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Feb 15 · 200
Into the Deep
v V v Feb 15
Free will has brought us here,
brought me here,
all the result of breathing.

A consequence of arrogance.
A consequence from alcohol (But not me).
A consequence of neglect.

A consequence of the unknown
explosion at any given moment
from my mother when we
were young.

My developed response
a fight or flight my whole life,
the pathway so deep
a bottom doesn't exist.

Like a deep sea diver
the lower I go
the darker it becomes.

Claustrophobia and panic  
are almost certain.

Breathing
becomes more difficult

and returning to the surface
takes slow and steady patience.

I've only gone so deep.

How much further I might go I do not know.

I'm terrified to think what might be down there.

The thought of meeting the unknown face to face is
a fight I fight everyday.

They tell me that fighting gives it strength,
it would be better to befriend it.

I try but

its hard to make friends
in the dark.
Feb 14 · 264
Carol
v V v Feb 14
As bright as you are
I could give you the sun

and no one would know that you have it
A repost from 2011, more true today than then. I honestly believe I wouldn't be here today if not for my wife's unconditional love and support.. her brightness has been a beacon of hope through some very difficult times..
v V v Feb 8
Mother never had a chance with him,
a dry alcoholic, worse than when wet.
His mind contrived to twist and convince
and manipulate her into submission.
His unrelenting oppression
resulted in her subsequent depression.

We would see snippets of who she used to be
or who she wanted to be but they were
constantly stomped upon by his pestering.

His ideas became hers,
but never sounded like hers.
  
In no way am I claiming
she was innocent in all of this.
She lacked the will to
stand up to him... Perhaps conditioned
by their 50 years together, rooted in a time
when women didn't object.

When I think back now
I can only feel sorry for her
even though she was far from a loving
and attentive mother.
She had many demons to fight
and little emotional energy left for children.

Any memory I hold of her,
especially ones of her smiling feel oddly fake.
As a young child I was attuned enough to
recognize her smiles as forced and unconvincing.

And now she is gone

And he sits alone

I do not speak to him very often
Because I have nothing to say.
His influence lingers deep
and I hate that part of me.

He used to call but thankfully no more.
He offers no apology for the way he is,
and I am smart enough to not trust him
with anything concerning the way things were.
I have no desire to encourage more abuse.

I only wish that for my mother’s sake
that he were the one to go first.
Perhaps allowing her a little freedom
from a lifetime of him.

On a recent and rare call he told me
he still speaks to her as if she’s there.

Even in death he will not leave her alone.
Jan 31 · 115
The Next Step
v V v Jan 31
The end is never the end and steps become stages.
Neuro-transmissions engineered at birth are
erroneous pathways deepened over time.

Retrain the brain they say, neuroplasticity
a new age of hope, but pathways are abyssal
and unscalable, and time is running out..  

And what is life's purpose
When your deepest chasm is fear?

Therapy teaches to live in the moment
Experience keeps me seeking atonement

Those places to go to for calming the mind
Are fleeting, elusive and redundantly non effective,
Losing their ability to heal, so few to rely on!

Like a tiny window in a prison cell,
Only a little light is let in but not too often, transient,  
Crossing your face for a moment but then gone.

More so a reminder
Of what might have been
Or may never be.

Mountains can't be climbed with moments.

Dreams dissolve quickly upon waking,
The harder you try to hold them
The quicker they are gone.

I wonder if they are real at all.

Small victories in a multi-faceted war
Do not define sobriety.

More demons to conquer

The worst for last perhaps unbeatable.
Dec 2019 · 168
If Only I'd Never
v V v Dec 2019
For a long time I’ve been
straddling a high peak,
One foot on solid ground, the other
bare and slipping on the opposite *****.

But lately I've had both feet
on the slippery side,
hands firmly grasping the peak,
feet spread out below me
spinning and churning, unable
to gather a foot hold.

Though I believe I could hold on forever
I fear of eternity in this state.

I wonder what's the point?

Perhaps to not hurt those who
would be hurt by my letting go.

Or perhaps the hope that
all will be well in due time,
I’ve been trained to believe it.

30 years of scored and numbered ovals and oblongs,
constantly enumerated and venerated,
my little saints are prayers on a candied rosary.

30 years aware of where they are and
when they'd be mine.
No rest with or without.
Nothing will quiet their screaming.


so I walk
and walk some more
at all hours of the night.
The neighborhood dogs know me well,
they no longer bark at me for  
I am one of them now,
resigned to pacing fence lines in the dark.

Back home at 3am I stare at the ceiling,
legs spinning and churning,
clawing for the high peak.

When will it pass?
When will it pass?

Tennyson wrote,  "It is better to have loved and lost
than never to have loved at all",

though I don't think he actually believed it

and neither do I.
Apr 2019 · 566
Heart Rate Variability 1.0
v V v Apr 2019
The blue is the middle.
The battle.
The anti coherent existence.

I’m supposed to watch it from a distance,
separate myself through persistence.

I am unable.

The Blue is my watershed, and loud,
Red left and Green right war at the peak
while the pull from the left is strong.
A rolling storm cloud thick from behind,
I look toward the Green, for the light,
to your face, and the reflection in
your eyes tells me what I already know.

It is gaining.
I cannot escape it.

A tidal wave,
an avalanche,
the day before the flu.
The first pang of a kidney stone.
That moment between banging
your knee on a desk and the arrival
of the pain.

A slight delay but
most definitely inevitable.

I am not supposed to be IT.

The darkness is its own entity.

IT
is of itself and not me,

But it tells me it is me
and it is quite convincing.

Without further progress
I am convinced I'll need an exorcism.
Though it seems to be a good idea, it hasn't quite worked for me yet.
  https://blog.bulletproof.com/heart-rate-variability-training/
Apr 2019 · 526
My First Trophy
v V v Apr 2019
In the summer when I was 10
I won my first trophy,
a time when kids earned them
and others went without.

I cradled it in my hands like
the corpse of a baby rabbit,
my sweaty palms staining
the corrugated copper torso.

Father drove us home
in an overwhelming silence
while I sat in the back
with my trophy,
thinking about how
Paul's father twirled
him about in celebration.

I'd never seen a father
hug a son before,
it was strange and alien
in the world I knew,

hell I'd never seen
a mother hug a son,
or even a father hug
a mother for that matter.

The years would bring
many more trophies
and much more silence,

all of which now fills
a worn and tattered
box in my garage,

but leaves me with a
smothering emptiness
whenever I wonder why
I'm so terrified of
being loved.
Apr 2019 · 2.1k
A Safe Place
v V v Apr 2019
She told me to
"Imagine a safe place",
a quiet place, somewhere to go
when the fog is at my feet.

But everywhere I went was
crowded with doubt
and a lingering loitering
presence on my shoulder,
come out from the fog to
hurl accusations and taunt.

I can only assume
it's a he on my shoulder,
an enigma,
my father's doppelganger
come to dredge my mind
of all the **** he dished out
when I was a child,

and feed it back to me again.


I tell her I'll need more tools
and stronger ideas.

So she gives me a seat at
the head of the table
where my ****** committee meets,
and a gavel to establish order
or bash in their brains.

She arms my dreams
with weapons and courage,
gives me REM when I'm wide awake.

We fashion a furnace of love,
hot enough to vaporize the
cold darkness pouring into my gut,
customized with levers and pulleys
to push and to pull in the fight.

We tally
Alpha and Beta waves,
trained and retrained,
hard coded messages
sanded smooth by repetition.

       Through it all I give too,
       and what I give is all I can give,
       it is the warmth of what enslaves me,
       and the thought of letting it go….  
       Well.... lets not go there right now.


In the long run I'm not sure that
any of it will be enough,
I am weakened by the war.

But occasionally there
are shiny spots that simmer,

You see,
I may have found that place,
the place she first told me to find
way back at the beginning,
the place to feel safe, although
it isn't really a place per se.

If it were true
I could finally ascend to
where no fog can go.
Where my father's voice
cannot be heard,
nor the ghosts I grew
up with.

A place of love and honesty,
where my furnace would sit idle in awe.

There is a picture of us
on our bedroom wall.
It is the perfect depiction of
all that is safe for me.

I look at your smile
and I see peace.
Nothing can penetrate
your radiance,
you are everything
I've never had,
double layered and
impenetrable
by all of it.

By all of the ****.

I am learning to go there
when the fog is at my feet,
and the ghosts are in my ear.

When the accusations come
I can escape there with you,

and together we can drown them out

if only for a little while.
Recently began therapy for my "issues"  related to PTSD.  Needless to say the therapeutic tools available today are much better than they were 20 years ago.
Jan 2019 · 1.5k
His Perpetual Stare
v V v Jan 2019
The nurse said he
seemed confused today,
with a faraway look as
if trying to remember…

But I know the
look she speaks of,
he's in a constant state
of panic and despair,  

as if he’s just missed the
train and now he knows
there won’t be enough time
To catch the next one and still
make it to the liquor store
before it closes.
Dec 2018 · 604
When you don't Even Know it
v V v Dec 2018
In those first years
we spent a lot of time
in red corduroy chairs,
the ones that came with
the house on Turner Terrace.

I would sit and watch you
when you didn’t know
I was watching, constantly
looking for a crack in
your armor,
for a little snippet of the
***** you might become,

but I never found it
and it never happened.

Your little girl wonder
had me convinced that
the world in your hands
would be safe,

no death blows,
no mean streaks,
love's foundation set deep
never to be undone by
head games or hidden agendas,

and now all these years later
I am still transfixed by
your clarity,
your complete “sheerness”.

You are my priceless
dividend of peace finally paid
from a lifetime investment
in Faith,

you came to me
when Hope had gone
and Grace was silent,

and you love me
when you don’t even know it.
v V v Nov 2018
I can't stand the smell of mutton,
or the texture of liver, especially
after extended time on a dinner plate,

which meant we spent extended
time around an oval table,
my sisters and I with our
heads down, eyes averted,
no sound but the chatter of silverware.

I remember my cousin Scott told me one time that
he put spaghetti in his pockets because he didn’t like
the way it felt in his mouth, he said he’d stuffed it down
and pulled it out later and flushed it down the toilet.
It made me wonder how his pants must have smelled,
but It was something I could never risk because
my uncle wasn’t a drinker, but my father was.


As the youngest of 5 I was
the only boy, and mother said
it was a privilege for me to sit
at the right hand of father,
a place of honor she said,

perhaps in other households.

For me it was a prison,
a daily nightmare of the unknown,
I spent forever in that chair
and was always the last to leave the table,  
constantly burdened by congealed meat and organs.

Begging was useless, reprieve was never given.

On a random summer night
when I was 8 years old
my father announced with disgust,

“You eat like a bird!”

It was the way he dragged out the word
“B i i i i r r d”, so distinct, as if
he could no longer contain his abhorrence,

and once the restraint was broken
his words came fast and hot,
berating me for my
non-existent appetite.

He would have done well to
understand that fear suppresses hunger,
that alcoholism doesn't
allow for compassion or civility,
and when you live with a demon
its not you who’s in control.

I wept,
and his devil burned with rage.

“You are pathetic!” he screamed.

More tears
and then my sisters joined
in a chorus of muffles,

heads bowed,
we endured his wrath with no thought
of engaging or protesting.

Eventually I heard the screen door slam
and one by one my sisters abandoned the table,
escaping to who knows where.

I kept my head down for years.

When I finally looked up I was alone.

The girls were gone and father was off
to drink beer in his air conditioned room,

and mother?  

I have no idea where she went.
Oct 2018 · 3.2k
Comparing DNA
v V v Oct 2018
Evidently it was meant to be.
Long before I was born my DNA
sat on a shelf in God's laboratory,
a sticky note attached,
name, date of birth, perhaps
a tiny alarm to notify the lab
of inception.

God doesn't lose things
and God doesn’t forget.
It must be for a reason and
it must be meant to be.

A critical piece of who I am.

I should show a little pride because
as they say God don't make no junk(ie)..

But I’m a little late to the party..

The party that celebrates those who choose to be identified
by a gender other than the one they were born with,
but shames anyone who struggles with substance abuse.


I'm having trouble understanding the difference.

If I were to gather my drug addled friends
and march down the street with banners and signs
demanding the right to openly inject mind altering
substances into my veins I would be seen as
a criminal and a derelict even though my constant struggle
came right off the shelf of God’s laboratory where

my sticky noted DNA sat right next to yours.

I guess I shouldn't care what people think..
I know my rights, and I demand to be accepted,
NO, praised for coming out so bravely,
carrying a new flag, flaunting in the streets,
paving the way for future generations of addicts.

I will take my God given DNA out of the dark
and go out into light,

light so bright you'll be forced to accept it.

accept my sickness!
embrace it!
this is in my DNA,
God made me this way
so it must be ok.
I feel better now.
I no longer feel guilty,
or depressed,
or weak,
or wrong,
or immoral,

No longer do I need to contain it.

no longer do I need to be shamed.

I am an addict and I am beautiful.

Just like you.
The stigma of addiction is as strong as ever. I apologize to my LGBTQ friends for any offense taken to this poem. No offense is intended rather food for thought. I have often wondered why society dictates what is politically correct and what is not... and where good old fashioned morals fit in, and how something that at one time was so right can now be so wrong,    and vice versa.
v V v Aug 2018
I.

Its not easy living with only
the memory of regret.
Regret itself is more robust, substantial,
more apt to stop me mid laugh,
more apt to encourage naval gazing.


II.

You deserve all that I
have given and more,
so much more that
the give that I gave
looks pale.


III.

If only the sun
which you hold
was enough to drown out
the shadows I cast.


IV.

I climb a hill and at the peak
still more hills to climb.


V.

I go alone to places you’d like to go,
afraid to let you see the destination,
and where I go I sow but never reap,
while you stand alone with your bushel.
Jul 2018 · 16.4k
San Francisco
v V v Jul 2018
I have been to where
the lonely go, and I’ve
seen their luring towers,
calling those who
have no hope, who come
from far away to see

if coming was a mistake.

Will we ever know
who doesn’t go?
and what of those that go
but remain unknown?
Perhaps they go at night.

The horror of it.

To not be able to see the end
but still it comes and quickly.
A silent floating moment
in a winter of regret,
a springtime of longing,
a summer of sunshine,
Or a fall to the end

of the world in 7 seconds.

A super cosmic collider of
meticulous destruction.

Whether we stay or go
its all the same,
multi-layered levels of
brokenness,
no one is immune.
No one is immune.

Some spend time putting
things back together,
the spacing between levels allows it.
Others break over and over
and over again,
not enough space for repair

while the pull of the towers,
the flaming red towers and
the fog rolling down
from the west promise silence.

When I stood at the edge and looked over,
the noise was deafening.

The ones without space
cannot hear.
Mar 2018 · 470
The Little Puppy of Regret
v V v Mar 2018
Nothing short of
being loved as a child
would ever give me the
ability to make different
decisions than the ones
that led me to today.

Given a redo
with no change
I might have made
worse decisions.

With that in mind
I am inclined to
stop despising
the little puppy of regret
that follows me
wherever I go,

empowered
to bend over
and pick it up

and allow myself
to love it
for what it is.
Feb 2018 · 597
Obituary
v V v Feb 2018
When the blue green summers
of youth give way
to the golden falls of the aged and grey
its understood that death will call

but no one cares
no one at all

When sacred lives have slipped away
in morning's paper deaths displayed
as obits breathing final breaths
of those who left this world in death

Their storied bones are buried behind
the other news and hard to find
a legacy of 50 words
or less if less in life occurred

Like the simple things they did unheard

The times they stopped to lend a hand
The little things in life they planned
The times for Christ they took a stand
The only footprints in the sand

and no one noticed

no one at all

except God
Feb 2018 · 301
Stuck on Repeat
v V v Feb 2018
Perhaps I should blame
my inner demon for how
complicated my mind has become

this uneasiness with the easiness
of stress free living

and maybe I've lived in the present
long enough to know what is to come

living in the present is like
sailing on the bright blue ocean,
the beauty is everywhere,
surrounds you, wind in your face,
the sun on your skin,
cool spray across the deck
while the boat gently rocks

yet an uneasiness calls from below,
a black bilge pump and drain with
leaky seals, and deeper still
the ocean depths, cold, dark,
and suffocating

that which lurks below is more
real than whats above

I'm taking on water,  
its only a matter of time before
the boat goes down

I'm acutely aware of what
it feels like to drown

The past encroaches on the present,
fills it with painful regret

while the beautiful bright
blue slips away

I wish I could explain it better

I'm in a vicious cycle
of contradicting regret

there's a storm on the horizon

a leak in the boat

everything that exists below
is darkness come upon me,

I feel it in my gut at
this very moment,
right now, right here,
an impending doom,
my own little apocalypse

retrospect and regret
they never go away

today is nothing more than
tomorrow's yesterday and
I am continually being shamed by
that which I am already ashamed of

I'm in a vicious cycle
of contradicting regret

and I embrace it

because its the only thing I know to do






.
Jan 2018 · 912
Certainty
v V v Jan 2018
I saw an old blue jay today
unashamed of his baldness.
His beautiful crown reduced
to wispy sprouts of gray,
every which way
like a patient after chemo.

Beauty cannot exist
without suffering


I saw our rabbit’s kits yesterday,
they looked like little piglets
nestled in her nest of fur and hay,
plump and tender bodies,
tempting feasts for
creatures of the night.

Peace cannot exist
without fear


I saw a hummingbird this morning
and heard her vibrating chirp.
Cautious yet eager she
bobbed and dipped for sustenance
a thousand miles from home
like a prisoner of war.

Home cannot exist
without longing


I see an orangey moon tonight
pierced across the breast by clouds,
in halves instead of whole.
A symbol of the way things are,
a broken world that
few take time to notice.

Consciousness cannot exist
without ignorance


I looked in your eyes just now
and saw love.

Sickness, disease, danger and fear,
loneliness, loss and uncertainty
is, was, and forever will be
washed away in their blue,
at least for me.

Certainty cannot exist
without love


Of this I am certain
v V v Nov 2017
15 tapes over 15 years, moments and
occasions, vacations and holidays,
one per year in 60 minutes or less.

I took them to a little shop downtown
and got them back as DVD’s,
then I gave them to you at Christmas.

I kept copies for myself
but I have yet to watch them
for fear of forgetting the reasons
it all went to hell.

You told me that you often get confused
between what's real and what's on TV
and about whether the events you remember

are actually being remembered,
or are they just being recalled from
watching the DVDs?

Maybe that’s why you
don’t remember the same
**** as me.

Maybe you believe that if it’s not in
those home movies then it must not be real,
and therefore never really happened.

What you are not realizing is that everything
in those home movies is a wanted memory.
There are no jagged edges and
no accidental recordings,

no scenes of betrayal,
no secret relations,
no sordid behavior,
obsessive compulsions,
no sick fascinations,
her ephebophilia*,
no lack of affection,
no painful rejection,
no moral transgressions,
no threats of her leaving,
no demon possession.

instead

what you see in those movies is just
a compilation of best behavior.

The absolute truth is that you live with an
evil so dark that you question your sanity,
as I did for so many years.

The juxtaposition of  
her sensational gas-lighting^ with
the pleasantness of your DVD
dominated memory has caught you in
the vacuum of her black hole.

When you exist within the proximity of
such overbearing darkness you tend to
attempt to create your own light to live by,

but your light will never be bright enough
until you create space between it and
her vacuum that constantly snuffs it out..

Just know that I will always love you

and all I ask is that you take note of who it is
behind the camera lens of those memories,
and who it is that created them for you,

and maybe one day you'll understand all of this,

because I know that I don't.
Ephebophilia- Is the primary ****** interest in mid-to-late adolescents, generally ages 15 to 19

Gas-lighting - To manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity

Sometimes this **** just bubbles up out of nowhere and I need to get it out..
Oct 2017 · 426
Will the Scent Last Forever
v V v Oct 2017
Thirty years ago
somewhere
in New Mexico.
It’s wintertime.
The phone booth glass
is cool and wet against
my forehead,

hand to breast
******* the scented
swatch you gave me,
lace fringed lavender,
sublime.

Like all that is
perfect in the world,
every inhalation
a belt of ******* euphoria
played out across
the inside of my eyelids,
drifting,

I see the sun in
your hair through
half closed drapes,
skin as soft as your breath,
ecstasy in your eyes,
the fragileness of your being
pale and pink,
ruffled frills in shafts of
broken light

Hello?

Don’t hang up, please..

I’m begging you

A car honks, the wind blows.
I wipe a sniffle away with
your scent,
now every breath
I take is you.

Are you there?

I can hear you breathing..

silence

I draw a heart on the glass
and then self-consciously
wipe it away

silence

a sigh

and you speak

You hurt me

I know, I’m sorry
  I didn’t want it
to turn out that way
I was afraid
and now I can’t stop thinking about you.

  Fringe of lace
against my nose
eyes closed

Don’t call here anymore
Don’t ever call here anymore

silence

minutes

A voice on the line says

Sir your party has hung up..

..Sir?

I know…. I know…

I hang up the phone

I pull my collar up
around my ears
and step into the night

A little piece of you goes
with me in my pocket

I wonder will
the scent last forever.
v V v Sep 2017
10,000
early morning muses
but sometimes late at night

he brings enough sun
to make 1000 poems look easy

he is the leaven to our loaves and
the tequila to our margaritas

positively
positive he works through
the dark of night
to bring us light
and for the full effect
of his efficacy
drink dark coffee
first

then
sufficiently caffeinated
awakened and ready
to read
put in the work
to discover the words
his encouraging words of life
and maybe you’ll burn to earn
a bonus of how to survive
so very little sleep

for me

personally
its more about
the lines between the lines
than those not spoken at all
or written at all
rather realized
                                  
if I were to
focus on others
half as much as he
then maybe my life
would be less miserably
my own

more jokes than yokes
and less wails to no avails
no non-satiated regrets
or cratered frustration
rather
peace in a storm of senility

he writes for us all
with a message of hope
like the god of HP he sees
we are radiating rays
positivity pointed
one and all and
all together at
the same time
toward heaven

he moves freely
amongst our home page
from whence did he come?

from the fourth dimension
he brings forth conjuration

his style is love
his style is hope
his style is empathy
his style is encouragement
his style is truly who he is

he is an early morning beacon
bewildering
he comes from the east
to rise across our browsers
seeking the infection of discovery
in each hissy fit writ
we write
Yes indeed Joel, it is about time.
These words are his words, they are barely my own rather collected
and displayed as an ode to Nat.
Aug 2017 · 255
Here, There, These
v V v Aug 2017
We live in a house
without ghosts or
previous tenants.
No one has died
or sold their soul
here,

and no one has done
unspeakable things
behind closed doors
here.

No one has endured
flaming words,
burning skin,
kicks and shoves
or broken bones
here.

There are no
spun dust dead cells
come alive as
night prowl swirlings
here,

and no manifestations
of such.

No leftover lives
here,
nothing left behind
here.

only peace
and quiet
here.

But not back
there
when I lived with her
before I lived
here
with you.

Back
there
she said I went crazy
when the neighbors asked
why I slept on the porch
there.

It would have been crazier
had I slept inside the house
there.

What happened
there
was worse than
the worst thing imaginable.
I would forever be changed
by what happened
there.

She let evil enter
there
from across the globe when
mother Russia sent it in
the suitcase of a boy.


When I met you
I knew
my porch sleeping days
were over,
whether
here
or
there,
quite frankly anywhere.

Our first house
was 50 years old
yet we were only
the second owners.

Family must have mattered
there.

The ghost was different
there,

not frightening, not angry,
more nostalgic,
he used to sit out
there
on the porch
in my chair at night,
sit
there
looking sad,
like he missed the place.

He didn’t mind us being
there
and I never felt threatened
there.

On many occasions
he knew that I knew
he was
there,
but he wouldn’t engage.
I felt sorry for him,
sitting out
there
all alone.

For a short while
we lived in a house
north of town.
We lived
there
before we lived
here.

The ghosts
there
were more like what
you’d expect from ghosts.

First it was
the hogs in the attic
followed by
the children in the night,
it wasn’t unsafe
it just didn’t feel right
there.

Someone wasn’t happy
there,

so we left
there
and came
here
and built this house of love.

Now we live where
there
are no ghosts,
at least not in the house.

Instead
the history in my head
is what haunts me.

To move it out,
to delete it
would mean to be dead
or maybe lobotomized,
so no thank you
I think I’ll learn to live with
these
ghosts.

These
that aren’t
there,
or
here,

they still are.

My father is 85 and tells me
that they prey on your weakness
when you get older.
He cannot even speak of them
for fear of being institutionalized
or put away, or deemed insane,
but I believe him when he tells me
that they come to him at night,
and although he cannot see them
they sit on his bed and remind him
of all the mistakes he has made
in his lifetime.

I look at him
and I can see his pain.

My ghosts tell me its what
I have to look forward to.
v V v Aug 2017
Wrote this back in 2013... Wanted to bring it forward to today, August 22,  which would have been Layne Stayley's 50th Birthday.


It was simple at first
I did it on a dare

There's a certain easiness
to difficult dares
when senses are dulled
by alcohol and fame

show me how
that color tastes

It was like
biting into the sun
it burned my tongue
and nothing else
would ever taste the same
or be the same
it calmed the storm
of daddy leaving
it was as if my
new found Catholicism
was a purgatory from where
I could see the bright white
pearly gates of heaven
and feel the chill
of their snow clad bars

colder than
the coldest winter chill

one night in a dream
my father told me
to meet him at the gates
and from that point
I went every night
but he never came
instead he died
and when he died
my dreams died
with him.

bury me softly
in this tomb

I continued to go there
night after night
I desperately wanted
to believe the gates
would lead to heaven
because in hell there's heat
and this place was cold
so cold with no sound
and no light only darkness

I would sit in the cold
for hours, losing all sense
of time, obligations
responsibilities, shivering
and sweating at the foot of
the gates, obsessed with the
furry luster of frozen pearls
the sound of silence and
the subtle shifting of
the weather

holding rare
flowers in bloom

a week, a month
a year would pass
the snow began to slip
in clumps and tumble
to the ground again
and again and again
and then
all hell broke loose
the heat was hot
the gates were gone
and I began to run
but

every path
led me to nowhere

the blue cold went red hot
and then turned black
I tried to leave that place
13 times I left and
13 times returned
there was nowhere else to go
no place to call home
I burned within my sick head

I wanted to peel
the skin from my face

so hot
I was bleeding for you
soaked in sweat
my calloused heart
would not ask for help

serenity
was far away

my hands were bruised
from breaking rocks all day
far from the chill
I couldn't remember
anymore anyway
so desperate
for a glimpse of snow
it all came down
to this

I could not live apart
from that place
and I could not live
within it

so tonight

I will marry the two
the here and the now with
the there and the then

mix the snow with the fire
mix the snow add the fire
mix   snow  with    fire
mix   snow  add    fire

snowfire
      
snowfire
      
snowfire

momma
I am burning
momma I am cold
mother please save me
don't leave me alone
I see you but
you've come too late
can you hold me anyway?
whisper in my ear
I'm so sorry mother
I haven't bathed in 2 weeks
momma come hold me please

I'm down in a hole mother
feeling so low mother

I'm so cold mother
come save me
take me home
mother
I am dying

mommy
I am dead
sit with me
in silence
sit with me
I am dead

mommy I'm scared

black is all I feel
so this must be how it feels
to be free*

mother
I am dead

In Memory of Layne Stayley
born August 22, 1967 died April 5, 2002
Re-Dedicated today on what would have been his 50th Birthday..
Jul 2017 · 705
Her Blue Plastic Jesus
v V v Jul 2017
Like a young schoolgirl she flirts with the orderlies,
skid resistant yellow stockings swinging beneath
her wheelchair. Yellow defines the wackiest of the bunch.

She scooches across the room,
strapped in like a child in a car seat,
her socks providing excellent traction
on the shiny grey linoleum.

To see her this way is a bit shocking,
she speaks in a child’s voice,
like a little girl at play,

its such a strange sensation,
it reminds me of the time in the seventh grade
when Mr. Coster told us about the ghosts
in Sunnybrook’s basement,
I find myself questioning reality,
looking for ways not to believe.

At first she wants to pray,
and while our heads are bowed
she talks directly to Jesus, “there you are!”
she says, “and what a pretty blue sash you have on!”,
I steal a peak at the door
to see if Christ is there.

Next she wants to sing, and away she goes
while the girls join in….

The doctors say she’ll never again be who she was,
the mini strokes have done away with her.
I quietly concur and tell myself its not so bad
to see her this happy.

But within a week they move her to long term care
and all hell breaks loose.

“I want to divorce your father!”, she snaps,
“I’m tired of his ****”.
But when he comes to visit she purrs like a kitten
about undying love and how she’ll only be happy
when she dies in his arms.

The reality of her dysfunction
has never been more evident.

My whole life is a byproduct of her chaos.

Her eyes begin to take on
the wild look of a crazed dog,
She slips me notes and whispers strange things,
like she’s being watched and needs to be careful
about speaking too loudly,

I desperately try to make sense
of what it is she’s saying
but I’m completely distracted by
the lady across the table
with the television remote control
in her mouth, clamping down firmly
as if it’s a candy bar.

Mother goes on and on about
a job offer she’s received,
an offer to teach a sewing class,
she’ll need some good quality shoes
if she’s to be on her feet all day,
and maybe a few new blouses,
and oh how she’s tired of pajamas.
Next she’s on to requests for crayons
and batteries, a new mattress, more light..

She mumbles now.
Stream of consciousness ****.
She’s crying more as well.
Heaving sobs rack her body
as she bounces up and down,
hands across her face in an
over-dramatic display of despair.

Its my last evening with her.
I’ll be leaving shortly.
She’s not in her chair by the window.
I find her in her room lying in the dark.
I sit on the edge of the bed and touch her forehead.

She opens her eyes but does not see me.
She is still and silent and I notice she is clutching
the blue plastic Jesus I gave her, two inches tall
with arms outstretched and the message “HOPE”
scripted on the base.

I begin to stroke her hair, long, gentle strokes
and she sighs, A long broken sigh like
one might give after a good cry.
I half expect her to put
her thumb in her mouth.

Instead she lies silent holding her Jesus
while I wonder if the blue is the same blue as
the sash of the robe he wore the week before
when she was happy.

It’s a heavy moment for me because I know
that I am giving her what she could never give,
that nurturing touch that says its gonna be ok,
the reassurance that though afraid, you don’t have
to be alone, and the full and complete knowledge
that you are loved.

I wish she would say that she wished
she would have been a better mother,
a loving mother, but she cannot because
she is on a rocket ship to outer space
and I know this,
and its ok.

Though she was incapable of
loving me as a small boy
she became able in later years
to light a spark in me for Jesus.

A spark that would grow into
a burning flame of comfort in troubling times,  
a flame that would do more for me
than any mother's touch,
at least that’s what I’d like to think.

A flame that would ultimately
teach me how to love
in spite of never being loved.

A flame that is empowering me
to stroke her hair and give comfort to
a mother who never loved me
the way I needed to be loved,

the way Jesus loves me,
with his arms wide open and his light blue sash,
standing over the letters H O P E…

I get up to go
and see that she is now sleeping.
I watch Jesus slip from her fingers
and fall to the floor,
watch him bounce a time or two then
disappear beneath the bed,
like when you drop a coin from your dresser,
and it ends up out of reach.

I leave her room wondering
if I’ll ever see her again.

I step out into the night and go home.
Jul 2017 · 455
For Gonzo
v V v Jul 2017
Why do we Hallmark our holidays and fabricate ceremonies?

We guilty non-obligators celebrate all things that can't be true,
forcing smiles in rooms full of elephants yet no one’s a candidate for sainthood.

I tell myself I’ll do better than they did, but doing better than they did
still leaves roles un-played and dreams unfulfilled.

I may understand life from the top to the bottom but I live in the dash between the hair of the dog and last call.

While people without broken bones wander around on crutches,
we who were broken as children walk on feet-less legs,
a trail of pain follows wherever we go.

Its inevitable for us to get stuck between bitterness and agony while all the while we fail to make sense of what it is we're living for.

I don’t want to be celebrated I’d rather be understood, so maybe then the searing heat of loneliness we never speak of might die a slow death.

I only wanted for you what was better than what I had
not knowing that without the bad there is never any good.

Every left hand turn leads to something right eventually
and when we exist for only ourselves the world is not round rather flat and we tend to fall off the edges into pandemonium and unhappiness.

Its not what we have it’s the pursuit that keeps us going but I need to not want in order to feel what I feel.

To sit still is more consuming than any long term project.

When I have it all I have nothing,

an uneasiness with the easiness of stress free living,

a simmering flame of doubt about all that's gone wrong in my life while things that happened 30 years ago feel as fresh as tomorrow.

I read an article today that said the drug ecstasy can take away depression but we all know lots of pills can do that.

The bottom line in all of this, I wish I had a reset button, a restart after false start, a wake up to reality call, I'd throw away the wigs I wear, powder coated cover ups,  and let my hair grow long,

get back to the basics,

maybe start with Bukowski,

celebrate the simple things in life.
I've been having trouble summoning my muse of late so I borrowed Gonzo's muse and wrote this for him.. I hope it sounds like him, he has a unique style that I tried to imitate..I hope he doesn't Mind...
Jan 2017 · 1.5k
Somehow They Still Have Hope
v V v Jan 2017
I never really felt as if
my mother had it all together.  
Her torch was
a brittle twig she couldn’t keep lit,
never enough stick to burn bright,
but just enough tip
for random flare-ups
violently fueled by
nobody knew what.

Her lack of light meant
she could not be trusted,
and her strained attempts at
love and affection felt like
a bad dream where
everyone’s speaking Japanese.

Her marriage to my father was
the modern day equivalent
of an interracial same *** marriage,
Catholics and Protestants
weren't supposed to mix,
and a toothless trumpet player
with an alcoholic bent
shouldn’t have lasted the honeymoon
with a spoiled, sheltered oldest child.

But father made it seem as if
they had it all together,
at least in public.
At home it was different,
he passed through our lives
like the winter wind,
everybody scrambling for cover
when he showed up.

He slept at odd hours
and worked and drank
and drank and worked,
blowing quickly from one
to the other, 
never standing still long enough
to notice the demons at his heals,
the demons that took forever to catch him,

but not mother.
They caught her when I was quite young.
I could see them in her eyes
from a very early age and
father could see them too,
but he did nothing
to protect her.

They’ve been together
over 60 years now, overrun by what
I would call a thick purple nothingness
an eerie, detached existence within
the smothering cadence of monotony,
yet somehow, unbelievably,
they still have hope.

Hope for God knows what

all they have is their
unspoken hatred of each
wrapped up in a make believe
so strong and lived so long
that their demons are now
a huge white elephant
lounging about the house
loosening their bed screws,
pounding on the bed springs,
moving through the vents
and interfering with
the reception of Catholic radio.

You might call it insanity,

I say everything that
once mattered to them is lost,
yet again,
they still have hope.

Meanwhile
we overachieving children
suffer our own maladies,
a misfit bunch of
dysfunctional lovers running so fast
we’ll be 80 before the demons catch us.

But who am I kidding?
From father to mother to me,
their demons have been my closest friends
as long as I can remember,

ever since the first day
I saw them in her eyes.
Nov 2016 · 854
Burnt Toast
v V v Nov 2016
He enters the wood
without wanting,
taken from slumber
and pushed from behind
into darkness.

Up ahead he sees light,
he wants to believe
he always sees light,

but lately its not there
and he cannot see,
and they’re not at home.

He’s becoming afraid
to close his eyes,
no telling where he’ll end up,
skirting the edges of
the unknown.

He wonders what’s beyond,
a cliff, a hole, a vacuum,
insanity hovering over the
sprawling darkness of Hell.

He’s never been
though he thinks he can taste it,
it tastes of fear,
dark and gritty like burnt toast.

His only hope in
the little white diamonds.

When he swallows,
their edges work to scrape
the darkest burn away.
Nov 2016 · 659
Silent Burning Shame
v V v Nov 2016
'All swim' whistle,
water sent splashing,
the chaotic entrance of youth.

Adults scramble in the melee
while a man I do not know
bumps into me,
his hand down my shorts.
Confusion.

I ride home in shame.
Silent. Burning. Shame.

I am only 10
and tend to wince
at loud voices,
and right and wrong
depend upon the
time of day and
how many beers
my father drinks.

Country roads whip by,
sweet corn in the wind,
I watch the sun set
over the hill.

Once it's gone I know.

There will be no redemption,
 no reclaiming of innocence.

That shame feels like swallowing hot coals is all too familiar.

Mother says, “You don't look sick to me",

it's her answer for everything.
Sep 2016 · 686
Drifting Apart
v V v Sep 2016
You are no more abnormal than the woman in a shoe
A dull cold blade sits at the base of my spine
who goes on washing the clothes and beating the children
while my unlit corridors buzz to neon life like a scream in outer space.
                                    
None of it matters anyway.....
Jun 2016 · 371
A Cure for Indifference
v V v Jun 2016
We were dying that year,
the year they fell,
and when they fell I felt nothing;
but I heard them hit the ground.

Amazed by her nonchalance
I sat the children down, the sound
of fighter jets outside the window,
to talk about the day’s events.

I’d spend the next ten years
studying the art of empathy,
pushed along by the shame of
standing zombie-like and unaffected

while others wailed in horror at
the collapsing twin towers, and now,
the haunting realization that so many
had to die in order that I might learn to feel.

The ones that jumped live with me still.
More real today than when they leapt.

     We define our lives by brick and plaster,
     row after row of rooftop satellites staring southwest,
     straining for a glimpse of God while
     our garbage appears at the curb before morning.

     There is no talk behind dark shades, no debate,
     only flickering lights of transmission
     and lives backed into corners, swept up in
     a dustpan of mindless television.

     The fighter jets brought me back to life,
     my neighbors stay mostly out of sight,

     until one of them encounters
     their own catastrophic collapse,
     then the others congregate curbside
     in the flashing red light

     to watch men stretch yellow tape
     around a scene that looks familiar
     and wonder why they cannot feel;

     like the day they fell when I felt nothing.
May 2016 · 824
A Fancy Name for Tolerance
v V v May 2016
tachyphylaxis - tach·y·phy·lax·is (tāk'ə-fĭ-lāk'sĭs)  n.
1.    A rapidly decreasing response to pleasure following initial administration.

I didn’t know this
demon had a name.
Ugly as it is it fits,
a random mish-mash
of unpleasant sounds
and equal unpleasantness
felt.

I’ve known the *******
forever, manifest in vitamin cures
and psychological processes,
SSRI’s and stabilizers.

He attends to the end of
affectionate loving and all
the designer vacations
you've ever taken.

He is the golden handcuffs of
square foot home ownership
and his business cards are
set in silver.

To put it bluntly
his continuous presence
is intent on destruction
of any contentment.

He is all things along the way
that appear so promising at first
but never last.

Synonymous with tolerance,
antonymous with precedence,


the antagonistic leaven of all living.
,
Apr 2016 · 317
There Forever to Recall
v V v Apr 2016
Your middle name is Beautiful.
Mine’s a bit more complicated,
like bitter on the lips
leaves you thirsty in the sun.

I’d hope in time your love
might make it different,
it already has to a degree,
but for now
my best advice for you?

Attend your own miracle,

release your pent up energy
while I entertain you from below,
I’ll shine a single beam on
what might fuel desire

and watch you take my light in,
see you from the outside
blink slowly,
each shut a deposit,
a snapshot,

a field of vision for future use,
for future reference.

They say the eyes are
a gateway to the soul,
painting pictures behind eyelids
there forever to recall,

While the moon shines red,

on me but not you.
Mar 2016 · 2.4k
That Sacred Balance
v V v Mar 2016
I.

Everything meets
in the middle,

all that is
and was
and done
or said

eventually.

So they say while
the fulcrum creaks
and the lever sags.

     That’s where
     they’ve
     lost there way.

Take two magnets and
try to push them together
to meet at center, instead
they slide from side to side
and go around, no force
can bring them together.

     I say everything
     that goes around
     comes back this way,

the wrong way,
to haunt or remind us
but never to the middle,
never offering peace.

Maybe that's why
some say suicide
is a valid option,
as if to trick
the sacred balance,
sneak up on
magnetic rejection
and force your way
to center.

     Sometimes I dwell
     on the mystery of
     Golden Gate.

Such a sacred place,
the breeze, the sun,
her hypnotic beauty
and the fact that
no one jumps at
night.


II.

Nero:    "Jax, do you believe in Karma?"
Jax:       "Not today"
  
     But I believe.
     I believe because
     I have lived it.

     My Karma is Grace
     and I can’t tell you
     how many times she
     has found me,

always where I didn’t go willingly,
dragged by a massive darkness
and held up high while the weight
of death sat across the divide
on the other end of the teeter-totter.
Feb 2016 · 450
Sludge
v V v Feb 2016
Let’s go to hell
and pretend
to be wearing
disguises.

Wade across
the chasm of
darkness
into a place
of utter despair….
Oh wait,
we’re already
there….

And he’s
already here,
always is,

kept in check
by Benedict
and crucifix.

Prancing
to and fro
looking for
weakness in
my defenses
like a
velociraptor.

Usually its
short barks
and snorts,
And the
clicking
of
nails,

but today
he’s in disguise,

Satan
in sludge state,

a black liquid
shadow
wherever
I go.

Standing still
would be the
end of me,

Yet all
that is
within
me
wants
to dive
right in

like the town idiot,
succumb to the lure and
come forth covered
in feather.

he brings
much pleasure
at first
everything
is well
yet fleeting,

have some more
soon the sludge
will take you,
its inside of you,
swallowed you,
you of it and
it of you,

wake
and choke
and spit
in fear

this time
May be
the last

Don't stuff it
Back down

don’t look
in the mirror

Only God can
pull it out
but you have
to ask,

you have
to believe,
the key?

Don’t ask
too late.
Jan 2016 · 614
When the Low Spirit Comes
v V v Jan 2016
Despondency
like a vampire
thrives on the night.
Pale as death
he never dies,
only sleeps
and wakes
to quench his thirst.

His chaos is
my redemption,
his constant roar
the blood
upon my brain,
he’s the only way
I know to feel alive
in a world full
of puppets.

Those who fear him
hang by string,
they stiffly dance
like living dead
with eyes wide
and unblinking,
wooden smiles painted
over worried frowns.

I have learned to
dance without string,
to stand strong
and wait for him
with arms upturned,
veins to the sky,
silent and still,
as reticent as a rood.

let him come to me
this night, there is
no fear, let him in.

The rest are all puppets.

Puppets on strings.

Puppets without a maker
to wish on falling stars.
Jan 2016 · 1.3k
I Like to Drive at Night
v V v Jan 2016
Sometimes I awaken to
a hovering swarm of
stinging can’t be sures.

I have learned from experience
that on those days
it is best to avoid all reflection.

Mental or optical,
either one if given rope
will string you up,
tie you down to guilt
like a sinking ship
where the longer you
stay on board
the harder it is to get off.

I’d like to think
a long drive
would clear my mind.

A long drive driven at night.

I’d head out west toward
the widening sky and
reflective green mile markers,
400 to be exact.

They have seen
their fair share of
my failures.

Dallas - Ft Worth
To New Mexico,
I could drive it
eyes closed
and never miss
a turn.

But in years past
It wasn't so easy.
Back then I missed
a lot of turns
and messed up a lot of life.

From the guilt
of the sinking ship
to the heat of
midnight pavement,

at least the pavement
brought a tiny bit of pleasure,
still brings a tiny bit of pleasure.

For 30 years
I’ve gone this way
leaving ashes of me,
bits and pieces here and there

while white reflective numbers
count out the many milestones
I’d rather soon forget:


                    Tears of regret at mile markers
                    349, 288, 275, 263, 217, etc.

                    Swerved to miss a deer
                    at mile marker 321,

                    First on the scene of a 2am
                    accident.  Quiet moaning,
                    mile marker 285,

                    met my guardian angel
                    on a cliff with no guardrail,
                    mile marker 250,

                    panic attack at 249,

                    219 in drifting snow,
                    invisible except for green paint
                    found on my bumper,

                    Stopped the car to *****
                    at 216, 201, 185, that’s all,
                    wait, one more time,
                    mile marker 59.

                    Attacked by giant frogs
                    at 213,

                    The wind whipped giants at
                    the gates of Fluvanna, 201,

                    saw Christ come forth
                    from a swirling fog
                    at 192,  barefoot,
                    dragging a cross uphill,
                    I had seen him in the dark
                    at marker 195 at 4am,
                    so I stopped and waited
                    for the suns to rise over
                    an eastern hill,
                    and when they did
                    I went on.

                    The suicidal lure of
                    velvety pillowed
                    train tracks at 155,
                    unfortunately inaccessible
                    from the road,
                    occasionally they still call my name.

                    at 140 I threw away everything
                    that was true about love,
                    the repercussions of such
                    are still felt 3 decades later,                         
                    so be careful of the promises      
                    you make, and stay away from
                    mile marker 140,
                    Satan lives there beneath a rock.
                    
                    Smothering loneliness
                    at mile marker 125, 101, 94.

                    76 total emptiness.

                    Nothingness  45, 44, 43, 42, 41.

                    Amnesia from 40 to 1.

                    At the state line
                    there are no numbers
                    only a huge red and yellow sign
                    that says  “Bienvenido!”

                    I breathe a sigh of relief
                    and roll up my window,

                    no more hovering swarms
                    past or present
                    at least for tonight,

                    at least on this side of the line.
v V v Dec 2015
Mother tried to be a decent mother
in the weeks ahead of Christmas.
she’d fill the month with Advent calendars,
finger countdowns and splotchy
un-successful attempts to create a
joyful face with lipstick.

In hindsight maybe the weight
of her guilt was especially heavy during
the one month of the year that God
could not be ignored.

Its different now.
God is no longer privy to X-mas,
and guilt is not an appropriate emotion
to be taught to children.  

I was more afraid
of mother during Christmas
than at any other time of the year,
all that fake smiling and brittle kindness,
her strings could snap at any moment,
and you knew they would
you just didn’t know when,
or how, or on who.

“It always snows at Christmas!”
mother said as she reached
out my bedroom window to
gather a handful of fresh powder.
She’d bring it in to show me
and I’d wince and cringe because
her movements were  erratic
and unpredictable
like a puppet on strings, her
arms swinging wildly
from side to side,
knees jerking up and down
across the floor
she’d always end up
spilling snow on my bed.

I think the snow helped numb
what it was that she hid,
helped her hide behind
that painted wooden smile,
if only for a little while.

My memories of snow
are quite vivid.
  
I’d shovel snow into
tall piles, taller than I stood
then build tunnels
to the other side.
I jumped off of rooftops
into huge snowdrifts
and come up with
sleeves full of snow.
My friends and I would
latch onto bumpers of
slow moving cars
and “skeech” through
the neighborhood,
or careen down toboggan
runs on our feet,
face planting
at the bottom where
the ice gave way
to fresh snow.

When I turned 16
we’d hide Old Style Beer
in snow drifts,
build ice forts in the forest
and spin donuts in
St. Mary’s parking lot with
open beers in our laps
and never get caught.

As I see it now
all of these things
helped ease the
burden of confusion
with my mother’s
dis- interested
wooden puppet
smiling,

but her guilt ridden
attempts at
Christmas niceties
were never going
to be enough
to keep me from
becoming
dysfunctional.

You see its all about the snow.  
A life embraced by snow.

snow cut into lines,
Encapsulated snow,
spoon melted snow,

any kind of snow
to numb the extremities
and freeze the nerve endings,

a temporary escape from
the Christmas gift
of mother’s guilt.
Dec 2015 · 820
6:15 to 6:25 am
v V v Dec 2015
Imagine this:

We are in a car that is
plummeting over a cliff
after spinning through a guardrail
off an icy mountain road, and we know
that our time is hopeless
and about to end so
I stare at you intently while
the rocks below
come racing toward us.

Can you see the look on my face?

This is how I look at you
every morning
between 6:15 and 6:25,

10 minutes
of loving the gift of you
with my eyes,


as if I’m
about to lose you
and I need to sear your image
in my mind
so it will always be with me,

even in death.
Nov 2015 · 2.7k
The Death of Routine
v V v Nov 2015
I.

She’ll drive through the parking lot
at quarter past eight tonight;
but first she’ll put up the gravy
and throw away salad.

There is something amiss with the sun.
The angle through the window,
she’s never noticed it on
her plate before

because by now
they were usually seated in the den
where the sun would greet them there,
not here.

It’s not like him to be late.
She worries while she sits,
waits a little longer,
watches the sun slide over
the edge of the table
and drift toward the empty den.

She feels as if she’s
stepped off a spaceship
after landing on a different planet
and the simple act of breathing
requires exaggerated effort.

She looks around at nothing that’s familiar.

She gets up and clears the plates,
feeds the dog, loads the wash
then heads for the door.

Its no surprise
she finds his car parked
in space 138.
The same place he always parks
when he goes for a run.

She shakes her head  
and checks her watch,
confused by the clock
on the dash, 8:31 pm.

It doesn’t make sense.

25 years of routine behavior
makes her think that it is morning.
He parks in space 138
in the morning.

Troubled by her fractured norm
she calls 911 and waits for
the police to arrive.
They tell her that they found a man
and ask her to go with them but
she cannot, or will not go with them
to identify a dead man,

lifeless on a concrete slab
in a cold city basement
under blue neon buzz
above refrigerated drawers.

They will need to find another way
to break her heart tonight.

She refuses to hear what happened,
how a mental patient ran from
behind a tree and hacked him
with a rusty machete.

She will not go with them,
she will not listen to their story,
she will not turn on the television,
she will not speak to anyone but

she will hang on to routine.

She will hold it tightly
for as long as she can.

II.

On a random Saturday at 5:15
she rushes to prepare dinner by 5:30.
At 5:35 she stares at the kitchen clock,
the one they calibrate with Greenwich
once a month.

At 5:36 she takes off her apron,
folds it carefully so as not to wrinkle it,
wipes a bead of sweat from her upper lip
and wonders if its menopause.

Her heart is racing as
she jumps at the sound of the telephone.
  
When she hangs up she is calm.

The coroner has confirmed.

She heads toward the back door,
spots her keys on the left hook while
the right hook sits empty
and she begins to cry.
    
She takes her keys into the garage
but leaves her purse behind.
She won’t be driving anywhere tonight.
She starts the car,
    
leaves it running and gets out,
lies down on the cold cement floor,
curls into a fetal position and
slowly drifts toward sleep.

She finally admits the truth.

He sleeps on cold cement as well.
A very sad story that has stayed with me now for several weeks... I wake up thinking about it, I am haunted by this story..

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20151027-for-wife-of-white-rock-slaying-victim-pain-was-unbearable.ece
Oct 2015 · 307
Her Skin is...(10W)
v V v Oct 2015
As soft as the smooth direction
of velvet both ways.
Oct 2015 · 596
A Case of Mistaken Color
v V v Oct 2015
A painter's wooden palette
is used to blend color,
if it isn’t quite right 
no problem,
just wash it and start over.

A clean slate with  
no layers beneath,
no previous unused batches
or miss- matches.

A fresh start without guilt
and the constant reminder
of mistaken color.

If my brain were this simple
I'd be soggy from starts over.

Instead,

my palette is thick and
crusty with mistaken color
and every new mix
blends the old with the new.

These multi-layer batches
will never dry out or wash off
so I’ve stopped trying.

I'm tired of all this
mixing and matching
where no matter how bright
the color I add,

it always ends up storm gray..
v V v Sep 2015
We bury them in flat graves
or convert them to ash
and wear them around our necks,
or place them in urns.

And what’s this about burial pods?
Your rotting corpse providing nutrients
to a tree that will one day be
cut down to make a casket
for the person that hung themselves
with their necklace of ash.

I recently read about
mechanically pressed ash
pressed so hard and
with so much pressure
that your loved one becomes
a diamond.
Albeit grey and dull,
and quite expensive.

Effectively if you die first
you can still be buried
with the one you love,
its almost like dying twice…

why do we no longer honor the dead?

Please don’t say an urn or a pod
or a flat marked grave honor the dead.
Google Highgate Cemetery.
Google The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno
and you will understand the difference.

It is good to honor the dead.  

A death so honored that
a hundred years later
They’re as beautiful as ever.

Go,
look and see how beautiful it is
to honor the dead.
I'm sure it comes down to expense, but oh how I wish we still honored our dead in this way. Google images of Highgate Cemetery and the Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno for specific examples of such beauty.
v V v Sep 2015
This years winner is portulaca.
She has overrun the competition.
I pronounce her pour – chew - laka,
as if her presence isn’t already
pronounced enough.

A watery **** in disguise,
she slips beneath a bed of color
when the sun comes out.
Hundreds of little umbrellas
protecting her from the heat,
or rather gathering it.
Like those big dishes in
the Arizona desert
that listen to outer space,
she sways and moves toward
the voice of the sun.

Three colors dominate.
Neon pink,
not glow in the dark pink
but glow in the day pink.

Red,
a red as red as
“B” horror movie blood,

and lemony yellow.

In the afternoon they hide.
Delicate brushes dipped in color,
their daily quota of light fulfilled.

Those not in direct light
still fight,
open and searching,
leaning and bending toward
leftover patches of day..

I see one standing alone,
upright and outstretched,
tall and wiry.
A netted wing dragonfly
hovers nearby.

The dianthus lie
silent among the portulaca.
Like gored runners at Pamplona
they have been trampled and overrun,
their white garment petals
splattered in red.

The roses fade in the August heat,
tired of continuous expectation
they don’t even try anymore.
They will be pruned for their indolence.

Near the garage,
The Mexican heather sways
in the intermittent shade of fountain grass,
Running this way and that,
trying to catch a random ray of light
between the blades of taller grass.

In the corner of the yard
the fountain sits bleached and tired,
weathered by a season of sun.

It bubbles in slow motion,

the mossy birds lie down in its flow,
too tired to stand anymore.
Aug 2015 · 3.3k
All That I Have Felt
v V v Aug 2015
(In some semblance of order)

(1967 to 1975)

kittens
carpet burns
fear
WGN presents “One-Eyed Jacks” starring Marlon Brando
my grandmother’s basement
slaps from my mother
fear
kicks from my father
fear
Nerf basketball
10CC “I'm Not in Love”
fear

(1976 to 1980)

sunny, cool, fall days
the woods on Sundays
tall green grass
raised red seams on a baseball
fear
Tickle Pink wine
the smell of hashish
the buzz of high tension wires
Stroh's beer, pull tab tall boys
the woods at night
the breeze through the car window
her breath in my ear
fear

(1981 to 1988)

“Footloose” starring Kevin Bacon
Michelob Light in bottles
extra spicy guacamole
fear
“Members Only” black jacket
para mutual wagering
*******
4 seam fastball
fear
the garlic taste of Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO)
a 91 mph fastball
Feldene dissolved in Dimethyl Sulfoxide and applied to my skin via a tongue depressor
my 93.5 mph fastball
the roar of the crowd
fear
October
the swirling light and sound of a west Texas freight train at night in fog
Jesus Christ
fear

(1989 to 1999)

the anticipation of child #1
the birth of child #2
6 hours of uninterrupted sleep after child #3
an 8mm obstructed kidney stone
fear
morphine
fear
Vicodin
fear
sunny, cool, fall days
“The Road Less Traveled” by M Scott Peck
hydrocodone
fear
the woods in fall
thunder
******
fear
the woods in winter
the rumble of Niagara Falls
******
fear
Oxycontin
shame
******
fear
“Ruthless Trust” by Brennan Manning
the woods in spring
The Stanley Cup
fear

(2000 to 2004)

detox
nostalgia of my youth
photos of my children as children
hydrocodone
detox
fear
Jose Cuervo silver tequila
sunny, cool, spring days
Major League Baseball opening day
Jose Cuervo Gold tequila
fear
Chinaco Reposado tequila
the stench of pavement
Gran Patron tequila
the heat of pavement
Herradura Anejo tequila
detox
hydrocodone
fear
Marca Negra Mezcal
detox
AA meetings
Oxycontin
fear
Alice in Chains “Down in a Hole”
detox
nostalgia for opiates
fear

(2005 to 2007)

AA meetings
Camel 99's
her infidelity
fear
photos of my children as children
Camel 99's
the sweet, sweet voice of Martin Sexton
AA meetings
shame
regret
fear
Suboxone
regret
shame
fear

(2008 to 2010)

the tenderness of your touch
a king size memory foam mattress
the tenderness of your touch
Amerique Verte Absinthe
fear
discussions with the dead
the tenderness of your touch
Ray Lamontagne “Winter Birds”
the tenderness of your touch
ablution by Amerique Verte Absinthe
fear
visions of the dead
fear
visits from the dead

(2011 to 2014)

their forgiveness
AA meetings
Camel 99's
my inability to sleep
fear
www.hellopoetry.com
the tenderness of your touch
the tenderness of your touch
the tenderness of your touch
the tenderness of your touch
fear
Centenario Reposado tequila
regret
Tramadol in large amounts
regret
thoughts of you leaving me
thoughts of me being left alone
thoughts of you being left alone
regret

nothing
nothing
nothing

the words I have just written

darkness

fear
I am excited to announce that this poem was recently published in print in "Storm Cycle 2014" The Best of Kind of a Hurricane Press, copyright 2015 A.J. Huffman and April Salzano, editors. The anthology is available online at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
v V v Jun 2015
I wish the present was as good
as how I remember the past.
Fond memories of years gone by,
selective at best,
the worst ******* times of my life
seem comfortably nostalgic.

     I spread poison over ant hills
      by the hundreds, each a foot taller than
     the next, dispersed among the soggy eight
     inch grass, hopefully guiding them toward
     neighboring yards…It was early spring.
     Wet. Cold. Cloudy and I was tweaking like hell,
     day 4 or 5 or 6 in abstinence from
     a nasty three year addiction.


The brain simply wants to protect.
I only remember the ant hills.
the sheer size of them and
how many ants lived in each
1,000? 10,000? 100,000?
It didn’t really matter

because

the present you
won’t remember anyway,
thoughts group together like gifts
under a Christmas tree except the tree
is set up somewhere under a sheet in an attic
of a house that isn't even yours.
Pretty soon there are more gifts in place
and the new gifts cover the old gifts
and the old gifts melt into the rafters
during the heat of Texas summers.

The past can always be
what you want it to be.

No sense worrying about today...
May 2015 · 587
Soul
v V v May 2015
If the burn
Is what defines my name,
then lost in love
forever I’ll remain,
but if adrift
in chilly formless sea,
I'm like a bird
who flies too high to see
clearly, but strains and squints
from a safe distance because
that’s the way I learned it,
I know of no other way to be.

      -- and in the darkness
          we pray to our God about
          everything and nothing
           day after day,
          year after year until
                  one day when we least
          expect it we are heard

          and a sunflower blooms
          as bright as the sun.
             A beautiful soul in repose.
I want it.
I want it now.
Give it to me.
Give it to me right now.

Give me a burn that defines me,
             Give me clear sight from a distance,

               give it all to me.
          
I want the burn from your brightness,
I want to see clearly in flight,

I want your soul,

I want to know my name.
Inspired by my beautiful wife, she will always be "my sunflower", and the song "Soul" by Rocco DeLuca and the Burden
May 2015 · 564
Today He Made Me Smile
v V v May 2015
My heart beats wildly in my chest,
Danny seems unafraid, unfazed at
the thought of getting caught.

Snow crunches underfoot as we walk
toward the rusted hanging chain,
“do not enter” like a lone tooth
hung in the middle of a sinister smile.

The sky is clear with lots of stars,
my breath trails upward into
bare limbed trees…a breeze blows,  
frozen branches click and clack as
Danny moves quickly with the crowbar,

the chain is locked, but he doesn’t notice,
he slides the crowbar through the eye
of the large bolt and after 10 or 12 spins
the chain falls to the ground with the
padlock still attached.  

Jimmy drives the Impala across the chain
and Danny re-attaches the chain,
we all climb in and coast slowly from
the main road with only the Impala's
parking lights to lead the way.

We are headed into the deepest
part of the forest. It is after midnight
and we ride in silence, Jimmy driving,
Danny in front, Jeff and I in the back.  

After a few miles we begin to relax,
we are far enough from the main road
to avoid detection. The forest Rangers
never leave the main roads in February.

Danny pulls the tab on a can of warm
Old Style beer, takes a swig and sets it down.
He opens the glove box and pulls out
the water pipe, which I can smell immediately.

A sweetly pungent aroma, he pours
the remainder of the beer into the ****,
packs the bowl with some extra sticky hash,
and lights a flame…

        A little while later, 5 minutes?  2 hours?
        Jimmy laughs his shrieking high spirited
        girly girl laugh while re-telling the story
        of Steph vomiting in the back seat of
        his dad’s LTD, crushed red velvet seats
        smeared with Cheetohs and Boones Farm
        Tickle Pink, he told his dad he stopped
        to render aid to a dog who had been hit,
        and the dog died in the back seat while
        he was speeding to the animal hospital.

        “But why does it smell like ***** Jimmy?”
        His dad naively asked,

        “It must have been a homeless dog”
        Jimmy replied,

        and the laughter takes another leap,
        hits a higher level, hysterical,

        maniacal ..

There seems to be a correlation
between the seasons and my mania.
It doesn’t take much to get me there,
back inside a relished moment brought
into view by the changing of the weather,

the Winter sound of crunching snow,
my breath in the night sky,
the smell of the woods In February.

Spring brings different events,
Summer different places,
different friends and
different years, while the Fall
gives more of the same but
also more than the rest.

There’s something about its death,
the smell of the fall and the dying
that hits me most of all.

Its all entwined tightly In the grip of my
ever present demon and the plethora
of usual ******* he parades through
my mind,

but not today.

Today he made me smile.

Tomorrow he won’t.
Apr 2015 · 826
The Roaring Through the Gap
v V v Apr 2015
Its been a long time since
I had anything important to say.
Still don’t.
The focus that writing requires
is distant,
fog-like and out of reach.
I feel it misty on my skin sometimes.
I turn my hand around and its spirit
touches me softly, tenderly.
I feel it held up in silence.  
It is brief and then its gone,
or I go, or both,
and then the sun burns bright
and the clock runs fast
forward through the day
like an hourglass where
the ringing in my ears
is the roaring of the sand
through the gap,
and though it is contained,
it brings down with it everything
my mind cannot hold onto….
  
There is no focus.
Mainly guilt,
but I catch a glimpse  
once in a while in the mist,

and when the mist is on my skin
there is no roaring through the gap

rather drifting, slow,
methodical as intended…..

Just not very often
v V v Feb 2015
The dream I dreamt last night
will not fade, so real it must be true.

I was leaning against a tree,
near the shore of a great sea
vast and loud, dark but moonlit.

A shadow held my gaze, long
before me, like being followed
by the sun. The shadow was my own.

I watched it move out and away
from the tree, in the general direction
of the sea, and I felt its strong pull

so I followed.

I followed it to the water and
summoned the courage to take it
down to the bottom of it all

and soon my dream became
a dream within a dream,
and the then became the now.

The sea parted to the left
and the right and now
I am here, and in it,
walking down the middle

on dry ground without fear,  
I could care less
if it collapses upon me.

I look at the walls
and feel no wonder at
their verticalness.

From the left Sam Harris says
“Its all magnetic *******
emanating from the earths core”,

while Brennan Manning speaks
to me from the right and
tells me that its God.

One side chants for God,
I can see all their faces
poking through the water wall,

while the other wall
says nothing, stoic unbelievers
confident in their disbelief.

Jesus comes through
the wall of water and stands
before me, dust at his feet,  
fire in his eyes,

he puts his hands on my shoulders
and speaks:

     “My prodigal son I am here.
     I have always been here.
     Look, there, you see the result
     Of those who cease their search?
     They sit in a wall of water as if
     it is normal to do such things,
     and though you have left me
     more times than you want to be
     reminded of, your leaving has always
     resulted in your return, which
     pleases me greatly..the more times
     you doubt, and seek, and stray,
     the more you are strengthened  
     upon your return"

Then he turns from me,
steps into the water wall
and disappears

and all is silent.

The dream is over.

Conclusion

In this everyday battle for a soul
I realize my indiscretions tend
to accelerate the tic-tocs of my existence,
While on other days, the slower days,

I lie waiting in the dark like a lonely lover
listening for the key in the lock at 3am,
alone, falling asleep in tears to wake up
in sunlight and candle wax.

     *I have come to the conclusion that
     I believe what I have always believed
     because I have seen too much
     to not believe it.
Jan 2015 · 706
A Slippery Slope
v V v Jan 2015
Soon it will snow where she is
but here it never snows only sleets,
and ***** little ice pellets
on the streets.

Winter days remind me
how I miss the moon,
how far it is between
autumn and forever,

And how close it is
between you and I,
Proximity-wise,
compared to the unreachable
emotional chasms we create.

Slippery chasms of
sleet and snow…….

                        …..alone..

          and when I finally went home

          she didn't even know
          I was gone,
    
          I slid right past her silent sighs
          as if being loved was
          an inconvenience.
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