Tuesday, March 29, 2016



 
--IT’S JUST ANOTHER AUTOPSY

 
…Well, tomorrow I’m headed to L.A., a city I don’t like very much, but to AWP, a writer’s conference, with many, many people I like very much.  In fact, there’ll be over 10,000 writers there.
It’s intimidating and overwhelming and wonderfully chaotic.
This year I’ll have a book that’s just come out, so that will be an added bonus.  I might sell some.  I know I’ll give a lot of them away.  It doesn’t matter.  Just having someone read your words is plenty satisfying for me.
Wish me luck…

…My copy of the indie lit journal, The Literary Commune, came in the mail and I had this piece in it:
 

           Show Me A Hero
 

A teenager on the bus in the aisle seat next to me has a jackknife that he keeps flicking open and closed, open and closed, like a heartbeat or tinny metronome and my pulse has picked up since he started this.  I don’t want to stare so I steal peripheral glances.  The blade is five inches long with a sharp tip.  No other passengers seem to notice.  They all wear ear buds and are busy tapping on their phones.
 
           I read in the news last week that in the Middle East there are posters on telephone poles with the title HOW TO STAB A JEW and then instructions below it.  I’m not Jewish, but I sort of look like I could be, and I wonder if this guy has read the same article.  I can’t really see his expression unless I look at him full on and I’m not about to do that as he may think I’m taunting him.

I consider getting up and reporting him to the bus driver but that could get me stabbed in the leg or back.  I’m not paranoid, but hey, this kid has a switchblade.  I’m not paranoid but I’ve been called a coward before by all kinds of people—my boss, my dad, my wife when she left me.  It doesn’t seem to me that I’ve had a lot of chances in life to be a hero and I don’t really know what a hero is anyway.  LeBron James is supposedly a hero.  A lot of people claim Kayne West is their hero, Kim Kardashian and Bernie Sanders, too.

But I get it; this is a chance to do something on the heroic level.  I could try to swipe the knife out the guy’s hand, ask him to put it away, take him down somehow, though that would be awkward given that we’re seated, and likely there would be blood spilled by one, if not both, of us.

I’m thinking all this when a young girl, maybe five or six, comes up the aisle from the back and stops.  “Is that a toy?” she asks. 

The teenager smiles.  He has a nice smile actually, authentic looking.  “Nah,” he says.

“Then why’re you playing with it?”

“I’m not anymore,” the teenager says, stashing the switchblade in his coat pocket.

At home that night I tell my new wife about what happened only I give her a different story where there was a struggle and I pinned the teenager on the ground while our fellow passengers cheered me on.  I tell her I held him there till the cops came and how the rowdy applause was like something out of an Itzhak Perlman concert.

I’ve never seen her so happy, not even the night I proposed. 

She says, “I knew it.”

I ask, “Knew what?”

She takes my hand, kisses my knuckles, and says, “Meet me in the bedroom.”

During our love-making I can’t help it but I keep thinking about people who may or may not be heroes.  It’s a quagmire of questionable candidates.  Five minutes in I’m flaccid.  That’s never happened to me before.

“It’s okay,” my wife says. 

“No, it’s not,” I say.

She rolls over, turns of the night stand light and tells me, “It’s not like I’m going anywhere.”   

 
…Here were some corny jokes and funny things on Facebook last week:

-“Doctor, doctor, I can’t stop singing The Green, Green Grass Of Home.”
“That sounds like Tom Jones syndrome.”
“Is it common?”
“It’s not unusual.”
“It’s not unusual.”
-C, E flat, and G walk into a bar.
The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve minors.”


-Is there a rule in MadLibs about how many times you can use anus-face, butthole, dick-wad and boobies?

-Henry this morning: "I already know all the bad words: dumb, booger, and Donald Trump."

-"shut the fuck up, how about that? i'm gonna pour my scalding hot coffee down your face." - my little brother, easter morning 2016.

-"you're 33 years old. your brother is almost 30. this is embarrassing. why won't anyone stop this?" - my dad, easter morning 2016.

…And, lastly, here are some things I like that you might also:

-“Let us do something, while we have the chance.  It is not every day that we are needed.” Samuel Beckett

-"may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear" --Lucille Clifton

"may the tide that is entering even now the lip of our understanding carry you out beyond the face of fear" - LC
-“Holding a grudge is the modern equivalent of having standards, because if people don’t hold grudges, it means they just don’t care what people do.” Fran Lebowitz
 
-“There is nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Hemingway

-“It sucks to lose.” Charles Barkley

-“There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.” The Great Gatsby

“There are no classes for beginners in life.  The most difficult thing is always asked right away.” Rilke

-"If you concentrate your attention on some apparently insignificant portion of the world, you will find, deep within it, nothing less than the world itself." O. Millhauser

…See you in six days…
 
 

Monday, March 28, 2016



 
--USUALLY I CATCH ON FAST



...It's been a long time coming--six years to be precise--but my new book is finally out today.
yay!

http://www.amazon.com/Not-Supposed-Here-Neither-Are/dp/0996352694/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459041921&sr=1-5&keywords=len+Kuntz



Sunday, March 27, 2016



--I NEVER THANKED YOU FOR INTRODUCING ME TO KLIMT 

It’s Sunday.  Easter.  Happy Easter to you.
Tomorrow’s Monday.  I’ll have some good news then.

…Last week I had a few things published, including these:

https://www.101words.org/pluto/

http://vendingmachinepress.com/2016/03/19/miscreants-and-family-by-len-kuntz/

http://oddballmagazine.com/2016/03/23/poem-by-len-kuntz/

https://zeroflash.wordpress.com/stand-alone-flash-pieces/

…One of the tough things about writing is when you write fiction or poetry yet what you’re writing about is very much real, something that happened, something involving hurt and real people involved.
So the question becomes, do you even write it?  And if you do, and if it gets published somewhere, do you share it, knowing the parties involved might see it and be offended?
I had that issue come up with half a dozen poems I wrote.  I sided with not sharing them.  And so those poems died with me.  But that’s okay.

…It’s raining here in Seattle, Snohomish.  It’s raining tubs and tubs of water.
Someday soon, though, that sun up there somewhere is going to show her pretty yellow face.



“No, Bob Marley is not your dad.”
“GG Allin is not your dad.”
“Beavis is not your dad.”

Thursday, March 24, 2016



--YOU WERE ONLY WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT TO ARRIVE
 

…One of my favorite inventions is Post-it Notes.  I love them.  They’re life-savers.

…SOKOTKA Literary Magazine came in the mail today and on page 48, marked with a Post-it Note, is a poem of mine. 
This one:
 
A Million Silver Studs

My daughter’s friends pull up in a car
that seems to leap in place,
humping the air like a metal dinosaur in heat,
bass turned up so loud the driveway quakes
and neighbors fly to their windows.
The three of them are all hairy
and pierced,
tatted up,
in short-sleeved shirts,
boys looking like bored inmates,
leaning on the car hood,
not even bothering to broach the porch.
“Yo, Mr. K.,” one says,
his pissed off smirk
a reaction to last week
when I found him
in our basement
on top of my daughter.
She’s at the door in an instant,
wearing crocheted nylons shredded around the thighs,
black army boots with thick soles,
frayed cutoffs,
and a motorcycle jacket too sizes too big,
bejeweled with a million silver studs.
I grab her wrist to stop her from prancing down the steps.
The sun glints off her nose ring, her lip hoops,
the twin rhinestones imbedded by her eyebrows.
“Fucking what?”
And here’s where words fail me again,
where I fail myself,
fail my daughter,
thinking maybe my Ex was right after all.
I look down and release my grip,
afraid she’ll see my tears
and think even less of me,
if that’s even possible.
When I look again,
she’s actually skipping toward the car,
swiveling around as she once did in her bouncy chair,
saying, “I love you, Dad,”
while showing me her middle finger.






--I’LL NEVER BE THE SUNNY ONE


 
What to do When You Feel Less Than Zero

In the in-between,
the clouds won’t part again
and the moon is a stranger who insults your
taste of music,
your choices and conclusions,
while everything congeals
and conspires as usual,
the same old hoaxes,
those familiar promises
unraveling like the life
you’ve been living for years.
Going down again,
you float on razors,
on spikes and crimson oven coils.
It’s enough to banish anyone,
enough to make one want to
vanish into an ashy mist.
In the bathroom,
there are plenty of pills,
a sharp blade, scissors, too,
a dull tub that might be
filled to overflow.
But there on the lampstand
is the slip of paper
with my number printed neatly.
Do you see it?
Look.
No, look again.
Reach for it.
Go on, please.
Call me anytime, it says.
Really, anytime.
Call me and I’ll be there.



Tuesday, March 22, 2016



--I’M A GARDEN OF BOOMERANGS
 

…I’m back from Nashville.  Now that’s quite a city.  The people are gregarious, the food is fantastic, the architecture varied, eclectic with ancient churches and modern angular skyscrapers. 

Walking down the main streets or alleys, music pours out of every establishment--live music, most of it country or blues, some of it not.  The musicians strictly play for tips because they are not paid by the bar owners.  There are hundreds of bands everywhere, most of them really talented, and the amount of them is a reminder that you have to be incredibly good (and lucky) to hit the big time.

 …Reinman’s Theater and The Grand Ole Opry are cultural icons.  On performance night, each artist sings only two songs.  It’s recorded live on the radio in front of the massive auditorium audience.  The commercial breaks are quite corny, harking back to yesteryears.  But the music—even if you hate country—sounds especially strong, owing to the remarkable acoustics.

The lead actor in the TV show “Nashville” sang two songs.  He’s a heart throb, and you didn’t need screaming women to tell you that. 

I especially liked Steve Moakler, who was just recently discovered.  He was quite humbled to be there:


 …There’s an old church—St. Mary’s.  During the civil war it served as a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers.  The only rule was no fighting while inside.  So a solider might be lying next to another soldier that wounded them and then once they were mended they got back out into battle, sometimes brother fighting brother, father fighting son.  It seemed fascinating to learn that.

…They make a lot of whiskey in Tennessee.  Like the music and food, it is all quite outstanding, though whiskey isn’t my go-to choice of alcohol.

…Nashville, food wise, it famous for their southern cooking which means fried food.  Hot chicken originated there.  “That chicken was so hot if was like kissing the devil,” is how one person summarized their meal.

…There aren’t very many homeless people in Nashville, or at least I didn’t see many.  There are thousands of tourists, of course, most (surprisingly) young, twenty-something groups of women who seemed to be there on bachelor parties.  Quite a few of them could be seen (and heard) riding tandem bikes which seat six people on one side, six on the other, with a driver in front.  In the middle sits a keg.  The more you peddle, the more you get to drink.  It’s quite a contraption.

…Did I drink too much myself?  One time, I did.  I left some brain cells on the floor.  I gained seven pounds.  It was worth it, but I’m very happy to be home.
 
 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016



 
--WHAT IF EVERYTHING WAS LIKE THE FIRST TIME?

 
…Tomorrow I leave for Nashville, back Monday, so I won’t be posting for a few days.

…The other day I wrote a happy story for the first time in a lifetime.  Here it is:

 

                                                              Relics of Love

 

            Years after my wife passed, friends finally wore me down.  Anyway, I was through with those Widows Anonymous meetings where everyone whined or sat around looking like frail sticks of driftwood.

            I’d been set up on a blind date.  We met at an Italian restaurant, which was dimly lit, smelling of basil and spicy boar.

            She arrived late, with a flourish, a breeze swirling at every swooping movement she made.  Her silk dress, maroon-colored, looked like a sea of wine as it rippled against her pale skin.

            Her spouse had died, too, about the same time as my Lily.  I’d been told that ahead.

            “Why did you wait so long,” I asked, “to, you know, try dating?”

            She was particularly lithe for her age, long-limbed, hair the color of nutmeg, thick and clasped in back with a bejeweled barrette.  Her arms shot up as she laced fingers behind her neck the way a football coach might do.  “Oh, you’re not my first.”

“You were married.  I know I can’t be your first.”

She passed over my pun without even acknowledging it.  “I’ve gone on nearly fifty of these.”

I thought she was exaggerating, but her face and eyes were as steady as a bored lion.

“Nothing worked out, apparently,” I said.

“Old men are just so old.  They’re no longer desperate.  Their mystery has been erased.”

“I’m afraid I’m not mysterious whatsoever.”

“You look it.”

“Do I?”

She leaned forward, head bent, almost the way a tarot reader might.  “Your sideburns, they’re long and sculpted.  You’ve only lightly spritzed on cologne, none of that wood smoke stuff, but yours has base notes of citrus, lime and apple.”

“Who knew facial hair and fragrance could make a person enigmatic?”

“Your hands are long and thin and look quite soft, un-callused, which means you were probably a lawyer or professor.”

“Didn’t my friends tell you?”

“I asked for no details.”

“But why keep going on these random dates if they never come of anything?”

She leaned back, tapping her forefinger on her face below an earlobe.  “I just had a feeling.  I don’t know why.  I sensed you’d be different.”  

“Should I try to be?”

“Please, whatever you do, don’t try anything.”

The waiter took our order and we ate mostly in silence.  It didn’t feel awkward as it should have.  A number of times she looked across the table, smiling, without a hint as to why.

When the wine arrived she said, “Tell me about yourself so I can decide if I want to see you again.”

“This feels like a test.”

“It is or it isn’t.  Go ahead.”

I told her, sparing details, focusing on the latter arc of my life, how she was correct in my being a professor, but that I also wrote poetry and had published five volumes.

“Tell me one of your poems.”

“You mean read you one?”

“I don’t suppose you have a book handy, so you’ll have to tell it.”

Naturally, I had several memorized, or nearly memorized, so I decided to share the one about Lily that I’d written after her death.  It surprised me how nervous I was, my voice croaking a few times.  Even the title, Relics of Love, sounded hackneyed to me now.

“That is so beautiful,” she said.  “You really loved her.”

“Of course.  Didn’t you love your husband?”

She took a full gulp of wine, draining half a glass.  “Not really.  He could be a brute.”

“I’m sorry.”

“As am I.  Plus he never wanted sex.”

I choked on a swallow of wine.  I’m hardly prudish, but her frankness came out of nowhere.

“I think I could fall in love with you,” she said.

I felt myself blush.  When had that last happened? 

“I’m sure you’ll fall in love with me.  All men do, usually, too quickly.  But it’s getting near the end and I realized the only thing I want, the only thing in the whole wide world, is love.”

“It’s what everyone should want,” I said, not necessarily believing myself.

“But they don’t.  They want companionship, someone to fall asleep with while watching television.  I’m looking for grand romance, and of course, magnificent sex.”

I felt flustered again.  “Is it difficult to be so forthcoming about your feelings, even to a stranger?”

She reached across the table, taking my hand in hers.  “Are we really strangers?”

Her hand felt like warm bread.  “But aren’t we?”

“Let’s go.”

 

The restaurant had a fountain imbedded in a circle driveway out front with a moat formed to collect the splashing water.  While we waited for my car to be brought around, she clicked her heels off, hoisting herself over the side and into the fountain, not even bothering if her dress got soaked.

“You’re mad.”

“There’s no time left for that,” she said, collecting palm-fulls of water and shooting them my way.  “I’m seventy-two.”

“I’ll go ask for towels.”

“No, no.  Come in.  The water’s quite warm.”

She was either insane or the most spontaneous and adventurous being on earth, a seventy-two year old being at that.  I had a dilemma.  Not joining her would be rude, spoiling what had been a fascinating night.  Getting in would be a step over the void to a place I might never leave.

I took off my shoes hastily, afraid the car would arrive, and clumsily maneuvered the fountain curb.

She was right—the water was the same temperature I use to brush my teeth.

She slapped water at me in a steady rate, some clipping my eyes and blinding me, something that hadn’t happened in decades.   Before I could open my eyes, I felt her lips on mine.  Her fingers gripped the hair on the back of my head, tugging lightly yet urgently.

I heard a car coming around, the valet saying, “Sir.  Sir?”

She kept kissing me.  Water slapped all around us.  It seemed outrageous, nothing more than a miracle.  I held her tight and did not let go. 


 

 

 

Monday, March 14, 2016



 
--ONE SHOULDN'T BELIEVE TOO STRONGLY IN A LIFE THAT CAN VANISH EASILY
 

…What a windy weekend.  It’s amazing my power never went out.  I saw cats and dogs flying through the air.

…My book is nearly complete and polished and ready to send out into the world.  I’m excited.  More later.

…I read this article someone posted and it looked real.  Even though it’s not it was still pretty funny:

BOSTON, MA – A 19-year-old woman beat her roommate to death with an industrial sized bag of jelly beans on Tuesday afternoon.
The woman was reportedly frustrated by the amount of invites received for the popular Facebook game Candy Crush. “It started off as once a week,” the woman said in her statement. “Soon it was happening every day. My battery was constantly dying from notifications from this girl. I tried disabling notifications, I tried blocking her, I tried everything except murder.  Now I’ll never have to see that horrible notification again.”
The police issued a warning to people sending out the invites. “Not to blame the victim, but this woman was asking for it. We all know you have no life. We all know part of you is embarrassed the same people have to see the same notification from you, but you send it anyway. For your own safety, stop sending these invites.”

…This article actually was true:

NAKED WOMAN FLEES POLICE

Deputies in Santa Fe, New Mexico arrested a 51-year-old woman over the weekend for allegedly driving drunk, fleeing deputies and crashing into a vehicle while naked.
Deputies released the dashboard camera video of the incident Tuesday.
In the video the suspect is seen running nude across the highway after she got out of her SUV following the crash.
Deputies caught her after a short chase, but it wasn't over even after she was in handcuffs and covered with a tarp.
She told deputies she has a cyst in her head that causes a seizure disorder as the reason for her behavior. Deputies say she also attacked officers at the county jail once she was taken there.

…Lastly, here are a few things on FBK last week that made me smile, and maybe they will you as well:

-I like to hold hands at the movies… which always seems to startle strangers

-THINGS I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SAY BEFORE BECOMING A PARENT
 1.) “Can I smell your butt, please?”
2.) “Your food is not a hat.”
3.) “If you eat a crayon, you’re not a big girl.”
4.) “No, Bob Marley is not your dad.”
5.) “Bevis isn’t your dad either.”

-Someone sent a photo to me of one of my paperback books after a dog had attacked it and then made love to it.


Thursday, March 10, 2016


 
 
--YOU WERE BEAMING ONCE BEFORE, BUT YOU’RE NOT LIKE THAT ANYMORE

 
…So this happened the other day.  (For real.):
 
NAKED WOMAN STANDING ATOP 18-WHEELER STOPS TRAFFIC IN HOUSTON

HOUSTON -- A naked woman dancing atop the cab of an 18-wheeler slowed traffic in the Houston area for about two hours before she was coaxed off the truck.

Emergency responders used a fire truck ladder to reach the unidentified woman Monday morning and get her to stop the bizarre public display.

Views from the CBS affiliate KHOU's chopper show vehicles slowing down to get a glimpse of the woman on the big rig.

Authorities aren't sure why the nude woman was on top of the cab or whether she had been inside the big rig before a three-vehicle traffic accident nearby.

It's believed the woman was driving one of the wrecked cars, KHOU reported.

Traffic was diverted along the stretch of freeway during the incident. Officials detained the woman and did not immediately say whether she would face charges.

 
…And, good grief, this also happened:

 
Florida Woman Accidentally Shot in the Back by Her 4-Year-Old Son: Police

A 31-year-old Florida woman is in stable condition less than a day after getting accidentally shot in the back by her 4-year-old son while she was driving.

According to a statement from investigators in Florida's Putnam County, the non-fatal shooting occurred on Tuesday afternoon as Jamie Gilt was driving down a highway.

Depending on what police learn during their investigation, Gilt could end up facing criminal charges, police say.

The small child was sitting in the vehicle's backseat, right behind his mother, and somehow got his hands on her handgun, the statement says.

According to family members, Gilt was driving her truck to pick up a horse from a relative.

The police statement says detectives continue to investigate the incident "to determine exactly how the firearm was stored in the vehicle."

Gilt's son is currently in the custody of relatives, police said.

The Florida Department of Children and Family Services will be conducting its own investigation into the shooting, according to police.

 

…What’s the world coming to?  It’s all a little bit unsettling.