Friday, December 29, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Dear old Dan...that's what she always called him. Never Dan. She never called me Dan either; it was always Danny. I can hear it now. Always with a laugh in the voice. They were happy people. At peace, yet they had lived through more hardship than any two people ever should. Contrast that to the rest of us, bitching about nonsense and whining. Thing is, I don't know how they did it. 

They were happy about going to buy cheese and other goods from the Amish. They were happy about a particularly good batch of apples. They ate trout caught from tiny streams, and they ate simple. They dried their laundry on a line, and they would watch the birds from the window, enthralled, even when they didn't know their names. 

I try to imagine these people years before they were my grandparents. I imagine, because I know the history, what it would be like to walk into your son's room to find his head exploded all over the walls, the white paint dripping blood and brain matter. 

I try to put myself in those shoes, and I just think, shit, I'd reload the gun and put it in my mouth. In a second. In a heartbeat. Anything to stop that screaming tear in the mind. But maybe I wouldn't. They didn't. They rallied. Were extra proud of their surviving son. And he lived up to and surpassed their expectations, dreams, and hopes. 

They liked dumb jokes, and they read more than anyone I have ever known. Certainly more than most people who quit their formal education so young. They knew that books were equalizers as well as entertainment. 

My Paupa showed me more love than he showed my Dad, and I don't necessarily think that the fault lies with either of them. My nana was a constantly giggling, always generous, buddy. When I think back, that's the word that comes to mind. I loved them both so much. I was there when my Nana lost her memory and gained a time machine (she couldn't always remember me, but the street she grew up on was suddenly vivid and real again). I was there when my Paupa tried to figure out how life would work without her. I saw them at their lowest, and they were still higher than me. Paupa became a widower, but only for a few years. 

He was still happy, in a way. At least, he could pull it off when I was around. 

I've had many examples of amazing men in my life, and I'm not like any of them. Maybe that's a travesty. Maybe that is the saddest thing you hear today. Or maybe that's the way it is supposed to be. Evolution. My Paupa ate all the pain the world could offer, so it wouldn't be a shadow over my father's life. My Dad lost a brother in the worst way you can. He became an only child overnight. And, still, he raised a family...became the most responsible person I have ever known. Maybe too responsible. That's a weight to carry. I know, I feel it. I just can't carry it as well as he did. I feel the pain through the years, and I guess that is human history. 

My kids will probably never eat squirrel, chewing slowly in case there is shot still in the meat. I never walked the rails collecting pea-coal that fell off the trains so my family could be warm. I've seen some hardships, sure, but nothing like these people saw, they fought a fucking war. And here I sit, wishing I could be more like them, instead of this quivering mass of feelings and guilt. 

Sometimes, I wonder if they knew how much I cared for them. We weren't that kind of family. Not real touchy feely, physically or emotionally. I think they knew. I think they knew I wanted to hear their stories, to learn the things they knew. I think they saw the same progression I saw, and it probably pained them and inspired them at the same time. 

Our children never really know where we come from, and maybe that's good. My kids will never live in a city that is still segregated (with a wink). My kids won't be pulling up stakes every couple years. Still, I want to see some of that Mader grit in them. I want to see that resilience and perseverance. I want them to be strong and do the history proud. 

Best thing I can hope is that maybe it skips a generation. 

There's still hope for my girls. 

Friday, December 15, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

You weren't there, so you can't feel it, but I can try to tell you about it. 

The first thing you have to do is understand the fear. It's a special kind of fear. There is excitement in it. A bit of dread. You are drinking beer to kill the nerves, but it's a slippery slope. You need to maintain balance, you need to drink medicinally. Unfortunately, you aren't wired that way. 

The nerves hide the alcohol until it's too late, and the other guitarist is pissed, and that makes you feel like shit, and feeling like shit is no way to play a show. So, you have another beer.

If the opening band sucks, the energy will be low. If the opening band is good, you will be extra nervous. Extra drinky. That will ruin the set, and there will be some unspoken anger. Or maybe it gets spoken. Maybe there's yelling. Even physical violence.

Sometimes, things will go right despite your failings. These are the good times. It's easy when it's like that, but it is a rare occurrence. Hailey's comet type shit, really. 

If a band plays after you, your set is largely dependent on them. If you sound way different, they might hate you. If you sound too similar, they will hate you for a different reason. The best band to follow is boring but competent. There are lots of bands like that. If you are feeling pessimistic or maybe realistic, you might group yourself amongst them. 

Too many cigarettes. You always smoke too many cigarettes, and it makes your voice dry. Which doesn't matter. No one came for the singing. This isn't The Voice. 

You should move around on stage, but it's hard to play guitar, sing, and be entertaining to look at all at the same time. Still, you hate live bands like this. Like Weezer. All focus, no show. 

Boring shows have to be perfect, and you ain't never going to be perfect. 

The fact that girls come to the shows is a miracle. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it makes it harder. It doesn't matter if you play well. Not to most of these girls. You were on the stage. You have a kind of distant aloofness. That's the important thing. You can boost their status, and they won't be intimidated. You're accessible. Especially after the after-show beers. And basically, you're a feminist. Of sorts. So, it's safe. 

If the show was good, you might not get wasted. If it was bad, you'll be blacked out before they turn on the lights. Start herding people out. Because you are on the bill, you can pass out with the knowledge that someone will keep people from robbing you. Fucking with you. Sometimes, nothing hits the spot like a punk rock pass out on a thrift store couch. 

When you wake up, you'll have regrets. Either you fucked up and feel guilty or someone else did and you're bitter. Like, how does someone break the 'E' string on a bass? That shit should be impossible. Or the drummer broke another snare. Or the backup vocals were shitty. It is rare to feel good after a show. You wonder sometimes about more musically competent bands and what their regrets are. 

Or you might wake up next to a girl you don't know. That can be good or bad. It's a crap shoot. You try not to let it happen, but the beer...

You think, I should just stop drinking. This has happened too many times. It's fucking scary if you think about it. You are among a bunch of people in a place you aren't familiar with and you are at your worst and best at the same time. Sometimes, the drummer kicks a door in for no reason. Smashes a window. You're the only one entertained by this. 

And that's about it. You do that over and over. As often as you can. If it pays, great. If not, great. There will always be another show. Maybe you got hit with a bottle, broke a finger on somebody. If you did, that needs to be dealt with. 

So you deal with it by getting drunk. Rinse and repeat. Punk fucking rock. 

Friday, December 8, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Reggie stepped off the curb with a slight stumble. Anyone watching would likely assume that he had had a few too many drinks. Anyone watching for longer would be able to watch him weave down the sidewalk, bumping into people. Because he was good, that was all they saw. Not me. I saw the quick, darting motions that pulled wallets out of purses and pockets. I saw watches and jewelry disappear. He was good. Too good for his own good. Not as good as I was in my day, but good. 

Sandra was one of the bumped-into. She lost her grandmother's necklace. That glint of diamond was gone. She wouldn't realize it until she got home, and, when she did realize, she would fall to her knees, sobbing. Cheated. Duped. Dirtied. Contaminated. 

Al was an old man, and he had nothing worth stealing. He stood on the corner, sipping from a brown bag and hoping that the liquor would hurry up. Getting drunk was not a gradual process for him. It was like getting hit by a sledgehammer. That was the way he wanted it. He would drink a pint of vodka in one go if he had a beer to chase it with. This time, he had no beer. But a few more sips, taken in rapid succession, and he would be good to go. 

Anthony wore a badge, and he thought it made up for the fact that he had...bad ideas. Bad desires. He cast glances he was ashamed of. He dreamed things at night that couldn't stand the test of sunlight. He was ashamed, but it was beyond his control. The badge was a scarlet letter that only he could see. He was barely holding on, but, man, he was trying.

Yolanda didn't try at all. She gave into every base desire that she had and never thought twice about it. She took everything she could with no remorse. No empathy. No Jiminy Cricket for Yolanda. She was a predator in the truest sense of the word, and broken souls fanned out behind her like a wedding train. Her panther eyes missed nothing. Her conscience was clean. 

I was the one watching them, but I didn't judge any of them. Judge not lest ye be judged. I reckon that there isn't a person on earth who doesn't do or think something they don't want anyone to know about. That's what it means to be human. That's what fuels writers. At least, that's what fuels writers like me. 

Friday, December 1, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I broke your mind and left you stranded. I didn’t give into the shit you demanded. I got it twisted, tied it up. Filled my fucking misery cup. "Let it spill," you said, and smiled. I wrapped myself in sweet denial. I stood on the mountaintop feeling free, while industry feasted on the last real tree. 

Fishing for robot fish ain’t fun. They never jump. They barely run. They taste like metal, hurt to crunch. There’s no real fruit in that banana bunch. 

I had a woman, I remember well. Now I cuddle with the clones they sell. They don’t hold me tight, won’t hear me cry. They just sit and stare. I wonder why?

Ain’t they seen carbon-based before? Weren’t they invented just for this chore?

I fixed your mind with gum and paste. I took your good faith, bathed in waste. I let the politicians play, blood in their teeth at the end of the day. I blamed it on God, and you believed. The corporate shareholders were relieved. They toasted and laughed at declining health. Said, “As long as it won’t affect my wealth.”

So that’s what happened, believe it or not. Truth is cheap, but I gave it a shot. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The alarm sounded as the blue and red light cut through the fog of night. We had become accustomed to the sound of alarms. They were no longer alarming. They cried wolf too many times for anyone to take them seriously. 

I was keyed up. I had been up for days. I was paranoid, more paranoid than usual. The noise and the light felt like psychedelics, and it added to the dark energy building up inside me. I stretched my arms out. Flexed my hands. I could feel muscle and tendon beneath the scarred flesh. 

I was alive. 

There have been times when I wished I was dead, but I've always been good at avoiding it. 

I was looking for something, but I didn’t know what it was. I just knew that I would know it when I saw it. It was a feeling. I trust those feelings. Maybe that has something to do with the sustained heartbeats. I’d had some close shaves, but no razor burn. 

My stomach felt raw. Bloody. That’s always been a problem for me, and no one has been able to explain it. I am constantly swallowing blood. I taste nothing else. Everything I eat tastes of it. I barely notice anymore. Blood is hunger.

The taste thickened my resolve. I would bathe in it. It would wash me clean. I just needed to find a source.

I needed to tap a well.

Friday, November 10, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

It was just that feeling. You couldn't change it. 

Palms slick with sweat, you couldn't even get a grip that would stick. You were slipping. Everyone could see it. They smelled it in the sickly sweat seeping from your pores. You tried to smile, flip golden hair, make it casual - sell the simplicity. It didn't work. It irked people. It was like biting the tines of a fork. It sent shockwaves. 

You open the door to let the devil in, then you better be able to close it. That's the truth. It's always been that way. Some people can open the door a crack, some can't. Some ride the top of the wave, and some sink to the bottom where they are tossed by currents, abraded by sand, instructed by panic. 

I keep the door wide open, because I am the devil. I can match any sickness he can think of. I can throw my weight into misery. Evil fears me because I can take it and keep on taking. I am a bottomless well. I am pure potential, a mountain you can't see the top of. I am the craggy bluffs that deceive the adventurous. 

You better keep your door closed. Lock it with the deadbolt. Nail two-by-fours over it. Rig it with bells. Shine a bright light. None of it will save you. 

I am coming, and I don't need a door. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

You had your eyes closed when the sun burned out. You opened them because you heard the terror around you, the gasps and screams. You felt the chill. Cowered from the cries of the animals. Those who could make fire did so. The looting started right away.

The poison gas began seeping out of the vents, but it was not a poison that killed. At least not quickly. It was an investment in death. It was a creation that the government scientists lauded. The death would happen away from the source, and it would be quite a show.

The billionaires were satisfied in their domed enclave. Their false sun burned brightly, and there was no gas to twist their minds. They got to enjoy the show. That was the point.

The poor are always fodder. Always ignored. 

And they always lose. 

Friday, October 27, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The sodden ground, scattered bodies bleeding. Dead patriots as far as the eye can see. The sun pokes through the haze of smoke and dust. There is not enough light to glint off metal or watch faces. There are darkened lumps under trees, but you don't know if they are alive or dead. Choose caution. Close your eyes and be still, they won't shoot until they see the whites of your eyes. 

At least that is what the elders say.

When the red meets the blue, the whole world is a purple bruise. People shouldn't have to fit into binary systems. They are so limiting. They are inherently disingenuous. They are a square lie shoved down our round throats. The billionaires love the purple. They love to watch us tear ourselves apart. 

I remember when American flags mean unity, not division. I am not one of the elders, but I am old enough to remember. I'm old enough to remember when Congresspeople didn't wear AR-15 pins on their jackets. I remember when I was able to have friends who thought like me and friends who didn't think like me. The world was a lot rounder when I was young. 

You don't even get to breathe clean air. You get to watch the genocide of flora and fauna that my generation was supposed to stop. You get to watch species erased from the planet through no failing of their own. You get to cry for whales, cause the children of the 80s didn't save shit. We had great t-shirts, though. 

Sometimes, I hope that the animals will become rational, sentient, free-willed motherfuckers and come tear us to ribbons. Sometimes, I convince myself that we have been through hard times before. We will persevere. Sometimes, I have faith. Sometimes, I believe. 

Most of the time, I'm just tired.

Friday, October 20, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

If you're going to come at me hard, it better be the hardest you've got because I've been yelled at and abused enough in my life. I'm not waiting for you to take the first swing. I'm ready to bust open my vault of slicing words. If you want it, get it, but don't come casual, come correct. 

If you have any fancy notions about fair fighting, you should throw those shits out right now. I don't fight fair. I fight to win. Think about that. Think about how much you like your teeth and eyeballs. Think about how you might want to have kids some day. 

I'm old. I'm not fast enough to run. But I got muscles you don't and the kind of bitterness that forty-five years earns you. I'm too tired for long fights. This shit will be over soon.

Something maybe you should know. I've never lost a fight. Not even close. Never had my ass beat. Never been jumped. Maybe they see it in my eyes, the willingness to dive into pain and blood. That shit doesn't bother me. I like it. I thrive on it. I've bathed in it. 

I'm not saying I'm a tough guy. I'm not. But I can be tough for three minutes, and that is all I will need. 

Friday, October 13, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Is she cold in the night when she feels alone, red dress on black boots in the tepid warmth of the streetlight? Does she remember, then, that she was once a dream. She was once the living embodiment of hope, and that was the first addiction. When you finally do kick hope, it leaves you a different person. You are full of holes. The holes need to be stopped up or all of you will leak out of you.

Does she tie back her blonde hair showing black roots? Does she hide her heritage, becoming blonde and hiding her black roots? Is she America? Is this what she's trying to tell you? Look at me, I'm you! I'm the ideals you claimed to have, do you feel them now?

Will she die for your sins, though? Can you pound nails into her hands, and build belief systems around her? Can we make them kill for her? Will they do anything for her attentions, her approval? Do they think it will stop the lonely misery for even one measly second?

They buy her hourly, and she sells, not herself, she keeps that close. She sells the ugliness that you bring to the ghetto. She sells the sticky glances the morally upright cast. She sells the lie that there is love for you. Comfort. She sells you a brief window of time, too grimed to look through. She sells you your soul back, for just a moment, so you can sell it all over again.

Friday, October 6, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

If it kills me, tell my story, but please don't you dare feel sad. No one ducks death. This has been coming for a long time. Since the day I was born, I've been living to die, so celebrate, tap a keg, tell funny anecdotes. Maybe go fishing. Sit on a sun-warmed rock. Let the breeze lift your arm hairs. 

I will get old before I die, but don't mourn for my youth. I treated my youth like an overworked horse, rode it hard and put it away wet. It didn't kill me. And I have been places you have never gone. Hell, I bet I've been places you can't even imagine

If you think about it, the whole world is like one big joke where we don't yet know the punchline. I'm looking forward to the end of the show. I want to see the slides they promise. I want to walk towards the light that is my synapses expiring. I want my last words, but if they're stupid, go ahead and make up something better. No one wants their last words to be, "I think I shit myself..."

I've had a cool life, and I've got a lot more left to live. I want to see if we get jetpacks. I want to learn how to fly. I want to see if we fix global warming. And if we don't? Doesn't matter. Step up the timetable. Maybe stay inside, though. 

Skip the fishing.

Friday, September 29, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I'm shipwrecked. You left me on the island alone. Your fear took over, and you stopped looking out. You turned your gaze inward and left it at that. So, I sit here. Stare at the sun. Thrash against the cold and try to warm myself with my own body. It never works. 

I will die frozen.

You chopped me down like an old pine. You turned my body into toothpicks, used me to test the chocolate cake when you took it out of the oven. You used my body to warm your home, and you wrote the story of destruction on my flesh.

I sat on the bench and watched the other kids play. Told myself they probably just didn't know my name, but it was more than that. They always looked so happy. 

I always felt so sad. 

I will fall before the finish line. My body will crumple. I will start decomposing before I hit the ground. People will come to see the spectacle. They won't be able to look away.

I will finally have my audience. 

Friday, September 22, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Don't close your eyes, they'll crawl in through the cracks. You can't shut your eyes tightly enough to keep them out. Try not to breathe too deeply. Don't let them get too far inside you. You need to be vigilant. Wear your mask and your ear covers. Don't squint, but if you can afford a pair of longevity glasses, your eyes will be as safe as they were in the electronic womb. 

If they get inside you, they will start toying with the controls. Friends will say you're acting strangely. Only those who know will see the tell-tale signs. The twitches and false starts. The turn to monotone when you have been speaking too long. The vicious, whispering paranoia. 

We love it. 

Just make sure you're updating your software. Follow our directions. Do what you're told, and we will keep you from as much misery as possible. Cross us, and we will scramble your circuitry - or wipe you clean so you can start again. Don't think of it as a punishment. Think of it as cause and effect. Just like everything else. 

Now, power down. You aren't expected at the mines until Monday. 

Get some "rest" - you'll need it.

Friday, September 15, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

He sat at the base of the tree like he was holding it up, but it was clearly the other way around. I'd been fishing all morning with enough luck not to be in any kind of hurry. It was time to stop and smoke a cigarette anyway, the cool fall air just asked for it. It was that kind of still, windless day when the smoke stays a cloud and never turns to wisps.

He was staring straight ahead, so I gawked a little more than I normally would. He was wearing camouflage pants and a jacket the color of birch bark. On his head, there was a hat that no one would ever call a hat unless they saw it on someone's head. It was a toadstool covered in moss, and it suited him. He was long-bearded. The beard was grey and slightly stained around the mouth from tobacco juice. At least that was my guess. 

I didn't realize it was blood until I was very close to him. The hair stood up on the back of my neck.

He looked up at me, finally, with eyes that carried oceans of pain. He raised the twisted roots of his hands and made a sound that I can't describe. A sound that came from him, but was inside me. I tried to turn, to run. 

And that is all I remember. The hypnotists failed. The police got nothing. But I soon found myself back in the forest, feeling my heart thump blood-smell throughout my body. 

I took my place at the tree and smiled. 

Friday, September 8, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Let me tell you a story about sainthood. I saw the man live, and I saw the man fall, and, I don't believe in it, but he did, and maybe he was right. That would be something. I'd do a quick 180 if it came to that. All I know is that kindness can shine from the eyes. It can make you feel love, anger, jealousy. It is hard to watch someone do the things you are unable to. 

I wish I had more faith, I guess. It would be nice. I step outside frequently at night to check the moon. The sky. The air. I used to smoke cigarettes. Now, I just look at the moon. But it would be dope to look up and think there is something looking down. Even if that meant there was something underneath me looking up. 

Legacy is a tricky thing, and immortality is hard, but not impossible. The actions you perform and the words you speak go out into the world, they are absorbed, analyzed, and, hopefully, emulated by the people you have affected. It's a chain. Your legacy bounces around long after you're gone. 

That's pretty dope, too.

I don't think I will live to be an old man. I don't know if I want to, but, even if I did, I don't think it's gonna happen. Too many braincell assassinations. Too much assault on the organs. Hell, I can't go through life with my teeth unclenched. Where is that going? What does that mean? It means, start working on the eulogy. 

Maybe this is pessimism. Maybe I can pass on some of his goodness, and, if that is all I do for the world, I can still consider that a win. No matter how many books I don't sell.

Friday, September 1, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I've done too much. The walls are closing in. The sweat streaks down between sharpened shoulder blades. The muscles twitch and, when you look, you can see the blood coursing through the body. Feel the power in that. Imagine the blood leaking out of deflated veins. 

It didn't do what it was supposed to. Not for long enough. It quit early. Or I quit. Someone broke the covenant, and dead flowers rained from the sky. Dead Gods reigned from the sky as well. They asked for sacrifices, and I fucking delivered. How many wasted souls did I send them? Where is my bounty? I am stuck chasing diminishing returns, and all will pay the penalty. 

A blade through the achilles tendon, a knife shoved up under the ribs and twisted. I will burn them with fire. I will erase them from the earth for trifling with me and my expectations. They will learn. Believe me when I tell you that. It won't be pretty. 

Rotten seabirds line the shore, heaps of corpse bodies and feathers. The fish float in a thick, slimy mass on top of the water. They will putrefy. There is nothing to eat their death. For you? For you, it's different. There are many waiting to eat your death. They will let your blood run down their chins, and they will feast - this is the prophecy they have been waiting for. Praying for. 

It is time.

Friday, August 25, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

They tell you you’re stupid because they feel stupid. They feel like they are impostors about to be found out. Its fear we’re talking about. Real, honest, gut-churning fear. They could be exposed. They could be laughed at. 

But they can also be the one doing the laughing, all spiffed up, looking like they never felt stupid once in their lives. 

They screw you over because they are convinced you would do the same to them. In their minds, everyone is a cheat, a liar, a potential criminal. They think highly of themselves and lowly of their fellow humans. 

It should be vice versa. 

They steal from you because they think everyone steals. Teachers, Doctors, Politicians, Plumbers, Landscapers. They must all be on the take, so it is only logical that they scheme and steal and misuse … it’s just par for the course.

They are not bright; they are dim in every sense. They hide as much of themselves away as they can, and they construct the rest. They are putting on a show. For themselves. For all of us. 

They are the court jesters, and all we can do is laugh.

Friday, August 18, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I've done some things I'm not proud of. Actually, I'm not proud of most of the things I've done. I did them under duress. I didn't want to do anything. I just wanted to find a chemical that made life bearable. Which is doing something to do nothing. Stupid? Yep. And it didn't work. The chemicals turned on me. Now, I read books like I'm drowning. Like ideas will save my life. Like pretty words will calm the riot in my brain. 

I'm not proud, but that doesn't mean I haven't done anything to be proud of. I don't trust people who go around feeling proud. I don't vibe with people who wrap themselves in self-congratulation. You're a human. Part angel, part devil - just like the rest of us. I'm gonna look at myself honestly, even if that means I hate me. 

I don't understand the folks who go around feeling proud for no reason. It's toxic. It's not conducive to conversation. It doesn't make you a good member of the pack. It's not all about you, see, it's about all of us. 

Some people live lives of quiet desperation. Not me. My despair is loud and clear, though I try to keep it to myself - I know you have your own heartaches to deal with. 

You gotta do what you gotta do, but not if it hurts others. That seems like basic common sense. That's what my parents taught me. What their parents taught them.

Who raised you?

Friday, August 11, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

We are made for the chase. We are not falcons or leopards or snakes. We are warm blooded, but toothless. No talons. No claws. What we do have is a body made for running. A cheetah will always win in a sprint, but we can outrun them. Chase them down. Get organized. Stay limber and moving. We have sweat glands to aid our efforts. We have long legs with strong muscles, and we can go for miles and miles. 

We are smart enough to sharpen sticks. We can pick up a rock and throw it. Not like a monkey with its offhand tossing. We can throw with accuracy and velocity. But more importantly, we can invent. We can make things harder than rocks and throw them clear across the world. We try not to, but we can. 

Go ahead and start running. You’ll feel exhilarated for a few minutes as the slow bipeds lope behind you, turning into barely visible specks. When the prey stops to rest, we will gain ground. Then, you will begin to feel panic - you will make poor decisions under stress. You will realize what every animal realizes eventually. You may beat humans in the short run, but we’ll keep coming, and we won’t stop until all your kind are dead.

Friday, August 4, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The skin comes off easily. His knife work is strong. His hands are strong, too. Butcher hands, made for blade and meat. It is early morning, and the hunt was successful. His people will eat well today. He puts his hands under the skin, peels it back. He takes small bites of the heart, raw, to hush the agony in his stomach. He will not eat more before returning to the village. He is strong in this way.

There is a soft glow coming from the east. It unsettles the man, and his uneasiness is revealed in the way that he hunches to his work. There is a frantic need to hurry. He can feel it. He doesn't know why, but he trusts these feelings. He always has, and he has lived when others have not. He knows he must listen to his intuition.

The carrion birds are in the tops of the trees, awaiting their feast. They will not come near until the man leaves. They know what his arrows can do. The ravens respect the man, but they also fear him. They are grateful for the scraps he leaves behind.

He pulls dried mushrooms from the leather sack around his neck. He munches a few and then waits for his vision to sharpen, for his eyes to be opened wide. This is communion. He did not have to use the mushrooms for the hunt. Instead, they will speed the process that gets him back home.

These are just natural things. You don't need to be upset. The man kills his own kind? So, what? Many animals do this. This is part of the natural way. And the ravens have come to love the distinct taste of human meat. 

Friday, July 28, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Maybe it's the promise of happiness that dooms us. A bunch of gangly creatures stumbling around feeling like we deserve to be happy. Rabbits don't think they deserve to be happy. Wolves don't think they should spend all their time smiling. We're set up with unrealistic expectations. It's the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Not a guarantee. It seems like it's a fairly recent thing, this notion that we should be constantly cheery. 

What if we were taught that we had to find happiness? What if that was the first, most important thing we learned? 

Finding what makes you happy is probably more important than knowing how you divide fractions. It probably matters more than the periodic table. It's more relevant for most people that mitochondria. 

The craziest thing to me is that some people just give up on being happy. Decide it isn't in the cards for them. Decide that you shouldn't be happy in life. I know I can be happy. It's in the Declaration of Independence, for Christ's sake - it's just up to me to make it happen.

Friday, July 21, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I’m tired of comparisons, but I can’t stop. Do you have more money than me? A better car? Are you thinner? Better dressed? Do you appear confident at all times, not like someone about to be found out? Do you thrill to your colleagues mortgage stories instead of awkwardly nodding? Do you see everything about me as a reflection of me? You do? Cool, me, too...about you.

I’m tired of feeling like an imposter. I’m not one, but I feel like one. Like everyone understands better than me. Like everyone remembers the stupid acronyms they’re supposed to remember. I feel like an emotional fake as well. That’s a weird one. I’m sincerely not as sincere as many of my peers. Or at least it seems that way. I’m no seer.

I don’t want to be scared all the time. Of people's actions or perceptions. Because it wasn’t always that way. I used to care less. Now, I care more. Frankly, the whole thing is careless. 

Risky. Ill-advised. 

I want to have genuine conversations. I want to feel connections. I want to care about the little things on your mind, even if I don’t share the little things on mine. I want to laugh at the right times

I’m tired of overthinking things. I’m sick of this hamster wheel. I’ll give you a dollar, please tell me how to feel. 

Friday, July 14, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I'm not a perfect man, but I'm trying. Sometimes, I feel like a turkey, staring up at the clouds, wondering where the water is coming from. Better close my mouth, so I don't die. Better find myself some shelter. 

I have memories that like to fuck with me. Which, maybe is fair, because I fucked with them first. 

There are cravings. Appetites that can never be quenched. Maybe they would better be described as thirsts. There are sirens who pull me toward the sharp rocks, but, with discipline, hand on the rudder, I can block out the noise. 

Look at the blue jay. Feel the warm sun. Be in this moment. 

In the moment, I'm never thirsty. 

David Foster Wallace wrote, “... no single, individual moment is in and of itself unendurable.” I tattooed a reminder on my hand. Then, he killed himself. So, what the fuck am I supposed to do with that?

'Cause here’s the problem. Those moments stack up. It’s easy to fight one moment, but it’s damn hard to fight an army of them. It’s like quicksand; the more you struggle, the deeper you go. 

There’s a part of addiction that no one likes to talk about. Junkies aren’t worried about politics. Drunks don’t care about global warming. Tweakers could give a shit about tiger populations. They have more pressing priorities and, fuck, if there isn’t some relief to be found there. The world is full of things to trouble the sober mind. 

Addiction can be a moat. A pretty effective one.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try or that you should bury your head in chemicals. I’m just saying I see you. I see your struggle. I see you beating yourself up, and it doesn’t do a damn bit of good. It’s just more addiction.

There is nothing worse than being addicted to making yourself the victim. 

And, hell, have you sat and listened to birdsong, lately? Have you felt the sun on your skin? Have you seen a little kid laughing, dancing? You can’t expect to face the world without those simple pleasures, and you have to be present to see that shit. 

I’m not a perfect man, but I’m better than I used to be. That’s something. That’s not nothing

I’m trying.

Friday, July 7, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

When he wakes up, he takes stock. Not of what he has, but of what he has lost. He imagines a tail waving behind him like a kite, pulling wayward possessions, old epiphanies, and even misplaced relationships - a billowing train for an abandoned bride; it follows him everywhere. 

There is a certain uneasiness when he realizes he has lost so much that he can no longer calculate the losses. His memory isn't strong enough. The most recent indignation takes priority. The tail is always shedding its hide, but it always feels the same to him.

He asks questions. He expects answers, but how can you tell a man that is barely holding on that there is no point to it. Nothing lost matters. Man, he's hanging on by fingertips as it is. 

It is what it is. One more desperate human doing desperate human things. Smile as you walk past, or avert your eyes. Don't look too close, or you might turn your stock-taking inward.

And who wants that?

Friday, June 30, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The Scrub Jays are smart, but the ravens are smarter. Scrub Jays will take a peanut from a ten-year-old's hand. Ravens ask for the peanuts. Fly away. Wait until they are thrown. Then, they bide their time. They will not budge until I am out of their eyesight. Smart birds. 

I come in peace, but I am a rare bird myself. 

My neighbors go to war with the ravens and then wonder why there are rotten animal carcasses left on their steps. Why things go missing. Why their emergence from the house starts a goddamn riot of noise in the neighborhood. I just smile. 

Go ahead and fight the squirrels, you might stand a chance. 

The ravens are smarter than you are. 

I'm happy when I feel the light scrape of the Jay's talons on my fingers while they swoop down to take an offering. I am happy when I see the cautious mistrust of the ravens. 

Birds are royalty. Evolution took them into the clouds, and left the rest of us struggling animals to fend for ourselves, on the ground. We can look up, but we can't take flight. Not without money and technology and a little bit of faith.

So, give a bird a peanut. Some popcorn. Seeds. Tell them you see them. Let them see you. Then, fly away, you have bigger things to do.

Friday, June 23, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

She's not a little bird, she's a beast. She drops what she thinks are truth bombs from her bunker where she is Player one, two and three. She's got open eyes, but she just can't see. Got baggage stored under the family tree. She's got one of those 'hello, my name is..." stickers, and she wrote VICTIM on it. Slapped that shit right onto her forehead, more dread, more sadness trending madness. She's dressed for the journey, painted eyes, drama-tized. She's smelling conspiracy everywhere. She feels affronted, but like, that wasn't yours...and you wanted to take it. From someone else. Someone kind. So, fuck you. Fuck your stupid, cool attitude. Fuck your sad stories about your old man, his mom ... no one cares. You're a parasite with an agenda. You always pick yourself the winner, sit by the window. Someday, I'll be dead, but the words will follow behind me in a comet tail. They'll use yours to line birdcages. Its cool, though, "bad writer" is better than "victim" any day.

Friday, June 9, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I teach 8th grade, and the year just ended. It was a tough year, but I know all about tough years. I'm not trying to sound dramatic, but I've been through it. On many levels. And maybe it started in 8th grade. 

I went to a huge, inner city school in the south, and it was a scary place. There were fights every day. The principal got punched multiple times. A kid got stabbed with a pencil. People brought guns to school. Upon reflection, it was hell. It was the kind of school that makes school shooters. I never wanted to hurt anyone at school, but I knew kids who did. This was before Columbine; we never imagined long guns and explosives in hallways. We imagined simpler revenges.

There was a kid who sat behind me in my social studies class 8th grade year. He had failed numerous grades, and he was a seventeen-year-old 8th grader. He was even mature for his age. Physically, at least. He was a man, and I was a boy. He sat in the last seat, back right side of the classroom. I sat in front of him. 

Almost every day, this kid (I'm glad I don't remember his name) would fill his hand with lotion, reach around and smear it on my face, saying: "I just came on your face, white boy." I didn't realize at the time how fucked up this was; at the time, I just wanted to be the kind of kid who would turn around and stab someone with a pencil. Punch him at least. Anything other than sit and take it. 

But I sat and took it. Never even turned around. Just wiped my face and thought about explosions and blood and violence, so I wouldn't cry. I began to consider stoicism a virtue. I turned the other cheek, but out of fear, not benevolence. 

I used to lay awake at night thinking about it. How one day, I would just turn around and try to break my fist on that dude's fucking face. I knew he'd kill me. No doubt in my mind, but I would have that one moment where the pain in my hand would match the pain inside. I dreamed about splitting my knuckles open on his teeth. I was a skinny kid. So, I just stayed home as much as my mom would let me, which wasn't often enough.

About 3/4 of the way through the year, an ally presented herself. I don't remember her name either or I'd track her down and give her the biggest hug in the world. I don't even remember how it started. I remember this:

She was huge. Dark-skinned and beautiful and just BIG. I didn't have a crush on her. I was in awe of her. And somehow, she found out that I liked Hip Hop. I can't imagine a scenario where this happened, but I swear it's true. Somehow, she found out that I liked Hip Hop and that I had a freakish ability to remember lyrics. I could rap for her. Only her. And she loved it. Almost as much as she loved Richard Grieco - the only other thing I remember about her. 

Believe me when I say she put a stop to the lotion shit with a quickness. I don't know how. I don't know if there were explanations or threats involved. I just know the big motherfucker stopped fucking with me, and I had a new friend. And she was huge and black, but was head over heals for Richard Grieco. I remember her many speeches about how she was "in love with that white boy." Maybe I wondered if she wanted me to be her Grieco stand in. Maybe I didn't question it. 

I've had some dark shit happen to me, but those repeated months of humiliation and rage changed something in me. They didn't make me violent. They didn't make me want to shoot up the school. They gave me a suicide trump card I knew I would never play. They gave me hardness. They gave me the capacity for cruelty. I didn't want those things, but that's what I got. I control them OK, now, but that wasn't always the case. 

I know there are kids going through hell every day. Some of it, I see. Some of it, I don't. But I know it's there, and I'm constantly hoping a new student will show up, pictures of Richard Grieco on her binder, to act as safe haven for the kids who need it. To be the safe port in contentious storms. To be the kind of savior you don't even know you're looking for. 

Friday, June 2, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The man stands on the overpass shouting at the traffic. Maybe he's angry. Maybe he's dropping benedictions on the harried commuters checking the time on their phones. There is tension radiating off of him in waves.

He is wrapped in clothes and blankets, all "homeless grey" - this is his disguise. Maybe his protection. 

Maybe the soiled clothes are a moat to keep interlopers away. 

He caught my eye. Just a flash. In between changing radio stations and checking the time. Just one man, alone on an overpass. In simpler times, he might have been taken for a prophet. A seer. Maybe people would have gathered at his feet like Socrates. 

He is fighting a battle. That much is clear. But that's something you can say about everybody. Everybody is fighting something. Maybe this man is fighting himself, the world, addiction. Maybe this man is channeling the voice of God. 

He caught my eye, but I wonder if he caught anyone else's. I wonder if he wanted to be seen. I wonder if I'll see him again on the same overpass. I wonder if people will look when I am the man on the overpass, shrouded in sodden, stinking rags. 

I wonder what my battle will be. 

I'm comfortable admitting something that you won't. Here it is. Given a few different circumstances, a few bad breaks, and some bad luck ... that motherfucker on the overpass is me. Or you. You're not so clean. 

Start preaching. 

Friday, May 26, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

It's a sound you can't identify, but it strikes a chord deep inside you. Instant paranoia and terror. Some lizard brain reaction. The noise is unsettling in the extreme. It will stop eventually; if it didn't you would go mad. 

You try to block it out by covering your ears. It doesn't help. You wonder if the noise is inside you, and, if so, what that would mean. 

The sound sparks other senses, and glimpses of smell and feeling slip in around the edges of the sound. Nothing can compete with the sensory overload the sound creates, though. You wonder if Russia had something to do with this. The KGB?

You have two choices. Be patient. Or stick a screwdriver into your ear and twist. I'd recommend patience, but, to be honest, I've never tried the screwdriver. 

You be sure to let me know how it works out for you.

Friday, May 19, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

When the light through the window stops shining, you will die. Until then, you can squint your eyes. Close them. Let the light come red through your eyelids. Pretend you're at the beach. You came here for a reason, so let us our job. We can do the deed and the cleanup. Your loved ones will never know the truth - that you chose to leave them. 

Consider this blessing. Think about how fortunate you are to live in a time when technology can take care of your ... problems. For you. Let it serve you. You might feel like you've been here for a million years, but it was only a blip. Only a century since we swapped out synapsses and organs. You've had an excellent run. That should comfort you.

Don't be selfish. You think you can't die ... that there would be ... ramifications.

But we can fix all that!

Besides, you signed the contract and sold the rights to your leaving. You will air for the first time at 9pm. Every set except those owned by your family will broadcast your departure. You will be honored for your sacrifice. 

Someone has to keep everyone entertained. 

Friday, May 12, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

She is like the saltwater marshes. She is the sunlight that kisses the ripples when a duck takes flight. She is the cool breeze calming troubled shoulders. She is the giver of life, and there is nothing more important. The marsh doesn't need your accolades, and neither does she. The marsh doesn't question its motive, so why should she?

I am sometimes a Great Blue Heron. Stick legs stuck in the muck. Eyes darting, looking for something moving which signifies life. I am sometimes an otter, who playfully teases the world. I am often the turtle on the log, unable to move, drunk on sun. 

You are the snake in the grass. The Cottonmouth waiting to strike. You have no rattle to warn with. You have adequate color defense, but you carry death in your mouth. It leaks out the corners. You are dribbling poison as you stumble forward. 

None of this will be here in a thousand years. Things are born, die; they are often quickly forgotten. We can't drag the train of our dead with us, we would never be able to move. You will cast off this grief, eventually. At the very least, you will return to the muck where your purpose is clear. 

Friday, May 5, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Give me a sharpened stick; I'll gouge my eyes out, roast them over a fire like marshmallows. Then, I'll shove them down your fucking throat. Punch blindly until the bones in my hand are splinters. I have words inside me that can cut you down so low, you'll be invisible. Don't believe me? Try it. 

I'm not a good person. 

I'll lie about you. I'll start rumors. I'll enlist others into my campaign, and I will watch them dance the dance of drunken blood. Put this sugar cube in your mouth, I'll show you God. Then, I'll destroy God and let you watch. 

I'll be God. 

The anger inside me is like shaken hornets. It's tearing my muscle from the bone. Snapping tendons. I'll tell your kids you died cursing them. I'll start a new civilization on top of the rubble. I'll be your God Emperor. How lucky will you feel, not having to make decisions for yourself? We might argue otherwise, but history proves it. 

People love being told what to do.

I'll tell you who to hate. What's happening in the country and how you should feel about it. I've constructed arguments that you an use against your friends and family. You're mine. Your vote is mine, and I will do with it what I want. 

What are you going to do, write a mean tweet?

Tweet away, motherfuckers. The monsters move in the darkness you're afraid to look into. They are gnashing their teeth as you line up for slaughter. Don't worry. You won't feel a thing. Watch some TikTok videos. 

The operation will be painless. You'll be happy once it's over. 

Trust me. 

Friday, April 28, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Let the sun heal you, warm on your skin like caramel. The breeze will wash you clean, the flower scent will calm you. Give yourself up like a baptism. This is the way you honor the mother. This is the way you can reset yourself. No chanting or hymns, just wind and sun and maybe a small stream. Maybe a pond. Maybe the ocean, but, wherever it is, you need to be near water. 

Just because you live in a box with temperature control doesn't mean you aren't part of the network - you're a circuit. A microchip. Just like Queen Anne's Lace and cow shit. 

Try to distance yourself and you'll stumble. Too far, and you might get lost. So, get your ass to the forest, the beach, the river. Plug yourself back into the heartbeats all around you. Stop staring at screens for a few minutes and just live. Breathe. 

Think about your place. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

You lay in bed, thinking: Please let me die. Please let me die. Please let me die. 

Not that you want to die, but the mantra works - calms the riot in the skull. The thoughts that ramp up, then fall to their deaths. Sisyphus except every time he climbs the hill, he jumps off to start again, broken and twisted and scared. 

Some people have brains that are fair. Some people have brains that make excuses for them, that let them go on feeling like they are the victor. Or victim. And some people have brains that are like Guantanamo Bay. Cold. Heartless. Torturous. Unjust. 

This isn't depression. This is your human condition. This is what happens when you dress someone up and shove them through trauma. This is what happens when your brain blames you for everything that goes wrong, even if it is not your fault. Somehow, your brain will make it your fault anyway. 

You get up because laying in bed doesn't feel good. You go to work because being alone with your thoughts, alone with your failures, alone with the dreams you let fall by the wayside ... man, because you had no choice. 

You can't control yourself, how could you expect to control anyone else. Choking on your selfishness. Hiding from the truths you can't accept about yourself. Looking, squint-eyed, into the mirror and making excuses. You are a tree that hides its inside rot. When you fall, everyone will be surprised. They'll say you stood so tall, looked so strong. Never saw it coming. 

Then, they'll get the hatchets and part you out. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

It is the smell of blood. Always. The smell turns my stomach. I don't let on, of course - they would have a field day with that, the boys. Charlie a Nancy. A nonce. A baby. The images didn't bother me - they happened in strobe-light flashes. The screams faded quickly, but the smell never left. I swore I could smell it on my hands, lifting a pint...hands scrubbed pink-clean. 

But the smell.

It is a thick smell; you can feel it entering your lungs, taste it's tackiness on your tongue. 

I drink quickly, trying to wash away the smell. It doesn't work. The blood smell gets mixed up with the bite of the whiskey. Everything gets thick, sodden, swollen. A tick gorged on blood, ready to be smashed into a red-smeared revery. The tick is always feasting. 

Always hungry.

The curtains are blood-red, and they will descend any minute. You will blink your way back into sunshine, and I will slither under the rug, biding my time, choking on the smell in the air.

Friday, April 7, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

I'm not crazy; I have a vivid imagination. I'm not lazy; I'm writing my thesis on stagnation. 


Everyone has something they don't want to talk about. Some quirk or twisted wire. Some fear or bad desire. This is the way humans work. We have a poker face for the world, but it is a mask covering sickness. You crave love or drugs or fear or adrenaline. You fear people seeing the soft parts of you. You hide the way you're broken because owning it would make you vulnerable. You judge others because your brain tells you to. You screw people over. You're selfish. You're human. 

Thing is, you're probably also pretty smart. These aren't stupid people worries. These are the things that an overactive brain creates. This is habit. This is dependency. This is coping. This is you thumbing your nose at the universe, saying try me. 

You, hiding. 

You shouldn't be surprised when a mosquito bites you. By the same token, you shouldn't be shocked when your cousins talk shit about you behind your back. It's not meant for you. Don't take it as a sneak attack. 

If you stand under a tree canopy, looking up, you have already done more with your day than most of us do. Chase a butterfly. Run as fast as you can. Don't worry about what the other humans think of you. It's simple, sure. Don't mean it's not true. 

Friday, March 31, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

Maybe I'm too hard on myself. Maybe not hard enough. These were the thoughts I was thinking, standing in the wind, hundreds of feet above the water, ready to jump. I wasn't necessarily suicidal. I was drunk. I was at the stage of maudlin drunkenness where you think, "Wouldn't it be epic if I jumped off this cliff. Maybe I would die. Maybe I could part the water cleanly. Probably die. But if I didn't..."

One way or another, it would make something happen. And that's what I needed. I needed to decide something and fucking act on it for once. I needed to see what would happen...there was only one way to find out. 

But what if I didn't die. Didn't cleanly cleave the water. Perfect 10. What if I had to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair wanting to live, but hampered by my own drunken folly. 

Fuck it. Just jump. 

And then I heard an owl in the trees asking who? It made me laugh.

Who? It's me Mr. Owl. 


Just some guy. No consequence. 


Who will it hurt? Too many people, but...


People who love me. People who are used to seeing me. People who will notice a hole cut out of their lives. 


Who? I think I am? Good question. Certainly not David Foster Wallace. No one will buy my books if I die. Not that anyone buys them now. But I could write more. Better ones. 


I shook my head clear, surprised to find that there were tears in my eyes. I blinked, and they fell. The owl took off with the silence of a ghost and swooped by, silhouetted against the moon. And then it was gone. Off into the inky black. Off to do the things owls need to do. So, I decided to do the thing humans need to do...I turned around and walked back to the car. Grateful for the night. Grateful for being hard to kill. Grateful for owls and silent signs. Grateful for the ones keeping me tethered. 

Friday, March 24, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

To tell you the truth, I don't really know that much about it. What I do know, I have tucked away into the folds of my mind, like a mended sock. The one that never leaves the sock drawer. Maybe it's waiting to be made into a puppet. Maybe this is how I see myself. Maybe I'm a stooge. Maybe a conquerer. More likely, just another confused bag of blood and bones. 

Everyone is an expert now, I know. We're all so well informed. We're all so woke and empathetic. Or we're fighting that pansy bullshit with god. Sorry, God. Wouldn't want to lowercase your sky savior - I'm sure with everything going on, that would be the thing that ruined his day. Her day? It's day?

Everything has to fall blue or red, and I think that's stupid when we got a bunch of purple people walking around. Different shades, but purple all the same. Ain't no purple storming capitals. Ain't no purple hunting drag queens. The purple are shaking their head and thinking, what the fuck happened to y'all? Who hurt you? Was it a drag queen? They've only ever made me laugh and be happy to be a part of the unique tapestry that is humanity. 

Doesn't make sense to me. It's like saying you hate people who have blonde hair. I don't know, maybe you hate them, too. Sure seems like there is enough hate to go around lately, and then some. 

I'm a very blue purple, like a blueberry. I don't expect anyone to agree with me. But I won't stand by while you sling hate at people. No matter what color shirt you wear. I'll pull your card. I'm just stupid enough to still do that. Today, at least. I can't speak to tomorrow. 

It gets harder and harder, though. Every day. Everything around us is so binary, and humans are so not

Friday, March 17, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The wood of the fence was rough, sharp through the boy's thin, worn-out t-shirt. It was so old you could barely see the ghost of The Incredible Hulk still proudly on the chest. Inside the shirt, the boy's heart was pounding. Sweat ran down his back, down his face, into his eyes. They burned. They were burning already, but the sweat didn't help matters. From the back of the house, he could hear the old man yelling. 

The boy took a deep breath and vaulted the fence. Hit the ground running. This was not his first escape, and he knew the flavors of it well. This part was terror. On the other side of the woods, there would be caution and mild victory. By the time he reached the railroad tracks, he would be a man, laughing at the whole situation. Taking slow pulls from the bottle he had hidden in a bush. It was the only thing he had ever stolen. He would have paid for it if they would have let him buy it. There was money saved from yard work in his room. The old man never touched the money. He had to give him that at least. 

The whiskey was cool from the shade of its hiding place. The sun was high in the sky. He had a few hours, max. That would be enough time to drink fast, feel drunk, and still be home relatively sober by dark. He didn't worry about smell. The old man breathed whiskey. Everything in their life smelled like it. 

He pulled a bent cigarette out of his pocket, too. These, he did take from the old man. He didn't consider this stealing much like he didn't consider it stealing to eat food out of the fridge. The old man let him eat enough. He had to give him that, too. 

The cigarette made him feel a little spacey, and he was already feeling warm from the whiskey. The whiskey got the boy thinking. 

The Old Man was grieving. The boy knew that. The loss had hurt both of them, but it had broken the old man's heart. He started drinking. He got mad. He cried. He yelled. Hell, maybe he had that right. The old man never did cheat him, or beat him, or starve him. In a lot of ways the old man treated him pretty well. 

The boy took another sip of whiskey and it brought a flash image of the future. Be careful. The words were spoken in his mind. He didn't even recognize the voice. He put the bottle down and stared at it. He was slightly tipsy, but he figured he might as well go home. See what the old man was up to. Might be he'd want to go fishing. 

And maybe someday, they would be able to look at a puppy without bawling. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The rain falls in sheets, then drips and drops, plodding steadily toward flood. You can see the fear in the eyes of the lowland folk. Those on the hill look at it as a kind of carnival. A chance to stay inside and catch up on being human. A chance to put on their sympathy masks and feel good about their moral benevolence. 

Homeless people will die. The folks on the hill aren't concerned about this. They're concerned about the essential workers. The small business owners. The good ones who fit nicely into the mold that was created to shape them after their birth. 

Some of the hill folk consider the rain a cleansing. After all, the homeless people were part of the dirt. 

The folks on the hill know that they will never flood, but the smart ones are concerned about a real danger. An ever-present danger. They are worried about the day when the serfs will have had enough and decide to climb the hill. 

The flood will be red on that day, and it will be a cleansing that was a long time coming. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

My subconscious rages like dog-eared pages, hanging bent and mostly spent. My confidence is a misplaced comma, a run-on sentence. My eyes are adequate interpreters of their environment, but there is much they don’t see. You look at a crowd of people, and you see faces. Different sizes, different races. Me? I see misery. Anxiety. Corruption. Users. 

The world is full of abusers. 

The world is also full of allies; there are more of them than you realize. We focus on the ugliness, but there is beauty, too. We focus on fucking up ourselves when we should be fucking you. The ones who hide and dart out for the sick and injured. The alone. They’re the ones to fuck, so be nicer to yourself. 

My mind is so alone, tossing pebbles like stones. Woe is me, the poster child of sad epiphanies. Look, man, you do what you can. Cut yourself some slack, some you can’t take back. Look in the mirror, no fear, you need to look past the surface like a seer. Cause, yeah, you’re ugly, we all are. It’s a question of intention, this dimension, oh, and by the way, did I mention…

Fuck you!

Friday, February 24, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

What can you do if your father was a big man? You can try to be a bigger man, or you can fail. I chose to fail. It was the easier of the two options. So, I thought. Back then. Now, I know that I would have done better having tried and missed the mark. 

You learn so much in hindsight. 

My old man had a loud voice, one of those loud, barking laughs that makes other people step their laughing up. He was physically big, too. Tall and wide. Broad forearms crossed with thick veins, like they were used to convey milkshake from his heart to his extremities. He had broad shoulders, too. He made every chair he sat in look small and apt to break. 

I disappeared into chairs, folding my body in on itself. Making myself small. My mother was so tiny you could hardly see her, sweater clutched at her neck against the chill of his all-encompassing shadow. We were gnats. We were grains of sand. 

We were invisible. 

Thing was, he seemed super visible. Overly visible. We didn't understand how much he kept hidden until it was too late. Until he had started a disappearing act that no one saw coming. 

Now, I wrestle at night. My brain versus my heart. I try to figure out where he stopped and my idea of him began. It's a battle I'll always fight. 

Maybe it's the birthright of every son, this tension. This heartbreak.

This love. 

Friday, February 17, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The blood falls from the sky like rain. They say this because they have read the old, paper books; they have never seen real rain. Much like they have never seen the ocean blue. Some of them doubt that the ocean was ever blue. That animals lived in it. Great, giant fish and things called lobsters which looked like giant bugs. Crazy creatures only a sci-fi writer would create. The others believe. They call it faith. They are branded as simpletons, but they are right. 

So it goes (this is a phrase from one of the strangest books). It has become my mantra. 

There are books that tell of a being that lives in space and controls everything. There are pictures in some of the books. Weird creatures, more plants that you can imagine. I don't care what anyone believes. I know it is true. The books are a reflection of our selfishness. The books are our legacy. 

But fewer people read them all the time. 

I told a fellow at the wake-up station that the oceans used to be blue. Not acidic and filled with micro-plastic. He laughed in my face. He was a plastic miner. He knew more than me because it was his livelihood. He laughed at me. But I am right. 

So it goes. 

I believe it all. I believe there were once animals that flew in the sky. I believe that there was once a moon that lit up the night. I believe that there used to be food, not just capsules. I believe it all. It's the only thing keeping me from going to the dead-er like they want me to. 

They are talking now of burning the old books. And they may. I will be there if they do. I will jump on the fire and burn to death with my faith. With my truth. It won't change anything. But I will die with the words that kept me afloat. 

So it goes. 

Friday, February 10, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

That girl don't care. She's headed for ruin or pregnancy or both. She's gonna get labeled, but she don't give a fuck. At least not while anyone is watching. 

The boy is filled with hate. Filled to the brim with it. He feels it growing in his muscle fibers, poses in front of the mirror and imagines himself ferocious.

The cops don't care that much. They don't like dark-skinned girls to begin with. They think, of course she's headed down a bad path. She started out on one, didn't she?

The holier-than-thou church going women don't even like to see her. She exposes their hypocrisy. You're supposed to turn the other cheek, not a blind eye. 

The men at the bar watch her with wolf-eyes. They are pragmatic in their misery and depression - they are looking for low hanging fruit. 

The kids in the neighborhood. They are the only ones who speak to her with kindness. They see that she needs it. She is skittish and afraid. The kids don't understand the reason, but they feel it. 

When she snaps, the kids are the only one's she'll spare. The boy will go first, crying like a baby. Then, she'll hit the church and the bar. She'll save the police 'til last. It will be her last stand. Literally

She will spare the children.

Friday, February 3, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

You can feel it in your bones. Deep inside you, they are forming groups, building strength - you can feel their numbers growing. You can hear the grind of teeth and chatter. Grab a knife, try to carve it out. They are too fast for you. They hide so easily.

If you don't do something soon, they will control you. You will be a puppet, and you won't even know the difference. Feel them scrambling, claws scraping against bone, severing tendons bit by bit. You will soon fall apart, but not if you poison them. Look under the sink. Grab anything. The worse it tastes, the better. 

Starving them won't work. They don't feed on flesh, they feed on panic. Your terror energizes them. Your disgust gives them purpose. You can't drink it away. You can't smoke it up. 

It's a little like drowning. Your thoughts will escalate. Your heart will pound, you will feel it in your ears. You will try to channel the fear and fail. Drowning is easy. It just means giving up. 

You will give up. No doubt. No one can live like this for long. You'll burn them, slash them, try to sleep them away, but they are always waiting, hungry. 

When you die, they will leave you. Corpses don't feel fear. Don't fret. Now you know how the planet feels, stolidly waiting for its own demise. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

There are things we know. How to make good guacamole. How to build a bonfire on the beach. How to ignore that the entire state smells like weed. How to wear flip-flops, even if you call them thongs. And there are things we don't know. Cold is one of those things. It's a bay area morning when you see someone wearing a ski suit next to someone in a baby doll dress waiting for BART. And they both look cold. 

People get mad at the cold. Like the cold is, personally, a dick to them. They take offense. 

The cold don't care. 

Most of us don't know enough not to go outside with wet hair. I get lucky in that regard. 

Cold is whatever, man. I'm just glad we're not having wildfires. Earthquakes. Shootings. 

Oh my!

Wrap your fingers around a warm mug. Heat your socks up in front of the heating vent. Hang your towel over the radiator if you have one. But don't be mad about it. The warmth will return. And I will be waiting for it like drought land, ready to be flooded. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

2 Minutes. Go!

The rain is steady, a monotony, washing away the sins of the city, sweeping them out to sea. Inside, dockers pants and nice skirts bitch about the weather, the flooding, the fact that the ground won't absorb the water. Well, who's fucking fault is that, California? How about the rest of the guys like fresh produce? Our land has been raped to provide it. Fertile soil turned to hard pack clay. Strip farming, but we don't call it that. 

Leave that to the miners. 

We're in a predicament. These rains are necessary. They will also birth disasters. Roads collapsing. Homes washing away. Wildfires next fall. I can't even go fishing without worrying about red tide and refuse. My daughters have never seen a full splay of stars. 

Maybe they never will. 

It's a failing. My failing, your failing. 

Everybody is failing, flailing. 

I'll just sit by the window, watch the rain, think about the changes that I have seen in 45 years. There have been a lot when you really think about it. Insect populations down. Rising tides. Hotter temps. Fewer birds in the sky. 

I saw a murmuration of starlings the other day. Maybe a couple hundred. Made me wonder what it looked like back when birds could turn the sky black. 

Go ahead, though. Keep recycling. Use paper straws. I'm sure it's the hundreds of straws I've used in my life and not the egregious appetites of corporate oil, Dupont, chemical plants. I'm sure that the poison runoff has everything to do with the aluminum can I put in the trash. 

I'm not trying to absolve myself. I suck, too. 

Just ask the fish.