white like everything else in this house, this kitchen—the cabinets and counters, the tiled floors, the ceramic dishes and porcelain cups.

“No, Mom.”

She jiggles the knife.  “Look closer.”

She must want him to see it.  His father had a spot on the back of his leg.  It was the shape of a jagged dime.  He scratched it a lot.  It got darker and swelled, grew into a big patch on his calf.  By the time he actually went to the hospital, the melanoma had leeched into so many places that the boy’s father died four days later.

Since then his mother is afraid of blemishes, stains, rust spots.  She has even shaved her eyebrows because she thought she saw the beginnings of a mole under the cilia-like brow.

“Well?” she asks, still waiting.

“Maybe a little.”

“Ha!  I knew it.”

While she scours the knife over running water, the boy thinks thinks thinks.  He is thinking but no fully-formed thoughts are showing up.  It’s just panic jabbing him with a molten prod.

He is twelve and hairless beneath his school clothes.  His mother makes him shower first thing every morning.  She inspects his body while it’s not even dry.  He knows now to pluck any hair that might appear because she gets disgusted if she finds one, looking at him suspiciously as if it might be the root of some burgeoning evil. 

At the door she stops him and he knows what to do without asking.   He parts his lips wide.  “They’re getting yellow already.  No more soda pop for you, and twenty extra minutes of brushing tonight.”

He nods and waits to be excused, wondering if she’s put back the knife, if it’s clean enough for her, if it will ever be.

She wrinkles her lips.  That is good.  That’s her way of kissing him goodbye without having to touch him.

                                                ***

Now it’s decades later.  The woman is dead by her own hand because of having sliced perceived moles from her back, shoulders, legs and bleeding out.

But she lives.  The boy who is a man can’t shake her entirely.  She is there in his nightmares, in sun-streaks that white-out portions of a window or his vision, in the blackest migraines that turn blinding white.

He watches his twins jump into a mud puddle, globs of thick, soupy dirt splattering their pink leggings and jackets.  They do it again and again, the mess worse each time.

“Eva!  Ruby!” his wife shouts, but he takes her hand decisively, holds it to his lips and says, “No.  It’s okay.  Really.  Let them.”

 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017



 
--DEAD OR ALIVE, IT STILL COUNTS.  RIGHT?

…How’s your middle of the week looking?  Mine is sunny and smoky.

Here are a few things I learned of late…

 -Over 465,000 children were reported missing in the US last year

-Nationwide, 2017 is shaping up to be Mexico’s most murderous year ever. There were more than 12,000 homicides in the first six months, including 2,234 in June, the highest monthly total on record
Mexico is reaching its deadliest point in decades. Even with more than 100,000 deaths, 30,000 people missing and billions of dollars tossed into the furnace of Mexico’s decade-long fight against organized crime, the flames have not died down.
May and June, the latest months available, set consecutive records for the most homicide scenes in the last 20 years.

-More than 2 billion adults and children globally are overweight or obese and suffer health problems because of their weight, a new study reports.
This equates to one-third of the world's population carrying excess weight, fueled by urbanization, poor diets and reduced physical activity.

The United States has the greatest percentage of obese children and young adults, at 13%, while Egypt led in terms of adult obesity, with almost 35%, among the 195 countries and territories included in the study.
While 2.2 billion people were obese or overweight in 2015, more than 710 million of them were classed as obese, with 5% of all children and 12% of adults fitting into this category.
An increasing number globally are dying from health problems linked to being overweight, such as cardiovascular disease.
Read More
Almost 40% of the 4 million dying as a result of their higher body mass index were not yet obese, highlighting that deaths are occurring almost as often in those considered overweight as those considered obese.
...And here are a few things I like midweek...
-"Perhaps love is the process of my leading you gently back to yourself."- Antoine De Saint-Exupery
-"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
-"Find a purpose in life so big it will challenge every capacity to be at your best."- David O. McKay
-"It is wonderful to be in on the creation of something, see it used, and then walk away and smile at it."- Lady Bird Johnson
-"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun."- Mary Lou Cook
 
 

Monday, August 7, 2017



 
--THE OCEAN WHISPERS LIKE A GREEN, SILK DRESS

 

                                                    The Confidence of Strangers

 

She couldn’t get the answers she wanted, so she fled, left her baby with her husband while trying not to think ill of herself.   She drove all night.  It felt good to be alone for once, no squawking infant, no berating husband calling her names like filthy and whale and beluga whale.

She had breakfast at a diner that smelled of bacon grease, toast and ammonia.  It looked like something out of the fifties, the waitress with her red and white gingham checked dress. 

A man at another booth kept staring at her.  It felt odd and unsettling but also refreshing.  It’d been a long time since anyone had seemed to notice her.

After a while, he came over and slid across the slick plastic seat on the opposite side.  He did this without asking permission, which was something her husband would have done, though now she welcomed the confidence of this stranger.

“You aren’t from around here, are you?”

She nodded.  It had been over a day since she’d uttered a single sound and still she didn’t feel like speaking, not yet.

“You the mysterious type?”

She nodded no again.

“Shy then, I see.”

She was shy when she was a young girl, easily trampled and fooled.  She went mute for two whole years and her mother made her pay for her silence each of those days.  Her mother’s favorite weapons were hat pins and a man’s long, leather belt.

The stranger watched her eat, staring as if she was performing a magic trick or something even more provocative such as masturbating for his pleasure.

When he started to introduce himself, she held up her hand like a stop sign.  No names.

After the waitress brought her check, the stranger withdrew his wallet and paid.  It was clear he wanted something in return and she wasn’t sure if she would oblige him.  Going out the diner, he took her hand in his.  Holding hands.  It made her feel girlish and wanted.

“You smell good.  Like flowers.”

She knew she didn’t, that he was making it up, but she didn’t care.

She walked with him through the parking lot toward the rear where they came to a large semi.

“This is mine.  I call her Pearl.”

The vehicle’s exterior was surprisingly clean given the winter slush on the roads.

“Wanna hop in?”

When he opened the door, she grabbed a handle and pulled herself up and the stranger got in on the other side and they both closed their doors.

“I like your sense of adventure.”

She wasn’t sure how this would play out, nor did she allow her mind to process any of the potential consequences. 

“Well, what’ll we do now?” he said, grinning, eager.

Behind the seats was a small area she guessed he used for sleeping on long drives.  He pulled the curtain aside and motioned and she went there with him.

He was gentle yet frantic, his mouth and fingers everywhere all at once.  He kept saying, “God but you’re a stunner.”

She climaxed without making a sound.  Silence was the only real weapon she possessed. 

He took out his wallet and handed her fifty dollars.  She must have looked surprised because he pulled out two fives.

“I run through here every second Tuesday,” he said.  “I hope to see you again.”

She left the truck without fanfare and walked to her car not feeling anything, or feeling dull and dead again.  The pleasure she’d felt now seemed like a trick, so fleeting.

She got out and paced back and forth in front of the diner.  It didn’t take more than thirty minutes before a stranger came out and said, “You looking for a date?”

When she nodded, he took her hand.
 
 

Friday, August 4, 2017


 
--SENTIMENTAL GEEK, SHUT UP AND GO TO SLEEP

 

                                                               Flight Risk

 
I am six and I am sad and I am on an airplane by myself because Mother has sent me away again, this time to Uncle Daryl’s farm in North Dakota where there are more cows than people and where Uncle Daryl will make me cut my hair, put on overalls and tell me, Toughen up, Little Shit, even though I am six and a girl.

The lady, Susan, with the blue uniform and name tag seems nice and I want to ask her if she’s a mother and if she ever sends her children away whenever she brings a man over for a long stay, but I’m too shy and nervous and my stomach is growling like the mean black lab the neighbors have and I’m worried the fat-bellied man next to me will hear.  I don’t want him to notice my stomach sounds or me at all but he keeps stealing looks whenever I open up my Anne of Green Gables book.  I don’t know much but I know it’s best to stay away from men because a lot of them are bad men who want things they shouldn’t.  The fat-bellied man is so large his thick, hairy forearms are almost over in my seat, same as his gut which is pushing hard against his shirt buttons.  If he touches me for real or even says anything I am going to scream until the lady, Susan, comes.

I have seventy-five dollars rolled up inside my knee highs.  Ten of it came from Mother and the rest from Pop Pop, my grandad who likes to call me Fruit Loop and pat my bottom.  I’ve never had so much money in my life and it makes me nervous though I am rich now and should be feeling on top of the world.

From my window seat I can see the land below so flat and neatly scarred up, laying there like the stretched out animal hides Mother’s last boyfriend had hanging in the basement where all the crates of puppies were lined up one after the other, cute puppies mewling like they wanted out in a hurry, which I couldn’t blame them. 

I don’t understand how airplanes work, all these people on board, all this weight lifted up into the sky, but then I don’t understand a lot of things like why I haven’t started first grade or why Mother calls me “special” then laughs and laughs, especially when she’s drunk, which is most of the time.

The lady, Susan, comes down the aisle and asks if everything’s all right, so I nod and try to make my lips grin, though I’m not sure if it works.  She says we’re going to land soon, which makes me even more nervous.

I look out the little door window again and find a cloud that looks like a floating elephant.  I give it the special power of granting wishes and I cheat and make it grant me one and so now I know it’s okay to get a cab at the airport instead of calling Uncle Daryl as I’ve been instructed.  I’ll be strong and sure for once and tell the cabbie to take me to a place where they treat little girls nice.  I’ll give him a big tip if he does.  Then when I get there I’ll show the kind people some of my scars.  I’ll tell how I got them.  I’ll tell them all the other stuff, too, even if it makes me cry.  Then I’ll say, “I’m not ever going back,” and I’ll really mean it this time.

 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017



 
--ARE WE WRITTEN IN THE STARS?

Making Beauty

Let’s make each other beautiful
The moon wants to be our chaperone
And the wind will serenade us
With her sweet songs
Come press your skin on mine
Do it anywhere please
Let’s kiss like we’re auditioning
For a marriage license
Tell each other why there’s a reason
The stars shine for us
Let’s start again
Everything on repeat or
New this time around
Let’s watch our souls coalesce as
We make each other beautiful
And immortal
 

 
Teenagers Kissing

I want to be kissed like that
Washed in moon glow
Under starlit jewelry
Head tilted to head
Lips pliant and resolved
To work as long as it takes
To convey that such a precious feeling
Is neither fleeting or fantasy
But rather the very thing that makes
Life worth living

I want to be kissed like that
By you
First mornings
Last nights
Over the phone
Under the table
Under a bridge
Under the underpass
Baby don’t see how badly
I wanted to be kissed by you

 

Firefly Hunting

And now we are nine or ten
And you are my first crush
Your little girl eyes big and brown as root beer
Your limbs still gangly but shorter of course
We’re out on someone’s lawn after dusk
Hunting fireflies with Mason jars
And butterfly nets
The air smells like lilacs and willow trees
It feels like a kitten brushing fur across our faces
Fluffy soft and nearly ticklish
You are so beautiful it hurts to look your way
For more than a second or two
“There’s one!” you say, your mouth dancing with glee
And it’s true
A squiggle of light flips across your head just out of reach
When I jump up and catch it
I feel brave for once
Almost grown up and responsible
A boy/man with bills to pay
In my palm the firefly glows like a premonition
Or luminous tarot card
With the words
SHE IS THE ONE FOR YOU
Written there
Only I can see it
The message meant for me
The way you are
The way you were
And always have been

 

Today

Today has taught me that
Today might not be enough
That we want more
That we are greedy by nature
And while I respect the wisdom of scripture
Love is not like the Bible tells us
Rather it is entirely jealous
Has to be
Ought to be
Love wants a second helping
A third and a fourth
Love will reach through the cracks
Of a rundown asphalt street
And grab you by the ankle
Because it is that thirsty or famished
Love will sit by a fire
Willing to throw itself atop the blaze
If that’s what you tell it to do
If that’s the only way you can keep warm
Love is a prism of duality and paradox
Both malleable and as solid as diamond
It is the one thing in life
That there is never enough of
The one thing I need
Most from you