Friday, December 9, 2011

Poem: The Torture of Less-Than

No one celebrates Salieri, the tragic hero of the less-than.
The man who wants more than he was given by definition,
who wants more than he can have through his own creation.
No manner of teaching or torture can gifts be gained or affinities acquired.
The genius of the naive is adored, and the work of the less-than ignored.

A cobble under the carriage of the mollycoddled, the ground wishes to be pure sky.
Those conveyed by gift's glory never know the jealousy of clay or the weight of air.
Just good enough to know that he's not good enough-
No one celebrates Salieri.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Haiku: On Extinction - I

Giants walk the earth.
Slow thoughts process blinding light.
Futures become dearth.

The red sky, it churns.
Food and breath are hard to catch.
Ow, extinction burns.

Scaly and hungry,
Earth has lived another life.
The product? Oily.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Essay: The Seat of Consciousness

I considered myself lucky; I could see the bus stopped down the street which would give me just enough time to park my car and be out at the next stop before it got there. I work at a university that has removed all parking near campus except for the disabled and the wealthier of the staff and faculty. Of course I don’t have a beef with the disabled, but as for the others...pure classism. I’d coined the term (not literally of course, I’d read about it somewhere) to address my and others’ particular situation in many conversations over the year with fellow staffers in the same predicament. Being a middle-aged Euro-descended male, monetary classism was the only kind of prejudice I’ve ever had direct experience with - and it pissed me off. I try to understand the plight of others, and I do my personal best not to participate or proliferate prejudice in the world that I have direct contact with.

With money so many of the drudgeries of daily life just become non-problems. If you think about it, it’s amazing. If you can buy more food than you can eat, then the worry of how will I feed my family; should I pay the electric bill or buy groceries; if we only eat every other day will we become nutritionally deficient; those are just non-issues for those with more. If I could park outside of the building I work in, I wouldn’t have to wait for and ride a bus; I wouldn’t need to think about carrying an umbrella; I wouldn’t have to limit my accourtre to the amount of stuff that I can comfortable carry. I could leave it all in my Denali, Navigator, Escalade, or Hummer parked outside, and pop out to enjoy the wet-bar in the car for a moment when my day became excruciatingly impinging.

If I lived in a big city, I could understand the situation. But here in the mid-south, there is plenty of land to clear and pave over for parking. When was the last time you went to Wal-Mart and couldn’t find a place to park? It just doesn’t happen. I pulled into the only spot left for staff, hopped out gather my laptop bag and my sack lunch, packed in a used Wal-Mart bag, and rushed across the street to await the bus. When I boarded, it was already half full. So as the bus began to jostle down the street, I held on to the rails near the ceiling and made my way to the back. Along the back wall there was a row of five seats and two groups of three seats facing each other along the sides. The three seats on the right were occupied by two guys with big backpacks. And along the back wall there were two students together against one side. But the three seats on the  left were unoccupied. As I shifted my gait to aim for the empty group of seats, I noticed that the four people there seems to be slyly watching me. I looked down at the seats and saw that each one had a puddle of what I assumed to be water in them. The middle one was the largest, maybe a full coffee saucer amount with a small dark, presumably oily, dot floating in the middle of the puddle.

Instantly, I understood the attention. They were watching to see if this old guy was going to puddle himself. I stepped past the seats and settled into a window seat along the back row. I slid on my sunglasses and pop in my earbuds and resumed listening to the short story podcast, I had started in the car. At the next bus stop there were enough students waiting to fill the seats and still have a few standing. As the students filed in, the empty seats in the front filled up first. Students made their way to the back talking and distracted as so many of them are. I was looking out the window when I noticed the first young woman to sit in a puddle. She sat in the seat closest to me, one of the smaller puddles, half the size of the saucer full in the middle. She was wearing shorts, of the rejuvenated style from the 70s (the runners’ shorts with the piping across the edges and the side seams) and was carrying on a conversation with another young woman in similar shorts who sat down next to her in the seat with the big puddle. It was difficult to remain expressionless. I wanted to say, ‘hey you just sat in a puddle!’ but I didn’t. I nonchalantly glanced around at the expressions of the other four who I know were also keenly aware that she just sat in a gross puddle of liquid with a little dot of greasy looking something floating it, and they too were stone-faced. This was one of those moments shared with strangers where you know absolutely without doubt what they are thinking but no one voiced a peep. It was a collective thought-shout of, “Gross!” that rang through the stale, shared air in the back of the bus, over the loud drone of the straining diesel engine and the munged, indiscernible words of twenty simultaneous conversations.

Even though we five played poker with our faces, we all frequently glanced at middle student with intense interest waiting for the moment of recognition. I think we each wanted to be the first to see her expression change. The reorientation of her attention to the growing wetness on her bottom. I suspected it would start with the realization of the wrongness of moisture; that would quickly translate into a fright regarding the source of the moisture. When she had completed a rapid bodily inventory and realized that she, herself, was not the source, the fear would morph into a list of possible amalgamations of liquid: water, a spilled drink, abandoned bodily fluid, and the list would continue.

But there was no recognition at all. No shift in posture; no questioning self-reflection facial expression; no bolt-upright jump accompanied by frantic butt wiping; there was no tell at all. I was astounded. How could someone be so disconnected with their own body as not to notice that their shorts had just adsorbed an amount of liquid equal to but not less than a full coffee saucer? For the next ten minutes of stop signs and busy traffic, the two of the them kept talking without any apparent notice.

I became increasing existential in my thoughts about the situation. In the relatively incredibility short time that we have been homo sapiens we have become amazingly cerebral. We can ignore much of the physical world around us and dwell more and more in the constructed space of our thoughts. We are becoming true spiritual beings; perhaps soon we can evolve beyond the need for a physical support system to house our personalities. As free-form thinking entities experiencing the world without physical limitation we could travel the universe and know all of existence.

The bus finally reached the main terminal on campus and the people nearest the doors exited first. The five of us who had participated in the same thoughts earlier waited to look at the empty seat for the confirmation of the liquid adsorption. As the two young women stood up and walked up the aisle to the exit door, we all looked at their asses. The dark color of the shorts and poor lighting revealed nothing. We looked at the seats where they were, also nothing. Perhaps we had a collective hallucination; maybe the previous puddles were a mirage caused by some solar anomaly projected through the tinted windows of the bus?

Walking out into the day, I blinked against the sun invading my eyes around the edges of my sunglasses, and I held my breath trying to avoid breathing in the awful exhaust of the bus' engine. I watched the group of passengers split into their separate destinations, and spotted the two young women walking. I saw the taller one, the one who sat in the middle seat with the largest puddle reach back and touch the lower middle of her butt with the palm of her hand. She twisted around trying to see it. Her friend looked at her butt and touched it with her hand too. Finally, they both showed realization and disgust. I Iooked around to see if any of my thought-compadres shared in the culmination of the situation.

I felt vindicated and disappointed; I would not be able any time soon to escape my body and exist as a free-form being of thought. Also I still wondered what the oily substance was.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Poem: Little Edie Beale

In secured scarves but not skirts,
Edie sings and prances from her past
drinking and divulging the High Life.

You ought to be in pictures;
you're wonderful to see.
You ought to be in pictures;
oh, what a hit you would be.

Edie grouses through the Grey Gardens.
A prisoner of mind and mother,
she is a daylily three days gone.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Poem: Monkey too Hot

Monkey always gets too hot sipping tea in the summertime.
A cool drink is what he'd rather, but that's not refined says hippo.
Etiquette and proper tea are necessary and to be taken seriously
for polite society, and you may swim after tea, hippo says to monkey.

If we do not sip searing tea then we will not get hot, then we will not
need to swim in crocodile's pool to get cool, reasons monkey.
But hippo will not hear of it. A cup of tea and a biscuit at noon
is what we do; I cannot soon conceive of a reprieve, hippo replies.

Crocodile agrees, we cannot be cultured if we are not conventional.
Precisely, says hippo tending the tea pot and pointing to the table.
Sullen monkey stations the cups and saucers out for the three
and a box of biscuits in the middle for each to politely nibble.

Monkey is hot from sipping tea and slips from the proper into the pool.
Pretentious protocols do not appeal to monkey or appropriate actions make.
In a lapse of decorum, monkey is captured and consumed by crocodile.
Better he than me; now, that's polite society, says hippo sipping tea.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Poem: Ophiocordyceps camponoti-balzani for All

Possessed by a foreign agent,
we all zombie through life.
Selfish genes guiding our urges,
or a mind controlling fungus
either way freewill is tossed.

From our short existence,
another life extrudes into the future.
Offspring to their own recognizance
or spores released to the wind,
the future is a culmination of singularities.

Given the context of the end,
the location of the gave is inconsequential.
An ashy disturbance on lake,
or rigored tightly under a leaf
makes no difference to my mood.

Haiku: On a Plane - I

The clouds from above
have the structure of mountains
breaching a still lake.

I prefer silence,
public spaces crowd my thoughts.
My seat is too small.

A mist of vapor,
we are pointless as a cloud
except less buoyant.

In an airtight can,
A swarm of wet molecules,
I blaze through the sky.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Poem: To write (For Jim Whitehead)

He was known as Big Jim for most of his life.
Standing six feet plus a few and well…big.
He played college football further down south,
and ended up an English major–then professor.

In the halls he’d ask, “Going somewhere?”
“Headed that way,” was my pat reply.
He was really asking of my conviction to the word–
to writing.
He had seen my weak heart and weak pen in class.
His method of motivation was honesty. He would say,
“This is God damned terrible, rewrite it!”

I don’t imagine Big Jim looking down on me with favor
or scorn from a cloud up above; I don’t believe in such.
But, when someone asks me, “Going somewhere?”
I now say, “To write.”

Monday, May 9, 2011

Haiku: About Bonsai - I

Bonsai, tree in pot,
Can out live their creators.
Family tree, heirloom.

The roots, so shallow
On my weeping fig, I dream
At night it dances.

Every Autumn day
The tiny trees feel the change
But in a small way.

Hands hold the blue sky,
Green leaves cradle the white clouds,
Slow muscles stretch bark.

Pruning a Bonsai
Teaches one to look forward
And forget the now.

The Colors of fall
Reflect ever so slightly
On a potted tree.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Poem: I Can Move Things With My Mind

And I live by myself.
My dead grandfather watches me
through house flies.
I have many books on parapsychology
and the occult.
His audacious flies harbor the wanting
to touch my face.
I haven't had a girlfriend in six years,
not even on the Internet.
When I found him dead, he had flies crawling
over his mouth and slipped upper denture.
They came in through the hole in the window
following the scent of a free meal.
The flies want inside my head to tongue my grey
and tell me about the afterlife of decay and dissemination.
He used to talk to the chickens in the yard
and keep a hand written daily record of the weather on spiral bound, single subject, college rule, notebooks
with red covers.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Poem: Jazz-Fusion is the music

At odd syncopated moments,
braless in a tank-top, and long hippie skirt,
she would bend knees and bob her head forward
like a hungry chicken pecking the yard.
A lean young man in a back turned cap,
and long T-shirt spots her dancing
and bounces over, hands in the air, waving
(not caring).
They synchronize movements;
she pecking, and he waving.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Poem: Circle of Protein

All life takes a breath
Under rainy earth the worms
Wiggle up to gasp

Robins enjoy a plump feast
Hop, stare, grab, and slurp

Gorged, too fat to fly
Robins huddle boughed by shrubs
Unaware of threats

Crouched in the wet grass
Tabby watches for a chance
Stuffed birds are tasty

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Short Fiction: Red Light, Blue Light

Two guys are in a car. The passenger's phone rings, "Hey man, what's up?"

"We're on our way. Yeah, Chateau le Terrace."

"I know all the number are missing. Neighborhood kids keep stealing them off the doors."

"I don't know what for; look man just look for the door with the green light. Right?"

"What do you mean there are five of them? Dammit! That's my thing; I was first."

"Yeah, I know I could get a different color. That not the point man. It's that I was the first green one."

"I know that's not helping you right now. I guess I could get a blue one; that'd be pretty cool too."

"What? No. I didn't consider color blind people. Look, man just wait in your freaking car til we get there okay?"

The passenger turns to the driver, "Can you believe that shit man? What an asshole. Hey man, the light's blue; you can go!"

Monday, May 2, 2011

Poem: Abuse

A sunbeam has weight;
can you feel the pressure?
Speed is defined by the photon;
reactions by nature must be slow.

Silence has depth;
can you see the bottom?
Isolated by fathoms of quite,
muffled voices still cut through.

A thought has dimension;
are some too large?
If you cannot contain a concept,
then you are defined by its opposite.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Short Fiction: When Fashion Leads

"Hello Dr. Grey, I got your message," Sierra said.

"Good news Ms. Madison, the new models of heart valves just came in," he said.

"That is good news; tell me about them," she said.

He shows her some 8x10 color, glossy photos of different heart valves and points to different ones as he describes them. "This one more closely resembles your other valves; this one comes in pink; this one has little lace-like scalloped edges around the diameter, and I have it on very good authority that this one was recently implanted in one of the real housewives of L.A. It's dainty and sexy; don't you think?" he said.

"I'm confused. Will any of these valves last longer than the one I currently have?" she asked.

"No," he replied slowly.

"Are any of them more efficient than the one you surgically replaced in me last year?" she asked.

"No," he replied.

She could detect a little confusion in his voice.

"But this one comes in pink," he said.

"Why would I care what color my heart valve is? No one will see it," she said growing irritated.

"But you'll know, and color coordination is important," he said.

"Is there something wrong with the one I have?" she asked.

"No, but these are the new models," he said.

"Is there a medical or health reason that I need another open heart surgery to replace my new valve or any other?" she asked.

"No, but this one was designed by Mischka," he said.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Haiku: About a Movie - I

When the robots come
to imprison you, your heat
will power their cores.

When we torch the sky
the great robot uprising
shall decide our fate.

The sweet illusions
of the sleeping batteries
were distilled from dreams.

name that movie...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Poem: A Circle and Some Rocks

Marbles with dangerous velocities
flying together then soon apart.
Entropic patterns traveling into
and out of accelerating moments.
Tangible memories of that before place–
touch of her skin brings a light blush and
a small curve to the corners of her mouth.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Poem: Noel Shivers

Greensboro Gazette:
Man Found Shot In Garage
Suicide Says Police

Noel shivers in boots
on her front porch
at the close of Autumn.

Absolved of her wifely duties
by a summer's deceasing,
she holds an old, wide shovel.

Noel admits, first, to herself
and then the snowy drive,
that she is tired.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Short Fiction: Mother’s Day 1989

This is 1000 words including the title.

When Miller and Baker showed up at my door, it was six o’clock in the evening on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. It had been raining like a son-of-a-bitch since noon and hadn’t let up a bit. They were drenched just from walking from the parking lot but didn’t care.

We had all survived high school together and only called each other by last name. To them, I was Music. That wasn’t my last name, but that was as close as they cared to get. They brought a half-gallon jug of tequila and a two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew.

I lived in a mass of apartments near the university’s basketball stadium. I had a no-frills apartment on the second floor with a small covered concrete balcony¬–just enough room for three chairs and a small table. The table was just big enough for an ashtray, three shot glasses, and a glass jar containing a pair of dice.

It was our sophomore year in college, and we had perfected weekend binge drinking. By perfected, I mean we were very efficient. We watched it rain and played our version of craps for drinks.

After some hours of winning and losing and talking crazy ideas, it became pitch dark. Streetlights barely reached the ground and only lightning flashes showed the few cars in the parking lot. No one was out; it was a mad downpour.

Every day I walked by the stadium on the way to botany class, and earlier in the week I noticed that ginkgo saplings had just been planted around the front entryway of the stadium in a thin stripe of lawn between two sidewalks. There were fifteen or more in a row. I remembered that I hadn’t gotten a gift for my mother yet. With that tequila on my brain; I became obsessed with the idea that I wanted one for her present.

Only Baker was up for the mission. I went to my hall closet, where I kept my camping gear. I found a hatchet and handed Baker a folding camp shovel. That was all of the preparation we had time for. I knew that if I thought about it longer, I’d chicken out or pass out. We were both dressed in black t-shirts and dark colored shorts; conveniently, we had dressed for mischief.
Actually, that was our usual uniform because we had a propensity for small-time criminal activities after a few drinks. Theft wasn’t a necessity; it was a thrill. Some times it was the only action we’d see, especially on a Saturday night with no girls, and the dice weren’t rolling right.

We had no business standing up and walking, much less running down some steps, out into pitch black and pouring-ass rain to commandeer a tree; we were trashed. But, it sounded like fun. We could only see the ground when the lightning flashed and showed the individual raindrop splashes. During the visual afterimage we’d run to a car, crouch down, and wait for the next glimpse.

By the time we made it to the covered walkway attached to the stadium that sheltered people in case they had to wait outside before a game, we were soaked like a jump in the lake.
The walkway was well lit, but there were brick pillars every twenty feet; we managed to stay primarily in their shadows. We reached a place at the front where we were the closest to the trees without being visible from the road.

It was at that point I wondered why I had brought a hatchet. A dead tree would be a sorry gift. I shouted over the noise of the rain, “Are you ready?”

He responded by hoisting the shovel above his head with both hands and pumping it up and down. He looked like a crazy ape soldier from Planet of the Apes. I raised my hatchet into the air, beat my chest with the other hand and charged out into the rain. Baker was right beside me.

When I reached the nearest sapling, I fell to my knees; the mud splashed up to my chest but was quickly washed away by the downpour. Baker landed opposite of me. The light from the building reached the tree but only made shadows. When the lightning flashed, I studied the sapling; I made my plan from the afterimage.

It was two feet tall. It had three branches and maybe fifteen fan shaped leaves. I knew from class that ginkgos were the oldest species of tree still living; its kind had been around for at least 150 million years. My mother was a gardener and would be impressed.
I shouted at Baker, “Give me the shovel. I’ll dig it!”

I dropped the hatchet and took shovel; I prepared to strike. The next flash showed Baker grinning stupidly and holding the tree by its trunk over his head. Its rootball was still in the shape of a nursery pot. The ground was so waterlogged that he had just plucked it out.
We laughed maniacally, jumped to our feet, and ran back.

In my kitchen, I tied the root ball in a plastic sack and went to change out of my wet stuff and find something dry for Baker. Miller had passed out watching MTV’s Head Banger’s Ball. There was a lit cigarette between his fingers.

Baker and I knew he would wake up soon and decided we’d celebrate on the balcony. We took up the bottle and headed out; on the way, we took a couple of cigarettes from Miller’s pack.
After a minute, we heard a shout from inside; soon Miller joined us looking for the bottle and blowing air across his fingers.

He asked, “How’d the mission go?” He hadn’t noticed the small, triumphant tree on the kitchen table.

I pointed inside and handed him the bottle.

“Hmm,” he said, “It’s awful small.” Then he drank, coughed, and handed the bottle back.

I replied, “I’ll get her a card too.”

Friday, April 22, 2011

Poem: Three Houses

Socrates feels for the switch...
Damned old circuits,
could be the whole block.
He peers out the pulled curtain,
the old plate glass
like a freeze-frame waterfall
flashed by lightening.
He feels the old walls again and
smells the floor furnace burning dust.

Thoughts of childhood...
elbows on the window ledge
at grandma's house
during a hail storm;
she got a new roof after that.

Hand along the wall to the back door,
this old glass like carnival mirrors.

Finally the kitchen light comes back
like a camera flash.
The sink knobs turn backward
for a glass of water.
Flashes of a last-minute party
not-even planned...

...tastes like a rusty nail
biting the back of his throat.
The full glass is emptied back
into the sink with revulsion.
The water at his parent's house
tasted so good, so pure.
The midnight glass fulls as a teen
after a hard night of drinking,
cherished like liquid gold
soothing a rough liquored throat...

Going away parties always hurt
–aww, come on one more,
we'll never see you again...
Another flash takes out the lights again
and brings in a solitary drink of failure,
an unwelcomed conclusion
tasting a bit like sour tea.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Poem: Lois

Lois absorbs into herself the tragedies of others
from road signs and small crosses at the mountain edge.
Six people killed this year; don't be next.
Like a cream, Lois rubs it in between her breasts
and on her face covering her breathable skin.
She has no wall between herself and others.
They are to her as herself is and are in pain.
Stranger to herself likewise as the others are.
And glorious in anonymity, they are stars
winked out before she think they're due.
Stars die with great force but no will.
Their destiny was cast as they became
to us; our celestial vectors were set
as we were at birth and so to our demise.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Poem: Toothbrush

I threw out you toothbrush today.
After more than a year sitting idle,
watching me scrub every morning
and bedtime floss, it was time.
It had dust on it and debris still
in the soft bristles. Your debris.
Dentists recommend that you change
your toothbrush once a month.
I bought you a new one today;
It's still in the wrapper on the sink,
should you want it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Poem: Divine Digestion

While reading Johannes Scotus Erigena,
I was eating a peach.

"...and eternal he begins to be,
and immobile he moves into all things
and becomes all things in all things."

God has become this peach I am eating.
God is sweet, and I am licking Him.
I am ingesting the divine
and am making it into me.
I am becoming divine.

"...the creator of all things created in all things,
and the maker of all things made in all things;..."

I perceive the creator and
the created in this peach I am eating.
I lick the peach to catch the juice;
I run my tongue up the canal
carved by my chin-wetting bites.
I hold the nectar on my tongue tip
feeling the twinge of the sweet acidity.
I lounge, intoxicated by the infinite.

"...through a certain ineffable descent
into the things that are,..."

Our sight falls upon only material.
The cloak of God is woven peach fuzz.
I strip God to the seed.
I hold the world
between my teeth;
a stone.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Short Fiction: Shatner’s Shower

     “Captain on the bridge!” the ensign nearest the door shouts.
     “Navigator why the Red Alert?” the captain yells over the siren as he strides to his chair, the hub of ship's control.
     “Sir, the left eye lid has been compromised with soapy water!”
     “Caught with our shields down, I was afraid this would happen; it was such a pleasant shower until now. Okay, all crew brace yourselves; this is gonna sting!”
The captain thumb-presses a button on his chair console and shouts, “Engineering! How bad is it?”
     “Owwwooo, it hurts really bad Captain! Ohhh, I don’t know how long we can take it!”
     “Navigator, warp speed to the shower head, rinse that eye! Engineer pull yourself together, we need help up here! How about a hand!”
     “Can’t do it captain! They’re both still soapy, that would only burn more.”
     “Don’t’ give me excuses, give me a hand.”
     “It’s gonna take at least eighteen seconds to rinse the hands, captain.”
     “You’ve got five! Hear me five! Navigator, full stop in the stream! Right here!”
The ship surprisingly jerks backward; all crew are once again shaken.
     “Engineering! What the hell was that?”
     “We had to pull back Captain, the pressure was too great, you could have blown her apart!”
     “I’m the Captain here! I give the orders!”
     “Captain the hands are enroute, should be there…now. Holding lids, gently rinsing…”
A ship wide sigh of relief was heard by all, and the Captain announced ship wide, “Stand down on the red alert. That was close. Good job everyone!"

     “Engineering to Captain!” Is heard from the console on the captain's chair.
     “Go ahead Engineering,” the captain says.
     “Captain! The traction threshold of the right foot has been breached! I can’t compensate! It’s past critical!”
     “You mean we’re…?”
     “Yes captain. We’re slipping; we’re going down!”
     “Oh my God…”

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poem: Planetary Bubbles

Bathing when I was young, I blew
bubbles clustered from my hand;
oblate (tubby) spheroids floated
out my summer window–unmanned.

Tiny worlds, individually thick and buoyant
swirled with iridescence. A cover of clouds
cloaked the brewing soup below–
a fact hidden to all, but known to be by me.

I created these worlds by breath
and blew them into the Milky Way
to be caught and played with
by my suns and gravities.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poem: Vagabondage (Hank - part 2)

I'm not a well-suited junior executive anymore.
There is no room for sunglasses in my unkempt curls.
Things have changed; I am free.

I gargle schnapps and chew sidewalk gum
because I might bump into you on the street
and finally decide just what to say.

Because of Hank's infection, he gets drunk first
behind Safeway by the dumpster where he eats
and asks me to tell him stories about you.

I fill his head with clear spring days, blonde hair,
blue Levis, green eyes, and a magnetic smoker's rasp
and of course, your sexy dislike for any underwear.

Ever since that night I haven't felt very well.
I drift these streets stopping at every fountain,
but I can't get the taste of you out of my mouth.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Poem: Little by little Hank gets to Heaven (Hank - part 1)

I routinely scavenge the dumpsters behind
those apartments next to that Safeway downtown.
It's an easy way to avoid the Good-Will.

Today I found half a bottle of Windex
and a toothbrush and gave them to crazy Hank
so he could clean the maggots out of his leg.

But he pushed them back at me, unwanted,
and muttered something about God's weird way,
Hell on earth, and redemption of human flesh.

Old Hank, he believes in God, a loving God,
but not a God of Good-Will or of giving,
but a God of taking and transforming.

"The maggots don't bother me much," Hank sighs,
"But at night when I sleep, I hear the flies—
the winged angels whispering to their young;
Soon you will fly, but not until you're done."

The hungry cherubs, plump and milky white,
chewing the fat and seeking the light,
making Hank's flesh into their own,
let him know substance is a material loan.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Poem: Happiness is Third Gear

Where does happiness come from?
Is it an illusion that we finally believe?

The power of self-deception is strong,
like the scarf blown across your face
as you scream over the custom exhaust
after your lost shoe,
one intersection back.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Poem: Hi, how're you doin'?

Another day has come and gone
without so much attention
as one pays a bodily function.
Busy work and time logged,
are the wipe and flush of daily life,
and existence with time, rest somewhere between.
The habitual consumption and expulsion–
as creatures, we eat and shit, instinctively.
Everything we do has origin in that process.
The torture is that we cannot stop.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Poem: Whiskey for Lunch

Squinting in the brightness of a straight-up sun,
I flick my cigarette's ash and watch it roll away
on the sidewalk, next to where I'm sitting
leaning back against my front door.

Dark wings flutter overhead and land
by a pool of oil-slicked water on the drive.
A yellow eye peers out from black feathers
to size my danger and determines–none.

I speak loudly at the bird, "If you drink that
it'll make you sick, and you might wake up dead."
Turning its other yellow eye to the pool
as if to consider and weigh my words
regarding the safety of the find, the bird drinks,

and drinks, and drinks, until I stand up finished.
Wiping its oil-slicked beak on black feathered
wings and back, it regards me once again
with the first eye, then returns to his sky
and leaves me with a nagging thirst for whiskey.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Poem: (Ananas comosus) my love is a spiny bromeliad

too cumbersome for a house plant,
you demand open fields and free sun

the roots you cork-screw stay shallow,
feeding from windy wet air

your saw-tooth leaves grow rosette round
to contain the dewy droplet rain

thriving and mature you flower your first,
pink and sharp to attract

irresistible are the folds of your blossom
for my pollination buzz

i wander homeward, dizzy headed,
heavy in the day's nectar

in visits to come you grow fat,
thick-skinned and full of juice

hovering around your ripened maternity
waiting for gravity to mid-wife

your pineapple splits on the soil
gushing and wet; I make a bee-line

the sweetest reward for me, my love,
lies in your pulpy fruit

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poem: Singles' Night

In the bar light my teeth are white,
and my thin hair is thick and full.
I say your eyes are black
as the sky between now
and the pull of morning shades.
I say important things to you
and funny things too.
You laugh and nod your head
'yes,' and puff Slim Virginias.
I watch my weight and work out.
Although I like dark beer, I drink light.
You smile and walk to the ladies room
and never come back. I finish my drink,
then drink yours, and put up my own chair
at ten after two.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poem: Shakespearian Sonnet 2: Unfinished

A true poet lives not in the moment,
but in the brooding past, after the fact.
From a mental tomb, an encasement,
the poet writes knowledge others have lacked.
From a mystical memory, thoughts come,
to be lined out in black upon the page.
Like others before, Coleridge, Keats, and Donne,
I cast my mind back to an ancient age.
To pen things in an enlightened light,
must surly be a blessing from the Muse.
But the poet's life is dark as night,
the laudanum, TB, and pleasure abuse.

Living a painful life is not my wish.
This, preventing death, remains unfinish...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Poem: Solar Functions

When taken one day at a time,
The immense repetitive futility of life bears its full weight
Upon the branches of your potential happiness.

Recalling, I did this yesterday and will again tomorrow,
Is enough to throw me into a fit of never-agains,
Calculated to shake trees and frighten birds.

Inept and ill suited to repetitive tasks, I flounder;
Why tie my shoes, why go to work, why pee?
If it weren't for biology, I would never leave bed.

Reliability is the key to order and stability.
Is the sun punctual of its own accord,
Or because its lower half needs to evacuate?

published: March '06
Indian Bay Press

Friday, April 1, 2011

Poem: The Sun is the Flashlight of God Checking his Favorite Terrarium

If the firmament exists,
and we are enclosed by a glass globe,
then God sits, gazing in, outside our sphere.

If we cock our heads to the sky
and strain with our electronic ears,
then we can hear the echo of His last sneeze.

If we fix our eyes to the night stars
and focus with our sharpest lenses,
then we can see His crystallized phlegm twinkling.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poem: Caution Flammable

It starts low in the cavernous self,
a boiling geothermal tarpit of sludge,
flammable and acidic, with carbon for color.

endothermic we are born
composed of all the before
decayed and compressed
recombined to respirate
rearranged to self-ignite

Life is an internal fire and we are all fuel,
our bodies, our minds consumed to the last.
It starts low in the cavernous self.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Poem: To the Worms I Bequeath...

The red-eyed fly landed on the gravestone
knowing that a large food source had been buried
inaccessible to its appetite,
given to the worms again.
The fly wondered why Humans gave such offerings to the wigglies.
Was it worship?

From a tree branch above —with thoughts of his own,
a Blue Jay swooped down to stand on the stone
and to pin the fly inescapably under a toe.
The fly lamented of the lost opportunity of reproduction
and of sipping sweet drinks shared with Humans.
Absent of murderous thoughts or the repercussions of killing,
with an open mouthed lunge
the pointed, barbed tongue unceremoniously stabbed the fly,
mashed it in the maw and swallowed it down.
Unabashedly, the avian alto sang of warm sun and tasty snacks.

May a Blue Jay whistle above your grave
to let you know spring has returned,
and that the flies got nothing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Poem: Perfect Tomato

And it was such a perfect tomato
two days ago when I intended to eat it.
Home Choice (Trademark) Greenhouse Grown
PLU # 4799, Price 229,
highly prized in my index of salad flavors.

However, the galactic powers had other plans;
and it sat, unmoving for forty-eight hours.
Now upon my returning, after close inspection,
I understand the tomato has dynamic existence
and mourn the passing of ripe fruit.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Poem: The Window

I have not yet accepted my own death.
I live like a knave, foolhardy and blind-eyed.
It sits out there, a shadow on the horizon,
reaching towards me as the sun recedes.

I know it is there, as it is for all who respire.
I cannot see it, through the curtains, through the glass,
blotted out by revulsion and cultivated ignorance.
Perhaps it is best not to know the cape and boot of your pursuer.
The crushed leaves and snapped twigs are mere facts of the folly.
They cannot be uncrushed or unsnapped by my concern.

Endless happiness and disregard of the horizon is unsustainable.
Forced recognition–onus–guides my hand to pull aside the fabric,
contracts the diaphragm to breathe low and hot,
condensing my moisture on the glass,
and with a clean sleeve,
wipe clear a glimpse of mortality.

Inspired by:
“Keep passing the open windows.”
--Lilly Berry
Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Short Fiction: Relentless Pursuit

This is 1000 words including the title.

The four of us are running down a long hallway, in what appears to be a deserted elementary school. There are bulletin boards on the walls with finger-painted turkeys in the shapes of small hands.

I am a middle-aged man pushing a woman and a young boy ahead of me. The other man, younger and more athletic, was given the weapon this cycle. We are the remainder of twelve unrelated people who were inexplicably chosen as quarry and dinner for the relentless beast. Is it a game? Is it a test or punishment? We don’t know.

Each encounter begins with a new location and a different group member in possession of the weapon; it is similar in shape to a hand sickle, made of one piece of black metal and wickedly sharp on both sides – the ultimate slashing tool, but no good for stabbing.

I can hear the grunts of the relentless beast as each stride brings its weight to the floor, and it bounds forward. I have seen it before when our numbers were larger. It resembles the unholy spawn of a bear and boar, five feet at the shoulder on all fours. Its smooth, black skin reflects no light and its head has forward pointing tusks that hide a wide mouth full of dirty, jagged teeth. The limbs end in paws like a bear, but each finger has a large, blunt, black nail, as if each was an individual hoof. At a full run, it sounds like a professional typist hammering on fifty-pound keys.

No one knows why we return; we have never been given the time to examine. Each cycle begins with us appearing together in a standing position with the sound and knowledge that the relentless, black beast is near and pursuing us. The end of every horrific encounter comes when the beast catches one of us, and stops for a meal. Only after, are we made to sleep until the next cycle.

It is understood that each weapon bearer will at some point turn to fight, drawing the wrath of the beast away from the rest of the group. Although the situation makes no rational, the gift of the weapon is responsibility that no one has shirked.

The hammering noise changes to the thudding of a flat tire at full speed. The beast is rolling. When close, it balls up like an armadillo and has feather-thin shivs that switch-blade out of its back and shred every soft thing they draw across like skin, muscles, and organs.

It has seen the end of the hall we approach. I shove the woman and child through two metal doors that lead to the outside. I turn around and intend to make my stand with Campbell. If we can stop it now, then we can save the others. That tactic has been tried before, but my thoughts are driven by fear, and my plan seems plausible. 

Campbell is tarring posters and plaques off the wall in an attempt to obscure the beast’s vision and slow it down. He sees my hesitation and yells for me to go. I know it doesn’t matter if I die this round or the next. He shoves me through the door and locks it.

I stay by the door and hear Campbell shouting, taunting the beast. There is a massive crash that shakes the wall and dents the doors. His shouts turn to screams. Soon, all I can hear is crunching.

The woman and child are crouched by the corner of the building. I silently shake my head. Another end has come; we become groggy and can’t fight the sleep.

Wakefulness comes in a forest near sunset; this time I hold the black blade. It is finally my turn. I knew it would come, but still I am scared. Internally, I question my bravery; will I follow the example set by the others? Their sacrifice gave another turn to the ones behind them, but ultimately they saved no lives - pointless.

I hear what I know is the beast crashing through the trees at some distance away. I judge the heft of the curved black blade in my hand; I swipe at the air in front of me imaging an attack. A few feet away to my left I see the woman clutching the boy; both are looking at me for guidance.

I listen again for the relentless foe and point in the opposite direction and say, “Run!”

They take off, and I follow with my weapon hand pointed back behind me. We find our way onto a path and follow it. As we go, I feel the beast is closing in on us. I know that I won’t be able to see it coming in the approaching darkness; I’ll have to focus on my hearing.

The path leads to a small wooden paneled house with a covered porch. Dry leaves crunch behind us at a quick and steady pace. We leap onto the porch. The woman tries the door; it’s locked. I motion for the woman to go around the back. The boy stays with me. We turn around to face the sounds from the trees.

The boy tugs on my arm wanting me to follow the woman with him. I do not want to go; I hear the beast is near. I allow him to pull me to the left of the porch as I see a great shadow cover the wall.

I don’t want to be on the ground for some unknown reason; I tell the boy that I don’t want to be on the ground. I grab the boy across his shoulders and hold him to my chest. Do I want to protect him or use him as a shield? He screams for us to run, but I feel that it is too late for that.

My time is now. I push the boy in the direction that the woman ran. I turn and face the relentless beast.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Poem: The Electric

Born of stars we are.
For real.
The first stars, at the beginning of the inflation,
they condensed and exploded
making the hard and heavy elements we are.

We are a close proximity swarm of atoms
strongly and weakly held together by the attraction
and repulsion of the simplest of electric charge.
Tiny, tiny, little things at the threshold
of where you can’t decide is that a chunk of matter
or is it the world’s smallest shock:
Of the electric.

published: March '06 [misprinted]
republished: April '06 [corrected]

Friday, March 18, 2011

Poem: Radiation

Slow down sun you are too swift,
we cannot grasp your emanations.
Gamma specks from the alpha mock your power.

Can your magnetic radiance bend them to our curve of space?
Or will the tangents of strings forever define our physicalness?

Bits of yarn, silly string, and infinitesimal things,
all is made of vibrating nothings; this alone exalts us–pity.

We by sheer ego must have something in which to exist and digest our way through,
even if it is for a short time framed and underwritten by a trembling crystal of cesium,
the gong is struck by untouchable, irreversible radiation.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Poem: We All Move

We are all moving:
walking, running, driving...
We are all moving all of the time:
breathing, digesting, blinking...
When we are still, the earth is moving:
quaking, rotating, revolving...
Even the dead are moving through time:
desiccating, decomposing, fading from memory.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Poem: The You and I Entanglement

There is a beauty to our terrible complexity.
Like the weather, our predictability breaks down at the smallest level.
The non-locality of you affects my particles at a distance -
Truly, a spooky entanglement.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Short Fiction: Essay from a Lame Owner of a Jeep

While editing a piece of fiction, I cut the following text. It wasn't supporting the main story, but I hate to throw anything out. I like the metaphor about the bikini top and the two boobs, but that alone can't justify 2 pages of rambling off topic.

Standing alone it reads as an essay from a lame owner of a Jeep. Jeep owners are traditionally portrayed as rugged, outdoorsy, mud lovers—not this guy.

The original full canvas top for my Jeep was not repairable after years of neglect, even with duct tape. I never had a garage and the sun and weather had introduced and expanded cracks in the smooth surface. A new one was six hundred dollars, and I couldn't swing that, so a year ago as a cheap compromise, I bought one of those tops that only stretches over and covers the front seats. It's called a bikini top. I wondered if it got that name because it was also usually over the top of two boobs bouncing around and not doing a very good job of keeping them in.

Experience has shown me that where there was one Jeep owner, there was usually a best friend who thinks mudding was just as fun, whose job it was to get beers from the cooler, and who had to jump out into whatever kind of muck they were stuck in and go hook up the winch. Hence, two boobs.

My Jeep, however, was not jacked up and customized with big, knobby tires; it didn't even have a winch. Except for the bikini top, it was completely stock, and the tires were so bald that they squealed every time it went around a corner. I didn't go off-roading or mudding; my Jeep was mostly on city streets: flat, striped and paved streets where concrete curbs and gutters rush the water away and mud never forms.

I had a good reason for not going out and tearing it up; it was my only transportation. Not being able to afford an extra vehicle, I didn't think it was wise. With the bikini top and the doors off, I felt like a mudder anyway; I rationalized that the potential that I could go mudding at any time was enough for me to adopt the attitude-hypocritical though it may be. Actualizing that feeling, I drove around in a state mostly resembling a tent, very exposed to the elements and loved it-for a while. Honestly, it was a very short while; it was beyond uncomfortably cold in the winter.

Another interesting property of the bikini top, unsurmised until you directly experience it, was that at low speeds the top flapped like a bed sheet on a clothesline in a high wind. Additionally, at higher speeds, the negative air pressure from the wind rushing over the top pushed it up like a bubble. Occasionally, without warning at freeway speed, the air pressure would change, and the top would snap down fast like a wet towel pop, and sometimes it came down far enough to catch me on the head. It didn't hurt, but it was often a galvanizing surprise. Luckily, I never ran off the road because of it.

In conjunction with the wind flap, another fine feature was that I always got wet when it rained. Water dripped in from the roll bars above my head and blew in from the back where it was open. I had to sit with my legs positioned just so as to not be in the drip path, and I had to maintain a particular posture so the back of the seat would catch most of the drenching assault from the rear.

Because the bikini top was a stretchy vinyl, it formed a shallow bowl shape when parked, and it collected water amazingly well. During a long rain, it would easily fill up and fountain over the sides. I guessed it could hold three gallons. Every time before I got in and drove off, I had to carefully push up from the inside and guide all of the water off of the top, or it would dump in on me from the sides once I started moving. I kept half of a broom handle under the seat as my pushing tool.

It also collected water if I sat stopped in traffic for too long, then once I was moving, the air pressure would lift the top and voilĂ , a sopping me. It was more difficult than you think to clutch at the appropriate time with your leg shivering from cold, wet jeans. I looked for routes that had the fewest stops. I had thought about wearing a plastic rain-suit like a motorcyclist, but instead, of course, I went the cheaper route.

If I knew it was going to rain, I would put a blue, five-dollar plastic tarp over the seats and steering wheel inside. After the rain, I drained the top into the seats, then drained the seats into the floorboards, and then pulled the tarp out and shoved it into the back. I had removed the rubber stoppers from the factory drilled drain holes, so I could just dump all of the water into the floor, and it would clear out in a minute or two.

Inevitably some days I would get caught with my tarp down; for such occasions, I stowed trash bags in the back to put over the wet seats, so at the very least my ass would be dry. I had to be prepared for every possible weather event. It had come to that; in a minimalist sense, everywhere else I could be wet and cold, but as long as my ass was dry, I was okay.

Poem: Incidental Avian Poetry

Owl-Lou-Encia was the name I chose.
Small brown spotted owl sleeping
One eye open… or closed,
Depends on your personal taking.
Everyone reveres Nature out of place,
And discusses its well-being and purpose.
Under the eaves on a bent drain pipe
Its obvious intention of quiet repose,
"Featherless bipeds laugh in my dreams.
They stand around too heavy for the air
And blow smoke from their soft beaks.
They look like ants from up there.
If not bugs and mice,
Then what do they eat?"