Friday, July 19, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

Join me on my journey; we'll be looking for misfits and scaredy-cats. Sycophants and misanthropes. I just want to hold this sad, dirty teddy bear - wrap me in morphine blankets, let me die. I smell decay and recompense. I'll shake my head until the lie makes sense. I'll grit my teeth and choke back the blue and pearl reality bumpers; we got a city full of buildings and not enough jumpers. 

Look up in the eaves where the pretty birds sing. Tell your lover that you're leaving and your taking everything. Watch the blood pool under the head of a man who didn't wear his hard hat. That's a hard lesson. Rat a tat tat.

I forgot that America was so fucked up. I forgot I was right about it. I thought I left the worst of it behind, shaking white pan-handle sand from my sneakers. Eyes closed and ears just inches from the speakers. You can feel that bass in your chest. 

I didn't know so many men were rapists and sociopaths. I guess I've been mostly lucky to meet relatively OK dudes. Maybe I'm too poor to hang out with the truly depraved. My crew was all: Yo, we got forties and zig zags, what you got? Rich dudes: let's kill this woman for fun. 

I don't know man. Let it snow, man. Let it snow. 

We've got everything so twisted up, and it's hard to see into each other's yards. Around here, it's Bay Area beautiful. We got folks of every description. We don't even describe them. You do you. But the Bay is small and the country is big. The preachers are predators and the President's a pig. There are bats in the belfry. 

They feast on blood. 

You are standing on the edge of nothing. You are complicit if you aren't seditious. The wolves have taken off their sheep hides. Double down, let your money ride. Time to see how the sheep and wolves will out the lions. We cling to noble hope that, somewhere, there is someone with the courage of our convictions. As we cower alone and outraged, culture-suiciding while the fiddlers burn the whole damn place down with riches. 

You got to decide what you want to do and do it. Stop telling people you're going to do it. Quilt, revolution, or mountain climb, talking ain't getting you nowhere. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

I am the regret of the elderly. The deja-vu fucked feeling that settles in your heart as your try to sleep. Sleep is an illusion. Sleep is a vicious whisper; Johnny cut your heart out. He keeps it in the freezer. Remember when we sat under a freeway overpass, forties sweating in the sun? We were bigger than everyone. 

Looking through the wrong end of the microscope.

Children die. Women get raped. That's a drag sure, but have you watched this new show? This new show will fuck your head up. Give you something to think about other than Border Patrol and Peter Thiel and what the fuck is going on anyway. Think I'll douse myself in grain alcohol and start a goddamn fire. 

I remember when all you needed was cigarettes and a cup of coffee. And me. I was the catalyst. 

Yeah, I know your Dad was a dick. Yeah, I get it, he never understood you, and you never undestood him. Did you understand the symbolism? Maybe not. I once saw you abandon your friends to die. That was illuminating. I learned from that shit. 

Donut shop. Coffee shop. Park bench and lights throbbing. Did you hear about? Did you see? That show last night. They were wasted. Or I was. Just like every show. And now they all seem the same. Was it a show I played or was I just there. Did. I. Make. The. Guestlist. ???

Diner breakfasts are salvation. Hash brown Jesus, make me whole. Trade me some shuteye for a glossed out soul. One bump of salvation, cause I'm on a roll.

Splitting whiskers won't make you whole. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

The sun sets and you try to remember. Janice, you live inside the truth, but your silly notions of justice queer you; You smell like filth. You smell like disaster, loss, and beauty - like a sweet rotten smell that climbs inside your head, throttling you with the bleak reality; you want to turn the other cheek, but no one hurt you. You want to ride, singing, into the future, but you don't even exist anymore ,,, you are light memory, clawing at the edge of ragged sleep.

Remember when you were small and time seemed almost static, swimming in the omnipresent afternoon? Janice, time was that you didn't know anyone. You were floundering. You were a joke and the village idiot all rolled into one. They wanted you to fail, Janice.

Don't look at me like that. Avert your eyes. This isn't an exhibit. I'm not your monkey, Janice. You won't tell this story. And you won't get the recompense you feel is owed to you. You are blasphemy and truth, a stolen kiss on a winter's morning. You exist without my consent, spinning, and you are making us all dizzy, Janice.

Close your eyes now. You deserve this rest.

Friday, June 28, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

The tired evening sits upon the old wooden fence, wheedling. The animals are quiet, lost in the vacant contemplation of the moment: fatigue, full bellies, cool of the evening, falling as benediction. The man stares into his empty glass and scratches the whiskers on his chin - Virginia hills call to him, and he hears the stories of his grandfather which tell him: you are here, you are supposed to be here, you are alive.

The body of the boy is stinking and attracting flies, but it doesn't matter. He'll deal with it. He'll deal with it and everything else because that's what he said he would do. The obligation is a yoke; he is plowing his subconscious. The boy smells like shit. It is a real smell. Alive.

Behind the cabin, the stream trickles by as it has for years and ages, and maybe all time. It is filled with smooth rocks and windfall branches and slick, shiny trout that leap and flash in the falls. Watch this festival of natural absurdity glisten as it tumbles in the green water, heavy with rain.

The night will come, and it will signal the hoot owl and the hound. The boy will take his final resting place in the ground. The night birds will sing, and the neighbors will call that ominous. A panther will cleave the night like a woman's screams, and all will be laid out into the morning.

We don't need your gods. We don't need your medical learning. It's all and more that we know - what's in these hills. Every story ever told by man and half of his sins live in those trees. And when summer hits its stasis point and night is tipping scale toward morning - hell, nothing matters except the stories we tell ourselves. And they get big. Bigger than the hills.

There are more secrets. Everywhere. They clog the tepid air with their contrite seductions. There are corpses in the closets where most store skeletons. There are crossed bloodlines and cursed brothers - and in summer, when the night is a velvet curtain, you walk softly and you listen for the big wind that says the storm is coming. And if you're smart, you pray, whether you believe in it or not.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

He's yelling your name at the top of his lungs. The sound reaches up into the sky, hovers at apex, and then falls, exploding into light showers. He knows that you are big and thinks he understands what that means; he thinks that you must be the most beautiful man he's ever seen. You must be able to chop down trees with your hand. You must have a blue ox somewhere. 

This is because he doesn't understand how things really work.

H doesn't know about medical insurance and genocide. Not yet. He's too young for all that. I wonder when you're old enough for genocide?

And he's looking at you like you're some kind of spirit guide. Wide-eyed enthusiasm. What do you say? Most folks consider me a loser, so you may want to find a different guide? 

The boy still thinks that flowers and birds and puppies are important. He doesn't know about the kids his age who are caged and locked in the desert, covered in sickness and misery. He doesn't know about 9/11 or Chris Brown or Syria or slavery. He just wants to play and you can barely remember how that felt. 

But you know you used to feel it.

And that little boy is going to grow up and he'll wonder just like you do. A lot of folks loved Hitler, MAGA nightmare notwithstanding - when you're living it you want to make it small. This can't possibly be real actual historical significance could, it? Yeah, but it's all about perspective. 

The farther you get, in time or space, the bigger the damn thing gets. 

Boy.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

There's a sly, white slice in her eye - sheet metal gray around it. She takes everything of color; she absorbs the light.

"Tell me what's up."

Maybe it's nothing man, but sometimes nothing means something. Sometimes, it means everything.

You stick that sexy diffidence. It's delicious; it bends the very walls of the universe, cools like magma into a hard, gray shell.

I'm gonna be the lighthouse. I'm gonna be your nightmare. I'm gonna fuck your life up. And none of it ain't a bit fair. I will dance in the darkness while the church is burning; I will not fiddle.

Cast your sentiment aside and call me a coward. Listen as the minutes drop, flooding into hours. You look at me and it's all raw - the air, the feelings, the sound and touch and taste of it. I'm not talking about sex. Abasement.

Inside the twisted vortex of mind-fuck tapestries, behind your failed quests for justice or retribution - which are not the same things - you see a younger you who is afraid of what you have become. Your reaction to this child tells you everything you need to know about yourself.

So, the brain rumbles on and the thoughts keep tumbling. The fingers move like they're greased, but it takes a minute to find the rhythm. There's no rhyme to it.

It's different every time, see?

I'm just the conduit.

#2MinutesGo

Thursday, June 6, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

You on the team? Everybody’s on the team. Everybody gets a slice. You’re like a shitty general manager who doesn’t get paid. I’m like, sitting in the outfield, laughing. Your sense of allegiance is misplaced. Your anger is tangible, but you’re not angry about this. This is supposed to be a release valve. You’ve turned it into a bar with premade beef. Other people’s beef. Brother, you are NOT on the team.

The sun hits everyone and everyone dies a little as the hours pass. Get you a hotdog. You can tell folks at work on Monday that you played an integral part. Half-drunk-idiot in the nosebleed seats is an important position. I get you.

Pre-recorded rivalry is a stupid reason to die. Stupid reason to fight. Stupid reason to argue. You can’t care enough to get invested in human welfare, but you’ll die if your rival team wins because, well, you were told they were the enemy and that was enough. Get the pitchforks.

How much does the team care about you? About as much as your season tickets cost. About as much as the merchandise you overpay for. About as much as I care about you and your Sunday rage-preach. There are children dying in cages.

Did YOU see the game.

 ***
Open eyes, face on soft velour. Flash of neon in the rain, smears as you drive. Radio playing bad hip hop. The road is smooth, then a washboard. Your body is chilled, soaked. There is a sense of panic as your eyes focus. That smell. Don’t think about it. 


Time passes and you wonder. Wondering is risky. Risk is aversion. Avert your eyes outward; introspection is not your friend. 


Go back and construct excuses from what you recall. Cover your trail in hypocrisy soaked in convenient half-truths. Crack the window. Drink the soggy air. Hear the music, stunted and guilded by the sounds of the city as it flows by

Thursday, May 30, 2019

2 Minutes.Go!

Salvation

You can't kill a man with a painted feather. 
Or, you might be able to, but not effectively. 
A blue jay is a friend as long as you don't mess with him.
Never trust a doctor and only half the carnies.
The electrical jolt that kills you will come out of nowhere. 
You will be forgotten within a generation. 
It doesn't matter. 
You can kill a man with a lead pipe, but there are more effective ways. 
You can use a lifetime to grind a man to nothing, kick him when he's down. 
You don't have to be nice to anyone, but it helps. 
Shake it out. 
Walk down a country road and throw rocks at all the rust signs. 
You should leave something beautiful if you can. Try?
Learn to paint or sing a song; learn some stories and maybe a cheap magic trick or two. 
Use these things to bring happiness to others. 
Don't stop being curious. 
You can kill a man if you put him in a box. It's effective. Proven.
Calling it effective don't make it right, boss. 
Find a child to draw with. 
Go fucking fishing, man. 
Seriously. I don't murder people in traffic because you don't think I should? 
I think an afternoon of fishing would do you good. 

There are lots of ways to save a man. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

As the waves climbed to the gunwales, the sharks circled. The sun was high in the sky, and Arthur squinted into the light, watching gulls dive. The last of the seagull he had managed to kill was gone days ago. This was day 19. He had been alone since the tenth day when Johnathan went mad and took his last swim. He was sunburned and starving, but he knew he could make it. Keep floating and eventually you will pass by land. Stay alert and someone is bound to find you.

He never should have accepted the offer. This is the thought that plagued him. He was raised to think in numbers and percentages. The call to sea was  a  siren song all along.

When they found the boat, it was empty. This does not mean that Arthur died. It means the boat was empty. To his family, Arthur was king of an island somewhere. He was eating coconuts and laughing. He was building civilizations from driftwood and palm fronds. His sons would become sailors eventually and traverse the world, wondering. They would look at the old, weathered men they saw in sea ports. They would hope for some flash of recognition.

They never guessed that Arthur saw his salvation as a new start. Freedom. He was tied to no one and nothing. He saw his sons occasionally from afar, but never spoke to them.

There are many things that happen on the sea. There are mysteries that will never be solved. There are ghosts that slip the valleys between waves. There are lives that blossom in salt water. There are pitfalls and disasters.

You look at the horizon and you see an invitation, but that is reckless innocence. The sea takes what the sea wants. The boats bob on the waves, but we know nothing of the worlds underneath. But go ahead and join them. You might as well go to sea. The ocean is calling you. And you might survive, or you might be lucky and be spared the torture of starvation and madness. The sea gives you what you need, whether you want it to or not.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

Candy

The handle is sticky, toggling back and forth as the ice melts and the wrappers crinkle. Street fighter. You could do this for days. Take Mountain Dew and Twix breaks. Watch the shoplifters move slow then fast, then out. Watch the seventeen year old at the counter not giving a shit. Watch the owner coming back furious, but what the hell can he do?

Don’t eat the hotdogs. Seriously, just don’t. Leave a quarter on the game to save your place. You’re poor, but if you keep winning you won’t have to pay. You suck. Take quarters off the counter and from the corner of the mud room. That’s not stealing, it’s appropriating. Something fancier. You know it, baby.

The high school kids smoke cigarettes out front and talk smack to everybody – little kids included. They don’t care about anyone or anything except cigarettes and 90210. That kid with the fishing rod? He’s going to commit suicide. No one will see it coming. Same with Jenny who becomes a mommy young. Rachel will be a lawyer. Dante will see both sides of  a gun.

Wipe your hands on your pants and spit in the gutter and look up at the sun like, man, that sun is so bright. That’s everything right there.

Mad power.

 

Rust

That thin ketchup with the water in it. Always forget to shake it and you get mostly water, wet fart of ketchup. Tomato soup. Old people in scratchy sweaters. Peppermint fuzzy with lint. A dark bait box and the smell of industry. You don’t know what that smells like? In Pennsylvania it smells like upbeat poverty. That clothesline in the backyard, an octagon – all you gotta do is spin it, state of the art. Rust poking through the rubber paint.

An eerie silence, then dogs barking. You’ll never know. The house settles and makes sounds. Tiny sword, blackjack, bubble gum. Just take one. Cool water and cigar smoke. The smell of fresh cut grass. Hungry. Eating fast enough to skip being sick. Just tired. The back of a farm truck on a hot day. Sweat speckling hay.

Fish fries. FryDaddy. Cole slaw. Fisticuffs at the boat slips. Long, slow days. Warm beer. Neighbors fighting. Kids are kids. They are barefoot and full of wonder. Mullets and Mustangs.

Night. Silence. Collective breath.

Florida.

Florida feels like humid desperation. Boy, where's your smile? Turnstile. Way too close to Alabama. Hushpuppies and Catfish, son. You'll be home soon.

Let the night settle the dust of the day. Ashes to ashes. Rust to rust.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

Pee


The alleyway is dark and stained, but the air is still – you are leaning, shoulder against cement, smiling like you’ve got a secret. The graffiti pulses in the moonlight. The stench of humans surrounds you, clogging your throat. This is where souls go to die. Among dirty syringes and broken bottles, the meek make a mockery of scripture. Feral cats claw at the scraps of trash, claw at each other. There is the silence of everything. Traffic and fights and yelling and sirens. There is no expectation of privacy here, and people do not go here to hide. They come to do things that make them feel hidden, lost in the tumult of mediocre dirtbag. You are just passing through, temporary dirtbag. You will not get lost in the alley. This does not make you superior, it makes you complicit. And lucky. Therebutfore the grace of something.

 

Beach


I don’t know where Kiggie went. 

It’s dark. 

There are lights father up the beach, lights behind the dunes – lighters flick on and off, blasting sparks into the sky. 

No Kiggie. Where the hell did he go? Why the hell does he always do shit like this? This is the last time, left to wander among strangers as the grunion run... 

Silver flashes in the shallow water. Moonlight trapped in brine. It’s apocalyptic and exciting. It’s a smile tearing itself across your face. 

Where the hell is that kid? What is wrong with him anyway? 

But then he’s back grinning and what can you say? I mean, there’s lots to say, but the grunion wait for no man. No boy. No manboy. 

I don’t know about you, but it’s not so bad – the salt in the air and the sound of the waves. 

The flashes of silver fish in the moonlight.

 

Ramen


It’ll keep you alive. Sort of. It will keep you alive, but you will be made of salt. Salt will replace your blood. But you will save money. And you will not die. You might die ... after a while. Just make sure that any opportunity to eat free food is an opportunity to cram diversity into your diet. Eat fifty carrots. The little ones. Not the big ones. You will regret it if you do. Do not eat free Ramen, you have ramen at home. Do not share your Ramen with your roommates because then you’re not even saving money and you could be eating a burrito. Your ramen can be stored anywhere, but the shelf in the closet is the prime space. The garage. The roomrage. You can add pasta sauce instead of the sauce packet if you cop some. Hint: People often throw away sauce jars with a serving left. Sometimes more. Ramen has become your master. Bow to ramen. You are now one of the salt people. Soon, you can be their king.

(prompts provided by a student)

Friday, May 3, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

I’m gonna rob the Hot Topic. I’m gonna take all their shit and set the place on fire. I’m gonna laugh while they text pictures to their friends – look at the crazy old shirtless man setting the Hot Topic on fire. Yelling, “This rebellious enough for ya?” I’m gonna knock an Orange Julius out of someone’s hand and go try on 500 ball caps when I’m done. I’m gonna sell all the Bob Marley and Snoop and Ozzie posters. I’m gonna use the One Direction poster to beat a boy scout to death. That funny coffee mug? I’m gonna smash it and use the shard-sharp handle to give you a new smile. I’ll stand on top of the cash register singing Johnny Cash songs and making myself vomit. I’ll eat a JUUL case. You’ll see. I just don’t give a damn. And all the time I’ll be singing. “IS THIS REBELLIOS ENOUGH FOR YOU!!!” Then, I’ll get a Cinnabon and throw myself down the escalator, chugging bourbon and lighter fluid.

Show them youngsters how it’s done.

Friday, April 26, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

The mask smells like a midget’s rectum. Sweat, soaked in sweat. Your eyes glint out from the small holes cut into the vinyl and you smile. It is time. The reckoning. You belch into one satin glove and you’re ready. The first thing you hear is vast silence. When you step into the ring, the entire world disappears. The crowd is a voiceless monster thrashing in the close oblivion. You are in a vacuum, and your mouth is dry. Your tongue is glued to the roof of your mouth, so you smack your gums. Your tongue taps the top teeth. 

The chair hits the back of your head like an explosion. Three toddlers tied to sledgehammers, sent down the falls to scatter in pieces on the shore. You see a quick blackness and hear the sound of tearing metal. The crowd comes back in a symphonic wave. You taste blood and money. The laughter erupts from your crocodile throat. 

The bar is empty, but for two old men sleeping and the barkeep. The whiskey takes the pain away as long as you never stop. Just like wrestling. Everything is OK just as long as you keep GOING!

Ding ding ding.
 
_____________
The darkness is cold and absolute, and screams belt the star-quilt – you are undone by it. You are left groveling in the sad, gritty realization that nothing will ever profit. Nothing will change. You will die a simpler creature than you are now. You are getting simpler by the day. The craven need is unstoppable and you shout it into the universe with hand on heart and moms tut-tutting and people serenading through your life until you think, fuck man, they’re all just waiting around for you to die. They want ringside seats or a brownine badge for saving you. Right. Go into the December darkness if you must, but I don’t want to see it. You can give my ticket to the next sad woman who liked your band in high school. I will be here, ear pressed to the tepid shore, tasting salt and brine. Whose place is it to judge?

Not mine.
 
You look at me with wide eyes and the thing that falls out of your mouth turns around; I find myself staring from an animal much lower than horse high – I start to look like the bad guy. Suddenly, I am NOT angry. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want any of it. I want to talk about this show and what happened today and we can pretend like it never even got spoken. There’s no rewind on knee-jerk reactions though. You live in that moment because you  have to because you created it. Sucks, I know.

Friday, April 19, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

(done slacking)

I handed you the book, like, hey, here is something I care about – something that’s important to me. You took the olive branch and stuck it in my eye. You belly laughed about it. What a fucking nerd.

I tried to think what you cared about. What sung inside you with such beauty and delicacy that it HAD to be shared. And I thought, if there isn’t something … Jesus. If’s there’s not a book you love or a show you worship or a song that touched you, well, hell, that’s so sad. 

And then I felt like you wanted me to cry, but I was too sad to cry. I was empathizing with your meek, passionless life. Too cool to care. You should listen to Ian McKay. He was a blowhard, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t right. 

So, I tucked my nerdy trump card and skated. Back home where my big Sis waited. And he’d called her. Told her what I’d done. Super freaking nerd shit. Your brother is such a dork. How could anyone care so much about something so retarded?

We were sad for him together. As sad as you can be for an insecure pile of clichés and self aggrandizement. He’s a lawyer now. 

Still don’t care about shit.

____________

She was a little older than me, and she smelled like cinnamon gum. She smoked cigarettes while she waited for the bus. My friends and I broke stuff. She stood to the side and smoked cigarettes. 

One day she sat beside me on the bus, and I swear I died. My heart exploded. Our knees touched and I felt a shock. Literally. That’s not just lazy writing. 

Long, blonde hair. The only blonde I’ve ever loved except family. 

She was nice in a detached way. I thought she must have been 27 really and there to observe the middle school boys in their natural environment. Laughing hyenas. She was worldly, which is a cliché, but screw you. I’m trying to be honest. I’m trying to be open. What are you trying?

I was 115 pounds of straight nervous heart attack. I was writing stories in my head, and they were all about her. 

The day I decided I loved her completely was one of the last times I saw her. School ended. She never came back. I’m 42 and I don’t regret much, but if I could go back I would have kissed her. Asked her out. Asked her to marry me in a sketchy cult ceremony.

She would have said no. And it would have been amazing.

___________________________


Daddy’s hands were black, but his chest shone like a beacon. Like a man whose job it was to guide ships in during a storm. His face was grey. White on Sundays. Black at the end of the day. He smoked unfiltered cigarettes and coughed. He sang songs in the choir. He made homemade ice cream, and he liked to fish. 

His anger was righteousness, like God was pissed. When he was happy, he was a pal. When he was down in the mine, he never watched the canary. He didn’t think like that. 

When Ma died, he shattered. He lived in the mine and at the rail, drinking rye whiskey and telling bullshit stories and bragging how he had the best job on earth. He pulled his paycheck from the earth. He tapped it out with hammers and a chisel. He fucking breathed it inside of him. It killed him. He’s dead. 

Coal raised me. Every bite I ate was black. Every pair of shoes left black grit on my soul. I did not brag about Daddy’s job. Everyone had a daddy worked in the mine. He was nothing special.

Nowadays, I sit on the big rock at the Y in the trout stream, and I think about him. Cigars, rough hands. Skin always cracking. He could never get clean. And I think. That’s it, man. That’s it right there. The poor bastard could never get clean. Not even when he tried.