A Positive Poem (Maybe?)

I keep reading my stuff to my mother

it’s a crutch

and I have two broken legs

And my mother says, “Oh, when I get too old and infirmed, your sister will take care of me (My sister went to nursing school, but decided she didn’t like to touch people, and she got her MBA, instead), and you can read your short stories to me.”

When I read my poems to my mother, she always stops me mid-poem and asks, “What are you trying to say?”

And I have to explain myself

And when I finish, she doesn’t say anything

there is a pause

and then she says, “pretty good—you are a good writer”

and her implication is obvious, you are good, but not great

and she’s right.

Then she will ask, “Why are your poems so depressing? Why can’t you write something positive?”

“They’re not positive?… I thought they were.”

Needing approval always carries a greater cost than it’s worth.

My friend and I have been praying for success

and it seems that our desires fall on deaf ears

We are trying to live the clean life, but we can never be perfect enough to please God

We are like pharisees, petting our rabbits’ feet

I could drop all the balls, and let life happen to me

but if I lose, it will be my fault

and if I strive my whole life without success, I will become a bitter old man

but I’ll be able to say, “I did my best.”

Success is a strange mistress. Some men have access to her all the time

And they like to give advice

to the young men who have not yet penetrated the secret barriers and booby-traps

We are like impatient eunuchs

to the gods of the game

not even setting foot, into her bed chamber

and there are impure rockstars who do whatever they want

So, purity/impurity

success/no success

is a horrible, juvenile, way of thinking.

I don’t think the gurus can help me

I don’t think God can help me

I can never abandon my beliefs, totally

but for a day, yes.

And yesterday, I did exactly that, and it was the luckiest, most unexplainable day

People were kind to me, and I felt liberated from my self-imposed beliefs about life

there is no one way

but I guess, my orientation could always be wrong

So, my friend and I got into a philosophical battle

in our attempt to prove or disprove God’s existence

and I started talking philosophy

and he started talking mathematics

and neither of us could understand each other

so, we had a good laugh, and dropped it

dropping the balls, and quitting the juggle

feels really good

especially when life keeps going

So, the implication is:

it’s only a game

with no winners, at the end.

(A Positive Poem?…Maybe?)

Does She Love Me?

Most of our problems are self-created illusions, masquerading as confusion

We try to figure-out why we aren’t happy

so we invent a problem, to solve—it’s always reoccurring, it never goes away

a convenient hook we can hang our raincoat on

for a depressing

dreary day.

We fixate on flaws, so we don’t have to think about perfection

a world heating up

women wearing less clothes

high calorie hamburgers

and nothing to do.

If the world can’t make wise men

in the information age

with limitless free time

and no serious threat

then it’s all an illusion

like a mirage, under the sun

and the real problems of survival

are quickly won.

Men are paid to fix pipes, repair electric wires, construct buildings, and design machines that will go to the moon.

Women are paid to pretend, to act, to care, to love, to cut hair, to serve drinks on a plane with a smile, to be smart in a library by looking the part, with thick-framed glasses, and a helpful line.

If the world wasn’t paid, nothing would work.

I like to imagine the good in humanity

but I realize, it’s not necessary

We just need to transact business in the usual way

and the world goes around

and life retains its meaning

and the problems get thought of, and never resolved

Does she love me?

Or does she love me for…

fill in the blank, it doesn’t matter

What does matter, is that life has never been easier

and if it gets hard, we know what to do

but it won’t get hard

a good meal

and the afternoon sun

and Eternity

Forever.

The Woman I’m Going to Marry

“Jessica, don’t you feel we were meant to do something big with our lives? Something we can look back on, and say ‘We did that.'”

“Yes—I’ve always wanted to have a family, and find a man of principle—just like Jimmy Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life. That’s my favorite film.”

“It’s my favorite film too,” I said. And she knew I was telling the truth, which made her fall for me even more. “I need to do something unequivocal with my life,” I said.

“Unequivocal?”

Something that cannot be contested, doubted, or denied. Perhaps, I’m searching for something to believe in, and worried that if I decide to believe in it, it will be my own decision, and not inspired by anything but my decision.”

“You think too much, Andy. The things in life that truly matter are the most obvious, and the most neglected. People know what’s right, but they don’t do the right.”

I was feeling drawn to her like a tractor-beam, but luckily, we pulled into my driveway, and it was late, and we were both tired, so I kissed her goodnight, and I felt excited to be alive. I have this habit of reading a boring book before I go to sleep. Boring books interest me because I know I’m not the only one who finds them boring. So, if I read one before I go to sleep, it puts me to sleep faster, but I always hold-out the possibility I might find something there, that has been neglected for centuries. The words we read before we sleep, influence us. So, I pulled one of the dusty volumes off the shelf, and started reading. It was in a strange language, and I almost put it back, when I realized I was comprehending it. The leprechaun had touched me, and opened my eyes to wisdom.

When I woke, it all seemed like a fantasy, and then I knew I was going to marry Jessica. There was no doubt in my mind. It wasn’t even something I had to believe in—it was just a foregone conclusion. I had an espresso, and then another, and another. I was going to visit my girlfriend, when I heard something strange outside. It sounded like a high-performance engine, straining, groaning, being tortured—unsteady tires scuffing the mountain road. Whatever it was, didn’t belong. I walked out of my cabin and saw a lime green Lamborghini crawling up the mountain like a fat caterpillar.

The only person I knew with gaudy taste, and not enough money, and an ego larger than his car, was my best friend.

The doors opened like a butterfly’s wings, and an alien got out. He was dressed in a motorcycle jacket, aviator sunglasses, and an attitude that was bigger than his body. Brad had a skinny frame, but was always working-out because of his deep insecurities. His narcissism went to his core and made him unable to be enjoyed by others, like a rotten apple, but I was different. He saw himself in me, so he loved me, because he only loved himself, and I was the same. I found him interesting because he reminded me of me.

“Andy, this place suits you—a property just like you’ve always been talking about.”

“That’s right—how did you find me?”

“I talked to your mother, and she gave me the address. Even then, my Lambo barely made it up the mountain. Are you sure you can live up here, away from women, and the social status of society?”

“Strange, you say that—I’ve found the woman I am going to marry, and she lives not two miles from here.”

His face contorted into jealousy. “Must be a hick,” he said.

“More like an angel. She’s feminine, and she wants to have a family.”

His shoulders drooped. “Man, my girlfriend is driving me crazy—I don’t know if I love her or hate her.”

“Perhaps, King Brian can help. He put his hands on me, and gave me clarity.

“King Brian?”

“Yes—he’s the king of the mountain—a leprechaun—and he helped me to know what’s important in life.”

“I think you’ve been up here too long, Andy.”

“Maybe, but I’m finding-out all the important things—it’s not variety that a person needs. The world offers choices, but it only complicates things. We need to know why we are here, and what is our purpose.

“I need money, lots of money,” Brad said. “I’m in deep, man.”

“Perhaps, King Brian can help,” I suggested. Leprechauns usually have lots of gold.”

To be continued…

King Brian’s Curse

The eyes of the rabbit were wonderous, and terrifying.

Before I knew it, as if by a glimmer of moonlight, he was a little man, preparing to give a sermon.

“You’ll like his speech,” Jessica said excitedly. “He gives it with so much conviction and passion.”

“Brethren, the world is changing, and we are getting left behind. The arrogance of humans is beyond comprehension—especially their women, and men can’t do anything about it, so we must do it for them!”

“Amen!” Echoed several masculine voices.

“The problem is, stupid people get ahold of smart phones, and believe they are intelligent. Do we hide, or do we have a civic responsibility to set them right?”

“But stupid people are dangerous, your majesty.”

“That may be true, but we are a race that has existed since before the dawn of time. Are you suggesting we are no match for their technology?”

“What I’m suggesting, sire, is that we belong to the past, and the future is no longer ours. We are as irrelevant as the dinosaurs.”

“How dare you!” King Brian said. And his golden crown, and his purple robe, and his angry face contorted into energy. Blue lightning shot from his fingers, knocking out the challenger.

“Needless to say, Sean will not be joining us for the midnight hunt. Let him rest up a bit. If any one of you wishes to challenge me, I’ll meet your challenge, bare knuckles, if need be.”

“What about the humans, watching?”

The little king pointed, and his people glared at us, as if the wind had shifted.

“I don’t want any trouble,” I said.

“Then why are you here?”

“Oh, King Brian, I just wanted to show Andy your grace and majesty,” Jessica said. Her statement seemed to disarm him a bit.

“Well, we can’t have spies observing our ceremony.”

“We won’t tell anyone, honest,” Jessica said. And she meant it, and the king knew she meant it.

“Well, come down here, my dear, and I’ll show you some magic.”

I didn’t like how he said that. It sounded like a come-on. But Jessica obeyed. She knew better, than to disappoint him. King Brian grabbed her wrist with his bony fingers, and kissed her hand.

“Oh, my dear, why don’t you and your friend accompany me to my chambers?”

We didn’t dare refuse, but I was feeling really uncomfortable. We walked down a mineshaft into a well-lit room where a golden harp and a throne stood in a brilliant music hall.

“What is your wish?” King Brian asked Jessica.

“To have a family.”

“Granted,” he said.

“And what is your wish, young man?”

“To be successful.”

“Oh, very noble; your wish is granted. Now, I must sound the horn for the midnight hunt. Let me put my hands on both of you.”

He rested his hand on my head, and with his other, he began to touch Jessica, all over, and she responded in ecstasy, and it was so wrong, but it was finished in seconds, and he hopped onto his horse, and blew his horn, and rode into the night.

“I’m feeling strange,” Jessica said.

And I looked at her, and then I looked again. Her innocence and beauty had turned to sensuality. And I couldn’t stop looking at her. She was the girl in high school that the guys talked about endlessly, in the locker room. I tried not to look at her, and we made our way back to her truck, but I was feeling intense heat and passion radiating from her body, and I heard the king laughing in my head. It was maddening.

To be continued…

Following the Rabbits

Jessica had this sweetness about her, a freshness like mint, or peppermint. When she walked, she bounced, and giggled. I was in love. She was exciting too. How many women want to show you something, without acting superior? She wanted to share a secret, but she didn’t hold it against me.

“It’s really close to where you live,” she said.

“Really? Should we take my car?”

“Oh no, let’s take mine.” My eyebrows raised a bit. Jessica walked around the back to a battered pickup truck. “Get in,” she said.

I didn’t feel like I was being told what to do, even though she was giving me orders. I couldn’t stop looking at her. It wasn’t lust—just something I wanted really bad, and I couldn’t believe we were going on an adventure so soon. She drove past the turnoff to my cabin, and the road sloped down the mountain a bit, to a dead end.

“It’s here,” she said. “How are you at hiking?”

“Oh, pretty good.”

“I have bread and jam in the back. Plus, six bottles of my dad’s brewed beer–that should help us attract ’em.

“Them?” I asked.

“Just wait and see. We’ll have to hang around until twilight.”

We picked wild blackberries—the kind without stickers, that grow twice as large as store-bought. They were juicy too. Huckleberry bushes stained her white dress, and turned my jeans purple.

“Are you going to have a family?” Jessica asked.

“I’ve always wanted one, but my life has been unstable, and the people around me, even more unstable—that’s why I came out here.”

“Oh, you’ll find someone,” Jessica laughed. “And I think you should have a family.” She smiled when she said this, like she knew something I didn’t. The yellow sun was changing red as it got low on the horizon. The path we were walking down, showed us a green valley, magical, simply magical.

“Nobody logs down there. It’s a box canyon,” Jessica said. “That’s where they live.”

“They?” I asked.

“You’ll see. Look down at your feet.”

I did. That’s when I noticed little footprints in the sand. There were hundreds.

“We’re getting close,” Jessica said. “We have to find the spot before the sun goes down. Then we’ll have until midnight to enjoy the revelry.”

Up ahead, I heard the trampling of many paws. A rabbit ran between my feet, and joined another in front of me. Two made four and four made eight, and the bunnies were multiplying, until there was a herd hopping down the trail. Jessica put her finger over her lips and motioned that we should slow down a bit. The trail went downhill, until it bottomed out into a clearing. It looked like Stonehenge, but the stones were smaller, and captured the light of the stars and planets so that the night sky became a planetarium, and all the bunnies waited like they were in a movie theater, anticipating the release. Their ears looked like a swaying, excited, field of grass. And the stone at the center was a clock, offering a podium, where a purple rabbit stood in the moonlight. A beam shined across its body, giving it a ghostly glow.

“That’s the king,” Jessica said.

To be continued…

A Mountain Girl Romance

I settled in, found the pipe, some tobacco, and lit-up. The smoke rings changed the atmosphere in the cabin, to a foreboding mystery. I picked up one of the ancient volumes and tried to read it, but it was like I was in Kindergarten again—that helpless feeling when you can’t read reoccurring three-letter words in the English language. So, I decided to drive down the mountain in my Jeep Wrangler to visit the general store. The drop-off nearly made me wet my pants.

The little store was one of those family-owned mini-marts. When I went in, a little bell jingled. A beautiful woman walked out from behind the bread. She wore a white dress that went down to her ankles with a blue top. Her blonde hair, brown eyes, and perfect skin gave her a wholesome look.

“Can I help you?” She asked.

“Yes, well, maybe, no. I’m new here, and just trying to acquaint myself with my surroundings.”

“Oh, I understand,” she said. My name’s Jessica.”

“Nice to meet you, Jessica. My name’s Andy.”

“You’re not very old,” she said. What do you do?”

“Well, I fancy myself to be a poet, so, I’m living off my savings until I go broke.”

“That doesn’t sound like much of a plan,” she said.

“Well, I’ve had a plan my whole life, but it hasn’t made me happy, so I’ve decided to stop planning and start living.”

“Would you like me to show you around?”

“I’d like that. Is there much to see?”

“You have no idea. Most of the people here, got old. The ones who are still alive are like you—poets and prospectors, selling gold to people on the road, so they don’t have to transact business in the usual way. Jacob—that’s the man you bought the cabin from, had a curious obsession with wisdom. You know those strange men, who call themselves philosophers, and say ‘I am so wise.’ They’re mostly drunks and fools, but occasionally you listen to one who might be the real deal, and Jacob was. He was a nice man, a religious man who couldn’t find the answers in his religion, so he looked elsewhere. He wandered lonely paths he cut for himself, and began to write his own books. His family was worried, but he got younger up here. Perhaps, the air we breathe changes us, just like the foods we eat, and the books we consume.”

“I hear that. What are you doing here?”

“I want to find a good man, have a big family, and spend my life loving the people closest to me.”

“You sound like no woman I ever met.”

“What does a woman sound like?”

“I can’t make the sound—kinda like grating nails on chalkboard. It takes years of Marxist education and feminist indoctrination to make the sound, and by their mid-thirties, women want to get married, but they don’t want to be wives—they don’t know how. A husband is like a golden trophy they hide in the corner of their house.”

“That sounds awful.”

“It is. The worst horrors are the most common.”

“I guess the mountains have protected me from that. Would you like to know a secret?”

“Sure, I would!” I said.

“Well, I can’t tell you. I have to show you.”

To be continued…

Ascension, the Uncontrollable Ride

the decadent man harms himself

releasing his life-blood

like a Lambo, self-inducing, puking, oil

the race-track goes in circles

the other cars, do the weekend thing

and the bat-out-of-hell can’t shift into second

there is nothing, more thrilling, than when the driver decides

to change his engine

and leave behind broken parts

to go one speed

Go!

All foolishness, falls behind

like clowns, who must entertain themselves

and there is no check, in his reality

no checkered flag

only the indomitable ride

that reaches into his mental space, and won’t back down.

If you’ve ever had a good day, where everything went right

try being in a race-car, that won’t slow down

it doesn’t chill, it doesn’t second-guess itself

with overwhelming speed

its parts, are coming apart

the driver can’t go the pace of traffic, anymore

it’s too late

he went this speed, once, and it scared him

Obsession

is an inner world, of tightly held authentic feelings

and when expressed, they are never understood

“Why does he have to go so fast?”

“We’re all headed to the same place.”

But that’s not true.

You’ve gotten used to the speed limit,

from time to time

you go over

to feel something,

to break the rules

but the man who goes fast, is not stepping outside the law

he is making his own, without limits.

How is it, that a volcano can rest for millennia

and erupt, like 100,000 nuclear bombs?

What triggered, its chain reaction?

Was it one more unbearable slow conversation?

Was it perfection, without passion?

Was it the passage of time, without discovering a passage?

Going fast, will destroy you

but it is unlike slow self-destruction

that causes one to stop and say, “What’s the point?”

Going fast, suggests, there is no point

but speed is what we need

a blur, a conquest, looking back, at the pack

that doesn’t stand a chance.

I always thought I would make another run at it

when I was wise

but the old man doesn’t have the energy of being young

it’s too late to think his way to victory.

Magic, a hope, a belief, in something

that can’t be seen

the rooftops of skyscrapers

his engine, that wants the heights of performance

beyond

the greatest high, if you’ve ever been there

there aren’t many chances

less than two eruptions

in 10,000 years

so, ride the drive

like a bat-out-of-hell

if you got it.

I Buy a Mysterious Cabin

I finally achieved what I had long searched for deep in the mountains. Scrabbling together my savings, and buying a cabin from a family of an old-timer who had ceased to be old because he was now dead, I took up residence in his two-room cabin, with a loft, and bathroom because he could no longer make the trek to the outhouse. His family seemed glad to be rid of it, and in this bull market, they didn’t ask a penny over the asking price. Nobody had bid on it. I was somewhat taken-a-back that nobody else wanted it, but I guess it’s not near the schools, the parks, the churches, or the entertainments of civilized society, so I can’t blame the average person for not making an offer. Mountains are for visionaries who see majesty in rock, and not in shopping malls. There is a general store down the road, where I can get the necessary supplies.

When I signed off with the realtor, she smiled when she took my signature. I felt violated. There is something wrong with her Acura SUV, short-cropped hair, and high-water pants stretched to the seams. It isn’t that she is greedy, but she isn’t good. The condition affects creditors, loan sharks, time-share salespeople, and realtors. If someone is getting screwed in a business, you can bet the business is bad, and the people attracted to it are even worse. She is just the type who would have her friends over for sugarless cookies, tea, and gossip, which always turns into a financial bragging contest—indirectly, based on their husbands’ salaries. Wisely, their husbands avoid these parties like the plague.

The owner—the son, looked responsible, decent, honest, and nearing retirement, but the cabin couldn’t be his because he had a wife, kids, and 15 potential grandkids. I think he was Catholic based on his conservative dress, churchy suit, and hair-style five years out of date.

We did our business right there in the gravel driveway, and I guess I can’t complain too much. It was terribly efficient. I had a house, totally secluded on 20 acres of my own land, and the rest belongs to the government. Nobody has logged up here in nearly 50 years. The old road, is dangerous to go down, if you don’t have a low gear, and if you have a drinking problem. I have both, so I hope that the danger of sudden death will cure me of my borderline alcoholism.

When I was left alone, I walked inside. It was just how the old man had left it. It still smells of leather, and coffee. There is a feint scent of sweet pipe tobacco. He had an extensive library. Many of the volumes are in a language I can’t identify. It looks like Gaelic, but I don’t think so. The leather-bound books are not published by publishing houses. They were handwritten, and I wonder if the old man did it himself. The books I can read are on the subjects of magic and philosophy. Most of them are nearly 200 years old.

To be continued…

Girls at the Gym

the girls at the gym have their noses in the air

their spandex is tighter than I remember

their loneliness, is obvious

it’s been over 8 years

since I set foot, in a gym

it’s all coming back

the chlorine smell

sweat

weights, hitting the rubber floor

old men, talking about golf

the 55-year-old who says he has cancer

hoping, being near to death will endear him to the 30-year-old

with muscles rippling down her back

“You look good,” he says.

“Thank you,” she smiles. It’s a smile that suggests, you could be my dad

and he wanders off to talk to another pretty thing

I don’t think he has cancer

he’s far too healthy, and men like him survive by their wits, passed old age

8 years have passed, since I’ve been in the gym

and I walk between the machines

my eyes could cut metal

I rarely look into the mirror

but there are mirrors, everywhere

and I can’t help myself

Where did I get this intensity, this stare

this sad hunger?

Even among bodybuilders

I stand taller

than I used to

the gym is a place of measurement

athletes measure their strength

professionals measure their fat

guys with expensive watches compare their wealth

while I think about my own genius

the high from drugs is similar to genius

I haven’t felt this way for a long time

I haven’t spoken to anyone in three days

I haven’t wanted to

you can only get this feeling without feedback

nobody recognizes genius, until it’s officially “genius”

and by then, it’s too late

it’s like the man with a morphine drip

entertained by white walls

instead of walls, I’ve been walking

reading Schopenhauer— old books that haven’t been read since 1971

it’s a fantasy, a place I can’t get to very often

the prettiest girls frown

their beauty hasn’t made them happy

all the young guys look at them

with dreams, but it’s a nightmare

nothing has changed

nobody says a word to them

they’ve been used

by stronger men

When I finish my workout

I get into my truck

and watch her through the window

staring at me

She never used to do this

my stare is light-blue electric fire

her stare, is black holes, vacant and angry

I have done well to avoid beauty

it can kill you faster than

refined cyanide

refined, by abuse

this stare of drug-induced purpose

has been flowing through me for years

acting like an opiate

against condescension

When they get to be 50

there is no light in the universe

and the sun could have shined

but it burns in blackness

in bitterness

and hate

Grand women who were never mothers

offer encouragement to male students

and it feels insincere

their compliments are cruel

Genius is a belief that you know better,

the first step

on a journey

that feels right.

Confronting Myself

Drugs can ruin you, like a castle visited by lost tourists, and yet, when you come out of the horror fog into the regular world, it’s a new kind of horror. -Intellectual Shaman

My mind was clearing, or so I thought. It was a fall day—magical. As the years progress, I get stiffer, harder, less pliable. All the searching for who I am gets set in stone, like an immovable sword. I love my destiny, but strangeness gives me second chances.

I’m lying in my bed, looking at the bathroom door. The mirror shows me a face that looks like mine, but it’s different. I rush into the bathroom to confront the stranger, but he’s gone. I go out, onto the street, and buy an apple. It’s a Honeycrisp, full of nectar that will last me half the day.

The weekly crowd reminds me of ants, and I’m a yellow butterfly among the red heads and black bodies. They make a low shrieking sound, brought on by their work. In traffic, there’s a guy following me—he’s tailgating, honking his horn. If I was working, the rage would’ve already overtaken my mild constitution. I let him freak-out on the road. Strangely, he looks like me, but he’s definitely not going where I’m going. I’m headed to my favorite bookstore, in the middle of the work week, when nobody is there. Professionals don’t know that the best thing about not working is being places that are normally crowded.

I go to the philosophy section and start reading. Two minutes later, the bell rings, and a fatter version of myself gets in my face.

“You are supposed to be at work.”

“You’re not my boss.”

“You need a boss—otherwise you’ll get arrogant.”

“Too late—now, leave me alone.”

He speaks like he knows me, but he doesn’t. The old self is frustrated, angry, playing by someone else’s rules, and trying to fit in. The new self has no future. He goes to places, existing in limbo—it’s better than heaven or hell.

The horror castle is a prime piece of real estate for professionals with a 30-year plan.

The End