Wake up you citizens
You are being taken for a ride
By these crooked politicians
Who don’t care but deride
You assume you are awake
While in a coma like slumber you be
This doth you selfish make
And destroy our country for posterity
Wake up my countrymen
From slumber of your mind
For if you awake; only then
Will true liberation you find
You think you are great
While you actually are stupid
You kill the golden goose and berate
The golden egg that it did laid
Wake up my fellow men
For your country you doth destroy
And act as if you are a protective hen
While so called democracy you doth enjoy
I don't care about getting it right anymore
Give it to me all wrong
I'll take it
I don't need to be the bigger person anymore
Shrink me down to size
I'll be it
I don't wanna feel special
I just wanna feel good
I don't mind my imperfect teeth
I just want a reason to show them
Don't change a thing about those crooked bones
Just lay them over mine
Don't shed a tear from those awkward eyes
Just focus them on mine
i used to
like to think of myself
as a tree.
a weeping willow
a crooked pine.
i have grown tall
and my bark has grown thick
and my roots have taken hold.
i am no longer
i am as strong
as the strongest oak.
and this is the first time
i've thought of you
in two months.
A crooked smile
And momma's leather shoes
An old friend's sweatshirt
And his hat, too
Photos of the two of us
And memories of you.
A wicked right hook
And a chubby chin dimple
Broad shoulders, trim waist
A face pure and simple
I am not extraordinary
But there is much more ahead
She sat in an empty booth. It was a Tuesday, mild, with a thin veil of cirrus clouds on the horizon. Somewhere a dog barked. Outside, the Commercial Street Flower Market opened for business. A prostitute stood on the corner.
With one the sitting woman opened the menu, scanned it, and dropped it back on the table. A bleach-blond waitress arrived. Before the waitress spoke, the sitting woman cut in.
“I’d like home fries, fruit salad, and a cup of earl grey, please.” The waitress nodded, slightly wary, and scribbled the order on her yellowed order pad. The woman went back to staring at her fingers. The waitress left.
She opened her purse, rummaged around, and grasped a worn paperback of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. A small likeness of a snake twirled up her left index. She wore beige eye shadow and a full set of fake lashes. Her nails were lacquered candy apple red. There was a large scar on her neck. Sighing, she settled in to read. The snake ring’s eyes were rubies; as she turned the page, they glistened brightly. The café’s door jangled. Seconds later, a man slid in to the seat opposite her.
“You’re late,” she said. The man smiled. He had lidded Egyptian eyes and a set of straight, white, fluoridated teeth.
“So terribly sorry. Pressing issues.” He tapped a finger on the plastic table. The woman licked a finger and turned a creased page.
“Still reading that blasted book, are we? How many times has it been now, Laura? Twelve?”
“Fifteen, to be exact.” The waitress arrived with plates of bright fruit and steaming potato. She waitress had poorly tattooed eyebrows. They rose.
“Can I get you anything?” she said to the man.
“Strong cup of coffee. Two cubes sugar, slice of lemon on the side. Thanks.” The waitress smiled.
“Certainly. Your tea will be in, miss.” Laura nodded. The waitress sashayed off and the man leaned in, breaking the barrier between them.
“Why are you still reading that godawful book? Wasn’t once in Junior year enough?”
“No, it wasn’t. If you don’t mind, let’s get to the point. What are you doing here, Jack? I know it has nothing to do with harassing me over my literary opinions.” The book closed with a muffled snap. She slid it back in to her large purse and adjusted her dress.
“I got the part.” He said the two words with barely veiled excitement; they sounded unnatural and foreign.
“What in the name of God are you talking about?” she asked. She stabbed a home fry with her fork and sprinkled it with salt.
“I’ve made it in, Laur.” He said. She dragged the fry through a small puddle of ketchup and smiled. She leaned back and drew her hands through her hair, bit her lip.
“Who’s directing?” she asked. The waitress arrived again and they both leaned back, away from each other. He nodded his thanks, blew on his coffee, and drank deeply. She dipped her finger in the cup of tea.
“Some guy by the name of Cranston. Will, I think. He’s good. Directed a film called The Devil in Whitethorn. You might call him an artist.”
“Oh, Christ. You’ve made your big break, have you? With a damned arthouse director no one’s heard about? I’m impressed, Jack. Real impressed.” She sipped her tea. “What’s your deep, philosophical movie about, Jack?”
“A man dragged wrongfully in to hell who has to prove to the Devil that he is a good man,” Jack said. His chin rose slightly. “he goes through his life as an invisible man, observing all of his human mistakes. Eventually he discovers that Hell is just another version of Heaven and it’s all a test to get him to look at his life as an outsider. I play the college version of the lead. I’m third-highest billed.” He reached over and snatched a strawberry from her plate. She smirked.
“Wow,” she said, “sounds deep. Almost like one of the sappier episodes of The Twilight Zone, twist and all. Tell me, does Shatner play a PTSD-riddled man who sees monsters on an airplane? Is the Devil a fan of billiards? How many aliens are in this movie of yours?” she smiled at him, exposing a line of somewhat crooked teeth. “A movie, huh? Congrats.”
“Many thanks. I thought that someone who appreciated the subtle insanity of Vonnegut might appreciate a good deep film. Are you going to finish those?” he gestured at the fries. Six of them remained. Laura slid them across the table and tucked in to the fruit plate. “No more awful local commercials for me, love.” She scoffed at that.
“You’re a crap commercial actor. How much money are you getting for this little highbrow film of yours? One K or two?” She stabbed a honeydew square and crunched it between red lips.
“Four, doll. More than you make in a month.” Her cheeks reddened.
“I don’t need much, Jack. You of all people should know that.” She coughed lightly in to her napkin. “You’re a tricky bastard. How long have you known?” He licked a spot of ketchup off of his finger.
“Oh… Five weeks? Six? Somewhere around there. We start shooting next month.” He leaned forward, lightly brushing the back of her hand with his fingers. “It’ll premier downtown on the seventh of July. Be prepared, since I’m dragging you out there with me. You’ll need a cocktail dress and modest makeup.”
“How modest is modest?” she asked. He surveyed her face, scanning with his eyes squinted slightly. Her face flushed a touch more.
“Hmm…” he said, “drop the red lipstick, add a few more spots of cover-up, light champagne eye shadow and less blush. Also, ditch the falsies.” She laughed, a light trill.
“I don’t leave the house without them. I suppose I can scour my collection for some more… What was the word you used? Modest pairs.” His fingers stopped rubbing the thin, veined skin on the back of her right hand for a short moment.
“In other words, you’ve said yes.”
“Yes, I have.” He dropped a ten-dollar bill on the table and stood up. “Call me some time. You haven’t forgotten my number, have you?” Laura grinned. He picked up the lemon, separated the meat from the rind, and rubbed the white flesh on his teeth.
“No, I haven’t.” He dropped a single white envelope on the table. She surveyed it, placing it next to the tattered paperback in her purse. He walked away.
“Oh, and Jack?” she called without looking back at him. He stopped mid-step. “I wasn’t wearing blush today.”
He grinned harder, waved his goodbyes to the waitress, and left. The door jangled. She finished the last dregs of her tea, dropped a twenty dollar bill on the table, and stood up. It was a beautiful morning. She walked outside. The bells on the entrance jangled, stilled, and their song died.
I never knew his real name and my youthful imagination named him uncle funky the peanut man as bagged peanuts burnt were hopefully sold from a makeshift stand now on this June 2013 morning my mind slowly opens the door of youthful memory and I see soiled pants turned over shoes old hat crooked atop long gray hair brown hands waiting for a dollar exchange as funk clings to the untended skin like fleas on a homeless dog whiffs released randomly would stagger a prime boxer the times changed with the town sweeping uncle funky away with yesterday and the past of bygone days and I wonder and it is"t a very pleasant wonder whatever happened to uncle funky?
ut to be sold hopefully from a makeshift stand now on this june 2013 morning my mind opens the door of youthful memory and I see clearly soiled pants and shirt old hat atop of unseen hair brown hands waiting for a dollar exchange as funk clings to the unbathed skin like fleas on a homeless dog whiff released would stagger a prime boxer the times changed with the town sweeping uncle funky away with yesterday and the past of bygone days but I wonder and it isn"t a very pleasant wonder whatever happened to uncle funky the peanut man?
i've been trying really hard
to smile and be happy
to think about noble things
and picture a good life
picture a white picket fence
hands tightly folded together
onesies and tiny toes
late mornings and wrinkled sheets
a cup of tea
a kiss on the forehead
salty tears on my pillow
raspy sick voices
i've been trying really hard
to smile and be happy
but it seems like
it comes so much easier
to everyone else
septum ring misaligned, hold on, you’d say,
and with your black pit eyes locked tightly to mine, I’d add a baby to the end of that.
(but only in my mind.)
one hand on my cheek, the other straightening me out.
(I always knew you found the perfect balance when you’d bite your lip and smile light. that and the word around us would start spinning faster and faster but you and I would remain still and constant and encased in an orb of something that existed and will only exist between our honeycomb souls.)
remember how we would put both our rings crooked and wait until someone said something? no one ever did— you were the only one. still are.
stop by sometime. it’s been a while and I’ve forgotten your scent.
promise me you’ll bite your lip and I’ll promise not to let this go.
As I walked out an evening grey,
I felt a hand on my shoulder.
I turned to look and there she was;
Her touch warm and soft, yet steady.
This face famliar to me was;
A pair of eyes I used to know.
Blue and glowing like mine did before,
Gazing into my shivering core.
Her hand touched my cheeck so cold;
Before dawn the night is dark,
Light will shine and birds shall sing,
If faith is allowed within this soul.
So I was alone once more,
On a crooked path, going nowhere.
And though I thought about her words,
God left this one long ago.
Yesterday, June 5, 2013, was my daughter’s birthday. She had turned twelve-years old
In the church parking lot I sat on the back bumper of my red pickup truck,
drank cold coffee, and munched on a Krispy Kreme donut,
flecks of glaze sticking to my moustache as I gazed at the blades of grass where
two black ants fought over a bread crumb, one of the gladiators died without a whimper.
Once I finished my food I strode inside St. Michael’s Episcopal
to see my daughter Suzy’s piano recital.
Inside I poured a flask of bourbon into my mug of Coca-Cola.
I blame myself; she never could play as elegantly as her mother.
Her back was crooked and she kept glancing at the songbook
and her fingers chopped the piano keys, the sound clunked through the room
as if she hated the instrument. I hated her for being born on the day her mother died.
After the recital Suzy was tearing up buckets of rain,
and a thundercloud hovered over me as she tugged on my sleeve.
“Can we go and get a Happy Meal?” she asked me. I
wanted to tell her no, we will go home and you will eat
this gouda and tuna Panini and then you will drink a glass of chocolate milk.
Instead I told her, “Fine.” We hopped into the car and drove to the Mickey D’s
across the street from the church. I pulled up into the drive-thru
and ordered her meal. She sat in the backseat, the safety belt drawn across her chest
doodling puppies and kittens on a sketchpad with a blue pen.
There are no such things as blue puppies and blue kittens, but I didn’t
Have the audacity to chew my daughter out; even if she did kill my wife.
A pastey white ginger with buck teeth handed me the crinkled bag of foodd. I could
smell the golden French fries and the greasy hamburger meat. Suzy was puffy-cheeked
and had a pot belly that resembled a pirate on a dingy rowboat.
“Can I have a fry Dad?” she asked me. She didn’t say please. She never did.
I blamed that on the bad parenting, and then acknowledged that I was her parent.
I missed Helen. I gave Suzy the happy meal.
She dipped a golden French fry into a small paper cup of ketchup sauce.
A glob of red splattered onto the vinyl seat.