Almost, Romance

I’m drinking espresso, in my apartment

sending back, all the gifts

fate tries to give me.

“No. I don’t want that job.”

“No. I don’t want that woman.”

They say that God tries to save a Man

in a dozen practical ways

but he’s still waiting on the miracle.

My experience

is that the rotten fruit

is waiting

to be picked-up

off the ground.

The good berries are out of reach

where nobody can get them, glistening in the sun, full of juice.

After a while, we don’t look up, anymore.

That special friend, rarely walks by

That real opportunity, is one in a thousand

I visit a barista

and her forehead is delicate

her smile, smooth.

“Do you want decaf espresso, non-fat milk, and ice?” She asked me, after I ordered.

“I don’t know, but as long as it’s mixed together.”

I enjoyed, looking into her eyes. I admired her head covering.

She was a Muslim, and I thought about changing my religion.

“That girl liked talking to you,” my mother said.

“I know.”

Later, I went to the bookstore, and read a book on Hitler and the Occult.

It said, your Will is like Seduction, working on another person.

Our eyes

were doing things to each other

and then

I broke contact


of religion.

I thought about buying that book, but I didn’t want to open-up a door to demons.

I have enough of my own.

What if I just kept looking into her eyes?

I would drown.

Then, I went to the second-hand store

and they were selling a piano

for 20 dollars.

“We could put it outside?” I asked my mother.

“No. The last piano I got rid of cost me 100 dollars to dump.”

Reality ruins romance, I thought.


Late Shower

intelligent people

are late

slow people (stupid people)

are on-time.

I have always been


but now I’m getting smarter.

As I delay the day

because I have something important to do

I never have doldrums

It’s rude

but I would rather be late, and enter the storm

than wait for the winds to blow.

Starting a movie in the middle

is where the action is.

Maybe, I’m the main character who gets executed

so it makes sense

to appeal my case, and buy more time.

I write in the early mornings

one poem

two poems

I can feel the sweat of yesterday

like a grimy film

that I need to wash-off

three poems

Inspiration is more important than getting clean

This might be true for drug addicts.

I conjure a story out of my sub-conscious

and then I break


The rain on me

is creativity

and then the words really flow.

My story is telling itself

I’m supposed to be at the library

My tee-time is in one hour

Then, I need to meet my friend

and visit my mother

Being late for things

is go go go

Life is never slow

if you are always Late.

Never Look Back!

to put somebody

or some job

in the past, like a memory, you forget

and never revisit

like a red convertible

with the top down, and no rearview mirror

like a land of salt, scorched with fire

and no desire

to look back

The feeling of freedom is palpable

with the wind in your face

and the road

that goes on forever

with the sunrise

to greet you

and the sunset

full of gold.

It takes courage to leave,

and once you pass stop lights and street signs

and get out of town

the world is full of possibilities.

Walking away

is not the same as quitting


quitters, can never leave

they sit down, and stay.


while you’re still ahead

is the best way,

to walk away,

and that

isn’t quitting.

When we let go of our past

we feel lighter than air

We can say “No!”


We can say “Yes!”

and not care.

3 ½ Steps to Write the Great American Novel

1. Write every day. I know it’s cliché, but a writer must have a special kind of narcissism. In the words of John Steinbeck, “A Writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing. And he must hold onto this illusion, even though he knows it’s not true.” This type of megalomania and delusion, considers the world and the people in it as the most important occupation of the mind.

2. Find a writer that you admire. Are they too far above you, or do they reach out to you? I admire Hemingway and Steinbeck, but they are too far above me, too good for me. Hemingway was larger than life, fighting in wars, killing big game, and traveling across the globe. Did he ever have a real job? A 9 to 5? I can’t relate to him. He’s too macho, even though his writing is beautiful. Steinbeck is a talented writer, that puts my prose to shame. He doesn’t reach out to me. He doesn’t comfort me, but I admire him, just the same.

3. Save People. Now, Bukowski…Bukowski, I can relate to. He worked real jobs. He didn’t pedestalize anything. He wrote about the grim realities that most of us face, like paying the rent. What happens when our family abandons us and our neighbors don’t understand us? Now, I can relate to that, and I have plenty of experience dealing with my neighbors. Oh no, did I give something away!? For me, Bukowski is necessary, like the Bible is for a Christian who has any belief in God. Bukowski saved me. Your writing should save somebody else. The more people you save, the more successful you will become.

½. Love it! This is self-explanatory. You must learn to love writing. If you are bored when writing, your readers will get bored. If you hate your subject… well, you guessed it! Writing is telepathy. You must transmit your thoughts onto the page, and then into your readers’ brain.

Salem’s Rest

When I was 12, the little old lady down the street gave me 20 dollars and a root beer to cut weeds in her flowerbed with a pair of sewing scissors. Every 15 minutes, she brought me an ice-cold soda.

“George, used to do that,” Gertrude said. “But he sat too long in front of the TV and got too fat, and eventually had a heart-attack.”

She was old, and her husband was even older, so I didn’t think much of it. He used to ride his Harley Davison around the neighborhood. Then I noticed a finger, sticking-up, out of the topsoil. At first, I thought it was a carrot, but this didn’t make much sense, because it was a flower garden. I uncovered two hands in a fully-dressed suit, and eventually a head.

“Pete—why don’t you come inside for another root beer?” Gertrude asked.

Her orange and yellow cat ran out of the house as fast as it could. I didn’t blame him. Gertrude’s husband was buried in her flower garden. When the police questioned her, she said he died of natural causes—later, the coroner discovered that he did. I guess, she didn’t want to let her husband’s body go to waste. A flower garden is as good as any place, to lay a body to rest.

The reason I’m telling you this, is because it stuck in my mind like a piece of chewing gum, when I got a divorce, and my life was falling apart. All I could think about was Gertrude’s husband buried under 3 inches of topsoil.

When my wife took my kid to Klamath Falls—I decided to chase after her, and be a dad, because that’s what good dads do. I was only able to get a job at Burger King—talk about boring. So, I looked through the wanted adds, and thought, what is a job nobody wants? Nothing stood-out. There just wasn’t a lot of work in Klamath Falls. I flipped through the yellow pages, found a local funeral home, and decided to call on it.

“Salem’s Rest.”

“Is this Mister Salem?”

“The same.”

“Hey, my name’s Pete. My x-wife and kid recently moved here, and I’m looking for a job. Do you have one? Maybe—grounds keeper?”

“You moved here without a plan?”

“I guess.”

“Well, I’m sorry to tell you the bad news. People just aren’t dying much these days. Business is slow.”

I went to the unemployment office, and stood in line, waiting for a fat, mousy-haired man to process my unemployment check.

“Mister Wade—it says here, that you worked in a dentist’s office— building molds?”

“Yes—for teeth.”

“And you want to work in a funeral home?”

“I like peace and quiet. I’m practicing my silicon skills. There might be something I could do with dead bodies… like getting them ready for burial or burning.”

“That’s quite enough—you don’t have to explain it to me.” He looked like he needed a drink. “Okay, here’s your unemployment check. Come back in one week, and if you don’t have a job, I’ll write you another one.”

My heart was set on working with dead bodies, so I kept thinking about Salem’s Rest. I decided to call on it again, just in case someone had died.

“Hello, I’m looking for work…”

“Who is this?”


“Oh—you again. We just had a position open up. We need someone to pick-up dead bodies and transport them to the mortuary. The catch is, you need to pass a test. I don’t offer this position to just anyone.”

“Is it a drug test?”

“No—your stomach needs to be tested. Would you like to come down to the mortuary and watch me prepare a body for burial?”

“Would I!? I’ll be right over!”

“I must warn you—I won’t be able to pay you, unless you pass the test.”

“That’s fine.”

I drove down to the morg and knocked on the door.

It opened.

“You’re the man interested in the job?”


“I’m Mister Salem. Follow me.”

His white coat was smeared with blood and decomposing flesh. The smell of death made me expel my lunch, like a disobedient student, running out of my trachea…

Well, you get the picture. He was a collector of antiques. I saw my face in one of his mirrors, and I looked like death.

“Down, into the basement,” Mister Salem said.

When we got to the bottom, Salem turned on the lights. They were unnatural, and made a humming sound. Sterile. There was a woman lying there, nude, mid-thirties, and well-endowed.

“I shaved her,” Mister Salem said. “She didn’t come that way.”


“Oh—it just gives me something to do in my spare time.”

He was a weird one. Salem looked a bit like a homeless man.

“Do you perform the autopsies?” I asked.

No. The coroner does that. I keep thinking about going to medical school, though. Do you see her breasts?”


“They’ve been used. I would say, she’s had two kids.”

Mister Salem reached a whole new level of sick…

“Watch this,” he said. He slit her open like a fish. Then reached inside, and squeezed her bladder. It went all over the floor.

“You got the job, if you want it.”

Time moves more slowly, in a funeral home. I picked a woman up from the hospital—from one of those filing cabinets in cold storage. I had to turn her body onto her side. Then she gasped for breath, like death was too much for her. It scared me up the walls. The doctor told me later, oxygen left her lungs when I moved her.

Transporting bodies from death to burial became as normal as driving them in a limousine to weddings. Fall turned into winter, and it was cold in Klamath Falls. The back roads were shiny black. I could feel my tires sliding to the left. I turned my steering wheel to the right, but nothing happened. A few seconds later, I was moving in the opposite direction. I corrected, and wound up in a snowbank. When the officer arrived on the scene, I had to explain why I had two dead bodies in the back. It’s strange to carry bodies in a van, until it becomes normal—then, you think about all the serial killers on the highway.

It wasn’t going well with my ex-wife. I only got to see my kid on the weekends, for a couple of hours. We made a snowman together, and I tried to teach him some Christian values. Working in a funeral home, caused me to contemplate eternity. The social worker showed up, and didn’t like that I spoke to my son about God. She had a dough face, and several extra pounds. When I told Charlie that the man is the head of the household, she came unglued.

“Mister Wade—men and women are the same! They’ve been socialized to be different. You are an ignorant man, sir.”

“Lady—a naked man and a naked woman look nothing alike. Just because you’ve been brainwashed, doesn’t mean that I have to buy the bullshit that you paid 100,000 dollars to eat.”

After my little outburst, I lost custody. I went mad—slowly. Salem, was the only human being (if you could call him that) that I talked to. I tried to improve my social skills by reading self-help books, but they said, “You become like the five people you spend the most time around.”—and I was around dead people.

As my experience in the morg grew—my sanity declined. Perhaps, losing my mind, made me better at my job. I scraped out the incinerator with a wire broom. It had a hook on the end, so that I could pull the roasted skeleton out. If I brushed the black bones, they popped and cracked. There was usually a rib-cage, a femur, and a skull. This one time, there was no skull. I found that the flames severed the head. It had rolled back behind the incinerator, partially cooked. Those red eyes, were staring at me. They had seen the flames.

I slid the remains into the bone crusher, and they were ground into grape nuts. It cost families 10 dollars to get the ashes of their loved ones back, in a plastic container. I was only making 5.50 an hour, but Salem let me sleep above his garage, so I could afford living costs.

In February, I got a call on the radio. There was an accident. They wanted me to scrape the remains off the road. I got my wide-shovel, and put it into Salem’s truck. When I got there, the trooper didn’t look so good. I could smell blood, like copper, smeared on the highway.

“Best, I can figure it—she wanted to save time, and tried to pass on the left. It wasn’t a regular semi, but one with double cargo. When she tried, an incoming truck vaporized her mustang. I found her arm on the side of the road, and her son’s body, wrapped around the wheels of the rig she tried to pass. Damn shame—that kid was young—maybe 12 years old—the same age as my boy.”

I got a sick feeling in my stomach. Psychics call it a gut reaction. When I walked around the truck, there was my son, wrapped around the axil.

I didn’t cry, until both bodies were shoveled off the road. I drove home, not knowing what to do. I didn’t have anybody to talk to, and I didn’t care too much to talk to Salem. When I got to the mortuary, I had a cigarette. It usually calmed me down, but not this time. Salem walked out of the garage.

“Been lookin’ all over for you.”

“You found me.”

He didn’t notice anything was wrong. Working around dead bodies will do that.

“I told you to stop smoking those things. Don’t you remember the heart I showed you?”


“And the artery?”

“Salem, I just scraped my son and ex-wife off the highway. Will you give me some peace?”

“Oh—I’m sorry to hear that. I guess, that’s 50% bad.”


“You lost your kid, but you also got rid-of your ex-wife.”

“She was the mother of my child.”

“And a life-sucking bitch, am I right?”

“Salem, why don’t you go talk to your dead friends?”

“Okay—I’ll give you some peace, but if you want to raise them from the dead, give me a holler.”


“Sure. The catch is, they both have to be brought back to life. The souls of people who die together, get intertwined.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“That grave, in the left field, that’s always dug up—there’s a reason for that,” Salem said. “Anything we put down that hole comes back to life. I can’t keep it filled, because the bodies keep crawling out. I just gave up. I even put in a step ladder, so it’s easier for them to climb out.”

“Who have you been raising from the dead?”

“Pets—mostly. It’s funny, friends and loved ones believe a person has lived enough years, but they want to keep their animals alive forever. The problem is, I suspect those people I resurrect will never die. After someone is dead, and has traveled to the other side, they don’t quite come back. There’s always a far-off look in their eyes, like they are longing for the heaven or hell they’ve been to.”

“How many people have come back to life since you’ve been working here?”


“Salem—that’s no small number. How have you been able to do that?”

“I’ll let you in on a little secret. I was brought back to life in 1864. I died in the Civil War—took a lead ball to my heart. The undertaker who raised me, had to do some physical therapy with my body for about 6 months. Rigor mortis hardened my muscles and locked my joints into place. I do the same therapy for those bodies I resurrect. They come out of that hole like zombies, and stinking worse.”

“Can you raise my ex-wife and son from the dead?”

“I can, but they’ll out-live you. I know a lot of guys who pray for their ex-wives to die. You’ll never get off the hook for child support.”

“My son will grow up, won’t he?”

“No. He’ll remain 12-years-old for the rest of his life. It’s not all bad, though—think, Peter Pan.”

I wanted my son back, but what kind of life could he have? “Salem—do you mind if I think about it?”

“Sure—but don’t take too long. There’s about a 7-day window. Anything past that, and well—it gets ugly.”

“What do you mean?”

“A soul transitioning, is one thing, but once they’ve taken up residence—they don’t want to come back. I resurrected a miner, once—10 days after he died. When he came back, the guy spent two years stabbing strangers with his pick-ax, before he committed suicide.”

“Is that even possible? I thought you said they couldn’t die?”

“He tried jumping off a cliff—and after he shattered every bone in his body, he set fire to himself. Fire is the natural element to release a soul into heaven or hell. That’s why they used it in the inquisition, and during witch burnings.”

I lit another cigarette, and thought hard. “Give me some more time,” I said.

“Okay—I’ll give you 48 hours. If you don’t make a decision by then, they’re going into the ground.”

“Thanks Salem.”

“Don’t mention it—and stop smoking!”

“I’ll quit tomorrow.”

I took a day off and thought about it. I smoked three packs of cigarettes, and the Jack Daniels didn’t help me either. After 24 hours, I felt like a couldn’t play God. Some decisions aren’t meant for men.

“Salem, you can bury my family.”

“Okay—will do.”

Then I realized I had to clarify. “Salem—in a regular grave.”

“Oh—that was a close one.”

Fresh dirt was mounded over the bodies of my ex-wife and child. The next day, I went about my duties, in the same way, as I had before. I had nobody—and I couldn’t decide if it was worse to have an ex-wife as an enemy, or no ex-wife at all. The rains came—and I was lonely, in my apartment over the garage. Salem didn’t seem to have human emotions—perhaps, that’s because he died over 100 years ago.

My loneliness overwhelmed me—so, one rainy night, I decided to exhume my ex-wife and child, and bury them in the left field. Left field is where they put the worst baseball players. It’s where my coach always put me. I don’t know why I thought about that, as I reburied my family.

I was within the 7 days, so I thought all would be well, and in the early morning twilight, I watched them climbing out of the hole. I hosed them off and brought them fresh clothes. They couldn’t talk, but I didn’t worry about that. I bed them down, by the incinerator, where it was warm, and locked my bedroom door. After I had fallen asleep, I woke to knocking.

“Salem?” I asked the dark.

I opened it, and there was my ex-wife, naked, and wanting me. I tried not to think about her being dead. Since we were divorced, we had done it, but not since she was dead.

“Can you get stiff?” She asked.

“I’ve never had sex with a corpse before.”

“Well, there’s a first for everything.” Her body was warm, but not a regular temperature. It made me feel like I was outside my body, kinda like when you swim in a pool at body temperature. Pretty soon we were one flesh, and it was a one-of-a-kind experience, that lasted forever.

“How was it?” She asked.


We went about the next month, doing physical therapy, and trying to make life as normal as possible. My son had difficulty dealing with the trauma of being buried, and born again. I tried to reassure him. “Everything will be fine, son” But it wasn’t working.

My ex-wife started having morning sickness. Then she told me, “I’m pregnant.”

I told Salem.

“You had sex with your dead ex-wife?” He asked.

“I’m afraid so.”

“Man, you’re sick—and you said, ‘she’s pregnant?'”

“Yes. Has that ever happened before?”

“No. And it’s not supposed to. You may have just fathered the anti-Christ—neither living, nor dead.”

“Well—what do we do about it?”

“You’re going to have to abort.”

“But I’m a Christian, and I don’t believe in abortion.”

“You just had sex with a corpse. I don’t think this is the time to take the moral high-ground.”

He did have a point.

“Look—” Salem said. “Your son isn’t happy being brought back to life, and from what you tell me, your ex-wife was never happy.”


“Well—when they are sleeping, douse them with gasoline and fire. It’s the only way to release their spirits to the other-world, after they’ve been brought back to life.”

I did as I was told. Strangely, it was a relief to watch their bodies burning. Both of their eyes were open, while it was happening, but they didn’t get out of bed to protest. I knew I was doing the right thing.

“Is that your final story?” The psychiatrist asked me.

I noticed my arms were tied together. Funny, how a story transports you to a different place. I hardly even realized that I was talking to anybody, but myself.

“That’s my only story,” I said. “It’s the truth.”

“You won’t be tried in a regular court. You’re insane. Happy Acres will be your final resting place.”

I looked at the white room, as if for the first time, and my psychiatrist dressed in white. I was wearing a strait jacket. Everything was so sterile, just like my first day in the mortuary at Salem’s Rest.

The End

*Dedicated to Pete Wade, the night custodian, who told me some strange stories about working in a mortuary in Klamath Falls, Oregon*

Aphorisms on Telling Bad Jokes in Polite Society


There is a literary alchemy in reading—

a writer refines their thoughts

by listening to whit and whim

and becomes neither a plagiarist

nor an original.


There is nothing more original

than reading seven great minds

at the same time—

they argue and converse

in my own mind.


Being entertaining is an artform

People only pretend to listen to each other

They are obsessed with their own art

or lack of it.


Being offensive comes naturally to me

and like most people,

I have spent years trying to be inoffensive—

this is what we call manners

in polite society.


People are under too much pressure to please others

and God forbid, they do something that causes displeasure.

We don’t get pleasure from careful words

We love a double-edged sword

that cuts to the core, and makes us feel pleasure and pain

at the same time.

Ordinary emotions are too dull, so

we prefer to club each other to death, instead.


There is never any propaganda for peace.


is what people need,

and love,

and fight for.


World peace will be the end of civilization.

Nothing advances a society more

than war.


Atomic Energy

and Spy Technology

are a few examples.

We have an instinctual inventiveness to kill each other in creative ways.

the freedom that blinks, “goodbye!”

there are rivers that flood my mind

like taps

I can turn on

and off

and the worst, is when the kid


got his thing blown off

and the worst, is when Hemingway put a shotgun in his mouth, instead of a Cuban cigar

and the worst, is being somewhere you don’t want to be

and doing something you don’t want to do

and the worst, is being married to somebody crazy

and wondering

if you’re crazy too

and the best, is when the day shows up

and winks goodbye

and you can sleep easy,

and not worry about why

I walk down hallways full of people


they’re all going to die.

Will I go first,

or will I live for 100 years?


want careers

I just want the sunrise

and the sunset

and the freedom

that blinks


The Beautiful Woman Who Dated the Ugly Men

The guys she dated didn’t look good. I mean, their gums had receded. They were going bald, like bowling balls. They had pockmarks on their faces, yellow teeth, bent backbones, arthritic hands. What did she see in their gene pool?

I saw the monster from the blue lagoon.

Surely, she had options?

But I started to wonder, what was wrong with her?

Visibly, she was perfect. She had a good blend of athletic sex appeal and librarian know-how.

What I mean by that is, she wore adidas stretch pants, that complemented her behind, but rather than going sporty up-above, she wore woolen sweaters with flowers artistically arranged on them.

She smiled at me. Her teeth were white, and they were strait too—not from wearing braces, which always gives the munchers a robotic look, but from perfect genetics.

It’s not fair that women have value because they are born that way, but I didn’t mind.

I met her in the pro shop.

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi, yourself,” she smiled.

“What’s your name?” I asked.


“That’s a nice name. Would you like to go golfing with me?”

“Sure,” she said. And she could play too. She was even par, while I kept getting bogies.

It was more embarrassing, than if I had been picking my nose in public.

We had to wait for the group in front of us, so we sat down on the bench together.

I felt her hand in mine. It was gentle, like a teacup, soft, like cashmere. She got closer. I could smell her lavender. Then she kissed me with her full lips. I tasted her saliva and felt strong.

The green cleared, and I hit my ball within an inch of the hole.

“How did I do that!?” I asked.

“You’re just talented,” she laughed. She knocked her ball on, and we finished our 9 holes together.

“See ya tomorrow.”

“Alright,” I said.

It was no secret that I played golf after work.

In the morning, I looked at myself in the mirror. My eyes were sunken-in, a bit, and my skin was pulled tight.

I checked my weight on the scale.

“I lost five pounds!? But I ate pizza last night.”

At work, all of my paperwork was perfect. There was not a period out-of-place.

“I’m going to recommend you for an award,” my boss said.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s the No Screwups Award. We hand it out to government employees who don’t make a single mistake on their paperwork.”

“Boy, I feel special,” I said.

“I don’t identify as a boy.”

“Sorry. It was just a figure of speech.”

“Words are violent,” she said. “My preferred pronoun is Alien.”

She was from a different planet, I thought. Her eyes were magnified 5Xs behind her thick glasses with pink frames. When her hair was dyed, it hurt my eyes to look at her.

I couldn’t wait to get back to the golf course, but I didn’t see Adria there, so I had to play golf alone.

It was getting dark, when I saw it. The Number 6 green opened up, like a portal, and a flying saucer came out. I glanced down at the protein bar I was eating. It was from the health food store.

“My god,” I whispered. “Aliens are real.”

On hole 7, I found a dead golfer. He was practically a skeleton. I didn’t recognize him, but then I noticed his shirt.

“He’s one of the guys Adria dates.”

I called 911, because I didn’t know the number for the morgue.

“Yes, I found a dead body on the golf course. There’s not much left of him.”

“Was it an animal attack?”

“No—it’s like he’s been drained.”

The next day, Adria was working behind the counter at the pro shop. She looked better than ever. Her blond hair was sparkling in the sun.

“Would you like to go for drinks tonight?” I asked.

“Would I!? She said.

At the restaurant, the waiter came by.

Adria was wearing a red dress that perfectly showed-off her tanned chest. There was one suggestive freckle there, as if God put it there.

“Would you like some wine?” The waiter asked.

“Yes,” Adria said through her sharp teeth. He poured, what looked like blood, into her tall wine glass. She drank it down, in one gulp.

“What about you, sir?”

“Just water,” I said soberly.

Back at my apartment, she sucked the life out of me. When I woke up, I was staring at Helen of Troy. Her beauty was unmatched to any woman in history.

It felt like my arms were going to fall off.

“Honey, did you sleep well?” She asked.

“Like the dead.”

She smiled.

At work, my co-workers avoided me. It was as if, they were afraid they might catch my disease. I was addicted to Adria. I couldn’t wait until the next time we got alone together.

I looked into the mirror. I was 60.

“My god, I need to buy some anti-aging products.”

On the way to my government job, I crashed into an ice cream truck. The music was playing, It’s a small world after all.

I woke-up in a hospital bed.

“Mr. Johnson, this paper is for your funeral arrangements. Please check whether or not you would like to be buried or cremated.” Her hand put the pen into my hand, which was a crumpled claw. I signed my life away.

Hopefully, the person who reads this will be more careful about who they choose to date.

Often, monsters aren’t ugly, but some of the most beautiful creatures under the sun.

The End

Your imagination is a no limit credit card, activate it!


frightens me

like a flat tire, on the side of a busy freeway

and no jack,

no air pump,

no cell phone,

no people skills

to get to where I need to go.

Everybody, I know

is in such a big hurry

to get to where they need to go

that they don’t notice my predicament

or care

and why should they?

The bum along the freeway

asks me

if I have a drink of water.

He’s dirty

with a full beard

like Robinson Crusoe.

It’s easy to see

he’s not like me.

There are holes in his shoes

He’s been cooked in the sun.

He mumbles to himself.

He learned his ABCs, in elementary school, just like me, didn’t he?

Now he’s stuck on the side of the road.

Is this how it starts, with no empathy?

I can take care of myself,

but I’ll have to walk

a long way

until the sun goes down.

In the twilight

I’ll get the answer, from the rays

of light

that peak


my imagination.

It’s like a password

to a bank account

full of numbers

that don’t mean anything

until they are swiped

on a card

and they can buy anything.

Your imagination is a no limit credit card

activate it,

and pay the debt on-time—

then you can fly on the miles

and never have to walk along the freeway again.

My Prison Haircut

My haircut used to be 12 dollars

Now—it’s 25.

I’ve been going there, since I was 16.

Now—I’m 35.

They speak in Vietnamese.

“Would you like haircut?”


“How do you want it?”

“Number 3 on the sides, and a trim.”

“How much off the top?”

“I don’t know.”

They pinch my hair and show me.

“Yes, that’s right.”

Most of the time,

I can’t understand their English.

Yesterday, I went inside

and nobody was there,

except a strange man

I’d never seen before.

“Would you like haircut?”

“Yes,” I told him.

“How do you want it?”

“Number 3 on the sides, and a trim off the top.”

He had a swastika tattoo on his finger—blue, like prison ink.

He cut my hair in silence.

I didn’t dare move.

My thoughts were running wild, like horses—

he probably styled hair in prison. His scissors were snipping.

“Did you watch the game?” He asked.

“No,” I said.

“What did you do this morning?”

“A bit of reading.”

“And writing?”

“Yes—that too.” I wondered how he knew.

Do I look like a writer? I thought.

I do it every day, so perhaps I look that way.

“What do you write?” He asked.

“I have a private detective I’m working on.”

“Do you think it’ll get published?”

“I don’t know. I’ve been rejected thousands of times.”

He looked at me funny. “Do you use psychics in your stories?”

“Side-kick or Psychic?” I asked.

“Psychic—you know the one who touches a person, and can see their future?”

“Oh. Psychic. Well, I think I used one in a story once, but I can’t remember.”

He was holding my head in his hands.

“You must have psychic ability,” he told me.

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“You know, I worked in a prison, don’t you?”


I could tell he didn’t believe me.

He finished my haircut, and I gave him a tip.

I was thankful

he didn’t jam his scissors into my eyeball.