Thursday, September 27, 2012

That little crack in the wall.

I see you. I see you and see the roads behind you and what is ahead of us. I see flashes of nightmare color, blood, I see the sparks on the guardrail. I am a coward. I deceive myself and that is a damn shame. I give myself too much credit. But I have high standards. I will admit that I am operating on a different plane than many of the slack jawed simpletons that populate this earth. And CHRIST, give me the simpletons. Rather than the calculated users and autodidacts who learned it wrong. I will create a maze for myself to investigate. I will go to sleep late and wake up guilty. I will always pull for the little guy because I have known too many big guys. And I'm a big guy, but size isn't what I'm on about. Four years old, I lived in England.  Sang 'God Save The Queen' every morning. Exercise in our underwear. Football with a wiffle ball. Climbing giant apple trees and tossing them down to my father, happy as I can imagine being. We lived next to beekeepers. I will take an English robin over his American counterpart any day. I get emails from my UK friends and I feel the yearning so strongly sometimes...why do we take ourselves so seriously? The USA. A country founded by criminals, infidels, and religious zealots. We wag our finger at the Holocaust and ignore the fact that we eradicated an entire way of life. Our hands are soaked in blood. But we put on a happy face, pretend. We are a nation of charlatans, but I won't participate. If I want to hate myself, I have that right. If I want to see the cracks, I fucking will. I'm not saying we don't have our redeeming qualities, but we also have niggers hanging from trees not too damn long ago. We have people afraid to admit their sexuality. We hide the abuse that gets cast upon the young. We live in a TV world where books are a joke to most. Literally, a joke. Reading is shameful. I met a young man once who thought that all fags should die. I asked him why and he couldn't come up with an answer.  Kill the redskins, hang the niggers, beat the fags...and we have the nerve to pretend that America is a land of hope. If you are white and well off and you go to church...maybe. Those of us who think? I live in a country where sometimes a woman can't get an abortion if she is raped. By a family member. Thankfully, some states have seen the light. The right to the pursuit of happiness. What a joke. I could go to jail for numerous things that make me happy and harm no one. The American Dream? What a lauded fable that one is. Families are starving and scared. The distribution of wealth is shameful. I clench my jaw and try to stretch my neck, but goddamn it we fucked things up. My great grandfather was a sharecropper. My great grandfather on the other side worked and died in a coal mine. I have it good. But it could be so much better if people would stop being such blind assholes and take the time to think about how we should operate as rational fucking people. I have a feeling I will live my life poor and die poor and leave my children little, but I will show them that passion trumps assets. That honesty is more important than a job promotion. That honesty is everything. There are cracks in the walls and the roaches are coming in. I am waiting for the white man to be the minority. I am cheering for the immigrants. I am waiting for the revolution that I know is on its way. I hope I will have the courage to be there. I hope that I will have the tenacity to call it as I see it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

3 minutes. Go.

I trip the wire and it all starts over again. Starting fresh with no plan. Smile on my face just because I can. Feel the steel at my back, but I thrive off that shit. It's a gift. And we'll see when all is said and done. Cause I don't aim to quit, and the words don't aim to quit me.

I lag and lolligag and fuck I feel guilty because Rush!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is waiting on me, but I got bills to pay and I write for money. Not the real writing. The real writing comes from my confusion and wonder and fear of the world. And my recognition of its beauty. The writing about product releases and small businesses. People who want a little extra for nothing. But then there's Jeff. Thank the good lord I resist for Jeff. My belly is full and the rent is paid.

The Nighttime

When soft night breezes call, I am ready to accept the charges. There is depth to night. There is more shadow, nothing as crisp. Daytime is harsh. Too harsh for me. I deal with it because I have to, but I only do it to limp toward darkness.

There are so many opportunities that night presents. There is everything. Unlimited potential. For good, for horror, for phantasms of paranoia and teeth-gnashed suffering. There is redemption, there is betrayal. Night is the devil's footman.

In the small hours, I can rise above the day, look down on it, map it out, see that nothing tragic happened. And sleep...thank heaven for sleep. My daughters are asleep and I am free to just be. To read or write or lay and stare at the ceiling.

The nighttime has always been magic. We can float away into the light of the night kitchen, where Maurice Sendak has already drawn the shades.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


The hawk fell into a sweep over the wetlands, rust-bellied and sleek. The dust was thick, you could feel it in your lungs. It had substance. The light was unbroken, the sun direct and blinding. You watched it dance the wind into an orange glow. A pair of meadowlarks leapt from an old fence post. In the next second, a splattering of red-winged blackbirds and then utter calm. You sat as night climbed day and the dusk lay thick in the valley. For a second, time stopped and you could feel yourself lurch, like walking in an airplane. The night sounds started, a quiet symphonic anarchy. Night wins. Every time.

The Hangover

She woke up with him inside her. Her mouth had that sweet, citric taste of vomit and liquor. She didn't understand it. Step back, look at it. You don't want to, but you need to see it. She is young, her pants are down around her ankles. You can hear the shouts and music outside the bedroom, but inside it is just her. She is small on the bed and her face is buried in a pillow. She tries to move it and feels the fingers pull at her hair. She screams. He starts fucking her harder. His pants are down and his shirt is off. His tattoos suck. He smiles because he knows the bitch fucking wanted it and now he's giving it to her. Just how she wanted. Staring all night. He'd woken her up. He believed it. He would swear to it. He came and let go of her hair and the room blurred into focus. They were in a guest room, the decorations were spare and generic. She was crying and he blinked at her, confused. Do you see it?

They will never talk about it. Either of them. They will live within miles of each other for the rest of their lives. Their kids will go to the same school. Their spouses will know none of this. But you know. Some hangovers don't ever go away.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

4 minutes. Go.

Bring it. This is my four minute blast of useless letters into the atmosphere. Inside, live amoebas and mysteries and stories told hundreds of years before my time. My chafing brain searches and finds knobs of thought wrought from the folds of my subconscious. Fingers, move faster. You're fucking the whole game up. I never believed there was a monster in my closet. I did believe in monsters. I lived inside TV show sitcoms rules that rubbed me the wrong way, so I rubbed my brain the right way until it was all shiny. Not shiny, scuffed up...ready for a fresh new varnish. And I'll tell you one thing straight shooter, the clock is ticking and you can take four minutes just as much as I can. And I don't give a damn about gargoyle face cracks looking from the corner. You may be afraid, but I am brave in the face of adversity, weak in my apathy. I took a look and we got two minutes to rumble. Do you want a sip of ice water. I would. Someone spray me in the face with Gatorade. I'll dope up and mum up and you can have my medals for soldering. And you can mock me with your garters on. You can't get a rise out of me the way you're trying. And it makes you look foolish. This isn't about one person in particular. It is about everyone except me. Sorry, that sounds like a dick call, but I gotta be honest about it. Prove me wrong. Find your stopwatch.

Winter Abides...

David Antrobus wrote this story. Edward Lorn wrote this one. They asked me to play. Now I can't sleep until I write this shit. Thanks fellas. They probably make more sense if you read them in order.

There are open places inside all of us, and she was no exception. She had caverns, carved out darkness. She sat at the bar, struck a match to another bayonet, darted eyes around the room following the smoke shadows. She saw herself through their eyes. Some of the men just wanted to fuck her. Some of the men were afraid of the open places, astute enough to see the wounds. The women either pitied her or hated her…and the pity hurt worse.

She drank her vodka and tapped the bar and saw herself in a sudden flashbulb: short black hair, tight black dress, red heels. She had aimed for defiant and landed in…what? Whore? Predator? She realized it suddenly. All the fucking things she hated, she had embraced them all. She had killed the kitten so the lion could live. And the lion was predatory.

She drank the next vodka fast. It was smooth. All this time had passed. All this time and her…feeling like she was drowning and chasing her pain and her open places. But somewhere along the line, she had tried to…hell, build something. A fortress. She recognized now what she had built and felt shame. She just wanted a barrier. Some armor. She didn’t want women in bars to hate her. She certainly didn’t want their pity. She didn’t want to fuck anyone or get fucked. She just wanted.

The next drink was there, so she drank it and lit a cigarette. The bartender was wise to the whole thing. She realized that now. He was standing a little to the left of her. His back was turned and she knew it was because he was judging her. She hated his ponytail. Her eyes turned to an icy stare.

“I suppose you think I’m a whore?”

“I don’t think about it.”

“I come here all the time…you see it, you have to…don’t fuck with me.”

“I’m not fucking with you. I’m just saying I see it different than you do.”

She drank the next drink and stubbed out her cigarette.

“So, what, ‘captain fucking deep bartender guy’…?”

“So, nothing. You got your business, I got mine.”


“And I don’t think I want any part of your business aside from a smile every once in a while if you can muster it. I’ll make the drinks.”

“And where are you going that’s so fucking great…tell me.”

“Probably nowhere, but you never know. It’s that ‘you never know’ part that interests me, see.  I know more about you than you think. But it’s all just sticky tape and spilt ink and things you wanted but didn’t get. Aside from that, it’s life. One thing a bartender knows, ain’t many people got easy lives.”

“Yeah, great. Thanks.”

“Look, Summer…yeah, I know your name and you don’t know mine…you aren’t the only one that got dealt the shit hand. That doesn’t make it right, but it’s life. Some people have…I don’t know…hope, some people don’t.”

“So, you think I’m hopeless?”

“No, I think you think you’re hopeless. What I think doesn’t matter. You don’t know my name and won’t remember any of this.”

She slammed her glass down and stood slowly, careful not to wobble.

“Sorry to bother you.”

“It’s no bother. No bore either. That’s surprising. We have these kinds of chats a lot. I know you don’t remember them…I do.”

She grabbed her coat and pinballed out the door into the cold night. Her breath rose like smoke into the whitening sky. Stars. So many fucking stars. There was always that. When the stars started falling it would be time to seriously rethink things. Until then... A laugh tore out of her.

She wondered if she had spoken to the barkeep before or if that was a cheap come on. It didn’t matter. She lit a cigarette and walked the empty streets towards her apartment. Flickering windows wept soft light into the alleyways. She found her building. Her apartment. It was dark, she never remembered to leave the light on. She lay on her bed and let go of her conscious brain. Her throat burned.

She was no Phoenix. She woke to a pounding headache and no memories from the night before. Just blackness. She was alone. That was a clue. She got up and found a warm handle of vodka in the kitchen. She poured a little orange juice in. She drank it while trying not to vomit. Five minutes of mouth sweat, and she knew it would be over. She could do that. She leaned, arms braced against the sink like bridge abutments. They were scarred and shaking. She waited and she could feel the vodka. Like a switch being tripped. She smiled ever so slightly and lit a cigarette. She poured a glass of straight liquor and drank it in steady sips.  She wondered who she would call. What day was it? Kirk would be down to party…he would have coke, but he was an asshole.

She walked into her room and saw her dress laid across the pink fuzzy bathrobe she had owned for years. When had she worn it last? She ran her hand across the arm. She slipped it on. In an explosion of images, she knew. The years collapsed, and she knew that she was just stuck. Had been stuck. How long? This time she would do it. Unstick. She had to. She poured the vodka down the sink. She made a cup of tea and waited to get sick.

The cold seeped in through the window cracks, and she felt winter’s breath. It was getting weaker, but it was there. She shivered and knew it wasn’t the cold. It was starting. But winter was ending. And then it would be spring. And she had no idea what that meant. She shrunk into a small ball of pink and cried.

Jo-Anne Teal comes in for the kill here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Step right up!

I'm made of tin-foil. Recycled oil by-products. I'll make your teeth whiter. You'll be closer with your family. I come with a money-back guarantee. I'm organic. Free range. I'll make your laundry glow with half the soap.

I have special functions you won't believe. I am 100% hemp. I am 100% pro-choice, you choose it, and I will back you 100%. I am a brand you can count on. A family company. My great grandpa was a sharecropper and never touched a drop.

I will keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I am everything you want for your vacation planning needs. I will restore your hairline to its former glory and make you feel like living again. If you feel like living, I'll make you feel like living longer.

I am the result of 34 years of research. I am not recommended for human consumption. But if you have consumption, I'll cure the shit out of it. Guaranteed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Happy Leaf

Outside the window, there is a tree. I don't know what kind of tree it is. I wish I did, but I would have to call a professional botanist because it looks like, well, a tree. A nice leafy one. Like a lot of nice leafy trees I see. It doesn't have pine needles or weird bark or a visible root system. It's just a tree. Doing its tree thing. I respect that.

The leaves look a little like maple leaves, but smaller and missing two points. They are green. Just green. Not olive green or apple green. Just green. It is the kind of tree I picture when someone says the word tree. Stolid, but wavy in the breeze, unobtrusive.

I sit beside the window while I write, so I know this tree very well. In the spring, the songbirds go insane in the hidden spaces of this tree, and I write to a symphony of chirps and tweeps. The birds are long gone now. And soon the tree will lose its leaves, but I like it that way, too.

It gets really hot by the window sometimes, but the tree and I don't trip. I sweat. The tree's leaves shrivel up near the top where the sun assaults them. Down at couch level, they stay nice and leafy, though. I wouldn't want to eat one or anything. I would kind of like to rub one against my face. But I live on the second floor and it's probably best that we just hang out...nothing physical.

When the sun hits the leaves, the veins stand out, but you really have to look. It is a delicate tree. It is like a first date, the tree. It is full of nervous energy, twitching in the wind, hoping its leaves are the right color and shape.

I'm not quite delusional enough to think that the tree knows I exist. But I believe it anyway. We're brothers, the tree and me. We forgive each other grammatical mistakes and allergens. But the tree is really the beginning of the story. The story is about a happy leaf.

All the leaves on the tree look the same (except for the extremely scorchy ones on top). All except for one. At my eye level, right near the end of the branch, six inches from the glass of the window, there is an especially happy leaf. It is malformed and it has a bright orange dot on it. It seems to dance in the breeze a bit more vigorously. It is quite obvious that it doesn't lament its difference. It is merely happy to be doing its leafy thing.

There are days when my world becomes an opaque blackness, and I want everything to burn to the ground. I want to die. I want everyone I know dead. I want it all to be over. I want the buildings to slowly rot and fade back into pastoral splendor. I want all the TVs in the world to explode. These days are infrequent...they didn't use to be. Sometimes, on the black days, I sit with my laptop and just fucking hate. And sometimes I am smart enough to stop hating and look at the happy leaf. And then I smile a bit, and the smile erodes a bit of the pain. The leaf does a cheeky floop in the wind. It is not a magic leaf, it does not cure anything, but it helps.

I haven't named the tree and I refuse to name the leaf. I'm sure it has its own name and it doesn't need my help. It needs songbirds and sun. Lately it has been needing a little rain. But it gets by. And maybe, just maybe, the tree knows that I am here. I don't know. Seems stupid, but so many things do. You can't convince me it doesn't. You wouldn't be able to convince me that it does either.

It's just a droopy, floppy tree. It's not the kind of tree that would stop you if you were in a hurry. But since we share office space, I look at it a lot. My infant daughter will stare at the waving branches and smile. I know she doesn't see the happy leaf and it doesn't see her. I think. What I'm getting at is that it doesn't matter if it does or doesn't. Not everything needs to be explained. So, I'll take my leave now. I need to work on a novel. But first I need to watch the happy leaf shimmy.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Steven sat with the blocks in front of him. He knew what he was going to build. He could see the castle in his mind. It would be his greatest creation.

He started with a strong foundation. He settled on a color scheme. He whispered softly to himself as his prosthetic hand knocked a piece...almost. The castle grew and Steven grew with it. At last it was done. He ran to get Ms. Jensen. She had to see. Then she would believe. She would tell his parents. He could do it.

They returned to a scattering of blocks. Ricky was grinning in the corner. He winked at Steven. Steven tried to get the words out, but they got twisted and caught on themselves, tripping over their toes.

Ms. Jensen sighed.

"That is a beautiful castle, Steven! Good work!"

She returned to her desk and drank a sip of water. Ricky glowed inside, ripe with triumph. Steven was miles deep, always deeper, into a part of himself that was half-true. Half-beautiful. Or so it seemed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Pound. The words hammer his skull with that dull knock, knock sound.  That fucking sound. Fists into eyeballs into bright explosions of light. Outside, the night voices are soft and warm. He is living in the blanket fort inside his mind. There is a bag of 'Nilla wafers and a flashlight. He rocks slowly back and forth, perfect, a metronome. He can't fuck it up. It has to be fucking perfect.

He hears, not voices, ideas...taunts. Sounds. Questions? They come from inside. They are what if's and vague ideas. Some are terrifying. Some are silly. Some are dares. What would you do? How would everyone react? Fucking do it, you pussy. Stop thinking about it and do it and then at least you'll know.

Lips claw the spirraled top of a secret bottle. Burn. Wait. Heart pounding. It slows down. He laughs to himself. Fuck it. He removes his clothes slowly and stacks them on top of his shoes. He looks at the dark hairs erupting from his pale chest. He hears the calls from downstairs, but he has giggled himself beyond their reach. That soft and ever fleeting place, peace. It is his secret, his salvation, stagnation, is all he has.

"Paul? What are you doing up there?"

He stares gunslinger eyes into the mirror and cocks a half smile. He hiccups and shoves a sob back into his chest. He punches the dresser so hard that the shock in his hand is pure fire. He opens a knife and stares at the blade and sees his reflection. He cocks a half smile. Teeth on glass rasp, he drinks deeply and waits.

"Paul? You better come on down here."

"Goddamnit, Paul. You answer, boy."

" ungrateful bastard."

The light in the bedroom is shifting and he tries to pretend that the walls look the same to everyone. But he knows they don't. Paul, you silly fool. Put a record on. Take a drink and tamp it all down. Music. Turn it up as loud as the stereo will go. 1...2...3...4...