My Girlfriend and My Life

She told me, “A woman needs to smell you—you must have a seductive scent.”

She gassed me with one perfume, after another, like an intoxicating toxin

that would linger for hours, like a loitering prostitute.

“What’s wrong?” She asked.

“Nothing.”

“You’re tearing up. It’s okay for a man to express his feelings. What’s going on? It’s toxic to keep emotions bottled up.”

“We should keep them in the bottle. A man needs to keep himself, to himself.”

“That leads to suicide.”

“Suicide is okay—then he can die with honor. Take that away, and he’s got nothing.”

She screamed, and cried, and pounded my chest with her fists. “It’s not okay to say that!”

“There, there—I didn’t mean to say anything.”

“But you did—and it hurt me!”

“I’m sorry.”

She looked cute when she was mad, like a little girl. I felt like a monster, and it felt good.

She got me a bottle of cologne, shaped like a lightning bolt. “This is your scent,” she said. “For the bad boy.”

I saw that she got one for herself. “Are you a bad girl?”

“No—this is good girl cologne.”

“Clever marketers,” I commented.

Then, she started to notice things about me, that needed improvement.

“When was the last time you changed your sheets. There’s a big hole in this one.”

“That’s where the wire sticks through,” I said. “I position my body just so—so it doesn’t stick me in the night.”

“You need a new mattress.”

When we went to look for one, I caught her looking me up and down. “You could dress better,” she said.

“I’m a writer—we’re allowed to look like slobs—it’s a style. Just be thankful I didn’t wear my bathrobe in public.”

“You act like you don’t want to get better.”

“It’s just that we’re all dying—I don’t see a need to cover it up.”

“Well—if they make corpses look good—you can look good.”

“This is what it comes to? —make-up, fine suits, and fancy cologne?”

“This is what you have to do— when you get a girlfriend. Most men are failures, until their women teach them, basic hygiene.”

“I want to break up.”

“What!?”

“Yes—you haven’t seen my toenails yet—and I don’t want to get a pedicure.”

“Mister—you’re already scheduled for one. Ling, has excellent acid that kills fungus.”

“If things are growing on me, they’re meant to.”

“Then, you have a whole ecosystem down there—good luck, being alone!”

She stomped off—and I could smell her lingering perfume—her presence, that didn’t quite go away.

While writing this, I got poked twice by my mattress. It belongs to me—just like my life.

The End

Strange Fruit

Too often, those who save us, don’t know they do

it was my art teacher in high school

She said, “You have some good ideas—why don’t you write them down?”

I hung-out in her art class, because it felt like a safe place

I talked endlessly, and drew horrible pictures to amuse myself—all of which were original

Students would file into her classroom and see my paintings or pastels on the wall

“Who drew that?” They would ask.

I was different, and my art reflected the same

I was quiet, everywhere else, and my pictures were loud.

At the end of my Senior year, my art teacher stood-up in front of the school

and said, “Out of all of my students, Andy has the most artistic potential.”

This prophesy has been shattered, time and time, again

like broken mirrors of bad luck

but her level of belief and declaration of faith in me

has given me hope, when there was none.

The things that save us, seldom claim authority over our lives

We discover them, like a friend, that nobody knows

Those bits of ourself that are recognized

are the seeds of dreams

They are dormant, and grow with belief

so flawed

nobody will buy them

until

we sprout into a different kind of tree

and bear

strange fruit.

there is nothing worse…

there is nothing worse, than a woman pretending to be interested when she’s not

there is nothing worse, than a woman starved for attention who makes everyone listen to her

there is nothing worse, than a woman who poisons you—

if she can’t kill you, she will poison everyone you know.

there is nothing worse, than watching a married woman flirt with a young man, so she can feel young again

there is nothing worse, than women worshiping themselves

there is nothing worse, than a woman who cuts others down with her words

there is nothing worse, than a woman saying one thing, and meaning another

there is nothing worse, than a woman walking away from you

there is nothing worse, than when a woman wants to hurt you—especially, when she’s listening to what you have to say

there are far worse things women do, that haven’t made this list, but it’s late, and now for the men…

there is nothing worse, than a man who pretends to agree with you, and then makes fun of you to his friends

there is nothing worse, than a man who pretends to see something in you

there is nothing worse, than a man who pretends

there is nothing worse, than a man who is trying too hard to please

there is nothing worse, than a man who has learned how to act, from a lifetime of following, and believes he can lead

there is nothing worse, than a man who wants to be on top, and suffers ridicule, until he can get there

there is nothing worse, than men who accept mediocrity, and believe it’s not

there are worse things in the world, than this list, but they didn’t make it, because they didn’t come to mind

These are the things I think about, some of the time.

I also think positive thoughts too.

A Poem is a Woman…

A poem is a woman

who must be approached from many angles

but if you do it

too much

or too fast

or look at her the wrong way

you become a creep who can’t write.

Been thinking about the lack of love in our society

it boils down to greed

the people don’t know—it won’t set them free—not that kind of money.

We can only set ourselves free

but many of us don’t want to be free

it’s like a bad friend we can’t get rid of

because he’s our only friend

it’s like a town we hate

but it’s a place we call home

it’s the drug we use

because it makes us feel good

but it’s not a real feeling—

it helps us to forget our pain

if only, for a moment.

We are wasting our lives at work for money

We are becoming what other people want us to be

We don’t know what we want

and if we did—we could leave home for good.

A poem is a true expression of our soul

it’s more than painted words

it’s a woman who wants to be looked at, and cherished

lead, into the night.

a poem speaks

but it doesn’t talk about itself

We want to be admired

while the poem only wishes to be understood

We are not perfect

and the perfect poem does not try to be

it’s just honesty—

Who can you be honest with? Love them.

Perfection is for people who are pretending

We all seem to want it

but it’s a big act

People throw people around like money

“I make more than you.”

It’s sad, really—when people think they are worth more

because of their money

They have bought a lie with their life

They can’t know value, they easily dismiss

They need to make more money, so they will be more valuable

This lie, is the worst deception

Never buy it.

A true poem, can’t be finished

it just keeps writing itself

every breath, is a new word

a new spelling

now, she can be, won.

a lost city found on a hill inside my heart

In the deep dark winter

frozen, and full of ice

In the streets,

packed with snow

In the stores,

where families go

during the cold season

I won’t go.

I lay in bed, and hibernate

like a beast, that needs to be left alone

there will be

warm wistful days,

that finally set me free

like the Great Gatsby on the Golf Course

and me,

lighting his cigar

where city lights, blink

under a summer sunset

pink, green, and cloudy dreams

hundreds of days, before I go underground

again

to contemplate this question

“What do I want to do next summer?”

I’m reborn, in the warm light

with dreams, that won’t die

under a blue sky

possibilities…

and me,

an old man

looking at possibilities

floating by

Who am I?

The winds have blown me here, and there

I’ve rested on the deep blue lake

and seen the sky, reflected there

I’ve found the roots of ancient trees

and listened to their wisdom

I’ve been to city libraries

as a boy, checking-out

my first library card

pages, and patrons, and librarians

knowing me for 30 years

they’re still the same–with long careers

my career, is to walk through the city, that I know

and tell the stories

like falling leaves

Places

that have shaped my past

cruel and beautiful places

cast on the burn-pile of time

We

will all go-up in smoke

but not before I type

and listen to these lines

cut

cold paper

We have a destiny

it’s not money

it’s not the obvious path, where we should go

it’s the beautiful one

orange, yellow, and red

that we float across

and blow across

and ask the wind, “Please, set me down there.”

it’s the path we would like to walk down, even if it doesn’t go anywhere

it’s the books that rest

unopened

waiting to be read

it’s the girl, sitting

on a park bench

it’s the boy, climbing oak trees

it’s the city saying, “You found it.”

Mail carriers, sort and smile

street lights, blink

on and off

traffic, is the blood of the city

horns honking, but not too terribly loud

signaling, green lights, at the end of the pier

a yellow sun burning, 93 million miles away

a red rover, stopping you, in your tracks

licking your hands

watered green lawns, stretching-out in front of homes, like heaven

inflation, and foreign wars, and crumbling governments

don’t know the city

it is a poem

waiting to be written

a story

to be told

a past-time

spoken

It is my destiny

a lost city

found on a hill

inside my heart.

Playing with Pete

Pete told me, “You aren’t ready yet, but you might be.”

“How do you know?”

“You’re still listening, and you have fire in your eyes.”

I looked him in the face—I could see, flaming black holes, there.

“What’s this—some kind of magic?”

“You could say that, but it’s available to us all, if we would just tap into it.” He knocked his ball six inches from the hole.

“Why don’t we?”

“People are not paying attention to the way of all things. They want to conquer, what can’t be conquered.”

“I see.”

“The way won’t give us what we want—it exists to instruct us in the way. By following it, we will have all we need.”

“But don’t you own four companies and millions in real-estate?”

“Yes—by society’s standards, I am successful, but only by living according to the way, have I been able to enjoy my success.”

“That’s easy for you to say, when you have it all.”

“Perhaps—but what really counts, is the fire in your eyes. Most people lose that. It’s the belief, in better things to come. It’s the limitless universe, waiting to be explored.”

Just then, the cart girl pulled up. “Do you boys want any snacks or beer?”

“We’re fine,” Pete said.

Jenny drove off. She was looking good—curves and blonde hair.

“Women are closer to the way, than men. Nature selects. But remember, nature can’t see potential, and it doesn’t care about that.”

“Where does belief come from?”

“Belief is a seed that grows, and it does so, effortlessly. It cannot be modified, or controlled—otherwise, it ceases to be belief. Most men lose their belief, because they need their control.” This time, Pete knocked his ball into the hole with his 60-degree wedge.

“That was one heck of a shot!”

“Thanks—now you try. Close your eyes and swing.”

I knocked my ball into the woods. “What went wrong?”

“If you worship the result, you won’t understand it.”

Playing with Pete was a revelation. I wasn’t sure that I believed him, but I was sure that he believed his own bullshit. I guess, if you’re successful, it doesn’t matter. Pete was interesting—and there weren’t many golfers like that.

The Man Who Would Be King

They tell us to win friends and influence people

and to do this, we must not criticize

Watch what happens when you do

People, who were pleasant—no longer are

Their character depends on the situation, which really isn’t character, at all

it’s revealed

when someone is squeezed

what they have inside, comes out

and they might say, “I’ve never acted that way before!” or “I didn’t mean to!”

Don’t believe them

Pressure

is the medieval method

to know, whether or not

someone is in league with the devil

the inquisitors used stones.

We are afraid to make enemies because we aren’t strong

We are afraid of being disliked or socially shunned

and mark my words, if a polite person feels slighted

they will murder you, behind your back

At times, a brazen bully will point out your error

like they have never made one

It’s best to use this unexpected attack

to test yourself

Did I feel a sliver of fear?

Enemies are a way to test our strength

Insecurities, must be examined

Fear constricts us, and chokes us—it makes us unnecessarily conservative

Watch what happens when you master the bold move

When you say, “No.”

When you cast-out fear

then, you are limitless

Anger is unnecessary—it betrays our lack of control

As we cultivate enemies, we will be tested

We might not get ahead, but we will grow

Strength is worth more to us than our relative position

because we must endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune—

as we ascend

Only then,

will we be

invincible.

The Way

“Listen! You only care about yourself!” The old man said. He ate pistachios, glazed with chocolate, while sitting in his easy chair.

The kid, was looking in all directions, for the way

but the adults in his life could only tell him the way they had gone,

and they did.

Nobody could tell him who he was, and when he suggested what he might do, it was always the same…

“You are prideful. Be practical. You have such high standards. Survive—that’s what life is about.”

The kid felt oppressed, listening to the advice.

“What’s pride?” He asked the old man.

“Pride, is when you don’t listen to other people.”

The kid thought about that… maybe, the old man needed to be listened to

So, the kid listened

“Stephen has pride. He wants to do, what he wants to do. I told him that he needs to focus on his marriage, and drop out of school. He wants to be a pastor, so that his congregation will worship him. My brother was like that—he could never get enough attention.”

“That’s the one who lives in Idaho and pastors a church?”

The same. Pride steals self-awareness.”

“I’ve been trying to make better decisions,” the kid said.

“Pride is getting in your way.”

The kid thought about that…

In that moment, he realized, he could not trust the old man

pride was necessary

and the fall

and, getting up.

“When I was in charge of finding a pastor, occasionally—I had to lead the congregation with a message. Once, I was mistaken for the pastor, and I said, ‘oh no, I’m not him.'”

The kid thought about what the old man said. “Are you going to plan any new year’s resolutions this year?”

“I don’t do new year’s resolutions—When I decide to change, I change,” the old man said.

The kid realized his advice-asking days were over. His thinking-about-it days were over too. He would have to make his own decisions, and live with the consequences. There was no benefit in asking others for advice. There was no benefit in telling them what he was going to do. Falling, was a certainty, and rising out of his shame would be his redemption.

Morning Symphony

My intestines play a solo in bed…

It can take years to compose a symphony

You must embrace the part of you,

you were pretending,

didn’t exist.

A story, rarely, can be told straight

You must see it differently

invent ways to tell it—

all those mundane experiences

forgotten

in your mind

are your redemption.

It’s not about discovering something new

but realizing

what was already there.

Romantic Rooms

there are many romantic rooms

we walk into.

We might stay there, for weeks, months, years

and I prefer the empty one

to the room filled with gas,

emotions, or arguing.

Few things can send a man to the madhouse

without his permission—

a woman doesn’t need your permission

Living in an apartment complex, has given me a complex

I listen to the conversation downstairs,

and I don’t want to

“Eat your fuckin food!” She screams.

“No.”

“Don’t talk to me like that. Don’t walk away from me—I’m talking to you!”

After two hours, somebody calls the police

I can hear the man’s deep voice, explaining to the officer

that he didn’t hit her,

but the policeman says, “Sorry, I’ll have to take you in, anyway.”

I hear the relief in his voice without hearing it

I think her screaming is over, but she starts up again

Is she on the phone?

Women won’t tell you who they are—you have to find out for yourself

and it’s best to know her, before knowing her

there are kind women

and busy women

women who play instruments, and sing

competitive women, who never stop competing

women who want to be mothers

and those who want to get married

desperate women,

lonely women,

and then, there is the woman, who wants to do something with you

and she isn’t a sex crazed nymphomaniac

She sees something, there

in the same way, you walk into rooms, and look

If you’re good at this

you will spot her, in the mob of suicide pills

If you can’t tell the difference,

you will learn to kill crabs, or stand with your butt against the wall in prison

So, when your friend asks you, “Why aren’t you in a relationship yet?”

Just tell him, “I haven’t found her, but I’m looking.”