Thursday, November 21, 2019

2 Minutes. Go!


Stand in front of the bright light – hands to your side, like... What you know about anything and what you want? My parents are mad and it’s all a long con. I’ve got this guitar, and I came to get my angst on. I’ve been neglected by the system, all those childhood tricks, I missed em. I’m ready to scream into the vacuum. I have. My guitar. And it is loud.

I stand in front of the blank faces; pretty money standing mandarin slices. Tell me your name, Helen. Give me a focal point to yell in. I’m going to bash my face into these strings, screaming, why do we do. These. Things.

And at the end of the night, no end in sight. You can close your eyes and your soul shuts tight. You can smile and forget that everything ends in the long, slow light. Turn the amp up. Strike the chord. If you bleed hard enough, the world will stop. But just for a second.

Garage sale

I’m a little bit of this boy’s life. Buy me and cast me aside. Sacrifice me to the spiders and dustbowl attics. I am hope and introspective joy; I am a barbie doll. I am the shaded knoll. I am the best you that you thought you could ever present.

You can buy me for 75 cents.

I loved this book, but you can trash it. Talk me down in price and pretend it’s rational. That belonged to my grandpa and there’s only one.

I’m a fire sale, I'm burning. I’m crumbling, but you can profit. 
Here’s my porch, now get the fuck off it.


The wind will shake the boughs free; I want to see what the ravens see. I want to be gone, long past epiphany. My life will be the story I want the world to be. Syncronicity.

The sun will pull the clouds into bluegreen nightmare straights. The cry of the gulls is cutting to the bone. You’re confused. Irate. Just smile, son. We all know you got too much on your plate.

And the chorus is coming, the end is written on all of our faces in technicolor. Your name is regret. You smell like gasoline. You are hanging from the last thread of prophecy.

Smell of Sulphur. Taste of regret. You will all be gone by sunset.


You sit on the cold concrete, and you piece it all together. The best you can, at least. Grand projections, dreams and introspections. The whole thing was planned out, and it fizzled like the last birthday candle on a soggy cupcake. Maybe we should rethink this. I think we made a mistake.

Nobody's looking but you feel hot eyeballs on your neck and they’re crawling up to your hairline and shit, you got lice, you got scabies. No one is ever going to love you, but maybe…

Maybe nothing. Nothing's gone. You tried to speak, but you got it wrong. You forgot the lyrics when you learned the song. And I’m the reason. And I don't belong.


  1. My life is nothing, and also it’s all things. I talk to my screen, commiserate with standups suffering from stage fright, laugh meanly at commercials for adult diapers, wish with renewed fervency that I owned a jukebox, cook a spicy fish stew, wrestle with pronouns, wonder if I can make anything funny from whispered tales of genocide.

    From the Heights of Abraham in the nineteen seventies rises a small tubercular biker named Midge. He says this:

    “When I cough, it’s the finest crimson spray, a warm mist from my extended throat. For ten years, I sat pillion on my mate’s Honda 400, hacking my sickness to be caught by the tailwind and spread like a septic fan behind us. His name was Mountain, and I loved him, I now think. He walked into crowds—partiers, dreamers, backpackers, hikers, total fucking wankers—and because he always greeted the headwind, he never saw it coming. His death, I mean. The one I let in.”

    But that isn’t why I’m here tonight in this diaphanous swirl of peach mesh, this warm apricot skein. I could equally have reanimated the hippie I merged with in Windermere, the one who stared as if in a lake’s mirror and instead of herself saw me. Or the goth in Nottingham, stenciling furious anarchist missives in charcoal spray to a sleeping indifferent city. Or Lana from the Bronx, dancing, always dancing, by herself or with anyone close by, before she danced her last dance alone from a smoldering gash in the North Tower.

    (“Today, without notice, my time on this bittersweet earth is done.”)

    1. Devastating. Absolutely devastating.

    2. Wow, David. I'm not sure what to say about this. Leland is right devastating describes in a word. Makes me want to give someone a hug. Also makes me want to write better.

  2. Ah, Dan... Guitar and Garage sale broke my heart, in absolutely different ways. In ways it needed to be broken. I've always wondered what it would be like to stand on that stage, offering everything to the teeming masses, but keeping a bit back for myself. And Garage Sales always feel like we're stealing something away from someone's hearts.

    1. Especially loved "Garage Sale," for its more oblique rhymes and an undercurrent of resignation that you always feel could erupt into fury. "Sadness" too. Then again... ah hell, I love all of them really. :)

    2. Dan, I know you're a musician but damn if the first three pieces weren't a song; three songs or maybe just poetry or maybe a version of rap that is different than what we generally call rap. Love them all but those first three. Yeah poetry.

  3. His eye followed the falling star all the way to the ground. A bright one, that. He wondered. Caught in a pocket? Saved for a rainy day?

    The song haunted him all day.

    Traffic was lighter than usual on the way home. The other drivers were acting unusually. Almost kind, given that this was Northern California. One bearded man actually slowed for him to merge from the entry ramp.

    He fiddled with the radio, through multiple stations before the song came on.

    “Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket...”

    The world is filled with coincidences, he thought.

    When the newscaster came on at the top of the hour, she seemed calm, measured, without urgency. “North Korea sent a message of gratitude to Kansas for the gift of two shiploads of wheat.”

    What the...

    “Russian and Ukrainian soldiers traded their rifles for musical instruments, and some danced to their rendition of Swan Lake.” A snippet of music followed.

    He consciously closed his jaw.

    “And finally, an international group of scientists are investigating a large meteorite that fell in Needles last night.”

    He pulled into his driveway as the music started again. His kids ran out the door to greet him, and his dog smiled knowingly.

    The meteor? It originated from the direction of Sirius, the Dog Star.

    1. Magical. Not a gift from the gods but a gift from the dogs, who we all know are kind to their core. Honestly, this works so perfectly, always skirting that edge of sentimentality without falling over it. Bravo.

    2. This piece was haunting. And lovely. It made me smile.

  4. Gost

    It's the power of three,
    Karma, anything sent out comes
    Back to the power of three,
    So hold on to your hate
    As it wastes away devouring
    Cos it's coming back to you
    By the power of three;
    Candles burning lighted drowned,
    Watching, digesting, starved,
    Your hate lays waste devouring itself
    And it's coming back to you with
    A kiss, the power of three.

    1. love the threes you use in this... "watching, digesting, starved"... beautiful

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Oops, pasted that wrong! I'm writing on the London night bus!!!


    Daylight chasing daylight drowns
    As it follows you shaking, living,
    Rattling in its shoes, skeleton chasing, bones in a pit rotting,
    No heart, can you feel it pumping
    In the zero space, laid waste?
    I'm breathing as I drown down,
    Hear you whispering in the still,
    This clear light, this vessel, wall,
    And you surrender all as you speak,
    Uttering words without tongue,
    Shapeless, devoured. He's hunting
    And the lie got convoluted, bored,
    Where pictutes aren't what they are.
    I read you wrong. The stink sticks
    Yet you walk, a conflagation
    Flaming, as mallards soar in cursing

    1. Somehow, knowing where you wrote this helps how we interpret it. All the thoughts, all the flaws, all the busy words.

    2. Haha yeah, 230am on the nightbus after drinking. My companion asleep! We were talking horror films. Seen the Craft about witchcraft?

  7. Ruin

    He's hunting
    Can you feel him?
    He won't let you go
    Until you pay.
    He wants you to bleed,
    To suffer,
    None too fussy how;
    He just wants to feel your pain,
    To read all of you,
    Your every thought,
    Your every thing,
    And leave you nothing,
    Leave you wanting.
    He wants the power
    To watch you drown.
    He isn't letting go.

  8. Part I.

    When they finally sidled up to the Dunkin Donuts counter it was nearly two in the morning, but they still ordered a coffee for her and a hot chocolate for him. When he insisted they also get an entire box of donut holes as well, it occurred to him that this whole experience of hanging out with Laura brought on a feeling of childlike exuberance in him that he rarely experienced even when he actually was a child.

    He already knew getting her to laugh could easily become a preoccupation for him if he managed to spend any more time with her, a goal at this point he fully intended to achieve. When she thought something was really funny, a gale of deep throaty laughter would burst out of her that sounded both freeing and sexy.

    Surprisingly, upon hearing it, Garrett also knew instantly that Laura didn’t laugh nearly enough. He sensed a secret hidden behind her unusually level gaze, that Garrett couldn’t quite put his finger on. It felt like a dormant negative force, a deep well of residual pain or anger maybe, that only registered on Laura’s countenance when her attention was fully engaged on something outside herself--when the curtain she seemed to studiously keep in place shifted ever so slightly.

    Garrett might have thought he was parenthetically reaching too far to understand her better or maybe even missing the mark entirely, if he hadn’t felt so instantly drawn to her. The veil he sensed was all over the knowing gaze she gave her patrons at the bar. The way she took care of them, listened to them, offered solicitous but fundamentally useful advice. The way she’d taken care of him today of all days, a complete stranger.

    Laura had a knowing air about her that suggested she was not only familiar with bad times but that she had beaten those times back, way back and had the battle scars to prove it.

    Maybe it was just that Garrett had scars of his own and could readily see them in others if he wanted to. He had never been the type who was inclined to remain sad for very long about them though, or anything else for that matter. Still, since spending the day with Laura it was startlingly hard to remember that this was the same day that started for him with a funeral for his dear, departed aunt.

    Laura’s mere presence had improved his mood exponentially as the day wore on and now despite how morose and lonely he felt earlier he was now nearly consumed with other more hopeful feelings. Somehow he thought his Aunt Meg wouldn’t have minded his fickleness either. In fact, he was almost 100% certain she would have been tickled pink that he was spending time with one of the bartenders she herself had enjoyed and spent a great deal of time with too.

    They sat at the empty counter and dove in to their sugary repast with a gusto, ignoring the inevitable sugar low that awaited them. This time Garrett was intent on learning more about the girl that had so thoroughly brought him out of his funk.

  9. Part II.

    “When did you know you were a poet?” He asked, while picking up a dark chocolate mini donut hole and popping it into his mouth whole.

    “Hmm . . . that’s an interesting question.”

    Still chewing, Garrett looked at her skeptically. He was fairly certain that Laura was far more interesting than the question he’d asked.

    “I just mean most people ask why poetry. Not many ask when.” She said, eyeing him inquisitively. “I was seven the first time I tried my hand at poetry, but I guess I was nine when I knew I wanted to do it forever.”

    “Wow, that’s young. I’m surprised you remember it so well.”

    “Yeah . . .”

    She was holding her coffee cup with both hands as if she were warming them. Her eyes dipped in a way that suggested she was thinking back to that time.

    “I guess you could say that first time was pivotal for me. I had a lot of pent up feelings and words that needed an escape hatch. Then we moved to New York and my family . . . well it came together and I got a lot of support to keep doing it. Writing, I mean.”

    He watched her for a moment as she carefully picked out a jelly mini donut hole from the box and bit into it.

    “It’s kind of amazing isn’t it that your family would fully support an artistic dream like that in someone so young for so long? I mean they must be kind of special to—“

    “Oh, they are. They are a very special breed.” She said, chuckling softly. “There are also a lot of artists in my family.”

    “How many?”

    She smiled at him in a way that let him know she knew he was mildly interrogating her for a purpose.

    “Well, there’s my parents, my grandparents, and my little brother. So, that’s five, besides me. The only one I’m not sure has an artistic bent is my little sister.”

    “Six in one family is a lot. Are they all writers or other kinds of artists?”

    “Other kinds. My dad works at a creative consultant agency but he’s drawn and painted all his life. My step-mom is a photographer. Granny is a painter and writes illustrated books for kids and teens. And Papí, my grandfather he draws, sculpts, and makes things from scratch. Noel, that’s my brother, he’s the only musician.”

    “What’s your little sister’s name?”

    Laura’s eyes widened for a second.

    “Her name is Mardea.”

    “Unusual name, beautiful.”

    “Yes, she thinks it’s funky tho. She makes everyone call her Dea.”

    “She’s the youngest right?”

    Laura nods searching for another donut hole.

    “Um, hmm… thirteen.”

    “Tough age.”

    Again Laura gives him a cocked eyebrow in surprise.

    “I just mean, isn’t that when puberty kicks in for girls?”

    “Boys too, I hear.” Laura chuckles softly. “But it’s probably more intense for girls around that time.” She concedes.

  10. Part III.

    “Why doesn’t she like her name?”

    The mood changes perceptibly. Garrett sees the curtain shift again and Laura’s face takes on a rueful expression. She fidgets and adjusts herself on the stool, which is why he notices the small streak of jelly at the corner of her mouth. He reaches for a napkin and folds it over his finger then raises it to her mouth. Laura seems confused and rears back ever so slightly.

    “Hold out your tongue.”

    She doesn’t ask him why. She just opens her mouth and lets the tip of her tongue surface between her lips.

    A sign of trust.

    The breath he takes then expands widely in his chest warming him. Wishing he could have used his own lips to solve the problem he solemnly dabs the napkin against her tongue then uses it to clean the jelly from her face.

    “Thank you.”

    It comes out as a whisper accompanied by a shy smile.

    “You’re welcome.”

    Laura takes a long sip of her coffee before she answers the question.

    “My sister doesn’t like her name . . . I think, because she knows what it means. The why of it . . . what it meant.”

    Garrett’s head tilted with the unasked question.

    “It’s African. It’s means last.”


    “My dad picked it. Syd, that’s my step mom, the pregnancy was rough. She . . . she almost didn’t make it through the labor. My dad well he . . . it was a rough time, that’s all. They thought they might have conceived Dea during a trip they made to Africa and Syd wanted an African name. She’s like that always making happy connections, finding the serendipity wherever, you know?”

    Garrett nodded.

    “I’m guessing Noel was born or conceived around Christmas.”


    Anyway after Syd pulled through Dad said Dea would be the last baby either of them would ever have so she should be named appropriately.”



    “Your dad sounds a little intense.”

    “You have no idea.”

    1. This series is beautiful. The trust she showed with "stick out your tongue" and his gentleness with wiping the jelly was just brilliant. I'd like to know these characters better. Well done!

    2. Pure storytelling. And what Leland said. :)


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