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. 



  1. Been a while, and then a while. Lets see if I remember how to do this right.

    Dead Poets

    Dead poets speak no lies.
    The living — penning deceit of self,
    seeking comfort; justice
    in absolutes. Absolutely seeking
    justified comfort;
    comforting justice.

    Not all words violate truth.
    But those who speak of all(s)? No.

    Lines of forever, vows lining up
    into lie after lie.
    Ask instead:
    what stanzas form
    when infinity vanishes;
    when life leaves bleeding;
    when crafted commonality
    shambled division;

    when pronouns

    1. When pronouns become only singular. I dig it.

    2. this. Esp the last two stanzas. "...when crafted commonality becomes shambled division..."

  2. Dan, so many moments in your vignettes:

    Rage: "Or if they’re all using their trump flags to beat young women trying to abort their rapists’ babies."

    Truth: "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."

    The juxtaposition of "seeing" and "blinds."

    Poignancy, reckoning: "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."

    1. Love your 4 stories JD. Where do you get your ideas from. The hand in the mouth story is darkly comic. The gum stealer little Everyman who has a slightly naughty side is cool. the hierarchy of stealing; what's worse than something else - the object or the actual act. Water's skeletons in the closet that come home to roost.

    2. Love it. Funny, I highlighted all the moments DA mentioned.

  3. I only got a short poem this week.

    “Faulkner’s Lament”

    Last week was my favourite version of you. Yes,
    you thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you? But no,
    the tilt of your head and the halo of golden drop-
    lets made me think of biblical things, of
    antiquity, and I can no longer see you as
    something normal.

    And you danced within the
    sunshower, flashing
    peace signs, smiling
    your eternal baffling truth.

    “It ain’t the end of the world. It’s the end of our world.”

    Feels like a slogan, but I
    love your nasty. Even if
    she dipped on you, you still

    Your brain, that st-stuttering
    engine of wrath. A shimmering
    spun-glass sound,
    the high hoarse notes of an in-
    taken breath right
    before you try to breathe it again.

    Eyes barely open,
    I’m barefoot on the promontory,
    genderless as a tree,
    reading William Faulkner, spying
    the tiny awful deaths of
    my friends, hoping
    to see them again, just
    hoping to someday see.

    1. Never seen you write a poem before. I love it. I particularly like the final standza, hoping to someday see.

    2. Yes. That. Exactly. The last line.

    3. Friends, I only just saw your comments here, and thank you!

  4. Rivulets – September 11 2021

    These pungent colours pack punch,
    run in single rivulets searching,

    find solace in the in between,
    the evidential stop and start.

    It’s the flow until the end,
    a delicate line drawn underneath

    this elevation to ardour,
    a pretence we no longer have.

    Take watch of eagles in flight,
    the soar and the silver arch,

    the dip in a separated sky,
    once launched, floating on high.

    We draw our hands together,
    turn our palms up to the sun

    collecting its beaten yolk rays.
    It seeps through our fingers.

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  7. Feathers

    Feathers turn on the air,
    burrow in the upflift
    fluttering, these precious things,
    the barest feel of touch
    spinning. A white glow.
    Breezes take them skyward
    as if to connect with the stars,
    breathe as high as the moon.
    Scant traces of being
    blown away and now lost.
    Not feathers but people

  8. Probably part of a novel:

    Jude felt like she’d been lying on that table forever, feet flat on the paper runner, hands folded on her stomach. She stared at the acoustic-tiled ceiling, where small drawings of bunnies and sheep cavorted, undoubtedly meant to serve as a distraction when equipment gets shoved up one’s vagina. You don’t have these problems, she thought at them. You don’t have to worry about things like speculums and doctors and how the hell you’re going to raise a fucking kid with no job and no money. You have instincts. The animals seemed to agree with her. Or maybe it was just the pot talking. Or the pot lifting her spirit from her body so she could cavort with the ceiling creatures. You’re free, one of them said. Free-ee-ee… At one with nature, doing what comes naturally…

    She laughed, a sad little chuckle. “Doing what comes naturally is how I got into this mess,” she told them, stroking her belly—rounded with baby fat, not yet with baby. “But it’s not this zygote’s fault that I got stoned and fucked Lev Aaronson.” Goofy, nerdy Lev. She’d corrupted him. With her weed, with her body. Tempted him and teased him and dragged him to San Francisco with her…

    He’d want to marry her. If she told him she was pregnant. So she hadn’t. She’d picked a series of arguments with him, pushed his buttons, until he packed up his shit and went back to New York. Then she’d come here. To the clinic where the doctor would check the right boxes to satisfy California abortion laws and let her step into her future, unburdened.

    Unburdened. Unnatural. Sweat beaded the nape of her neck, dried her mouth. She imagined the zygote growing, looking like the diagrams on the walls, which she’d avoided in favor of the bucolic ceiling. Diagrams of what the embryo would look like at six weeks, at fifteen weeks, and so on.

    And she began to shiver. One word pounded through her head, one word pulsed through her veins. Out. Out, out, out, out.

    She froze, listened. Nothing. No chatter of a doctor finishing up with a patient down the hall and headed her way. No back-and-forth of receptionist and nurse. Nothing.

    As quietly as she could, with her shoes in one hand and her bundled clothing clutched in the other, Jude rolled off the table, eased herself out of the exam room and, checking both ways, tiptoed toward the back exit, exhaling only when she was free.

    The bottle-gree VW still sat in the parking lot. The guy who’d picked her up leaned against the driver’s door, staring off into the trees. She’d told him to scram, but loved him and hated him for waiting around for her.

    “Let’s go,” she snapped.

    His mouth opened and his brows climbed his forehead when he saw her. Wearing a cotton examination robe, her long curls no doubt a damp, wild mess. He shot around the back of the Bug, hands out as if to catch her. “Are you—? Do you need—can I—?”

    She’d already thrown herself into the passenger seat and was tugging on her underpants and jeans beneath the robe. “Just drive.”

  9. “That’ll do for a while,” the man said. “He’ll enjoy that.” He gave the gumbo a turn and peered deep into its depths. Then he scraped the mound of onions from the chopping board and added a generous fistful of paprika.

    “He’ll be up again soon,” he went on, scattering a shredded tarragon leaf to the mix. “The capsicum in the spice irritates his eyes. It makes him need to come up to clear them.”

    As he spoke, a small face appeared, blinking when it emerged. The creature trod water for a few moments, then sank slowly out of sight again.

    “I call him Gulliver. He’s probably a year old. I had a female before him, but she drowned. Either that or I was careless with the heat.” He picked up a ladle, then trawled it through the liquor, collecting a messy melange of sausages and shrimps. They all looked very well done, with everything tender and softly blurred.

    “But isn’t it inhumane,” I protested. “You’re broiling the poor creature alive – surely that’s against the law.”

    The man sighed. He seemed agitated now. Peevish.

    “My friend,” he said, meaning anything but that. “My frog can swim. He can eat what he likes. Where’s your problem with that?”

    I shook my head, bit my lip, then said nothing. I would never make him understand. I was just glad I wasn’t feeling hungry. I could walk away and try to forget what I’d seen.

    But I’d never eat tapioca pudding again.


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