Friday, June 26, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

I took a break this morning, went down to the beach, stood on a tall rock, tried not to fall. Did yoga. The sun bounced off the cliff face, throwing rays into the late afternoon, while my girls pretended to be mermaids, singing and chirping and complaining about sister things. I listened to the birdcall and the sound of the waves licking the rocks. I tried to visualize the sturgeon and striped bass that forage under the water and mud for shrimp and crab. It smelled of healthy brine, of life.

I tried to stop time and examine my place in it. I looked at my life on a timeline, plotted the steps and missteps, thought about all the paths which will diverge in all the yellow woods of all our futures. I thought about what is at the core. What matters. Love. Empathy. Justice. Understanding. I did not fall, but I allowed for that option. I was happy not to fall; the rocks did not look inviting. They were green and slick, but sharp enough that they would have changed me.

I watched sandpipers skip off the tops of the breakers: heard the gulls cry their lost-love sea-songs, screeched laments and horrors. I focused on my breathing and pulled the warm air deep into my lungs; felt my heart beat, sending blood through my veins. When I felt like I was focused on nothing as much as one can be focused on nothing, I asked myself what had happened this week. What mattered. I thought about y’all. My wife. Kids. My friends. My family back east. I thought about the stories my students are writing. It seemed right. Maybe it is right. I thanked the beach, and I will return to it.

Friday, June 19, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

Dear Me with some faith and hope,

I know you want to believe that the people pulling the strings want to keep all the yo-yos spinning. It's not true. They want you to keep staring, they're keeping the tension up. Dude, those yo-yos could fall at any goddamn time. You need to accept that it's a sham. You're right, man. You're 100% right. Adults are assholes, politicians are criminals, Cops are degenerates, and no one really cares. Not really. Not the president. Not his wife.

The people with morals are obvious. You see 'em. Sometimes they're assholes or too passive or afraid of confrontation or too combative, but they give a shit about something. You're right about the people who appear too put together. The ones that never offend anyone and ooze through life. They're doing shit behind the scenes that you can't even imagine yet.

Brother, you are not a bad guy. You're not. You're mad, but there are good reasons to be mad. You don't like bullshit, but who likes bullshit? Why is being into bullshit desirable? You're not broken, man. You don't need to punish yourself so much.

Music is more important than almost anything else. Words, too. Books and birds and songs and fishing and friendship. Those are the things that matter. It's not on you, the fact that other people can't see it. It doesn't make you simple or strange.

Beware of the fucking Christians, man. I know you believe in some of the principles and you want to think all those Sunday mornings meant something. Some of them are OK. There are a lot of wolves in sheep clothes. A lot of pederasts in white robes. A lot of crooks and drunks talking pious bullshit. They're sick. Beyond help. Don't try, just watch your fucking back.

I'm sorry the world is such a pile of shit, but you can't fix it all. Fix the streets around you. Fix the relationships you have. Worry about making the lady at the bakery happy. She's lonely, and she cares when you crack jokes. It means a lot to her.

Email your Mom. She worries, and worry is poison. Hug your friends and tell them you love them. Don't drink so much. Stop trying to kill yourself. Take a deep breath, bud. Just breathe.


Me whose heart was broken, healing

Friday, June 12, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

How much is your life worth? Seriously. To you. It ain't worth shit to anyone else. Maybe your family. The motherfuckers you bowl with. Shoot hoops with. Shoot heroin with. But nobody really cares, man. Ain't like we're running out of people. They're coming out of the goddamn woodwork. We're thick with 'em. We're choking. Can't breathe.

I mean it ain't like you're famous or pretty. You're just a human being. No one cares about the thoughts you have and the fears you harbor and the hopes you've defaulted on. Dude, look. The whole world's a fucking whore. You're just a John.

You think God cares? You think he's out there? If he is, he's laughing a sick fuck laugh while his creation destroys itself. That's right. Clearly a Him. A white Him. In case you were wondering.

You think the kids are gonna care? Fuck, man. The kids are carving pathways through their brains. They're courting anxiety disorders and nerve malfunction. They want their legs to twitch when they try to sleep like mine do. They have Xanax and ASMR porn. The fuck they need you for? They don't care about themselves, you think they waste time wondering about your wrinkly ass?

The Cops don't care, man. That's clear. Straight up; everybody was all: hey, maybe you should think about the way you treat black people. The way you beat black people. They're not just meat, black people!

And those motherfuckers came back angry. Wounded! They shot tear gas into the face of incredulous humanity. They beat on Moms and kids and even black men. Who'da thunk it!

You can go to a Trump Rally, but if you get sick and die, that's on you. Ain't nobody give a shit about you. Don't try to convince yourself otherwise. We care about the stock market. We care about flags. We care about ourselves because we don't think anyone will care about us.

And we toss and turn, trying to find comfort in the bed we made.

Friday, June 5, 2020

2 Minutes. Go!

We can't let the dust settle, whip it up; stir that shit to a frothy loam, ignore the slack-suited simpletons slinging side-street sermons.

Don't let yourself be soothed. Don't let them blow smoke on the bruises, the cuts, the indignity.

Put your fucking flag away!

Goddamn it, put your flag away; nobody is attacking nothing. We're trying to make it mean what it is supposed to mean.

Don't look into their eyes. Don't look into the blinking cyclops eye in your living room. Don't turn your head. Don't drink it away or try to excuse it.

Listen to your kids. Your kids are mad, and they have a right to be. They've figured out there is a big world beyond the trailer park. Beyond the gated subdivision. Beyond your closed mind.

Believe none of what you hear until you have chewed on it, digested it.

If your neighbors avert their eyes, you're probably making headway. If your neighbors smile grim greetings and shake their heads, congratulations, you found a relatively nice place to live.

Why aren't you mad? Why are you so mad and directing your anger in the wrong direction? Man, anger is a magnifying lens. It focuses. Take the warmth of the sun, and turn it into fire.

You know that hot rush of clarity you get when you're angry? That's truth and justice, and it's beautiful. Stoke it carefully, share it with your community, and we can make our communities places we want to hang out in. I promise. You just have to stare into the heat without blinking.

Without turning away.