Wednesday, December 30, 2015


                                                 Strawberry Fields Forever
            We get there before the rooster crows, before the Mexicans have even arrived, the sun glowing like a stubborn blister over the upraised nub of distant plains.
            My brothers are slumped in the backseat of the station wagon, arms folded as if in strait jackets, asleep, Denny trombone-snoring, Robby’s nose an off-tune harmonica. They both have gobs of drool sliding down their jaws.
            Mother’s head is turned toward the window, as if there’s something of interest outside, though it’s just acres and acres of strawberry fields forever. Her hair is stacked high like a blonde fern with a scarf tied over a good part of it. She’s got a cigarette pinched between her fingers as she almost always does. The smoke twists toward her cheek, wisps the color of moths massaging her skin, but then it floats up and away, eventually absorbed into the hood of our car.
            Mother says to the window, or to me, “Look at that jackass.  What a poor excuse for life.”
            She’s talking about Jack, the foreman. He’s drunk already, or leftover drunk from the night before. I watch him stagger and sway, splattering piss across the ground, jeans drooped below his hairy buttocks.
            “What a pig. A fucking pig.” Mother’s voice is coarse, low, like a man’s.   
            I wonder if she knows I’m listening. It seems she does, yet most times it’s like Mother’s talking to herself, speaking the things in her mind.
            I saw her kiss him once—Foreman Jack—by the left side of the trailer while we were lined up to get paid for our flats. I can’t recall what made me look, why I stretched my head east instead of west, but I did see his mouth jump toward her proffered lips, Jack’s tongue a purple salamander, wriggling. It was somewhat savage and immediate. I think my mother may even have spat on Jack’s face after the kiss, though I can’t be sure.
            “Fucking renegades,” Mother says, as the trucks and make-shift buses pull in sending whorls of dust devils into the air. “They’re ruining our country.  Before Nixon’s out of office, they’ll have taken over.”
            Men—short, stout men; men wearing too much clothing for a day that’s destined to be sweltering; bronze-skinned men; shy, slow-moving men—they hop from the back of the pickups with similar pounces, then turn to help the next one off, their hands upraised.
            I’ve always found the Mexican people to be kindest on our planet. None of them here know much more than a few bits of English, but each time they pass by me, I always get an “Hola” and a smile.
            “They have their own fucking country. Damn right they do,” Mother says, reading my mind, a trick of hers. “They come here, never pay any taxes, steal our jobs, live on the Uncle Sam’s dime, and do you know why?” She’s still facing the window. Her cigarette is mostly all ash, curling like a gray talon. “Because it’s too harrr-ddd in Mex-eee-co. Because they’d rather get their goddamn handouts from us.”
            I don’t reply, don’t speak, just let the nervous silence settle in between us on the vinyl car seat.
            I’m wondering when she’s going to give the signal for us to get out, collect our punch cards and empty flats. She rolls down the window, tosses her butt, digs inside her purse and retrieves another cigarette, lights it with a squint that prunes the skin around her lips, inhaling then exhaling a broom of smoke. 
            When she opens her eyes, she’s staring at me and a sharp chill bites the back of my neck, but I keep my gaze set. I know better than to play chicken with her, yet for some reason I don’t feel like letting her win today. She reaches her hand up to my face and I think she’s going to caress my cheek or maybe slap me, the latter she’s done plenty. Instead, she snaps her fingers on the edge of my nose. It gives me a start. 
            “Dumb little shit,” she says, nothing in her expression, neither malice nor glee. “Wake your brothers. I’ll pick you up at two.”
            I’m the youngest and I know I look the most like him because I keep the sole remaining photo of him in an old box insider the trailer where we live. In the picture, Dad is nearly as skinny as me now. He’s wearing high-waisted trousers synched with a thin belt and a silky looking short-sleeve shirt. His black hair is slicked back and he’s leaning against the hood of a gleaming old Chevy. He’s deep in thought about something, eyes narrowed, forehead creased.  I’ve always wondered what was on his mind that day and if it was Mother who snapped the shot. 
            “Are you deaf?”
            “No, Ma’am.”
            I feel like stone, petrified, so she punches the car horn with her palm, while my brothers bump into each other.
            “Let’s go,” she says. “You going to let the Mexicans beat you to the punch?”
            The trick to being a standout strawberry picker is to do it on your knees. In order to keep the weeds out, or for some such reason, the rows are filled with rocks the size of golf balls. It hurts like hell, kneeling on them, like someone’s thumping you with a ball-peen hammer, but after an hour or so a numbness sets in. Everyone else sits on their butt and scoots as they go, even though it’s more difficult to reach your flat that way. Almost everybody eats as much as they pick, which is forbidden.  Me, I don’t eat a single berry, even when my belly’s screaming at me.
            Every time Foreman Jack checks my flat and punches my card, he spits a brown patch of chewing tobacco over his shoulder. He never speaks, just mumbles or grunts. There’s a skinny boy around twenty years old who stacks the flats in the back of the pickup. He’s got Foreman Jack’s wide forehead and tiny dog ears, so I figure he’s Jack’s son. Though I’d like to have a dad, I’m glad I’m not related to Foreman Jack.
            My knees are already numb. 
            One of the migrant families brings their infant with them each day. I suppose they’ve got nowhere else to take him. He’s stuffed into a Moses basket at the far end of the east field where the sun is weakest and where his bellowing can’t be heard by Foreman Jack, who spends the bulk of his time swigging whiskey on the end of the loader, pausing to take a piss or punch one of our cards when we bring a flat up for inspection.    
            The baby’s name is Jose, which means Joseph in English. He’s a cute little butterball, pouches for cheeks, skin the color of root beer, with a runny nose half the time. I don’t tell Mother, but each day I skim some of my pay and stuff it in my sock. At the end of the season, I’m going to give what I have to Jose’s family so they can get a sitter when they want to leave the house. A baby shouldn’t have to be like a handbag you set on the floor at a check stand, or like an infant that gets left in the sun, caterwauling for hours.
The sun is an omnipresent enemy, scalding and cruel. Sweat streams down my ribs, in my eyes and I smell rancid, sour and tangy, like vinegar mixed with urine.

            My brother, Rob, says he’s going to be a professional boxer when he grows up. I’ve got no cause to disbelieve him.  He throws hooks that leave basketball-sized bruises, and his uppercut can crack teeth. Denny doesn’t know what he wants to be. Me, I’ve decided I want to be a doctor. I know how ridiculous that must sound. There’s junior high and high school, then college and more college afterward, and everything I know about college is that it costs millions of dollars. So, I’m thinking about moving to Mexico when I’m a few years older. Don’t know how I’ll do it, or where I’ll live once I’m there, but I figure, it being such a poor country and all, college will be cheaper, plus there will be folks who need tending to that can’t afford fancy doctors, so I’ll be their guy.
After a few hours picking, my back and ribs always start to hurt. 
            When I get older, I’ll understand a lot more about how the world works. That’s what Mrs. Masterson says every time I ask a question in class. She’s a really nice lady. Sometimes she slips hard candies into my hand after sixth period. I’ve learned to wink back after she winks first. 
            Mrs. Masterson is probably a world class mother as well. Though I know it’s an awful sin, there are times when I imagine I’m her son and we’re doing normal things that other families do on TV, like eat dinner at the table talking about the day.
            So here’s the best thing I’ve learned about who I am—I’m me and nobody else, and just because others have it good, doesn’t mean I can’t try to better. 
            Father Dugan told me that. He’s the priest at the cathedral we used to go to before Mother decided it was all a crock and that the drive was a waste of gasoline. The day Father Dugan gave me his advice, I’d been in a ruckus with two of the Schneider boys. They were making fun of my berry-stained hands, saying I had leprosy. When Sister Fiona showed up, it looked like I was the one who had started it.
            Afterward, instead of getting lashes, Father Dugan took my hands. He looked at my stained palms then right into my eyes. He said shame was the devil’s way of making a person feel less than, and that I had nothing to be ashamed of. When I started to object, he shook his head and told me I was special, and the way he said it, teary-eyed with a hitch in his voice, well, it seemed true.  
            Mother shows up around two, sun glare glinting off the station wagon’s chrome parts, the rest of the paint coated in dust the color of gunny sacks.  She’s smoking a cigarette and squinting from the smoke that snakes into her eye. It looks as if she’s sizing me up, trying to figure what kind of boy I am, or what kind of man I might be.
            Rob and Denny hustle to the car, walking bow-legged, like a couple of gunslingers. I take my time. I don’t want to lose the bills I’ve stuff inside my sock for Jose’s family.
            In the passenger seat, I tie a rubber band around the rest of the money I’ve earned and put it on the seat between Mother and me.
            I roll down the window to let the hot wind dry my sweat and make a mess of my hair. In the side mirror, I watch the strawberry fields shrink then fade into the distance.        

Monday, December 28, 2015

-“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.  I hope you read some fine book and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art.  And, I hope, somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself.” Neil Gailman
-“Hush, children, don’t you understand history is being made.” G. McGrath
 -"No man is a failure who has friends." -Clarence (It's a Wonderful Life)
-“There are so many other worlds.  When you hold special rocks in your hands, you can hear them.” Rainbow Wolf, age 6
-“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” Jessica Rabbit
“Time makes you bolder.” Stevie Nicks
“People ask why my work is so dark.  I don’t really have an answer.  Why does Christopher Walken always play weirdos and villains?  That’s just the way we’re wired.” Benjamin Percy
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard
-“I’d be really scared if I wasn’t scared.” Rob Ryan
-“You’ve got to find your diamond in the sand.” Jeff Bridges
-"Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry."
J.D. Salinger
-“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It's seeing through the facade of pretense. It's the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”  Adyashanti
-“Let me teach you about beauty
a slanted shipwreck
draped in its own torn sails.” Alicia Jo Rabins
 -“When you meet someone, and you look that person in the eye, be kind, because within those eyes is a great battle waging.” Dalai Lama
-“Our highest dignity as human beings, what really sets us apart from everything else, is our capacity to disclose new world.  To open up new possibilities.” Heidegger
-“To be human is to be engaged in an enormous battle within yourself.”
-“We are set don on this earth bewildered.”
-“You who will finally be the readers who will realize I am a fraud.”
“The most daunting part of the journey is that you must do it alone.”
-“At the heart of technology there is no heart.”
-“The robot of technology cannot take on the Dark Angel.”
-“We each have a story to tell.  The story is not like anybody else’s story.  Not exactly.  And the narrator telling the story is like no other narrator.  When each of us looked into our mother’s eyes, each of us saw something different.  Completely unique.”
 -“Writing a novel will be the hardest thing you’ll ever do.” –Tom Spanbauer

Saturday, December 26, 2015


                                                            Sunday Ticket

He’s upset again.  His fantasy football is “sucking ass.”  Injuries have decimated his team.  Now his pals will get on the message board and scud him all week.  “Fuck.  Fuck!  FUCK!!   FUCK!!!”
She’d been away, the trip carefully planned, the doctor, too.  She knew just the pair she wanted, not too large, but lifelike.  The doctor nodded, said he could do that for her.  Afterward it hurt more than she expected but now the pain and swelling were gone.  Before coming home she’d also got her hair cut, telling the stylist “just give me something chic.”
Her husband spent $300 on something called Sunday Ticket which gives you all the games.  He flicks between channels incessantly, every fifteen seconds, hoping to catch every play, all the action.
Her mother warned her.  Said looks and money and even a sense of humor were secondary to attentiveness.
She takes off her new blouse and her skirt now, stands where she’d been standing, four feet to the side, as her husband shouted, “Fuck me!” 
When he doesn’t notice, she removes her bra, then her panties.  Even naked, the air feels heated and spicy, but not for the reasons she would have expected.   She keeps stock-still, a mannequin, holds her breath and counts backward from a hundred.  When she gets to zero she, collects her clothes and goes into the bedroom.
The next day she takes another trip, only this one is unplanned.  She drives and drives, noticing the trees along the freeway, their branches curled like forefingers, beckoning This way.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


...(Warning: I do a lot of bragging in this post, but man it’s really nice to see my book have some legs to it)

…I did a podcast with Karen Stefano, author of The Secret Games of Words, and we talked about our books, writing and other stuff:

…I had this poem up at Unscooped Bagel:

…And I had some five star reviews of my book, The Last Sunshine, up at Good Reads:

     --Dark Sunshine is the perfect name for Len Kuntz’ haunting collection of flash fiction. Equal parts despair and hope, this combination creates a cocktail that will leave you heartsick and Kuntz is the kind of writer who knows how to break your heart gently. He illuminates the soft horror of life alongside the exquisite—shows us the beautiful juxtaposed with the scars—takes us into the agony of human souls while leaving a sliver of light, a window cracked into humanity’s redemption. He understands the human contradiction and writes with a deep sensitivity to our fatal flaws as well as our breathtaking capacity for goodness and joy. These stories will haunt you long after you close the book.” -- Nancy Stohlman, author of The Monster Ball

      --“These flashes are live wires, 220 volts not 110. No wait, that's not enough. 115 kV. These are high grade transmission lines and rather than jumping back I immediately want to jump right in. Each is so perfectly done as to pack pages and pages of story into the tiniest of spaces, but what's more interesting is the amount of surprise Kuntz can work in there as well. What came next was always a revelation, often dark but often also funny, touching, and more. The microcosm really does replicate the macrocosm. Extremely good stuff, and a delight to read.” --David

      --“A lightning storm. Turbulence. Chaos. The plane touches down safely, but none of the passengers will ever be the same. And the narrator realizes how thin is the line between hope and despair, life and death, the physical world and what may or may not lie beyond. All in two pages. I'm in awe these stories, which - like the story I was describing, "Turbulence" - not just suggest, but create meaning. And by meaning, I don't mean just lofty thoughts. I mean the sort of meaning that leaves its mark: that pitch perfect combination of deep feeling and deep thought that I dig so much in literary fiction. I want to feel my thoughts, and think my feelings. This collection delivers that experience.” --Ross McKeekin

     --“A great book.

If this review was written in the style of the Dark Sunshine, it would be incredibly concise, dark (of course), expansive in use of both imagination and pulse. Instead, this review is going to amble along, crash into walls, smile too much. This review will have wasted words, The Dark Sunshine doesn't have a wasted word, letter, even a wasted comma.

I feel good after completing Len Kuntz's collection of pitch perfect flash fiction, like I just attended a workshop. It's the kind of writing that reads like an instruction manual on 'how to master brevity', 'how to flesh out entire worlds in the narrowest footprint possible', 'how to introduce a protagonist/antagonist you'll never forget in the same space as a 120 character Twitter transmission.'

The collection seems prototypical, as Howie Good puts it in the blurb on the back of the book, "Len Kuntz's flash fiction is everything flash fiction should aspire to be--surreal, macabre, humorous ..."

He's damn right about all that.

Dark Sunshine has a thread running down the middle: the tread is a l'm uneasy, a dysfunction, a mysterious problem--but it is not just between a man and a woman, or the children; it's beyond the house and its domestic troubles, it's the town too and the strange neighbors, cops and therapists; there's an existential crisis stretching over the entire globe, wrapping around this universe, and alternate universes, planes of existence. It's all troubled.

Okay, before we get any farther with all the darkness, doom and warranted pessimism--I should tell you something, Len Kuntz is incredibly funny. His comedic timing is startling. These are jokes that we might be laughing at in self-defense, but the good news is, Kuntz has mastered minimalism so well, we can't be sure anyway if we're the brunt of the joke. Often it's society at large, the way we look at things wrong, the way we fail at loving each other.

The joy in this book lies in the simple things, the smallest factors, that somehow shine the brightest. It comes down to how fresh the characters are. They are very much alive on the page, reacting to their various situations, completely unpredictably.” –Bud Smith, author of F-250

Monday, December 21, 2015


I’m back from Vancouver.  Seems like I was gone a long time.  It was a hellish drive home, what with a monsoon the whole way, wild winds and rain so thick I could scarcely see the highway.  I hydroplaned nearly a dozen times.

...Then I see this on the news:

The Islamic State has reportedly issued a fatwa ordering the elimination of children with Down syndrome and other congenital disabilities, reminiscent of Hitler’s infamous “Aktion T4” program, which administered forced “euthanasia” on an estimated 300,000 disabled persons.
According to the Iraqi activist blog Mosul Eye, sharia judges have ruled that ISIS followers are authorized to kill infants with Down Syndrome or congenital deformities. Already since the religious decree (fatwa) was issued, militants have killed at least 38 children between one week and three months old by lethal injection or suffocation.
In a post on the Mosul Eye Facebook page, the group claims that any child with a disability is now at risk of being killed, and released a brief video showing disabled children. The killings reportedly took place in ISIS strongholds in Syria and Mosul, the northern Iraqi city seized by ISIS in June 2014.
Mosul Eye claims to report directly from Mosul, and has reliably reported on Islamic State incidents in the past. It has been called “one of most accurate chronicles of life under Islamic State rule.”
The group says it has monitored the deaths of several children with Down Syndrome and congenital deformities. They learned of an “Oral Fatwa” issued by the sharia board of the Islamic State authorizing its members to “kill newborn babies with Down’s [sic] Syndrome and congenital deformities and disabled children.”
The Fatwa was issued by a Saudi sharia judge named Abu Said Aljazrawi.
The post also reports that most of the children born with Down Syndrome have been the offspring of foreign fighters who married Iraqi, Syrian and Asian women.
“We recorded more than 38 confirmed cases of killing babies with congenital deformities and Down’s Syndrome, aged between one week to three months. They were killed by either lethal injection or suffocation,” they said.
“As if it is not enough for ISIL to kill men, women and the elderly, and now, they kill children,” they said.

…But enough of that.
Here some funny or interesting musings from Facebook while I was gone:
-Got excited when I saw an email with the subject line: Congratulations! Opened it and it read: Your Pap smear results were normal! Happy holidays!
-I just texted to a friend: "Tell him I have a bag of dicks with his name on it. Sending them second day air so they're still fresh."
-Random fun fact: the blue whale ejaculates 40 gallons of sperm while mating. Only 10% enters the female... Remember this when swimming in the ocean and wonder why it's so salty.
-If someone invites you to their immaculate, tidy home and says "sorry about the mess", run. They have killed before and they will kill again
-From Denver Waste Management: Are you seeing graffiti creep into your neighborhood?
Why yes I am. McDonald's signs, Subway signs, Family Dollar signs, etc.

-Sick of having to go to two different huts to buy pizza and sunglasses.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


…I had a story published and nominated for Push Cart Prize the other day.  Yay.  Here it is:

…And I had this little thing published as well, which was rejected by another magazine for being too dark:

…I’m leaving for Vancouver tomorrow, back Sunday, so I won’t be writing here for a while.  I hope you have a great week and weekend.

…Here are some things to ponder in the meantime:
-“I love people who make me laugh.  I honestly think it’s my favorite thing, to laugh.  It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” Audrey Hepburn
-“Art—whether it’s creative writing, visual art, performance art, film—is a form of resistance. None of us wants to be invisible, unseen by our community, cast off, marginalized. Art gives us a way to say, “I am here.” --Terry Ann Thaxton
-"I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection." Thomas Paine

-"Nothing can resist a will which will stake even existence upon its fulfillment." Benjamin Disraeli
-“It doesn't matter how often you get knocked down; what matters is how often you get back up." Vince Lombardi

-"What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a God!" William Shakespeare

-"Aerodynamically a bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know that so it goes on flying anyway." Mary Kay Ash

-"The greatest achievement of the human spirit is to live up to one's opportunities, and to make the most of one's resources." Luc de Clapiers

-"The great end of art is to strike the imagination with the power of a soul that refuses to admit defeat even in the midst of a collapsing world." Friedrich Nietzsche

-"I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through - then follow through." Eddie Rickenbacker

Monday, December 14, 2015


…Oh boy, there’s a lot of unruly rain beating on the roof right now.  Not so much angry, as agitated.  It’s been going on for some days.

…Is there anything more utterly evil than ISIS?  Calling them terrorists doesn’t seem like the right label.  Even terrorist sounds too tame.
I read this the other day and it made me sick:
    In October, Islamic State Militants in Syria demanded that two Christian women and six men convert to Islam.  When they refused, the women were publicly raped and then beheaded along with the men.  On the same day, militants cut off the fingertips of a 12 year old boy in an attempt to force his Christian father to convert.  When his father refused, both were brutalized and then crucified.
Later that day, in a video, ISIS warned Christians, “You will not have safety, even in our dreams, until you embrace Islam.”

…Sorry to bring you down with depictions of such depravity, but it doesn’t seem like enough people care about this.

…Turning the corner, here are some interesting and funny things friends on Facebook had to say:
-I hope you've been trimming your Hanukkah bushes, ladies.

-I hate it when I think I’m buying organic vegetables and when I get home they’re just regular donuts

-"Dad, can you settle an argument?"
"If someone farted while they're filming a movie, would they have to stop and redo the scene?"
"Well, first of all, good question. Second of all, it depends on the movie..."
-When you're 30 years old & you still brush your hair straight & have no fucking idea what's in store for you. You think you do, but you don't
-Cora: "Now that I'm five, I'm going to have a lot of questions. For example, did we always have words?"
-I live in a strange writer's world where I make copy editing notes to page designers that say things like: Italicize "do you realize how much better you have it, you dumb bitch?"

-I love when a guy walks by and I can smell his colon
-I smell like his colon right now
-I can still smell his colon on my pillow right now even though he’s not here 
-Parker, bobbing up and down in the bath: "I’m doing some work here, Mom." Me: "Oh yeah? What work?" Parker: "I’m exercising my penis."
Oh. Oh okay.
 -I asked Griffin if he wanted to invite his little 9 year old classmate and love interest over for a playdate. He said, "if you take the play out of that then you've got yourself a deal."
-Mom always taught me to stay positive and ignore all the mean things girls do and say because one day they will grow up and realize how awful they were. I'm still waiting for that day.
-My coworker is voting for Bernie Sanders because he mistakenly thinks he's 1) that rad dude from the Ponzi Scheme, and 2) that bro who banged all those hookers. What do you guys think?
-My child has no concept (yet) of the horrors of this world and insists on asking us things like, "Have you ever seen a wall of butts?" and then telling us about her imagined wall of butts, so we've got some comic relief over here at least (always).
-Hypothesis: social media, while offering a chance to connect, has also offered a way for us to isolate ourselves, to shout into the void, to be our worst selves, to join a careening shriek. We don't talk to each other; we talk about each other. We become strangers; we become strange. Platitudes and generalizations and outright lies are shared wildly, believed fervently. The shrieking grows and grows.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


And in the morning if there is no friend again
And if the sky is still wearing her blue-black face
Hiding all those stars and the moon behind her skirt
I at least have poems to read
Books and books of them
A certain form of sustenance itself
So much so that when I finish
Reading a half-dozen or more
I can scarcely think about breakfast
And those fish outside the window in the lake
And that beaver in the lake too
And the eagle flying high overhead
They all know what I’ve just learned
That sometimes
When we are most alone and scared
There are places to go
Words to seek like medicine
And that these can fill our hollow spaces
And heal the wounds we thought
We’d wear forever

Friday, December 11, 2015


…On the lake this morning there were honking fleets of geese and a lone man and his dog in a sail boat.  It’s literally freezing out, so that guy must really love sailing.  Not sure about his dog, though.

…Here are a couple of things I had published last week:

 …It’s Friday and I haven’t been as productive this week as I should have been.  But there’s still today, right?  So I’m going to go shower and have at those words.
…Here are some things I like for the weekend:
-“Some people are worth melting for.” Olaf the Snowman from “Frozen
-“Most men and women have stories to tell.  Life be pourin’ out of them, skipping off rails.  Movies tell stories I wish I could.” A. Van Covent
 -“The goal is to develop a muscle, nurture a habit, maybe even spark a passion.  You never know where a little reading might lead.” Frank Bruni,
-“I became an addict.  I couldn’t help it anymore.” Peggy Guggenheim, on her love of art
 -“I, too, have slept all night in that stolen Cadillac.” Thomas Merton
 -“I have rewritten—often several times—every word I have ever published.  My pencils outlast their erasers.” Nabokov
“It’s a wonderful feeling to realize how little New York needs you when you’re gone.” Christopher Bollen
-“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

-“If you really knew how powerful your thoughts are you would never think a negative thing again.” Peace Pilgrim

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


...This is yesterday's output (a pretty good day, writing wise):

Frayed and Worn

But here we are
Ten breaths older
Bloated moon in the window
Sky black as onyx
Stars too shy to stare
As we raid the inventories
Of all our old wounds
And you sort through the album
Saying this one
This is the one that did it
Holding up a picture of two
Twenty-four year olds
The frayed and worn photo
Of us on our wedding day
A couple of cubs
Not yet turned into bears
Not having become cannibals

Somewhere In Senegal

We are running on broken glass
Past startled zebras and giraffes
Baobab trees shaking from mortar fire
Would-be assassins gaining on us
With their armored cars
We only ever wanted clean water to drink
Shoes or shelter were luxuries we couldn’t afford
Our skin is ripe with sores, our legs rotten posts
We have nothing to offer but bones and bodies
And still the marauders advance with weapons firing
As the yellow parrot flies by like a hoax
Saying This way
Go this way

Of My Father

The hands of my father could crush things
His stare lit forest fires and raised whole buildings
If he laughed you felt safe the way hunted deer do in the brush
I remember his breath smelling of motor oil and Old Milwaukee
His mouth a trapdoor or chimney
The heavy footfalls that meant emergency and danger
Being flung down a flight of stairs
Slapped on the thighs by black leather belts
In the photo I find of him he is younger than I am now
Holding a long-handled axe across his chest while smiling
When my daughter asks who he is I tell her
It’s nobody I ever knew


Tonight I am searching for that boy again,
Age nine,
On the edge of everything—
A cliff, a catwalk, a firewall, puberty.
In this old photo he looks like someone with promise,
A would be astronaut or comedian
There is no car wreck yet
No dead girl
Or prison sentence
Simply ripe youth
I tuck the picture into my shirt pocket
Get out of the car
And as I make my way across the lot to be checked in
I tell myself that there’s
Still time for him to save himself
Once and if my son is finally paroled

Your Spot On The Mattress

The bed moves on its own volition
Like a slain elephant squirming away from poachers
Sometimes its sheets try to strangle
Pillows want to smother
Coiled springs search for a jugular
But there is no light in here
And the moon outside the window is shy
Or too embarrassed by my foibles
It’s been sixteen nights
A friend has recommended therapy
The neighbors cower and look away
My son says it’s not healthy it’s sick it’s not right
Yet I cling to the sheet anyway
The part with the large crimson stain
Where you once lay
I keep my voice soft and steady
Asking was it me
Tell me please
Was I the reason you did it


The clowns they scared you
Worse than any monster
And it wasn’t until you called me over
Whispering in my ear
That I knew why

Crawl Space

Hey it’s me, hiding in the crawl space
With a faulty flashlight that keeps blinking off
I’ve been here fifty-five years
And as many days
You don’t believe me, I can tell
But there’s a reason I feel like a masochistic Peter Pan
You see
His hands were so large
His breath a fire
The things he did were enough to keep
A person enslaved forever  

Your Facebook Page

Even now I keep returning
To your Facebook page
Like a foolish and hopeful stalker
But nothing changes
The photos stay the same
No one posts anything
Except on your birthday
Because none have been told you’re dead
Happy Birthday, big guy!
Hope it’s great!
Hope it’s fantastic!
Hope it’s your best one ever!
I should tell someone to take it down
Or finally stop looking
But I loved you once
And now this
Is all I have
To remind me that you
Were actually real