Wednesday, June 29, 2016




                                                         Life is an Arboretum

Fronds are breaking through the sheets of ice on your face as your cellphone buzzes for the twelfth time during dinner.

You are a busy lady.  Important.  An attorney to boot.

Now you are also desired.  Someone wants to fuck you very badly.

            His name is Roland.  He doesn’t seem your type.  He’s short and stiff, a rigid robot monkey, as if his bones will not sway.  I’ve seen him walking.  It would be comical if he were someone I didn’t know.

            You punch the keyboard on your phone while your cheeks turn cotton candy pink.  Your eyes whirl like two drill bits doing hard work as your tongue actually sweeps over your lower lip, making it glisten.

            Happy times for you.

            My best friend is a dullard but a good listener.  He’s fond of platitudes.  “It takes two to tango,” he told me when I first shared what was happening. 

            Today he said, “It is what it is.”

            He said, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

            He said, “There’s plenty of fish in the sea.”

            He said, “I bet your dick is bigger.”

            He said, “At least you’re not homeless.”

            He said, “Things would be better if you were more positive.”

            This last one is what I focus on as gravy steams the underside of my chin, the dirt smell of shitake mushrooms slaking up my nostrils.  “I really like the way you’ve started doing your hair,” I say.  “It suits you.”

            Your eyes come up from the phone skittish, with you giggling.  “What was that?”

            “Your clients must be comedians,” I say, not feeling positive anymore.

            Your mouth twists while your nose turns into a hatchet made of flesh. 

You sigh and tell me, “Well, it’s just nice to be happy once in a while.”

            You sling darts like this all the time now because I am a blow-up clown made of thin plastic.  Air hisses out of my ears and pores.  I am leaking so much that my friend greeted me with, “Hey, Schecky, you get any skinnier, somebody’s going to make shoelaces out of you.”

            Here comes another text. 

Roland is feeling very randy. 

He wants to thrust those hard bones over you, into you, through you, and maybe that’s something you want because I see how your hair has become a garden replete with milk-white tulips, your earlobes fuchsia beets that have been gently plucked from the earth and rinsed with care, your dimpled chin a gleaming, yellow lemon rind.    

            Other (so-called) advice my friend gave me:

            “This is just a bump in the road.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

            “There is someone somewhere worse off than you.”

            “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

            With my fork, I break the moat I’ve made of my mash potatoes.  I watch the sludgy gray gravy pool over the rim of my plate.  The gravy become a stampeding river that washes across the dining room table, slides down the sides, onto the floor, some splattering on my pants.

            When you say, “You’re making a mess,” I don’t know whether to chuckle or scream.


            In bed, near midnight, I hear you slink off the mattress.  The bathroom light shoots a stripe across the bottom of the door.  It’s more texting, or maybe sexting, or perhaps a combination of both.

            I hear my friend’s voice again:

            “You don’t need people like that in your life.”

            “Life is short.”

            “Life is a bitch.”

            “Life is easy, comedy’s hard.”

            I watch the moon wink at me as clouds slog through a bruised-blue sky.  I rise, dress, and leave without closing the front door. 

I drive not knowing where I’m going.  I roll down the car windows.  The air smells like an arboretum, verdant and lush: a place where things grow or die, where they’re uprooted or left alone, a place with fertile soil that can be tilled and renewed.

I turn up the radio, singing as loud as I can, even though I don’t know any of the words.             



Monday, June 27, 2016



…I’m home from Portland, feeling a little wrecked, having left a fair amount of brain cells there, but it was quite fun.  I laughed a lot, a couple of times I laughed so hard I cried.
And it was my birthday, yesterday, a casual affair, which is just fine by me.

…The Guide to Kultur Creative Journal came in my mail why I was gone.  It’s a strong literary magazine.
I have the first poem below in it on page 90:

One Great Love

The man across the lake
Is building a fire
With the legs of a dining room table
And a host of patterned blouses
Through binoculars I can see that he looks
Neither satisfied or sad
Wearing a workman’s placid face
He could be mixing cement
Or baking an omelet
I saw them at the store once
Kissing in the condiment aisle
Giggling and not caring that I noticed
Now the skirts go in, next the shoes
So many shoes
Stilettos and flats and animal print boots
All catching flame
I don’t know what most people would do
Have a garage sale or donate to Goodwill
I don’t know how a heart goes on
When it’s lost its one great love

The Never-ending Now

I suppose you are thinking this
would be a good time to blame the moon
or raise a glass
slice a finger
make confessions
do anything but live
here in the never-ending now
but there is a flock of starlings
writing names in the aquamarine
a baby smelling of homemade bread
cooing and pawing air
some girl somewhere is getting her first kiss
from a boy she’s been writing poems about
a mother has kicked cancer’s ass
refugees have found a home
Nina Simone is crooning on a phonograph
in an old folks home while a couple dances
please stop and ask yourself if
you really want to miss so much beauty


Searching For My Daughter

I am looking for you in the fog
Which slides across the lake
Like the white breath of a misguided dragon
I am groping and flailing
Calling your name
Walking across water
Slipping on ice
Fighting an unsteady current
As gravity tries to take me further
From this spot to that
But I won’t let it
I’m here
Searching for you
Looking in every copse
And barren field
Waiting for the mist to clear
For the sun to lift her tanned arms
Yawn or yell
And point me safely to you



Today I am grateful for the fallow fields
Where as a child I’d fly kites
Imagining them angels sent to save me
From my war room home
The wind was a good friend then
Soil smelling of chaff and barley
The ghosts at bay for once
Returning here after all these years
Feels a bit like victory
Or forgiveness
And when my wife asks why I’m smiling
I tell her I’m ready to go home


Wonder Woman

You are running out of people to save
Even the mailman is looking healthy
Yesterday it was a nun with a sprained ankle
The day before your grandpa Lester’s wounded heart
Once yourself from choking on a chicken bone
If I knew how to sew I would make you a cape
I suppose they have super hero costumes at the store
But really the point is it’s time to stop let go
Be whoever you really are
We’ve been married twenty years now
And I still haven’t figured that out


Thursday, June 23, 2016


…I’m posting earlier than usual because tomorrow I’m heading to Portland/Vancouver to spend a few days with one of my favorite people.  It’s nice to have good friends who make you happy, and who you can be entirely comfortable and vulnerable around.
I hope you have a handful of those people yourself.

…I’ll leave you some things I like for an early weekend:

"Life's about friendships, the way you love your partner, the way you care for your children. That is what life is about. Not anything about earning a hundred zillion dollars because you toured America more than anyone else. I want life to be about creativity." Joe Strummer,

Former lead singer for the Clash rock band

"Would you sell both your eyes for a million dollars...or your two legs..or your hands...or your hearing? Add up what you do have, and you'll find you won't sell them for all the gold in the world. The best things in life are yours, if you can appreciate them." Dale Carnegie


"A prudent man will think more important what fate has conceded to him, than what it has denied."  Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658) Spanish Philosopher

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." Mark Twain

"A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it." Alistair Cooke

"If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent." Isaac Newton

"He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has." Epictetus (55-135 AD) Greek Philosopher

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control. These three alone lead to sovereign power."  Lord Alfred Tennyson

"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, wracked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." Agatha Christie

"Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see." Mark Twain

"Every man stamps his value on himself... man is made great or small by his own will." J.C.F. von Schiller

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control. These three alone lead to sovereign power."  Lord Alfred Tennyson

"Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame."  Alexander Pope

"The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for."  Joseph Addison

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bottom of Form


...(Braggart alert)...

..Paul Beckman, a spectacular writer, had some nice things to say about my newest book, I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE AND NEITHER ARE YOU...

 One Of The Top Collections of the Year

Len Kuntz is a treasure to readers and writers alike. His flash and micro fiction stories are a class in writing for flash writers such as myself and a pure treat for readers. While the stories are short, I found myself stopping and thinking about each one and often going back to reread them. Many short fiction collections we read straight through but Kuntz is so deft and deep you’ll want to savor these nuggets as I did. Some of my favorite stories: “A Lover of Beautiful Things,” a young woman in a shopping center knows she’s being followed and leads her stalker on. “Moving Day,” Twenty-five years covered in three short paragraphs. “New Gray,” a totally heartbreaking story of a fourteen year old girl and her father who returns home after drying out for a year. I could go on and on but you should have the pleasure of discovering these stories yourself.

Bottom of Form  er of short, flash & micro stories. Author of PEEK-collection of 65 flash stories in 117 pages. Author of short story collection: Come! Meet My Family and other stories. Published in the following magazines amongst others: Literary Orphans, Journal of Microliterature, Spelk Fiction, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Yellow Mama, Blue Fifth Notebook, Boston Literary Magazine, Digging Through the Fat, Purple Pig. Metazen, Flash Frontier, The Brooklyner, Playboy, The Connecticut Review, Pure Slush, Web del Sol, Exquisite Corpse, This Zine Will Change Your Life, Litro, Thrice Fiction, Blink-Ink, Raleigh Review, New Haven Review, Blue Lyra Review and others.

Follow “PAUL BECKMAN'S Writing & Reading Place”

Top of Form

Monday, June 20, 2016



Everything conspires, even the moon.
Yes, especially her.
You tell me how she watches you undress
and shower,
an indiscreet voyeur not to be trusted.
You call me a stranger’s name and slap
the hand I raise to touch your face.
“Fresh!” you say, as irony smirks.
Your eyes, once blue as cobalt,
are a burned-down field now,
years and memories gone to ash.
Insidious, one book called it, aptly so,
the diseases that has foiled our future.
But I’ll be here with you, alien or not,
as I always have.



There’s no longer a kiss in your eyes
Your lips are always moving,
Going nowhere
Like a stalled escalator
While your mouth shapes syllables that
No hacker has ever deciphered
Here’s my hand, my palm
Write something on it or
Draw a picture, tap out a code
Anything to let me know you’re here



You are remembering a pet goat
The bell around its neck sounding like
The jingling noise the door made at Storm Lake Grocery
So old man Miller would be alerted to customers
“Old man, Miller, he was sweet on me,” you say.
“He gave me free candy.  He touched me once.”
I try to explain that your mind’s become a shifting bridge
But you’re as lucid as ever, insisting,
“He touched me where he shouldn’t have
And at his funeral,” you say,
“I couldn’t stop laughing.”


Siblings and Spiders

I know it’s spring because the spiders are back
Hanging from my window
So many of them
Gauzy gray Post-It notes taped everywhere
Suspended midair like window washers on the side of
A skyscraper
My brother ate one once, a spider that is,
On a dare from our oldest sibling
He chewed and swallowed and opened wide afterward
Thought that would earn him respect
For once when all it created was ridicule
Now we’re seated in an anteroom
Away from the closed casket
The meal is sloppy joes on stale buns
We eat in silence, chewing, chewing,
Not knowing what to say or
How to properly mourn


The Split

We take turn plucking hairs from our heads
Until there’s enough to stuff pillows
Then come our brows and whiskers, pubic hair
Dermis is next, peeling it off in sticky sheets
We break bones and gnaw on each other’s marrow
This in a room with a mahogany table
A stack of forms and lawyers who record it all



Shame sticks to you like tar
That even a blowtorch cannot eradicate
And in the morning though the sun is wide-eyed
You pull the curtains and duct tape the slits
Your mattress is a hole a cavern a crooked tunnel
You fall down several hundred feet
Miles maybe
There is no bottom or escape
You try calling out but your voice
Only boomerangs against walls of nothingness
And it’s not until the flamethrowers grow weary
And the catapults are wheeled away
That you crawl on knees inch by inch
Open a door and see him standing there
Looking familiar
Not disappointed in the slightest to be
The person you once were
And can still be




Friday, June 17, 2016



…Boy, Friday, you sure look stunning.  It’s great to see you again.

…Unproductive weeks are depressing, which starts a cycle, because once you’re bummed you don’t feel like being productive.  The good news is there’s always today.

…But yesterday I learned these things, which made me feel better after having my novel shredded by two judges and after being told by someone, “I hated this story”:

Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”

Oprah Winfrey was publicly fired from her first television job as an anchor in Baltimore for getting “too emotionally invested in her stories.”

Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts multiple times.

In one of Fred Astaire‘s first screen tests, an executive wrote: “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.”

Vera Wang failed to make the 1968 US Olympic figure-skating team. Then she became an editor at Vogue, but was passed over for the editor-in-chief position.

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, had his first book rejected by 27 different publishers.

R.H. Macy had a series of failed retail ventures throughout his early career before he finally launched Macy and Co., today known as Macy’s.

…And then there were these comments from friends on Facebook which either made me laugh, or think:

My grandpa started walking five miles a day when he was 60.
Now he’s 97 years old and we have no idea where the hell he is.

"My wife told me sex is better on holiday… that wasn’t a very nice postcard to receive."

Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you are donating blood.

A Buddhist monk goes up to a hot dog stand and says to the vendor, “Make me one with everything."

Ugh. Message from a dude: "just a horny old man, interested?" No, please set your balls on fire. Thanks.
I bought some new shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with, but I've been tripping all day.

Thinking about starting a tumblr called "Awkward Whiteness." Today's entry is my morning at Home Depot where one of the clerks told me, "Jeez! You move just like an Indian! You snuck right up on me." Then he looked at me closely. "You an Indian? I grew up with Indians so I know."

Fun fact: Everyone you know is in pain.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

--I HAVE MASTERED THE ART OF FALLING                                                         


  Talk To Me

He calls me Cricket, says I’m cute as a bug, the best girlfriend he’s ever had.  He plays connect-the-dots with my freckles, across my shoulders, then my face.   He says I’m his first love, his last, just like that, without irony, without blinking.  It’s so hot on the boat dock I can’t breathe.  It’d be nice to believe him.  I don’t. 
He shucks his shorts, grins.  “C’mon, let’s go skinny dipping!”  
I shake my head, look away before his grin fades. 
            Splash.  “C’mon,” he yells.  “While we’re young!” 
I want to say something mean and clever.  How that was funny when Rodney Dangerfield said it, but not now.  I can’t think what.  
He climbs out dripping, pissed.  In five minutes I’m not Cricket anymore.  Now it’s Prude.  Shitty Girlfriend.  You Suck.   
I could call him back, lose my suit, what’s it matter.  I don’t know.  I take off my sunglasses, squint at the sun.  It’s a white fruit stand cherry.  It’s seen everything— dinosaurs, Jesus, all four Beatles alive. 
“Talk to me,” I say.  “Tell me.”  I don’t hear anything. 


   Tango Lessons
 “I like your hair messy,” he says.  “You look like a woman who could find her way out of a fox hole.” 
He chuckles his big beaver laugh.  He has hairy knuckles and shins.  He belches up bologna and cherry-flavored cough drops.
She says, “You could kiss me differently, you know.  Tender–like.”
“If I wanted to, I could.  Yeah.”
A smear of toothpaste encrusts one side of her mouth, white and crackled like seagull droppings.
“What about dance lessons?” she asks.  “You said we’d learn how to tango?”
“What do you think we’ve been doing all these years?”
He scratches his armpits and says he might have a rash.  He takes the last beer and tells her to hit the market for more.
She gets her coat and keys.  He lifts his beer can in goodbye, seated on the sagging couch in his boxers and wife beater, back to her.
She pulls the garrote out of her handbag, tightening each end around her hands, her only regret that it was rope and not barbwire.
                                                               Talking Rain

            Whenever it rained the animals got to talking: the cockatoos whispering in their Ethel Merman sopranos while preening their plumage, the nocturnal hamsters stepping off the treadmill to hover in a hill of straw like hairy hoodlums, the cats slinking to a canopied spot behind the couch, all three of them—Dinky, Dinky Do, and Dinky Do 2—mewling and squalling.  Even the outsiders became verbose; squirrels chattering, birds peeling a sort of fluted screech, the fish in the lake leaping out of water and putting their point across quick before splashing back in the drink. 

I think now how dissimilar we were from them, us always sullen in the rain because it recalled slick pavement and the accident.  I wonder if we had talked then, like the animals, if things might have ended different.


Monday, June 13, 2016




Sunspots and nausea,
numbness in my left hand,
the sledgehammer next,
Satan gripping a chisel,
then the Big Bang
where stars slam
into planets like boiling bombs.
Hiroshima was nothing.
Just look at this.
By tomorrow, though,
the earth will split and settle,
oceans fill.
A new sunrise is going to lift its proud breast over the Cascades,
and the first few dinosaurs
will roll on the ground,
wrestling like pups.


The Truth Is

Her skin was dull and powdery
as a moth.
She drank laxatives.
Her breath always smelled like cloves
of garlic.
At night she had flatulence and her snoring often
sent me to sleep in the other room.
A lot of people
told me I could have done better
but those are the same idiots
that don’t know the first thing about love.

This Year

Things are different.
My son wants a machete,
my wife a divorce.
The solicitor said something about breast cancer.
When I opened the sliding door just now
artic air swooped in and molested me,
but there was a Technicolor
rainbow in the sky,
broken at one end.
I sat down
on the lump of our honeymoon sofa,
next to a plastic tree
staring at strands of limp tinsel
and cheap, ceramic balls.
I told it, “Merry Christmas,”
hoisted my glass.
It was red to the brim and
I had other bottles,
so at least that hadn’t changed.



I need new eyes and so
they slice my corneas with a blade and
pull the flaps back,
shoot improved sensors into my pupils,
solder rims in place,
give me drops and huge welder sunglasses
Elvis might have once worn.
A week later the world is
clear and colorful.
I can see fingerprints on the far door
where you’d lean,
dripping from the bath,
and ask for a towel.
I can see the stubby lark in a tree
and the neighbor kid kissing a girl.
On the way home from work
I stop off at the graveyard
and rip flowers from the roots,
smear the dirt across my eyes,
tuck it up under the lids until it burns
and tell myself,
There, that’s better.



Everything is exaggerated and dull.
I think I hear your fat cat yawn.
He’s forgotten how to purr.
The lock on the bathroom door has rusted.
There is a burnt out bulb
in the ceiling next to the water stain
shaped like Argentina.
We should turn the heat down two degrees
to save a few nickels.
Tomorrow I’ll wear a blue tie
but it won’t matter because
my boss is a jerk.
his breath always smells like coffee and cloves.
As you shudder,
I come to
and realize just how turned around we’ve gotten.
You’re supposed to be the bored one,
and me the bull,
pounding away on top.

I Can Hear Your Heartbeat

When we are through running we flop down
on hard/soft corn stalks that hit our spines like bars.
You say, “I can hear your heartbeat all the way over here.”
We are surrounded by green and shadows and the moon moving through a charcoal cloud.
Neurotic as I am, I can’t help but think it’s a sign.
You swing around, a coil, a spring, boomeranging.
“Kiss me quick,” you say, “and put some heat on it.”
I go slow then fast then it’s just an unfurling of some flag inside of me
that’s been seeking you all this time.
Hours later we come up for air.
“Hey, hi,” I say.
“Wow,” you say.