Thursday, October 17, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!


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.



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.



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?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. eeek, kept trying to reply to Dan's post and posting in the wrong place! Love all these and all different in different styles.

      Uncomfortable is great. It even feels uncomfortable when you're reading it. The voice is self-conscious and embarrassed. Fave line is this true one: She didn’t tell me that once I got it all out, I wouldn’t be able to get it all back in. No one tells you that one! And I love the ending - he's getting nothing but he throws her a line. Parrot and cracker. She's just repeating, she's not helping. And I guess he's heard it before?

      Fear: stay afloat. Stay up, don't drift down. Life's lessons.

      Gravel is funny in its competitiveness. Imagine two kids going at it, but it could also be adults. Their argument just degenerates into silliness. They're different, but then the same in not being able to drop the bone they're gnawing!

    2. Gravel is my favorite of the three, though Uncomfortable really DOES make me feel uncomfortable as I read it. And I'm not sure if the parrot is metaphorical, or if it's a real parrot. Gravel is a tactile piece... as soon as I read the word, I could feel it on my bare feet, and the taunting felt real, too.

    3. Gravel's my fav too. Casual cruelty and the narcissism of minor differences. But the parrot in Uncomfortable made me think of Nirvana's "Polly," which was about rape. All good stuff.

    4. She didn’t tell me that once I got it all out, I wouldn’t be able to get it all back in.
      That, Right there. Excellent!

    5. I really liked Gravel. Fear punched me in the face.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Rewind

    Torn nerve lines of cabbage leaves
    Trace new countries, waiting wounded

    Silences leave me dead, fluttering,
    The wings of the butterfly seared

    Accompany me into this red desert
    This place of dry, unwilling longing

    Spiral, it spirals, it yearns, it burns

    This colour corrects, consumes, replays,
    So we drift within it, seeking out

    You play the fiddle as the sky opens,
    Flinging tears across this battlefield

    Where times sleep, ravaged, open hands
    Still grasp this earth, a sense of self

    Spin, it spins, it feeds, it curls

    And I see what you have lost, where
    You turned wrong, unknowing, unseeing

    I feel the desert cry in wrack and ruin,
    Disobeying you, turning its back

    The rain lies heavy, sinking, pulling you
    Down into the centre of autumn’s breast.

    1. Powerful lyricism and that ending! The breaking up of "pulling you" then "Down into" on the next line made me literally feel that exact sensation. This is why poetry in its purest form is the greatest form of writing. I love this.

    2. Cheers :) I did an edit and changed 'centre' to 'mire' at the end :)

  4. There is so much rich language here. Trying to pull out favorites is hard; it's all really strong. I like the echoes of classical verse and the tone - super effective.

    1. I love the landscape and weather symbolizing so much. It's something I don't know I would have understood when I lived in the city, but out here, the desert is a real life character. Beautiful.

    2. Thanks :) It's all about nature and the landscape becoming human :)

  5. I’m driving west and I love you. Don’t dispute it.
    I know peace will come in time. And time will come for us. And I will get where I’m trying to get.
    Broken free from the fields, a colony of bees sketches a dream ’cross an Iowa sky.
    And I’m by your side and I’m holding your hand. And you’re by my side trying so fucking hard not to

    And horses are just horses, and we clamber tidal pools to prove it, urchins spending
    Dimes, sea creatures waving dollar bills, and withering coral reefs love it.
    Embrace me now, wait for me now, for my time to come below and
    Above it.

    Mick and Keith introduced me to the whorehouse. Peeling paint on a pier.
    Pungent and fecund, gaslit, a hubbub of snug commerce inside.

    Whatever we suppose. Bright horses. Weather vanes. Radios.
    Lightning bugs and hoverflies imprisoned in a jar.

    The Soviet engine clattering into Gare Du Nord, steel sickle and ironwork hammer bristling.
    Are you listening? This lusty, clamorous assemblage proclaiming
    Vladimir’s decadeslong aspiration, waiting
    For you in this, our glaring business of making all y’all

    What will be carried, you will carry.
    What you discard, you’ll no longer regard.

    A man made mad by grief, a worthwhile thief, his ragged clothes
    Washboard scrubbed by some hollowed-out devotee.

    The noontide cloud of matte-black butterflies clinging to things
    They can’t possibly understand.

    An upturned palm, your bright green eyes, your
    Suitcased junket, this. Horsepower. This.

    Beside us. Such expansive happy.

    Wheeze your hoarsest requiem, tender compadre, oh my love, you
    Lurid, insistent inamorata.

    Everyone losing someone, even in brightest Copenhagen.

    You were my baby and my baby loved me. It’s harsh and its raw and it’s
    Deep as can be. My, oh my, I loved my baby and
    My baby went on looking for me.

    Starting with her heart. Malibu to Monterey, our bright phantasmic coast,
    Going down to Helsinki, waiting now for peace to come, uh-huh,
    We all bite. We all cope.

    I am here, and you are where you are.
    And a star is but the memory of a star.

    And we won’t allow the moon a moment’s sleep.

    And we await the eventual verdict of our hope.

    And we blink astonished as abandoned sheep.

    And the rockfalls tumble on the slopes.

    And the star, the star, the star is not.
    The gotten and the lost the world forgot.

    1. [Note: I used the words of another writer for this piece, weaving my own with his. Namely, from Nick Cave's astonishing new album Ghosteen. So I'll never use this for commercial gain of any kind.]

    2. It's amazing, and now I need to go get the album. It's meditation and poem and prayer all rolled into one. Well done, sir!

    3. The troubadour of Love and Loss...You never fail to amaze.

    4. And your description, Leland, is exactly how that album feels. It's one of the greatest contemplations of grief I've ever heard. It's up there with Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. Stunning stuff.

      Thanks, Teresa! Someone write that on my grave marker. ;)

    5. First of all, yay, that there's so many poems today :) It's great how you can play with the lines, long and short. And play with images.

      this is really rich, emotive and breathing.

      Does make me wonder what his lyrics are. Will have to look. For anyone who says they don't like or read poetry, I tell them that songs are like poems, poems like lyrics :)

      love the repetition of the stars wanderings and the heavy repeat of 'and' in 4.

      i particularly like this section too, loving the 'expansive happy' line':

      "The noontide cloud of matte-black butterflies clinging to things
      They can’t possibly understand.

      An upturned palm, your bright green eyes, your
      Suitcased junket, this. Horsepower. This.

      Beside us. Such expansive happy."

    6. Thanks for such a close reading, Vickie. And yes, poetry and song are siblings, I always think.

    7. Holy cats, this is beautiful. It breathes and sighs and I want to ride the waves.

  6. Oh Dear and once more, she fearlessly flirts with the politically incorrect!

    They walk in beauty like a rose seemed silly once, but now, who knows?
    You can look like one
    And be the other but how to address is anybody’s guess when we try to talk to one another.
    There’s they and them and he and she and you and me and us
    Seems every time I turn around someone else got on that bus.
    When you look in a mirror you still stay I
    And I call you you in conversation
    But when we talk about you, you turn into a they and by the way
    Why’s it so important for us to know
    How you identify?

    Don’t mistake my confusion for bias
    I am tolerant to a fault
    But these pronouns have me confounded
    When the singular is suddenly plural it’s hard to conjugate
    And I am suddenly surrounded and thoroughly verklempt
    By a world of theys in a world that naysays the whole idea of us against them.
    We’ll get along fine, though, don’t you worry
    And forgive me if I’ve got it wrong
    You’ll still be a you when we chat
    And a they when you’re absent or not even that?
    And me? I will follow my own golden rule when it comes to he or she or they
    You do you and I’ll do me with respect along the way.

    1. Language is such an interesting political construct, isn't it? I too struggle with the singular 'they' but I like the idea of staying in first and second person as a way around it. Well done!

    2. It's not really as complicated as it seems, though. In English, you is both singular and plural, so why not they/them? And don't forget one single aspect of all this: it's less about "correctness" than it is about kindness.

    3. I like the playfulness of the subject, echoed in the playfulness of the lines, and the seesaw rhythm (playful) too. The bus line is funny. Language is confusing, and big and colourful, and we bend it every way :)

  7. It seemed the sun rose earlier that morning than other mornings, and its color was more peach than red. He tried without success to remember the dream, such a happy dream, which put the smile on his face.

    Odd, the temperature was warmer than he might have expected on an October morning. And birds, so many birds. The raven, the magpie, the thrush, the robin. And they were all staring at him.

    “Good morning,” he said. His voice sounded deeper.

    “Good morning,” said the birds. In English. He giggled. Maybe he was still in his dream.

    He held the door open for the dogs, but the dogs were still snoring. They always awoke before him. A strange morning indeed.

    I overheard the raven talking to the magpie. “He doesn’t know. Doesn’t understand. Why are humans so thickheaded?”

    “Don’t understand what?”

    “You’ll figure it out,” said the raven as he flew away.

    I heard a rustling in the sagebrush, and a coyote stuck his nose out, shiny eyes staring at me.

    “Finally. I thought you’d sleep all day.” The coyote spoke with a western twang.

    “Well, the dogs usually wake me, but they seem to be sleeping in.”

    “Well, come along, come along. We’ve places to get to. Everyone’s in a hurry.”

    I didn’t remember pulling on my jeans and flannel shirt, let alone my boots, but I had.

    I closed the door behind me and followed the wild canine.

    “Why are we…”

    “No time for questions now, just try to keep up. Curiosity killed the…” He interrupted himself and giggled exactly as I thought a coyote should.

    I didn’t have difficulty keeping up, surprising me again. My knees didn’t hurt. I wasn’t even breathing hard.

    “And here we are.” The coyote stopped. I looked around. Just trees, and a creek, and clouds that looked like summer.

    “And where, exactly would that be?”

    “The entrance to heaven, of course.”

    Behind me, I could hear the dogs howl from inside the house. No chance to say goodbye.

    “They’re saying ‘so long’ to you now. You might answer back.”

    I opened my mouth to say goodbye, but heard a howl leave my lips.

    “Not bad for a newbie. And it’s not really goodbye. They’ll be along soon enough.”

    The sky turned red, the creek waters rose, and a cloud spoke to me.

    “Welcome. You’ve got work to do.”

    And I stepped across the threshold of heaven.

    1. So the switch from third person to first was the moment the character died, became a ghost? If so—and it's possible I've misread it—that's an astounding way to handle something like that. Bravo, my friend.

    2. Thank you... I think I might play with it the other way around... starting in first person, then third person after death... I dunno... it just happened, to be honest, without deliberation, but I appreciate your kind words.

    3. Yeah, that could work too. It's why I love flash fiction so much, these little serendipitous happenings, as well as the leeway to experiment. I love this story, the magical realism, etc.

    4. Wow, I'm wondering if he became a dog? Like he had this connection to animals and nature, and was reincarnated as a dog... there's my imagination going crazy! He opened his mouth and there was a howl... is that a clue? I also like the line about the birds all staring at him... and I knew something was amiss or fantastical.

    5. Yeah, agreed; this piece especially lends itself to various interpretations.

  8. (a little free association)

    M T
    More Things?

    Things only rarely
    brought me happiness

    and only as symbols
    emotions trapped in 3D
    for me to set free

    3D screens
    Funny glasses
    if we turned off the screen
    we’d experience more dimensions
    than three

    less is more

    Les was an uncle of mine
    he built houses

    Wish he’d been around when I built mine.

    Mine. A hole in the ground.
    If a hole is 100 feet deep and six feet
    in diameter, how much dirt is in the hole?

    None. If it had dirt in it, it wouldn’t be a hole.

    Mysteries of life. In books. In open air.

    in M T ness.

    1. Love this, the MT. Really cool idea. And the word association and how words are thrown around and jump into something else, the connection and disconnection, flying around the lines, becoming something else, and then back to MT. The state of being, trying to fill emptiness with things, but it won't work as emptiness is a state of mind.

  9. The truth came in a letter. A plain white envelope slipped beneath her plain suburban door. Inside, a plain white sheet of paper. As plain as her new name. As plain as the nose on her plain face, as plain as the house she was currently inhabiting, as plain as the block upon which it sat. Two words were typed on the plain white paper, in an equally nondescript font: THEY KNOW.

    The growl from Carolina’s throat was nothing but plain. Nothing about her dog was plain. A mix of breeds gave her one blue and one brown eye a distinctive wisdom, gave her one ear that sat upward and another that drooped down, gave her coat a lush blend of colors ranging from light amber to midnight black. Gave her three white paws and one the color of wildflower honey.

    Even Carolina knew that the jig was up. They were coming for her. She’d changed her name, her hair, her car, her clothing. All on the agent’s recommendation to become as plain as she possibly could. He’d wanted her to change her dog, too, but that was a deal-breaker.

    He’d sat across from her at her plain dining room table, drinking his plain coffee, and raised an eyebrow. “It’s a risk,” he said. “They know your dog. At least think about sheltering her for a while.” Carolina had growled at that, too. She reached down to offer a comforting ear scratch.

    “Have you ever had a dog?” she’d asked.

    His gaze dropped to his ordinary hands clutched around the plain mug. “Once. When I was a kid. Who didn’t have a dog?”

    She filled the pause that followed with memories. A dog chasing after a boy on a bicycle. A dog sitting with a boy on a front porch, the eager and patient listener. The repository of all the boy’s secrets.

    He cleared the emotion from his throat, raised his eyes to hers. “It’s all a choice. It’s your choice to make. I’m just saying it puts you at risk.”

    “I’ll take that risk.” Trapped in the plainness of her plain name and plain house, everything they were coming after her for pulsed like a second heart. She needed someone to tell her secrets too, as well.

    1. Angelo, Maggie, and I all love this story, and the loyalty. Carolina is a superb name, too. You did extra good with this one.

    2. Excellent. So ominous. It's interesting; humans can hide their true natures, but dogs are who they are.

    3. I'm hoping she's a superhero and the dog has as many lives as a cat, and they're going to go on the run, do battle with the baddies and win :)

      Love the connection between woman and dog, and you can sense that time is running out. The dog comes before her own safety because it sounds like she doesn't have anyone else. She's had to give up everything else. Also like the way she is almost connecting with the guy over his memory of a dog, subconsciously or not.

    4. Thanks! I'm so grateful for your words. Even though I could only manage a seed this week, I have a sense this is leading to something bigger.


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