"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Friday, April 29, 2011


It was a loaded question, and the answer had a trigger finger.

Eyes searched for words
plucking them like almonds, hard in their shells
stuffing them down the barrel of your mouth
and the weight like a Magnum

Sighted through the cross hairs of your threshold
I consider to deflect...
minimize the target
roll myself up like a down comforter
that once laid itself out like an oak from the closet of an acorn

......I can't, I can't
tired of the limp bone of cowardice
which subtracts my mass
reduces me from building to vestibule
from blocks, to cinder
like so much rubble

And so to then unfurl
a sail intent to catch wind
be moved
forcefully moved, from harbor to open sea
spread my arms
expose thumping target

feel it pierced before sound

we explode into a thousand tiny grains
for the moment forgetting we were ever a beach
an oak
a building
and not particulates, scratching between lids and eyes

knowing it only
in the shifting sand we rain

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beginning Again

I ran away twice when I was a teenager. Looking back I can't remember if the impetus was to make a statement or a break for freedom. Perhaps, as with most things, it wasn't all or nothing, but rather portions of both needs which hoisted my body out the window and up the hill on foot. I didn't get far. The station wagon was suffocating with screams and it seemed as if the move had been a grave mistake. The end would be far worse than the beginning. The ungrateful child prophecy was fulfilled, and there was something comforting about finally having that score settled. If you can't measure up, at least you can measure down.

So it was with these memories in tow that I ran away once more. Close to fifty years old and I packed my car haphazardly with the minimalists survival tools: clothes, shampoo, cans of beans, and an old journal written the year before my marriage...before me, the self that is now pervasive. I went out the front door and set out in my car with tears echoing in my ears and draining from my eyes. I marveled that I could do such a thing...rip a heart from it's chest and leave it lying there on the stained carpet, fish mouthed and airless. Truth was I wasn't running away so much as running up...to a point high enough that I could get a clear, unobstructed view of the road I was on, where it forked, and where the multiple paths led.

Each path began with my own fault and was littered with mile markers of cowardice and unworthiness. I felt guilt like a necklace of mortar shells...could barely lift my head with the weight of it, but forged on with an absolute need to know. Through the fog of my own apology I heard another, a statement not unlike my own, but louder still, and I realized I was not on this lookout alone. There was another surveying the road. He turned and spoke...

"I can see where you have worked this relationship with no reward. I can see that I have put you on the defensive for the last 27 years. I can see that I loved you the way I wanted to be loved, not the way you needed to be loved. I can see how you've set it before me time and again and I was too blind to see. I see now. I see you. I hear you. I am so sorry. Forgive me."

I felt redeemed. I know no other word for the relief of finding that all that broke was not entirely my own doing, nor would it be my own fixing. The blame between two can never be laid at the door of one, but admission is the first step towards a new beginning.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Have you ever started to feel okay
like you were at peace with the world
and everyone in it

and then you fell on your ass
splayed open
and the world cries "OMG"
and you shout "SHIT"

and you wished the ground would open
and swallow you whole
but of course, instead
a pedestal is raised
in your fucking honor

and you
as the statue they mock

Oh God.....it's awful

and every day to relive it
is torture
and humiliating

rightfully so

and so it is

to be small

and human

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Assemble Something Scattered

Linear drops lead
to a dusty tea cup
on display with like kind across the soffit
and again
to the mosaic box
holding pennies, trinkets, lint

I've carved off pieces of heart
with a preservetory scalpel
left blood crumb trails
to be found

I bled out
into the well of my midnight ink
let nib and quill
author a map to what's been strewn
as seed for birds
in every dot and tittle

In slow crawl
I re-collect

I can't leave clues. I must make statements, neon arrows with sharp points that pierce. They're not intended to injure, but to protect...to fight for me...the self that got submerged in everybody's needs and clothed itself in layers of shame, blame and guilt until they were just too damn heavy to move around in. I shouldn't expect those close to me to be detectives, but hopefully investigators...curious...interested... studious. Clues are missed. Clues are misinterpreted. Clues are Post-it notes that have fluttered off their perch in a stiff wind and are entombed beneath the refrigerator with a decade old Fruit Loop and a couple dead flies. As adjectives, I gather my dropped clues and place them into statements I wear like T-shirts.

"I like that shirt!"

This old thing?

"It suits you!"

Why....yes it does!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Four Nineteen

Normalcy quivers, like tickled flesh, but nothing so common as that. I shrug off the chill and flip over in bed, one wary eye to the clock. 4:19 AM. I expect nothing different than to wake to these haunted numbers. The set of my alarm has little sway to the moment my eyelashes flutter their acknowledgement of numeraled ghosts. I rise, dress, and wonder….perhaps today?

Hot water strains through a French press as I check my e-mail and see the alert blinking, blinking…I have mail. Only one at 4:19 PM yesterday from my son…”Love you….” He rarely writes. I save the message as an anomaly and wonder if he'll call today.

Work is insignificant as always, and I spend the day on a spreadsheet of items. At 4:00 I crack my neck audibly, lean back in my chair and release the gas in my knuckles. I notice, only then, that the last line entered is row 419. I consider adding one more entry, or deleting the last, but there are forces at work, far beyond any remediation.

I glance to my iPod, note the song which auto shuffle has chosen for the end of my work day… The song is exactly 4 minutes and nineteen seconds long. I rub my arms as a louder disquiet settles between aging bones.

I was born a mistake. On April 19, a child was born into the world, unwanted, ill conceived in passion too large for consequence and handed off to a well intended institution. There has been a bill of lading, as yet unpaid. Perhaps tonight?

I gather my things, head home in a resigned direction as the miles click off the moments left on a declining meter. I stopped talking about the numbers after awhile. No one believed me. I want to agree it is coincidence that brings this date to life…or death. I look at the dashboard…4:19 PM as the strains of Joe Bonamassa's Had To Cry Today come through the radio...♫It's already written that today will be one to remember...♫

I stare too long.

“Mom?….I’m home…”

“She’s not here.”

“Where is she?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t been able to reach her on cell….”

“She’s usually home by 5:00.”

“Yeah. She usually is.”

(It's my birthday. The frequency with which these numerals show up in sequenced order in my life is hair raising. In habitually morbid fashion I began to wonder if the date of my birth would become the time or date of my death. Yeah....I know.... of course I'm being melodramatic, but even the world wide web has similarly macabre ideas.)

"Is April a cursed month? While there’s no scientific evidence readily available to show that a specific calendar date has any effect on human behavior, it is oddly coincidental that such a small range of dates (April 16 - 20) contains some of the darkest moments in US History." Specifically of April 19, just to name a few:

4.19.1775 - Revolution begins with the "shot heard round the world"
4.19.1861 - Lincoln orders blockage of Confederate ports, starting the Civil War
4.19.1993 - Waco
4.19.1995 - Oklahoma City Bombing
4.19.2010 - Gulf Oil Disaster