Thursday, December 12, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

I don’t necessarily want to tell, but it’s too good of a story to keep to myself. This was back in 1997, and your humble narrator was high on mushrooms and standing atop a cliff somewhere in Pennsylvania. This was nothing unusual. I suppose you want to feel like you were there. So. It was maybe eight people. Seven hippies and me. It was a fogged over day. It made me happy. Like I was in San Francisco instead of Pennsylvania. The forest looked like a forest. A pretty one. Many cigarettes were smoked. We toted our butts. There was probably liquor.

None of this matters is the thing. Not when you’re standing on top of a cliff high on mushrooms and running from a bunch of angst-filled, drug-addled years and childhood memories. I could hear my Dad in my ear, and he was saying the things he used to say in those years. A lot of questions. Most of them boiled down to: You are Bad. That’s not a question, I know.

So, this cocktail of anger and drugs and hangover and hippie rage is standing at the top of the cliff, and I decide that I will climb to the bottom. Into a ravine. Maybe about 300 feet down. I know I can do it. I plant my white Chucks into the rock and start going. Hippies are amused. But bored. They don’t understand anything I do, ever, anyway. But they have good drugs and find me entertaining.

So, it’s late afternoon and all is right with the world. I’m making steady progress and I’m LOCKED into what I’m doing. I have FOCUS and I am GOING TO MAKE IT. I am filled with a racing glee at this point. I am king of the world. Suck my dick. I am God.

And then the rock changes. It starts to crumble. Pathways disappear in seconds. The hippies are aware of what is going on. The girl who would become my girlfriend I would cheat on is yelling at me from the top to come back up. Two of the craziest hippies are running through the trees yelling like archetypal savages. It’s weird. And wrong. And right.

And I have to get to the fucking bottom. This will make more sense if you have ever dipped your toes in the psychedelic damp – I had to complete my quest. I was nothing if I backed out. I was a fraud. Pussy. My Dad was right. My idealistic notions were bullshit. But I was stuck. The last rational part of my brain knew it. There was no way I was getting down that cliff alive.

I’d like to give you the exciting conclusion you deserve, but I lived. I eventually decided that I didn’t want to die on a cliff in front of hippies. I didn’t want to die in Pennsylvania. I climbed up and hated myself more and more the closer I got to the top. I remember doing a jump across a gap onto a rock that must have been two feet square. I can still feel that. The terror. Didn’t die though. And didn’t redeem myself either. I sat in the back on the way home and got drunk by myself. Drunk enough to take more mushrooms.

And I don’t remember much after that.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

St. Louis, 1983, repentant.

You are the birth of a grave disaster, lost in dark night, cast in plaster

Your skin is smooth, reptilian

I want to know your stretchmarked stories

I bet you have a million

Relax, and let the blackness in

Ochre evening breaks in the folds of your peasant voice

You are insignificant like me

Let’s be insignificant together

Friends, fair weather

Let me touch your auburn hair

Smell the perfume you lay upon your breast

Slit your throat with an old straight razor

Let gravity do the rest

I want to sing in the purest voice

I want truth, so I can beat it to death, senseless

Leave it gasping, dying

If you’re not bleeding

You’re not trying

I will live forever in every song

Where heartbreak drips through stiletto slits

Come, sit down and put up your feet

I’ll tell you the story, and keep it brief

Slipping past the lion’s teeth

Quintessential misery

Thursday, November 21, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!


Stand in front of the bright light – hands to your side, like... What you know about anything and what you want? My parents are mad and it’s all a long con. I’ve got this guitar, and I came to get my angst on. I’ve been neglected by the system, all those childhood tricks, I missed em. I’m ready to scream into the vacuum. I have. My guitar. And it is loud.

I stand in front of the blank faces; pretty money standing mandarin slices. Tell me your name, Helen. Give me a focal point to yell in. I’m going to bash my face into these strings, screaming, why do we do. These. Things.

And at the end of the night, no end in sight. You can close your eyes and your soul shuts tight. You can smile and forget that everything ends in the long, slow light. Turn the amp up. Strike the chord. If you bleed hard enough, the world will stop. But just for a second.

Garage sale

I’m a little bit of this boy’s life. Buy me and cast me aside. Sacrifice me to the spiders and dustbowl attics. I am hope and introspective joy; I am a barbie doll. I am the shaded knoll. I am the best you that you thought you could ever present.

You can buy me for 75 cents.

I loved this book, but you can trash it. Talk me down in price and pretend it’s rational. That belonged to my grandpa and there’s only one.

I’m a fire sale, I'm burning. I’m crumbling, but you can profit. 
Here’s my porch, now get the fuck off it.


The wind will shake the boughs free; I want to see what the ravens see. I want to be gone, long past epiphany. My life will be the story I want the world to be. Syncronicity.

The sun will pull the clouds into bluegreen nightmare straights. The cry of the gulls is cutting to the bone. You’re confused. Irate. Just smile, son. We all know you got too much on your plate.

And the chorus is coming, the end is written on all of our faces in technicolor. Your name is regret. You smell like gasoline. You are hanging from the last thread of prophecy.

Smell of Sulphur. Taste of regret. You will all be gone by sunset.


You sit on the cold concrete, and you piece it all together. The best you can, at least. Grand projections, dreams and introspections. The whole thing was planned out, and it fizzled like the last birthday candle on a soggy cupcake. Maybe we should rethink this. I think we made a mistake.

Nobody's looking but you feel hot eyeballs on your neck and they’re crawling up to your hairline and shit, you got lice, you got scabies. No one is ever going to love you, but maybe…

Maybe nothing. Nothing's gone. You tried to speak, but you got it wrong. You forgot the lyrics when you learned the song. And I’m the reason. And I don't belong.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

Soft skin and sweet whiskey breath, she asks me about Reno. I'm fucking sick of telling that story, so I tell her I been thinking about her which ain't true, but sounded alright. The shadows dripped down the walls that night. Small paper deception in the corridor, ace tucked inside the folds of my mind.

We picked up speed.

You were alone and I was alone. She and I were lovers but we never learned our parts.

I collected bus transfers and butts to rebuild. You were a queen, baby. That princess shit. Had it all going on. Like you wanted to apologize for cussin' - she was pure hellfire when she wanted to be. She could do it all. You were it, baby. You were her.

She said, let's do it slow, hand on my dick so light it was like spider feet. Don't worry, baby. We'll get there. Got to take it slow. She showed me the scars on her stomach and tried to apologize, but she looked good to me. She looked fine. Pretty. She said her boobs were small. You said you couldn't do it like the black girls. They have big asses, you said. You were right.

But it was fine, honey.

You keep saying relax, but I can't. This is the most important moment that the world has ever known. How the fuck I'm supposed to relax?

Her hair and your hair fall across my shoulder like gentle feathers, smell of goodness, earth and hay and sunshine. Relax. Never could. I tried once, and I paid the price. They hurt me. But they taught me.

Never let your guard down.

And we died together on the side of a highway in Indiana, Jesus crying from the busted radio. Head rolling on shoulders born up under the pressure of a thousand heartaches. We were reborn in Tulsa. We experienced dread in Tampa. Syracuse was the breaking point. It was all over by the time I got to Little Rock.

She and me. You were there. Don't act all high and mighty. The road's got lots of secrets.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

Sacramento Kings

Yo. Sit down. Can’t nobody see past your misplaced aspirations. You’d make a better Peeping Tom than a peep hole. I paid cash money for these tickets … could have gotten braces for my kids, but this is our season. This is the one. We’re on fire. Cash in your 401K, fool – this is our year!

I’m gonna buy a new jersey to commemorate my adoration of men in shorts. I’m gonna rock this limited edition throw-back. Shit cost $400. Traded in my Mom’s silver collection. What the fuck I want with a silver serving platter, anyway?

I’m gonna drink so much overpriced beer this season. I might not remember everything, but that’s called commitment, son. Our boys are out there playing their hearts out.  My liver can take a few more hits.


Pretty Ballerina

Small fingers open the box, and the music plays. Ghost notes and melodic zephyrs dart between the eyes – stand up, girl, like you won a prize – this is the world in here. The ballerina keeps spinning. That’s all you need to know.

Past the blasted subterfuge of no, whatever, why, and when … None of it matters, girl, watch the ballerina spin.

The other girls are talking about you. They say such awful things. Tongues like pickled lies and backtalk; they are going to get you. They are fucking killing you. But you don’t care, girl. Listen to the flute whisper, listen to the bell chime, watch the dancer spin.

Boys won’t like you  if you talk too much; they’ll run from you. Boys don’t like girls that are smarter than them – did you hear him?!

Watch. The. Ballerina. Spin.


Sports fans

Hey sports fans, welcome to the game. In one corner, we have the decency and optimism of lore – in the other corner, a moneyed politician with blood on his teeth, looking for new meat. Don’t count the idealists out yet, sports fans, the fight is only getting started.

See that thing twitching in the corner. That’s self-respect.  Yours, mine, everydamnbodies. Put on your MAGA hat to protect you from the liberals. Now they’re socialists. What’s next? Rapists? Pedophiles? Serial killers? That socialism is a gateway psychopathology.  Trust.

That woman running with the blanket over her head? Lady Justice. That bitch is clean out. Done. She can’t compete at this level. There’s just not enough money in justice.

Hear the cries from the nosebleeds? Of course you don’t. Those people don’t matter. Keep looking at the boxes. Checking boxes. Keep your eyes on the brass ring. They say that magic is just misdirection. Look, a liberal!


Now let me tell you what God told me.



She is sitting under the only tree in the garden, so what can you do? You gotta go talk to her. I mean, the sun is bright and sun damage is a real thing. It’s also the only place there’s a bench, and it’s been a long day. Maybe you’ll strike up a conversation. Maybe she’ll think you’re funny. You guys might hit it off and get married and have babies and teach them to repress their desires and passions. That’s American Dream shit right there.

So go talk to her. Maybe she likes the same 80's movies as you. Maybe she has nice eyelashes. Maybe she’s secretly scared and alone and looking for someone to enjoy Shark Week with. Maybe she likes music? Maybe she has a favorite band?

You’ll never know unless you just walk over there. Be charming. Like, sure is nice to have a shady place to sit on a hot day, innit, I’d like to make love to you while the flowers watch and show their approbation.

What?!?! No. Couldn’t happen. Well, fuck love anyway. And fuck shade and gardens. Go sit on the blacktop and cook. No one will ever love you. No one will understand you.

But try. Go talk to her. The stuck up bitch. Maybe you can change her. Make her a woman.

But she’ll change you, too. And change is fucking scary. You should probably just go home. Go home and tell your online friends. She may have been pathetic, but she also might have had nice eyelashes.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

The cat's not coming out from under the porch. No way. He's curled up like a cheeze puff, and he ain't going nowhere. Sun through the rough boards, striping that cat all up with warm. That cat is fixing to stay. Maybe sling some kittens. You never know.

The boy is staring into the sun, blinking. He's got no shirt on and overalls, and he looks just like a Norman Rockwell, but for the bruises and the skinny. He's acting like he don't care about the cat. He can't afford to have anyone see him being soft. Not for no stray cat.

There's no woman inside and there is no sense of woman around the cabin. There is a low rumble of contained rage. The whiskey is prodding the old man, reminding him of the injustices he has suffered. Soon, he'll yell and the boy will take off running. Sometimes, he stays out for days.

The old man is in a death spiral; he is dancing himself through the flames of mediocrity. He has given up, and he is falling. He is shaking in the blackness of his sorrow, but he can't see out. Every time he starts to care, he drinks the care away.

The highway curls along, licking soot onto the trees. Cars pass through from all over, and sometimes they see smoke whirling into the sky. And sometimes, suburban dads say, "God, it must be wonderful to live out here."

Nobody knows each other. Not for reals. That's just talk.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The sun climbs into your eyes, leaving a trail through the blinds. There is a moment of disconnection and terror. Who am I? Where am I? What the hell is going on? And then, ambush of the tiny people. They are awake and filled with energy and there is no denying them. Green tea is your friend. Smile and nod until the caffeine kicks in.
This is a day meant for fishing. So many waste their fishing hours with God. Jesus was a fisherman. He must think that is ironic as shit.
I don’t want to worship at the altar of Christ or the NFL. I want quiet, peace and reflection. My Sundays are sacred, God or no God.
Sit in the sun. Tell a joke. Kick a ball with a kid. Shoot baskets. Go drink beer in the sun and laugh. That’s what Sunday is for. Take your kids out for ice cream. Its Sunday, man. Monday is coming and she’s a cruel bitch, but she’s worse if you don’t enjoy your Sundays.
I’m not chasing it, but I never have hidden myself from it – I try not to avoid inevitabilities. I don’t trip about it, because that’s stupid. My friend Kyle used to trip about it. He’s still gonna die. And he ain’t had a good night’s sleep in years. Tripping about death. Not me, man. Life trips me out. Death is simple.
I worry about other people dying, sure. But not me. That’s like the TV wondering what show will play after the power goes out. No show. Ain’t nothing happening anymore. Let other people worry. Me, I could go tomorrow. Bummer for everyone else maybe. Me? Blissfully dead.
I’m not saying I want to be dead. I’d like to prolong that eventuality as long as I can, but I might as well make peace with it. I’ve written my stories down. I’ve sung my lost cause loves into the universe. Let the words answer the call if someone has to. I’ll be asleep. Static. Not even static, nothing. No ‘on’ switch.
Honestly, I just don’t want it to hurt. 
I tried to spew it out, but it got caught in my throat. It’s choking me up. I’m rotting from the inside, can’t you smell it? My skin is on fire with it. It’s wormed its way into my central nervous system. It feels like a nine-volt battery on the tongue. But my whole body. I don’t want to hurt you; I want to hurt both of us. I want an explosion that burns this place clean out.
I can share it with you. Let me tell you a story. Pull up your blind allegiance. Are you pissed? Good. Now, let me point you in the right direction.
I wasn’t treated well. My Mom never hugged me. My Daddy Uncle hugged me too much. My woman did me wrong. My man just up and left. All the good spots were taken. They all know something I don’t. It’s all do damn frustrating. Why can’t they all see how good they have it and how badly I got screwed?
I’ve got my game right; I’ve got my brain locked tight. I’m a bad man. I’m dangerous. I’m dropping guilt complexes like wedding rice. Fly into the heat of my moment so I can watch you melt, motherfucker. It’s going to be beautiful.
I should have been better. I could have been, but I was too wrapped up in my own nonsense. Living on the wrong side of the Sunday bed. You were absolutely right to be surprised. I’m surprised I wasn’t. I was having trouble seeing past the end of my own narcissistic bullshit. It is what it is.
I hope it’s not a defining moment. I hope it’s not that one thing you remember. I don’t think it will be, but you never know. I’ve got some pretty intense memories that weren’t made of much sterner stuff. Neglect is neglect is neglect, I suppose.
I can’t explain it to you. What can I say? Despite your best efforts, you will someday be exactly the type of person you never wanted to be. Hopefully not all the time. But sometimes, you will be. And it will suck.
And it will fester. No one likes to see their own reflection. Not really.
I’m staring at this yellow eye, yellow beak, black feathers tarred with thick red blood. The beak opens and closes revealing a pointing tongue. The plastic bag was supposed to finish it, but the bird is alive. BB in the head, suffocating, that bird is still alive, son.
A real man would kill that bird. A real man wouldn’t shoot a bird for boredom. But if he did, he’d kill it. He wouldn’t put the dying bird in a Ziploc bag. He’d know better.
It takes a really long time for something to die.
I’m crying as I bury the bag, a smear of red from the inside. I cover it with dirt and the beak is still moving, tongue still pointing. And I will live the rest of my life wondering if that damn bird is still dying in that bag. And wondering how a boy can do something so thoughtless and against his nature.
I guess there’s a little murderer in all of us.