Wednesday, March 30, 2011


…When I woke up this morning, which was early, which was quite early in fact, I realized I’d been transformed into the body and being of Ryan Adams. Do you know him? Do you know me? No, not the “Cuts Like a Knife”--“Summer of ‘69” Canadian Bryan Adams, but Ryan—Ryan Adams.
That’s my/our(Ryan and mine’s) photo up there.
When I awoke, I scratched my big-headed hair, which was lopsided and such. I scratched my scrotum, too, first thing, because that’s what Ryan/I do first thing at dawn.
I caught a glimpse of my new self in a slice of mirror hanging over the ceiling of this bedroom and thought, Hey, wth?, I guess I’ve been cosmically turned into Ryan-freaking-Adams. Might as well go with it.
Mandy was in the kitchen. Mandy being my new bride, her of music and filmdom (“A Walk To Remember”) fame, her once a Britney clone but no more because just look at her, leaning over the stove, stirring something, wearing only a wife-beater (boy, that’s a terrible label) and pink panties, that famous face steamed with driblets of whatever it is she’s been attending to, her a minx just now, temporarily put on pause, but who knows about later.
I pulled out a cigarette--Winston. It’s what I do, smoking, because I’m weak that way and an addict, plus it keeps my voice smoky and croaky which is good when you do alt folk/pop like me. I sucked the cig down in less than two minutes. I don’t think I exhaled once. The fire felt good burning down my throat and roasting my innards.
I stared at the brick wall of my Soho loft and thought, It’s kind of the shit being Ryan Adams.
I reached over the side of the bed and grabbed my Taylor guitar and wrote a song, Johnny on the spot. It was the best song I’d ever written, and we all know how prolific I am, going all the way back to Whiskey Town and “Empty Baseball Park” and “Sixteen Days,” which are classic songs, way better than The Beatles or Def Leppard or Celine Dion.
This song, this one, was about mystic messages, how you can find meaning in the gaps, the silences, the spaces in between. Sort of like how the wind will tell you things if you press your ear in and try to hear. It was a nearly perfect song, both melodically and lyrically, and I thought you should hear it first and tell me your thoughts, so I recorded it and you’ll see it in the mail, certified, soon. Just don’t be offended if I’ve used too many personalized details about that tattoo you got when you were young, then removed it all on your own accord, how you said you were happy with your life and didn’t want any changes.
Sometimes songs are like poems that can seep. Sometimes they’re so real they’re like a second skin.
The truth is I miss you.

Monday, March 28, 2011


…most of the morning I have been staring at the gray-green water and looking for mermaids.
I thought I saw one once, or the mane of a mermaid. the water swirled, curled, and waved, and something sort of fluttered just below the cusp of the surface, bubbles popping up like all these globes of trapped and now-released air, and when I looked closer I saw her face and I could tell she was a beauty, this one, this mermaid who had to have been lost, appearing here of all places, just outside my window and far from the atlantic ocean where I last saw her, like tom hanks, when tom and I were younger men, and so I got up off my chair and rolled open the window and I called out to her, and a hundred hiding birds shot out of the limbs of trees and then--startled by my voice--she leapt, her skin a translucent lavender with shiny silver scales, each as big as bread plates, her tail a thing of wonder, almost a fish unto itself, and the girl-the mermaid-this one, along with her, tail swished the air and waved at me one last time, and I swear I heard her giggle as she dove under, the biggest tease of my life.

…I have been listening to Spoon, The Bee Gees ("One Night Only"), Sinead O'Connor (still), Jack's Mannequin, Death Cab For Cutie, The Smiths, and Solomon Burke. my son asked me what I would rather give up, my sight or my hearing. what a cruel question. I'm a visual person, very much so. I think that comes through in my writing. yet I can't fathom not being able to listen to music. I think it was Tony Bennett who said, "Without music, life wouldn't be worth living." he's pretty accurate on that account.

…on monday, I like these things:

"I can't understand why a person will take a year to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars." --Fred Allen

"If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week." -- Charles Darwin

"Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself."-- Samuel Butler

"I think it would be a good idea." Mahatma Ghandi

"Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it." Jane Wagner

"Beauty is a form of genius--higher, indeed, than genius, because it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world, like sunlight or springtime, or the reflection in the dark water of that silver shell we call the moon ." Oscar Wilde

-"Long before Einstein thought up his theory of relativity, any child could explain that some days passed more slowly than others and some weeks dragged pretty much into eternity."
-"Men with money are rarely slim."
--Meg Rosoff, "Just In Case"

-"The dead are as sentimental as anyone else." Stuart Dybek

--"I write in order to feel like a semidecent human being. It's not socially or ethically acceptable for an adult to spend large chunks of time imagining, thinking, daydreaming, and staring into space, but that is probably my default mode. Writing is a way of incorporating those chunks of time into a useful, purposeful, productive activity. (Some might argue with the idea that writing poems is useful, purposeful, or productive, but they've been conned. The standard line that no one reads poetry is simply untrue. Also untrue is the line that only other poets read poetry. Even an obscure poet like me gets nice notes from people who have read and responded to my poems." Kathleen Ossip

-"His piss is not piss, he drinks only mineral water and produces a cloudy chartreuse flow that smells of summer grass."
-"Insects got caught in the warm putty of the windows and horseflies drifted up and down the panes. They were furry and weighted, blunt, and their heads were blue."
-"Laura put Callie down to sleep when they got home. She wondered why sleep is down. She thought it was like a sinking. Callie was afraid to go to sleep."
-"She felt the round covered balls of her eyes, the boned sockets, the hard line of her jaw. Her face felt old to here when she touched it. She hadn't seen her face since she was a child. She remembered seeing it that night in the mirror; the halll light a sudden blindness, her mother laughing, the sweet sick smell as she leaned close to tie a red ribbon too loose in Laura's hair."
--Jayne Anne Phillips

Saturday, March 26, 2011


…I have a new story, "Good Children" up at 52/250 A Year of Flash and also here under "Words in Print."

…Sprees must be the happiest candies in the world. (Gummy Bears are a close second.) But Sprees are so freaking colorful. Have you seen them? Have you ever really looked a Spree in the eye? They're crayola-colored technicolor/dayglo/andy warhol/electric kool-aid acid test inspired discs, and the best thing is, they taste like sensate pleasure. The chewy, tropical-flavored Sprees are just as good as the originals. Trust me. I just had two packs. Yum.

…I have been listening to Alanis Morrisette's "Jagged Little Pill." What a wonderful record, full of angry rants and clever phrasings. Also, I pulled out Sinead O'Connor's "I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got." "The Emperor's New Clothes" is a such a great song, with driving percussion and smart lyrics.

…In keeping with this nostalgic bent I'm on, I introduced my kids to "Risky Business" and "True Romance" last night. Both held up nicely although they could have used a bit of pruning. Every actor's performance was brilliant. I think all the haters should leave Tom Cruise alone.

…It gets windy where I live now. When I was a boy I was shy and reclusive. We lived on three acres and behind me was 40 acres more of random wilderness and I had this favorite spot that was up on a very small hill, really almost a mole hill, but it was surrounded by craggy, gray-skinned boulders, and rimming the base were some wild black berry bushes and so, late afternoons, with nothing to do, I'd venture to my special spot, pick a few wild berries, eat them, and then lay down on the ground and put my hands behind my head and listen to the way the wind worked through the tree tops, watching the limbs lash out at nothing, at each other, playing tag maybe. I'd do that for hours.
Sometimes when it gets really windy now and I'm outside I'll remember being a boy and it's not such a bad memory after all.

--I just finished Diane Williams last collection, or the last collection I had of hers. I'm sad to be through with it, with her, but I guess I can always re-read her. Her writing is so strange yet evocative. She was flash writing before people knew what flash fiction was. I wonder if she's still writing. I'd like to have lunch with her. Here are some bits I like, for whatever reason:

--"Let us endeavor to sum up. How much repetition does it take? A preservation? Biological investigation is required to explain the impulses and their transformations--the chief traits of a person. It is easy to forget, not that we ever should, that everything in this world is an accident, including the origin of life itself, plus the accumulation of riches. We should show more respect for Nature, not less. An accident isn't necessarily ever over."

--"I looked in vain for just one member of my family, or the most prominent person in my world. I was so grateful.
Typically, we are left, so many times. I love that routing--the horns of my dilemma--when they try to drag me forcibly away."

--"To have seen his face then--what's it caled?--turgid with lust for me?--was a forgotten truth."

--"I have gone so very far to deny death."

--"I trust the unknown. I could never be astonished by such painless deaths apart from one episode, wherein I attempted to twist my fat, and to rear a child, among other things."

--"If I could have an insight about this man's insight, I could probably save myself. That's my insight. I could save my children, my marriage, the world, if I could let enough people know--that there's a powerful solution in here somewhere--a breakthrough trying to break through.
The stranger was so angry talking to me. I don't think he believed I was believing him, and I didn't.
Will you please rise and shame us not, O Father."

--"She is plump because she has been stuffed with pralines, which is the secret of her plumpness. She likes to eat sweets.
She touched her genitals, thinking wistflly that they were flawless.
They are at their succulent best--red and yellow, but still firm--and if the skin is tender, you do not need to peel them. You can have the butcher make a series of fine, shallow cuts on the surface."

--"After her bath, she feels she is significant."

--"With this view in mind, your face is a composed as my vulva is. I would like to suggest that the smartest, the strongest, the most perfect person in the universe is my property.

--"I will not go to see someone just because he or she is conveniently located.
And if you do that thing again, evil people will be ruined completely. Good people will feel great. Springtime will span the year because that's my decision. Anyone who would have preferred some other season may feel a not-so-serious mistake has been made.

--"Our lives, which are leading us toward the shiny, bright flower of death, are austere, but if she says so, here, she can have money and glamour, she can have it.

--"People have to do so many things just to live their lives." -- Diane Williams

Thursday, March 24, 2011


…I have a new poem, "Morning Sickness" up at Prick of the Spindle, a story, "At the Molten Rock" that I wrote with Meg Tuite and two other writers up at Used Furniture, a story, "Thunder Comes Around" at Mudjob, plus an interview with Jesse Bradley from Pank. All four are also here under "Words in Print."

…beginning at age nine, I picked fruit during summers in order to have school clothes money. my family and i were the only white people in the fields. It'd be strawberries in june, raspberries in july, pie cherries in august. I was a fast picker. one day I set the record for most strawberry flats picked--21. the going rate was $1.25 per, so I was rich that day. the key to being a fast picker is to kneel. most people literally sit on their ass and slide forward. that's because the alternative--kneeling--hurts like hell, since every row is lined with rocks to keep weeds out. after the first hour your knees feel shredded. after a few more, they just kind of go numb. but you have to forgo the pain to be a great picker.
my mother was a "checker." when your lug or flat was full, you called, "Checker!" and mom came over to verify your container, then punch your card if everything looked okay. some of the migrants would often try to pull a fast one, filling the bottom of a lug with rocks and then artfully spreading fruit over the top.
this all took place in spokane, wa. the city had a skidrow at the time. a colony of bums lived along the river, near the falls. mom would drive a delapidated school bus down there at 4:30am (you had to pick early because the heat split the fruit) and she'd honk and all of these hobos would lift themselves up off the grass like stiff zombies and totter over and get on board and ride to the cherry fields and pick the red berries to get cash to buy wine or beer. I knew some of those men very well. to a person, they were all friendly and jolly.
one year when I was 14, the owner bought two new contraptions called "shakers." they were each about as long as a parade float and run by hydraulics. you'd pull up to a tree, push a lever, and a tarp would swing around the trunk, upraised, at an angle. there was a gun the size of a tank snout that you'd use to grip a branch, push a button, and it would shake like all hell and the fruit would fall into a conveyor belt that ran through the center like a tiled scar, bringing the cherries plunging into a large tank of chilled water. those two shakers cleaned all 4,000 trees in fifteen days--what it took a hundred men and one boy to pick in a month.
but I was one of those shaker drivers. I made pretty good money by my standards.
the next year the world's fair came to spokane and the bums were sent packing. I've always wondered what happened to them. sometimes I think their lives might have ended up more adventuresome than mine. at least I'd like to think so.

here are some things I like on a thursday:

-- Bono is at a U2 concert in Ireland when he asks the
audience for some quiet.

Then in the silence, he starts to slowly clap his

Holding the audience in total silence, he says into
the microphone..."Every time I clap my hands, a child
in Africa dies."

A loud voice from near the front of the audience pierces
the silence...

" Well stop fookin' doing it then!!!"

"You can't gain much if your name's not in lights, but you can't lose either. Soemtimes this attitude catches up with me; I wonder if I'm trying to shield myself from the trials of competition, the heartache and paranoia that come with being in the fray."
"The face of a harsh fact is this: success is a long shot."
-"Restaurant workers are the urban equivalent of filed hands. About 40 percent are "undocumented aliens," and many of the rest are either rehab cases , runaways, or parolees."
-"I didn't know yet that what is done well is invisible."
-"After all, English is my second language. My first language is gutter."
-"If you expect gratitude around her, you're doomed."
-"Who has't encountered madness at some point in their lives, in a relative or friend?
--'You don't need perfume in a hospital,' he answers.
--'Wrong, my love. The hospital is where you need it most.'
-"The name of the game is endurance. I've seen a lot of writers drop away after a few decent stories and disappear."
--Michael Greenburg

"For a child, memory is a reservoir that doesn't empty." Aharon Appelfeld

"I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that spark should burn out in a brilliant
blaze than it hsould be stilled by dry rot. I would
rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in
magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The proper funciton of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time."
--Jack London

"They had entered the stage of fact races where the protests of the body overrule the willingness of the mind." Tom Jordan

"Whatever you do will be very insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Gandhi

"I've learned that you can tell a lot by a person by how (s)he handles these three things: rainy days, luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights." Maya Angelou

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." Helen Keller

"Love has a hem to her garment that reaches to the very dust, it sweeps the stairs from the streets, and because it can, it must." Mother Teresa

"Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind." Johann Wolgang van Goethe

Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel.
Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small
pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A four-pound
bass. A full moon. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great
meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Cold beer.-- Anonymous

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I WANNA DANCE. I WANNA WIN. AND I WANT THAT TROPHY -- Mia Wallace/Uma Thurman, "Pulp Fiction"

…I have three new stories, "The Boy With Breasts," "Layers" and "I Used A Capo" up at The Legendary and also here under "Words In Print."

…I've been listening to these:
"Guerilla Radio," Rage Against the Machine
"Black or White," Michael Jackson
"Forever Young," Youth Group
"Like A Kick Drum," Citizen Cope
"Dirty Money," P. Diddy
for whever reason, P. Diddy's disc makes me feel like swaying. it's got a nice groove, subtle beats. I like me some Diddy now and again.

…yesterday I swam in shrouds, cool clouds that teased my skin like rambunctious ghosts. they seduced me and I got carried away with their saucy overtures, dancing like a drunk, woozy and boozy. the trees bent down to match my moves, my lazy swaying. it was all very alarming and closed caption erotic.
an eagle flew by to make sure we were keeping things real. he did not blink, not even once.
swans showed up. one wore a candy necklace tripled up like a bracelet around her plumed white throat. she said, "what kind of dance are you doing? it looks like some sort of salsa."
boaters tripped over themselves paddling close to shore.
a horn sounded somewhere, or so the swans said, but I couldn't hear it because I was lost in the music.
and I became a rag and the swans surrounded my feet and mimicked my moves and the boaters left us alone but took photos on the cell phones until their eagle dive bombed them and sent them away.
the trees whispered sultry sounds. they said, "we should do this more often."

I like these on a tuesday:

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

The Velveteen Rabbit
- Margery Williams

You can never underestimate the stupidity of the general public.
- Scott Adams
If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day.
- John A. Wheeler
No man ever listened himself out of a job.
- Calvin Coolidge

There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.-- Washington Irving (1783-1859) American Writer

Sunday, March 20, 2011


…I have two new stories, "Pointilism" and "Black and Blue," plus an interview with editor, Dan Triacarico, at LITSNACK. I have a story, "Wounded" at and also, "Snakes" up at Housefire. All of these are also here under "Words In Print."

…It's Sunday morning and I am the only one awake and have been for a few hours. I'm sitting in my office naked but for the quilted blanket I've wrapped myself in and the sun is a peeping tom over a cosp of trees and the lake is a sheet of gray-blue glass with wing patterns printed on it from where the geese keep flying overhead and a small boat with two ambitious fishermen just scooted by and I think it's so pretty, this morning and this lake, and I am becoming just a bit seduced by the stillness and loveliness of it all, and now for some strange reason that's making me a titch sad--to be surrounded by so much beauty--and so i'm hiking this blanket up high over my shoulders, all the way up to my chin, and i'm peering out at world a little warily.

…If you could see me you would know that I am mostly pretzel sticks, stalks, limbs, twigs, toothpicks. I am thin. I am a thin man.
I never think of myself that way, though--as a man. I always picture myself as a boy, a thin boy, aloof and shy, no less needy than a rescued pound dog, nudging this or that palm with a wet snout, wanting to be petted or rubbed, verified, validated, maybe even loved a little. I have scruff that requires a little scratch and fondle, a tight tug and perhaps the words, "Aww, you're so cute. Who could have ever ditched you?" I am that reticent third grader-fourth grader-fifth sixth seventh twelfth grader, executive, writer-guy in an office overlooking a lake, wondering how I got here, what it means, if anything, feeling like that stray dog again, nudging air instead of anyone's palm, nudging air, just thinking too much, as usual.

…These are some bits I like on a Sunday:

…"We do not write because we want to. We write because we have to." Sommerset Maugham
--"I've never struck a woman in my life. Not even my own mother." WC Fields
--"We're in the punch-in-the-gut business, comrade." Stace Budzko
--"The constant need to move--this is strong advice for any storyteller. Get on with it.
--"A writer is a professional exhibitionist. The reader is the voyeur he hopes to lure." Mark Budman
--"A novel invites the reader to explore an entire house, down to snooping in the closets; a short story requires that the reader stand outside of an open window to observe what's going on in a single room; and a short short requires the reader to kneel outside of a locked room and peer in through the keyhole." Kate Wilhelm
--"Stare. It is the way to educate your eye, and more. Stare. Pry. Listen. Eavesdrop…You are not here long." Walker Evans

Friday, March 18, 2011


…I have two new stories up; "There" at 52/250 A Year of Flash, and "Tin" at The Literary Burlesque. Both are also here under "Words In Print."

…I think I have always felt like an outsider, like a person hiding in the shadows under wide rimmed trees, scraping bark off until it cuts under my fingernails and bleeds, then being ashamed for hurting myself in such a pathetic way. I am shy and a showman. I am a white male and a black woman. I am warm bath water and soap scum mottled on the surface like some kind of grotesque lily pad. I am not one thing other than a person peering inside the display window, having a look, envious about how well lit and adorned the interior has been made. If I could break the glass without offending the owner, I would. I just want to be inside where the beauty lives.

…I see a lot of posts from strong women about what it's like to be a strong woman in a "man's world." is it really such a man's world? this writing world of ours? doesn't seem so. doesn't seem so at all. (go ahead and throw your rotten tomatoes, raise your middle fingers, toss your blades, because, yes, I do have a penis, and yes, I did just say that.) most of the writers I know and like are female. and honestly, I don't make any distinctions. my mind doesn't go, "oh, hey, that author's a woman," or "that dude's a dude, so be sure to read some of his stuff." I'm sure there still exist some prejudices and glass ceiling-type impediments around for women, but it seems like great writing will peel your skin no matter who's written it, whatever the gender or ethnicity. I often read incredible work by people that I personally don't even like. yet the quality of their work is undeniable. you can't say, "I don't like dennis rodman because he's such a dick, so therefore I think he sucks as a basketball player." he doesn't (didn't) suck as bballer. on the contrary, he was one of the best rebounders that ever played. and yes, he was also a prima donna dick. a good story is a good story. a great poem is a great poem. is someone really shelving outstanding works by females? no, I don't think so.

I get supporting other writers. my problem is I see too many clubs/groups/clicks/elitism. there's this tight little publishing house or there's this gaggle of people that only hang together. you have to sort of be invited here or there, need to know the password, have to have someone in that group bless you before you can enter. it's like "mean girls." it's silly and juvenile but, people, it is real. it is. and I don't like it.

so let's just talk about writing and not attach a label of origin to the writer. I always pictured xTX as asian with piercings, so I was surprised to find when I met her that she was not that at all. but who cares? who cares if she's a man? can't her writing be enough? she could be a llama with sever birth defects and I'd still be a fan.

okay, enough ranting. I just read some things that set me off. I'll be better in a few minutes.

Here are some things I like on a friday:

"Without the lyric, the narrative won't lift us to heaven and without the narrative the lyric won't grow the pair of wings required to lift us to heaven." Kyle Minor

The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.
- Umberto Eco

Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.
- Frank Lloyd Wright

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


…I have a new things:
--An interview and five flash stories: "The Stranger," "The Things I Do For Love," "The Hidden Cost," "Have You Seen Me?" and "What Happened To All The Readers" at Connotation Press.
--"Tin" at The Literary Burlesque.
--"Triplets" @ 52/250 A Year of Flash
--And "Waterbed," which won the Flashfire 500 Contest. I'm very humbled and thrilled by this. "Waterbed" has always been a favorite of mine.
All of these are always here under "Words In Print."

...I was in NY for a few days. Got to see the incredible Rae Bryant read at The Cell, along with Robb Todd and John Gorman. Watching Rae read taught me a lot about cadence and control when it comes to putting one's words out to an audience. O. Henry Award winner, Karen Heuler hosts the monthly readings. It's a great space and there was a terrific turnout.
I also got to have some killer guacamole with some writers and the fabulous Lisa Marie Basile, who is a remarkably sharp writer, as well as publisher of Patasola Press.
...New York has to be the greatest city in the world. Manhattan alone is mind boggling. More than once I sort of shook my head trying to fathom how the place could even function with such a mass of people everywhere. Soho is changing. I'm not sure that I like that--the bland, generic creep of mall stores like Old Navy, Banana Republic and whatnot--but it'll just (hopefully) cause the lesser-known, hip stores and boutiques to find other locations like Nolita or the Meat Packing District.

...Pete the Eagle just flew by my window, no more than five feet away. He looks so focused on what he's doing, totally indifferent to what the world might think of him. I hope to have his powers of concentration today as I go about getting caught up on things after having been away.

...Here are some random things I like this Wednesday:

--"I want to assure you with all earnestness that no writing is a waste of time--no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has done you good. It has stretched your understanding." Brenda Ueland
--"In the olden days, one of the intrinsic rewards for writing the sonnet was that then the nobleman knew and understood his own feelings better, and he knew more about what love was, what part of his feelings were bogus (literary) and what real, and what a beautiful thing the Italian or English language was." Brenda Ueland
--"I wish to do nothing for profit. I wish to live for art. I want nothing whatever. I am quite happy." William Blake
--"I've stopped drinking, but only while I'm asleep." George Best
--"I was coming home from kindergarten--well they told me it was kindergarten. I found out later I had been working in a factory for ten years. It's good for a kid to know how to make gloves." Ellen DeGeneres
--"Life is just one damned thing after another." Elbert Hubbard

Thursday, March 10, 2011


…i am sitting in Starbucks where the internet connectivity is strong but the conversations around me not so strong. they are weak, frail, teetering on vapid. Is that what my conversations resemble? i'll sound horrible saying this, but people talk about things that are very, very lame. men are the worst. it's stories about some guy at some high school who plays some sort of sport and some position at that sport and, oh but he's been injured, a torn achilles, so yeah, the coach is going to have to find some other kid…and did you see that husky game? the refs blew it. they missed the traveling call…blah blah blah Ginger. the ladies next to me are talking about the merits of goat milk verus cow milk. really. i'm serious. and and earlier there were scores of cops here and they went on and on about…wait for it….Charlie Sheen. to a person, they felt sorry for Charlie. they wanted Charlie to win! they spoke with little inflection, however, like lonesome grandmothers or men with overarching oedipus complexes in need of coddling.
maybe none of us really lead very interesting lives. certainly there's an inordinate amount of the mundane we must sift through and tote around on our backs.
i just wish there were more laughter at Starbucks. if people were laughing and chidren were giggling, it wouldn't matter hwy, what the catalyst had been for their laughter. laughter is the perfect caulking.

…I am going away for a few days, so this will likely be my last post until tuesday. I am going to try to do interesting things on my trip. I am going to try to see new shapes and invent new colors. I am going to laugh a lot, and learn and be a very good listener. I will tell you about it when I get back, provided it is interesting.

…here are some things I like on thursday.

Most of us miss out on life's big prizes. The Pulitzer. The Nobel.
Oscars. Tonys. Emmys. But we're all eligible for life's small
pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss behind the ear. A four-pound
bass. A full moon. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great
meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. Cold beer.

-- Anonymous

"They had entered the stage of fact races where the protests of the body overrule the willingness of the mind." Tom Jordan

"Whatever you do will be very insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." Gandhi

"I've learned that you can tell a lot by a person by how (s)he handles these three things: rainy days, luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights." Maya Angelou

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." Helen Keller

"Love has a hem to her garment that reaches to the very dust, it sweeps the stairs from the streets, and because it can, it must." Mother Teresa

"Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind." Johann Wolgang van Goethe

"The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words."
~ Philip K. Dick (How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later, 1978)

"Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
- Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Book 1, Ch. 1

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

…I have two poems, "Pedestrians" and "Reunion" up at The Ofi Press Magazine, based out of Mexico City, and "Hold On Loosely" at Nefarious Muse. All are also here under "Words In Print."

…This morning came news that a favorite story of mine--"Waterbed" about a big brother, protective of his Down Syndrome sister--won 1st place in Flash Fire's short fiction contest. That almost doubles my entire life-long earnings from this thing I do. It's quite a thrill for me, if I'm being honest.

…I am at the library again. (Yes, my internet is supremely sucky at home.) This place is hopping. And quiet. So serious. It's like when I visited the cathedral in NYC, everyone reverential and whispering. I like it. If you try hard and let your mind run, it can also be a little erotic.

…Okay, so my son and I watched "Get Him To The Greek" for the second time in four days, just to assure ourselves that the film was as funny as we thought it was the first time we viewed it. And, unequivocally, it was. This movie is hysterical. Watch it. Buy it. Spread the news.

…I got the Dogzplot Anthology yesterday and finished it in the same day. Quite a lot of great writing there. It's a joy to be included.

…Yesterday was a most productive day. I wrote a short piece, wrote 3,000 words on a novella chapbook thingy I'm doing for Housefire, and in the tub I wrote three pretty sharp poems that I like even now, a day later.

…And yesterday I got quiered to be a featured writer at 52/250 A Year of Flash. I needed to write a non-fiction piece, 250 words, about someone, living or dead, who had an impact on my life, and so I wrote this--

Will You Please Not Be Quiet, Please?

For Raymond Carver

He was already dead when I found him. There was no one to call. My stomach filled with acid, my head spinning. So, I sat down, right there in the row and read until my eyes bled. “This Is What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Yes.

Others had known him before me, and I found this fact sort of disgusting. Couldn’t someone have made an introduction? How is any fair writer supposed to make their way without Ray? How?

From him, I learned about taking risks, breaking writing rules, getting lowbrow enough to seem highbrow. Ray used small, soft words that could cut your heart out and apologize at the same time. He mentored me through print—stories, poems, essays and other scraps I dug up. He himself learned from Lish--how to edit and kern the way a leather artisan tools animal figures into a belt, getting the goat’s startled expression exactly wide-eyed, making the mare’s flared nostril’s sweat.

There was Mailer and Bukowski, and along with Carver, some tagged them a male writer’s rat pack, but truthfully, Ray never fit in. He had the drinking part down, yes, but he was as shy as a breeze, soft spoken, whispering when he talked, the way one might to a lover.

His stories shined a light on small town suffering and broke-down places. He was a quiet king, and anytime I sit down at a keyboard, he’s nearby, always, saying, “Yes. There. Yes, and there, too.”

…Today I like these things:

--"Writer's take tours in other people's lives...A writer cannibalizes his own life: all we have to relate are the perceptions of ourselves and our experiences that parallel other people's perceptions and experiences. But you are not alone...I have taken what you've given me-though you never knew I was watching-and I've run it through the purifier of my imagination for the sole purpose of giving it back to you with, I hope, some clarity." Harlan Ellison.

--"Because he could not have what he wanted, he tried to want what he could have." David James

--Novelist, Anne Tyler’s late husband, psychiatrist/writer,Taghi Modarressi wrote: “I think people who write are usually people whose memories are too good. They retain too much. They write to forget, to keep from going nuts.”

Monday, March 7, 2011


…I have a new story, "Hold On Loosely" at Nefarious Muse and a poem, "Adolf" at Thundadome. Both are also here under "Words In Print."

…I haven't been able to get on the internet for three days. Well, I might have been on for a total of twenty minutes, but that was it. Very frustrating, to say the least. I probably have the greatest office location on the planet, save for someone living in Malibu. However, it's the worst location for garnering an internet signal. (I'm presently at the Snohomish Public Library with four bars. It's very, very quiet in here, but sunny, too.)

Lately I have been listening to these people sing their sad songs:
--Ryan Star ("We Might Fall")
--Death Cab For Cutie ("I Will Follow You Into The Dark")
--Jay Z ("99 Problems," "Hard Knock Life," "Onto the Next One")
--Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
--Modest Mouse
--Regina Spektor ("Samson")
--Supertramp ("Breakfast in America)
--Supergrass ("We're All Right")
--Paula Abdul ("Straight Up")
--Buffalo Tom ("Summer")
--Kid Cudi ("Pursuit of Happiness")
--Beach Boys ("God Only Knows")

…I'm spending some lovely time in hospitals this week. Just lovely, lovely times for me. Echocardiogram on Tuesday because evidentially I have an enlarged ventricle in my heart (how's that for irony; I am too big-hearted for my own good) and then a colonocscopy (that's a lot of '"o's") because, evidentially, I am an old fucker. (I just dropped the F bomb. Oops.) And also I have to take my son into the orthoscopic surgeon because, evidentially, he either broke his ankle, or shredded ligaments. (His bruising looks like a lavender sunset.)

…I saw "The Adjustment Bureau" with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. It was quite good. B+. Really makes you think. Sort of an "Inception" type theme. My son and I rented "Let Me In," the American versions of "Let The Right One In" from Sweden. I loved it. Very moody and the actors were darling. It was more of a love story than a vampire flick. Rent it. You'll jump a few times and you'll say, "Awww" quite a few times as well.

..I got a rejection yesterday from 2 Bridges Review. It was a submission I'd sent in back in APRIL OF 2010. Really? Really, it took you nearly a year getting to the slush? Come now. I assume, if I don't hear back within four or five months, that the lit journal has gone under. As it was, the story they rejected (coincidentally, entitled "Let Me In") got accepted elsewhere a long time ago. I don't mind rejection. I get it. But if you're going to run a literary magazine, especially an online one where it's about speed and ease, then have your crap together.

…On the subject of rejection, I just read this, from Jeff Reich, in the new issue of The Writer:
"Rejection, sad to say, goes hand in hand with writing. We all have to deal with it, and it smarts no matter how many times you've experienced it. No doubt you've heard these stories: Richard Bach's bestselling, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" was rejected more than 20 times before getting published. "Chicken Soup for the Soul" struck out more than 100 times before winning a contract. And Pearl S. Buck received a ejection slip for a short story the same week she learned about her Nobel Prize for literature."

…"You learn an awful lot by just finishing a complete draft of one thing and looking at it as a whole." Magaret Drabble

…"Love of mine,
someday you will die
but I'll be close behind
to follow you
into the dark.

No blinding light,
or tunnels to gates of white.
Just our hands clasped so tight,
waiting for the hint of a spark.

If heaven and hell decide
that they both are satisfied,
illuminate the notes
on the vacancy sign.

If there's no one beside you
when your soul embarks,
then I will follow you
into the dark." -- Ben Gibbard

Friday, March 4, 2011


…I have a few new things up: "What Happened To All The Readers" @ 52/250 A Year of Flash; "Jerky" and "Pottery" at Negative Suck, and "Adolf" at Thundadome. All are also here under "Words In Print."

…Today is Friday and on the treadmill I was listening to The Cure ("Galore") and all of their fantastic, sappy hits like "Close to Me," "Pictures of You" and "Friday I'm In Love." I can see how girls would fall in love with Robert Smith. I could see how guys might. I could see how a person could overlook the lipstick and mascara and hairsprayed coiffure and think, "Damn he's romantic. I want to have his babies."

Here are a few things I like this morning:

"Success and failure are both difficult to endure. Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, meditation, medication, depression, neurosis and suicide. With failure comes failure.”
~ Joseph Heller

--"Find a subject you care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style." Kurt Vonnegut

--"Successful writing inspires the writer to do better, to attempt the scaling of greater heights."
--"It is an intriguing fact that in order to make readers care about a character, however bad, however depraved, it is only necessary to make hi love somone or even something. A dog will do, even a hamster." Ruth Rendell

--"At the most basic level, I appreciate writers who have something to say." Daniel Alarcon

"To be a good writer, read until your eyes swell, and take your time and follow your weird, even if it means being lost for intolerable stretches--your weird will guide you, it will deliver you to a place that will be worth all th suffering and disorientation." Junot Diaz

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


…I have three new things: "Putting You Away," at In Between Altered States; "Baby, Baby, Baby" at Bluestem Magazine; and "Eclipse" @ Literary Laundry. "Putting You Away" is somewhat odd and tragic, about a guy freezing a Polaroid of his soul mate. "Baby" is a little saucy. "Eclipse" is dark and moody and a tad longish (4,800 words.) All are also here under "Words In Print."

…I am a bit besieged by writing projects at the moment. I like it, though. Far better that than the opposite. I will just have to be more focused and therefore more productive. I look at Roxane Gay as an example--she's a professor, edits PANK and Bluestem, is a prolific writer and blogger--and I feel like a slacker, but in a good way that gives me a hard boot to the ass.

…Wednesday is called "Hump Day." I get what that means, but I've never liked the word "hump," just as I've never cared for "dump," "rump," or "lump."
There's something paradoxical about Wednesday, the middle day, more or less. It should bring a sense of security, being snuggled warmly between the rest of the days of the week, yet it can feel sort of claustrophobic that way, what with little sister Tuesday squishing from the left and big brother Thursday snoring on the right.
People typically detest Monday and love Friday, with Saturday a close second. I don't know if I love Wednesdays, but for me they are a kind of weigh station where I'm pitted with choices: I can coast, I can slow down, or I can push and accelerate.
Wednesdays are wide, full length mirrors, the kind that highlight every pore and every wrinkle, the type that tell the truth and accentuate murky delusions.

…I finished "A Witness in Exile," Brian Spears's poetry collection. It was quite good. If you like prose poetry, this is your ticket.

…Here are some things I like today, that you might like as well:

--"If you come to a fork in the road, take it." Yogi Berra
--"No man ever said on his deathbed, 'I wish I'd spent more time at the office." Paul Tsongas, deciding not to run for President after it was determining he had cancer.
--"One day in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful." Sigmund Freud
--"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master." Hemmingway
--"Anyone who lives within their means, suffers from lack of imagination." Oscar Wilde
--"I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me." Noel Coward
--"Reality is something you learn to rise above." Liza Minnelli
--"Pleasure and displeasure wrap around each other like snakes." Natasha Vargas Cooper
--"Brevity is not just the sould of wit; it is damned hard work." -- Mike Resnick.

And I like these six words stories:
--"For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Hemmingway
--"Longed for him. Got him. Shit." Margaret Atwood
--"Revenge is living well, without you." Joyce Carol Oates