Moments…

Through it all, there is one thing we cling to

that gives to us, when life takes from us

it could be philosophy, god, or writing

when it doesn’t make sense to believe

we find a way

and every death to our expectations

means life to the other thing

when it doesn’t make sense to keep going

our pure joy remains

to love god

is to love above all things

self-improvement is a dead-end door

when life says “no”

we say “yes”

discovering something

we couldn’t find

otherwise

Knowing we will lose

and going the distance

anyway

against darkness

and the twilight of this world

failures become our possessions

refined by love

greater than trophies

glory

or light

taken by the moments

and not the triumph

over them.

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Salvation Sky

This is where I get off

I won’t become what the world wants me to be

What’s safe,

is gone

2 AM silence

speaks to me

like darkness before the dawn

before the man becomes a man

and everything I am

is forgotten.

I pursue things I can’t see

and fall in love

with ethereal air

Society labels me

and I just don’t care

I won’t live

where I belong

I won’t do

for the greater good

I walk alone

into the wild

of my heart

feeling

shifting passions there

dangerous

mixing

mysterious

emotions

like uncharted wilderness

god help me

I’ll walk out

into the wide-open world

though,

I prefer the ocean deep

where waves whisper

to me

so distant

until a word

compels my body

breaking through the surface

to my salvation sky

above.

Bottomless Pit

Our desire for things outside of ourselves is our own undoing. -Intellectual Shaman

I had a problem, and the lies grew larger, as I grew larger. I was fat, very fat, but I believed I was thin on the inside; so, all I needed to do was flip a switch in my brain and become thin again. Wherever I went, people recommended diets to me, but I scoffed at their remedies for the common man. They always gained their weight back because they thought they were fat, but I knew I was thin; so, when I decided to lose weight, it would happen effortlessly.

It didn’t help that I was the reigning champion of the Bottomless Pie Competition. Most scientists agree that eating 12 blackberry pies defies gastric possibility. But I had worked-out my stomach every day like a champion for years, stretching it to the limit with sausages and eggs. Now my training had caught up with me. 300 pounds rolled onto the scale and then I added another 5.

I decided to stop eating, but I couldn’t. It was like my stomach had a mind of its own. So, I confided in my friends at the Belly Bar.

“You look great,” they said. “Why do you say you want to lose weight?”

I looked at them. I guess it’s hard to get an honest perspective from a group that weighs over a ton. “Besides, if you lose weight, you’ll look like Jimmy over there.”

Jimmy didn’t fit in. He was physically fit and thin.

They say a group reinforces behavior, but when I looked at Jimmy, I noticed that he couldn’t gain any weight, even when he tried.

So, I decided to talk to him about his problem.

“Hey Jimmy, can I get a few tips from you?”

“Sure,” he said.

“I noticed you don’t have any trouble keeping weight off and it seems like you eat more than you used to.”

“That’s right; I have to maintain my title for cheeseburgers, hotdogs, and milkshakes and guys keep challenging me. You can never back down from a challenge.”

“But how do you stay thin? Do you run all night?”

“Not exactly. Listen, you can’t tell anybody this and I don’t recommend it, but do you know Martha Mable?”

“I think so; she makes those pies nobody eats, right?”

“That’s right and she’s a witch.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I am. I ate her raisin pie out of generosity last year, and you know what it did? It changed my stomach forever. Turned it into a raisin. Now I can’t taste anything or enjoy what I eat. Everything tastes like raisins.”

“How long do you think your condition will last?”

“I don’t know, but if it lasts much longer, I’ll try to eat myself to death and if that doesn’t work, I’ll hunt down that witch and demand a cure.”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” I said. “Witches are cunning; they prey on your desire, always giving you what you want, and always causing you to regret it.”

“Then what should I do?” Jimmy asked.

“You know Jimmy, we both have a similar problem, eating doesn’t make us happy; so, we’ve got to find a way to beat the forces of darkness for our own gain.”

“What do you have in mind?” Jimmy asked.

“We’ve got to fool that witch.”

“That’s kind of like outwitting the devil; there may be eternal consequences if we fail, you know.”

“I know; then we’d better succeed.”

Night fell on the Belly Bar as we prepared to call on Martha Mable.

RING…RING…RING

“Who’s there, at this hour?” An old voice croaked.

“My friend here, wants the cure?”

“Cure for what?”

“Fatness.”

“Oh, you weren’t supposed to tell. If word gets out, I’ll be banished forever.”

“Just give my friend what he wants and we won’t tell anybody.”

“Pleased with your body, are you?”

“I am, but I wish my food didn’t taste like raisins.”

“I have two pies coming out of the oven right now,” she said. “Blueberry or Strawberry?”

“I like strawberry,” I said.

“Very well.”

I took a bite and it tasted like mold, the mold that grows on fruit when it’s been left out too long.

Jimmy ate the Blueberry Pie. His mouth contorted. “Tastes like something I ate on Saturday night.”

“Thank you, boys, for stopping by, now I need to close up shop and get my beauty sleep.” We walked home, not knowing what would happen in the morning. “Man, she’s going to have to sleep for a long time to look beautiful.”

Two weeks later, Jimmy was fat and couldn’t get the taste out of his mouth and I was thin and everything tasted like it was rotting.

I guess there’s no cheating when it comes to losing weight

THE END

greater than I am

My mother says, Satan is giving me ideas now.

and my father says, “that was pretty good.”

I dream up things that aren’t real

and I feel things

maybe, nobody else can feel

My sister says, “you’re too sensitive.”

and maybe she’s right.

My brother-in-law doesn’t say anything

perhaps that’s best

and I keep going

because I don’t have a choice

I must believe in things

greater than I am.

Ticking Down to Loneliness

We love what makes us feel good

and we hate what makes us feel bad

this is true for jobs,

the air we breathe,

and the people we spend time with

Basically, the quality of how we feel is increased by the good

and decreased by the bad

Any accountant of life can tell us that

we make withdrawals from the good

far too often

and the bad stacks up like debt

maybe that’s what death is

not the final death

but death in life

this should be avoided at all costs

the good is largely a function of how we think

how we interpret what happens to us

and what we make of others

the bad is exactly the same

when no one listens

we are better off

and when everyone hears

there isn’t much to say

this is true, right before death

our personal eulogy

spoken

Who can follow us?

Who wants to?

the good in life

reaches out

and we feel relief

We aren’t the ones dying

even though we know

it has to happen

like the slow hands of a clock

winding down

to sometime, we don’t know

it is the great mystery

we can’t solve

who knows if it will ever be understood

the dead can’t tell us about death

only the living can tell us about life

not through their words

but through their living.

Dog Bites Man><Man Bites Dog

I walked out of the woods from a lonely path into a wide-open field where the sky was even wider. It was a habit of mine to look at things and see something else. Dogs were running circles in the park and weekend workers were waiting for the next week. People looked pleasant on the outside. They’d smile and call their dogs, even say “hello”, and be who they were supposed to be, but on the inside, I knew something else was going on. I saw their darkness, in the middle of the day, but I never knew what to do with it; it was far easier to pretend their shadows didn’t exist. So, I quickly put it out of my mind.

“Hey Barney, get over here!” A great big Saint Bernard trotted towards me like it wanted to make a new friend.

“Don’t worry, he’s friendly,” the owner said.

“I know.” And I gave Barney a few pats, until he trotted off.

My walk took me to the opposite end of the park where a blonde girl in spandex shorts and a pink cap was showering her love on a man’s dog. “What breed is it?” She asked.

“Australian Shepherd. Do you like dogs?”

“Oh yes, would you like to walk and talk?”

“Sure,” the man said.

The thought occurred to me that maybe I could get a girlfriend if I visited the pound later that afternoon.

When I got there, most of the dogs looked dead behind the eyes; a grayness had set in that never leaves; it comes from staring through chain-link too long. I walked the rows of fence until I noticed a black dog staring back at me like he knew me.

“That one,” I said.

“But he’s already tried to bite three people.”

“I want him,” I said.

“He’s scheduled to be gassed in 30 minutes.”

“Get him out of there.”

“Okay, but you’ll have to fill out some paperwork. Liability stuff, you know.”

For some reason I trusted the black dog and for some reason, he trusted me. I took him home and we watched The Remains of the Day together.

“Lost love is more beautiful than the real thing, don’t you think?” I asked.

He looked at me like I was crazy and then we kept watching.

Then, out of the darkness, his ivory teeth bit into my arm like a vice. My blood went down its throat like he was draining it into an I-V bag and the black dog morphed into a man who looked like me.

“What… what happened? BARK. BARK. That was all that came out.

“You need help trusting people,” the dog said. “By the way, maybe I can find you a bitch. I have good taste, you know.”

I was powerless and terrified.

“I’ll feed you and let you watch TV in your cage. Just remember, it’s for your own good. You saved my life and I’ll never forget that.” He left and not two hours later I heard laughing outside my apartment.

A blonde was backing up through the shadows, kissing my dog. She was taking her clothes off, while I watched through the cage.

Then, she went to the restroom and my dog opened my prison. “Bite me,” he said.

“What?”

“Go ahead, bite me.”

I did. I bit him hard, for the son-of-a-bitch he was, and I started to transform into a human being. When I finished, my dog was smiling through its teeth and then she came back into the room, naked, and I did her doggy style.

THE END

First comes love, then comes marriage, then…

We are haunted by what we can’t have, and when we get it, we become ghosts. -Intellectual Shaman

Jorge was driving a red roadster recklessly. He was standing at the wheel, like a ship’s captain, an enthusiast of the roadways, careening between summer leaves like a man on a mission. He was an artist, so perhaps society would give him leniency before they locked him up; now he was a successful artist. After years of dripping paint on canvas and living off cigarettes and cheap wine, Jorge made the big time.

“Come down from there Jorge; we’re not at the beach yet; sailing a car across asphalt isn’t a good idea.” Kate reclined on her leather seat cushions, staring up at him.

Jorge laughed; he looked down at her. She was wearing a white dress and red lipstick. They were married. He was out of control, and he held the wheel tighter. Jorge wasn’t changed by things, nothing could change him, not fame, success, or women, and Kate was with him even though cymbals were crashing in his head as he took the next corner at 90 miles per hour.

“Why are you taking off your clothes?” Jorge asked.

“For the ocean, silly.” Her skin was ivory white in the sunlight. Jorge kept staring.

“The road!” Kate shouted.

A semi-truck darted past. Jorge smiled, a sheepish smile.

“Keep your panties on.”

“They’re coming off. They cost me 29.95 and I don’t want them to shrink.”

“Whatever you say,” Jorge said.

The dunes were up ahead and Jorge downshifted into the turnoff. Some people create art and others live each day differently. The sea was endless and looked like it could swallow them whole. Kate ran for the big drink, wearing nothing but her red fedora.

Jorge smiled.

After a swim and the sun, and a bit of Kate’s complaining; something about her being his sex slave, he drew her portrait and she kissed him. Maybe it only took one skill to beat the system and they got into their red roadster, picking up speed along the canyon highway.

A male squirrel with big nuts ran out in front of them.

“Don’t hit him!” Kate screamed.

“Where?” Jorge shouted. He swerved off the road and they were thrown free. Their red roadster crashed into a tree.

“Something’s wrong with him. He doesn’t move. He must be very brave,” Kate said. She petted the squirrel’s head.

“You mean to say, we nearly died because of a squirrel? He had better be brave, if that’s what I swerved for.”

“Don’t be nasty,” Kate said.

“Hello Kate, do you think something’s wrong here? I mean, we’re walking around after being thrown from a car at 90 miles per hour.”

“Oh, I guess you’re right. We should have some bumps and bruises, at least.”

“Who are those two people lying on the ground over there. They look like us, don’t they?”

I don’t think so. Maybe the guy looks like you; his hair is messy, but I don’t have tan lines like that girl.”

“Kate, we’re dead.”

“What are you talking about, dead?”

“Maybe not completely dead, I think we’re ghosts.”

“Well, in that case, if we’re going to make this marriage work, I’ll need you to give me my space.”

“And I’ll need you to pick up after yourself.”

On second thought, the minister said ‘until death do us part.’ Technically, we could go our separate ways.”

“You’re never getting rid of me honey, not in this life or the next.”

THE END

The Kite Flyers

Storm clouds were building,

enormous towers of foreboding,

blocking direct sunlight, while the mist sparkled in the air.

Fields in Paradise Park were harsh green;

rays cutting through the vapor,

rainbows vanishing to reappear.

Kite flyers flew their colorful diamonds against the thunderous backdrop,

electricity in the air,

with their black trench coats billowing behind them.

Children ran through the fields with daisies in their hair,

as I walked into the tall grass and lay down.

I was invisible there, with a good book, staring into the afternoon sky that looked like it might suck me up into the churning storm.

My imagination poured across the pages,

as wolves chased cats in the clouds above.

I was awake and dreaming in the wild grass, blowing, like the sky didn’t know where it wanted to go.

That’s when I saw it, a flyer moving across the sky, like its kite was a balloon, taking it beyond the storm.

After it vanished

I stared at the other flyers

while one turned its head towards me.

“Excuse me, but did you see that flyer sucked into the atmosphere?” I asked.

Its face belonged to a bird, its hands were talons, clutching a spindle of string,

a lifeline that might pull it into another world.

“Fly a kite,” it said. “See where it takes you.”

It passed the string to me and in that moment, I allowed myself to be swept up by the wind,

waving goodbye, to my roots on the ground,

choosing the storm and sound,

adventures striking at random,

never hitting the same place twice.

The Prince of the City

When you aren’t doing what others are doing, you begin to feel like a stranger, and that’s when you can really begin to watch. The bus stop is between the city and suburbia. A collection of office workers, bums, and the disabled. I watched it from my two-story apartment window, wondering if it would inspire me to write the next line. It did. A young man, maybe 30, came limping up the street. He noticed me at the window and waved. I was between jobs at the moment, and when this happened, I always wrote more. It was the fantasy of doing what I loved for a living until my money ran out. The suits were ironed and stiff, staring at their smart phones, while the kid appeared to be looking for something. A limousine pealed around the corner and stopped.

“Hey Christopher, get in.”

“I love your car Joe, the black leather seats, the chrome, and the tinted windows. What kinda radio do you have?”

“I don’t know, but it plays all the channels. Where to?”

“The graveyard. I wanna visit my grandma.”

Some of the suits smiled at the kid. I know I did. And when he was gone, the hustle was as dull as a dying daisy. Several hours later of staring out the window into the sunshine, the limo pulled up again, and the kid got out. He was carrying a pizza and a bottle of soda.

He had a big smile on his face and he offered it to the bus stop, which promptly declined. Then he sat on a park bench and started to eat his pizza. A Jaguar rolled up to the restaurant and Christopher stopped chewing mid-bite. He left his pizza on the bench and walked over to the car.

“She’s a beauty sir,” he said.

“Thanks son,” the man smiled.

“How fast will it go?”

“Do you wanna ride?” He asked.

“Haaa, haaa,” Christopher laughed with glee. The man smiled bigger, even though he was a suit. “Honey, I’m just going to take this kid around the block and I’ll be back before lunch.” She gave him some disapproval, but consented.

Christopher got in and put his hand on the roof. The engine roared, like it was seeking his approval, and they tore out of the parking lot like the Dukes of Hazzard. When they got back, Christopher was still laughing.

“You can make her go Tom. Thanks for the ride!”

“Anytime Chris,” he said.

The suit walked into the restaurant and Christopher walked back to his pizza. A bum snatched it before he got there. “Hey! That’s mine!” Christopher shouted.

“Shut up kid, or I’ll cut you!” The bum said. He drew a knife and Christopher started to cry. He backed away, like he was lost. Then he collapsed on the sidewalk.

A suit ran across the street from the bus stop. “Christopher, are you okay?”

“Ah, my heart…I can’t breathe.”

“Let me call 911.”

When the firefighters and medics got there, they checked Christopher’s blood pressure. Slowly, he began to talk to them and his smile returned. Soon, everybody was smiling.

“You just had a panic attack, that’s all. Come by the firehouse anytime and we’ll check your blood pressure.”

“Really?” Christopher asked.

“Sure. We’ll even let you pet the dalmatians.”

Maybe I was seeing something that wasn’t there, but oh well…I couldn’t stop writing. Christopher traded in the currency of joy and people gave to him because he noticed things nobody else did. He was the prince of the city; without title, without power, without a suit, without the things that make most men the same. He was an original, and the suits loved him for it.

THE END

A Creative Coyote

Nothing gets near

to this scavenger

it’s too hungry

eating trash

while it stares

at wild game

desiring a creative kill

green fields of sheep

ignored

barren deserts of death

calling

it howls

with its heart

for something

it hears

what’s inside

it wants

to be filled.