Friday, September 24, 2021


—SUDDENLY I’M CAUGHT UP IN YOUR SOMBER RAIN

 


A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing 

 

 

She looked inside the well of me, way down into the gray, gulley of my throat, and said, You know, a girl is a half-formed thing.

 

She said, Even from way up here, I can smell the sins of your uncles and cousins.  They’re still hideous, but they taste like stale cinnamon, once spiced and threatening, neutered now by age, but not forgotten.

 

She said, I could read your palm, it would be easier, right, but this is more interesting, don’t you think?  I mean, look at how your tonsil bell wobbles, so nervous to have me this close.

 

Chuckling, she ran a jagged fingernail down the length of my jugular and tapped out some kind of code, piercing tufts of skin.

 

She said, You used to dream big.  You used to notice cloud shapes and the way a sprig of lavender can cleanse any pallet, if its freshly picked.  She said, You used to laugh a whole lot more.

 

She shifted a bit, owning my eyes now--instead of the endless cavern that is my mouth--clamping them inside a crescent wrench.

 

She said, A girl is a half-formed thing because she’s just learning whom to trust, which isn’t at all easy, since many of the monsters scream gibberish while their claws are busy shredding skin and snapping bones.

 

When I tried to reply, she slammed my jaw shut like a well-oiled dresser drawer.

 

She said, Listen to me.  She said, A girl is a half-formed thing, but I’m counting on you to find the other half, deliver it to me whole, and explain how one piece fits into the other, and why they even should.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021


—NEVER FORGET ME,

     AND EVERYTHING I’VE DONE 

NEVER FORGET ME, 

     LIKE I’M YOUR FAVORITE SONG

 

 

R.I.P James “Fred” Mayhew, 9/19/21

 

 

Yo, Fred!

 

I miss you. I miss your smile and those boyish, Nick Nolte (circa “North Dallas Forty”) good looks. 

 

I’ve thought of you quite a few times in the last couple of months and meant to write, but then, stupid time came and went, and well, as so often is the case, it ended up that I was the stupid one, not time. 

 

So, I tried, but I can't recall a single day I’ve ever seen you angry, not even when Doc Sot stiffed us out of 200 bones in VIVA at The Golden Steer. Not when those “hags” walked in on you “doing your business.” Not when said “hags” evidentially stole your watch. In my mind, you're tied with Lersey as “The Happiest Guy I Know.” (But then, this is coming from the person your wife deemed as "The Most Wasted Guy I've Ever Seen." So, yeah, take it for what it's worth.)

 

It's been a thrill and honor to know you. Heck, it was even nice having your kid (and friends) stay at my place in Blahview that time, and have all the sirens (EMT’s and cops aplenty) twirling in the driveway at 2am. (Got to keep those "Track Mansion Yuppies” on their toes, right?)

 

I've also really appreciated your random, intermittent missives via email over the years. They always came out of the blue, and they always made me chuckle and smile, sometimes to the point I’d spit out my beverage all over the keyboard.

 

What I’m trying to say is you are One of the good ones—One of the What-you-see-is-What-you-get ones: authentic, unique and absolutely golden, carrying so much straight-up, jacked-up joy that you’re impossible not to love.

 

I love you, Fred. I do.

 

You used to end your notes to me with, "Brothers for Life." To me, it always felt as if you really meant it, like meant it all the way from the bottom of your toes. So, that's what you and I will always be. (Me, and hundreds of others.) “Brothers for Life.” I hope you know that.

 

I also hope Tommy gets to read this to you. I’m sending you all the love I have, and, either way, I know you’ll be able to feel it, this exclusive, one-of-a-kind place you hold in my heart.

 

Yours Truly,

 

“Lenny the K”

 “Kuntzie” 

“2 Bone Lenny” 


Monday, September 20, 2021

—DON’T YOU REMEMBER YOU TOLD ME YOU LOVED ME, BABY?   

 


The Doomed Romantic, or An Evening with Dennis Cooper

 

 

       Looking out the window, hoping to see a pink moon among the shelves of roaming cloud cover, the doomed romantic sits listening to Nick Drake. 

       There are millions of thought fragments, like bits of beach sand, running through the doomed romantic’s bony skull, but none are sticky enough.

       His dog yawns nervously, like a misplaced secret. Even the books, stacked up like dead soldiers, wear leery and skeptical expressions, a brazen betrayal of the inanimate. 

       Nick’s fragile vocal delivery warbles as it meets the largest window, shimmying against the pane, not willing to abandon its desperate sojourn. The sound waves, ingenious as they are, make themselves into their own meek battering rams, but it’s no use, and eventually the music drops dead of exhaustion.

       The doomed romantic thinks there’s enough juice left in him to light a small lamp, so he plugs his fingers into a socket, feeling them sizzle in a kind of charred ecstasy. When the entire block goes black, the doomed romantic feels a nudge because he knows this is the last outage he’ll ever witness. 

       The lamp’s weak scrim of light is all that remains, and so the doomed romantic decodes a love poem written on the underside of his forearm. It takes him the rest of the night, the rest of his life, but once he has the solved mystery committed to memory, he unplugs himself and closes his eyes to sleep.


Friday, September 17, 2021


 
—I CAN’T IMAGINE MY LIFE WITHOUT YOU

 

 

…Much of the time, I feel like I’m about as dumb as I look. 

And trust me, I know all about the importance of self-talk.

 

…For me, allergies are like a Slip-N-Slide that starts and never ends.

Asthma, on the other hand, is simply the end. 

 

…It’s just one of those nights, or mornings, where everything bumps up against everything else, like all those marooned shopping carts, strung around the lot, that no one needs anymore.

 

…If time really is elastic, toss me a box cutter, please.

 

…It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, yet it feels both familiar and disquieting.

 

…I can pretty much make every toddler I see smile back at me. Like yesterday, at lunch, this nearly one-year-old couldn’t stop grinning my way.

Toddlers and babies are on my side. 

So at least there’s that.

 

…When I was young, there was a period where I was sort of obsessed with vampires. “Dark Shadows” was the show that started it. 

I remember being alone a lot at the time then, being very confused about everything---adolescence, my life, my family, who I was—and up on the craggy hill, a long ways from our “house,” I’d hurl rock after rock, screaming into the void.

Since then, I don’t recall having screamed once.

 

…Dreams are so bizarre, right? Some of them can really fuck you up, if you think about them too much.

 

…Dreams were another obsession of mine. In college, I read up about dreams, Freud included, and I kept a notebook by my bedside where, upon waking, I’d document every detail I could remember about each dream. I’d actually try to wake myself up several times a night simply for the purposes of logging dream material.

Such a silly boy, right? 

But back then I thought dreams where magical. Or a portent.

Now, most of the dreams I remember are like a slow-motion slur, out of reach, something I can see but can’t grasp.

And their meaning? It still doesn’t make any sense.

 

…Almost every day, for a few minutes, I forget how old I am, and I’ll think I’m so much younger than the years I’m wearing. 

It’s always a little bit jolting, but not necessarily in a bad way.

 

…I’ve been coming here, every M, W, Friday, for a long time now. Maybe I’m wrong, but this place feels like the one friend who will never betray me.

 

…It’s a little too easy to doubt that you’re a good person. 

Sometimes those cracks look a lot wider than they are.

 

…As nonsensical as it is, some parts of pop culture are sacred to me. Hence, I’m very nervous about the upcoming film version of Dear Evan Hansen, as well as The Soprano’s prequel, and even the Dexter re-working.

Nobody needs another Godfather, Part 3, that’s for sure.  

 

…I’m at 72 books so far this year. There’s no way I won’t hit 100. Last year I stopped reading in February. As in, I didn't read a solitary book from February to the end of December 2020.

Because I wasn’t reading, and because I was mostly lost during that time, I actually put puzzles together in order to stay sane. Puzzles? What? 

That seems like lunacy to me now. 

But that’s who I was then, just trying to swim through the gloom by any means necessary.

 

…It’s going to be a long day, but isn’t that a good thing? 

Aren’t I so lucky?

Aren’t you?  


Wednesday, September 15, 2021


 
—TAKE ME DOWN EASY

 

                            Six Minutes and Twelve Seconds

 

       He said, I’m older, so you’ll listen.

       He was older by six minutes and twelve seconds, my twin, but he meant it different now.

       I want you to see this, he said. You need to. But once I toss, you get your glimpse, and then you run like buckshot. Got it?

       Okay.

       Everything I knew at age nine stood before me, our haunted trailer home with its hollow, faulty bones. The living room smelled like a perfume bottle spilling out gasoline, the empty can still in my brother’s left hand. 

       On the squat sofa was a mass of blankets, or something else, I couldn’t tell—but I was sure about the massive blood stain that seemed to resemble a foreign country.

       The match sounded like a sharp back scratch with a gasp behind it, something I was acquainted with. 

       I watched the flame butterfly-stagger and float before landing in the tawny liquid river on the floor, igniting every linoleum square below it.

       Now, he said. 

       Now, he said again, as urgent as panic itself, yet entirely controlled.

 

       Miles later we sat under a maple. Even at night, with a lingering breeze, fall pinched off leaves every twenty seconds or so. One landed on my eyelid like a crusty kiss, making me shiver.  

       It wasn’t supposed to end like this, my brother said. It wasn’t supposed to be this way at all.

       I know, I said, hating how stupid and limited my words sounded.

       They’ll come soon. They’ll find us.

       I scooted across a root that bulged out of the damp ground and forced myself into a nest in my brother’s shoulder, trying desperately not to weep.

       You did the right thing, I said, though I wasn’t sure what right meant.

       He kissed me on the crown of my head like I’d seen the pope do on TV. It felt as if it would have been okay to die after that, but then he said, I’m sorry I wasn’t there to stop him.

       By my foot was a broken beer bottle, a large chunk of amber glass hooded above the dirt. When I reached for it, my brother grabbed my wrist and squeezed.

       This might be the end of us, for a while, but it isn’t the end of you, he said. You know that, right?

       And when he released his grip, it felt as if his hand was still on mine, measuring my pulse, tapping a message there, one I would need years to decode, and still haven’t entirely.  


Monday, September 13, 2021


 
—WAKING UP BESIDE YOU BRINGS A SORT OF REFUGE

 

  

Sanctuary

 

we learn the gospels 

without phonics 

just lips & limbs 

& ligaments 

loose as water 

a luminescent stream 

strapped in heat

your skin crying 

Sanctuary over 

and over again

while the swallows 

outside our window applaud 

with wings tapping 

their own cryptic concerto 

only we can hear

our lungs sewn together 

with a double 

thread of purple 

sailor’s lucky knot 

a hat trick to be had

sub bass just below 

the throbbing ventricle 

as I reach over the pillow 

and paint a sonnet 

on your tongue

signing with fingers 

and thumbs 

across your vertebrae 

that I need you

that I love you 

pleading for another 

sunlit song 

begging you to stay

right where we are


Friday, September 10, 2021


 
—AND LATELY IT’S BEEN ONLY GETTING WORSE

 

 

Cathedral

 

The blue notes 

play shadows 

across our skin 

a game of studied 

chess for the 

patient type 

of which I am one 

you say 

I love the way 

you touch me 

you say 

what took you 

so damn long 

you say 

oh god please 

touch me again 

and again 

and again

in between words 

the air shifts 

magnetically 

consuming the rest 

of the room 

its lungs 

and flesh 

and bones 

so that this space 

is ours alone 

time tamed 

tension suspended 

nothing remaining 

but the sound of

each authentic gasp