Tuesday, March 29, 2016


…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…

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