Regardless of Whether or Not You Win

When you are ready—it will feel more natural than breathing

it’s a choice, but so often, we can’t accept

what we have inside.

It takes time, to adjust to an eruption

to the shaking, quaking, easiness

of an explosion.

It doesn’t seem fair—that the fairies are near

though—you’ve been believing and whispering

for such a long time

the formula, is your changing mind—

the distance that must be traveled on waiting footsteps.

All your joy, was there, before you began

you have gone beyond permission

beyond easiness, and false obstacles

beyond rain, umbrellas, and warm rooms

You were playing with excuses, like mental blocks in your mind

Now, the sun inside your head

is the made-up language

you say to yourself—

a beautiful day, in every way

regardless of whether

or not

you win.

Digging-Up Flowers on the Golf Course

Wilderness Golf Course was a ritual—like the spring solstice—a seasonal change. The rest of the world turned, but the golf course remained the same.

“What’s with you?” Joel asked.

“My wife and I are having a kid—our second,” Chad said.

“Oh—Really? Congratulations. My wife and I already did that.”

“Why do you have to make everything competitive?”

“It stems from his massive inferiority complex, and his little Johnson,” Andy said.

“Your name is Johnson—why do you have to drag psychology into everything—you’re just saying that because you’re jealous. Are you going to buy a house soon, Andy?”

“That would add to my responsibilities.”

“What responsibilities? Your latest change was moving out of your mom’s house.”

“She made me breakfast in bed every day.”

“Yeah—but wasn’t that the one you used to wet?”

“It was you—who wet the bed—every time you came over.”

“Where’s Brad? That guy has always been a slacker. Has he ever had a job?”

“For about two hours—but maybe you’re looking at him the wrong way. He’s totally free. You’re tied down with a wife, kids, mortgage, and a job. The rest of your life is planned out.”

“Yeah—Chad and I actually have lives—as for you…”

“There he is.”

Brad stepped out of a 1992 Firebird. “Picked her up this morning.”

“Did you get a license?”

“No.”

“Where did you get the money?”

“Never mind about that—let’s play golf.”

Brad wore an Everlast sweatshirt with the shoulders cut-off. His biceps made a statement. Long ago, he worked out his priorities. It was his body.

“How often do you play?” Chad asked—his attire resembled the suburban dad. All that was missing was a synthetic boob.

“Whenever I get the time,” Brad said.

“When don’t you have the time?” Joel asked. He hooked his shot into the woods. “Damn.” He was skinny because his wife forced him onto her diet plan and made him stop drinking beer. “Why do you have a shovel in your golf bag, Brad?”

“I planted some flowers a couple months ago. If they’re ripe, I’d like to take some home to my mom. She has bipolar disorder—and the flowers will cheer her up.”

“You planted flowers on a golf course? What does the greens keeper have to say about that?”

“Oh—I cut him in.”

“With what—flowers?”

Brad ignored the question.

“So, when are you going to get married, Andy?”

“Never.”

Andy wore cargo shorts and a polo shirt. He gained weight from working as a psychologist. Everybody had problems on the job, and to escape their drama, he ate.

“That’s a bit closed-minded, don’t you think?”

“Well—look at the average married male—he doesn’t get any, and he’s a slave to his wife,” Andy said.

“That attitude will ensure that you never get married.”

“Are you having sex?”

“We’re taking a break right now. My wife keeps getting headaches. I’ve suggested four different prescriptions, but they never work.”

“My flowers are in the woods off the second fairway,” Brad said.

“Are those gunny sacks?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ve got two varieties—your garden variety weed, and poppies.”

“You said that you work with Mexicans on a landscaping job?”

“Well—I give them the product, and they give me cold cash. That’s how I got my Firebird.”

“How much do they pay you?”

“750,000 dollars per load.”

“How many loads have you processed?”

“Over a dozen.”

“What do you buy with that?”

“Weight equipment.”

“Well—if you get caught—you won’t need to change your lifestyle too much. All they do is workout in prison.”

“Nobody is going to find out.” Suddenly, sirens wailed in the parking lot.

“Can you each carry a bag?” Brad asked.

“Hell no!”

“Well—the airport is nearby.”

“Can you fly a plane?” Chad asked.

“Don’t need to—I’ve got a pilot,” Brad said. He bagged two gunny-sacks and ran through the suburban houses toward the airport.

Two bald police officers ran across the first fairway with their guns drawn. “What happened to the guy who was playing golf with you?”

“His mother called—it’s her birthday.”

“But his car is still here.”

“He got picked up—his car wouldn’t start.”

“We’ll check to see if your story checks out. Marty, start the car.” In the distance, the engine turned over, and died.

“I guess you boys are legit. Don’t leave town.”

A yellow bi-plane flew over the golf course, heading south.

“Who would’ve thought it? Brad made the biggest changes in his life this year,” Joel said.

The End

Men are Bored, and so, they Play with Mother Nature

In college, I was too high-strung

Now, I have calmed down a bit,

and I look at the sea of humanity

and I wonder what they were doing

at the party

the illusion has worn off

Beware of the man who has lost his illusions

he is a most dangerous man.

I wait for nature to force a play

men play with nature—and when I say “Nature”

I mean, the female—

mother nature

and without any warning

men have responsibility,

as a consequence of love

A man needs to love,

but it’s better if it’s his choice

and not mother nature.

Strange People at the Library

It was one of those wet days that made me feel like a pond creature. I was running off the weight, and my stop, after a hot shower was the city library. There are places I go, and just listen, even though most people don’t, and if I open my ears, I will hear strange stories. The librarians are a combination of sweet and sour. They know me—even though I’m the sort of person who tries to be unknown. One of them wears a tight dress, with an accordion key chain around her arm. She stares at the computer screen like she’s hypnotized. The other is a blonde in her late 30s, and always says “hi” to me. There are two overweight women with tattoos and short black hair. They frown at me. There is a lady in her late 60s, who calls me the friendliest person in the world—she doesn’t know me very well. The last one, knows me by name—and wears skinny jeans, with a Dr. Suess t-shirt. The first time I met her, she lectured me about running in the dark without a flashlight. Now, we’re good friends.

This library is well-lit, clean, and the sort of place I would suspect to find a deviant—a person planning to blow up the capital—because they’re bored. Teenage girls talk about community college professors and orgies—they gossip about their love triangles—and who got scared. The boys are the homeschool sort— friendly, but they might as well be another species.

I love the library because it’s part of me. The places that we go, compulsively, become part of our personalities—the pizza parlor, Thai restaurant, and golf course.

But this story is not about that. I began to notice him.

He was homeless, and smelled a bit ripe. The patrons ignored him completely—like they couldn’t see him, but I found him fascinating. He read Playboy and drank from his water bottle. He wore camo fatigues, a curly beard, and a Raiders sweatshirt. He was in his late 20s.

I was hunched over my laptop, when an elderly man in a blue suit walked in. Then he spotted who I was pretending not to look at. The business man, but no—that’s not quite right, walked up to the kid.

“What are you doing? We agreed that you would move on from here,” he said.

“But I can catch him, dad.”

“You can only catch someone, if they’re as lazy as you are.”

“Just give me time.”

“I’ve brought the pen and contract—sign it in blood and we’re done.”

“I won’t sign.”

“You’ve done nothing here, in the last week, but ogle librarians.”

“I’ve done more than that.”

“Besides ogling your magazine…”

“Well—what would you have me do?”

“Go someplace where your talents can be put to good use.”

“Like where?”

“Political campaigns, massage parlors, college campuses… the library is the last place you would find someone to convert to our side. It’s full of free thinkers, and people without social lives.”

“What’s wrong with them?”

“They can’t be tempted.”

“What about knowledge?”

“What about it?”

“Knowledge is tempting.”

“Okay—but it’s theoretical.”

“But what if it’s not?”

“You think he’s smart enough to figure-out what he doesn’t know?”

“I think he knows that his understanding is limited—and he’s searching for something higher. What if I helped him out a bit?”

“He won’t talk to you.”

“Trust me—he doesn’t judge a book by its cover—and I’ve been watching him.”

“I can tell I won’t convince you.”

“Have you ever?”

“You have the rest of the week—and then I’m sending you back to school.” The blue suit left. His hair was whiter now. He had lots to worry about.

“Was that your old man?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“Are you finally going to college?”

“Only if I can’t succeed. The classroom is not the real world—I’m sure you know that.”

“I’m afraid most of my knowledge is theoretical.”

“Would you like to change that?”

“How?”

“I can get you out of the library—give you that power you’ve been searching for—all I need is for you to sign on the dotted line.”

“Let me see,” I said. It was a contract for my soul.

“Sorry pal—it looks like you’re going to need to spend some time in the classroom.”

“Then I’ll take another drink,” the demon said.

The End

Secrets of the Fire

the flame leaps higher

to burn the darkness

and the mind reaches up

for what isn’t there

the reason the flame

doesn’t catch on fire

is that it has no reason—

it’s not big enough.

the mind is toxic with smoke

when the flame

burns out

Secrets are found in knowledge

feeding our fire

but how does it grow beyond a candle?

thoughts are powerful

knaves, don’t think about them

Understanding, is the fuel of the flame

If your intelligence doesn’t reach high

let your morality do the same

your spirit is the fire

the darkness wants the light, but it cannot ask for it

it needs to be shown

only then, will it believe.

light the world on fire

most of it will go up in smoke

few

possess the flame

few

understand the void

few

wait patiently

around the fire

until short lives go up in smoke.

If we give our light to others

we will never go out

They will carry our torch into the darkness

and the day will never become night.

Don’t Talk to Strangers

Strangers in a park

on the sidewalks, in the grocery lines

faces—like blank money, with the same value.

Character doesn’t advertise

it rears up, like a snake, when it needs to kill.

Strangers have a story—they might even believe it

but they are strangers to themselves

lies serve more of a purpose than the truth

there is more at stake, past 30

people don’t read—they don’t read each other

they can’t look inside and read themselves

they are hypnotized, distorted—like they are listening underwater.

So, what do we do—when we are expected to have relationships with each other?

We don’t have a manual to understand

what can only be known

around a campfire.

Secrets are rare, because gossip abounds

but the secrets that have been buried underground

will never be dug up

because they don’t exist

in the hidden mind.

The human being is a labyrinth of lies

innocent, and not so innocent

feeling for feelings in the dark

like trip-wires on a minefield

in a silent war—oh, to keep it silent

it’s the only way to win.

If one gets to the end of their life, and doesn’t know the person sitting across from them

doesn’t know, why a certain person dislikes them

doesn’t know their faults—separating them from the whole

what kind of life was it?

In the wasteland

families are broken

parents visit their children after a stressful day

we are ghosts to each other

looking inside,

and seeing the living room wall.

Luck Trumps Fate, and the Democratic Party

“We’re going to Buddies,” my friend’s sister’s boyfriend said. He was Filipino, and his eyes were wild with drugs.

“Oh—is that a social club?” I asked.

“No—were you born under a rock? It’s where I get my weed. Plus, the store has some unusual curiosities.”

He had me curious. Ordinarily—I never frequent a store where they sell marijuana. Drugs are killers of brain cells—and I don’t want my brain to be pickled at 40.

People are always doing things—and my natural instinct has been not to do anything. It feels right, for me. But on this occasion, I decided to go along, anyway.

The store was where they used to sell XXX movies. I wonder if all the degenerate businesses get together and decide who replaces the other when they go out of business. It was a plywood box, with a door, and window art that looked like Jimmy Hendrix was getting high with the sun shining through his face.

The proprietor had two bellies, three chins and wore overalls. He was bald with 1950s glasses—which made him look like a hick who worked for the CIA.

“Give me your snap-dragon green,” my friend’s sister’s boyfriend said.

The owner shuffled over to the pot, and put it in some tin-foil. Anything else?” He asked.

“Naw.”

I was looking around. There were Native American peace pipes. Pipes belonging to the likes of Sherlock Holmes. And the intellectual pipe, smoked by PhDs in the math department. The old man noticed that I was interested.

“You don’t smoke, do you?” He asked.

“No.”

“Good for you. How do you know the pothead?”

“He’s my friend’s sister’s boyfriend.”

“That’s a mouthful. Would you like to see something I keep reserved only for special customers?”

I hesitated. The likelihood that he would show me heroine was pretty high—and I wasn’t interested.

“Okay—but I don’t do drugs.”

He laughed, in a high-pitched squeaky voice that sounded like a rat. “Follow me upstairs, and I’ll show you the ultimate high. In the loft was his bedroom, and on the adjoining wall were glass jars.

“Those contain feelings,” he said.

“What kind of feelings?” I asked.

“The easiest and the most profitable is the sexual high. Then, more complicated feelings arise—like love, or anger.”

“People pay to feel angry?”

“You would be surprised how many repressed individuals exist in society. They can’t feel things on their own—they need drugs.”

“But how do you collect feelings?”

“I use this machine. It’s kinda like a breathalyzer, and works a bit like a bong.”

“Oh.”

“To retrieve the feeling, you breath in. And to store the feeling, you breath out. Mostly, I save my feelings for myself. I don’t like to feel, what other people feel, but people pay me for my own feelings.”

“What’s that feeling in the corner,” I asked. “It has a pink color.”

“That’s luck. I bottled it five years ago, when I bet 100,000 dollars that Trump would win the election. I’m waiting for the next election to take it.”

To think the fate of our superpower was determined by a weed distributor made me loopy.

“You’re looking a bit green. Can I interest you in a feeling?”

“No. I’ve seen enough. My belief in a grand plan has been crushed.”

The walls started shaking. “It’s an earthquake! Get downstairs before you become overwhelmed by my feelings!” He didn’t have to tell me twice, and when I was running downstairs, the bottle of luck broke, and I absorbed his feeling. I heard screaming behind me—it sounded like a man engaged with road rage and rape. I ran even faster. My luck would save me. I bought a Mega Millions ticket downstairs in the vending machine. I messaged a girl on Facebook. I went to the golf course and broke the record. The positive feelings of luck were bubbling inside of me. I looked at the breathalyzer and bong on my seat. I breathed out and put the feeling, safely away in a glass jar.

“I’ll save you for later,” I said. “Luck trumps fate—and the democratic party.”

Bookstore Evangelist and the Next BIG Answer

There have been 3 shootings in 6 months

where I like to buy my books

and I’ve been hassled each time I look through the titles

“Look, it’s the new look,” a black guy said about me to his friend.

I don’t know what section he’s been reading in…

I freely admit, my polo shirt contrasts with his gold chains

and I go with my mother—the way I always have.

“Hello, young man,” my mother says to a black teenager

“Hello, grandma.”

Now, I am a man, and my mother has graduated to grandma status

She is my favorite compatriot

I wouldn’t trade her

for any of the beautiful women at the mall.

We go to the next store, and she makes a wrong turn

“No! You were supposed to go the other way!” I say, hysterically.

She laughs.

We go to the sporting goods store, and the woman on the floor wants to help me

“She liked you,” my mother said.

“I know. Right now, I’m magnetic.”

At the next bookstore, I pull Indian Philosophy off the shelf

“You have an open mind,” my mother said.

“I know.”

“It’s too open!”

“Mom, you know that I do what I want to do.”

I know—and you keep reading strange books.”

It’s my incurable curiosity.”

I spend time pursuing philosophy, and a young man walks up to me

“Have you discovered any answers?” He asked.

Young people have been approaching me, lately—apparently, I look like someone who has found something

“Yes—the more godlike you become—the more power you will have.”

“I’ve read the Tao.”

That’s a good book—it’s about living in the natural rhythms. Knowledge must be applied, for it to become wisdom.”

“I like the teachings of Jesus, but I don’t have any faith,” the young man said.

“That’s because you haven’t put the teachings into practice. Would you like to attend a bible study?”

“Yes,” he said.

I gave him directions and went back to find my mother.

“Did you get anything good?” She asked.

“Another convert.”

“That’s five this week?”

“And the one at the gym.”

“God is using you.”

“I hope so, but it might be my own ego.”

“You are bearing good fruit—that means you are on the path.”

“Thanks mom.”

Time is moving fast now, and my desire to make milestones, has gone.

The ones we love, won’t be with us, forever.

And spending time with family is more important than the next big answer.

Stones, are seldom thrown, very far.

Piano keys trembling,

with high notes of morning

flexing and flying

fingers

like butterflies

landing

full of vigor

where routines run wild

in carefully measured boxes

as the composer

comes closer

to inspiration.

His breath is like the ocean breeze

whispering

to boring rocks

Do I obliterate myself?

old times, belong in the past

I don’t recognize myself.

I’m searching for something

I cannot find

in an all too familiar city

I’ve plundered my insides

because the wealth has long-since been looted

amongst neighborhoods and streetlights

even the cats are fat

but they don’t feel full

the world is not here

it exists somewhere, out there

I wish I could find it, amongst family, friends, and loved ones

amongst the song inside myself

but the truth is hidden behind curtains of fear

and the stage is set behind the unknown

It takes courage

to pull the veil

on ugliness

and beauty

It takes courage to explore

deep in the dark

and leap

where the song won’t be able to repeat

If the artist does not leave the page

he will retrace the lines on a worn face

that does not smile or frown

Stones, are seldom thrown, very far.

Living in a Dream World

the park by the lake has been touched by Merlin

or so it seems

green and red lamps

the city of lights across the water,

like twinkling stars, pulsars, red giants, and a whole galaxy of twilight ages

the fog between the trees is a mystery

in the cold darkness, in the frosty forest

where people spend their evening, like tomorrow’s bill won’t come due

I walk and talk with my friend

who is recovering from a sickness

and getting outside for the first time, since he felt well.

“This job at Google might come through,” he said. “Look at us. We were so young.”

He shows me a picture from five years ago. “What do you want, next?” He asked.

“You’re gonna laugh,” I said.

“No, I won’t.”

“I want my imagination to become real.

I want to be a magician.

I want to have power that isn’t tedious or political–

a force of nature that comes out of me.”

“You spend too much time thinking,” he said.

“Maybe—but what if we could exert our will on the world, and the world would respond,

rather than just hoping for the best, and taking the best thing that comes along.”

“You’re living in a dream world, man.”

“Maybe,” I said.