Wednesday, May 25, 2016



--WAIT FOR ME.  JUST WAIT

 
…It’s Wednesday, but it doesn’t feel like it.  Doesn’t feel like I’m as old as I am, either.

…I had a couple of poems, one—The Never-ending Now—I really liked published.  They’re here about four from the top:


…So, since it’s midweek, here are some things to ponder:
 
 
"Leave no doubt in people's minds why you are here." --Morghan King.

“It is the history of our kindnesses that along makes the world tolerable.” Robert Luis Stevenson

“If you don’t write a Paul Simon song, who will?” Phillip Glass to Paul Simon

“Twenty years of schoolin’ and they put you on the day shift.” Bob Dylan

“If we think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s the light of an oncoming train.” Robert Lowell

“Thank you for a lovely weekend.  They tell me it rained.” Kay Jamison

“I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.” E.M. Forrester

Oscar Wilde: Do you mind if I smoke?
Sarah Bernhardt: I don't care if you burn.


"I have noticed that folks are generally about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Abraham Lincoln

"My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart." Maya Angelou

“Just for the record, the weather today is calm and sunny, but the air is full of bullshit.” Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, May 23, 2016


 

--LAST NIGHT THE STARS THREW ELBOWS

 

                                               The Boy with Breasts

 
The pool was murky and foul, but not deep enough to hide his shame.

He jumped in anyway.

His mother had demanded it, wouldn’t allow him to go swimming with his shirt on either.  Her wasp’s eyes wore swirls and x’s in them when she was angry or exerting power. 

“For an hour,” she shouted, as if none of the other tourists would hear.  “You’ll stay in there for sixty minutes, no less, or until you make a friend.”

The boy had no idea how he’d gotten them, but his breasts were considerable, about the size of Robin’s, his rotten cousin, who was eighteen and at least a C-cup.

Under the gray water, they looked like baby seals or liquid loaves.  They seemed to swim by themselves, floating so grotesque apart from his frame, yet monstrously attached to it.  There were many times he imagined hacking them off with a butcher knife or chain saw, guillotining the things and then subsequently bleeding to death while his amputated breasts flipped around his feet like suffocated sea bass.

At school kids called him all sorts of names.  Most thought he was a young she-male.  He wasn’t allowed in restrooms.  More than once, he ended up nearly being strangled by braziers other boys booby-trapped to his locker.

Fifteen was not so hard an age, he thought, for a kid with normal anatomy.

At the resort now, he stuck to the shallow end of the pool even though that’s where the dead bees and backwash collected.  A swollen diaper the size and dim pallor of home plate kept bumping up against the side ladder, as if it were alive.  Occasionally, a kid sputtered by wearing arm-floaties or being propelled by a parent and, though harmless enough, the boy with breasts would sink low and hold his breath and open his eyes in the bleak, streaky water, waiting until the figures passed.

In the few remaining photos, his father was only ever shown from the shoulders up.  If the deformity had been hereditary, the boy would never know.  He was far too ashamed to ask his Mom for details, and besides, the woman was a pathological liar.

When he popped to the surface, the boy nearly rose too high.  He caught his breasts and trapped them underwater as if they were disobedient dolphins.

“Hi ya.” 

He’d come face-to-face with a girl who owned a nice smile and some chin acne running like raspberry juice across her jaw.

He dumped under again, the motion a bomb of water.  His heart was a small animal, yet it booted him in the chest hard so his breasts wobbled like restless jelly fish.

When he came up, she was still there.

“You sure are a water bug.  Where did you learn to hold your breath like that?”

“My grandmother was a turtle,” he said.  He wished he could lie as fabulously as his mother.

“That right?”

“Yeah.  One of my aunts was a dyslexic mermaid with an eye tic.  The other aunt gave birth to twin salmons.”

When she grinned, he spotted a purple glob of gum.

He wanted to be more interesting.  Sometimes the truth was stranger than lies, so he thought he’d try that out on her.  “My dad accidentally set himself on fire.”

“You’re full of it.”

“He did.  Honest.  It was a faulty barbeque or something.”  The boy with breasts pointed across the pool to the lounge chair where his mother was sucking down another cocktail.  “Mom got a settlement.  She drags me here twice a year.”

“That really sucks.  I mean, about your dad.”

Not as bad as having boobs, he almost said.  This girl reminded him of elastic sweat bottoms and he didn’t like feeling so comfortable with her.  He went under.

When he came up, she asked, “Why do you keep sinking?”

“I’m part frog.”

“You’re an odd duck.”

“Yes, I’m one eighth mallard.”

Laughing, she choked on the gum.

“If you like aquatic things, you’ll dig me.”

She took an inventory of him, scanning the parts she could see—everything from the neck up.  Her eyes were like a blind person’s fingertips tracing his face.  It gave him goose flesh and made him squeamish.

“Hey, wanna go down to the beach?” she asked.

Hanging over the hotel turret, the sun poked its head out and winked at him.  He liked the sun.  Of all the things that lived in the sky, it was his favorite.

“Thanks, but I’ve gotta get back to the room.  I promised I’d babysit my little brother.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

She nibbled her lower lip.  She was actually awfully cute.  He hadn’t let himself realize that before.  “What are you doing tomorrow?”

“Probably just be here, in the pool.”

She smiled.  “Me, too.”

He watched her lift herself out of the water.  She glistened, blonde and thin, with breasts smaller than his.  She flipped him a wave.

He could almost make out his mother’s snoring all the way on the other side of the pool.  She usually sounded like a dryer with a heavy load.  He watched the rise and fall of her chest.  She was a mere A-cup.

Tonight he’d develop stomach flu, blame one of those pesky Mexican parasites he’d heard about.  He’d spend the rest of the week in the room.  But he’d make good use of that time, like an inmate studying law. 

He’d figure a way to become brave, or how to live with himself.  There was still time to start again. 

 

         Layers

 There are signs everywhere, and each one, in its own vernacular, proclaims that my wife is evil.

Someone pelts the car with a ball of red paint.  A protestor cracks a windshield.  The police escort doesn’t seem to mind.

They hate me for a different reason, because I am supporting my wife.  That makes me just as bad, no different than if I’d been the one who drowned the twins and Ali.

For the first few weeks afterward, I fooled myself into thinking there was a way out of this, some chance of a reversal.  The sun kept coming up, dealing out new days, and for me, sunrises had always signified hope, fresh starts, so I bizarrely believed in an escape route, some sort of time travel which would rectify the horror that had been done.  Desperate men can get nutty.

Lately I have been replaying scenes in my head, dusting them off and inspecting them like an archeologist.  I always come away with nothing, however, just the agonizing dread that I should have known, should have seen symptoms or elemental triggers in Meredith’s moods.

My therapist pointed me to reality.  Meredith had been calm.  The day it happened, she’d been planting flowers in the garden.  That morning she’d started a batch of banana bread.  She’d kissed me goodbye, said she loved me.

The lawyer explained that I wouldn’t have to testify.  Meredith wouldn’t either.  They had her confession and the evidence.  I don’t know what would happen if they put me on the stand.  I doubt I could form a meaningful sentence.  Anymore, it’s as if I’ve had my tongue cut out.

The clerk at the hotel said, “How can you live with yourself?”  He was a young punk with chin acne, but he was angry nevertheless, and a manager had to come out to finalize the transaction.

Once inside my room, I put the suitcase on the bed and walked into the bathroom.  It gleamed white.  The air inside was tangy with the hint of glass cleaner.

I stared at the hollowed out basin, not much different from ours except that safety anti-skid strips ran down the length.  The faucet had a wide mouth.  I got in and turned both knobs on full.  The water slapped at my skin and my clothes stuck to me.  I tried to imagine what it would feel like to be held under, to know that the hands doing it belonged to a woman who was also my mother.  I tried, but could not.

On the bed in my bag was a sundries kit with a razor inside, a pair of scissors.  I could have ended it right then, but I needed a different resolution.

At the courthouse I’m pulled through a mob as if I’m some stubborn mule.  The cacophony of voices, some shouted from reporters, some from furious townspeople, is like a chorus of spears. 

They bring her out in handcuffs and leg irons.  Meredith’s hair is thin, her skin gray.  Her smile when she sees me is hot shrapnel ripping through my chest.  The crowd sees this and gasps.

My mind flicks.  There’s my Meredith, the first time I meet her, at the book store, sipping  cappuccino foam in the poetry section at Barnes and Noble.  I see her at Lamaze class taking cleansing breaths.  I see her reading to the twins, one bundle tucked under each arm.  I hear her voice sing a shimmery, “Hush little baby don’t you cry.”

I don’t see a furious struggle.  There is no water.  No pounding or panting, no screams.  I wish there were, I do, but all I see is the woman I fell in love with, swaddled, wearing layers and layers of forgiveness.

 
   

    I Used a Capo
 
            This is the dress I wore to prom when Ryan Hoff gave me his flask and Ty Phillips bumped me and fruit punch-mixed-with-wine spilled across my chest and shawl.

This is the mouth I eat with.  Sometimes this is the mouth that sends food the other way, violently, usually on days when I need to fix something.

These are my eyes, so dry from not crying, like wooden peach pits.

Touch this spot on my neck.  Isn’t it smooth?  My cat, Macaroni Cheeses, always rubs his head back-and-forth, back-and-forth there.

These lips are chapped by the wind but mostly from my constant licking.  3.01 people have kissed them so far.  (The decimal is for Father.) 

These fingers are long and bony, with gnarled knuckles, like string beans, yet they have drawn some pretty pictures.  The best of them won a prize.  It was a sunrise made to look like a belly carrying a somersaulting fetus inside yellow and pink swirls.

This is my room.  I keep the lights low.  Even the two lava lamps seem to whisper with their radioactive gleaming.  I’ve allowed them to hypnotize me before.  I pretend they are Day-go goldfish and give them Swedish nicknames.

This, well, this is not a birthmark, but a scar.  I’ve seen other people who have one.  Mine is a long, gray dagger that runs off the page of my face to my neck.  I grow my hair longer on that side so it will act as a curtain for the public, but when I’m home, I put my hair up in a pony and stare at the way nature has welded the scar tissue together so that it resembles an earth worm or chowder.

Listen up.  Here is a song I wrote.  I used a capo for the first time to get the high notes aligned.  The song is really just a tricked-up love poem that tells the story of my life.  I don’t have the ending completely worked out yet, but so far I’m pleased.

 
     

 

 

Friday, May 20, 2016


 

--WHAT WE DO IS WE GIVE OURSELVES A CHANCE

 
…Hey Friday, what’re you doing tonight?  Me, I’m going to see Billy Joel.

..I had a quite a few pieces accepted the last couple of days (974) and a few things published:




…Joanna C. Valente, over at Luna Luna Magazine listed my book here, which made me feel very nice:

http://www.lunalunamagazine.com/blog/9-amazing-books-that-will-make-you-believe-in-books-again

 …Someone else passed this along, which is old, but also made me feel nice:


…And since it’s such a nice Friday, with the weekend upon us, I’ll leave you with these little gems:

“Don’t confuse progress with winning.  If the world is improving at ten percent and you’re improving at two percent, you might be improving but you’re losing.”

“My mom grew up on a farm during the Great Depression.  My dad grew up in an iron-mining area of upper Minnesota.  They taught my brother and me two lessons: There is no substitute for hard work.  And work before you play.”

“Buoyed by water, he can fly in any direction by merely flipping his hand.  Under water man becomes an archangel.” Jacques-Yves Cousteau

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Picasso

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” John Steinbeck

 “My belief is that art should not be comforting; for comfort, we have mass entertainment and one another. Art should provoke, disturb, arouse our emotions, expand our sympathies in directions we may not anticipate and may not even wish.”
― Joyce Carol Oates


“It I only had a brain.” The Tin Man

“I’m never as lonely as when I’m inside a crowded room.” Michele Filgate

“Every life from the inside seems like a record of failure.” George Elliot

“We all move uneasily within our restraints.” Kay Jamison

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do wrong, but by those who sit by and do nothing.” Einstein



Wednesday, May 18, 2016




IT SEEMS RIGHT THAT SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS A POND CAN HOLD US BOTH

 
 
Menagerie

There is seam in this bottle
Straight as a cesarean scar
Where the two glass halves kiss
I would like to be constructed like that
Bound and connected to another thing so perfectly
Outside on the dock by the lake hatpin girls
In string bikinis absorb midday sun
Believing it will cure something
Camouflage or strip away certain sins
So boys will see them differently
I’d like to tell them not to be so foolish
That perfection is a manmade hoax
A menagerie in photo-shopped magazines
But then I shouldn’t even be looking their way
Men under twenty maybe yes
But not a derelict fifty year old like me
The sexiest thing close at hand is
This table littered with drained Coronas
And an ashtray without ash
Gleaming like a colorless eye
Empty but for a gold wedding band

 

Hand-painted

Someone left an infant on our lawn
Near the rose bushes my wife thought
Would make this shack look less tacky
Now the child eyes me unafraid
Though I must look like a redwood to it
Gurgle and coo, spittle spraying lips
It tries to tell me something
Its name or how it got here perhaps
My wife doesn’t think this is funny at all
“First you’re talking to yourself and now this?”
I clip off a few stems, find a vase in the house
My wife is nervous, so I tell her
“Geez!  I was only kidding.”
Outside the next day the child’s still there
I know it’s all in my head but
I give her a name anyway
The same one we’d chosen for our girl
Letters hand-painted on the wall
In an dusty room upstairs
Where no one ever goes

 

Seams

I keep looking for you in the seams
In the spring air flocked with cottonwood spurs
That look like bees dying from old age
I get it—you are not meant to be found
It’s called freedom for you, punishment for me
Juliet was only thirteen and Romeo two years older
You’d said, You don’t understand true love
Because you never had it with Mom
I look for you now on a bus in a train car
At the station at the food store
In a cathedral where I pray for the first time
Hoping forgiveness is not a hoax
And that this is only temporary
Like all the bee husks littered on the lawn

 

Note

Early morning five am
And I have to coax the sun out of hiding
There’s frost on everything
Even the blood-red oven coils
The coffee hisses catlike
And the furniture whispers behind my back
On the bathroom mirror is the note
You left in wide lipstick letters
Saying This time I really mean it

 

What Is True

Your lips are on mine
Tongues entwined
Like steamed goldfish
Swimming upstream
Toward warmer water
Where light explodes
Fireworks over a lake
Cliff edge dangling
The peak of an orgasm
As we both rise and writhe
And the moment takes pause for us
To catch our breath
Before being the first to speak
Saying only, “Yes.  Yes.
More please.”

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, May 15, 2016



--I’M DOING MY BEST TO WORK THROUGH THIS

…It’s early Sunday night.  I usually post Monday, Wednesday and Friday but I’m getting a jump on things because things have felt shaky of late and I need to get on track.

…Someone once told me they were the loneliest person I knew.  I’m thinking they might have been the second loneliest.

…Anyway, people on Facebook are either angry or very happy, or needy, and sometimes clever and funny as seen here:

-(After Trump sewed up the nomination): If you're a citizen of a country other than the US, or you have dual citizenship, I'm just reminding you that I'm SINGLE!!! #‎desperation

-My grandpa started walking five miles a day when he was 60.
Now he’s 97 years old and we have no idea where the hell he is.


-"My wife told me sex is better on holiday… that wasn’t a very nice postcard to receive."

-Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you are donating blood.

-A Buddhist monk goes up to a hot dog stand and says to the vendor, “Make me one with everything."

-I bought some new shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with, but I've been tripping all day.

-I know that many of you are having lovely Mother's Days, but if you're not, that's okay. It's a tough job. I just yelled, "That's not funny! We don't touch people when we have poop on our hands!"

-Earlier today Liam told me that sometimes our hearts crack, but we get new ones

-Not only are we made of stars, but so is your skirt, apparently.

…And there are these things I like a lot for various reasons:

“Be a tireless champion of other people, because that’s the point, the only thing we’re here for, really." Amber Sparks

“Things are beautiful if you love them.” Jean Anouilh

“In the end, we all come to a screeching halt at the same intersection and wait for the light to change.” Michael Maxwell

“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.” Hafiz

“Find the things in the world that buzz with vibration. Let their dragons rise.” Antonia Crane

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Exhaust the little moment.
Soon it dies.
And be it gash or gold,
it will not come
again in this identical
disguise.”
--Gwendolyn Brooks

“I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I never had belonged to anything or anyone else.” Marilyn Monroe

...I hope you have a fantastic week...



Friday, May 13, 2016


  

 
--I WISH YOU’D WALK IN AGAIN.  IMAGINE IF YOU JUST DID.

 

What I’m Remembering Right Now
 

Your fingers made me different,
the gentle probing, the pruning of my hard edges,
the way you wrote code across my skin
when we were young and Lennon lived.
There are nights when I still feel the rim
of your fingernail carving letters down my spine,
a sonnet or something lovely,
something that might have even rhymed.
But the days have out-danced me now.
I’ve become bone instead of flesh,
sour-smelling and slack.
A nurse comes every other hour.
Her hands are rubber-gloved and fastidious.
She’s always seems to be in such a hurry.


 
Clinging to Loose Edges

When you called me
the worst thing that ever happened in your life
I should have stepped away,
stepped into the path of an oncoming semi
or leapt off a tall building.
But I lingered instead,
clinging to your loose edges
like an infant in need of suckling.
Your mother called me foolish.
Your Dad just laughed till he pissed himself.
Your brother spat out a wad of something brown and sticky,
said, “This one’s not recyclable,”
while cocking his head with a wink.

 

Holiday

What I keep forgetting
are the false holes we would fall through,
how sometimes I would float as if in quicksand,
a trapped target or piƱata,
your face as ripe as eggplant,
telling me I should have been aborted,
should have been tossed in a dumpster
where milquetoasts like me belong.
But it’s May again,
so I take out my phone and call.
Before you even say hello,
I rush in to wish you
Happy Mother’s Day.

 

The Archer and the Pheasant

Dad is drunk again while
we are looking for ways to molt.
After dessert,
one of us is to hold an apple out at arm’s length
because Dad’s become an archer.
The thing is, he’s not kidding.
Gravity is an issue, so there’s some stumbling
against the kitchen counter, a jar knocked over,
a beer bottle broken.
“Go on,” he says, nudging with the bow.
I pick a watermelon instead,
since he won’t know the difference.
“Purrfect!”
There’s a first miss, and a second miss
that shatters a window over the sink,
spraying shards that nick my ear.
Still, I hold the melon in my palm
like an offering or docile monkey
while thinking about the pheasant I saw in the backyard earlier,
its rust-colored feathers,
the blood-red webbing around its wide eye,
how it cocked its head and seemed to say,
Good for you. You’ve survived so far.
When the arrow finally lands,
guts and seeds and juice splash my chest,
smell of sugar and summer filling the air.

 

Storm Lake at Night

The beaver,
dogpaddling across the lake,
is a decent friend of mine,
barely disturbing the water,
going his own way like a stubby raft
coasting toward the setting sun.
He hasn’t said a word for days,
leaves the fish alone most times.
He has other things on his mind--
a tree that needs slaying,
a damn that needs mending.
If I asked him why you left me
he’d probably say
it wasn’t even my fault.

 

Fishing

This is the perfect place
For drowning
Have you noticed?
It’s deepest in the cove
Where someone demolished
The beaver dam of evergreen limbs
Laced like arthritic fingers
Beneath the green-gray murk
Take the chain and tie it around my waist
Synch it tight because
I’m so thin now that people think I’m dying
Toss me overboard with an anchor
Count to one hundred backwards
Then float to the other end
Where all the really big fish
Are bored and biting