Monday, July 31, 2023




It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous.

Resign yourself to be the fool you are.

You will find that you survive humiliation

And that’s an experience of incalculable value.

That is the worst moment, when you feel you have lost

The desires for all that was most desirable,

Before you are contented with what you can desire;

Before you know what is left to be desired;

And you go on wishing that you could desire

What desire has left behind. But you cannot understand.

How could you understand what it is to feel old?

We die to each other daily.

What we know of other people

Is only our memory of the moments

During which we knew them. And they have changed since then.

To pretend that they and we are the same

Is a useful and convenient social convention

Which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember

That at every meeting we are meeting a stranger.

There was a door

And I could not open it. I could not touch the handle.

Why could I not walk out of my prison?

What is hell? Hell is oneself.

Hell is alone, the other figures in it

Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from

And nothing to escape to. One is always alone.

Half the harm that is done in this world

Is due to people who want to feel important.

They don’t mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them.

Or they do not see it, or they justify it

Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle

To think well of themselves.

There are several symptoms

Which must occur together, and to a marked degree,

To qualify a patient for my sanitorium:

And one of them is an honest mind. That is one of the causes of their suffering.

To men of a certain type

The suspicion that they are incapable of loving

Is as disturbing to their self-esteem

As, in cruder men, the fear of impotence.

I must tell you

That I should really like to think there’s something wrong with me 

Because, if there isn’t, then there’s something wrong

With the world itself — and that’s much more frightening!

That would be terrible.

So, I’d rather believe there’s something wrong with me, that could be put right.

Everyone’s alone — or so it seems to me.

They make noises, and think they are talking to each other;

They make faces, and think they understand each other.

And I’m sure they don’t. Is that a delusion?

Can we only love

Something created in our own imaginations?

Are we all in fact unloving and unloveable?

Then one is alone, and if one is alone

Then lover and beloved are equally unreal

And the dreamer is no more real than his dreams.

I shall be left with the inconsolable memory

Of the treasure I went into the forest to find

And never found, and which was not there

And is perhaps not anywhere? But if not anywhere

Why do I feel guilty at not having found it?

Disillusion can become itself an illusion

If we rest in it.

Two people who know they do not understand each other,

Breeding children whom they do not understand

And who will never understand them.

There is another way, if you have the courage.

The first I could describe in familiar terms

Because you have seen it, as we all have seen it,

Illustrated, more or less, in lives of those about us.

The second is unknown, and so requires faith —

The kind of faith that issues from despair.

The destination cannot be described;

You will know very little until you get there;

You will journey blind. But the way leads towards possession

Of what you have sought for in the wrong place.

We must always take risks. That is our destiny.

If we all were judged according to the consequences

Of all our words and deeds, beyond the intention

And beyond our limited understanding

Of ourselves and others, we should all be condemned.

Only by acceptance of the past will you alter its meaning.

All cases are unique, and very similar to others.

Every moment is a fresh beginning. 

~T.S. Eliot 

Friday, July 28, 2023



The Emperor's New Clothes

 I worry the sun’ll get constipated and one day she just won’t show up for work 

Or else I worry she’ll become an infected blister scorching everything according to Scripture and plan

God knows I worry about the moon more than is normal

Oh yeah and I worry that God is really just Oz behind the curtain laughing at how stupid I am to be waiting this long for an answer that’s unanswerable 

I worry quite a lot that I’m going to be nine forever 

I worry I’ll never find my mother even though she’s been dead for years and I know precisely where she’s buried

I also worry about the people out of my life which is also maybe not quite normal

I worry how abnormal I am and why I even give a Fuck

I really really worry that T will get elected again

I worry that I don’t like Proust or that I probably mispronounce his name when trying to act as if I’m a fan

I worry about how much I lie to myself but also how much I can’t seem to cut myself a break

I worry I wasn’t the greatest dad I could be and that maybe now it’s too late

I worry about the deer on the roadway skinny long-legged and naïve like teenagers without any obligations hoping not to be snatched

I worry we’re always going to be a racist country with nothing to talk about around the picnic table

I worry about fentanyl and how evil someone has to be to make that shit let alone sell it

I worry I’ve made 50 times more mistakes than most people

I worry I’ll never run again

I worry my friends are going to die first and I’ll have to talk about them at their funerals and there will be no possible way to do it justly and I’ll keep bawling and blowing snot into my palm instead of accurately articulating why their lives mattered so much to me

I worry I didn’t give it enough that I didn’t try harder to save it that thing I once thought was so valuable and imperative 

I worry one day that the weight of worrying will be heavier than I can carry

I worry I should be worried about other more important things

I worry I’m not thin enough or productive enough that I won’t ever hit the outlandish goals I set for myself

I hate that I worry about what unkind things people say about me behind my back and that they bother me even a little

I worry there’s a dog who needs me mewling sad-eyed and doomed in some smelly crate

I worry depression might actually be the best friend I’ll ever have

I worry about last week when I suddenly couldn’t see a thing and Dane had to help me by holding my hand and walking me sideways to the lawn and I actually ended up in a medical tent where people thought I was drunk or on drugs when I wasn’t

I worry about banned books that might never be read

I worry about churches bragging to be “un-woke” instead of welcoming the people and just saying, "Hi, how are you?"

I worry about the disappearing bees

I worry I worry I worry too much

I worry that you don’t love me like you say you do and that you don’t love me as much as I love you

I worry I’m going to live to 100 or 64 and that neither is an optimum goal

I worry someone’s going to read this and call 911

I worry somebody else is going to read this and immediately switch to Instagram 

I worry you’re missing the point entirely

Wednesday, July 26, 2023





You’d think I'd love this lake by now, that I’d know every swell and nook, gush over her bejeweled gown that casts the sunlight back in haughty protest, swoon over her bare midriff, her glimmering sea breasts. But no, I’m more afraid of her than ever. Across the way, someone’s mutt has plunged in. Two doors over, a toddler. Near the park, a young married couple who missed their honeymoon plane. Last night, while no one was looking, a scrawny family of deer toppled under. Now, all of them are thrashing in the waves, wondering how the water, above and below, turned so fucking warm in an almost-instant.

Monday, July 24, 2023



The Drill


    after John Prine 



It’s another Good morning morning and Lord, don’t I know the drill. The dull staccato, the timbre of cloned dread. Toaster won’t shoot. Pistol won’t shoot. Nothing fires anymore, and that’s all meant to mean something, right?

Swarms of flies scurry in the kitchen, buzzing around like a flock of conflicted buzzards, wondering about delicacies too savory to ignore. There’s chicken nuggets half-bit, plus gluey barbeque. There’s your last paycheck stuck on the counter, stained with Denny’s au jus, kind of like a blood smear, kind of like a cheek scar leftover from last June. And yeah yeah, the sun, she’s right there, out the window, looking boastful, all busty with acres of cleavage, like your made-up first and second. But it’s still July here, scorched as fuck, just another hopeless verdict issued by a dumbstruck jury.

God, and I do mean God, it’s everything but it’s also the pesky ornery bits that get hard to handle. Just ask Momma, or my uncle’s sparkly ring finger. Ask the Boy Scout Tenderfoot who pinned on your first badge, before and after he raped you.

We’ve been up so long that we forgot we’re down, like a clock that ticks on admirably, wearing a cloak of dementia. 

Fists, fury and a litter of brokenness. It’s a popped piñata, our broken, token livelihood. Just look around here.

All these nights—slippery and silly stupid, juvenile and too old to stay young—they don’t make half-sense. I guess that’s true and also a lie depending on the slant of sunlight on any given day.

Carly, now she’s down at McCray’s getting Doritos and Bev’s somewhere else biding time like I told him.

Me, I’ve made it a mission to get this thing done right, once and for all, so let me ask you: Where are you, and why are you so late getting home again?

Friday, July 21, 2023







There are all sorts of levels of bravery, you know? 

Sometimes being brave is just waking up in the morning. 

Sometimes being brave is crying because someone sees you or because they don't. 

Sometimes being brave is putting your life on the line or your reputation. 

Sometimes being brave is insisting that you have a voice when people insist you don't. 

Sometimes being brave is opening up your heart and sometimes it's shutting it down. 

Sometimes being brave is just breathing in and out. 

Sometimes being brave is just leaning away from the thought that you're an imposter, that you're not worthy and leaning into owning your light, your power, your joy.

You know what you do. You know how you live. You know when others are being brave. It's okay to know when you are too, okay? Give yourself some props. You deserve them. 

--Carrie Jones

Wednesday, July 19, 2023



Philadelphia Freedom, 1977


Bored, or as a prank, we call the late-night astrologer.  It’s $5.95 per minute. She speaks slow. Older, Erudite. Says, “I’m afraid…” 

You laugh and mouth Afraid.

“Afraid, what?” I say into the phone because I always take the wheel.

“Hmmm,” the astrologer says.

Hmmm? Come on, we’re paying you.”

You expand and explode your eyes and mouth, Bitch! as if you’re wringing out a rag between your jaws.

“I’m afraid,” the astrologer says, “that you two are really in it now.” 

When next I ask what that means, something clicks, like heels, castanets, fingernails or the woman’s teeth on the receiver. Or it could just be static. Click-a-Click-a-Click-a.

I ask, “Huh?” because this is even weirder than I’d expected. 

The line goes dead after thirty-two seconds.

“What the fucking fuck,” you say, though I love how readily you swear, especially when nervous, but I love you more, vibrant yet splayed and hopeful on the bedspread. 

We laugh because we’re young as fuck and because it’s awkward. Silence is a stitch itself. A long thread with a frayed end.

We turn to kiss, breasts breathing on breasts, but pull away at the last second. “I shouldn’t,” I say, emptying mud into my guts.

“It’s okay,” you say, and it feels as if it is. “Hold me,” you gush, your lungs pulsing against my sweaty t-shirt. Pressed up against yours.

And that’s how we die, you and I, in an embrace. No motion forward. Maybe backward. The moment awry, bespoke and turned aside, like another bad reminder of how love is only real if it’s standard and time-stamped.

Monday, July 17, 2023




…Doctor, doctor, give me the news.


…I’m counting every bird on the wire, because, why wouldn’t you if you could?


…Sometimes it takes an errant flood to reveal your real priorities.


One man’s junk is another man’s gold. Yep.


…If I’m being honest, life without Lucy really sucks. 


…I’m not a fan of the Boy Scouts, or the Catholic church for that matter.


…Selfies, where it’s just you, preening for the camera, well, I don’t know about that.


…Sometimes I get “junk” email in my inbox, something trying to get me to update a password, or email back to accept a phantom bequest of millions of dollars, and I’ll think—Come on, no person is that stupid. Until I remember I have been one once.


…The guy who lives next to me is a mechanical genius. I’m very much in awe of him.


…People go by on their paddleboards here.  It can be a strange procession at times. I wish they were miced up. It might be boring to listen in, but you never know.


…Yay. Summer’s here. The lake, wearing her green dress littered with diamond sequins, is more beautiful than anywhere else on the planet. And, yes, I stand by that.


…A book everyone should read is, “How the Word is Passed.” It’ll make you want to vomit, but it’ll be good for you.


…Life is life. We’re all figuring it out, together or not. So, no judgement here.


…Nobody’s past is perfect.


…I used to hate having a hairy chest when I was younger. I guess I thought it somehow hid my manly muscles. Well, now that I’m hairless, it’s all different. Be careful what you wish for. Yep.


…I don’t understand why there’s still a border crisis. Didn’t T____ build a wall, and make Mexico pay for it?


…There really isn’t any word to adequately explain slavery. None.


…It’s odd to miss someone who has done nothing but cause you pain and anxiety. It’s not exactly “Stockholm’s Syndrome,” but it’s in the neighborhood. After all, you don’t connect with someone, then completely disconnect with them, never looking back.


…It’s strange to spend hours reading a book, and then years later, barely remember what it was about.


…It’s romantic to root for the underdog, but a lot of times I want to see someone set the record, make history.


…We men have a habit of growing paunches, and if there are enough of us who look similarly, it legitimizes it and makes it okay.


…I favor shorter books, novels, like 300 pages. But for one double that, you sit in the bath a lot longer, and the breath of the stories and characters seep into the whorls of your skin.


…It’s late, but not too late to be kind. I keep reminding myself of that.


…I often forget how old I am until a celebrity my age or younger dies. Then it’s an ice bath awakening. Initial panic. Then nothing but gratitude.


…Lakes are a strange thing, if you think about them. I mean, how did all that water get plopped down in a gigantic hole that just happened to be there?


…The truth is—getting wrinkles and gray hair just means you’re really fortunate.


…Here’s an itty bitty prayer I often say to myself” “Jesus, re-storeth unto me the joy of my salvation.” 


…“Time will tell.” Or will it?


…If you looked at my desk top, you might be bewildered. Or entranced. What you wouldn’t be is bored.


…I used to think that ultra-marathoners were my heroes, almost beyond comprehension, running 100 and some miles. Now, without any resignation whatsoever, I realize it’s novelists I admire most.


…I realize how lucky I am to have so much time to think and ponder.


…People naturally look at you differently when you have means. They assume a lot, most along the stereotypical lines. What they never know is all that came before, the $1.79 lunches, the scrimping every day. They just see the mansion.


…I know I worry too much. But I’m never going to stop reading the news several times a day.


…I watch these people with their oars, standing up on paddle boards as they traverse the lake, and all I see is me on one, falling ass over tea kettle into the drink.


…You know you’re a lucky fucker when you wish people didn’t care about you so much.


…Our planet is dying, burning up, and we all know it, yet no one wants to pull their pants up and do something about it either because it costs too much or is too inconvenient in the short term. What a telling calamity. We should all be so ashamed.


...If you could know the future, would you want to? I don’t think I would. I used to feel differently, but not anymore.


…“Our hardest task is to teach anyone to count on the future.” Barbara Kingsolver, “The Poisonwood Bible.”


…“The above is a really dour, and pessimistic, quote, but I liked the sound of it, and for her book (which you must read, if you haven’t already) it is perfectly suited.


…I like to think I am open-minded, or at least that I’m trying harder to be that way, but if you tell me you are a fan of Trump, well…


…I’ve been writing here a long time. If you’ve been around the ride this whole time, well, I owe you big time. 

Friday, July 14, 2023




“The truth of life is its mystery.” Joyce Carol Oates


I feel as if the pandemic taught me some not-so-great lessons--live small, do less, stay home, do your work, stay in your lane.

But I keep realizing my best self is curious, it wants to see new things, it doesn't want to be fearful, it wants to live a full and vibrant life.

I have a few friends telling me of how terrible the next few years are going to be--if they are going to be so terrible, shouldn't we push into that terribleness with beauty? With art? With joy? “ Kellie Russell Agodon


"The older I get, the more I find that you can only live with those who free you, who love you with an affection that is as light to bear as it is strong to feel.” Albert Camus


“When I’m in a slump, I comfort myself by saying, If I believe in dinosaurs, then somewhere, they must be believing in me. And if they believe in me, then I can believe in me. Then I bust out of my slump.” Mookie Wilson, Left-fielder for the New York Mets


"I know somebody and they cry for you

They lie awake at night and dream of you

I bet you never even know they do, but

Somebody's crying

I know somebody and they called your name

A million times and still you never came

They go on loving you just the same

I know that somebody's trying."

--Chris Isaak


“What is Hell? I believe it is the suffering of being unable to love.” ~Fyodor Dostoevsky


“Hope is the thing with feathers.” Emily Dickinson


“I was literally writing because that’s my form of therapy. Because that’s the worst part, man, when you are alone and you feel like, as much as you try and describe your situation, no one knows that in their world like you do in yours… I just think a lot of music in general that people relate to comes from hard times.” Kelly Clarkson


“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist, and that there are few of them. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.” John Steinbeck


“We'll be rich, Ali – and we'll buy ourselves a little piece of heaven.” R.W. Fassbinder from “Fear Eats the Soul”


"When I look at my life and its secret colors, I feel like bursting into tears. Like that sky. It's rain and sun both, noon and midnight. [...] I think of the lips I've kissed, and of the wretched child I was, and of the madness of life and the ambition that sometimes carries me away. I'm all those things at once. I'm sure there are times when you wouldn't even recognize me. Extreme in misery, excessive in happiness". Albert Camus


 “At times when you can’t feel love, sometimes all it takes is your friends showering love upon you. Love is real. Permanence is not. Life is suffering, but we survive it.” Shawn Misener


“My perfect day is sitting in a room with some blank paper. That’s heaven. That’s gold, and anything else is just a waste of time.” Cormac McCarthy


Me and Alma


Time holds us together with a strong hand.

Nothing is allowed to go away on its own.

Not fish, snow nor grass.

All must issue one from the other.

This woman is my flesh, my heavy bones.

She turns as if I am the tree 

and Alma its leaves.

I the green the wind of her is undoing.

Soon there will be nothing so different together

as she and I. Stone and water, dirt and fern.

--Linda Gregg


 “The artist's role is to raise the consciousness of the people. To make them understand life, the world and themselves more completely. That's how I see it. Otherwise, I don't know why you do it.” Amiri Baraka


There is no one who 

will feed the yearning.

Face it. You will have to

Do it yourself.

---Gloria Anzaldúa


 A Ritual to Read to Each Other


If you don’t know the kind of person I am

and I don’t know the kind of person you are

a pattern that others made may prevail in the world

and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,

a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break

sending with shouts the horrible errors around us

storming out to wreck through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,

but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,

I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty

to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,

a remote important region in all who talk:

though we could fool each other, we should consider—

lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,

or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;

the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—

should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

-William Stafford


The Abandoned Valley

Can you understand being alone so long

you would go out in the middle of the night

and put a bucket into the well

so you could feel something down there

tug at the other end of the rope?

― Jack Gilbert, Refusing Heaven


Young Brown Girl / Barbara Jane Reyes


“Because so much depends upon the suppression of us, the erasure of us, the omission of us; because we are not made to scald, to starve, to stuff in closets; because we have our own lyrics to drop; because we inherit our mothers' immodest tales


  If you’re going to try, go all the way.

otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the way.

this could mean losing girlfriends,

wives, relatives, jobs and

maybe your mind.

go all the way.

it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.

it could mean freezing on a park bench.

it could mean jail,

it could mean derision,



isolation is the gift,

all the others are a test of your

endurance, of how much you really want to

do it.

and you’ll do it

despite rejection and the worst odds

and it will be better than

anything else

you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,

go all the way.

there is no other feeling like


you will be alone with the gods

and the nights will flame with


do it, do it, do it.

do it.

all the way

all the way.

you will ride life straight to

perfect laughter, its

the only good fight

there is.

– Charles Bukowski

 Post Meridian / Mary Ruefle


“The children in ragged bedclothes

begged for a story

and had the door closed, very softly,

in their faces.

Years later, that was their story.

It was a long story. It took a bottle

of brandy and two nights of rain

to reach the end.


  “Poetry is of absolutely no practical use, they said. None whatsoever.” Padraig O Tuama