Friday, December 31, 2010

This Old Year Slips Away

Goodbye 2010, and all who went down with you. Maybe later I'll feel better about the new one coming in.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

San Diego, Las Vegas, Cheyenne, Omaha, Chicago, Columbus, Rochester, Albany, Boston

It's like a small city's version of the Port Authority,
a confluence of streams
buses and trains from and to somewhere else,
but it's back in a time when you could
stretch out and sleep on a bench or
in one of those chairs with the coin operated television built in
without being molested
well, without being molested
by the police anyway.

You're down here with the other runaways,
in the same vicinity that is
but not together,
all alone.

You pretend not to recognize each other
and maintain a low profile.

You sit at the bus station's bar and
you nurse a single beer while pouring over
the Amtrack and Greyhound schedules
feeling a slowly building thrill
until you catch your reflection in the window.

You're disappointed with what you see, again
because how you look
is not how you started to feel
there for a second
and then you start walking
because it's almost dinner.

You're the second kind of runaway
the kind not going anywhere
while the others remain
in their charade
pretending someone
is looking for them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of December

Some are marooned
surrounded by snow choked streets
or awash in thick mud
waist deep in the kitchen
while others are just left standing
at the foot of a collapsed bridge
where they know understanding
will never occur.

I helped with the dishes this time
and thought about a girl's brown eyes
bright and alive with happiness
at a wedding
and I thought about the possibility of skin cancer
the gravity of a stroke and
the certainty that these graying people
will leave us soon.

I worried for us and I wondered
what happened to us and
I felt nostalgia for
that feeling of

I thought that there are people now in the world
who look over their shoulders in sudden terror
during the course of their day
prodded by the persistent, not-so-irrational fear
of a drone strike.

I told him about the victims of the floods
one third of the population
and he said
"aren't they the enemy?".

There is no us
I fear
and then think
that in Winter
one just waits
for Spring.

Black Flag, Charlie Chaplin, and The Grind

Last night was a ball. For a Tuesday night there was a great crowd - very interactive. I can't speak today, but it was well worth it. I'll sing any time. I'll scream any time anywhere!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tonight: Black Flag!

My voice is pretty ragged due to a rigorous rehearsal last night for tonight's Black Flag set at Ralph's Rock Club. Yes, at mid-life I get a chance to vent my unresolved adolescent angst in a tribute to one of my favorite bands of all time. This should be fun.

I am not the man in the picture above, but I'll try my best to do him proud. Don't worry, I'll keep my shirt on.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ayuda me, Senor

Last night I had a little time to think. I took a look around, thankful that my children are safe and warm and happy. I remembered a holy man and what he once told me about prayer. In general, when you pray you try not to ask anything for yourself. He told me that when you pray for others you avoid specifics and ask for health and help. When you're finished you say thank you, for everything.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Jesus: The Missing Years - John Prine

I could do without the audience laughter in this version, but that's just probably because I'm crabby. What a great song.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


I've become too sleepy to laugh much. That seems like a very minor tragedy, but it's a shame none-the-less, especially now during this the season of making merry. I don't know what to attribute it to - too much or too little of something, no doubt. The Christmas tree has been standing bare, but not unattractive, in its natural state in the living room for the last two weeks. Everyone is waiting for me to string the lights. Time is running out.

Tom Waits

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Anxiety Dreams

Maybe one day on
a list of far lesser poets
someone will wonder
what if anything
you did with your hours,
days and years in this

and what you saw
and how you felt it

And whether life was
light or heavy
for you

And if you loved
anything or
if you
murdered the only
hope you knew
with your own
guilty hands

And if you had children
and what kind of father
you were

What kind of man
are you?

Religious Feeling

To church they always wore their dress hats, both my grandmother and my grandfather, and overcoats and dress shoes, and she carried her big pocket book. I'd squirm and daydream and stare at the statues and watch for a sign like blood seeping from the wounds of Christ or momentary eye contact with a saint. She would always make sure I had a dollar bill to put in the collection basket and my palms would sweat as I waited. The words, so often repeated, frustrated me. The priest almost never reached me. The statues, the candles, the incense, the silence, the mystery - those did.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mid-December Haiku

ring around the moon
temperature falls, still,
winter's majesty

Friday, December 10, 2010

Closer To Knowing What I'm Doing

Not very long ago I was RIFed by my employer. Sounds like a violent crime that might take place in a public toilet or something, right? It stands for Reduction In Force and translates into laid off. I was depressed to see how much I have invested in my professional self and by how quickly I turn on myself when things get a little dicey. I'm now employed again by a different employer doing the same work for much less money, and thankful for it. Today in a meeting with formerly former colleagues, I told one of them I realized during my period of obscurity that my lot in life was not to live in the castle, but to storm it - now she probably thinks I'm nuts, but it's all a little clearer

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Raise Your Hopeful Voice

My daughter performed this song with her chorus tonight.

"Take this sinking boat and point it home, we've still got time" - a great line in a very nice song.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Six Good Things Seen (Inspired by Todd Colby)

1. The rising sun breaking the horizon casting an orange column of light straight up with my daughter.
2. A crow, wings fully flared in the wind, hopping down from the roof of a Tarrot reader's shop.
3. Bacon on a biscuit.
4. Swirling eddies of new snow flakes in the road.
5. Two firm hand shakes from two who wished me well.
6. An invitation to sing with The Black Flags.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Morning Sit Rep

Up in darkness and off to work this morning, happy enough for the opportunity. There's a crew of kids in their late teens and early twenties hustling at the Dunkin Donuts pouring, warming, packaging coffee and food for the line at the drive-thru. There's another crew of kids in their late teens and early twenties hustling in Afghanistan waking up with their rifles to the cold and one less day-and-a-wake-up saying, "USMC, Bro. U Suckers Miss Christmas". The little ones on the homefront, they know without a doubt that Santa's coming, while too many of the older ones are hoping the hell they're right and wondering just how he's going to pull it off this year. Europe is freezing and derailed and Ireland is getting reaquainted with its heritage of hard luck. It's probably not the best time to study nuclear physics in Iran either.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Where's The Merry At?

Don't ask me, Mack, I guess you'd better make your own.

 So I conjure up some scruffy, good-natured looking bums who all bear a strong resemblance to Humphrey Bogart. Eccentric, you bet...misunderstood, sure... but they've got scruples, man- and character, and they'll share a jug with you without you even having to ask.

Me and Jimmy Stewart stand on the rail together looking down at the ice-choked river, seeing no other way out of our momentary troubles. But then cherubic angels whisper in our ears, and our hearts change, and then all the people of skid row look different to us - good and beautiful and kind - their hearts blossoming like flowers, and they take us in and make us feel instantly at home.

Jimmy Cagney throws his heater in the drink and leaves behind crime and rage once and for all, and with a solitary tear, he puts out a bowl of milk for some half-frozen kittens and gives his coat to a forlorn old man who's eyes then soften and glow lovably.

And look, there's Mickey Rooney as a kid and Spencer Tracey as Father Flannagan - they left a candle burning in the window for us - a symbol of their hopes and prayers for our safety, for our souls.

"Gee whiz, we knew you'd come home! We just knew you'd come home!" they say, throwing their arms around me, the Jimmies, and Ol' Hump.


40 ounces
busted bottles
public housing
littered sidewalk
maybe morning
bring something

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