Friday, August 29, 2014


…Happy Friday, Peeps.

…Gave the dog a bath and now she’s scratching more than ever.  My dog does not like baths.  But she sure looks cute after she’s all dry.
I love Lucy.

…Here are the notable comments from Facebook last week, some funny and others just interesting:

-Sorry if I "poked" any of you; I'm having some trouble with my mouse.
-Today, I realized that flashing my high beams to alert oncoming traffic of a nearby cop is the closet I'll ever get to being Paul Revere.
 -Just overheard two assholes bragging about who's taken less vacation - the guy who hasn't "taken a day off in three years" won. Is there some way we can institute a national vacation exchange pool - so that the millions of Americans who have no paid time off can use the leave all these corporate jerks are so proud to never touch?
 -There is a small gap between the kitchen sink and the wall. I’ve dropped, over time, all our forks down there. They cannot be retrieved. We eat with our hands now.
-Yes, I did just have a job interview and yes, I did just come home and find my breast button on my dress wide open. Glad I wore a matching color bra. I am so together.
-My phone died while I was at the fair, so I did a lot of people watching. Here are my wide sweeping generalizations/observations:
1. Some people should be less proud of their (non-existent) abs.
2. Mexican kids are always well-dressed.
3. You can't help but stare at a pregnant 15-year old.
4. You have to bite your tongue when you see a mother smoking a cigarette while making a bottle right over her newborn. 
5. Two hand dryers in a bathroom with ten stalls is not nearly enough.
6. The fair is in desperate need of a beer garden.
7. The carnies are clean this year but that could be because it’s the first day of the fair.5. The fair is more ethnically diverse than it was 10 years ago.
6. The carnys are very clean this year, but that could be because it's only Day 3 of the fair.
7. The fair is in dire need of a beer garden.
8. Fischer scones will be the death of me.
9. Two hand dryers in a bathroom with 10 stalls is not enough.
5. The fair is more ethnically diverse than it was 10 years ago.
6. The carnys are very clean this year, but that could be because it's only Day 3 of the fair.
7. The fair is in dire need of a beer garden.
8. Fischer scones will be the death of me.
9. Two hand dryers in a bathroom with 10 stalls is not enough.
5. The fair is more ethnically diverse than it was 10 years ago.
6. The carnys are very clean this year, but that could be because it's only Day 3 of the fair.
7. The fair is in dire need of a beer garden.
8. Fischer scones will be the death of me.
9. Two hand dryers in a bathroom with 10 stalls is not enough.

 -Last night's dream was really obvious; I had sex in an elevator and a bodega with Jennifer Lawrence and Robert Pattinson, respectively, of course.
 -World news makes my soul hurt
 -I do my best work surrounded by bad influences. Otherwise, I'm just fucking boring.
 -I have to say, cocaine would have been mighty helpful today
 -I just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket. So I'm going to need bail money.

-hey you
if you're reading this, i bet i like your poem / book / song / biscuits-&-gravy / painting / photography or like, whatever-it-is-that-makes-you-special / you-are-proud-of, because i like you and i like when you express yourself, xoxo

-dear the jesus,
parker and i are in atlanta now. please bless us with liquor, cheap food, and little to no traffic.
thanks, bro

 -Yesterday, I met a stranger in an abandoned Walmart parking lot and bought chickens out of the back of his van. What an interesting life I have wandered into.
hey find it so irresistible. Its what really attracts them to men. A woman will say she wants a man who buy her flowers and listens to her stories and cares and bla bla bla (all that sissy stuff) but at the end of the day she will fall for the alpha male (Usually found in Badboys) and break all her rules. This is because for women attraction is not in the head; its in the heart. Its how they are wired – To fall for Alpha Males – And they can’t help it. This is why you want to become an alpha male."hey find it so irresistible. Its what really attracts them to men. A woman will say she wants a man who buy her flowers and listens to her stories and cares and bla bla bla (all that sissy stuff) but at the end of the day she will fall for the alpha male (Usually found in Badboys) and break all her rules. This is because for women attraction is not in the head; its in the heart. Its how they are wired – To fall for Alpha Males – And they can’t help it. This is why you want to become an alpha male."
 -What doesn't kill you makes you stranger.
 -The world is full of stupid fools.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


-“Life is mostly edges.” Calvin Miller 

-“Being a father is the only thing that lives up to the hype. When I'm with my daughter - when we're doing homework together or hanging out watching a movie or kicking  a soccer ball around or doing any of the things we do - that's the only time I feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.”  Aaron Sorkin, TV writer

-“We watch movies and TV about heroic acts by soldiers or cops, but maybe that sort of heroism isn’t very relevant to modern reality.  Maybe real courage is being willing to get up and face another day, and do honest work to the best of our ability despite knowing that, in all likelihood, we won’t get the recognition or financial reward we deserve.”  John F. Groom

 -“I call people rich when they're able to meet the requirements of their imagination.” Henry James

-No one’s going to do something for you, and I think that’s been the thing that’s gotten me through everything. I’ve never sat around and waited for anybody to do anything for me. If I wanted to do something, I made it happen.”  Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Operations
-“I like a man who attempts the impossible.”  J.P. Morgan
“Storytelling is fundamental to our civilization.”

“Write your stories like they matter, and they will.” --Donald Maass

"But there are angels from which one cannot escape." Pierre Albert-Birot

"Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." Carrie Fisher

"'Where do I go to get my ideas?' Well, you damn well sit down and decide to have an idea." Andy Rooney

"I think people underestimate the power of a steady diet of proper antidepressants, caffeine, sleeping pills, punk rock, death metal, gin, and cartoons." Alex Pruteanu

Monday, August 25, 2014


I Like You

I am not a stalker, but I like you.
Who wouldn’t?
Your choices are often odd but seldom wrong.  If there’s soup in summer, you’ll have it, slurping like a porpoise with that trilling giggle of yours.
You have a list of eight things you can never have too much of.  Seven of them make me quiver. 
You do not like animals other than stuffed ones, yet you pretend when your cousin, Pete, brings by his lab. 
You are strong yet lithe and unmuscled.  I have posters of women with your shape of legs and the same small hands, though not one of the models can match you whole.
 Your eyes are ceramic blue.
I have made many attempts, some quite despicable.  Sometimes I hold my breath.
A climax can be gory or glorious, both bliss and release, but it’s not pity I want, or even forgiveness.
You should know that you are a permanent stain, a scar, a sickle cell, a long-worn smoke smell on my skin which soap cannot conquer or rid.

This is not enough but it’ll have to do.  I watch you from a safe perch, knowing where you are and what you’re doing, full of joy and promise in a life where I have left one foot in, and one foot out, of the picture.

Friday, August 22, 2014


…Wednesday night I read poetry at an open mic night in Snohomish.  It was fun and I got to meet some great people. 
I think I did okay.
Here are a few of the things I read there (Caution: not a lot of happy stuff coming your way):

The Seamstress

Our bathtub is filled with buttons--
mother of pearl and metal,
plastic pea coat shapes with
embossed anchors,
wooden toggles from Holland,
horn and hemp.

Your hair is a gray dandelion gone to seed.
Your eyes flit like a startled squirrel
and saliva webs your mouth when
you open the door.
“What on earth?”
you ask.

In bed that night
I listen to your coarse breath, your frail bones moaning when you toss and turn.
But we were young once,
and you stitched beautiful things then.
You dressed queens and saints,
men with money.

I slink off the mattress now,
and click on the bathroom light.
As I slide inside the tub
the buttons chatter and gossip,
their color shimmering.

Perhaps you clipped them
because they reminded you of better days,
or maybe you overhead me on the phone.
Either way, I grab handfuls and watch them clatter
across the great heap.

When I look up,
you’re there,
naked but smiling.
You ask, “Is the water warm?”  Then,
“Got room for two?”

                                                      In Flight
The Captain looks like you, a spiral notebook man, loose blonde curls and self-tanner.  He asks if anyone has questions and I ask back, “How much does a Vodka Collins cost?”
There’s turbulence rumbling thunder in my stomach, working its way to my throat.  The clouds spell a name in Spanish.  Through a crease of light I see Brazil and what our unborn child would have looked like.       

The Sweater

I am the black
You left behind
On the love seat
Love no longer an option

My yarn is tight
Fine Egyptian cotton
Top stitched and fully-fashioned.
Your skin
It used to sit or swish
Inside of me
Against my limbs and lengths
My sleeves and being

You took me places
Folded me
Kept me clean
Now I am a heap of yarn
Dead threads
Smelling of your perfume
But mostly
Reeking rust and

I Call Your Name

I search for you
in garden soil
the color of coffee beans,
where it’s sandy in places,
clay-like in others.
I use my bare hands,
careful not to cut you with a spade or hoe.
I free worms from their squiggly fetal positions.
There are rocks and bigger rocks,
a swath of petrified electrical tape,
the arm of a G.I. Joe,
something that might once have been a wrist watch.

I dig for hours
until my scalp is scalded and my shirt is a damp sheet that reeks.
I hum your favorite Dylan tune as I scrape and carve away clumps of dirt,
my fingernails cracked and bleeding.
I call your name.
I sing it.
I use your name and tell you how wonderful you are and always will be.
I use your name and say it’s not your fault about what happened.
I use your name the way some people use pillows, baths or comfort food,
and I use it selfishly, just as the broken must when medicating in mourning.

By nightfall
I’m sore and too exhausted to move anymore.
Breathing hurts.
A headache burrows through my right ear
while my bones scream at me for my foolishness,
because I knew I wouldn’t find you here,
not here
or even in a casket somewhere.
When they brought you back from the war
you were only medals and army gear,
a bundle of the photographs you’d taken along
 and a few well-read letters.
They said the explosion was massive,
that the fire engulfing you had been a monster to put out.
They said how sorry they were for my loss.

Now I weep for you under a milk-blue moon.
I call your name,
then I don’t.
Instead I shout a father’s cry, “Son!  Son, I miss you so much!”
I yell it over and over,
praying you can hear me and

that heaven is real after all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


…Hey Wednesday, how you doin’?

…Yesterday I was reading the news online.  These were the top stories

I mean, yikes.  Why all the violence?  It’s creepy.
That’s not mentioning all the stuff going on in Ferguson.

…Anyway, changing tone, here are some things smart people have said:

-“Persevere.  If you fuck up, you won’t be the only one.”  Elizabeth Wales

-“People tend to think of happiness as a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you're fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist  upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” Elizabeth Gilbert

-“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.” Epictetus

-“No home is complete without affection. You can have all the Picassos in the world or walls made of gold, but without affection it's nothing.”  Claudio Luti,

-“Trying to please everyone is a stressful life”
“We forget things for our own protection.”
“Freedom keeps you going because it makes you try to find ways to keep yourself exciting.”
“I don’t like getting old.  But the cool thing about aging is that the older you get, the harder it is to lie to yourself.”
“Sex is really like breathing or drinking a glass of water.  We need to treat it as a normal thing.”
--Andre 300

-“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”  W. Clement Stone

-"A book must be an ice-axe to break the frozen seas inside our souls." Kafka

-"It is never too late to be what you might have been." George Eliot

+"Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off.  Build your wings on the way down." Ray Bradbury

"The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof crap detector." Hemingway

"I believe poems begin as grit, as curiosities that get stuck in the mind." Sean Hicks

"To get your ideas across use small words, big ideas, and short sentences." John Henry Patterson

Monday, August 18, 2014


Christmas in July

            I am watching the deaf couple talk with their hands, seeing how every so often the girl stops and lets her mouth open up and drop out giddy laughter that is as honest as a sunrise yet it sounds like a retarded child’s laughter and so at once I’m ashamed for making that comparison and when I look around, indeed, there’s a man in a black fedora staring at me as if I’ve just killed his pet dog with a butcher knife.
            The waitress asks am I okay, would I like a refill, and so I nod but don’t catch her eyes because I haven’t looked any living being in the eyes since I was nine.  For a few years it was even hard looking at myself in the mirror.  I kept seeing dirty seashells and sidewalk puke.  But I practiced on magazines, staring at the woman who looked like she could be my biological mother even though I knew she was a lucky actress promoting healthful sleep by way of a certain mattress type.  My guts ran through a sausage grinder as I worked up enough courage to hold my gaze on the mattress lady for more than a few seconds.  Even though her smile was soft and upbeat, I kept expecting her hand to leap off the page and her nails to claw garden rows down my cheek, matching the scars that were already there.  And that’s when the actress sniffed and made a face, her lips crinkling up the page.  She tried to spit at me but couldn’t because she was made of paper.  Still, she said, “You’re dirty.  You smell like garbage.  Did you mess in your pants?”  I took her out back and lit the magazine on fire and let it burn down to my fingertips before I chucked it inside the old oil drum.  Even then, I could hear the lady hissing at me, her accusations echoing up with smoke like the devil’s own belching.
            Right now the deaf couple has their eyes pinned on one another, speaking without speaking, spilling and soaking up so much love that there’s excess.  They finger each other’s faces with their pupils wide open and shiny like sheet metal.  The girl has orange hair and pretty peach-colored freckles that swirl in ridiculous swaths down her jaw and then run off down her neck and I see his thin hands catch a few of the spackles as if they might be detachable, like miniscule glitter pentagons. 

Glitter always makes me think of my first foster family.  They ran a kiosk in the mall—“Christmas in July!” it was called.  They sold ceramic Santa’s and elves and reindeer and Mrs. Claus in a girdle with her hand to her face and her rosy cheeks embarrassed.  They sold everything Christmas every day of the year.  I never remember either of them touching me.  I knew they got a check from the government but I was fooled.  One day when we were packing up wooden carvings of toy soldiers for a customer, my foster mom stopped humming and told me to look at her, to turn and look her straight in both eyes.  She said the agency was coming round to get me that afternoon.  “That’s just how it works.  If you’re not placed before you’re ten years old, you never will be.”  I wanted to ask, wasn’t I placed with you?  But I didn’t.  I spread bubble wrap around the carved guardians.  I fastened ropes of tape tight around their necks, trying to strangle those soldiers who were going to live with people who wanted them.  I knew I was stupid because wooden sentries aren’t alive, but still, I’ve been repeating a version of that process my whole life.  I’ve been in seven homes and I’m grown now and own a house, but no matter where I am, the air feels off—sort of heavy and thick, like oily vapor.  Even in summer, even in the tropics.  While we’re vacationing there, my wife will take my hands and claim I have a circulation problem and I’ll look at her through my mirrored sunglasses so she won’t know I’m staring and I’ll want to tell her things, but I won’t.  I’ll watch the sweat fill up a slip of skin across my belly crease.  I’ll marvel at the sun hanging so arrogant in the sky, but I’ll get a little shiver nonetheless.  I always do.

Friday, August 15, 2014


…It’s very sad about Robin Williams.  Even all these days afterward.
Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about people who take their lives.  Some think it’s cowardly and selfish.  I don’t know it can be cowardly.  Seems like you’d have to have a fair amount of bravery.  Selfish?  Yes, to the extent it cripples those who love you, likely making them feel guilty in ways I can only guess at, like why didn’t I suspect it, was it somehow my fault, why didn’t I spend more time with the person…

There were 39,518 suicides in 2011.  More suicides than homicides.  More people took their life than were killed by breast cancer.
108 people each day take their life.
22 military vets take their own life each day.
That’s pretty tragic.  It’s more than pretty tragic, but I don’t have the appropriate words for it.
I’m not sure why I’m even talking about it other than the subject has been on my mind, not so much specifically about Robin Williams, but more so the topic in general.
Just think how horribly tortured a person must be to do something like that.  It truly is mindboggling.

…Okay, on to happier thoughts…

…I’m headed to Vancouver/Portland this weekend.  There will be laughter and classic quips, and yes , a fair amount of drinking.
There will be a lot of testosterone being slapped about.
It should be a grand time by all accounts.
And then next weekend I get to do it all over again.
Life is good.

…And so are these…

-“The way I deal with arthritis is to keep moving.   As long as I can play hard tennis, as long as I can ski or ride a horse - all kinds of things can come your way.  As long as you can, do it.  People who retire die.  My dad retired and died shortly after.  Just keep moving.”  Robert Redford

-"What is the use of running when we are on the wrong road?" German Proverb

-“There is only one plot—things are not what they seem.” Jim Thompson

-"Second thoughts are always wiser." Euripides
-"I don't trust any writer who doesn't, at some point, feel he or she is a total impostor." Susan Orlean
  “I know you can't save every dog. But you can totally try to save the dog that's in front of you.” Cesar Millan

“In one of the stars I shall be living.  In one of the stars I shall be laughing.” The Little Prince

-"What any human being can do in life depends upon the foundation laid between birth and age five." James Meredith-

-"We were brought up with the value that as we sow, so shall we reap.  We discarded the idea that anything we did was its own reward." Janet Harris

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


…Do you need approval very much? 
Or are you the kind of person who can leap forward,--in whatever endeavor, against whatever storm or stillness--and keep persevering?
Me, I’m somewhere in the middle, leaning awkwardly and vulnerably toward the former.
 I don’t know if I could keep writing if someone—albeit, several people—said I was shitty at it.  I’d like to think I could keep going, but I just don’t know.  I really don’t.  Mostly I doubt it.
That’s why it gets tricky, say when you’re writing, say when you’re writing something long, maybe like a novel, and it’s just you and the stark-white computer pages staring back at you.
Or perhaps it’s even you and some feedback from others you’ve been given that you might suspect are merely kind critiques, their words intent on not hurting or wounding you too much, rendered that way for all the right reasons, while their having done so leaves you doubtful about ever achieving your dreams?
What if it’s not writing we’re talking about here, but something else?  Like does He/She love me?  r how much does He/She love me? 
Or, when He/She says they love me, does it come from a dutiful position, or does it come from the center of their heart that beats and bleeds true? 
What is the subject is about something that’s important to you—love or otherwise-- and you’re unsure if the person speaking to you is being radically honest?
Do you accept it as fact, or do you hold it up high to the light and look for crevices that could actually portend completely different meanings?

…So, see how I am tonight?
This late? 
I’m stupid, most likely,
lost in translation,
open yet inarticulate.
heart on a sleeve bleeding and needing a bandage--
A gangly nine year-old with a dream…

…Hey ho, but here are some other folks’--“folks” or “folks’” being expressions I never verbally used before, in print or otherwise--sentiments on things of much more importance:

-“Be comforted in the fact that the ache in your heart and the confusion in your soul means that you are still alive, still human, and still open to the beauty of the world.”  Paul Harding

-“Somehow we all feel broken.” Nigel Lithgow

-“We have failed to recognize our one great asset: time. A conscientious use of it could make us into something quite amazing.”  Friedrich Schiller

 -“One climbs a mountain not to conquer it, but to be lifted away from the earth up into the sky.” Russell Banks

 -“Fear is the greatest obstacle to learning. But fear is your best friend. Fear is like fire. If you learn to -control it, you let it work for you. If you don’t learn to control it, it’ll destroy you and everything around you.”  Boxing trainer, Cus D'Amato, to 13 year old Mike Tyson

Question:  “What is life about?”
Hepburn:  “It's about working hard and loving someone. Oh, and having fun. And, if you're lucky, you keep your health and someone will love you back.”
-- Katherine Hepburn to biographer Scott Berg

-“I'm not a writer with a drinking problem, I'm a drinker with a writing problem.” Dorothy Parker

-"When you are happy, you can forgive a great deal." Princess Diana
-"Your memory has a mind of its own.  Let it go to work.  Pay attention." John Dufresne

-"It is a privilege to prepare the place where someone else will sleep." Elizabeth Jolley

"There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self." Aldous Huxley

Monday, August 11, 2014


                                                                   Bone Yard

            She finds bones in bottom dresser drawers, in shoe boxes perched on the highest closet shelves, gunny sacks stuffed with bones in the truck of her husband’s car where the spare tire should be, bones in a cardboard box marked ALLY’S BABY CLOTHES.
            There are bones buried in the backyard garden bed, beneath the rosebushes whose thorns catch on her hair, skin and blouse. 
            There are bones in the attic, piled in a dusty heap behind stacks of their old year books and photo albums.
            Bones in the downstairs bath that smells of formaldehyde.
            Bones in the lawn mower bag.
            Bones beneath the garage workbench, right next to Ally’s never-used tricycle.
            Bones and bones and bones.
            It takes her two days, but she collects them all, noticing  as she does how their texture and weight is like drift wood, chalky white and brittle after all these years.
            In their backyard, she stacks them until they’ve become a small mountain, and after she’s tossed the last one on top, she lets herself remember the horror of hearing about what had happened—her husband drunk, heading out on a liquor run, backing over little Ally.
            From prison, each letter said the same thing—pleas for forgiveness and a second chance.  He couldn’t make it up to her, but they’d make a new start.  He’d be a better husband.  He was sober now.
            Today is his release.  She’d seen the news coverage just an hour ago and knew he’d be arriving any minute.  That’s why she doused the bone pile with gasoline, using another gallon on herself, waiting for him to find the note taped to the front door welcoming him home, telling him to meet her in the back yard where he’d get the answers to all of his questions.