We get ambitious

until we can’t give things up

even though we realize

they aren’t for us.

We have a brain that cries

“I need this…I want that”

But if we stay

in the emptiness

and wait…

Wonderful things will happen

We must think…

What to do?

and do it

At the end

We will know

if we did it

and doing it

is better









Golf Course at Night

Silhouetted trees against the pink dark sky

and silver mirrors rippling my reflection

calm waters

taken to heaven

We are the night

the shadows and I

We play the game

between the headlights

and rushing highway noise

Red lights shoot across the damp

sea of green

and droplets land on fallen leaves

Back through the woods

I surprise a pothead

relieving himself


Maybe the paranoia has set in

but I’m more real than the river

rushing past

drinking in the smoke

feeling high

above this life.

Conversations with Nobody

Most of our anger,


and sadness

comes from expecting what we want

from others.

I’ve been in love before

I kissed her

And I wish I’d known the right things to say

I really cared about her

but now I don’t believe in love.

Happiness stays in our heads or it doesn’t

Not for rational reasons, but for the way things could be

Playing golf in all its glory

or feeling the piano’s emotional tones

You have to do the things that matter

without apology

and refuse to carry burdens,

bad ideas,

and baggage.

You cannot receive purity;

it comes from within.

You won’t find it in women,

expensive nights,

or doing things

the way they ought to be done.

You’ll test the limits of your sanity

and study the nuances of conversation

So much is left unsaid

and so much

will never be


Chapter 4 Digging up 200 Ghosts

September was a scorcher. Heat records were broken. And for some reason, I felt like the sun was trying to stop me from digging. I shoveled out the dirt and plopped it into a pile until the fall wind blew it into the air, a rotating cyclone that entered the bay and drown in the water. I watched the glassy ocean and the leaves carried out to sea, and stared at the island where the vanishing lights appeared and disappeared. 8 more hours of this and I’d sleep for a day. I was thinking of the things I would buy and wondering what kind of treasure I’d find. I hit solid wood for the twentieth time and smashed the lock with my ax. Out came a body with its sword stretched towards me, screaming a bloodcurdling cry. I leapt aside and the sun did the rest. Its body floated away to a place never seen by the living. Dealing with the undead was becoming routine.

“Maybe we should call you a necromancer,” Gordon said.

“Hey, I thought you were afraid of ghosts.”

“It’s not so bad, since I’ve been watching you. Can I give you a hand” You’ll still keep all the money.”

“Swell,” I said.

We were digging graves under the shade of enormous Elms and when we cracked open the box, and heard the screams, the sun did not intervene. I pulled out my sword just in time and the undead leapt upon me. It had twice the strength of a normal man and sunk its sword an inch from my head. Gordon pulled off his glasses and reflected the light at the bearded apparition until a hole burned squarely through its head, curling in flame, like a cigarette butt burning. When it vanished, I looked at its leather tunic and gasped. “A map, or half a map. I think this is what we’ve been looking for.”

“You mean, what I’ve been looking for,” the superintendent said.

The Way Back to Life

The lives people live or don’t live up until their death baffles me. I don’t know their inner worlds, but their actions betray their emptiness. -Intellectual Shaman

The Senior Center is where old folks go when they don’t have anything better to do. There’s a chess game there that never ends. A checkmate is a rematch and a rematch is a checkmate. And one man becomes too feeble to continue and another takes his place. I’ve been watching this game for days. The old men huddle around and give each other advice.

“No… you shouldn’t have moved there. You see, he’s going to take you with his queen.”

They tried the same thing with me and I told them, “Well, he sure is now! What is this, a community game? Shut the hell up!” Apparently, I violated unspoken rules and nobody wants to play with me anymore. Hell, I’m only 68. I got married, had kids, and they’re doin what they’re supposed to be doin; living their lives. This place is worse than death. If these men worked the 9 to 5 to get here, it’s been a slow suicide.

There must be a way out. There must be a way back to life. I strolled into the rec room and looked at the scattered books on the shelves. They were untouched; probably because eyesight fails when you get older and so does the will to life.

RV Living caught my eye. It was a manual for freedom. I read it, like I was reading the bible; like my salvation depended on the maps that could take me where time didn’t matter. “I’ll start out towards the Grand Canyon and make my way down to Texas. I’ll need a copilot, someone dumb enough who has adventure in their blood and a will stronger than iron. I looked at the feeble men hunched over their game. My answer was a resounding “No.” I didn’t even need to ask.

Like all “Great” things in life, they must be done alone. I sat there reading the RV manual when a pretty young thing walked in.

“Aren’t yah going to join your friends outside?”

I looked into her green eyes. “Thanks, but no thanks,” I said.

“It’s good for you to spend time with others; you’ll live longer.”

“Those men are already dead. I’m driving to Texas; do you want to come?”

“You’re so funny Henry. Really?!”


“My grandmother needs lookin after; otherwise I’d go.

“Well… bring her along.”

“You are too much!” She laughed. It was her way of saying “No.”

I had 3,883 dollars in the bank and a Honda I used to get around with. I sold my commuter car and bought a Winnebago. Leaving the Senior Center, I gunned the engine towards the setting sun. Chasing eternity is worth it. You’ll never catch it, but if you keep going, it’ll smile on you like a sunrise that never sets.

The Stories in Our Heads

The Stories in Our Heads

tell us to smile

or they whisper sadness

into our souls

They take away pain

And all those things

real or imagined

Why do they keep playing

like a wounded song

or a melancholy melody

We can’t turn them off

So, we listen…

over and over


And our dreams get mixed with nightmares

There is no heaven

There is no heaven.

Reality or Not?

I’m confused by reality. Things happen too quickly and people say what they don’t mean. I know I’m insane and perhaps that’s why the world is crazy. Or maybe, the world is upside down and I’m right-side up. Society is compelled to ignore me, but there are some who won’t leave me alone.

“Get a job, you homeless bum!” Screams a skateboarder and I keep walkin, paying him no mind. There’s a man who rides his bicycle through Renton and always gives me the time of day. “Doug, how yah doin?”

“Okay, I guess.” This man watches out for me. He’s lookin so that I don’t feel so alone. There are two ladies who bring me sandwiches under the bridge.

“Doug, do you have enough to eat? Are you warm at night?”

“I’m okay.” They don’t want to know. I’m never alone. Duncan keeps me company. He’s my guardian demon, but I tell him… “Go away! I don’t need you!”

And he laughs. He stays with me at night and I’ve gotten used to him. I watch the pigeons cooing above me. They put me to sleep and ever so often, Duncan breaks a few necks just to make me feel bad. I can’t fight him. I can’t get away from him. He tells me to do things I don’t want to do.

I can’t go back to the clinic because they’ll strap me down for 48 hours and I’ll be with all those ill people who make me feel even more insane. I need to talk to my daughter and tell her I’m okay, but to do this, I’ll need to get some LSD. The dealer in the neighborhood can sell me some, but it’ll cost 200. I’ll have to rob somebody down by the river; probably on a Saturday.

I get to sleep at night, clutching my K-Bar I used to kill Vietcong in ‘65.

In the twilight, I see a bicyclist park next to the trail and walk down to the river. I keep out of sight and reach into his bicycle bag. There’s a lunch and a wallet in there. I removed the cash and his credit card, and take up hiding under the bridge. When he returns, he has a bloodied K-Bar in his right hand. I check my sleeping bag and my knife is missing. I get a sinking feeling and wait for him to go. Duncan starts to talk to me again, but I ignore him. “It feels good, doesn’t it?”


“Killing a man after all these years. You know how many lives he’s ruined.”

“Quiet, I didn’t do anything!”

“Really? Why don’t you check down by the river? Tell me you didn’t shove your knife into ‘im.

I walk down to the water and check the body, along with his pockets. There’s a roll of 2,000 dollars and some capsules.

“No LSD.” But then I check my pockets and find the drugs. I had them all along. Not wanting to understand reality, I take them anyway, seeing my crime, clearer than day. Duncan laughs, but his laughter is farther away now. I up the dosage. And the next day, I find a pay phone and punch in the number.

“Yes?” Whispers a kind voice.

“It’s daddy; daddy loves you.”

Chapter 3 Ghost in a Grave

When we are young and just learning how to read, stories transport us to magical worlds. -Intellectual Shaman

The grave where I sunk my shovel was broken and cracked like the dead tried to escape the ground. I stood over the wooden coffin and didn’t see anything remarkable; just dirt. I looked at the other coffin and flipped the lid. There was nothing in there except a dead cat.

“Puddin; she died last week. I thought you might bury her while you were waking up ghosts.”

“Who’s grave are we resurrecting?” I asked.

“I’m not sure. All I know is, this section was reserved for the most disreputable and they were buried in unmarked graves; in one word, pirates.”

I tapped the wooden coffin with my shovel and it didn’t tap back. “Nobody home,” I said.

“Better use a pick ax.”

CRACK. The lock broke and I pried open the lid. There was a skeleton in there, fully clothed from head to toe, and suddenly, the sun struck the bones and they evaporated like they were dissolving in acid.

“Get back!” The superintendent said. “You don’t want to breath in the remains!”

Dust collected on the clothes and there was nothing remarkable about them. He looked like a midshipman; some unimportant officer of a renegade navy.

“The way I have it figured, we have approximately 200 more graves to dig up. We can do them at night or during the day. At night we might get murdered!”

“What’s this ‘We’ business?” Didn’t you have me unknowingly digging up a pirate ghost?”

“Well… yes, but let’s put that behind us. It was an experiment that went wrong. I take it, you would prefer to dig up bodies during the daytime?”

“That’s my preference, but why am I doing it?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out,” the superintendent said.

I thought about walking away, but his offer of 500 dollars a body still stood, so I decided to keep on digging.

Chapter 2 Pirate Ghosts

Strange things happen in graveyards, or at least that’s what I know from the stories. The dancing lights looked like fireflies. And I might not have given them a second thought, had it not been for the lantern blinking from the superintendent’s shack. Who’s he trying to signal? I wondered. And then the lights from the island changed, blinking in a different pattern. I didn’t have time to watch because I needed to put the body under, so I kept on digging. 3 feet in and I struck wood. “This isn’t supposed to be hallowed ground.” I checked my instructions. Then, I heard knocking from below. Fearing for my life, I thought to run, but then I noticed a fog; thicker than I’d ever seen, snaking over the water towards me. There wasn’t any wind, so I couldn’t figure how it traveled so fast. Suddenly, dead ringer bells rang.

I dropped my shovel to run, but the road leading out of the graveyard was already covered in mist. The only shelter was the superintendent’s shack; so, I ran for it. The bells rang louder, so that I couldn’t tell if my ears were ringing or the ringer bells were. I banged on the door.

“Let me in!” I shouted. The fog encircled the shack and I saw figures in it. An arm reached out from the door and grabbed me. “Quiet,” it hissed.

“What’s happening?”

The ghosts have come to call. Remain absolutely still.”

We stood there in the dark, barely breathing, for what seemed like hours. Slowly, the fog dissipated and I looked into the superintendent’s eyes. “Why did you have me dig up that grave? It was a rotten trick.”

“There’s no other way to wake the ghosts,” the superintendent said. “You must disturb their remains.”

“What were those lights on that island?”

“Those were the ghosts looking for their lost treasure. I’ve been trying to communicate with them for some time. If I travel there, they vanish.”

“What kind of treasure are we talking about?” I asked.

“It’s an enormous treasure; cursed to be lost forever, but I’ve found a clue to find it in Bluebeard’s grave. He turned from man to ghost more gradually than the rest and he wrote clues to beat the curse on his leather clothes. Tomorrow, under cover of sunlight, we’ll finish digging up the grave you started on this evening. Gordon said he won’t help us.”

“What makes you think I’ll help you?”

“You’re a curious young man and I’ll cut you in on the treasure.”

Chapter 1 Midnight Grave Digger

As a writer, I needed to work somewhere that could spark my imagination. So, I went to the most haunted hotels and applied to be a night manager, but nobody was hiring. Riding my bicycle to prospective jobs was exhausting and I decided to have lunch, but the roadside wouldn’t do. So, I rode down the nearest path, totally missing the GRAVEYARD sign. I sat in the tall grass and ate my sandwich, admiring the clouds overhead. In the distance, I could see the blue Atlantic and an island not half a mile from the mainland.

“Aint supposed to be here!”

I dropped my sandwich, seeing a wiry man with a shovel. “Oh, I was just having some lunch. I didn’t know I was trespassing.”

“We don’t get many visitors anymore. This here is a graveyard. Pretty near 400 years old. From time to time, somebody wants to get buried, but my arthritis is killing my back, so I can’t dig holes the way I used to.”

Seeing a need and a possible job I asked, “Could you use an assistant?”

“Well let me see… the hours would be late at night. You aren’t afraid of the dark, are you?” His grin revealed some cracked teeth and a gold tooth.

“Not the last time I checked, but I’ve never worked in a graveyard before.”

“Let me take you to the superintendent’s shack and have you fill out the requisite paperwork.” He escorted me over the hill and through several fields of holy stones. “Do you see the bell poles near the head stones? If the bell rings, I need to dig em back up. Sometimes the wind blows and the bells ring. It can give a guy an eerie feeling. Let me check on the superintendent. Sometimes he’s not partial to visitors.”

“Come in,” said a gravelly voice and I was confronted by a fat man with white whiskers.

“So, you want a job?”

“I do.”

“Well, this isn’t just any job. I usually don’t have people working for me and the work is rare. Everybody wants to be cremated these days. It pays 500 dollars a body. Do you still want a job?”

“I do.”

“Not very talkative, are you? That’s good because the dead don’t talk too much.”

A week past and I thought about the graveyard. My imagination was turning circles, thinking about what it would be like to put a body under. It was 10:30 at night and I got my first call.

“Gordon has your shovel and body ready. I’ve written some instructions. Get here as fast as you can.”

I rode my bike down the graveyard lane and the shadows looked like they could reach out and grab me. There was a lantern, a shovel and an X marking where to dig and the body lying in a wooden coffin next to the plot. I sunk my shovel into the earth when I noticed lights across the water.