Thursday, October 24, 2019

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.
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. 
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.
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.
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.


  1. The Grudge

    Again, and again, and again,
    This repetition strikes us dumb.
    Sensation shifts where it was not,
    Where it stalks, singing lullabies
    Of the dark, where it talks the talk,
    Spinning a web as a spider does.

    The wasp keeps its guard up,
    This misted time is not for us.
    These things fall loosely cluttered,
    A word count of naught unchanging.

    Laughter lifts where it finds itself
    Loitering in a pause,
    A semi-colon stumped.

    We read of the silencing today,
    Where caustic hues come to merge,
    Seeping deep into the margins
    Washing sprightly across the page.

    Jumbled words seek order,
    A pattern to emulate a song,
    And sung, we remember it always.

    Where the Grudge stalks by day,
    It will find the pitch secreting in,
    Raw dripping walls drawing closer,
    Its path narrowing and narrowing.

    Jump! It says jump, but this falls flat.
    Walls come down when sanity prevails.

    This dark-coiled snake eludes itself,
    Stealth-like plunging an illusion of teeth,
    Ego twitching, forever finding fault;
    This delusion confounds us all.

    The lost wander through gristle churning,
    Vomited forth from the Grudge’s hate,
    Thirsting on twisted entrails, gouged without.

    Just a stab in the dark, it growls.
    This veil reveals and conceals the wolf
    As the crowd grows weary in conceit.
    They hear the sirens wail,
    They hear the walls thunder in.

    1. Dark and beautiful. You had me at semicolon, and kept me all the way through.

    2. Thanks. I wrote 2 rough poems in the time and then put them together. Like a bitter Cyclops rampaging across the world, ravenous :)

    3. Agree with the others. It's definitely a fall (autumn) poem. I also love how the rhythm and even the tone changes in the penultimate stanza, like an intake of breath before returning. It makes it even more unnerving.

  2. Lean in and I will tell you my story, a story I’ve never told before.

    I was a child. My own father knew something was wrong, something different about me. He stayed away, as if I were contagious. He looked at me and saw demon spawn.

    But I was his son. I had his nose, his chin, and his tantrums. Maybe that is what frightened him, seeing a young version of himself. Or maybe it was because I kept telling stories about how the Lone Ranger and I were going to ride off into the sunset together.

    So the fathering fell to my oldest brother. He taught me the rules of baseball, though I couldn’t hit a ball. He taught me science and math. He showed me how to build a bookcase. He taught me how to read.

    And then, one day, when I was in high school, a neighbor came driving very fast down our driveway. She was crying when she got out of her car. She ran to my mother, who came to the door to see what the noise was all about.

    “Your son, your son, terrible accident, he’s dead.”

    A wail broke forth from my mother, and then from my own chest.

    It was almost Christmas. I don’t know why, but I had asked my parents for a black suit months before. And now, the day before Christmas Eve, I was unwrapping my present so I could wear it to his funeral.

    Days passed. I was afraid to sleep, afraid that dreams would rob me of the image I had of him in life, replace it with the bloody image of his damaged body, or the cold waxy body that was in the coffin.

    One night, I could not keep my eyes open any longer. I hugged a shirt of his, smelling his cologne, smelling him, and a dream came.

    He loved the outdoors. I didn’t see him in my dream, but I could feel he was there. There were crickets chirping. Oh, how he loved the sound of crickets. One of the first math lessons he taught me was how to tell the temperature by counting the number of chirps a cricket made in fifteen seconds.

    I wept in my dream, but not the sobs I had released for weeks in real life. Quiet, wet tears, flowing in straight lines down my cheeks, growing colder the farther they travelled, until they felt like ice when they fell from my chin.

    “You’re going to be okay,” I heard his voice. “You’re different, yes, but strong. You’re going to be all right.”

    And I felt his fingers on my shoulder. And I roused myself from sleep. Still I felt something on my shoulder. I pushed the covers down.

    A cricket stared back at me, antennae moving, and it gave one chirp, and hopped to the floor.

    He was right. I am all right. I am strong. I am okay.

    And I miss him still.

    1. Oof. This is beautiful and it hit me right in the heart, brother. I like the formality of the prose.

    2. Sad and pensive, sensitive and real. Love the fantastic element at the end too. His guardian angel...

    3. What Dan and Vickie said, and also I wanted to add how easily your prose pulls me into the worlds you create. And this is no exception to that.

  3. This patch of land; this is where we are. Under a smoky orb of light we once called the sun.

    Our elders haunt us with stories about how it shone like a gold ingot swathed in a shawl of blue. Now it’s tarnished brass in a pale rust bowl.

    Iowa, it was called. A word already brimming with loss.

    They tell us of a thousand suns in a season they called summer, vast rows of them, their flaxen heads dipping and rising with the breezes. Not the gales we now have, but something gentle like the breath of lambs.

    Even I remember lambs.


    “You’re a good girl. You’re a sport.”

    What is there to say to this?

    “What’s the matter? Cat got your tongue?”

    No, you did.

    “Ahem. You know we both had fun.”

    We actually didn’t.

    “You gonna answer me, sweetheart?”

    If I did it would heal and ruin everything.

    “Aw, let’s go get a drink.”

    Where numbness can reassemble.

    “That’s the spirit. I love a spirited girl!”

    Which is why you pilfered it.

    “What’ll it be?”

    Most of yesterday and earlier.


    My daddy was a farmer. I know. Sounds like some old song. He farmed American Suffolks and irrigated his pastures with great wheels of pipe, stood guard against the tireless coyotes. Before the thing happened, back when such things mattered, he was happy, and we were too.

    Little sister, my oldest most precious memory was holding your tiny hand one cold April dawn and breaching the hushed swirl of the barn and gathering the new lamb whose mother had scorned it and cradling the fragile bellows of its ribcage, feeling it weaken yet, handing it to you, cooling and lost, so we could both learn a thing our schooling had neglected: nothing should ever die alone.


    If you knew the tenor of my thoughts, you’d flee. I will murder your complacent ass. And I will do it slowly, extract each drop of suffering like an alchemist panning liquid gold. I will scour and scald you, long before I call the authorities.

    “So what do you do?”

    Even if I told you, you wouldn’t care. You already don’t care.

    “Aw, come on. I thought you were a sport.”

    I’m not. I never claimed to be.

    “I can see the mischief in your eyes.”

    Camouflage for oaths of vengeance.

    “We should play again.”

    You are extraordinarily dense.

    “Let’s go outside?”

    “Yes, let’s.”

    “It speaks!”

    Indeed. I’ll have my say, and you will finally hear it.


    You told me of a book and a film called Silence of the Lambs. You said they both told worthy tales, though they hurt. My memory of lambs is tangled with your story, about men and all the ways they wrecked us women, but I know there was a Clarice who was fierce, and I wish she’d made it to now, here where the forests have receded, here where the light has declined, here where the dead tides ebb and leave no trace. In Iowa.

    1. Fuck, I already improved this piece. This one's a draft! :)

    2. It always astonishes me how you can take vignettes of different places and times and weave them into the tapestry of a story.

    3. Wow, this is beautiful and stark. I absolutely love this. This especially, caught me:
      “What’ll it be?”

      Most of yesterday and earlier

    4. I like the gold and the sun images, and the elders, and the idea of knowledge and passing down knowledge, and then the guy who seems to understand nothing about relationships, the woman who seems to have become a victim and wishing she was stronger - but she has a strong role model. The lambs are meek but persist.

  4. Always a pleasure to read your writing, even when it's about not writing!

  5. That's so true about Mondays. They suck. You've gotta have a nice Sunday to ease into it. I can never sleep on Sundays. Love the sun climbing in.

    Love this: 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 the bird story is haunting. Made me think of a black-coloured bird my dad brought in. He used to care for sick birds. I was given the job of giving it water. It died and I felt responsible - like I'd given it too much water and somehow it had drowned. All those childhood stories where you think you did something wrong.

  6. Agree with Leland. And you do write well about not writing, Jo; that's an excellent observation. :)

    As for Dan? Here: for the wisdom, "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," for the poetry, "I’ve sung my lost cause loves into the universe," and for the horror: all of "Shame." And I just know I messed up my punctuation here, but you'll get the gist.


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