Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Day of December

Warm for the beginning of the first day of the last month of the year.
The boy, asleep, seems a body surfer among torrents of sheets and blankets
Blond tusseled, untroubled, his still hands held in super hero flight.
I take this picture with my eyes, sad that I'll forget, and go to work.

She's watching a movie featuring a boy asking big questions of God:
Why should I be good, when you aren't?
Reduce your expectations of others to zero and go on, Son, go on.

A swarm of undercovers circle two men spotlit in handcuffs and low pants.
In front of city hall, teenaged girls standing vigil around some candles.
Someone young is dead again, you guess, stupidly dead, needlessly dead.

We're expert here at shrine building, the theater of paying respect to the taken, but less accomplished at giving a shit about them while they live.

An Aim For December

Well, November is over, and I abandoned my National Novel Writing Month goal of completing 50,000 words somewhere just north of 19,000. I've been working more than an additional 40 hours a week on top of my day job so I've got an alibi, but the truth is I can't sustain interest, energy, and attention long enough to write a novel. At least not now.

My idea for December is to post 12 lines a day and maybe a photo taken that day too.


This is a photograph of me pre or post religous experience, I cannot now remember which. It all just dissolves into something I do not really understand. A child smiles with everything - its entire being (if left to do so on its own without prompting, without the desire to be pleasing to its keepers). An adult smiles with pre-meditation and intent, the pre-requisites for a Murder I conviction. Then there is the question of malice afore thought.

Sometimes cosmetically, wryly, sardonically, nervously, defensively, seductively, bitterly, photogenically; but how often honestly, spontaneously? There is no smile in this photograph of me pre or post religous experience. There is no expression at all, in fact. My head was turning, maybe distracted, and my eyes were more than half closed. Someone thought it was beatific, but I may also have been sneezing.

This Crept In This Morning

Monday, November 28, 2011


the inside of your head
is filled with mashed potatoes
burnt around the edges into
a mildly painful filling

close your eyes,
leaning forward, hands
clasped together in what
might seem an attitude of prayer
while you're only wondering
why your body never stops trembling
when you're awake

the facilitator reads a poem aloud
while you are positioned this way
and it's a little crazy because
as you listen to the words
you are writing one of your own,
automatically, in something like
a lucid dream

when she stops reading,
you have finished,
but when your eyes open
both the words and the feeling

you are left with only this notion
that there were moments in this life
when you were a lover

almost a lover

Oye Como Va

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Run With Me

Fault Finder

Behind some kind of glass
you cannot touch or feel
you see your family
your memory
right there, but not quite real

Or is it you?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Thanksgiving day
make no proclamations
be modest in you celebrations
speak infrequently and quietly
and hope the trouble blows over

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some Measure of Progress

you sicken and
you heal
at the same rate and
at the same time
all you can change is you and
all you can do is time
time tells you that it's leaving and
time knows you are alone

Who Are You Now?

The Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers

Because everyone needs to know.

Excerpt #19

We find ourselves in a state of incredible flux – within and without, individually and universally. It’s moving so fast right now you can’t see it clearly. You can’t define or interpret it. You are changing, being pulled through change, and so is everything around you. Some call it The Great Unraveling, and if this is truly the case, then you are, for once, entirely in sync with the world.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Full Episode

Full Episode

Excerpt #18

You came home and saw a piece of video of a police officer in riot gear pepper spraying student protesters as they sat passively on the ground on the campus of one of the University of California schools. Yesterday, you saw a photo of an 85 year old woman in Portland, Oregon who’d also been pepper sprayed. The day before that there was a still photo of a white police officer spraying a little black girl’s face – very specifically - as she tried to leave the area holding her mother’s hand. Peaceful protest isn’t going to stay that way long, with police tactics like that. It was interesting to note that in the video from U.C. Davis, students chanted their outrage at the police after the seated protesters were unnecessarily sprayed, but there was no violence. All the students though had recording devices – phones, cameras, video cameras, tablets. These will probably prove to be a great deal more effective than thrown rocks and bottles, but you think that if the police continue this trend of unwarranted force, a violent reaction is sure to come. You admire these kids for standing up in the face of this and having the discipline not to lash out. The president is going to have to weigh in on this pretty soon. Things are getting weird.

Meanwhile, Stephen Hawking says it’s time for us humans to expand into space, time to leave the ravaged Earth behind.

Why write fiction? This is all so much stranger. We’re all right here on the edge of winter, but you're thinking we've just recently gone over the edge into something of far greater consequence.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Excerpt #17

An old friend calls unexpectedly. What a difference it made. Your drowsy eyes are gone. You can feel your circulatory system at work. You are revived. That’s all it takes? Precious. It's so simple, it's stupid - so why haven't you called him in ten years?

The woman at the reception desk has only one visible tooth, the eye tooth on the lower left side. She’s very friendly. Yesterday she asked your name and told you hers. Today, you both struggled to remember but finally did. You said you just needed it repeated a few times before it sticks – like 100. She laughed a loud warm cackle, the laughter of a good witch.

And just like that, it’s almost good.

Greener Than The Hill

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Hearty Sampling of Joe Frank on Hearing Voices

Excerpt #16

As you are trying to leave, to back away slowly, because you have clarified their problem without solving it, a small baby is carried in by his mother. Both look hyper-alert. He’s a scooter, or a crawler, not yet walking and he just fell down 20 stairs. He’s bleeding from the nose a little, but like you said, he’s very alert and he’s not crying. You think he’s okay, but during the exam he starts to cry, and your heart is broken instantly by the high pitch of it - the fear in it.

You tell the nurse that you can deal with all manner of insanity in psych patients and then just put it behind you as soon as you walk out the door, but babies, man - hurt babies- you don’t know how they do it. She says, we put up a wall. You say that you've adjusted your memory to go no longer than 24 hours. She says the wall doesn’t really work that well. You confess that the memory thing doesn’t much either.

You bury what you see and hear and smell and feel as deep as you can with the time that you have available, but you bury it inside. It’s still in you.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Overload

Excerpt #15

It’s 12:30 A.M, and the voice on the phone asks you if you are sleeping in that valley-girl-sounding way that seems to have become the universal dialect for everyone under 40. You feel cold and murderous, and ask what she has for you. Does she realize she just pried you from your dream research in such a startling fashion that no memory of your dream activity remains?  No, she doesn't realize anything at all, you guess. There is someone in the ER waiting for your help. She is described as depressed and anxious. You are relieved to know that at least the two of you will have something in common.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Excerpt #14

Your feet smell pretty bad these days. You have two pair of ruined shoes in need of replacement. One, purchased just last summer, you were wearing during the freak storm and they were water logged on your feet for about 24 hours. They didn’t smell good at all after drying out, and several Lysol treatments have failed to address the bacterial count. The second pair, almost five years old, are just flat worn out, moisture coming up through slits worn through the soles.

Your car needs work too. You’ve been ignoring the check engine light for probably 50,000 miles and that clunking sound coming from your right front wheel well – a tie rod maybe? Christmas is coming. You’ve got to frantically shovel your money into that, so just use some more Lysol and a little duct tape and drive slow.

If your wheels fall off, don’t be on the turnpike.

Lydia Lunch

Excerpt #13

Are you growing tired of the sound of marbles slowly rolling across the wooden floor of your head space? The more tired you become, the louder they are – relentless. You don’t want to write anymore about you, about you being tired, about you working too much, about you going mad and running screaming around this oval track that gets smaller and deeper with every lap. You should make up some characters or you should tell the whole truth - a memoir that none would care to read. What is this place?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Old Man

Excerpt #12

You think there is a choice to lying down in this grave you are digging, a choice to this tone you are setting – you should view it as freedom, a golden opportunity. Get yourself a passport now and go whenever you can, celebrate, stretch, party, wiggle your toes in the sand. But when you think of it you picture yourself drunk looking into a small hotel room, mostly bare, tropical colors, a single bed made up with a sheet and light blanket and, within, what you feel is not celebration but something like a suicide only you’re still walking. Or you are standing like a sagging alabaster statue, as heavy and stiff as lead, on some beach while people whooooo! and smile all around you. You are going to have to take charge of this, or it is going to take charge of you. What will you make of your life? What will you make of your altered self?

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Excerpt #11

The writing has slowed to a snail’s pace and your word count is about half of what it should be. Just keep it coming, string together words, get to fifty thousand for the sake of your psychological survival. You just broke 11,000. You got home this morning ready to sleep and she left you with the kids and went for coffee and to grocery shop. The kids have been on their own for the last six or seven hours waking me occasionally with their escalating and alternating laughter and arguments. They have their own resources. It’s important to realize that. You’ll need that knowledge one day. You wish they’d go outside and remember being thrown out in the cold at that age to blow off steam and keep the house intact. You remember the smell of wood smoke; stinging ears, fingers, toes; the creak and sway and sadness of bare trees.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Excerpt #10

As far as the dreams go, your sleep was so interrupted by phone calls requiring you to solve problems, provoking you to anger, that you cannot remember anything beyond a single scene. You and a co-worker heading into the woods, the sun setting, not dressed or prepared for it, realizing this and going anyway, with the unmistakable feeling that this is a very bad idea.

Speaking of work, you sat with a junior co-worker today and watched her tears fall. It’s this line of work, man - constant crisis - it messes with you, impacts the entirety of your life - just ask you (me). Just ask your marriage. She said she finds now on the weekends that she doesn’t want to deal with anybody. Just ask your kids.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Can't Sleep, 3 A.M., And This Song Came To Visit Out of The Past.

Excerpt #9

It’s dark early now, and tonight, raining. There is time to sleep and silence. You feel unfamiliar to yourself here. The sound of rain is good as is the sound of passing tires on the wet road. There is something about that approaching then fading sound that has always brought about a sense of heartbreak and comfort at the same time. You were set on this track long ago. What will your dreams say tonight?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Boy With A Gun

Excerpt #8

White clouds race across the moon’s silver circle of illumination. Is that as far as the moon can see? You wonder this while faking innocence trying to make poetry and boyish wonder out of this mess. What you sought so obsessively was no relief. The darkness is deep right here on the corner, a wall of shrubs, a pocket knife, headlights insert condemning fingers of judgment – threaten you with exposure. You refuse the offering- an offering of refuse - tempered with a sort of kindness. The moon is full, you feel it – disarray. Its light doesn’t reach you, but the darkness does, and it sucks you in, a slow rhythm leading only to sickness and regret.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Excerpt #7

The Occupiers spray-painted Break The Bank on the walls of the Main Street.branch of Bank of America a while back. You noticed today that the graffiti has been removed. Over the weekend, the police arrested the Occupiers in this city for failing to leave the common right behind City Hall when so ordered. You wonder if it was retaliatory.  It’s interesting to note that if you travel down Main Street a few blocks, away from downtown where there is less commerce, or less business being done in offices anyway, you will find gang tags spray-painted all over small stores, bakeries and auto-body shops. What’s the difference, you wonder?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Toward a Definition

Excerpt #6

You can’t remember the entire dream, only the scene you last witnessed before extraction. It seemed like an interview with a woman, maybe an American Indian, who was planning to play music as a kind of vigil for something or someone – a cause – as some kind of cure. She was certain of the necessity of doing so and confident of its potency. She called it playing God’s Banjo.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Excerpt #5

When they come home, you are sleeping. Someone comes into the bedroom, and it wakes you partially, but you just lie there, rectangular in your mind, almost square, like a life raft or an inflatable mattress, You do not alter your face, you are careful about this, remaining impassive, letting the eyelids rest lightly without flickering. You imagine your face Chinese. In your head, you start writing this –  doing a better job describing the scene than you are doing now as you try to remember when it was effortless, unencumbered by your graceless typing. Your typing is gimpy

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Excerpt #4

It’s actually about 75,000 homes now without power in the state, according to the radio, and many folks may not be back up until Monday. This is small talk - not that it isn’t important – if it’s you without heat, lights, water and the ability to cook or keep food, or it’s your job to answer for why people are still living like that, it’s pretty damn important. You just mean to say that it’s not a part of this novel. It’s not a fictional story. What we’re doing here is blurred non-fiction. It’s a car ride while you’re drowsy – part dream and part car-wreck-unfolding

Friday, November 4, 2011

I Love You No One

Excerpt #3

A girl walks by the window with an intense, searching expression on her face. She’s hard-bitten and frayed at the edges, obviously an addict. A black girl, early twenties, under a beat up, straight-haired wig – for a minute you think you know her from when she was a kid in your program, but you don’t. Your car is parked right outside with you lap top on the floor, and you can’t help but glance that way as she goes by. Not far behind her is a man looking very alert, taking everything in, barely contained desperation. He’s a hungry fisherman, and she’s his lure, cast into the stream of this street. To say she is a hooker and he is a pimp is not the whole story. They’re addicts first. It’s a little like being Irish- American

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm Gonna Tell My Kids A Bedtime Story

Excerpt #2

Your world is small. Your experience is narrow. This ocean you pretend to swim in is as shallow as a kiddie pool. You have no expertise. What do you have to write about? The number of steps you take to complete your unconscious circle, the weather conditions, the pain of others, the joy your children stir in you and the fear, the guilt your children stir in you and the fear, the deafness you’ve developed in your marriage, the way you’ve closed your self down, working and maybe more about working, about sitting at a desk and watching time go by and not even wringing your hands over it when that’s the very least you should do, about planning a life that you will not live to see, that you will not take steps to implement? You want only to escape this moment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Excerpt from Yesterday's NaNoWriMo First Entry

It’s not a life without humor – not entirely. Just a few moments ago you were interviewing a suicidal woman in the emergency room worn down by family problems, depression and chronic pain, hanging by a thread with her 11 year old daughter, crashing between the homes of friends and family and trying with heavy footsteps not to wear out her welcome. We determined a hospitalization might be the safest thing, the quickest way to get an anti-depressant started, being that an outpatient appointment is unattainable in less than 12 weeks in this state. You go to consult with the attending physician who is presently being consulted by a physician’s assistant who is bragging about how she just successfully installed a nasal trumpet.
This makes you snigger a little. You tell them you played the nasal trumpet in 4th grade band. The doc laughs a little, the P.A. ignores you entirely. You do the consult. The doc agrees with your disposition. You leave the ED blowing one clear half-note out of your right nostril while pinching closed your left.

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