Friday, December 15, 2017



 
—GOD I FEEL LIKE HELL TONIGHT



Yard Sale
 
My body is having a yard sale tonight
but there are no takers
even though everything is free.
My gently used fingers tap
the table they’ve been set on
Morse Code or the beats to Let It Be
making a curious granny nervous.
I don’t blame her.
These feet have walked miles
like everyone else’s
but I’ve been too frightened to cut the toe nails.
My neck looks so much longer from this angle,
so much stringier, like a loaf of beef jerky.
The eyes are still brown and bloodshot,
two mini-moons bobbing in a jar of gazpacho.
Everyone wants what’s in the locked box.
They shake it and listen for clues
surprised by the lightness and lack of bounce.
I haven’t told them there’s no heart for sale.
That it was ripped out long ago.
I haven’t told them there’s
a ghost of me inside that box
365 breaths for every day
you ruined me.
 

 
Just Look

Soon it will be too dark to hold you
and owls will rule nations, bats on dialysis.
I’ve learned how slippery that makes things
but there are reasons fate is an aloof prom date.
Just look--even the moon has become impotent.
Colors melt like sugar-free snow cones.
Trees experiment with self-mutilation and
the mountains are suddenly into anal.
You said Before Anyone Else
as if you actually meant it
as if you’d invented it.
Have you noticed how
an icicle can become a weapon?
How anything can?
Need proof?
Just look at this pillow pressed
over my mouth,
so fresh and clean
right out of the dryer.

 
 
If I Was A Better Liar

Inside me there is
a smeared window.
No one’s to blame.
Or someone is.
My mother said I
make too much of rejection
but some of the most
complicated men among us are
boys inside their head
looking for a prom date
or pistol.
If I could shoot straight
that’d be one thing.
If I was a better liar I
might not be on my knees
confessing to an orphaned moon
about the  unfinished poem
I’ve become.
 
 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017



 
—WOULD’VE THOUGHT YOU WROTE DOWN EVERY WORD


..."I’m sorry you misunderstood" is something you never want to hear.

…I’m a million different people from one day to the next.

…Sometimes we think we are only observers.

…At a certain point in my childhood one of my brothers had an ant farm in a glass aquarium.  It seems odd he was allowed that.  I remember staring at the tunnels and busy ants.  They were always in a hurry and seemed to be on a great mission.  They had agency and a purpose.  Isn’t it ridiculous to be jealous of an ant?

…Cold only feels cold at first, until it fades to numb.

…A whimper is an interesting noise.  It can sound cute or passionate or it can sound like pain.  That’s why you have to see it when you hear to know what it really is.

…I’ve never been to summer camp, but I’ve heard a lot goes on there.

…Mom loved the Mourning Moon, and said it was her friend.  I hope so.  I hope it’s my friend as well.

…Sometimes it’s so sunny outside, so beautiful on the lake, that even a guy like me can’t stay depressed.

…Sometimes I’m like all those insects that keep slamming into my window, thinking it’s air when it’s actually unforgiving glass.

…Sometimes people treat you like a forensics experiment, them trying to solve a problem, ensuring they’ll be an expert witness someday at the trial.

…I’ve been acquiring new versions of myself and hoping they’ve got thicker skin and better manners.

…If being humble doesn’t work, stick with it.  Be patient.

…I give all the credit to my old friend, Cabernet.

…It’s nice to be told when the coast is clear.

…“Ollie, Ollie, in free!”  That’s something I like to hear.

…I really hate The Minnesota Goodbye, but when I’m older I might regret hating it.

…What I do here is for me.  It’s cathartic, psychobabble.  I guess I just need someone to talk to.  Doesn’t everyone? 

…Most of the time, I’m thinking I’ve got fifteen people who actually read this, and twenty-something bots.   Tell me it’s not so.

…Strife is an old-fashioned word.  I like the sound of it but not the meaning.

…It’s strange how the game has changed but the people playing it hasn’t.

…I can handle a few tears now and then.  It’s the buckets I have a tough time with.

…I better read between the lines in case I need them when I’m older.

…Gravity is working against me.

…That’s bleak as hell, or maybe it’s beautiful.  You decide.

…I’m going to need your help.  We’ve got a long trip ahead of us.

…For what it’s worth, I really care about you.  I do.

Monday, December 11, 2017



 
—SEEMS LIKE YOU’VE GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT


…I try not to ask for too much.

…When you’re raised on promises you have certain expectations.

…What about all the times you said you had the answers?

…Every now and then I get a little scared of listening to the sound of my voice.

…The thunder keeps getting louder and louder.

…Here’s the thing though—earlier in the day I hauled our bottles and cans back to recycling.

…You know me, I’m sentimental.

…I’m sorry I put your good shirt in somebody else’s free box.

…We’re moving in unison, hands feeding machines, the sun on our backs.

…We all know what moving is like.

…I’m here to help, just ask me.

…That smell reminds me of the day after a good bender.

…Maybe I was staring after all.  You know how I am—curious.

…Walk with me and I’ll hand over the whole set of keys.

…I’ve got to get back to fixing this tattoo.

…I wonder why I like words so much.

…It’s just one lone tree, but that’s enough to remind me of trees I knew when I was a kid, childhood, and I feel okay about it.

…Who do you think about when you step into the dark cave and are basically blind?

…I’m a man willing to live with my mistakes.  What other choice is there?

…I’m good.  I just can’t do myself.

…One is time released, one isn’t.  One’s long lasting.

…I’m being careful but maybe that’s where I went wrong.

…Sometimes I melt into this crazy shy riot of need.

…I know I said I’d be home, but things like this come up.

…Who do we ever know, really, past the skin?  How do we get there?

…I forgot the sun would still be shining, but there it is.

 

Saturday, December 9, 2017




 
—SO MUCH WASTED TIME


…Sometimes it chooses you instead of the other way around.

...Why does anyone say Gone for good unless they mean it as a good thing?

…Mom and Dad were a closed system, busy with each other.  We, their kids, were their living conversation.  So there’s that.

…We used to ignore birthdays in our family.  My mother said they were bad luck.

…I’ve overcome my dread of my birthday.  I think birthdays are good things and that it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate them.  However, I think celebrating anniversaries is more important, and not just wedding anniversaries.  Anniversaries represent milestones.  If you’ve got one coming up, I hope you celebrate big time, and, oh yeah, Happy Anniversary.

…How do we even talk about that, the loss of something so special and important?

…All around me people are working hard to meet their obligations.

…People are mysterious.  Like how do you sit on an airplane with nothing to read, nothing to do?  How do you just sit there for three hours?

…If you let me, I can be your human shield.

…Physical evidence cannot be intimidated.

…Here’s what was said: “You’re a shy one, aren’t you?”

…Here’s what was also said:  “You keep saying you’re broken, but maybe you’re broken because you say you are, because you think it.”

…If you can’t move past it, push the boulder away from the grave, it’s bad news for everyone involved, not just you.

…Sometimes it’s hard to put up with people who are always Pink Clouding.  Sometimes you want them back feeling the way you feel.

…Some people try to turn you into the show they want to see.

…A year is more than just a unit of time.  It’s about all the people you spend that time with.

…It’s not exactly an emergency, loneliness that is, but it’s worth having it checked out.

…I feel the need to stay neutral yet engaged, sort of like Switzerland.

…Whatever you do in life, whatever age you are, it doesn’t matter if you think it doesn’t.

…Ricochet, go ahead and fire.

…Yes, I know my fingers are thin and soft, but I’ll still hold on tight.  I will.  I promise.

…It’s easy to confuse who someone is with what they do.

…Here’s what I try to tell myself: Even when things are going wrong, it still seems like everything will be okay.

…Sometimes I just need to get out of my own way.

…If you keep drinking there’s never a hangover.

…The difference between a connoisseur and a wino?  The connoisseur takes it out of the bag.

…If I can’t tell you, then who can I tell?

…Again, don’t try to make any sense of it.

…That’s all I can say.

 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017



 
—HERE YOU ARE AGAIN, AND SO AM I


…Hey, I’m back.  Thanks for waiting for me.

Milwaukee was just as fun and thoroughly enjoyable as I’d thought it would be.  There are few things better than having the kinds of friends who you feel naturally at ease with, where you’re comfortable enough to trust them with your good stuff and the bad.

The only problem with that is since these are long distance friends and I don’t get to see them often, sleep gets eschewed in order to be around them as much as possible, for as many minutes as possible.  So yes, I’m a little comatose, yet I wouldn’t change a thing.



…And because I hadn’t had enough fun in Milwaukee, the very next day (yesterday) I went to Deck The Hall Ball with my daughter, a mini music festival featuring six bands that began at 3pm and went to around midnight.

There were 11,000 people in attendance, the sweet spot (age-wise) being 23-30.  I didn’t see a single African American.

I did see some firsts—the lead guitarist for Portugal. The Man (yes, that period in their name is actually supposed to be there) was in a wheelchair.  That seemed pretty cool, but of course you never want anyone being in a wheelchair.  The other first was the piano player for The Lumineers.  He was barefoot the entire performance and often traipsed around on stage, bouncing atop different pieces of equipment.

The bands were all very different from each other.  Odesza was a mash-up of Blue Man Group and some very gifted techno band on steroids.  I was surprised how good they were, how incredibly entertaining.

But of course the highlight was the last band, one of my top three or four favorite musical groups of all time—The Killers.  It was my first time seeing them and I was worried they wouldn’t meet my expectations, which they didn’t, because they exceeded them.

Brandon Flowers is a beautiful man, but he’s also an ardent performer.  He sang his guts out, as did I, right along with him.  There were only two songs I did not know all the words to.
 


…So the fun is done for a while and now it’s time to get a rhythm back.  Today’s a big day for me...

…But Bud the beaver just swam by.  I always take that as a good sign.  I haven’t seen him in a while.  There’s so much fog on the lake I can’t see the other side.  But I can see a nearly-full moon out my window, which I also always take as a good sign, the moon visible during daytime.

…I hope your day is fabulous.  I’m pretty sure it will be.

 

Friday, December 1, 2017



 
--JUST HOLD ON LOOSELY, AND DON’T LET GO


…In a few minutes I’m headed to Milwaukee to spend the weekend with three of my favorite people on the planet.  It’s certain to be epic.  One of them I haven’t seen in nearly a year.  It’s terrible when the people you love most live far away.

On Saturday we’re doing a reading with some other writers.  I’m not a fan of reading in front of an audience, but I’m going to give it my best.

I tried to find a happy story to read, which isn’t an easy task for me, as you know.

This is what I decided to read (it’s about as close to a happy ending as I get):

 
                                                          Brothers

             The meds my brother takes no longer work and now I often find him carrying on conversations with the couch, just him talking to the sofa as if such a thing was completely normal.  Lately he’s become smitten with my wife’s parakeet.  He’ll kneel down in front of Piper’s cage and whistle off key, something that sounds like Beyonce’s, “If You Liked It Then You Should Have Put A Ring On It.”

            At night in bed my wife tells me she’s worried.  She always says this. 

            “This time I really mean it.”

            “Patrick?  He’s fine, just nuts is all.”

            “It’s only a matter of time before he does something dangerous.”

            “Patrick wouldn’t hurt a fly.  Don’t you see the way he is with Joni Mitchell?”  (Joni Mitchell is our calico, given to us as a wedding present last year.)

            “He recites The Gettysburg Address to Joni Mitchell, over and over and over.”

            “Yeah, isn’t that something?  I can never remember past the first sentence.  Four score and seven years ago, our fathers--”

            “Len!  Len, stop it!  There are places equipped to handle people like him.”

            “Yeah, expensive places.”

            “I married you, not your brother.”

            “What are you saying?”

            “I’m saying he’s a burden I didn’t sign up for.”

            “Is that an ultimatum?”

            “I guess it is.”

            True to her word, my wife moves out two days later.  The divorce papers come a month after that.  Then it’s just Patrick and I.

            When we were kids Patrick taught me how to ride a bike, how to ice skate and roller skate, how to fish, how to throw a perfect spiral.  When I read him poems I wrote (poems I have since re-read and now realize are absolute shit) he listened intently, never laughing, always finding something in them to praise.

            Our dad died when we were toddlers.  It wasn’t until seventh grade that we learned Pops hadn’t had a heart attack after all, as Mom had told us, but that he’d hung himself in the garage.

            The doctors I’d spoken to said this discovery had nothing to do with Patrick’s mental illness, but he started to spiral downward about then, streaking through downtown wearing only a cowboy hat, boots and underwear.   Another time he tried juggling watermelons in the produce section at Safeway and made quite a mess.  Another time he reached into the glass box of puppies at PetCo and let them loose inside the store.  Another time he…

            One day I’m at work when Mrs. Hitchens, my neighbor, calls and says I should get home as soon as possible.

            My boss is a dick, but I need the job in order to take care of Patrick and pay alimony, so I feign sickness and speed home where I spot Patrick on top of the roof in my wife’s old baby blue bathrobe and fuzzy slippers.  Not only that, but he’s got a fishing pole with him.  When I get out of the car, he grins and gives me a parade float wave.

            I start to think maybe my wife was right, that perhaps Patrick is getting more dangerous.  Still he’s my brother.  We’ve lived our whole lives together and when Mom died I became Patrick’s guardian.

            I go into the house, change out of my work clothes, find a ladder in the garage (how did Patrick get up there without a ladder?) and carefully climb the slanted roof where my brother sits on the center beam. 

            He doesn’t seem surprised to see me, nor does he mention the fact that I’ve change into a robe and slippers and have my own fishing pole.

            “Getting any bites?” I ask.

            “Just clouds so far.”

            “Maybe you should change your bait,” I say.

            “You think?”

            “Can’t hurt.”

            We cast every three minutes, our lines looping over the gutters below.  Eventually Patrick snags one of my ex-wife’s azaleas from the tiny garden by the porch and reels it up.  He whoops and whoops, the happiest I’ve seen him in a long time.  I laugh, too.  I tell him, “Let’s go fry that thing up and have us some dinner,” and he flashes me that grin again, saying, “Yeah, and we’ll split it.”

 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017



--IT’S JUST ME AND THE WHISKEY


…We tend to fight the next war the same way we fought the last one which makes us prisoners of our own existence.

…It’s very difficult to dispel ignorance if you retain arrogance.

…Fun is a big word, if you think about it.

…Most times life is an unguided missile dressed up like a bulbous cloud that looks like a husky elephant doing a jig.  It’s pretty difficult not to get sidetracked by a cute sight like that.

…I’m not a big fan of instructions.  Words rarely look like the things they designate.

…Clearly I am a private person and, quite possibly, I am a fool.

…What’s past is past.  One could leave it as it is.  And still, on the other hand, there are all sorts of after effects.

…From gavel to gavel, the answers land with impunity.

…Often I feel myself rocking between the sky and the land, somewhat akimbo, and twitching.

…I’ve heard it said that “You can’t step into the river twice” but then I think: don’t believe everything you hear.

…But wouldn’t it be nice to believe everything you hear and not have to question the validity of it?

…Quite often I wonder how I get by.  Like, how did I even make it to the airport on time?  Find my key?  Find my gate?  Get to the hotel?  There have to be merciful angels out there.

…I have left so many things on airplanes—a brand new Discman, laptop, phone, car keys, books, books, books.  I’m sort of like a skinny Santa when I leave a plane.

…I’ll be honest and admit that my major writing goal is to create something that outlives me.  Weeks and months go by and that still hasn’t happened.  I know I shouldn’t think that way.  I know it shouldn’t matter at all, yet it does to me. 

…Often times having an outlandish and egotistical goal will only create prolonged constipation.

…Almost no one knows it, but I had a third book published.  There’s only one copy, though, and I have it.  It’s called MY UNCERTAIN SEARCH FOR MYSELF.  I didn’t title it that, someone else did.  It’s a pretty slim volume, like me.  The cover is a winding highway with cloudy-but-blue skies.  I wonder how they know me so well.

…Don’t think I don’t see what you’re doing.  I’m not colorblind.

…Sometimes I am Silly Putty and other times I’m just putty.

…Sometimes I have to remind myself:  That’s my depression talking, not me.


…They say whiskey’ll kill you, but I don’t think it will.  I’m riding with you to the top of the hill.