A Young Poem and a Fading Flower

The girl looked at him—there was something

definitely wrong with him. It wasn’t the nervous chatter, she was used to

and he didn’t try to impress her. He ordered from the menu, without reading it—

He was bored, or

trapped—that’s what it was—he was trapped like a rat, but he wasn’t scared.

He wasn’t mean to her either…

Afterall, she was a little girl, and he was a full-grown man.

And there was an understanding between them.

“Do you like Mexican food?” He asked.

“Yeah,” she said.

The waiter came by, and he ordered. “Carne, Fajitas, Por Favor.”

“Do you speak Spanish?” She asked him.

“No.”

He had a hurt look in his face, but he was tough. He was the kind of man who would endure, she thought.

“You said you were studying impressionist painting?” He asked.

It was a dangerous conversation starter, because it put her on the spot. She might have to admit, she didn’t know much about painting, even though it was her major.

“Yes, I like Monet and Degas.”

“What about post-impressionism? Seurat or Matisse?”

“Not so much. I prefer traditional brush strokes, to dots on canvas.”

Their food came sizzling hot. The steak was rich, and the plate of rice and beans smelled delicious.

“Do you enjoy your work?” She asked him. It was a dangerous question.

“Flower arranging is getting old. I chose a beautiful profession, but now they are only plants.”

“What will you do?”

“Hopefully, my poetry takes off,” he said with a sigh.

“Isn’t that impractical?”

“Yes.”

They finished their meal in silence. Afterward, he paid. She didn’t know what to think of him. He was nearing middle age, and bored of flowers.

When they walked out, a woman in her early 40s recognized him. She was holding onto her beauty, like a flower does, before it wilts. The woman wore a cocktail dress and was fumbling in her purse for something.

“Would you sign this?” She asked. It was a chapbook.

He signed and smiled at her.

“Is this your daughter?”

“My date.”

“I guess, when you are a famous poet, the rules don’t apply,” she said. “If you get tired of sweet young things, here’s my number.”

“I’m on a date. Sorry.”

The woman crumpled up her napkin with her number on it, like it was her last chance.

Chapter 6 “You Have Your Hands on My Girl!”

Brad was good-looking.

“What kind of guns do you like?” He asked Tanya.

“Big ones,” she giggled.

Gregson looked at her. She was hypnotizing Brad with her hips.

Tanya walked the way women do when they want a man’s attention.

The range was full of men, who were tired of paper targets.

“I’ll buy you a beer,” Brad said.

“Make it two—it’s on me.”

Gregson was left alone. “What will it be, handsome?” He looked-up, hopefully.

She had one tooth, grinning at him.

“High alcohol content.”

“That’ll be moonshine. You better act quickly, before your lady-friend gets with Brad.”

“She’s just my secretary.”

“Just your secretary!? What are you, a eunuch?”

Gregson ignored her, and looked at the hunters. They were hicks. Nobody stood out. The owner was sophisticated, but these guys looked like they bathed in beer, and never clipped their toenails. It had to be an outsider. The victims were hunted during the full moon. It could be ritualistic, or a red herring, to throw him off the scent. More than likely though, it was for reasons of visibility, Gregson thought.

Tanya was giving Brad every excuse. Their conversation moved beyond words. He had his hand on her hip, like he was fielding a deer, before he dressed it—in this case, he was preparing to undress it.

Tanya was looking at Gregson through the corners of her eyes, blinking, in Morse Code. It was the signal, for help.

“Excuse me, sir! But you have your hands on my girl,” Gregson said.

“Your girl!? What’s a fat man like you going to do about it?”

Momentum at Mach 10

the road stretches before me

I can see the mountains in the distance

I’m still in the desert, but I know where I am

Before, I was trapped in by-ways

between hills

that rolled and thundered and killed

there were so many twisting roads and dead ends

People come to an end and die

They don’t believe in the open road

the big sky

I’m here now. I’ve been driving for

what seems like

forever

following somebody else’s advice

and then, throwing it out!

Now,

it’s dead reckoning

just my guts

connected to the earth

like dust

blowing in a whirlwind.

I’m opening it up

the road is like a runway

I can hear my engine burning

Exhaust, without being exhausted

I have wings

I’m an angel

a bird

a rocket

a high-speed plane.

Nobody can tell me what I am

if I Go

if I don’t slow

down

like a bullet

finding its mark.

I’ve been lost, finding my winding way to nowhere

Now,

I’m found.

I said,

“I’m just going to do what feels right.”

I’m in flight,

like a fighter plane

preparing to drop a bomb

Breaking Right

Looking at Lois Lane, on the ground

We can’t be together

I’ve spent

too much time

going in circles

Now, it’s a straight line

between points A and B.

Armageddon, Today

They say, “We are on Def-Con 5. Make ready—leave no one alive!”

I’m resting in my bed, enjoying the air show

A C-5, just flew overhead.

I go to my truck, where I have an internet connection

and upload a poem. It feels good. I listen to a guru

tell me, how to be successful, while I watch two girls

in tank-tops and short shorts

take-off their clothes.

They’re going swimming, in the pool, nearby

I watch them, pretending not to watch them

Sitting in my car, I feel like a deviant.

Then I walk

back up the steps, to the third floor, and read more poetry.

I discovered, long ago, that the right inspiration

triggers, the right action, like a red button, and the launch codes.

The itch to play the piano is strong

it feels like I have Poison Ivy, all over my body

and I scratch.

The key to success, is not to care

but this does not mean, I don’t have passion.

It’s the opposite meaning—

so much passion, I might live in poverty

and think, I am the wealthiest man in the world.

No outcomes required

just

obsession

the musical drug of choice.

If a man is worried about filling-up his lonely hours

he doesn’t have enough pain—that hurt that he must endure

Bits of life, captured, like butterflies

When I was a boy, I trapped grasshoppers—

not for fishing, but for the love of the hunt.

A man knows instinctually, what will make him happy

but his mind gets in the way—

all those cons, that have him locked-up

and the pros, only do it for money.

Trust me, if you were meant to do something

you will know

It will eat you in your sleep

It will bother you during the day

It might be, Armageddon

and all you can do

is play the piano

a few

sweet notes

a lullaby

before the nations cry

consumed with fire.

Human Nature Stays the Same

I learned in college

how to read a syllabus

really well

and I knew it wasn’t going to be useful.

I was becoming an educated bum.

Still,

I had this nostalgic feeling

like I was waiting for my life to start

and I look back

on that time

noting the kids

I went to high school with

who dropped-out

one by one.

I never quit—I can outlast, anyone

no matter how stupid it is.

Community College was the slow lane

without much future

but I

didn’t have anything better to do.

I enjoyed the professors—

the professional bullshit artists

who talked endlessly about art and history and weather and business and psychology

as if

it was everything.

I even got to like some of my teachers

It was a miracle, they liked me.

My last three years

completing the Ph.D.

were hell

but I was tough as hell.

I needed to endure the fire

to test myself

to prove my conditioning.

10 years of higher education, later

and I learned what I am—

mostly, what I’m not.

Now, I’m an educated man

Before, I was an ignorant boy

They say, you can learn a lot about people

when you travel

but that’s only because

people pay attention

Human Nature Stays the Same.

Songs of Faith

I keep looking for my destiny

under trash can lids

in bibles

on the freeway

in the faces of people, I know

and the saddest thing is

none of them have a destiny

because they believe in nothing.

They were put together

by chance,

but that doesn’t mean,

I don’t have a destiny.

People drive fast to get to their destinations on time

but they arrive at nowhere.

I have always been in the slow lane, in a second-hand heap

that gets good gas mileage. I have been thinking for many years…

what’s obvious, is odious.

Drivers competing in traffic for a better spot

while I cruise at 5-under the speed limit

knowing

there is no hurry before death.

I understand why

people want to be able to do

what they want to be able to do

—it’s just a repeated expression,

until the end.

Let’s say you have everything:

a southern style house,

a Steinway piano,

a super car—

it doesn’t matter, if you can’t play Wagner, like the demons from hell.

Submission to the world is a fool’s errand—so I find myself reading my bible

and it says I have idols.

I believe the bible. I also believe that living a quiet life, while satisfying to some, is worse than solitary confinement.

It’s being sealed, inside your own head, like a can of tuna.

I want to go bad.

People have resisted

my attempts

to open my own can.

It isn’t about having it all—wisdom is chasing after the wind.

Have you ever been a kite, soaring above the clouds?

I sat is a board meeting, a few years ago, and suddenly

I felt superior, over the whole thing, like

this isn’t my life, only a brief intermission

in the urine-soaked seats, before the explosion of popcorn

and the adventure on the silver screen.

My friend tells me, my writing is getting pretty bad

His dad tells me, I should shut-down my blog

“What will women think?” He asked. “Don’t you want to go out on a date?”

This is a blow, below the belt, but I can’t live without words

“My blog is an expression of who I am.”

“Then, you really have problems,” he said.

How a man gets from point A to point B, says a lot about him

And what he says to others, says even more about him.

It’s funny, the echoes of my co-workers resound in my head

like dead tuna, I missed with my toothbrush

“You’re replaceable. You’re not a very interesting person. You should buy a motorcycle, rather than driving that heap of a truck.”

I go to the supermarket, and stand in line

and when I try to buy cherries, the lady tells me, “They’re 5.99.”

“Oh—I thought they were 1.99.”

“Only with the digital coupon.”

I could tell she wasn’t going to help me.

“I guess, I don’t want them,” I said.

“I’ll do it for you, just this once, but it’s the last time.” She swiped her card and gave me the deal.

“Thanks,” I said. She ignored me.

People have moved on, while I have stayed the same.

Dreams die slowly—seldom overnight. They keep us alive, until they don’t. They are like dead disappointments.

I water them, but they die, anyway.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked—he is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields fruit in season. The wicked are like the chaff that the wind blows away.” Paraphrased Psalms.

I believe

feelings break-out of the soil

like prickly plants

in a desert, where faith is tested

with no clouds in sight.

I want to be the rain, hitting piano keys

in the discarded dump

making

my own music—

to be that worthless piano

that somebody trashed

while the neighborhood beyond

hears the songs

of faith.

The Hypnotist

When he went to a party, he always had some excuse, why he couldn’t talk to the prettiest girl

He was the most frustrated man

that I knew.

I decided to stage an intervention for my friend

I borrowed a hypnotist, for 100 dollars an hour

“That’s twice my going-rate,” he said.

“Well, this guy, needs real help. How good are you?”

“I got my grandmother to lose weight, and she’s been fat for 35 years.”

“What about a guy who can’t get laid, can’t get paid, is a slave, and believes he is free?”

“I could give him a gun, I guess?”

“No—that’s out of the question. It’s too much power, in the hands of a fool. He might not blow his brains out—he might shoot up a school.”

“Hypnotism doesn’t work that way. You can’t force someone to do, what they wouldn’t do, if they were fully conscious.”

“But you can bypass limiting beliefs. Am I Right?”

“Right.”

“And what if his anger is activated, like an atomic bomb?”

“The trick is to use his anger, like rocket fuel, to propel him to a new atmosphere.”

“I see. What’s your strategy?”

“Teach him how to use his will. Baby steps to success, until his identity is fully grown.”

The hypnotist walked into the party, dangling a clock in front of my friend.

His eyes went blank in a hurry. His body contorted, like a man possessed with ambition.

“The brain fails, when the programming short-circuits,” the hypnotist said. “I just gave him a new program.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“Billy Graham. Faith can move mountains. People who think too much, doubt themselves.”

“Is that what they mean when they say, “Don’t over-think it?”

“Yes. The problem with the world is, smart people doubt themselves

while fools have unwavering belief in their abilities.”

I Become a Merman

Now that I had a Mermaid resting on my chest, as we took-in the warmth of the morning sun, I considered my golf game. What was wrong with it? Nothing seemed wrong, as I lay next to her.

Her legs were longer than mine.

Her smile—innocent.

Winning, wasn’t necessary, anymore, now that I had, what I always wanted—a woman who would love me.

Neb was hopping down the concrete steps of the cliff, two at a time, with two beach towels, in each hand. He was grinning from ear to ear, exposing his yellow teeth.

“One for Master Andrew, and for his lady.”

She stood-up in the nude, but she wasn’t naked. She was like a fish, walking.

I stood-up, and all I wanted to do was swim into the ocean.

“Don’t even think about it,” Neb said. “If you go into the water, you will become a merman and your wife will want to join you, but she will drown.”

The pull to swim into the deep was stronger than being homesick, but I resisted.

Let me drive you into town,” Neb said. “I’ll call the ferry man.”

In two hours, we left the island behind.

Neb had no fashion sense, so I didn’t understand where his confidence came from. We went to Bloomingdale’s, Dior, Victoria’s Secret. I looked at the women on the walls with disdain—they looked like slaves in print—girls who worked for fame.

“What’s your name?” I asked the mermaid.

“You name her,” Neb corrected.

The men in the mall were staring at me and her. I could almost read their thoughts, like ticker-tape. How did a guy like him, get with a girl like her?

“I’ll call her Mandy,” I said.

“Mandy is a nice name for a mermaid,” Neb agreed.

She smiled and went into the changing room. When she came out, she was wearing a blouse and a skirt.

“Honey, when you’re in public, you need to button the top three buttons,” Neb said.

“Oh—” Mandy gasped, and she quickly did.

“What about practicing?” I asked.

“No need,” Neb said. “Your life was totally out-of-balance. Hence, your golf game went to hell. We just added a mermaid, to stabilize your ambition. Now, nothing can stop you.”

Later that week, I walked onto the green, with my mermaid watching. Tournament flags and gallery were waiting for me to blow-up, like I did before, but I didn’t need to win, anymore. I had more love for the game, more joy, in my heart. I found myself in trouble, only once, in an impossible lie, but that was solved, with my lucky 7-iron, glowing in my bag—compliments, of an undead golfer. My ball went so high, I thought it would never come back to earth. When it did, it was two feet from the pin, and I won.

I was a new man—a merman, with a beautiful wife.

And we lived happily ever after.

The End

Waking Up

I was on vacation, at the beach

it was midnight, and I was standing in the center of a road

headlights were staring at me

and I told everyone, I couldn’t stay—

I had lots of assignments to do.

I was taking 5 classes at university

and Finals were in two days.

I was ignoring my responsibilities,

and I had to learn the material in 48 hours,

or fail.

Then,

I woke up.

I felt awful,

despite getting 10 hours of sleep.

Waking up,

is a metaphor for rebirth. If you live in a new place, with new sounds

and new smells, it’s like a whole new life.

Where you live, is important.

Changing your life, is important.

It’s not healthy to stay in the same place for several years,

and keep waking up to the same

Routines, make you unable to appreciate the little details,

the ocean is different than a busy street

I’ve been living in the same place for two years, and my life hasn’t changed.

Waking up to bars, each morning

Waking up to morning, when your life has gotten old

Waking up to failure

or

to dreams

to the life, you have always wanted

being somebody, who has written from his heart

and created

the most unusual

work of art.

Waking up

is no different

than going to sleep.

The Whole Town Knows

I like to be by myself.

For some people, that’s a crime—to be a loner… (I’ve owned that word, since I was in middle school)

or they feel guilty,

when they do things alone.

For me, it’s a pleasure.

I don’t care—

and the less I care about things, the better I feel.

I got a membership at a golf course, thinking… I’ll play golf a lot.

My thoughts didn’t travel, beyond that.

I started playing, with one person at a time

thinking,

I can write about this,

but what I didn’t know

was they were thinking about me.

Maple Valley is a small town. Like the unknown, you don’t know its borders

until you go there and back again, several times

and you get to know people in neighborhoods,

and they get to know you

and you can’t go to the grocery store, without being recognized.

Being a teacher for 30 years is the worst, because your students populate the town

and rumors fly, like Canadian Geese with poor bowel control

dropping their shit, as you look up with your mouth open

in awe of nature.

I don’t like to be known. I prefer my own company.

I have hidden well.

However, I began writing a blog 4 years ago

and I told two people

and now the whole town knows.

I write about myself, but it’s not me.

I was playing golf alone, yesterday,

same as I always do, reading Bukowski.

It was a slow, cool, day.

Nothing was happening. I got bored.

I thought about going home and eating,

watching a good movie,

spending time by myself, but I kept playing

and pretty soon it happened (what always happens).

A guy in a power cart zoooomed up.

“You want some company?” He asked.

“Sure,” I said.

I played golf with him a few weeks ago, but I momentarily forgot his name.

“My name’s Ken, in case you forgot,” he said.

“My name’s Andy.” I go by Andy and Andrew—this way, maybe I’ll confuse them. I thought about using aliases,

but if I get into a group, with two different golfers who have played with me

and they start calling me two different names

like, “Hey, Jeff” or “Hey, Adam”

I’ll be in serious trouble

and the talk in the town will never die

it will fly

like sparrows

who have just eaten fresh cherries off the tree.

We got to the green, after playing two balls, apiece, and this lady

was standing outside of her house

She was watching us.

Her black fluffy dog was staring at Ken with love in its eyes.

Ken came over. He’s 78, with Alzheimer’s.

He’s the guy, who has had his life together since he was 16. He was the quarterback of the football team. He married a cheerleader. He’s a Christian. He dresses in perfect polo shirts. His hair is white and carefully trimmed. He has never said anything out of place. He is patient and kind.

“My dog likes you,” the lady said.

“She’s smiling.”

“Yes—she is. I just had brain tissue taken-out, yesterday. I’ve seen 16 psychiatrists this year. It all started when I got attacked.”

I looked at her. She looked familiar.

“I see you playing golf out here, every day,” she told me.

This is the second neighbor who admitted, they were watching me.

“Do you work in the district?” She asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“What do you do?”

“I’m a psychologist.”

“Oh—that’s how I know you. I was a sub para, when I got attacked 5 years ago. You know, the district isn’t going to pay for my surgeries. I have a lawyer, but it’s not working. 7 psychiatrists said I was fine. I just had part of my brain removed. Fine? They must be nuts. You were there, when it happened.”

“Oh,” I said. “I think I remember. That was a long time ago.”

“I’m taking dozens of different drugs now,” she said. “I keep trying to stop, but my psychiatrist says I’m not supposed to. Can you believe that? He makes 650,000 dollars a year. It’s not fair. I made 750 dollars a month when I was working as a para.”

Ken was listening. Pretty soon his smile was carved into concrete. I knew she was hurting him, but he was too polite to say anything. He was praying for a golfer to come up behind us, so we could stop listening to her.

She got crazier and crazier. She showed us her hideous scar.

“I don’t even have cookies for you two,” she said.

We waved at her and walked on.

“Now, she’ll talk to you every time you pass her house,” Ken said.

“Yeah.”

The good news was, all the groups in front of us had cleared out. We had the whole course to ourselves.

“If you get a birdie on this hole, you get 25 cents,” Ken said. “If I get a birdie, you owe me 25 cents.”

“Okay.”

This was retirement and old age—thrills for quarters.

I knew I had nothing to worry about—Ken was a hack.

“Hey, you play golf with Frank, don’t you?” I asked.

“I know him, only through golf—he has problems,” Ken said.

Even at 78, Ken was worried about his reputation. He was worried that people would talk, and I knew his fears were justified.

“Say, you’re about 35, aren’t you?” Ken asked.

“How did you know?”

“Somebody said you were 35,” Ken said.

My blood ran cold.

People were talking about me. They were trying to figure-me-out.

There is nothing to know, but if people don’t know that

they want to find out.

Why isn’t he married? Why doesn’t he have kids?

Why isn’t he like us?

He must hate women. Perhaps, he’s gay.

It makes me nauseous, just thinking about it.

It makes me sicker, knowing that people live their whole lives, caring what other people say.

Ken started to talk trash about my golf game, while he played worse and worse.

I played about the same—consistently bad.

“I’m gonna play with the men’s club next Tuesday,” I said.

“Oh yeah—there’s not many young guys who play.”

“Rick told me there are a few guys who are really players. Do you know Rick?”

“Sure—he works security at baseball games, and he plays golf, slower than hell.”

“He told me, that he was in the Navy. He commanded an aircraft carrier.”

“I believe it.”

We finished our last hole.

Neither of us birdied.

Ken shook my hand like I was the President. “Can I give you a ride to your car?” He asked.

“Sure,” I said. I knew he wanted to see what kind of car I had. He wanted to know more about me, so he could spread it all over town, like peanut butter on a jelly sandwich.

I don’t care. People draw their own conclusions, like bad cartoons.

Like I said, “I don’t care.”

I waved at Ken, and smiled.

“Nice Playing with you,” he said.

“Same here.”

I turned up the jazz music in my truck.

“Life can’t get any better,” I said to myself. “Wait—it can. I can’t wait to write this down.”

The End