Friday, February 3, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

You can feel it in your bones. Deep inside you, they are forming groups, building strength - you can feel their numbers growing. You can hear the grind of teeth and chatter. Grab a knife, try to carve it out. They are too fast for you. They hide so easily.

If you don't do something soon, they will control you. You will be a puppet, and you won't even know the difference. Feel them scrambling, claws scraping against bone, severing tendons bit by bit. You will soon fall apart, but not if you poison them. Look under the sink. Grab anything. The worse it tastes, the better. 

Starving them won't work. They don't feed on flesh, they feed on panic. Your terror energizes them. Your disgust gives them purpose. You can't drink it away. You can't smoke it up. 

It's a little like drowning. Your thoughts will escalate. Your heart will pound, you will feel it in your ears. You will try to channel the fear and fail. Drowning is easy. It just means giving up. 

You will give up. No doubt. No one can live like this for long. You'll burn them, slash them, try to sleep them away, but they are always waiting, hungry. 

When you die, they will leave you. Corpses don't feel fear. Don't fret. Now you know how the planet feels, stolidly waiting for its own demise. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

There are things we know. How to make good guacamole. How to build a bonfire on the beach. How to ignore that the entire state smells like weed. How to wear flip-flops, even if you call them thongs. And there are things we don't know. Cold is one of those things. It's a bay area morning when you see someone wearing a ski suit next to someone in a baby doll dress waiting for BART. And they both look cold. 

People get mad at the cold. Like the cold is, personally, a dick to them. They take offense. 

The cold don't care. 

Most of us don't know enough not to go outside with wet hair. I get lucky in that regard. 

Cold is whatever, man. I'm just glad we're not having wildfires. Earthquakes. Shootings. 

Oh my!

Wrap your fingers around a warm mug. Heat your socks up in front of the heating vent. Hang your towel over the radiator if you have one. But don't be mad about it. The warmth will return. And I will be waiting for it like drought land, ready to be flooded. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The rain is steady, a monotony, washing away the sins of the city, sweeping them out to sea. Inside, dockers pants and nice skirts bitch about the weather, the flooding, the fact that the ground won't absorb the water. Well, who's fucking fault is that, California? How about the rest of the guys like fresh produce? Our land has been raped to provide it. Fertile soil turned to hard pack clay. Strip farming, but we don't call it that. 

Leave that to the miners. 

We're in a predicament. These rains are necessary. They will also birth disasters. Roads collapsing. Homes washing away. Wildfires next fall. I can't even go fishing without worrying about red tide and refuse. My daughters have never seen a full splay of stars. 

Maybe they never will. 

It's a failing. My failing, your failing. 

Everybody is failing, flailing. 

I'll just sit by the window, watch the rain, think about the changes that I have seen in 45 years. There have been a lot when you really think about it. Insect populations down. Rising tides. Hotter temps. Fewer birds in the sky. 

I saw a murmuration of starlings the other day. Maybe a couple hundred. Made me wonder what it looked like back when birds could turn the sky black. 

Go ahead, though. Keep recycling. Use paper straws. I'm sure it's the hundreds of straws I've used in my life and not the egregious appetites of corporate oil, Dupont, chemical plants. I'm sure that the poison runoff has everything to do with the aluminum can I put in the trash. 

I'm not trying to absolve myself. I suck, too. 

Just ask the fish.

Friday, December 16, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

They were always coming for you, ember eyes burning. You can feel their breathing in your chest, just as strong as your own. Maybe stronger. The sound of tooth on tooth is paralyzing. Your teeth begin to chatter, but there is no chattering from them. They sound like someone stropping one knife against another. They smell of terror, hot and rancid. No one else can see them, but you know they are there, waiting. 

They have always been there. 

When you were younger, the adults said you had an active imagination. They bought nightlights and expected them to be sentries. They left the door open. The hall light on. Finally, they left the overhead light on, but you still didn't sleep. Not until exhaustion forced your eyes shut. The few hours of rest would be enough to keep going, but they were not enough.

As you got older, the adults stopped bragging on your active imagination. They started to worry. They sent you to therapists and complained about the bills. They started to call you crazy. Not to your face, but behind your back, quietly, thinking you would not hear. 

The therapists looked concerned; they used bigger words that hurt less than 'crazy' - words that didn't point a finger. Not as much, at least. There was some distance. 

But they didn't believe. 

It was always headed toward death. There was no other way out. You or them. Or them. It had to be somebody. So, you decided to rob them of their sport. You hoarded pills until you had enough. Then, you turned the nightlight out on yourself. 

And on them. 

Friday, December 9, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

The rain has stopped, but it stands in puddles on the ground, regrouping. The sparrows dart in, splash, laugh, pass. The fog and steam hanging over Mt. Diablo are neon with the rising sun. All around, there are creatures beginning their daily search for life, sustenance, gifts from the rain clouds, wrapped up in the dirt and transformed into green energy. The energy that starts the whip on the food chain. 

It all starts with the water. 

There was a time when all of this was magnified. There were more creatures then. Birds that were easy for hunters to kill. Fish that were too tasty and too dumb for their own good. Don't get me started on the Bison. The plains weep for their absence. 

It can be a hairshirt if you let it. It can be the catalyst for your insanity. It can leave you breathless. But you might as well hold onto your breath. The cards have been dealt. No point crying over spilt milk. Or extinction, I guess. 

Sometimes, I wish that my girls could go back forty years to when I was young. There were more insects then. More hatches for the trout. There were more birds of prey circling the sky. It wasn't hard to see a bobcat. A coyote. It wasn't hard to look at the water without thinking of microplastics. 

This is why old men seem crotchety. It's a defense mechanism. It's a way to protect the sensibilities that no longer make sense. You may say, "Get off my lawn!" But you may mean, "Go into the woods. Find a fallen tree. Collect the insects for bait, and witness the majesty of the brook trouts' spots. Quickly, there are fewer native brookies every year, and the stocked trout just aren't the same. They're raised on pellets, not hatches. They don't belong."  

I don't want to live in the dystopian novels I read under the covers in Middle School. I want the Amazon to stay a mysterious jungle instead of Amazon delivering clockwork oranges to me packaged in dead trees. I want to turn back the years. It's sad for a man of forty-four years to be able to see such changes. I guess that's the way it goes. 

I remember when a coke cost fifty cents. 

But you know what? Fuck it. Stare at the puddle. The puddle is life, and as long as it is there, something will remain. Once the earth sheds the oppressive humans who bend her to their will. Once the insects come back in full force. Once the earth begins to breathe again.

Friday, December 2, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

I'm tired of absolution arguments. You don't get to do shitty things and then say that your God knows you're a shithead and forgives you. What a fucking copout. You don't get to opt out of guilt and regret. You eat that shit like the rest of us. Choke it down, swallow it with whiskey, quiet it with pills, but you don't get to just shrug it off. 

It's fascinating in the way that root canals are fascinating. The way that open-heart surgery played on cable channels. And the temptation is great. Of course I 'd like to think that there is some benevolent, loving force who knows I'm an asshole, expects nothing less, and forgives me per a simple request. You see that right, if not the stupidity then the unfairness of it? Even Hitler thought God loved him. 

I don't want to be loved by a God who also loved Hitler. 

So, there's that. 

Look, I know it's hard to be human. It's hard for all of us. You do the best you can, and you try to hurt as few people as possible. 

God doesn't need to have any place in it. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

2 Minutes. Go!

It’s the tearing. You think cuts hurt, but you’re wrong. Cuts sting. They itch almost. They are a clean, neat feeling. Tearing feels like a scream inside your central nervous system. The pain is insanity; it is sky-rending. It changes the topography of your existence. It is an outrage, animalistic and antiquated. Yet, here it is. 

Your teeth will gnash and, were you thinking more clearly, you would realize that you finally understand that phrase. It is apt. It sings. 

Yes, flesh tears, and skin tears. Bones snap like carrots, wet and thick. 

It is an indignity, this sort of death. It reduces. 

Horror is an albatross, big and ungainly. It lives in the air and rarely touches down. Horror is a fat boy who knocks you down just to sit on your chest. You thrash and claw, but the window of your eyes begins to close as your breath goes. You hear him laughing. You can feel it in your bones. 

There is a sexual charge to it. The kind of resignation that feels like redemption. This is everything, you think. This is the meaning of it all. This fear, this sensation will blot out the misery of banality. It will help you cast off that life of quiet desperation. You will be better for it. 

At the edge of death is peace. It is a warm, cozy place. You will peep through the window, but not open the door. Not now. The door will stay shut until it opens against your will. This is your curse. 

This is agony.