Monday, January 23, 2012


I swallow the cold coffee, and for a moment it just sits there, a weight beneath my throat, a slight fullness in my gut. I feel the bitter stuck to my tongue, the sea-sick drift of blood as it rushes to my stomach. I feel the distance between the act and the next grow as I hunch over these smudged plastic keys, certain of something I can't quite fathom. Some faith manifest in these bled rituals, some tomorrow written in coffee grounds conspiring in my emptied cup. Some knowledge that can not settle upon any single sense, settling instead for no sense at all.

I woke from a thin drizzled dreaming, moving from one set of stimuli to another. Moving from the wings to the stage. The world somehow had shifted on its feet, everything similar to the remembered architecture, some city dreamscape or movie trailer trick. Something left of the edit, some artifact of a lost world sitting on my dusty shelves. The drab assembly rushes in, all these names and failings assail until you name a savior. From stagecraft to deepest secret, this is how I learn not to fly. From sleep to certainty, this is how you drown the dreams inside.

I can feel the barbs left in my heart, the claw marks of something best left unimagined. I can feel the weight of this cage, cluttered up inside me. Cold hands and electric light, there is nothing here to tempt me. Old coffee and blurry eyes, there is no-one left to try. Heavy and slow, I manifest in this worn promise and this deft intent. I open my eyes and reach out, fingers brushing these old pearls and notions. I touch this world around me, believing only in vision and grasp. I hold the cup I emptied. I hold what ground I have. My life still small enough to get lost in the corners. My life still bright enough to find its way in the dark.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

game day

The world turns gray as the sky falls down, the river of rain churning the earth into something new. The dogs' legs are sleeved with mud, their coats flecked with beads of water. I flick a heavy head of ash off a dwindling cigar. It explodes into a startled cloud, a flock of motes floating on the air. The stray particulates dissipate, seeming almost startled that they do not amount to more. I spill smoke mingled with breath into the rain streaked sky. The smoke coils and rises. I am left alone with my boundless limits, watching the rain fall down.

I sit outside as the rain spills, smoking and reading. I sit in a plastic chair, the pages spattered with the drops and flecks caught up in the restless breeze. Tiny droplets stipple my scratched-up glasses, surface tension pasting circles onto my field of vision. The words I read sift through the busy babble of disturbance and detail as I bide my time. I swallow the bitter coffee as it cools. I watch the cloud smeared sky as it streaks and knots. I wait, and I watch, and the world goes on.

Later on it's football on the TV and the dogs on the couch. The gray of the day keeps crawling on and on, the hush and press of rain, the dull creep of shadows threaded through the day. The TV takes for granted my weaknesses and addictions, selling me fantasies of wealth and excitement. Phones and cars that would change me from the slab that I am into something shining with pride and lucre. Selling me someone else's dream as my bones ache and the rain continues. Selling me wishes as the storm gathers, leaving me with what is left of my life.

Friday, January 20, 2012

mood music

The mud creeps along the skins of thing, the gray rain and the spent dusk rattling around the eaves. The storm scratches at each little itch, it paints every surface with that unsettling suggestion that things are never the same. Bones ache and beauty burns, to nearly everything a season. Doors open and shut, unwanted gifts at a party with no surprises. The sun goes down and the lights go on. The sickness and the sadness settle down for the night.

The fires burn out and all the angels sink to some unknown depths, flight only an option while the wishes are fresh and granted. Time tools around the slick and rivered roads, splashing the sidewalks as the gutters flood. Soon all the wishes have come and gone, prayers of theft and swagger passed into the litany of things to regret. The hours all soak through the grieved for meanings and the words that just slipped out. Mentirosa slinks out of the speakers, crawling up through all these years and notions. Mood music always arriving with the wrong mood in mind.

Would that it was as simple as going to sleep. Would that it were a switch flipped, a flame extinguished. The gear-work just grinds and grinds, rusted and broken and clashing with disrepair. Bad blood and blown kisses, the tide keeps rising. Be still says that little steady voice. Everything passes. Stay put goes the chorus. Everything loved stays lost. The song changes, never mind the mood. A soft voice, like a dreamt for lover. A clear voice, strong and tender and on the right side of every fight. The song plays itself out, fading into the closed in corners and the empty shelves. Then the song is gone, and the only sound is rain.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

what it was

Once you were that breathless beauty, radiant from some blinding fire deep below your skin. Once you were the Queen of Constellations, connecting all the dots. The sun rose just to see you, and the night held its breath the moment you were near. I see your brilliant smile in the moonlight dancing on the ocean. I feel you near me in dreams too close to real, hope all grown up and walking out among us. As if there weren't all those mountains and oceans and cities strewn between us. As if the wheel of time hadn't turned over and over again.

I'll never know why you chose me. I'll never know what you saw through those laughing eyes. But I wanted you the moment that I first saw you. I loved you as you burned me down to grease and ash. Those fleeting days and the spread wings of every night, the plot of discovery and betrayal playing out in blood and breath, the horror story haunting you nailed into my bones. A kiss returned at the door to the ocean, the spray of salt and that reaching heat, our flesh so warm beneath the cold count of so many stars.

It might as well be a bedtime story. It might as well start with a once upon a time. All these years and loves come and gone. The distance that begins at your window and runs to my door. The distance that starts at your difference and ends at my plodding heart. The bad boy I played at then worn into something I never thought I'd be. The good girl I fell for carrying more than her share of ache and lack. Our shared story dead and buried, only one of us ever knowing how it ends. Only one of us knowing what it was we lost.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

until it falls

I drink my coffee from a grubby cup, sun and shadow all around me. The rollicking tow of emotion at rest for the moment, the cooing call of a nearby dove just enough of a marker to hold the world in place. The cat climbs the tree above me, his afternoon hunt always at least one level up. From tree limb to rooftop to the upper rail of the redwood fence he prowls his beat. The dogs and me, we keep our distance, down here in the dust and detritus.

There are clouds gathered to the north and west, the first visible conspiracies of a forecast storm, some little tincture of that prayed for rain. The skeletal fruit trees and the smug pines mostly only reveal the blue left overs of a bright and mild day. The winds have slowly begun to gather, slipped-by breezes rolling into something a bit more filled with force and fitful leanings. The pine tree creaks out its witness to physics, while faith cuts corners and gathers in the margins, ready to take all the credit. In the dry confines of this fence and foundation, I am willing to skip all the reasons.

Now the skies begin to darken, caught up in all these tides of gray. The air cools with its latest breath, like a lump of ice refused to swallow, chilling the flesh as it emanates. I can see my silhouette as I write this, all thumbs at the virtual keys. A mirror beneath all this mouthing off, a crown of pine and sky. The dog drives the cat up the fence, his attentions too wet and toothsome for the cat to endure. Every day a gift, it's always fair weather. The platitudes a starting point for such an inevitable end. All the proof pressed against my fingers. Every empty cup another story, every prophecy of rain just fables until it falls.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Barelimbed trees and the gossip of crows, eyes grow old just looking. A sky bent into a flat and brittle blue, the air biting at any flesh it can find. The starved wolf of winter taking solace where it can. It isn't the sort of thing you tell in stories. It isn't the sort of picture you paint from life. Twig and leaf, stone and soil. It comes to you like a thought ambushing meditation. It comes to you like the memory of a dream. Scattered bits and missing pieces, and the clarity of detail that lets all the questions loose. Life is left where you lost it. Life is creeping out the box.

The dogs sort out their wars and kinship. They stare at the crow on the line, they watch the trees for rumors. Their heads loll back while they sample the wind, knowing things we will never even guess. Meanwhile the words all come up, blooming out of season. The words crawl along, whisper thin hungry lines until they gather and make the most of something that becomes their meal. They come as scout and swarm, pouring from each fissure, staying where they're put. They try awful hard, but seldom do what they are told.

In a way, you have to say it is a blessing. After all, what is left is all you get. The tired theatrics and the stormy romance all gifts in the any landing you can walk away from tradition. Listen as the water boils, listen as the bones knit. All the flattery that unhorsed you, all the prayers that set you teeth on edge. These flights and precipices. These post traumatic stressors fletched like found poems. The sticks and stones made into shaft and head, slings and arrows only outrageous now in their absence. Take all your toys and go home. Live to fail another day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

all the way home

I poke around these catacombs, the sad repetition of a troublesome thought, the ever echoing plainness of these depths. I pause in the autumnal hush before the boundaries of winter come crowding in. The mock gravity of the lingering mirror, the inevitable hell of some teen-age self. The silly pretension of my narrow despairs, so ardent and urgent and lost. The humdrum of hubris lived with day to day. The sacred precious vistas of some yearned for better way, always that longed for movie ending kiss.

Most of my artifice is at least in earnest. It may be tricks and quirks, but that is half the magic. I might be making much ado, but that is at last some craft. I skip the facts to tell the truth, wandering into these storybook woods. I make the path, by brick or breadcrumb. I might look to the distance, but my feet don't miss the ground. I lay my eyes to tempt and calm the clock. I miss a lot and still surprise.

The days wane, my attention wanders. I stare and stare into windows and through walls. All these ghosts of my best intentions. All those tombstones of spent intent. The ritual hi-light reel, full of breathless perfection and ruthless wisps of pure heartache. The sad depositions and the mindful pyrotechnics, the edge and end, the bridge of the song always such a steady blue. The night grows deep, all pretty pictures and bottomless skies. Never before have I been so lonesome. Never before have I stayed so long.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

loving cup

The day arrives at the usual hour, eyes bright and hands empty. You retreat to that reserve best left to poems and dreams. As if you could throw away your shadow with your back pressed tight against the dawn. As if you could remove all the stitches and walk away new and clean. All the miles travelled, and you are still fresh and clean. All the wounds gathered, and you are still beautiful and unbowed. They call and claim, but never own you. I relive and remember, but I can never get the picture right.

Me, I am the same old puzzle in the scuffed box, missing pieces. Me, I am the same old candle burning out. My head is a failed circus, all clowns and animals and high-wire acts. My heart is the scorched earth of some dull apocalypse, all smolder and blackened bones. Once there was a war inside, but the war is long over. Now it is all veteran's clubs and weary stories of hope and futility, smoke still clinging to the barware, cigarettes never really going out. Wreck and ruin and the same old tunes. Loving Cup for Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, Downtown Train for the White Cliffs of Dover. Even the nostalgia doesn't work, this husk so haunted, this day so long.

The sky is blue, the day is mild. Warm even for a California winter, the calendar doesn't know what to do with itself. The dogs roll on, all fits and starts, absorbing the sunlight, lolling in the dust. The cat walks the fence, watching for birds too foolish or brave to keep their distance. Time crawls on, insistent and resolute in its habits. All the lights are waiting for that one switch, that one allotment of momentum, that final direction off or on. You wander the far away limits, always aware, always listening. Always so near, reminding me of your absence. Always so close, reminding me of all that loss.

Friday, January 13, 2012

these dreams of you

She goes to heaven on a little row boat I think aloud, the moon twisting through the trees mingling with my mind. You drift along the scheme of things, light dancing out to sea. Sleep comes calling, slipping along the tide. The dream moves so slow, drizzling down your skin. The dream so near to waking that I keep mistaking it for the face of the world. Something is there, just on the other side of memory. Something was said, just before the fall.

Just like that a small fog settles. Just like that the curtain call ensues. A sense of light, the feel of daybreak. All these appetites worn so near to your flesh. Your hip a long slow curve of the sheets. Every sense an impression, stage directions read aloud. That moment where your silhouette leaned into my memory. A halo, an angel, a stranger buried in silt. One slender moment that follows me, heels stitched to some tattered shadow. One slim dream mistaken for the call of all tomorrows.

I think it might be her, waking strange from these rivers of you. I think it could be you, wrapped around some mystery. The flow of your hair, the shift of your thighs. I taste the smoke threaded through this winter, see the clinging glimmer of your eyes. I taste the dust kicked up by the dog, see the clouds tailing your favorite constellation. I think aloud it could be you. Nothing unusual, sometimes I think it could be me too. The moon entangled with my lucky star, faith burning away, sizzling into streaks of lights.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


It is only another ghost of an hour, a moment suspended from all acts and consequence. It is only cold notions and sad rumors, the crumpled clothes strewn across the worn floor, the sing-song voices rising in the dusk. The ashtray of emotion, the fitful rhythms of a song meant for forgetting, the rusted themes dragged out once again. Standards and ballads, and the stars all play their parts. Poems and prose, and the roads all dressed to impress. I come to the telling crusted with salt and dust. I come to the telling with the cupboards burned bare.

There isn't so much a story as the words stuck in my teeth. There isn't so much a telling as a spilling, all meaning spoiling on the page. The heart arrives at its decisions like an ambulance arrives at a wreck, sounding out only once the world has its say. Life is left playing in the ruins, too fay and tenacious to surrender when it should. Sickness and ruin, riot and dissembling, root and leaf and vein and limb endure all the same. I confess my many sins, agree with the abuse and invective aimed my way, and know there is no way out for me. Still I shrug and shamble, writing my misplaced and endless obituary by the word and the minute. Still the sun pays its tab and shuffles off again.

I owe my life to the angels of better natures. I owe my life to the kindness of strangers. All these debts of tolerance and assembly, all these years of blank verse and dull resolve. Depression growing worse and worse while the ability to recover slows, my life in shreds and tatters as the new year chugs along. All the books are glutted with word after mealy word, dust on their jackets, creases on their spines. The day essentially the same as every other, the notable exceptions only those that have gone bad or run astray. The night already gathering in the shadows, every wing bent towards shelter. Nothing to say, and still I don't stop.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

the leavings

All the light has gone to heaven, ring the moon and point each star. The sky conspires to pierce the night. The wind chimes all peal and stir, gossiping away. The world moves along despite all the blood and moaning. The world turns over despite whatever crime or waste drags it to a halt. Every house haunted by the dozens of things never said and tomorrows that will never come. Every ghost a measure of what might have been.

The hole grows, with every option given. The hole grows, billed later or paid in advance. The tattoo of bird song and cold engines rises, motors grinding away their measure, absent wings another declaration of war. Left to faith and happenstance, facts fail the worlds we believe to be. Left to our own devices, we always choose hell first. Dig a little deeper, work a little more. Make what you must of the waste you earned.

Now the day is loosed upon all this wind and dust, the dreams longed for either broke or gone. Another day lost to the ministrations of strangers. Another soul sold to save the face of tradition. You wake to the worn out platitudes and the gracious savings, motorcycles struggling to drown out every lingering charm. You wake to rust and distance and that foul metallic grasp of the inevitable. Swallow each misery until there is nothing left to do but choke. Dive in to each lie until there is nothing to do but drown. You are already ruined. Tomorrow will never see you again.

Friday, January 6, 2012

too much

The crush of empty souls gets to be too much, with the sun so high and the world painted bright and blue. Enough with the murder ballads. Enough with the empty threats and private horrors stitched into the skin. Such needy teeth, grinning without a smile. Such foolish hands, reaching for the sharp and the permanent. Why bother with any counting at all?

My heart staggers about its tiny rooms, moving from shelf to shelf. My heart trips over its own shoe laces, never mind the stairs. Beating too fast, wandering the halls all night. Beaten too bad, lost in the mortuary medicine and the water-logged arts. The streets go still and the light runs down. Dust fills my veins, this dry earth losing traction. This still night losing any aim at all.

It's been worse, but not by much. It's been awhile, but not for long. I limp from chore to chore, an animal fed, a sentence served. The world just waiting to remind you. Life never lasting quite long enough to forget. The dusk busies itself with even odds and traffic lights. The night won't ask anything at all. I don't bother to believe. I only suspend my sense of what and where. I already know there are too many, never mind the numbers. I already know its trouble, never mind the knock. All the assembled mercies at each others throats, all the bed time monsters free to walk to streets. My feelings all a jumble, my failings all in a row.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The dusk settles the bet between the sky and the crows, clouds and phone poles, wings and trees. The ink dries slow and solemn. This is the world that bears you. This is the world that knows your kine. Every flight will fall, every word will fail. Everything tendered as smoke or ghosts.

The words are pressed between the pages, stiff-spined litanies forever holding their breath. The feathers bend  soft and strong. This is the weight the sky allows. This is the weight that bears your burden. Every eye so set upon the sharpness of each star. Everything written as boom or bust.

So much depends the poem goes. Heaven all about who's asking. The truth scribbled down as the most often abandoned, a stone sleeping on the tongue, a piece of glass buried beneath the heart. This dull hope, this deep measure. The body either dead or alive, depending on the words or facts around it. Breath taking to the flesh and machinations, rise or fall, gravy or grave. These wages and wagers, the shadows reach and stretch. The sparrow a sparrow whatever is said.

Monday, January 2, 2012

that mirror

We seldom see ourselves as others see us. Even the most examined mirror doesn't view us with any eyes other than our own. From the tiny flaws we see as scars to the beauty mark everyone else sees as a mole, most of us have constructed images of ourselves based on our fears and wishes and hearsay and flattery. We cling to notions of our personalities constructed from our self-regard and family anecdotes and astrology. A picture of a person made from a hodgepodge of cognizance and coincidence, the moments that we behaved as we thought we should while all the other incidents are swept quietly to the side. For some of us, the gap between this manufactured self and the self everyone else sees is greater than it is for most others. This is the part of the Venn diagram that encircles me.

The sub-group I am in includes all manner of crazy, delusional, and other-wise socially disassociated people. My group includes all manner of the severely afflicted, deep shadow outsiders, and the other-worldly. I say my group, but it isn't as if there is a club charter, or there are meetings with coffee and sugar cookies after. This is a bit on the too bad side, because I bet the minutes for those meetings would be hilarious. Or tragic. Or both.

Part of this affiliation is being a depressive, part is thinking I am a creative type. A lot more is probably a simple animal inability to understand the motivations and actions of others. It took me so long to grasp the workings of the wheels of much of society, and I spent so much time on the outside that I now find it hard to come back in. Play sannyasin long enough, and you might just lose yourself to the role. I spent most of the last ten years pretending to be a reasonable person, working with severely emotionally disturbed kids, all the while allowing my own fairly severe disturbances grow from bad to worse. Some of my own deficits were assets in this line of work, and I managed to hardly get fired at all. Now I am thoroughly unemployed, on the long downward slide into a sore and shabby middle-age, and about one hard look or wrong word away from a felony. And I don't care much for the look that mirror is giving me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

the season stays the same

The day is cool, the air bites bitterly at any flesh it finds. All the stars are out, taking their time, doing their part. Every breath is burdened with this sludge of meat and water, blood slow and secretive, bone dense and curt. It is the tone of confession and the tangle of crime. Breathing belabored with the usual punch and gasp that the common cold requires. The tension of need, the release of tears.

It is clear to me I missed my mark. It is plain to see how deep the mistakes go, how far they wander. The chain of evidence, so full of gaps and weakness. The line of the heritible, so full of blind alleys and dead-ends. The blood too strange, the ghost too gone. The poetry and the prose have all played out. If there is a next step, I do not see it yet.

I cough and spit and crawl along, no natural grace or human ambition left. Sickness on top of illness, like the cherry on a pretty please. Only the clarity of confessed confusion. Only the direction learned from being broken again and again. Alone for so long every thought seems singular. Lost for so long any light will do. The year slipped past, another year signed on. Another number offered, another countdown begun. All this change, and the season stays the same.