Friday, November 28, 2014


…It’s raining a million lacquered fingers where I am.  The lake is moving left at a heady clip, the surface looking like gray glaze atop a huge pie.  A lone duck bobbles and wafts, letting the current take it where it wants.  Somehow I kind of identify with that duck.

It’s Friday or Sunday or September.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s none of those.

What matters is I’m breathing, you’re breathing.  There’s plenty enough air for all of us.

The water we drink is the same water Moses and Napoleon drank, only regurgitated and reprocessed by nature.

Everything is a flat circle.

And now the rain sounds like a stampede.  It has urgency, agency.  It seems to want something, seems to want to do damage, yet it’s only water, it’s a scrawny little kid yearning to bulk up so he can defend himself, catch the attention of girls, not look so puny.

No one’s home across the lake.  There could be a power outage I don’t know about.  That happen often out here.

I wonder if everyone of us has secrets we’ve never told another living soul.  Do you?

The clouds look like fog, their edges blurred, but they’re moving in the same direction as the water, like a convoy, as if on a mission or an attempt to secure their safety.

A few days ago I sat at a restaurant overlooking the river.  It was moving fast, too, at least fifteen miles per hour.  Logs and bunched up piles of heavy detritus floated by, looking like small islands.  It was hypnotic and somewhat scary.  I kept expecting to see a body float by.

When I was young, about eight or so, I used to spend a lot of nights in the bathroom, sitting over a heat vent, reading.  I had insomnia at a young age and the bathroom, with the heat warming my legs, felt like the only safe place in the world.

There are reasons for living, but they don’t often come cheap.

Have you ever been to Iowa?  A lot of writers go there in hopes of becoming better writers.  I went there once for a weekend.  I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.  I think it was good stuff.

Can you detect a hint of melancholy?  Of course you can.  Sorry about that.  Maybe I’m depressed.  If you were depressed, would you tell someone, or would you hide it and therefore make yourself more depressed?

Children and babies are probably the best things in the world.  Their eyes get so big.  They coo and gurgle like a mountain spring.  They kick their chubby legs and shake their flabby arms.  It’s adorable.  It’s something to think about, to remember, whenever you’re feeling blue.

I swam across this lake once.  I wonder if I’ll ever do it again.  Maybe this summer.

Death is such a strange notion, don’t you think? 

My grandmother in-law died yesterday.  She was almost 99 years old, so everyone thought she had a great life and her death wasn’t as hard to take as if, say, she’d died at 60 or so.  But death, yeah, it’s kind of heavy and weird.  It’s a little bit like God or the universe.  What do you do with it?  How do you reconcile it with what you feel and think?

I’m okay over here.  Don’t you worry about me.  And sure, I know I’m rambling, but it felt good.  Now I’ll go downstairs and get some coffee and everything will be normal again.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014


…I think I’ve finally overcome the funk I’ve been in for a few weeks now.  I’ve been writing finally, writing lots of dark poetry that feels like journaling. 
It’s helping…

Ignoring the Monster

Let’s not talk about broken rainbows or
the bruises around our daughter’s eye sockets,
the man/the monster she’s chosen over us,
his hoarfrost breath
bleeding hairy fog
across his cereal bowl
this morning
while the house is as still as stone
yet trembling inside its bones,
you on your way to a deposition in Great Falls,
me afraid,
afraid of myself
and the monster,
together and separate,
fearful of damage that cannot be revealed by skin alone.
Instead let’s pile dishes into the sink,
rinse and swirl blue milk down the drain,
dry our hands on a white towel,
kiss our once-little girl on the cheek,
nod goodbye to the monster without making eye contact,
collect our things,
collect ourselves,
and start another day fresh.

At Any Given Moment

I lived with monsters once,
not knowing for sure if I was one myself,
not knowing which of us would be the preferred target
at any given moment
because danger can be seductive
and sporadic.
There were times when
I saw curls of fur
waft in the air
after an assault
on one of my siblings,
Dad’s sweat spackling the basement floor,
screams banging off the ceiling like wailing sirens,
a black-tongued leather belt lashing the air and skin
on skin
again and again
until I bawled like a newborn
with no breath to take.
An accessory is what I was then,
made into a monster nonetheless,
because the blood of a monster was the
blood that broiled inside of me.
Oh, but that was a lifetime ago.
Tonight at the dinner table,
two months removed from the funeral,
I finger a tuft of fur
inside the well of my pants pocket
beneath the dinner table,
thumb and forefinger working the monster’s fur as if coaxing out a genie
or starting a Boy Scout fire by hand.
I fork scalloped potatoes across my plate in muddy, taupe smears.
I clip four wilted peas diagonally on all four tines
and slur a gaudy self-portrait over the dish.
My wife asks why I’m so quiet lately.
She yawns but says
I really need to open up,
that talking often helps.
She says, “Memories are frail flags.”
Then adds,
“I t probably wasn’t half as bad as
you think.”

Mommy Issues

If all the bad men in my life
got together in a single room
they would resemble a woman
who looked precisely like my mother.
She’s been dead for years now
yet she keeps showing up
in the smirks and smears,
the croaky cigarette coughing
of men bent on anger
and destruction,
baring bad wrist tattoos
and knuckle hair gleaming like black spires under the lamplight,
deer guts glinting purple-black off their skin.
A therapist might have a solution.
“Oedipus,” he’d say.
“You were simply in love with your mother.
I see that a lot, especially in men your age.”
But how wrong he’d be.
How wrong.

The Duty of Memory

One last time to remember K-Mart
and stealing squirt guns we’d never stock with bullets,
Dolly Parton and Buck Owens warbling
some kind of honky-tonk over steel guitar
while cigarette smoke wafted like steel wool clouds in the car
as Dad drove drunk around every winding curve the night
we were to pick up my brother from prison.
One last time to remember that tooth ripping punch,
the one that brought blazing sirens to our trailer park,
cops and EMT’s,
while inside we went at it nonplussed,
Chinese torture,
Three-Quarter Nelson’s,
brass knuckles to the groin.
One last time to remember running away,
house fires,
garage fires
and kneeling on rocks in a corner with our hands up,
praying we could hold the stance for sixty minutes,
sixty minutes or else.
Tonight the will is executed,
legally expired,
and with it
all those scorpions
that have been tunneling inside for years,
finally relenting,
releasing me
from the
brutal duty of memory.

What Makes You a Man

It all comes back in black and white,
the same as our old TV,
the one with the fake, wooden frame
and nobs as big as flapjacks,
someone’s blood on the paneling that could be coaxed off with a rag.
an arrow shot through the window above the kitchen sink,
eating canned army rations like some ragged, alley cat,
Dad saying quite deliberately,
 “Eat up, you little fucker.
This is it.
This is what makes you a man.”

Monday, November 24, 2014


…I get Word-a-Day.  Do you?  You should.  You can learn new words or figure out what the words you thought you knew really mean.

Here are a couple I like:

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1. the distribution of light and shade in a picture.
2. Painting. the use of deep variations in and subtle gradations of light and shade, especially to enhance the delineation of character and for general dramatic effect: Rembrandt is a master of chiaroscuro.

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1. of doubtful authorship or authenticity.
2. Ecclesiastical. a. (initial capital letter) of or pertaining to the Apocrypha. b. of doubtful sanction; uncanonical.

…I had some tiny bits published in Gigantic Sequins back in 2010 when I used to write and write and couldn’t turn off my mind.
People on Twitter keep reposting the pieces.  I guess they must like them, or I don’t know why else they would do that.
Anyway, here they are:

She says she has a new diet, that she will only eat words from now on. I say, “Worms?” but she corrects me. She fills her bowl with adjectives. She floods her plate with plurals connoting paganism. Or maybe she means plagiarism. I get so jealous. She is one of a kind.

I am lines and glyphs and a face full of folded things. I walk on stumpy stilts. I need a cause to fight for. You told me once, “I believe in you.” People used to think the world was flat and now such a notion seems silly insanity. If you place your hand here, dip a finger into its gooey center and have a taste, you might be able to understand me.

My trachea is a leaky boat spilling saltwater as well as my secret impulses. These, they bob and throb beside bluewater veins and slippery shells, fragile but not yet broken.

The Dead Sea
She laid me down in a bed, in a bath of oily holy water stole from foreign soil. I felt compromised. My eyelids reflected on the surface, looked like unshut doors, windows left open for lurking burglars wearing gloves so as not to leave prints. When I dream now I mostly float. The salt is briny but it brings me luck.

One omen is that Mother hums now, a feline, a heater, a planet twisting wrong in its dark orbit. She irons shirts and underwear. Her hair is frosted, her lids glossy lime. There was a time so long ago, when I was maybe an embryo, that she needed me.

Today I woke and learned that I can no longer speak. My tongue is gone. My mouth is a hole, a rictus, a well. Drop a penny down to hear the splatter. Make a wish for me, please.

My Confessions
These words are my organs, pulsing and spilling sloppy over my skins and blank pages and choruses. I have urges that frighten me. Lean your head here and try not to tremble.

His breath tells stories, glories, never boring but always lethal. The stains on his striped overalls are permanent. They are.

I have possessions I want to share, little origami items with prophecies stuffed inside. When I try eating them, they show up the next day, dry and smearless. I wish I could find a person in need. I wish I wish. I wish I were more like my possessions: clearly written and meaningful.