Thursday, November 14, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

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

We picked up speed.

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

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

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

But it was fine, honey.

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

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

Never let your guard down.

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

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

Thursday, November 7, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

Sacramento Kings

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

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

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

 

Pretty Ballerina

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

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

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

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

Watch. The. Ballerina. Spin.

 

Sports fans

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

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

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

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

See?

Now let me tell you what God told me.

 

Eyelashes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 31, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 24, 2019












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






Thursday, October 17, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

Uncomfortable

She told me it would have to stay between us, but she didn’t mean it. I didn’t know that at the time. She seemed so genuine, holding my hand and telling me to get it all out. She didn’t tell me that once I got it all out, I wouldn’t be able to get it all back in. I had many things to learn, and this was the first. And learning to deal with the discomfort- that slick, red feeling that burned me when I spent too much time with her. With it. With myself.

I met her then, the real her. Not the constructed costume. Not the pose or the carefully manicured neurosis. You gotta peal all that back. Underneath, where she doesn’t want you to look; that’s where you’ll find it. But don’t stare, it is scared of you.

So, bless me with righteousness. Destroy me with vigilance. I don’t care. I just can’t take that slow, judging stare. What do you think? Why do you think I think I came here? Because I didn’t know what to think. I expected some kind of salvation? Maybe that was naïve. But I expected something more than a parrot.

Still, I gave her the cracker.

 

Fear

It comes for you when you are quiet. When your brain is still and vacant. The small voice of fear. Everyone has a different voice, but there are commonalities. The things we are all scared of rarely keep us up at night, though. It is the personal fears … the fears near and dear to your own heart. What if she never loves me? What if I get too dirty? What’s it all mean?

If we are especially unlucky, the fears are just memories threatening a second act. So many of us have these fears embedded in us, placed there by powers outside our control. What are you scared of? The dark? Me, I’m afraid the same things will happen to me again. They almost broke me the first time.

You can’t push it away, but you can fight it. It can become a struggle and the struggle can keep you on top of the quicksand for a while. Red lights and sirens. Pain. Hopelessness. These are the spices that add flavor to your life, and they are all friends with fear.

 

Gravel

I bet you can’t walk on it barefoot. I bet your Moms is gonna yell at you anyway. Hey, guys, his Moms is gonna bitch him out if he hurts his little feet. But now you a tough guy. Go on then, tough guy, walk across the lot. Those rocks are hot and sharp, but they’ll tell us everything. They’ll peel back the layers of you until we see what a slimy piece of pushy trash you are. I bet you can’t swallow that chaw and not throw up. I bet you won’t let me throw this dart at your head. I bet I can take your knife in Mumblety-Peg.

Your Dad wears women’s clothes. Your Dad’s not a real man. I heard that the mailman is giving it to your Mom right now. What would you do? If he was? What would you do? I bet you wouldn’t do nothing. I bet you’d just sit there and take it.

I bet you won’t stand up to that asshole. I bet you won’t drink my cousin’s shine. I bet you won’t jump from the roof to the tree. I bet you can’t hold your breath as long as me.

I bet someday we’ll all think back at this and be amazed we’re all still alive. Amazed we can still look at each other. I bet my family will take a nicer vacation than yours will. I bet my TV is bigger than yours. I bet my God is the right God and you’re a sinner. I bet you’re evil. Different.

I bet we have nothing in common. Wanna bet?

Thursday, October 10, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!

Motorcycle

Everyone talks about the wind, but you only feel the wind if you’re an idiot or you have a death wish. I want zero part of me exposed to wind, because I want zero part of me to be left on the asphalt if I crash. And it’s not about engine noise either. That’s just something guys with big bikes say. Sure, I like the sound, but it ain’t about the sound. I’d have an electric bike if I could afford one.

It’s not about the brotherhood, sisterhood, bikerhood. That’s nice. I’m not knocking it, but all the guys I rode with decided that they couldn’t ride with a liberal, so now I ride alone. And it’s fine. I rode alone for years. Never bothered me.

It’s not about leather or fashion or music or rebellion or disenfranchisement. And it’s probably different for everyone. Some folks do get off on a loud throttle. Some folks do want their mullets behind them like a sail. But most of us just like it. And we don’t really care about analyzing why. And we certainly don’t give a shit about explaining it to you.

I’ll explain it to the hawks as I swoop through the wetlands.

 

Baseball

It tastes like grape bubblegum and suicide. Not the suicide that breaks your mom’s heart; I’m talking about the kind you get by mixing every soda into one cup and pretending that shit tastes good. Hint: go heavy on the Orange.

It feels like a doctor’s office where once every fifteen minutes you get a cookie. Only sometimes you don’t get a cookie. Sometimes you have to sit there and watch without doing anything. Doesn’t  matter what’s happening. You just sit there.

It is too damn long, man. Way too long. There is not a thing in the world I want to do for five hours.

I like having beer spilled on me as much as the next guy, but you’re crazy if you think I’m paying eight bucks for a hot dog. And a sunburn. And lower back pain.

Do what you want, folks. It’s an amazing thing to have to choose. I choose not to go to the dentist, not to read Ulysses, and I choose pretty much anything over baseball.

 

Fight

It’ll be over before you know it, and you’ll wish you could do it again. Not because it was fun, but because it was fucked and maybe it would be less fucked the second time? It wouldn’t be. It would be just as fucked. But you’ll feel dirty about the whole thing. Touched. Uncomfortable like that relative who kisses you on the lips. It’ll twist you up, like when your teeth bite metal.

Win or lose, you’ve lost the second it starts.

I know some people do it for fun. You cant account for the tastes of some folks. Some folks tattoo their eyeballs and split their tongues in half. You want to do it? Of course not. So, don’t go thinking you’re meant to be a brawler if you’ve never tried it. There are fewer folks with the taste for it than you think.

Fair fight. It is one of the biggest cons in the history of cons. This idea that on one side are the honorable rogues and on the other side? No accounts. Hoodlums. The kind that will take every opportunity for a sucker punch. The problem is that the suckerpunchers are assholes who don’t fight fair, but go ahead and take the moral high ground.

Personally, I don’t want any part of it. I don’t like it. I need my hands not to hurt. 


Rabbit

There is a patch of soft brown grass in the green field behind the house. It looks out of place. Not right. Or TOO right. The way a six year old draws a picture of a field, with a smiling yellow sun watching over it. Small eyes see what big eyes don’t. Hey Mom. This looks weird. Come look at it with me. It happens. The two of you end up staring down at this clump of brown in a field of green and neither of you want to touch it and you don’t know why.

Little boys are stupid or brave or they want to prove themselves or something. New worlds should be discovered by small boys. They’d probably be nicer to the natives.

Underneath is a small hole filled with something brown and then eyes shift, light changes, and the hole is full of baby rabbits. Perfect. Impossibly small and delicate. You don’t touch them because you both know better. You cover them fast and get the hell out of there and hope mamma rabbit doesn’t ghost them. But she doesn’t. And you go back to the house for dinner, then to bed, to dream about the treasure buried out back.

 

Beautiful

There is a trickle of light through the blinds and it falls, tumbling, through shadows and wisps of sleep. There is no sound but the regular ebb and flow of light breathing. This is sacred and this should not be disturbed. You sit quietly and silence your own body. Here is the solace some find in music. Some find it in sanctuaries. They think. They are wrong. It lives in her hair, glowing with morning light. It also lives in trout streams. Wake her gently, it is very early.

She will sleep in the car. She won’t remember anything, and it will be like she’s waking up at the stream. She will yawn and stretch and shake the sleep from her arms and hands. She will smile at the morning sounds. Birds will roust the frogs and they in turn will wake the beavers. The stream will come to life, and there will be a moment of synchronicity, a soft, pleading moment. You will catch your breath, your eyes will meet, and the past and future will drift away with the smoke from your coffee fire.

 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

2Minutes. Go!

Use the prompts if you like. 


Bathroom

You better put your phone away, brother. This is why I don’t touch other peoples’ phones. So, when you ask me to take a picture of you and your daddyuncle and I say no, well, sorry, but stop talking on your phone in public bathrooms. Or playing games. Or checking reddit. Whatever. If it takes you so long to shit that you need an antidote to boredom, then check your diet, homie.

You want to brush your teeth? OK. Weirdo. I get it. I guess. But you really got to brush them for the dentist-recommended time? You can’t just bust out a quick brush to tide you over til you get home? C’mon, man, some people are waiting to pee in the sink.

Doing drugs in the bathroom? Shit, I don’t care as long as it doesn’t smell. Once the stall door is closed, that shit is yours, G. If I don’t like it, I’ll hold it.

Now just chill. There are like 43 OCD rituals I need to complete. Weirdo.



Arrogance

I’m getting a little tired of meeting so many people got shit all figured out – but they don’t agree. I wish I could punch your Mom in the face for every time someone has told me that all my problems can be solved by essential oils, abstinence, or 100% fealty to a made-up sky-person.

Don’t get me started on writers. Please. You know how many sad, emo idiots want to tell me about how they’re writers? If you write you’re a writer. It’s called language. That doesn’t make you Shakespeare. I know hundreds of writers who can write brilliantly but are too embarrassed to identify as a “writer.” Cause of you, turtleneck. You and your pretensions.

I don’t care what your Grandpa said. My Grandpa said dumb shit, too.

I don’t think sugar is going to kill me. I think stress is going to kill me, and you’re generating so much of it. I just want to sit by a stream and read this book and then go play with my kids.

Call me simple-minded.



Diamonds

There is an African boy with no hand, and he sits next to an old, dusty barrel. He is healing, but soon he will be back at work. There is a woman in Los Angeles who is crying because her boyfriend cheaped out. He didn’t embrace his love debt.

There is a thief on the balcony. He will kill you if he has to.

There is a manufacturing plant where they make drill bits that can cut through anything. There is a curse on the house that houses hope.

There is a teenager destroying his teeth for more flash when he smiles. There is another scratching herself gently with her ring until the warm blood drips from her fingertips. Her Dad will buy her a necklace to make her happy.

The necklace won’t make her happy. She will die wondering how she could be such a mystery to the people who claim to love her. Their distance will push her away and away. Nevermore.

There is a guilt trip and a dream. There are false idols. We have so many pedestals, and many of them shine like diamonds.



Cold

When it’s cold enough outside, you don’t feel cold. It just hurts. Your skin aches and your tears freeze on your eyelashes and everything becomes pain. If you don’t acknowledge the pain, it doesn’t hurt as much. But that’s a questionable lesson to learn.

I’m a wimp. I’ve lived in California half my life. Over half my life. I’m cold when it’s sixty degrees. I don’t leave the freezer door open when I’m scooping ice cream.

I like the cold warriors. Like: It’s gonna be forty below! Want to go camping? I don’t understand how this became your measuring stick. I guess I’m not much of a man; I like being warm and comfortable. My penis is just penis sized.

Dead bodies are cold. So, I’ll be cold enough eventually. In the meantime, I’ll keep sitting in the sun and smiling.

  

49ers

We did good this weekend. We? Who’s we? The Niners?  That’s them. Didn’t see your uniform, pal. Must not be paying y’all too well because you look like a human wet fart and you smell like an amusement park. Or a cheap carnival. Beer, cigarettes, and vomit. The trifecta.

The coaches are idiots when they lose, but you’re always right. Commentating in hindsight is a pretty slick con.

Those fans? They’re not fans. They didn’t grow up on this shit. Not like you. Niner faithful. Wonder how many Heisman trophy winners will be at your funeral?

Me? I’m gonna be at an under twelve soccer game. They don’t flop. They don’t fuck with the clock. They play. And that’s all I want to see.



First Love

She is a pain in the chest and panic. She smells like toffee candies and pipe smoke. She is sitting beside you and you can’t breathe. Can’t move. Her foot touches yours and you throw up a little. The beads of sweat tap dance on your forehead. Your brain is screaming, but it is screaming too many things. Talk to her! Shut the fuck up! Don’t move, you’ll fucking ruin it.

She is calm and put together. You are dying. You are fucking dying and you will be dead on the schoolbus and she will lead them in their mocking cries. Died embarrassed with a hard on hastily hidden under a transformer backpack. This is what they will put on your tombstone.

You will sit and quiver. She will not notice. She will get off at her stop. You will spend the next thirty years of your life wondering what you could have done differently. But at least you didn’t die.



Childhood

I am under the table, and I am staying here. The tablecloth’s cascade will protect me. I have no use for you and your living rooms. Your bedrooms. This, this here, this space under the table. This is all I will ever need. As long as these cookies last…



Money

I’ve never understood it. Like, I really don’t get it – it makes absolutely no sense to me. I’m a teacher. Dig it. I don’t get much money so I don’t spend much money. I have lots of friends make lots of money and I don’t even know what they do. Real Estate. Tech. Like that’s supposed to explain how you literally spend your life between meals, sleep, and shitting.

Nurses make jack-shit, but Jeff Bezos has more money that I can even think about. What does he do between shits? Honestly, I really want to know.

Trump is the poorest rich man I’ve ever seen and now he’s president.

Jesus was poor. They crucified that fool. Mitch McConnel is rich, and I don’t see anyone building crosses.

I don’t understand it, so I won’t worry about it. I’ve lived with it, and I’ve lived without it. The most satisfied with life I’ve ever been? The most sense it all made? I had zero money and slept on the beach. The world hasn’t made so much sense since.