Wednesday, October 10, 2012


...I listened to Meatloaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell” on the treadmill this morning.  Talk about a rock opera.  Some clever writing there.

…Tomorrow I go to Portland for crony time.  Tonight I’m going to a poetry reading at Park Place Books in Kirkland.  A friend is reading and I might read as well.  If I do, I think I’ll read “Apples” which was published in Xenith Magazine.
It’s pretty much 100% autobiographical.


A murderer’s hands is what I always thought,
the berry-stains having settled into the whorl of my fingerprints and
under the jagged canopies of my nails.
I’d scour my skin with steel wool that looked like a ball of pubic hair
but showed no mercy as its metal bristles
ripped away the evidence.
I had tried to pick with gloves once but it slowed me down
and, despite my young age, I was the fastest of them all,
adults and veteran immigrants.
In the fields was the closest I ever came to being king.

Ragamuffins, we had nothing
yet we were rich in summer.
I was anyway,
my berry-picking money so light yet a weight slithered inside a back pocket.
Juice splotches marked the bills like blood bombs,
still that was George Washington’s face regardless.

I had brothers but not friends.
Even the Mexicans kept their distance,
me skinny and tall enough to be a monster to them,
some white boy Godzilla.

Just before dusk
I had the habit of passing through the weed-wasted cemetery
that butted up to our trailer park.
It smelled of sewage and clay and
the cadaver gray headstones looked like absurd slices of toast
or doors sinking into the sun-baked earth at an angle, aged and crippled,
waiting to be handed a brace.
Some had been sprayed with graffiti,
fake neon names slurred across the chiseled real ones,
though no one seemed to object
or ever even visit.
I’d establish relationships with the dead,
befriending them in a way I’d never have the courage to do in real life.
Lawrence Lemley, deceased 1956, became a wise uncle,
Ida Schwimmer, 1932, my sixth grade teacher.
I courted a few of the girls that I expected had been pretty,
one who’d died a year older than me. 
She had eyes the color of a Holiday Inn swimming pool and hair brown and bouncy like root beer.
I told her I was going to be rich someday.
I explained it was berries now, but the real money was in apples.
Once I could find me an orchard that’d take a twelve year old, I’d be set, I said,
and I felt myself blush a fire
when she answered with a whisper that
she believed me.

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