Thursday, January 29, 2015



--FROM THE OUTSIDE PEOPLE LOOK GUILTY


…Well, tonight’s another reading.  I hope it goes well.  Sometimes I get so nervous I slur my words, even if I’ve had nothing to drink.

Here are two of the four things I’ll be reading:



Center and Fringe
           
            I want you to lie to me. 
I want you to pull my hair and threaten to leave me again, tell me every soiled thing you loathe about me but, later, do a paint-by-numbers watercolor on my chest, inserting a subliminal message between the stripes of a rainbow.
            I want to cuddle with you on this bed of pine needles so scratchy we’d never be able to sleep, the frosty air cold enough to make our noses bleed, dribbling down our chins like scarlet fondue. 
I want the taillights glowing rat-eyed across the lake to be your eyes, fascinated by me on this winter’s night.  I want the cones of light reflected on the wafting water to be a cloud that morphs in undulation so that we can find new characters and objects in its wake, its center and fringes. 
I want you to see what I see, the people who own that light and the house where that light glows, the ones that have been together since before the war against Germany.  I saw them at Safeway yesterday.  She was testing a melon with her gnarled thumb while the brittle little guy manned the cart, hunched, grinning like a very happy gnome.
I want our skins to spot and sag together.  I want us to molt and refute what happened last weekend.  I want magical powers, the ability to make you stay put, to cause that car to miss you, take a different corner, let you live.     
I want to take it all back.                                              





                                                                Ensemble



Just In Case

It doesn’t always happen the way they say it does—some poor girl, sexually abused by her dad, becoming a prostitute.  Sometimes you’re just industrious.  Sometimes the men are actually kind, fatherly or brotherly, preppy and toned with muscles, big-tippers, regulars who want to talk more than touch.  Sometimes it’s the best gig around.
At least that’s what you tell yourself on a suede-black night, staring out the motel window wondering where the moon is hiding.  You tell yourself the man in the bathroom is the prom king you worshipped from afar throughout high school.  You give him blonde locks of hair and denim blue eyes, teeth paper-white and straight as a picket fence.  You name him Randy Jarvis.
And when this new Randy reappears you don’t notice how his breath smells like Lysol, how his belly drags over the stump of his penis, but you do check under the pillow where you always stash the shiv, just in case.
You say, “What’ll it be?”  You ask how much time he has tonight.  You close your eyes while the rest happens and picture that missing moon glowing radioactive, the biggest thing in the universe, staring back at you like a bomb that can be dropped at any time.

An Unbroken Circle

You know the girl on the bed outside the bathroom resembles your daughter, that’s why you picked her, but you don’t think about it because thinking about it makes you queasy, a pervert of the worst order, even though she’s a hooker and has probably already lain with half a dozen men before the two of you ever walked through the motel door.
You just tried to urinate, but there was nothing doing.  This happens quite a bit lately and it’s another thing--on the long laundry list of others--that troubles you.
Your first prostitute was an Asian girl named Suki.  That was a lifetime ago, yet you remember her well because the fake name reminded you of sushi, which you loathe, and because she did this mewling act prior to fake-climaxing.  After her, there were thousands more which is why you work so hard, and after laboring so much to get ahead, you reward yourself with a little fun.  It’s an unbroken circle.
Before coming out of the bathroom, you give yourself a mental pep talk repeating positive affirmations:   I am a great lover.  I do not ejaculate too soon.  I control what happens.
When you open the door, the girl fluffs your pillow and props up on her elbows.  She’s chewing gum.  She blows a bubble the size of a light bulb until it pops, balloon-sticky on her nose.  Chuckling, she again reminds you of your daughter.
You turn off the lights.  Through the sheer, piss-colored drapes the sky is tar-black, no moon to light up anything.  You feel your way back to the bed like a blind man and then there’s skin on skin and everything begins again.

Ignited

You don’t like memories.  Recalling them is a slippery slope, a cord or rope wrapped around your neck, drawing you back to the places and times that ignited a bitter switch inside you.  But there are sirens going off in the city, not police cars screaming by, but fire trucks, and you must be close to the actual fire because you can see smoke twisting like black wraiths between two sky scrapers. 
You remember how you’d become a fuse yourself, and once you were lit there was no other way around it, strength you didn’t know you had coiling with rampant rage, so instead of saying the words he wanted you to say while he did it, one afternoon you told your father you would kill him, and you were a lot of things, even back then, but a liar wasn’t one of them.  That night as he lay slumped and passed out in front of a blaring TV, you got a gas can and spritzed gasoline and dropped your father’s lighter over a puddle.  Standing on the curb minutes later, you watched scarlet flames eat everything.  You stood until the house and he were ash, not caring if the neighbors saw you watching, not caring about the future or whether this was the last, selfish decision you’d ever get to make.

Names

You pay the girl double because she complied with everything you asked.  She says, “Hey, thanks, Bill,” even though your name isn’t Bill and she knows it’s not Bill.
This triggers something and so you ask the girl what her real name is.  The way her eyes stutter before she says, “Ashley” leads you believe she’s lying and this enrages you, the lies, the fraud and phoniness.  You’re the John, but you’re not feeling hypocritical one bit—it’s just fury swelling inside you.
You’ve never hit a hooker before, never hit a girl or woman in your life, but Ashley won’t give up her real name, and so you clock her on the chin.  It happens blink-fast, reflexively.
The girl goes wild, becoming a stallion suddenly.  She calls you a bastard.  Her hand leaps like a cobra out of her purse and she swings a shiv an inch from your bloated belly.
You say you’re sorry, you don’t know what got into you, hitting a girl isn’t something you’d ever do, honest.
She keeps her eyes—cobalt-blue eyes—on you as she leaves.  The door’s cracked open.  An old woman in a housecoat is lumbering down the hall.  She looks like your mother, same spider web hair and cigarette-wrinkled lips.  She looks up with a toothless grin and says, “Wanna dance?”

Folly

You think about quitting for the thousandth time.  It’s folly, but you do it anyway. 
This always happens after a visit with a bad John.  Once an obese medical supply salesman bit your shoulder so hard you had to have Holly, a now dead prostitute, stitch you up with something that might have been fishing line and the scar is usually the part of you, when naked, that customers find most alluring.
You’ve started using again—no needles this time—just huffing.  It’s a way to make the world flat and somewhat redeemable.  The pile of yellow powder looks like shredded drywall that someone’s mixed with piss.  You know this is leading right back to mainlining, yet you’ve lost the will to resist an easy release and lately your clients have had cruel streaks that show up out of nowhere.
Ohhhh.  Ahhhh. 
The burn is a torch scalding your nostril, reaching all the way down your throat to your chest, slamming your heart with a machete.  The sensation is familiar yet new all the same, like a twisted trick sprung on you by a crafty client—vibrator and penis inserted in your ass together.
Before the high seals, you think about what college life would be like, wearing a backpack, tramping through a campus with many brick buildings, kids your own age, not damaged to any major extent, their staid head nods and “Hi’s” plenty enough to make you feel vibrant and alive.
Next you think about a child you might have had, maybe a girl named Maggie with your same dimpled chin, her seated at the kitchen table coloring outside the lines of Ariel’s mermaid tail.  When she asks, “Momma, why are there bad people in the world?” you say, “It’s mostly bad men.”  Maggie looks up, her eyes blue as yours, saying, “But Daddy’s not bad.”  You look over at your husband doing dishes in the sink.  He cocks his head like a golden retriever—Huh?  Am I a bad guy?  You laugh and laugh and then the world goes pale yellow, becoming an endless rug that rolls you up in a magic carpet and carries you off.








Tuesday, January 27, 2015



  

--I STUMBLE OVER AND OVER


…I am back from a trip to Santa Fe where I read with a group of writers on Saturday night and where I ate and laughed and drank and even danced at a karaoke bar with writers.
It was the most fun I’ve had in a long, long time.
There’s something special about being a writer and then spending time with other writers.  It’s like finding kindred spirits, feeling safe, connecting on emotional and artistic levels.
But then you come home, and you’re alone, and all those writers are at their homes spread out across the country and it feels a bit sad and lonely.
The good news is I had my writer’s group last night and it was most excellent.
The good news is I have another reading in three days.
The good news is there’s always good news if you look hard enough.

What do you do when you’re sad?

…There was new music in the mail when I returned:
Joni Mitchell, “Blue”
Damien Rice
Better Than Ezra
Wakey Wakey
Glen Campbell
Boxcutters

New music makes me happy.  Music makes me happy.
I want to be happy.  Doesn’t everyone?

…Here are some things that made me think, one way or another:


“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  Aristotle


“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”  Florence Nightingale

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  Will Rogers 

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”  Stephen Covey

“I’ve always tried to go a step past wherever people expected me to end up.”  Beverly Sills

“Nothing is work unless you’d rather be doing something else.” George Hallas

“On the road of life there are passengers, and there are drivers.” VW Commercial

“In Maine there’s a saying; ‘there’s no point in speaking unless you can improve on silence.’” Edmund Muskie

“Getting an idea should be like sitting down on a pin.  It should make you jump up and do something.” E.L. Simpson

“When I think of a woman, I think of a man.  Then I take away reasoning and accountability.” Jack Nicholson, “What Women Want”


“The reluctance to put away childish things may be the secret of happiness.” D.J.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

   


--THAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH LOVE, YOU CAN’T MAKE IT DO WHAT IT WANTS


…Early tomorrow morning I’m boarding a plane and heading to Santa Fe where I will meet with some cherished writer friends and others I know only virtually.  Our reading is Saturday night.  It’s a talented group.  It’s a fun group.  Hopefully no one will get arrested.

Out here in the boonies on this little old lake around now, near five o’clock in the late afternoon, we get the most amazing sunsets—usually smears of fuchsia clouds, lavender or plum.  Tonight they look like the deep blue color of a new bruise.

…I won’t likely be on here until I get back, since I’m not taking a computer.  The last trip I took my laptop on either myself, my roommate, or one of the housekeepers stepped on it and now it looks like a roschach test pattern.  The only way I’m able to type this is because I have it hooked up to a monitor.

…So I’ll leave you with some facts I found interesting, and some insight I found revealing:



--Only 45 percent of the populations makes New Year resolutions and of those only 8% are successful.

--Children raised without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crimes.  Nine more times likely to drop out of school.  Twenty more times likely to end up in prison..


--With the recent plunge in gas prices, US motorists will save $97 billion this year, or $750 per household.

--Annual income from the estates of celebrities:
#1. Michael Jackson $140 million
#2. Elvis $55 million
#3. Charles Schulz $40 million
#4. Elizabeth Taylor $25 million



  
...“I ain’t afraid to love a man.  I ain’t afraid to shoot him either.” Annie Oakley

“Wisdom begins in wonder.”   Socrates

“You and I are not cool.  And that’s all right.  I’s what most of great art is all about.”  The Good Wife

“Death has a way of bringing family together.” Justified

“Everything you notice is important.  Let me say that a different way: If you notice something, it’s because it’s important.”  Verlyn Klinkenborg

“Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.”  Voltaire
  

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January 19, 2015



--GOOD MORNING TO THE NIGHT



Listening Device


She tells me I don’t know, I don’t know,
I never knew.
She claims I only see spots and scotomas,
that I miss the truth
hiding in the fringes,
out of breath but beautiful.

Another time she says she is a cut-out,
not flat,  
not like that,
but living pages and improper pictures.
“Here,” she says,
running my hand across her spine,
“maybe you can read me a story.”
The nurse pokes her head in, mouths, Everything okay?
the same way she does every day.
When she’s gone,
I turn back to the woman on the bed
whose eyes are a blind man’s milk-blue.
I hit Record on the device,
say, “Tell me again how you met Dad,”
and she begins to laugh.




Land of Ten Thousand Lakes
The waves rewind that summer when we would float belly up, the sun a round door, your hair tousled like vines, the color of wild strawberries.  You said they weren’t freckles, just store-bought bruises.  We laughed about it.  You called your father by his first name.  He moved you to Minnesota, land of ten thousand lakes.  You should have been happy there.  You should have tried harder to stay afloat, alive.

Not Telling
That summer the neighbor girl snuck out alone.  I saw her from my bedroom window.  No one else did.  The police think I’m not telling.  I’m not.

Mother May I
We played Mother May I even though you hated asking for permission.  Dad said he didn’t play favorites, yet you’re the one he calls.  I have a wife now.  She counts my breaths.  She measures their depth before stepping out of bed, tiptoeing off to use the phone.

The Split
Summer sings, song of seagulls cawing as they pluck French fries from plates.  Children squeal.  Poolside speakers blare, “I like to move it, move it.”  In the reflection of your mirrored sunglass panels I see how frightened I am, a small, thin spider.  When I look again, your answer is as clear as murder.

The Drive
It was a two-tiered gun rack behind the pickup’s headrest.  My uncle had eyes the color of dead grass.  He smelled like chili.  He drummed the steering wheel while sucking on a toothpick.  The air was hot and wrong and I knew where we were going.

Fortress
You are a window that I open to find another; somebody’s idea of a joke, a tease, a torture.  I climb the chain-link and slice my legs on the razor wire, flop down on my solar plexus.  Ollie Ollie, All in free!  The wind is streaming, the motor’s revved.  You couldn’t hear me if you wanted.

Tapas
The table was essentially a tall stool, wobbly with legs that jutted out and made sitting close difficult.  The waitress came at the wrong time, or maybe it was the right time.  The glass struck me forehead-high, jagged pain like lightning, but at least your drink was empty.

Ex
She speaks in shrieks, in blades and volts.  She says, I WANT YOU TO NEED ME.  I WANT TO BE YOUR SECOND SKIN.  THIS IS INSANE.  CAN’T YOU JUST TAKE ME SOMEPLACE AND TREAT ME HOW YOU WANT TO TREAT ME, GOOD OR BAD, ANYWAY CONCEIVABLE THAT WILL PROVE TO YOU HOW WILLING I AM?
I step away from the glass.  The detective says it’s two way, she can’t see me.  I tell him she has me confused with someone else. 

Glitter
We stop writing about the moon.  Inside your cupboard are plates of china with chinks in them.  Your mother calls them poor man’s freckles.  You say you have your own, but you keep the lights off, shades drawn, covers up.  You tell me what’s important are the stars.  “Look how they glitter,” you say, “as if they have their own secrets to keep.”







Friday, January 16, 2015



--I THINK YOU’RE SPECIAL



                                               
                                                  A Car Ride of Second Chances

            It was my therapist’s idea.  Ordinarily, he merely listened, taking a note or two during our sessions, but I could tell my exhibitions of misery were frustrating him, which is why he came up with the suggestion last week.
            When I objected, he said, “Don’t forget, you’ve made mistakes in your marriage, too.”
            That poison dart stung.  I felt a moment of betrayal, but then realized the irony of my thinking—me, who’d been the unfaithful one.
            I call our lawyers before leaving, tell them my wife and I are just trying to get out of town for a couple of days, drive to Portland--where people are less likely to have heard the news.
            The second lawyer, the needling, suspicious one who often seemed to be on the prosecution’s side, said, “Check in.  Call when you get there and give me the hotel’s phone number.”
            He was a squat neckless blob, a human Jabba the Hut.  I imagined shoving a stick of dynamite down his throat and watching him choke on it right before all 300 pounds of him splattered across his mahogany office.  See, that’s what all this had done—turning me violent and resentful, into one batshit, childless husband.
            My wife gets into the SUV while I finish loading up.  I see the Millers across the street watching us through parted drapes.  When I give them my middle finger, they disappear, their curtains sashaying like randy ghosts.
            Ghosts.  I believe in them now.  Sometimes it takes a tragedy to open up your mind.  I see her ghost every day, several times a day.  She glides across the room, floats above my head, always swaddled tight like a cocoon.  I hear her gurgle and coo, feel her hot baby’s breath.  She never cries.  Never.
            Near Tacoma, the vehicle starts to rattle the way it has all month, although now there’s an added rumbling sound beneath my feet.  Just another one of our broken things, I think.  I turn the radio up louder, even though it’s a ridiculous rap song.
            My wife stares out the window, any number of thoughts going through her head, or maybe nothing at all.  Or maybe she’s reliving everything.
            Approaching Chehalis, I turn the radio off.  The car still sounds as if it’s going to collapse.  I say, “Hey.”
            She doesn’t turn and for a second I wonder if she might be sleeping.  When I lean forward to check, it’s too late.  The deer has loped onto the highway. 
            I brake hard, even though as I do it, I realize you’re supposed to hit the accelerator instead.  The animal slams into the fender—fur, hooves and horns--twirling in the air as if in slow motion.  I’m certain that it’s going to land on the windshield, break through the glass and crush us.  But it doesn’t.  Instead the deer drops onto the top of the SUV like a boulder, then rolls off the back end. 
            The car finishes its skid, squealing in a semicircle, spraying gravel from the side of the road.   The air smells like burnt rubber.  Over our heads, in the middle space between us, there’s now an inverted dome of metal from where the deer landed.
            “Are you okay?” I ask.
            My wife is pale, the color of faded lavender, and her chest heaves.
            “Are you all right?  Are you hurt?”
            She shakes her head, eyes the widest I’ve ever seen them.
            Police arrive less than ten minutes later.  They want to call an ambulance, but I won’t let them.  “We’re fine,” I say, “just a little shaken, is all.”
            When he checks my ID, the officer’s face corkscrews and I know he’s realizing who we are.  “Where you headed?” he asks, the inflection in his voice not unlike Jabba the Hut, my attorney.
            “Portland.  For a break, a getaway.  Just a couple of days.”
            “Your people know you’re going?”  I understand what he means.  This is unbelievable.  I feel myself ripen with anger.
            “My people?”
            “Lawyers and such.” 
            I want to tell him to go fuck himself.  I want to ram the door against him, break his hip or a few ribs.  Instead I say, “They do.”
            “Good idea.”
            He stares at me for a few seconds, but it feels longer.  Then he leans down, looks across at my wife.  “Sure you’re not injured?”
            “Just shaken,” I say again, and the officer chuckles.”
            The SUV won’t start, so the police write up some kind of note and stick it under a windshield wiper.  “Be a bitch of a bill, towing that all the way back to Seattle,” one of them says almost merrily.
            “I’ll have it towed to Chehalis, get it fixed there.”
            “Yeah,” he says, and I don’t know if it’s a question or if he’s agreeing with me.
            “Want a lift into town?” he asks.
            “We’ll call a cab.”  There’s no way in hell my wife and I are getting into the back of a squad car.
            “Sure?”  He’s disappointed.  Probably wanted to grill us on the ride in.  “Save you fifty, sixty bucks.”
            “I’m sure.”  If he doesn’t get the fuck away from me, I’m really going to whack him with the car door, get out and mash his face in with my boot.
            Finally he says, “Suit yourself,” then to his partner, “Let’s go, Bob.”
            In the rearview mirror, I watch them walk back to their cruiser.  “Can you believe those assholes?” I ask.  But my wife doesn’t answer because she’s started sobbing.

            At our hotel room, my wife sits in a chair by the window weeping silently.  She won’t stop and she won’t talk to me.  When I tell her I’m going for a walk, she doesn’t even bother to look up.
            There’s not much to see outside, the downtown area filled with feed stores and others that sell fertilizer and farming implements.  The sun is a ripe blister in the sky, its rays scalding my upraised face.  Almost blinded, I nevertheless walk up and down the streets for hours.
            I find a bar called “Last Chance Saloon”.  It feels like something out of frontier times.  I sit at the bar ordering whisky after whisky until the jukebox is drowned out by a jar of angry hornets scouring the inside of my skull.
            Back at the hotel, my wife’s still seated in the same spot, but she’s stopped crying.
            I sit on the edge of the bed next to her.
            “Hell of a day,” I say.  “Hell of a month.”  I sound like an idiot but I don’t know what else to say, and besides, I’m quite drunk.
            “I didn’t do it,” she says.  They’re the first words I’ve heard from her since yesterday. 
            “I told you I believe you.”
            “You don’t act like it.”
            “How am I supposed to act?  She’s dead.”
            “Everyone thinks I did it.”
            “We have lawyers.”
            “Why would I?  She was my baby, too.”
            “We’re going to have to learn to live with this eventually.”
            “What kind of mother would shake her child to death?  What kind of animal?”
            What kind of man would cheat on his pregnant wife? I think.
            It feels hotter in the room than it did outside.  My sweat-soaked shirt clings to my chest making it easy to see the rhythmic thudding of my heart.
            I slide off the mattress and kneel down in front of my wife.  Her hands, her cheek, her earlobes—everything trembles.
            “Look at me,” I say. 
            I reach over and lift her chin up.  Mascara is smeared down her cheeks like black scars.
            I don’t know if she did it on purpose or not.  The experts know.  But I tell myself I can live with it either way.  What I can’t do anymore is hide or lie.
            I take a gulp of air and swallow.  “I have something to tell you,” I say.
            “What?”
            I take my time.  I tell her everything.  Outside a stray siren wails in the distance while I wait for judgment, punishment or forgiveness.  Anything to set us right.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015



--I DIDN’T CHOOSE MY RAPIST


…The sun is shining and the eagle is flying around the lake.  It’s Wednesday, a good day to be alive.
Unfortunately, there’s still so much evil in the world.

…This happened two days ago and barely made the news…


Hundreds of bodies remain strewn in the bush in Nigeria amid an ongoing attack described by Amnesty International as the "deadliest massacre" by Boko Haram.
Mike Omeri, the government spokesman, said fighting continued on Friday for Baga, a town on the border with Chad where Boko Haram fighters seized a key military base on January 3 and attacked again on Wednesday.
"Security forces have responded rapidly, and have deployed significant military assets and conducted air strikes against militant targets," Omeri said in a statement.
District head Baba Abba Hassan said most victims are children, women and elderly people who could not run fast enough when fighters drove into Baga, firing rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles on town residents.
"The human carnage perpetrated by Boko Haram terrorists in Baga was enormous," Muhammad Abba Gava, a spokesman for poorly armed civilians in a defence group that fights Boko Haram, told The Associated Press news agency.
He said the civilian fighters gave up on trying to count all the bodies.
"No one could attend to the corpses and even the seriously injured ones who may have died by now," Gava said.
An Amnesty International statement said there are reports the town was razed and as many as 2,000 people killed.
A million displaced
"This marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram's ongoing onslaught," said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.
Boko Haram violence has killed more than 10,000 people last year alone, according to the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations.
More than a million people are displaced inside Nigeria and hundreds of thousands have fled across its borders into Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria.
Emergency workers said this week they are having a hard time coping with scores of children separated from their parents in the chaos of Boko Haram's increasingly frequent and deadly attacks.

Just seven children have been reunited with parents in Yola, capital of Adamawa state, where about 140 others have no idea if their families are alive or dead, said Sa'ad Bello, the coordinator of five refugee camps in Yola.


...Unbelievable, unspeakable...

...I just thought people needed to know, though it's not like everyday citizens can do anything about it.

...Not to leave things on a dour note, here are some lighter notions to consider:


“The unreasonable man attempts to adapt the world to himself. The reasonable man attempts to adapt himself to the world. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”  George Bernard Shaw

"We are so good at finding
the distance between bodies
and then measuring it,
as if the most important thing
were how to enforce the unit
that underlies each system.
the apple inside
the gravity
the tree tries not to believe in.”
-Christopher DeWeese
that underlies each system,
the apple inside the gravity
the tree tries not to believe in."
-Christopher DeWeese

“Your present circumstances don't determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”  Nido Qubein
that underlies each system,
the apple inside the gravity
the tree tries not to believe in."
-Christopher DeWeese

“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Rumi


Monday, January 12, 2015



--WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU FELT REALLY HAPPY?

                                                                       
                                                         Big Oak

I am busy holding myself together.  In the mirror I am pulleys and strings and wrong answers.  My sister claims I am thinner than her, a broom handle.  She says she can make bows out of my skin.  She tosses candy wrappers at me and chuckles.  Mother watches from the kitchen, blurry-eyed and bored, drawing hard on a cigarette, as if self-emulating.
            Our house is a bear trap that I hate.  The walls smell like sins and sewers and burnt offerings, so I go out to the backyard.  I make sure no one’s watching.  I hide behind the big oak, use my hands to dig, fingertips going raw in seconds.  I shouldn’t have buried it so deep, but it’s hard to be trustworthy with the world.  The planet feels heavy and sluggish, a jug of gasoline, sloshing forward so obese.
            I dust dirt off the metal box and open it.  Unwrap the cloth and take out the photograph.  We were three.  My twin looked like me, maybe a little smarter with his lip cricked.  I feel guilty that I can’t remember him.  We would have shared meals together, TV time, sang.  We might have played tag round this tree.  Dad said we were playing Hide and Seek and that he didn’t see Jesse tucked behind the rear wheel.  I might have been the only one who believed him.  Still, he shouldn’t have killed himself.  Losing both of them has dried up all my sweet spots.
            I hear the new man’s truck pulling up, coughing like a dragon, stereo thumping full blast.  No matter what she says, no matter how many times she hits me, I’ll never call him Dad.
            I put back the box, bury it, stand up and watch the sun dart through the leaves of the big oak as if it’s a playground and the spackles of light are alive.


Friday, January 9, 2015



--I THOUGHT YOU’D UNDERSTAND WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE MISUNDERSTOOD



…I’ve been in a funk.  I think traveling to Spokane and having to deal with all my dad’s stuff is the impetus.  It takes me back and brings me down.
Then there are greedy people thrown into the mix.  What kind of person would open the safety deposit boxes without telling the Executor of the Will?  A pretty shady person, is what I think.

It helps to read poetry when I’m I a funk.  “What We Carry” by Dorriane Laux and “The Village” by Louise Gluck have been my go-to volumes.  You’ll find a bit of them below.
Speaking of below, here are some things I like for the weekend:


“I would rather die standing up than live kneeling down.” Stephane Charbonnier


“We stand in the sun and the sun heals us.
It doesn’t rush away.  It hangs above us,
like an actor pleased with his entrance.”  Louise Gluck


“To get born, your body makes a pact with death, and from that moment, all it tries to do is cheat.”  Louise Gluck

“But there are truths that ruin a life; the same way some lies are generous, warm and cozy like the sun on the brick wall.” Louise Gluck

“Just keep going.  Everybody gets better if they keep at it.” Ted Williams

“Put your heat, mind, soul and intellect into even the smallest acts.  This is the secret of success.” Sivananda Sarasvati

“The first one gets the oyster; the second gets the shell.” Andrew Canegie

“Of all the animals, man is the only who that lies.” Mark Twain

“Of all the animals, man is the only one that blushes, or needs to.” Mark Twain

“Let’s kick their ass and get the hell out of here.” Gen. George Armstrong Custer

“I don’t always know what I’m talking about, but I know I’m right.” Muhammad Ali


“Never eat more than you can lift.” Miss Piggy