Friday, December 30, 2016

2 Minutes. Go!

Hey, writer-type folks. AND PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO PLAY BUT DON'T IDENTIFY AS 'WRITERS' - all are welcome here! Every Friday, we do a fun free-write. For fun. And Freedom!

Write whatever you want in the 'comments' section on this blog post. Play as many times as you like. #breaktheblog! You have two minutes (give or take a few seconds ... no pressure!). Have fun. The more people who play, the more fun it is. So, tell a friend. Then send 'em here to read your 'two' and encourage them to play.

The forest canopy cut the sunshine, but it was too quiet. The animals did not like it. They burrowed into holes and screeched and sought out caves and dark places. The mottled light did not entice them - it seemed to be part and parcel with the irregularity. The ... something. A change in the air, perhaps?

The animals were not happy.

A young boy ran through the leaves, oblivious. The animals knew the boy and welcomed him, but they wondered why he wasn't seeking shelter, hiding - why he wasn't sharpening his claws. The animals enjoyed the boy's antics, but they did not understand him. 

In the thick of the forest, two men with hardhats smoked cigarettes. They were surrounded by old butts and empty coffee cups. They did not consider this littering; the whole thing would be gone soon enough. They were cold and wanted to be at home. So, they waited. When the men in suits showed up, and the papers were signed, they went home.

The younger of the two men took money out of the bank and headed for his favorite bar. The older poured himself a glass of bourbon and tried to hold back his tears. But he couldn't, and he rode them through the years.

He had grown up playing in those woods. He had kissed a girl for the first time in those woods. The first time he had ever gotten drunk had been beneath the benevolent boughs that cut summer light. He tried to unclench his jaw, but he couldn't. He could hear her in the other room. She was talking to the designer or the landscaper or someone. Someone who was going to turn their cabin into a magazine spread. He drank his bourbon and frowned.

She came into the room, and he was sleeping. She woke him with a kiss and a smile. 

"It's all coming together! I can see it. Wait until you see it!"

He nodded. She deserved this, even if the forest didn't deserve its fate. It didn't matter. It had been his mistake - he'd been trying to make up for it for years. He never could. The money would make her happy. Or something close to happy - the cabin would shine. It would give her something to show her friends. Maybe it would erase the memory of her public humiliation. Twenty years, but it still felt fresh. And he still couldn't forgive himself.

She would go to sleep. And he would take his shotgun to the woods. And the animals would know their fear was justified. And she would find a new man to live in the cabin - one who appreciated a good color scheme. 

And so, he left late at night. And he made the forest quiet. With a blast of light and sound that stilled everything.

The animals were not happy. They knew the old man, too. 

#2minutesgo Tweet it! Share it! Shout it from the top of the shack you live in! I will be out most of the day, but I'll be back...


  1. Of course, it happened, eventually. Mister Gibson, the seasoned gangster, dope dealer, pimp, big shot, or so he thought, got caught slippin’. He was getting all up in Luanne Rodgers’ face, talking good to her, trying to convince her to turn tricks for him, until Luanne’s boyfriend caught him at it. Timmy knew who he was, so he at least tried being polite, at first. “Ayo, that’s my girl, dogg…” “Yeah whateva, beat it kid,” he offhandedly replied, more intent on plying his would-be trick with promises and flattery than anything that shabby-looking white boy had to say.

    “Seriously, dude, back off.” Gibson only gave a smirk and sarcastic thumbs-up before further ignoring him. Maybe a minute later, his concentration was broken by a knuckle duster to the back of his head, knocking him to the floor. “Muthafucka, don’t talk to my bitch! You think you can disrespect me, nigga?! I don’t give a fuck, I’ll fuckin’ stomp you out right now!”

    Luanne didn’t particularly give a shit. She thought it was cute, watching men fight over her, and she had seen this sort of thing before: she’d noticed that Tim always said the most offensive shit when he was puffing up and trying to intimidate other men. That was when he let ‘er rip; most of the time, he was surprisingly woke for a white boy from rural Nevada, but then, every fourth word was a slur. She didn’t quite see it, since she had known him since he barely had hair on his nuts, but could easily see how others would be intimidated, even outright scared, by him. Nonchalantly, she sipped her drink and watched them fight: Tim was game enough to let Mister Gibson stand up and fight him, but Gibson immediately booted him right in the crotch, then landed a couple good shots to the face, while he was on the floor, with his big pointy fake-diamond rings.

    Once he was satisfied that that punk-ass white boy was out, he let up, and picked right back up where he left off: “sorry about that, baby girl, you know, sometimes a player’s got to deal with these trifling-ass crackers. Anyway…” His next promise was interrupted by a literal knife in the back: a four-inch semi-serrated blade between his fourth and fifth thoracic ribs, and a whispered, “you didn’t learn not to turn your back on me the first time, you stupid motherfucker?”

    By the time the paramedics got to the club, rigor mortis was already setting in. There was hardly anyone still around for the cops to question, and no one was trying to volunteer information, so they performed only the most cursory investigation. More than a few of them were on the take, but without those bribes, they couldn’t give less of a shit about a mid-tier gangster.

    1. you build a believable underworld with characters that fit and breathe in there.

  2. At dinner, as Allie chattered about her kindergarten class, Ben would mumble, “Um-hmm,” or “Really?” between glances at his phone or the second hour of the same local TV news as the first.

    “C’mon, Ben. Let’s take a walk,” Allie said.

    “Aww, Al,“ he said, but checked his phone and saw he had a free hour. “Okay, let’s go.”

    Tonight, Allie didn’t lead them past the park. Instead, they silently ambled through their old neighborhood.

    Allie stopped and stared at their first rental. Ben kept walking.

    “It’s still empty,” Allie said.

    “What?” Ben said, looking up and not finding Allie at his side.

    “This place. Since we left, it always was for sale and still looks vacant, practically abandoned.”

    “Hmmph, guess so. C’mpn, let’s get back before dark.”

    All the way, Allie conducted a dinner-style conversation with Ben, only in her mind.

    You walked past our house like you do the homeless guys in the park, just part of the scenery, colorless, ignorable.

    What’d happen if you looked into its face, its vacant window eyes veiled with webs and secrets. Would it feel haunted looking back at you?

    If you stopped to consider this shell full of lonely, would you see its lively times of youth, of family, stolen by time and disinterest? Nah. That’d require recalling yesterday when you barely can grasp today.

    Yeah, move along, Ben. After all, just another part of the scenery.

    Breakfast was silent next morning. As the news repeated, Ben barely noticed.

    1. The restraint in the prose is powerful. That closer. So good.

    2. I like the ideas going through her mind as she studies him, but he's oblivious - the way he doesn't see the homeless guys, he's stopped seeing things. Particularly like the 'shell full of lonely' that is the house. He's probably stopped seeing her, and she knows it. You can feel her discontent.

  3. The moon was new and black. He only knew it was there by the stars it blocked from sight. The metaphor was not lost on him. His heart, too, was black and eclipsed the generosity that once it knew.

    He dragged the bag on the surface of the snow. He needed no flashlight to walk this path. It was a path they travelled early in their romance. At its end was a swimming hole, doubtless frozen over this December night. He remembered the afternoon skinny dip sessions, swimming like minnows, and the lovemaking that followed. It made him smile.

    Only another 100 or so yards. He paused and lit a cigarette. He missed her, wondered when and why it all went wrong. Doesn't pay to over analyze, he told himself. Flinging the cigarette butt into a drift, watching the sparks glint in the snow, he resumed his trek.

    He doubted he'd ever find another lover as enthusiastic or as inventive as she. But life moves on. Something rustled in the trees beside the path. He paused. It paused. He walked again, wary of the night sounds, deadened by the snow.

    At last he reached the swimming hole. It had only a thin coat of ice. He could tell from the sound of the small waterfall that fed it. He'd asked her once why the waterfall only froze when it was very cold, but the still water froze much sooner.
    She'd told him that moving things don't get stilled as easily as stationary things.

    Now he wondered if she was speaking in metaphors, if she thought he was frozen in place. In some ways he was. His career wasn't exactly going anywhere. Apparently neither was his love life.

    He pulled the bag close to the edge of the water, wondered if its weight would break the ice.

    The wolf was on him before he knew it and ripped his throat open mid-scream. As his blood soaked into the snow, he watched the animal tear apart the cheap nylon bag. He gurgled through the new hole in his throat as the wolf removed the head of Marilyn, faithless lover.

    The wolf and his brethren feasted well that night on the flesh of the two estranged lovers. The stars shined brightly, freed from the umbra of a spiteful heart.

    1. Ah, a black moon for dark deeds; nature reflecting life. With hindsight it's darkly comic that he's reminiscing on their love life! The animals are indeed revolting :)

    2. Holy christ. Your woodland creatures need to visit my forest. ;) The twist in this one is like whiplash. In an awesome way.

    3. I've heard it said that wolves cull out the weakest members of a heard. Perhaps they known that weakness is not a physical quality so much as a character one? Enjoyed the picnic brother wolf, we must dine again soon.

  4. Ah, Dan.... THAT was superb. I liked the mirrored beginning and ending... and it just grabbed me in the gut. There's something about the forest and its inhabitants...Well done, sir!

    1. Too cruel, too cruel. I want the animals to revolt :)

  5. I write when I can not sing so I can sing when I am done writing. Writing frees my voice to song, songs that free my mind to write again. And so it goes ...

    1. Cycling ever onwards on repeat. :)

    2. Circles in the sand :) But can you write while music plays? I can't. Can the two co-exist?

    3. I can't either, Vickie. If there is music anywhere, it always pulls me into it. I am absorbed. But it often inspires writing, and I write music so there is that. :D

    4. A beautiful circle with no wrong answers!

  6. The signature was perfection. Perfectly formed lines along a razor straight line. Each character the same height and width as its neighboring character. It was balanced, fluid, and not unlike some type of scientific output like from a polygraph or a seismograph. Perhaps an EEG. The signature brought to mind an artist, an architect or calligrapher. Only those who knew the signatory could recognize it as it was so stylistic as to be completely unrecognizable as language. It was the signature of a monster. A vile pig of a man. A signature, the only beautiful thing about the ugliest being to have ever walked this earth.

    1. Wow, so much story packed in here. I love it. And I get it. I am both in awe of and terrified by people with perfect signatures.

    2. Perfection from the biggest imperfection. Almost an insult to nature. Cool. It's restrained and then clobbers at the end.

    3. yep... and to tell the story through something so common... well done!

  7. This one's going to keep going, but maybe I'll post it on my blog later and link to it here.

    My friend is generous, but like most others I meet he eventually runs outta patience with me.

    "Get off of your high horse and deal with things the way they are, goddammit."

    "Not on a high horse, I swear. Not even on a horse."

    "Then why do you seem so far away?"

    "I don't know. Maybe 'cause I won't quit. A horse did gallop out this way, then slowed and left. But honestly, I swear I never rode it."

    "Yeah. Okay, brother. Fine. What the fuck are you so afraid of?"

    To that I say nothing, make idle patterns of a blemish on the wall. Feeling trapped but knowing I coulda turned it around on him.

    But you wanna actually hear what I think? What I'm afraid of? Here's what I think.

    The fear is you enter that world of men, of wounded men, of stained men, irredeemable men, and it seems easier to be alone than it would be to risk becoming part of that drab, desaturated procession, in which every gesture is interpreted via a sponsor or judged through some oppressive twelve-step framework, where all we can smell is sharp and carbolic like infrequently laundered institutional clothing, or grim and sebaceous as two-stroke engine oil, rank and barnlike as stale tobacco but never booze, god forbid. Never booze and never excitement. Or grace. Nothing feminine whatsoever. Always something daubed or smeared. Small. Adobe. Shrunken. Stained and shabby.

    Because we deserve this purgatory having reached prematurely for heaven.

    Less the unforgiven than the unforgivable.

    Innocent of what, indeed.

    And yet we're blindsided and (it turns out) astonishingly wrong. Turns out these men are kind. Thoughtful. They bother to consider their actions. Figure out how they got here. Take time to make a few things right along the way and where they can. However shambling and uncharming.

    We stumble across far better people here—in the psych wards, in general population in our prisons, in seedy church basements redolent of the last tobacco partaken outside, where clutches of dreary people admit their flaws and are better for it—than we meet in suburban backyards, in the halls of academe, or in cocktail societal gatherings.

    Anywhere else, in fact. We try, we rectify.

    These are the folks who've looked into a well and never seen the bottom. Have felt the chill crawl of ragged fingertips on their raised skin. Been called out in class to read the paper they lied about writing because they'd been fending off an uncle (or an aunt) all night. They've been that guy or that gal who sits at the diner's or the bar's end, wanting to be left alone to enjoy their breakfast eggs sunny side up, or nurse their splash of bourbon on the rocks, only to sense the brittle shadow erecting itself behind them. The Other. The Enemy. The schoolyard Bully, all grown up, feigning strength through an unerring radar for doubt in others.

    1. Man, you ever read something and think: Damn, I needed to read that today. Brilliant as always. "Nothing feminine whatsoever. Always something daubed or smeared. Small. Adobe. Shrunken. Stained and shabby." (love the way this tumbles)

    2. Lots of images, thoughts, faces as usual. Lots to think about and that sparks thinking. Like the people trying to be anonymous and wanting their own space, but the space invaders cometh...

      This bit made me laugh and I dunno if you meant it to be funny, but it's hilarious -- "I don't know. Maybe 'cause I won't quit. A horse did gallop out this way, then slowed and left. But honestly, I swear I never rode it."

    3. It is beautiful, and transformative... the last paragraph especially, I read over and over, not because I didn't understand it, but because I loved it. Thank you.

    4. You people are my family, I swear! (Vickie, that was meant funny, yes. What do they call that? Bathos?)

      But here's the rest. If anything it gets darker still. Not sure if it's in a good way, though. Tryin' to find positives!

  8. Lost luggage

    “It was the last flight before the deed,” the crumpled, elderly man said, oblivious to the arts of the cranky, blue-haired dear leaning like the Tower of Pisa beside him, her facial skin ruffled as though caught in a draught. Between them a black Labrador sat straight as a die, pink tongue rolled out like a sausage, panting, its breath heaving in the process. The grey stick perched upon its front paws, which had attracted attention resembled a bone, a human one at that.

    Detective Sams took a step forward, bent his legs slightly and reached forward, but a sudden growl made his hand recoil. “Where did he find it?”

    The couple were in the dark as to its origin. For the wife, the shock had clearly been too much. It was to the husband that the question posed itself, hanging in the air, seeking to lift the veil. Silence loomed. Sams decided it had overstayed its welcome and he reached for the battered-looking suitcase instead. The old man’s eyes flicked up and down, side to side, everywhere else it seemed, his thumbs tapping his hat.

    The detective kept him in view as he bent down in front of the mottled brown suitcase. A lifetime of wandering decorated the sides, stickers from every city he’d ever dreamed of visiting. “You’ve certainly travelled,” he remarked.

    The husband nodded between the wife’s intermittent sobs. In the end she took a pink handkerchief out of her handbag and blew bubbles into it. All the while, her man did not move, carved as a statue. Lifeless.

    With two snaps, the fastenings gave way and the suitcase flew open. Sams leapt up in time with the drooling dog, wagging its tail so hard it beat the wife out of her sobs. Her hands flailed around the offensive object, which the animal mistook as the start of a game and her body spilled sideways.

    “I think we need to have a conversation,” stated the detective as the husband nodded once more. With a flick of his leg, the elderly man closed the lid on the bony evidence within and nodded. “The wife never liked him,” he muttered.

    1. Damn, this is all kinds of creepy and good!

    2. Thanks. I got inspired to write a lot today. :)

    3. I'm not sure if you wrote that or painted it. The imagery is so detailed. Love the dark humour stuff. It is what I live for as a reader and you delivered it with a perfect climatic resolution.

    4. Creepy and good and DOG! truly amazing!

  9. Era

    These things we lost in the fire
    Of our youth
    Burning too brightly for our good,
    Hovering always on the brink
    Of the edge, the chasm
    Opening over the gulf of adulthood

    We leapt
    Into the waiting waves
    Savouring the sweet taste of freedom;
    Its bitterness saved itself
    Until the years of yearning overtook
    Our semi-conscious selves

    Within this stricken ego
    We eye the mirrors of ourselves,
    Stumbling away from the wreck
    Of all we made
    Between the then and there,
    This creaking of the I

    Only for it to explode into flames
    We can no longer fan
    While we linger
    Upon the very edge of something else
    Lost in the turning
    Of the page.

    1. Yep. Thanks for reminding me AGAIN that I do like poetry. :)

    2. and you write it quite well... thank you for sharing it!

  10. Hope

    I see the summit
    For the earth never did shine
    For me,
    Living in the leaves
    Shaking life’s waters,

    I see the lines
    For the circles never thrilled me,
    Here waiting,
    Sitting in the shadows,
    Always on the brink
    Of something

    I see the colours
    For the grey always stifled me,
    Stealing breath
    And the art of being
    Something other, bigger
    Than this

    I see the day
    For the night always feared me,
    Just me,
    Walking into soft light
    Without the weight
    Of expectation.

    1. Living in the leaves
      Shaking life’s waters,

      Man, such beautiful phrasings.

    2. Thank you muchly! I never know where this stuff is taking me. Glad you like it.

  11. Steel rhythm

    Blood-red and pulsing,
    Curving up towards the eye,
    It pumps life
    In a rhyme unbroken,
    Flooding the body
    With a force of nature
    Unstoppable til broken;
    The centre light
    Of the entire circuit,
    It weighs heavy –
    Treat it kindly.

    1. Steel rhythm indeed! I really like this one. Less than 50 words... Wow.

    2. Cheers. It didn't want to go on any longer. I couldn't think of anything else to say on it, so left it like that.

  12. Moonstruck

    Wish away the moon
    On a starlit chase this night,
    Scattering; jazz-like this dance
    Of hues unseen, splattered forth
    In a catalyst of unbroken lights
    Threading across the skies.

    Stay a while and dream
    While time itself seeps frozen,
    Hands open in a chance meeting
    Of minds, foretold in hindsight
    Only, it shimmers in this second
    Gathering frost-like charms.

    1. This one reminds me of something that happened a long time ago. I always think that's a good sign.

    2. Ooh, now I'm wondering what. I'm really fond of dream images.

  13. I should get out in the sun more. I know that. I should live a little. Or live a lot. I'll lose a little, but I'll give it everything I've got. And, still, men in boring shoes tell me what to do. And I don't listen, but I do it anyway.

    Motherfucker, I got bills to pay.

    You got all kinds of fancy notions and magic potions. All bullshit, different ways to cause a commotion. And I am the cog that it all hinges on. You doubt me?

    I always was a clever con.

    Fuck the clock tickers. Bless the fruit-pickers. Screw you and your giant car - where're you going? Surely, not far. And fuck the folks afraid to speak - even if it's you that made them meek. Me? I have a right to preach.

    And you have a right not to listen.

    1. I gave a big 'ooooh' at the end as the voice is giving a big F-off! Great. The voice starts meek but then grows angry. Finds itself in speaking. And lets rip :)

  14. I don't want to get into it. Can't we have one nice fucking day? Can't we have one day where boredom is the goal? Not the byproduct of our quest for something meaningful? I want to eat a corned beef sandwich. In a park. And I want to stay until it's dark. And then I want to smoke furtively under the pine trees, stark.

    I told you. I can't explain it any better than that. Our lives have become drudgery. But it doesn't have to be that way. See that big window over there? Borrow my hammer. Smash the fucking thing, already. Pretend it's a mirror.

    Don't let some asshole call you queer.

    Just don't. Don't let anyone call you anything. I'm not even answering to my name anymore. I'll take the number off the old front door. Sew it to every article of clothing I've got. If we're gonna be in prisons, I want to own my lot.

    Stop making excuses, it only makes it worse. Get a toothbrush and start sharpening that shit on the concrete. There are many interesting folks to meet. But some aren't happy talking cheap.

    It's all for the birds anyway.


    1. Genius. Says a lot. And there's a lot of raw emotion in it. Anger, sadness, hope and energy. Like get off the ride and smash the engine. Drive a new way and screw the old. Love the cheep cheep.

  15. The Chickadees are playing in the birdseed and you think, "that shit's been there for weeks? Word's just getting out?" But Chickadees know what it's all about. Maybe the seeds weren't rotten enough before. Maybe they ferment and the birds are getting wasted. Makes me wonder about all the seeds I never tasted.

    And I tasted a lot. I've tried every seed there is to try. Most of them tasted like shit and made my mouth too dry.

    It's cool, it's cool. I'll sit here and hammer words into a machine. That's my kind of daydream. Because I never really know where I'll end up.

    And that's better than anything I ever used to fill my cup.

  16. Mindless chatter bounces off the walls and you stare into a drink gone weak with ice. Should've drank faster, I guess. Or not at all.

    There are so many props in this bathroom stall.

    You think that stupid neon bullshit makes you unique? That overly simplistic. You look like everyone else - you got it twisted.

    How come you want to look like Sid Vicious when that fool's dead? What's Burning Man, but a playground for intrepid dread? The raves didn't kill you, the bars got boring. Let's go to the desert and breathe sand. Here, there's a design in this blacklight wristband.

    Man, I know. You're so high you're soaring. But pretty soon it will all get boring. I know. But everyone has to learn these things for themselves. That's what you hear when you listen to the shells.


    I prefer the sound of the ocean roaring.

  17. Sour

    The rhyme is wrong,
    We’ve gone on too long -
    The dinner burned itself
    While you stewed.

    I cannot carry us both,
    I cannot wait in line
    While you weigh it up
    Or canvass the crowd.

    I’m here, in the middle
    Where it all began,
    Before it snaked away,
    Soaked into the walls,
    Stealing our voices,
    Now bitter in silence.

    Do you have the recipe
    For a wasted marriage?

    I wait for you to speak,
    Knowing you have nothing
    To give and less to say –
    You stopped
    And the rhyme went wrong.

  18. The girl looked into the water like she was waiting for a mermaid to appear. Like there was something in there. She was no narcissist. She really, genuinely believed. She wrapped herself in water with one trick up her sleeve.

    The cops were downright disgusted. And the people couldn't handle that. No one wanted to touch her. No one wanted to fish anymore. Now, they knew what the fish had been eating.

    And the sun set. Orange and pink. And one sly coyote came down to drink. Then back to the hills. Because he knew. The same water that gives life also kills.

    1. whoa, I didn't see that coming. the twist in the middle. followed by another twist in the end. Particularly like 'she wrapped herself in water' and she was no narcissist. I think this is my favourite one today.

    2. 2016 the year my mermaid fantasy died. :)

  19. Write a happy story that will give somebody hope. That sounds like something a dealer would say, you dope.

    Tell people funny things and they will like you. That's the advice you give when you know that you've been lied to.

    Smile as wide as you can and everyone will be your friend. Or they'll at least have the decency to pretend.

    Play the long game, get it right. The short games alright, but it smells like spite.

    Quit rhyming, quit singing. It only makes them stronger. And you've got my attention for two minutes. Not a second longer.

    1. You are channeling Ali and Arnold Palmer. You're a channel surfing charmer, a five alarm 'er eating body parts like Jeffrey Dahmer. Word

  20. Echoes

    Into the arms of ghosts we go
    Dancing in the wisps of time
    Left in the footsteps of others
    Ever spinning into tomorrow.

    I think that's it for me. 8 minutes past midnight and inspiration faded. LOL.

  21. You ever been so sad that you can't breathe? You ever felt like a million anvils were attached to you? You ever think you can't talk about that shit? You think it should stay hidden? You think others will laugh or view you weak? You think other peoples' opinions even matter?

    Me either. Regroup. Scatter.

  22. I could ride this train forever and it wouldn't matter. The words don't stop, but it's like masturbating when you're sick. You think it will help, but it just makes you feel shittier.

    And then you do it again.

    I think there's a part of me missing. I see it in other people. And I hate it - don't get me wrong. But I'd like to write ONE decent song. I'd like to stare into the sun and not get burned. I'd like to have whatever this is returned. Reciprocated.

    One more hour to go. I wanna be sedated.

    And I know it's all hand-wringing stupidity. An exercise in futility. No one is going to remember. How bleak and dark it was, this December.

    Maybe I can leave something. Maybe. Maybe the world will explode tomorrow. I find a strange, oblique comfort in that idea. Maybe I won't have to open any more bills. Maybe I won't ever see the darkness that comes before the day. Maybe I won't have to see the shining sun and try to make hay.

    And maybe it's better that way.

  23. She looked at me and she said: I want to sleep like a child.

    I put the bottle down and smiled.

    Said: What the fuck are you talking about?

    But I knew. That's what we're all looking for. Some way to become unjaded. Some way to tell when the light has faded. To know that it's all going to be OK.

    I finished the bottle and she put down the pipe. She looked at me cock-eyed: Is everything alright?

    And I laughed. So fucking hard.

  24. I remember. I remember walking barefoot down Mission Street. Hungover, looking for something cheap to eat. Not caring. Ending up at the liquor store because I couldn't stop staring. I don't quite understand it, but I remember.

    I remember taking all that there was to be taken. Pills and drops and powders and little scraps of paper. All one youthful caper.

    Now I wonder if six Advil is too much.

    So, my leg healed and I lost my crutch. That's called growing up? Nonsense. That's called mortality, and there is so much freedom in denying it. But those were simpler times.

    And they weren't. They were just different. And I'll probably walk down Mission Street barefoot again. This time in a hospital gown. Two grown women to track me down. Speaking gently: Dad, you can't keep doing this...

    And I'll smile. Say, come and join the circus.

    Bring the nurses.

    This is just the chorus. Wait til you hear the verses.

  25. What am I running from? Maybe I'm running to something. Anyway, what's it to you? I'm just chewed up gum on an old dress shoe. Poor, poor me. Stuck in emotional poverty. I'm tired of it. I want to play guitar, but there's a gig bag to unzip.

    And I'm tired.

    See, the laptop is right here. On my lap. Which is on the only chair that doesn't hurt my back.

    I want to invent a time machine, so I can go back in time two minutes and kick my fucking ass. Throw my whiny ass in a river and laugh. Listen to the gulls cackle and the speedboats crash.

    I want to listen to The Clash. Just because I can. And I want to be crass, so you can kiss my ass. But I want to be loved, so let's pretend it's all a joke. And we'll giggle while we watch it go up in smoke.

    Now, hush. Watch the ball drop.

  26. It doesn't mean nothing. It's just a scribble on a commuter shuttle armrest. Still, you run your fingers over it and try to make it your Rosetta Stone. Should that be capitalized? I don't fucking know.

    I don't.

    I could check, sure, but you already picked them all up. So, I'll ride the shuttle, too. Throw a few pennies in the blind man's cup. Try to convince myself that he doesn't know the difference between the sound a penny makes and the solid chunk of a quarter.

    The smell won't ever leave. It will follow you. You'll think of it often.

    It will smell like the incense they drip on your coffin.

  27. One more, then I'm out the door. To read some Steinbeck and see what's in store. And I'll wonder. What woman in what garden fucked you over, brother? Jesus Christ. Maybe I should move to Monterey. Find my muse and make her pay...

    I don't judge, believe me. East of Eden lives inside - it will never leave me. And I have so many other books to read. As long as my eyesight holds.

    Because fuck books I can't read myself. I don't want to "read" anything in someone else's voice. Sounds elitist, but it's a valid choice. Audio books are like stolen paintings.

    So, for now, I'm off. To visit the places time forgot. To read about lives full of spoil and rot.

    Spoken by an angel. The dark angel of my subconscious.

    Where's my Doc? That's what I want to know. I wouldn't exploit him, though. I'd chuck my typewriter into the sea and go looking for anemones.

    Sounds futile, but shit, you gotta have priorities.

    1. Total mash up of good, bad, and ugly. If you start a cult just write me in will ya? Good use of archetypes for the Jung at heart!

  28. Leyland Dorks says to split my essay and submit: Part 1
    9/11 On The Left Coast

    By the time my clock radio startles me awake, the twin tragedies are already an hour old.  Two planes have impacted; four are rumored to be unaccounted for.  Many, too many, are already dead.  I turn on the television to watch the spectacle, completely unprepared for the pictures that assault my eyes.  My child wants to know what has happened and why.  How do you explain what a terrorist is to a 10-year-old without making him afraid to walk out the door?  I somehow manage to explain, in terms that don’t frighten him to death, the little bit I do know about what has happened in New York.  I stress how unlikely it is that anything like that is going to happen here in our town.  My spouse is at a convention in Las Vegas and I am left to choose whether to send him to school, or not, on my own.  He is fed, showered, and dressed and I long to hold him near me all day long.  I stand on the porch, just as I do every morning, as he walks to the bus stop across the street, trying vainly to let him think that all is normal, the world hasn’t changed. 

    My spouse is finally able to call from Vegas.  They are locked down in the convention center, no one is permitted to enter or exit until… Until what?  Until when?  The lines at the pay phones are 50 deep and cell phones are passed around like candy so that all may call to see if their loved ones have been spared.  We argue about sending the boy to school on such a day.  She wanting to see him safe at home, me feeling that school is as safe as home.  I’m convinced that he is better off going about his normal business rather than watching the horror on television or the tears streaming down my face and listening to my profanities as I curse the people responsible for this.  It is settled when I agree to pick him up at the first hint of any trouble in our area.  Someone at the convention center finally realizes that 1.5 million people in one place is an appealing target on a day like today so all the conventioneers are released to return to their hotels where they are still unable to check out, fly off/drive away.  They’ve come from all over the world and now they are separated from home & families, helplessly watching events unfold.  She goes to comfort and care for her staff; I chain smoke on the patio, watching CNN through the screen door.  We promise to keep in touch.

    All the news agencies scramble to impart any scrap of information they can, no matter how gruesome or improbable it may be in a race to keep me informed ahead of their competitors.  I cannot imagine what it must be like to feel your situation is so hopeless that the only escape is to jump out of a window, knowing you have no chance of surviving the fall.  I hope I never find out.  Now a plane has hit the Pentagon and I wonder how many other planes are out there on their way to targets unknown.  I live in the flight path of 3 major airports and as I sit on the patio, I hear no air traffic, not even helicopters.  The city of Victorville is unnaturally quiet.  We all huddle indoors, unable to detach ourselves from the images that are being broadcast.  Like a car wreck we are horrified, unable to not look, unable to look away.

  29. Dirks, not dorks. Stupid auto correct. Part 2

    The principal at my child’s school agrees with me and they have had a full session today.  The teachers and counselors have been available and reassuring.  He returns home to talk about bad people who wage war on us, wanting to know what our President will do about it. I don’t have an answer to that, but maybe when the President speaks tonight he will.  I tell him the things that have happened during the time he was at school.  He quickly tires of nothing but newscasts on all the channels and goes outside to play.  We have a ‘normal’ dinner—something quick.  For the first time ever that I can recall, the television stays on during dinner so that we can keep appraised of any developments.  We talk about the reasons this has happened here.  We play Racko to try and take our minds off the horror that keeps replaying itself on the television.  I tuck him in, rubbing his head the way he likes so much.  I chain smoke some more on the patio and then spend a sleepless night on the couch in front of the television, praying for someone to be pulled alive from what the rescue workers are calling ’the pile.’

    September 12th dawns and again school is in session so off he goes.  After a morning of viewing the endless loop that is the wounding and ultimately the destruction of the World Trade Center, I have seen enough of death and long to move among the living.  I shower, dress and head out to the market, more for interaction with people than a need for supplies.  I see the American flags flying everywhere.  I can’t recall how many flags flew last June 14th, but I do recall it being rare in the land of taken-for-granted freedoms.  Doubly uncommon for a town that hosts a recently closed Air Force base.  Are these flag wavers the same people that cursed our failing economy and talked of a cheaper life south of the border just a day or two ago?  I pass a used-car lot and see the owner, a man of middle-eastern descent, putting American flags on the windows of his cars.  I inquire where I might get one for my car and he eagerly presses one into my hands, “From one American to another.”  The mood is somber, but everyone speaks to one another, passing fact and rumor alike—people I am sure that days before would have crossed the street rather than make eye contact with a stranger.

  30. Part 3
    September 7, 2001 becomes a day I will never forget.  After years of putting our careers, our wants, our needs second to stability and continuity for children, we have finally agreed to move on.  With the return of our oldest charge to his mother’s house, my spouse has finally accepted a promotion, one that requires we relocate to Kansas.  With all the gang and drug activity; the declining school system; falling home prices that are finally creeping up again, we decide that now is the time to stake out a better life for ourselves and our remaining child in a smaller town, another state, away from all the problems that come when you concentrate far too many people in far too little space.  September 7th we have signed a contract to sell our home.  We have already placed an offer on a home in the new town so we price ours below market and offer bonuses to both selling and buying brokers in hopes of a quick sale.  It is this selfish desire to sell my home that I awaken with on the morning of the 13th.  My thinking is that the magnitude of the events of 9/11 are so great that there is no chance for us to escape Los Angeles anytime soon.  The last thing on anyone’s mind—anyone but me, that is—is buying a new home.  We want answers; we want revenge; we want to curl up in a ball and have it all go away.  We don’t know how this is going to affect the economy, but it can’t possibly be good.  Better stock up at the grocers, fill up at the gas station.  Put any plans on hold until we see how the dust settles.  And the dust still has not settled in New York.  Fires smolder in the pile and the rescuers despair of finding anyone alive.  The hospitals stand down their calls for extra staff, blood, supplies.  There is no need for them.  Amidst all that destruction, the surety that some will be saved evaporates like the steam from the water as they douse the embers of September.

    In the days, weeks, months immediately following the disaster, we pull together.  People are kinder, gentler, and more patient.  Merging into traffic is a little like the days back when we had the sniper shootings on the LA freeways.  Back then people let you in because they were afraid they’d get shot if they didn’t. Now they do it out of…out of what? I don’t know, kindness?  We email inspirational messages and pictures to each other, to our president.  We hold candlelight vigils.  We panic when we think of the dead leaving behind apartments full of untended animals and spring into action to rescue them.  We weep for the walking wounded with their placards of hope as they search for news of the lost.  Patriotism is rampant.  In the weeks before the attack I remember reading about a company that makes flags.  The owners were quoted as saying, “If we don’t diversify our product line; the company will fold, placing many people out of work.  No one buys flags anymore.”  I think this company will be very busy, at least for while.  A year later I can find any style and size of the red, white and blue that I can imagine for sale in the most unlikely of places, but in those first few weeks, you couldn’t buy a flag to save your soul.

    We supported our government doing anything and everything to prevent this from happening again.  Nuke the mid-east? Get to it!  Drilling in the Arctic refuge?  Hell yes!  New restrictions on luggage and contents?  Bring them on!  National identity papers—well, some still have a problem with that.  I don’t (yet)—but the word ‘Homeland’ conjures up pictures in my mind of Germany under the Nazis, slightly reminiscent of ‘Fatherland.’  I would have picked something more industrial, less emotional sounding, but maybe that is the intent, to keep emotions running high.

  31. Part 4 (final)
    Unless you’ve lived under a rock, you know how the past year has gone.  Very few survived beyond the collapse of the towers, yet we are grateful the toll was only 3,000-ish lives.  Some say it could have been worse, but I say it could have been better.  I think it could have not happened at all.  What might my country have done differently to avoid the attack altogether?  Perhaps my country intrudes too much on the politics of others when it really has no business doing so.  Would we have been a less appealing target, if we were more insular and less vocal about the righteousness of our way of life?  Are the intelligence agencies of my country, the ones that absorb countless of my tax dollars, truly so inept as to have not detected any hint of this plot?  A year later I see the questions and the apathy resurface around me.  I see it in myself.  I thought that I would never again see an election with small voter turnout.  Wrong.  A year ago I would have supported my government in just about anything it chose to do.  Today, I do not support actions it wishes to take against Saddam Hussein or the country of Iraq, yet I feel powerless to stop it and so know that the cycle of violence will continue because people like you and me feel we are unable to effect true, meaningful, and lasting change.

    My life has changed drastically since 9/11, but not because of 9/11.  Our home in Los Angeles did sell, and contrary to my dire predictions, it sold in exactly 30 days.  There were none of the escrow horror stories that sometimes accompany such a sale and it was done relatively quickly.  We were in our new home the day after Thanksgiving.  Small town life agrees with us.  People wave, smile, say hello when they pass on the gravel road that leads to our home in the woods, just as they did before 9/11.  Everyone really does know everyone (and their business) in a small town.  I feel safer here in a place that has more in common with the land of my parent’s childhood than my own, a feeling I hadn’t had in Los Angeles since I was a small child.  I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I don’t fear tomorrow and I hope that somehow, someway we can leave a better world for our children.  I still don’t know where to start.

  32. Phew! Sorry that was so long it had to be broken up into 4 parts but it's the essay I'm most partial to and willing to go public with.

    1. Well, I am certainly glad that Mr. Dorks (thank you for that) sent you here. This is a strong and well controlled emotive piece. Brought back a lot of the feeling for me. I worked the day of the attack and I remember the surreal feeling you capture so well. And the betrayal of redemption.

      If you haven't you should absolutely read Dissolute Kinship by David Antrobus (above) - a brilliant reflection on the same themes and the same tragedy.

      I'll gift you a copy if you like.

      Thanks for sharing this personal account. Mr. Dorks did well in guiding you here. ;)

    2. Mr. Dorks is indeed glad you shared this.. wow is about all I can muster. Powerful, powerful writing!

  33. Late to the party, but hopefully better late than never. The Holidays have been hectic. I've skimmed so many wonderful stories, will need to go back and read and comment. But, here is a humble offering. My muse has been sending me fourteen kisses for many weeks now, which I wrote a poem about. They loved it but suggested I do a Twelve Days, especially for the Holiday season. This is what I was inspired to write...

    Twelve Days of Kisses

    Don't bother with gaily wrapped presents for me,
    There's more to enjoy and they're happily free.
    It's not those bright boxes I ever would miss.
    As long as you give me each Twelve Days, a kiss.

    No partridge is needed, but your peck I love.
    No feathery creatures, no white turtle dove.
    Neither sweet swan nor geese, give me no calling birds,
    Darling, I want your kiss; and please, I want your words.

    The drumming I crave is the beat of your heart,
    The leap of my soul when no longer apart,
    The dancing I feel when I'm held in your arms,
    Piper's music I hear when you employ your charms.

    So give me not maids, nor French hens, no gold ring.
    It's the love that you give me that makes my heart sing.
    For it's not those presents that make Christmas so sweet,
    But your presence, my dear, that makes me so complete.

    -Tamara McLanahan

  34. Where did this last year go to?
    That time, it flew so fast.
    It went from in the moment,
    So quickly to the past.

    Wishes and dreams still linger,
    We carry them as we go.
    Into unknown tomorrows,
    To nurture and to grow.

    Regrets we'll choose to discard,
    Baggage we will not claim.
    As pain and hurt diminish,
    A brighter path's aflame.

    Adieu to last year, forward now,
    A new horizon to meet.
    Rekindling dreams and wishes,
    Forged in fire, to complete.

                      -Tamara McLanahan

    1. Man, the meter is so spot on. Foot firmly planted. I love it.

  35. May I lay you down to feast upon your lips?
    Supple, sweet and soft, I'd linger,
    A honeyed promise, a dream fulfilled.
    Happily drowning in the scent and taste of you.

    Basking in the light that shines from your eyes,
    A beacon of compassion and kindness, and yet more,
    Look deeper and desire resides there too.
    And luckiest am I, that such passion exists for me.

    My eyes speak back, reflecting all that and more,
    As every breath taken, every sigh, all my whispers,
    Each word that passes from my lips belongs to you.
    Each heartbeat is a rhythm that sings only to your heart.

    My Heaven awaits within your arms,
    My Hell surrounds and confounds me when we're apart.
    My wish is to lay always within your strong embrace,
    Until time unwinds into nothingness.

    -Tamara McLanahan

    1. This is a fine hat trick indeed. Anyone can be late to the party if they bring three poems. It's in the bylaws. ;)

    2. Lol, great by-laws and thank you for the kind words.

  36. The dark has chased away the day, and things are slower now - my brain is tired of rapid fire ... I want to reflect for a moment. On something so small it eclipsed the sun. On something so big it eclipsed the son. Old women wept. For no reason. Children fell to their knees in the street.


    For decades now I've wanted the answer, the asking spreads like a wet-toothed cancer - because I can't do it. I can't say the words because I've never undressed someone's mind in an instant. And something tells me it would be intense.

    And make me feel nonexistent.

    So, I'll listen to the heater pop, and I'll hope that the hoping never stops. Because it's there. A grasp at some futile fresh air. In a way, it's demeaning. 'Cause I can't find meaning. Because I'm content with cynical preening.

    But I can't give up that silver lining that was burned into my brain. It's been there for years, slowly driving me insane. But I did my homework, and I did my time.

    And if I do find it?

    It's mine.

    1. Dan, I just adore when you indulge in the musicality of your prose, the cadence, the rhythm and rhyme. The intensity of emotions.
      And don't ever give up on that silver lining, it may appear when you least expect it.

  37. She slipped Marley's greatest into the tape deck and I thought: Jesus fucking Christ. Not because I didn't like Bob Marley. Just because. It didn't make a lot of sense. I'll give you that.

    But not a lot made sense to me then.

    I liked my music loud and hard and angry and sneering. I liked to play my guitar until my fingers bled. And they did. And not because I was so punk rock, I just hold a pick weird.

    Always have.

    My right shoulder hurts all the time, and I gotta figure some of it is from thrashing six strings like they owed me harmony. And getting jet plane roars and dinosaurs.

    I don't know where I started and where this is going to end. But I do know that I've talked to Jonathan Richman. Three times. Not like we're friends. But he did call my wife when she was pregnant.

    And he'd appreciate that bit about the dinosaurs.

    1. He would indeed be charmed by planes and dinosaurs, and by you as well. A compelling look at creativity unleashed, off the hook, set to max. Pure love of the craft like Lou Reed, Warren Zevon and Leonard Cohen, all silenced and too soon missed. But twangy, crashing guitar rifts for the win! And thank you.


Please leave comments. Good, bad or ugly. Especially ugly.