Friday, September 24, 2021

2 Minutes. Go!

The first light of the morning touches the grass, and whole worlds come to life. The scrub jays bend their crafty eyes to new opportunities. The insects are busy. The chipmunks chatter in the trees, and the hawks and vultures begin their slow circling. Farmers finish morning chores before breakfast. 

In this maelstrom of life, we find truth. The hunters, the hunted, and the busy workers trying to get through the day with some accomplishment on which to hang their hat. It is all a question of perspective. Just ask the lifeforms watching our solar system like it’s a low-budget slasher flick. We are the ant farm, but it’s not just ants on the blue planet. 

For the most part, we know what predators we fear - other humans. Most of us never encounter a mountain lion, a shark, a bear. We fear humans who dress their wolf faces up like sheep. And they are EVERYWHERE. 

Not only that - they look just like you and me, most of them.

Some of the things that we fear exist only in theory. In THEORY, we could contract cancer, get hit by a car, or have a heart attack, but, as much as we might worry about it, it may never happen. Or it might happen whether we worry about it or not. 

This kind of fear don’t have the same cachet as a Great White Shark.

We want fears with panache, so we stoke them, ghost stories to keep us up at night - keep us on edge. Gangs of immigrants, rapists, and - brace yourself - people who have different belief systems. These are the things you should REALLY fear. Except the thing you should REALLY, REALLY fear, which might kill you and everyone you love. 

You want to know what that is? Tune in at 11. 

If you fall asleep before 11, I guess you’ll never wake up again. Your fault. You were warned. Or warned to show up on time to be warned, which is even graver. 

Money, fear, and misery make a potent cocktail. Too bad you only have two out of the three. Fear and Misery just make you like everyone else. 

The scrub jays just flat-out don’t give a shit about any of this. The ants are just grindin’ - they aren’t worried about the cancer boogeyman hiding in the bushes. The vultures aren’t pedophiles. The grass has no ulterior motive. Hawks aren't racist.

You are not a vulture, or a scrub jay, or a beetle. 

Sucks to be you. You want to know why?

Tune in at 11.

Friday, September 17, 2021

2 Minutes. Go!

  Millie never understood how so many women found it so easy to defer to a man. Even as a child, the strict roles had chafed at her. Her mother had been strictly mute in front of her father, unless spoken to. She was usually a ghost who flitted around the house providing services. Dinner, mending, cleaning, etc. There had not been great love, and it had informed Millie’s choice of a mate. Her partnership had been equal. They did chores together, and they eased their burden this way. Laughter speeds up any chore, and they were never in short supply.

So many of the women that Millie grew up with had similar examples and emulated them. Millie couldn’t wrap her mind around this, how they went from servants in their deddy’s house to servant in their husband’s house. Things looked to be changing for a while, but it seemed like the whole town had just gotten lazy, decided to drop into the role carved out for itself without complaint. It was like everyone decided, collectively, to just go through the motions, miserably, until they died. She’d heard it said that most people lead desperate lives, and she had never seen much evidence to the contrary. 

It was not lost on her that Banklin also swam against the current his gender created. He did not follow sports, he did not love cars, he did not go hunting, ever, and he dressed like he was in the previous century. It was almost fated that they would find each other in their later years, become the kind of platonic couple who goes to fancy restaurants to drink too much with their dinner. Maybe it was destined to be that way. Maybe not.

There were those in town who took issue with Millie being a business owner, but, for the most part, they knew to keep their mouths shut and their opinions to themselves. Most of the gossip skipped Banklin and Millie; not that they realized that. This was mostly due to the holy hell they would raise if gossip was directed their way - often, the gossip wasn’t even about them, but they would shut it down, passionately. Eventually, this gave them a kind of protection, a teflon understanding with the town. It boiled down to this: Millie and Banklin had been born and raised amongst them, suffered with them, shared their dreams, and, if they wanted to be left out of the loop, let them. Kids grew up knowing what to say and what not to say. Religious converters had long ago given up, it wasn’t worth the arguments. 

It’s hard to say for sure what makes anyone keep going. What keeps us getting up in the morning and stops us from jumping in front of a train. It’s different for everyone. Some people get up for God, some for their families. Some get up for the chance to make more money, and some get up to get wired, loaded, etc. Some get up just to get back down, and some never get up - they spend the day twisting in the blackness of their own inner turmoil. Some of us are motivated by love, by sex. Some are motivated by envy, by retribution. We are a varied bunch  of animals, and we tend to forget that very easily. This is humanity: a continuous questing to dodge the pain, court the pleasure, hurt the enemy, outdo the neighbor. This is what we spend our time doing, and that speaks volumes about the kind of animals we are. 

Pack animals with prejudices.

In that way, Millie and Banklin were also different. They eschewed prejudice in all it’s forms because stereotypes are inherently untruths, and they could not abide dishonesty. 

Millie could hear the hum of thoughts in her brain. She could place her finger on one for a moment, but, like a record paused with a finger, staying too long on any one thought would burn up the motor. So, she took quick peaks and kept on spinning, just trying to stay in the groove and she made pretty good music along the way.   

Friday, September 10, 2021

2 Minutes. Go!


The tide pulls the seaweed around your leg, and, for a second, your heart pounds. Visions of great white sharks blossom. There is no shark in the water. The shark is in your mind. If only it was the only toothsome nightmare therein housed.

I went down to the store because I wanted to buy a reason to live - they laughed and tried to upgrade my cell phone. 

My Grandmother was a nice woman, but she used the word nigger in casual conversation, so I have trouble telling people about how her hugs felt. How good her cobbler was. Homemade biscuits can make up for a lot, but there are limits. She hit the limit. Now, my memories of her are all wrapped up in Klan robes. 

Ain’t it a shame. 

I was born in the heart of the south. The literal site of the yearly KKK march. I wonder about the other kids born into the hospital that day that didn’t spend their whole youth trying to surround themselves with homosexuals and Mexicans. I wonder if those poor inbred fucks have ever even had a real burrito. Hell, a real conversation. Or if they’re all using their trump flags to beat young women trying to abort their rapists’ babies. 

Man, the fishing was great when I was young. The food was good, and the music kicked ass. I’ll listen to bluegrass all day long, as long as I can do it in Stern Grove. 

It was the hidden rivers of blood I couldn’t handle. The folks crossing the street to avoid their neighbors. The sweet old Grandmas casually telling their Grandsons that something nefarious was up by using the phrase: There’s a nigger in the woodpile someplace. 

I got a lot of beef with the military, but maybe I should thank the Navy for getting my family the hell out of the parts of the country where patriotism is a sport. Give me a world of sexual revolution and burritos any day.


Open your mouth. I want to see if I can fit my whole hand in there. So, how are you? What, you having trouble talking with my hand in your mouth? Just do your best to ignore the blood-slicked saliva sliding down your throat. Do you see how fucking tan I am? That’s your money that made me that tan. 

I know what you’re thinking. No one would do this for a living if it wasn’t some kind of sick fetish. Shove your fist in my mouth while we talk about your son’s youth soccer team. Here, put this vacuum tube in your mouth. That’s right. That’s the way. Good boy, good!

Roll over. Sit up. Spit. If you do a good job, we’ll give you a little gift baggie to take home. Toothbrush, floss, and mini tube. You just gotta lean your head back. Open wide. Hold on, let me see if I can get both hands in there. 

Don’t even wonder about the looks I give the hygienist. They’re fatherly. FATHERLY! They are like my daughters. All blonde, all tall, all built like brick - oh, hey, spit into the sink for me. Rinse your mouth with these chemicals. Don’t mind the burn. You learn to get used to it. OPEN YOUR MOUTH! 

Don’t you want your goodie bag?

So, which one of these metal instruments terrifies you the most? This one? This one is just to help spread your mouth wide, you silly goose. These are the tools I refer to. No, they aren’t for leather working, what a funny thing to say. 


I’m gonna knock you out for an hour or so while this smoking hot blonde and I put our hands in your mouth together. You’re fine. FINE! You’ll get your gift bag, and you can tell your wife you don’t have any cavities. 

We’ll see you again in six months. 


       The wind pulls the blinds back from the window - they are begging me to look. To observe and catalogue. This is how we learn, by studying our betters. This is how I will learn the routines that dictate the lives of the ones in the windows. Don’t knock on the glass - they startle easily.

They don’t know that I watch, and that brings the power. The first body is discovered on a Thursday, and I watch the ripples of fear pass through my neighbors. They start to close their blinds at night. This is evidence that it is working. They are SEEING me, even with their eyes closed, their blinds closed. They feel me, the danger that I am. They feel hunted, and they are aware for the first time what it truly means to be an animal. 

The bloodletting is only cursory. The fear is the point, but it is the blood that brings the fear. They have become so secure- they feel so safe, like nothing will ever hurt them. This safety is mediocrity. They should thank me for adding flavor to their meager lives. 

I watch them love and argue and hate and pass out drunk alone. I watch the things they do in secret when they are too immodest to pull the blinds. Tell me this doesn’t make me a god, I dare you.

I will continue to direct this play as long as I can. And when the final curtain falls, I will take my final bow, bleeding from the neck with a smile on my face. This is what it means to be a teacher, a prophet. A friend. 


        I like to think I’ve never stolen much, but I’m pretty sure I stole gum when I was a kid. Not because I was jonesing for gum - I never liked it that much. It was to see if I could do it. To see if God would smite me. To see if the cops would knock on my door some cold, lonely night. Tell my Mom I was even more of a disappointment than she had expected.

My friends stole cigarettes, but they would have bought them if they could. I smoked the stolen cigarettes. What of that? Morality and ethics are tricky concepts. 

How bad should I feel for stealing gum, if I’m right about that recollection. If that is what happened. Should I feel worse than the folks that decided we needed to invade Afghanistan? I don’t think so. And I don’t care how many cute retirement paintings he does, if I’m gonna feel bad about gum, then Bush needs to do some serious reckoning with himself. I didn’t make defense contractors and politicians rich by stealing gum. I was young and dumb, not old, bitter, corrupt and calculating. Sue me. 

I don’t think the world suffered for my purloined gum. I don’t think children died. No one spent twenty years in Guantanamo Bay because of my stolen gum. No one lost a leg. No one came out of that 7-11 with PTSD. 

I’ve never stolen much, and I can own that gum. That’s cool. I’m just a 43 year old former gum thief doing his best to make amends. And old man retirement paintings have fuck all to do with it.

This is communion. 


Friday, September 3, 2021

2 Minutes. Go!

You can’t get an abortion in Texas, but you can strap a six-shooter to your leg for your trip to Walmart. You better damn well love your neighbor, unless they get raped and inquire about abortions, then you turn them in for a bounty. What’s next? Turn in your gay neighbors? Out the philanderers? Rat on an atheist? There are so many pitfalls on this slippery slope, and everybody is stuck wearing socks. 

The anti-abortion thing makes no sense to me. Even if you believe that God touched that belly, don’t we override God’s wishes all the time? Your mom gets Cancer. Isn’t that God’s will? Wouldn’t it be blasphemy to sign that lady up for Chemo? Just let her die like God intended. 

Hurricanes are God’s will too, right? Forget the sandbags, the water will go where God directs it. Stop wearing sunscreen while you’re at it. God wanted that skin to burn or he would have made you darker. Made you live in a cave. And God didn’t create toothbrushes and fluoride toothpaste. Embrace those root canals. 

If you really love your neighbor, shouldn’t you honor their wishes? Shouldn’t you respect their autonomy? I don’t believe in God, but, if I did, I don’t think I’d presume to know what she wanted. I’m just an imperfect person like the rest of you, after all. 

The worry is wrapped around around you like a blanket - you have it pulled up to your chin; soon, it will cover your mouth and you will struggle to breathe. This is just one of the benefits of that rational mind you’re so proud of. Enjoy it. 

The worry is weight. It pulls you down. It is like the bags full of birdshot plaguing Harrison Bergeron. You could take a few drinks and ease the burden, but it will be back even heavier in the morning. You always have to pay your debts, one way or another. 

The worry is the animal subverted. It is the instinct that has nowhere to run. That constant vigilance should be protecting you from saber-tooth tigers, not making you wash your hands for the fifth time. 

You don’t have to worry about tigers these days. The tigers are dressed in suits and they are stripping your rights with smiles on their faces. Abortion in Texas is just the beginning. But you’re so worried about theoretical medical debt that you can’t follow the proceedings. You have masks to make. You have bills to pay. 

They put you in a cage, and they made you like it. They put devices in your hands. They stoked resentments, and then they laughed at your innocence and naiveté. It’s all right, though. We’ll all perish in the end. Money can’t stop entropy. Feeling warm?

With a toss of the head, she disarms you. You feel the pulse in your temples, sweat slicks your palms. This makes her smile, she can see that you are damn near squirming, writhing in your seat with the discomfort. It amuses her, and the knowledge that you are her entertainment burns you like acid.

She was trained for this, trained to sit quietly without going mad. Trained to wear that supercilious mask which hides any hope for truth or honesty. She is seated in an elevated position, and you both know what that means. She is the taskmaster. You are the task.

Until the bell rings. 

Class dismissed.