The Wishing Rains

The desert was dead, but when it’s your birthday, your close friends are willing to indulge your strange whims, unlike any other time of the year. I wanted this road trip. Maybe it was my need to believe in things—the birthday wish to make all wishes come true. Last Chance was something I had to find before I was a year older. It was impossible to locate on a map. It used to be the center of civilization, and now it was lost for good. Only the old-timers thought they knew where it was, but the sands kept shifting, and the town kept moving in the imagination, like a nomadic estate that never remains in the same place twice.

If you spend time in the desert, the sun drinks your skin, through your pours, and your blood starts to thicken. Pretty soon all you can think about is water, and finding a lost town is the last thing on your mind. We did find the gas station though.

“How do you pump with these analogues?” I asked.

“Hold it! I’ll do that.” The attendant wore a red trucking hat and bib-overalls. His skin was wrinkled by the sun and darker than the sand so that his teeth shined pearly white.

“Where are you boys from?” He asked.

“The peninsula.”

“Oh, long ways away. Typically, I only see truckers out here, trying to take the short-cut. Otherwise, the drive is unpleasant, and if you break-down, forget it. You’ll be dead within 24 hours. There’s no traffic and no reception—nobody to call for help. This isn’t a touristy spot, so why are you here?”

“It’s my birthday,” I said.


“Well, I want to make a wish in Last Chance. I heard they come true, there.”

“Good luck finding the place.”

“Do you know where it is?”

“Heavens no. You boys be careful. You don’t want to break-down or get lost. Several idiots like yourselves have tried to find the lost town, and most of them stay lost. Too bad you can’t wait for the wishing rains.”


“You mean to say you don’t know the legend of Last Chance?”

“No; just that wishes come true, there.”

“It’s not just the town, it’s the well. It dried up, along with the entire valley. It doesn’t rain anymore, but about every five years, and when it does, only for a moment. There ain’t a living soul that lives out here, but me, and a few sheep ranchers. If you make a wish in the rain, your wish will come true.”

“Does it work?” David asked.

“Sure, it works. That’s my Hummer parked out back.” He pointed to a bright yellow H2. “A guy just showed up and asked me to sign the papers. I always wanted one.”

“You didn’t ask for a million dollars?” Joel suggested.

“Strange thing about wishing; it has to be specific, and it has to be something you really want. Cash is difficult to visualize or understand. When you wish, you want to be sure you know what you’re wishing for; otherwise, it won’t show up.”

We thanked him for the gas and the story, and drove up the road. It twisted into a canyon and then opened out again.

“We don’t have much gas for looking around. If we do, we’re liable to run out.”

It was getting dark, and the stars popped out like diamonds against black velvet.

To be continued…


kind friends, and the other kind

I wish I could be the person

people were kind to

but the teacher pats the little boy’s head

giving him a snack

and then ruins a man’s life

I would be kind, but there is always a price

for treating others well

they take advantage,

or recognize

the obvious heart

kind people are not kings

they trade their power

to make others feel good

it’s a weak need

that the world needs

but it’s too hard

to accept



kindness might be saying to someone

“you’re not that great”


“you are great”

it’s helping people discover

who they might be

it’s caring to know

that deeply.

the ghosts of tomorrow…

the ghosts of tomorrow

are here and gone

like words that lose their meaning


then recovered

later, redefined

loss is when we learn what we have

and it’s never

what we were trying for

for to live

is loss


is to live

the rains fall

then the snow

a paradise of storm

weighing heavily


all we know

allowing time

to enjoy

what we could never


Staying Afloat

the things that sink us

don’t have to

it’s our belief

that keeps us floating.

We can look into the well

and see the abyss


make a wish.

Every once in a while

if we are looking

something saves us

and being brought-out

from that hopeless situation

by these discoveries

is better than anything.


I found-out my colleague and I share the same favorite book.

When I asked him about it, he said, “I read Walden on a camping trip once—some passages spoke to me.”

I have been reading Walden every night for the last year and a half

I’ve grown to depend on it

so I can sleep

so I can understand this time in my life

I say this, not to discount my colleague’s love

but to make a point—

not all love

loves the same

and the stronger we love

the more valuable it becomes, so much so, that wisdom becomes gold

and the philosophers are the richest amongst us

these words are not idle, but hard working

they’ve known meaning, and the satisfaction that accompanies it

if you are satisfied, you can float forever on your back, watching the clouds

go by

where you might rest

for eternity.


There is nothing better

than being able to confront yourself

in the mirror

and smile.

When you do this

you know

you are doing something.

It is not the grimace

or cast-down eyes

look of worry

or stress.

The arches of your smile

transcend sadness.

It’s a monument

you tried to conquer

in the world

but stealing someone else’s smile

and making it your own

does not work.

It’s like wearing a mask

that does not fit

and even if people smile back

you know your smile is not genuine.

It does not belong to you

and it never did.


are waiting for others to give them happiness

and there’s a long line…

People are unhappy

because they want what belongs to them

they seldom realize

their smile

is their own

and having something to smile about

does not come from confronting others

but confronting

one’s self.

The Hole

I’m always trying to fill the hole

it seems like it should be easy

but it’s not

and this time of year, I’m gaining weight

the hole can be filled with many things

my favorites are



and Chinese

It takes a loooong time

to learn how to fill the hole properly

and you can forget how to do it

When that happens

you’re useless to yourself and to other people

time is just time

something to be done, until you go to sleep

and you pray that you can restart the next day

There is a scientific, metaphysical process to owning your own time

Otherwise, time happens to you,

where people can’t wait to get through the day

and when all the days add up

they say, “Where did the time go?”

But they didn’t know how to fill their time when they had it

and they didn’t know how to fill the hole

It’s like having bars of gold

and not knowing what to do with them

it takes imagination

to spend money

it takes even more imagination to spend time

and most people don’t have any imagination

they are waiting for the job

waiting for someone to tell them what to do

waiting to die

and waiting to live

Many things we do

are a waste

they don’t stick inside

So, there are two ways to deal with the hole

1. You can find something to plug it

and the following have been tried: god, transcendence, and love

although, these usually lead to constipation

or 2. Decadent Desserts

the problem is, these move through the hole faster than diarrhea through the colon

and you have to keep eating

to stay alive

If you stop or get tired of eating

then you might be tortured by pleasure

Pleasure requires continuous hypervigilance and planning

Number 1 is the easy way

Number 2 is what most people try

and can never sustain

Eventually, they grow tired of food and time

and they hate life

because it gives them the same meal, day after day

then they start thinking about heaven

and they turn pain into a principle, “Life is suffering,” they say.

“Eternity is forever.”

But if you ask them what they are going to do for eternity

they can’t tell you

If I live to be a thousand

I’ll just keep writing

Every once in a while, I’ll say something that makes sense

and I’ll live for these moments

the hole is filled

even for just a while

and then I’ll have to think of the next line

to fill it


When fall trees fall…



so much taller



looking down

on my narrow


of dirt.

When a fall tree


a witness


Marked rings


their age




and periods of drought

killing Christ

or swamping the Ark

They fall

after the leaves have fallen

when death is done

when the wind has whispered

and then shouted.

Alien Game

The chain-link fence was blackened by the sun, and the once blue basketball court was black; the buildings in the background were blacker than black, they rose like beacons where no light offered hope. Broken-out windows of warehouses showed the contempt of the neighborhood for those eyesores planted there by businessmen who once offered jobs, but who had since moved on to third-world countries to make their shoes and murder the labor of the innocent. The Nike swoosh was a dash of death. Now, the neighborhood was third-world, or fourth-world, if that’s a thing, resembling an alien planet where the inhabitants tried to breathe, but slowly suffocated on their dreams, quickly turning into nightmares, fueled by drugs and jealousy and cravings that offered so many possibilities, until their beautiful day burned their soul.

Three scouts stood behind the checkered fence, comparing mental notes in the heat, while keeping what they really thought to themselves.

“He’s got a quick first step, that one,” a tall white man said. His name was Carl. He wore a suit even though it was nearly 100 degrees, even hotter on the blacktop. It gave him inhuman qualities. He didn’t sweat; he never sweat; his bald head didn’t burn. Anyone on the outside of the neighborhood could see his power, his white-collar success; they might think he went to an Ivy League University and played ball, and they would be right. He had an athletic build, and he kept himself in shape, despite eclipsing his mid-forties last year.

“But look at his teammates, they hate him. He might be fast on the court, but he’s not a leader—not someone you want to take point.” The man who made this observation was even taller than Carl; he too, had come from the same neighborhood, but unlike the healthy build of the white man, his skin was pale, despite being black. His veins cut his muscular arms like they were stretching, itching, for the needle. Daryl was a crack addict. He played for the NBA to escape his neighborhood, and would’ve been one of the greats—had he avoided the epidemic of the 1980s. He had the kind of talent that can’t be learned; it was an alien game, foreign to basketball—due to his faster than lightning legs. He was sporting a red and white Converse jersey with black shorts that betrayed his unhealthy bones.

The third scout was not a basketball player in any sense of the word. It was anyone’s guess why he was there. He was half as tall as the players on the court, and did not seem interested in the game. He was Mexican, and constantly the butt of illegal alien jokes, which never offended him; not much could contort his bland demeanor. His black eyes stared into nothing, causing many to wonder if he spoke English or understood the jokes. Jose watched, and occasionally took a drink from his hip flask. Vices were allowed. All three of them smoked, being very careful not to flick their cigarettes anywhere that might burn, which was everywhere.

“Foul, that’s a foul!” Daryl yelled. “Give him the ball!”

“There’s no fouls with street ball,” a black teenager yelled back.

“If you think like that, you’ll never leave the street!” Daryl screamed.

Jose just nodded and smiled.

It was nearly half-time. The thermometer in the shade of the dying oak tree read 105 degrees. It’s a scorcher,” Carl assessed. “Why don’t we let the boys bring it in for lunch and a water break.”

“Are you the weatherman, or something?” Daryl asked. “This is when we see who’s got it. I don’t know about you, but I wish I could turn up the heat. Pressure and time reveal weakness.”

“You’ll have them passing out on the court,” Carl said.

“To the last man standing, then.” Daryl raised a bottle of beer, and Jose did the same with his flask.

“You see, he understands. There’s more to him than we know.”

The Mexican just smiled and nodded.

The game became blisteringly hot; even the sneakers began to melt on the blacktop, and some of the best players walked off.

“You see, I told you! Talent isn’t everything; those boys are quitters!” Daryl said this a bit louder than he needed to, so the whole court could hear. “Quitters!” He yelled.

“Daryl, why don’t you calm down, it’s just a game,” Carl said.

“Just a game? It’s these boys’ ticket out-a here. And they just walked away! Let’s increase the stakes, shall we?” Daryl addressed the bloodshot eyes, the dehydrated faces, the hopeless stares, and the hungry muscles. “Free for all! You know what that is? Anybody can score. First one to 21 points wins the game and has a spot on my Triple A Team—a good chance of making it into the NBA. Now, drop the ball and wait for my mark!”


Arms and legs dove for the ball like a game of twister—one boy emerged, tripped, and regained balance, with the ball through the net in 2 seconds.

“That’s Jamal. Look at the hustle on that kid,” Carl said. “Too bad he doesn’t have any talent.”

The game was a perpetual tie—everybody had a point, and the longer they played, the more Daryl regretted his promise. Maybe there wasn’t anyone who stood out from the rest. The players were like ravenous wolves, wanting success more than their next meal. It was next to impossible to find raw talent like his, and the boys who had it, always hurt their own success, just like the ones who walked off the court at lunch time. It was getting close to 3 PM— that’s four hours of continuous running during the hottest part of the day. They started to drop, one by one, unable to get by on pure desperation.

“Timeout!” Carl shouted. “Daryl, you’ve taken this thing too far. If one of them dies on your watch, it’ll be your fault!”

“What gives you the right to call my game?”

“Your game?”

“I’ve invested my time, watching, hoping, that a real player will emerge. And you’ve nearly taken that away from me.”

Carl considered what Daryl was saying. None of them really wanted to be there. Daryl was thinking about his next fix and Carl wanted to soak in a cool bath with his girlfriend. Who knew what Jose was thinking? He didn’t seem to have a care in the world, even though he was wearing a poncho and jeans in 108-degree heat.

“Okay, we’ll give it 30 more minutes then. Deal?” Carl asked.

“Okay, deal,” Daryl said with resignation.

Before they started up again, three players started talking to each other.

“Why don’t you go talk to the scouts? You might be able to get in good with them? Winning is not always winning.”

“What does that mean? You think if one of us sweet-talks the coach, he’ll let us onto his team?”

“Hell no.”

“They’re scouts and not coaches. One of them is a drug addict. The other looks like a child molester.”

“What about the bald one?”

“He looks mean.”

“Well, it won’t hurt to talk to them.”

“Who said?”

Before they could stop him, Jamal ran over to talk to the Mexican.

“Why did he go with the child molester?”

“Are you going to talk to the mean one or the drug addict?”

“I ain’t goin to talk to nobody. I’m going to play the game the way it was meant to be played.”

“How’s that.”

“You’ll see.”

From a distance, it looked like Jamal had established rapport, and they walked into the woods together.

“What’s he doin with the boy?” Carl asked.

“I don’t want to know,” Daryl said. “Remember, we really don’t know who he is.”

“Who did he say he was?” Carl asked.

“Said he represented one of the Mexican leagues, but who ever heard of Mexicans playing basketball. I guess he thought he might discover talent in the unlikeliest of places,” Daryl said.

“It’s pretty barren out here.”

“I don’t want to wait for him. What’s he up to, anyway?” Daryl asked.

Almost in response, the Mexican and the boy came out of the woods. They were pulling up each other’s pants.

“Oh my god…” Daryl said.

“Just focus on the game. I don’t want to know what happened, if the police start questioning us.”

“Okay boys, tip off!” Daryl shouted.

The game started up again, but there was something different about the chemistry of play. Jamal ran faster. He dunked.

“How tall is he, anyway?” Carl asked.

“He’s only 5′ 8″. Boy has hops though, and look at him go. He went through the post players like they weren’t even there. It’s Kobe Bryant, reincarnate. My god, I’m going to sign him. Jose, what did you do to him back there in the woods?” Daryl asked.

“Um, I don’t know,” the Mexican shrugged.

“I don’t believe you! Tell me now!” Daryl demanded.

“Oh, just gave him a pep talk.”

“With your peppy?”

“What’s peppy?”

“You know, your thing?”

“Oh.” Jose’s poncho was shifting like snakes were trying to get out. An alien arm like an octopus shot out and shook hands with both of them.

“I must be on my way,” Jose said. “My protege requires more training.”

“I thought you couldn’t speak English?” Daryl asked.

Jose just smiled and nodded. “Jamal, time to go. We’ve got a game to catch. I’ve signed you to a very exclusive team.”


“Yes; they’re out of this world.”

The End

Man Catchers

like Venus fly traps (because women are from Venus)

the girls open their flowers

in gold and pink arrays

under the forgetful sun

giving off their delicious fragrances

like the bitter-sweet honey

of the pitcher plant

as they run

on competitive footsteps

hoping to win

a man

They ensnare him

with their sweet nectar

like sweat


from their tanned legs


in front of me

in blue spandex shorts

for what seems like


they’re pretending, not to notice me


and hoping

I take notice

and I do (a forbidden phrase)

but I know what those legs will say

30 years from today

“My house isn’t big enough

Your toenails are torn and yellow

Let’s buy a bigger house

and go to the nail salon.”

Unlike many men

I think too much

with my big head

and the thoughts are dark

and without cheer

so different

from the bright, sunshiny day

greeting me


while I enjoy

light gusts of wind

blowing across the stormy blue lake

taking it all in


this life will leave me (just like a woman)

whether I’m right


I’ve made a BIG mistake.

Keep Writing

If you’ve ever had a hand scraping its fingernails

across the soft part of your back

where your soul is buried

under good intentions

and the strength outside

wants to come in

but you won’t let them

and the challenge is mounting

like your last stand,

lie down

and forget

the need to overcome

resting in the pages

of a good book

where a man concludes his life

before his life is concluded

the ending

is the most important part

because the difficult stories we tell

even if, half-baked

mean something

so, resist

and write to the end

to the very last day


you need to

to stay alive.