Friday, June 26, 2009

some are better than others

i read a short story, and then another, and then decided i didn't much like quotation marks anymore.
why? someone said.
i like the way it looks.
i think it flows better, too.
i suppose.
you don't think?
makes it kind of hard to tell.
tell what?
who's talking.
you really believe that?
yeah, sure.
that's a load of bullshit. i'll tell you right now any thinking person, any person with a sense of perception can tell the difference between two people talking. besides, i told them, why should i be creatively confined by some stupid rule, if it really is a rule, when one could argue that operating "outside the rules" (notice the quotation marks. what a goddamn hypocrite!) is definition of writing creatively?

for the record, that sort of thinking is a load of shit spewed by some would-be writer who's nothing more than some hack who read a few good stories by a few good contemporary writers suggested to him by a few not-so-good writers subscribing to the same hack writer's philosophy and decided that he'd do right by the rest of them to best replicate whatever goddamn story some pretentious asshole in borders said he saw in the latest issue of the new yorker because that'd be the best place to start. honestly though, i've no fucking clue what i'm talking about.

the beginning though is all true. i can, and prefer to, function without quotation marks. i do like the way the words look, out in the open, floating in the white space of unused paper or, in this case, word document? those single words forming ideas, the beginnings of thought unrefined, free flowing, unedited. the things we truly mean to say before we rethink and reload and tiptoe around the unspoken barriers that too often prevent any one from truly communicating with another. the things we want to say and the things we never speak. just words. thoughts. emotions. secrets. desires. admissions. reflections. the truth spilling out into the open.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"just a one minute messiah..."

when scott and the rest of them left for the mountains and they left you sitting on the floor of your room, leaning back against an old, metal fold out chair, and the tears began building up in the corners of your eyes because they didn't invite you, it wasn't the fact that none of them really cared to extend any kind of olive branch your way, and it wasn't because scott went with tanya, that girl from the grinder shop who wore her hair up every day you and he went their for lunch after bible study, with those glasses that trapped the little wispy strands of brown behind her perfect ears, it was because you realized that no one really, truly liked you. period. that was it. was it because you would never close your mouth every time you ate that cold cut sandwich? was it because your nose arched in a funny, unnatural way that made your eyes look like sunken treasure chests in mounds of sand? was it because sometimes you laughed when you weren't suppose to laugh, at the fucked up things that certain people cherish with a passion that you could never comprehend? you were cold, like that chair. it was sad for people to see. for people to be around you it was more of a chore than a joy. sweetie, it's okay, she says. no one is more important than you. no one is more special than you. god has a plan for you. you're in good hands. her words are soft and soothing. they envelope you and hold you and warm you. this is good, you think, this is okay, and you start to believe it too. you share a prayer with her and she says, god give her the strength, give her beauty, it is your will, lord, it is your plan, god, we are in your hands lord. and again her words hold you up and cover your face and wipe your eyes and you feel clear and quiet and motionless in the blanket of her words.

first time

step out of the car now.
okay, just let me-
don't touch that!
sorry, i jus-
step out of the car!
three hours ago i was swimming in alcohol. bottles of vodka poured into shot glasses like running water after a hard rain. who could remember when it began? we all knew where it'd end. and even then no one was ready for how it did. but i remember most of it now. it's funny imagining it all happening again, thinking that there's no way in hell you're going to remember this the next morning. but then again there's something mystically powerful in the way a handcuff smashes against the bones of your wrist in such a way that every memory, every detail up to that point comes rushing back to you in waves of guilt and pain and you suddenly realize that, holy fuck, you're in it and you're in it deep.
side note - they should really bottle that feeling, sell it as a sort of morning after hangover medication for the disillusioned and disheartened minds and bodies that wake up, stumbling forth from such a disruptive and unsettling event. i can imagine vendors parading the outsides of fraternity houses and nightclubs, peddling some fictional drug to the lifeless, ragged people that spill out into the streets like zombies.
but things like that don't exist, and if they do then i haven't heard of them and even if i had it wouldn't have changed much of anything.
can you touch your nose?
do it.
recite the alphabet while touching your nose.
they really say that shit? fuck, did i just say that out loud?
what?! nothing. um, a. b. c...
i don't know what the hell we were thinking. there's a party down the street, i remember brandon saying. let's go then! but we had to wait for a friend of his. jenny was her name, or something like that. i stopped caring after that first hour. we put them away pretty quickly. i was surprised myself that we were even still coherent. i mean, everything was happening at a normal speed. maybe coherent isn't the right word. conscious, maybe. i was surprised we were still conscious. like i said, i stopped caring after the first hour. but jenny finally showed up. her fake, black rimmed glasses could see right through our facade of sobriety. let's do this, someone had said, and we all cheered, like a battle cry towards something even more idiotic than what we began with. and so with that we piled into brandon's car and headed for the party.
okay, see that line?
i want you to walk, heel to toe, along the line.
just like cops
i just want to cooperate. that's all.
can you do that?
sure. just gimme a second.
we pulled up to the house where this party was supposed to be. a "going away" party, i think. as it turned out it was for a mutual friend of brandon and mine's. that alone was more reason to celebrate and with what else? more alcohol. we made it to the door and i remember someone greeting with an overly-happy hello. it sounded fake, but really, who gives a shit. the house itself was pretty nice. simple and straightforward, the kind of stuff i tend to gravitate to. it wasn't trying to be more than it was and i liked that. so we found our mutual friend. sean was his name. sean something. and by the way, fuck spelling sean with an s, e, to begin with. since when does that make a shhh sound? i don't know. regardless, i suppose sean was more of an acquaintance than anything else, but any reason is a good reason to have a party, right? right. that's exactly what we did. looking back now i remember the exact moment i hit that over-the-limit point. we were all in the kitchen, me, brandon, jenny, sean, and a few other people i didn't know and really wasn't in the mindset to meet. sean said, drink this. it was a shot of something. jager or jack or something that had no business being inside me with the rest of the fucked up shit that already resided there. but i drank it anyway. it's a celebration, a going away, he said. that was more than enough reason for me. i couldn't just leave him hanging. what kind of person would that make me? a smart one most likely, but that's easier said now than before.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Alli, a sculptor, small and smart, who is my younger sister, loved a man from Halifax once.
I thought to myself, What kind of fucked up sentence is that? No one writes like that. No one. I could have just as easily wrote,
Alli, my younger sister, is a sculptor. She is small and smart and once loved a man from Halifax.
See how much better that reads? How much better it sounds? It rolls of the tongue as they say. The first sentence is short and strong and states the point of it all. The subject. Alli. She is my sister, my younger sister obviously, and she is a sculptor. A fantastic sculptor. She had made me this amazing miniature statue for my 25th birthday. But you know what, we?ll come back to that.
She is small and smart and once loved a man from Halifax.
This is not entirely true. I mean, to her maybe she thought she loved him. Maybe she even had this perfect idea of loving him. But most of us knew that it wasn?t real. I knew. Marilyn, her best friend, knew as well. There were little hints when we first met him, hints that set us off to his beguiling ways. For one, he didn't open the door for her. Any door. Car door. House door. Building door. I suppose for some maybe that's not the biggest deal. We seemed to think so, me and Marilyn. He's bad news, she'd say, bad news bears. Actually, I didn't even know that was the name of a movie until 5 months later when Gail, this girl I had been seeing, mentioned it to me in the video store. Bad news bears, she said. But I reacted unknowingly, drawing myself to the first thing I thought her to be talking about - two large, black men who had just walked through the motion sensor slide doors. Jesus, I said to her, that's kind of fucked up.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

someday i'll finish these...

On some afternoons Dee and I would sit out in front of the house, on our old lawn chairs that we?d taken with us to the river every summer, the kind that fold up and click to lock into place. You could fold them half way and sit at the edge of the water, or open them wide and lay out under the sun. We don?t go much anymore these days, partly because neither of us really have the time, but mostly because Dee can?t handle the sun like she used to, at least not for extended periods. But it was a particularly nice day and we were both tired of sitting inside.
Marty, our pet terrier, sat belly-down in the grass next to us. I named him Marty after Marty McFly, you know, from Back To The Future. I remember Dee arguing with me the day we got her.
Yeah. Like Back To The-
I know!
So what's the problem?
She's a girl, Sam!
It turned into a pretty big fight and we ended up not speaking for almost five hours after that. I went out later that night and bought her this bouquet of roses. They were a deep red color, fresh, and in that sort of mid-bloom phase that, I guess, is supposed to be the ideal phase when buying flowers. I don't know, say what you want about them. I don't care how cliche it is, flowers will win a girl over any and every time. And they did...

Thursday, June 11, 2009


if a man
comes up to you and says,
i think that if this
were another time
i could have known
you a little better,
and you've never met
this man before
never ever
what do you think you would say?
excuse me,
who are you?
i'm sorry?
and then maybe he says,
oh, what?
or maybe,
don't you remember
that time in cleveland,
or maybe,
for what?
do you think you would walk away?
or maybe you stand there
and talk to this man
this stranger
because you're interested
because he's interesting
after all
he came and said this to you
but you don't remember
or maybe you don't recognize
and so you say,
have we met before?
and he answers
but you get distracted
because daisy, your little pug,
is tugging at the leash
and you turn your head
just as he answers
and miss what he said
but maybe you hear
just a piece
a tiny part
and you remember for a moment
that maybe
you have met
that maybe
you shared a seat on the bus
or a seat at the bar
or a bench at the lake
or a wave at the beach
or a step at the park
and maybe you say,
oh, now i remember,
and he says,
oh, well, i'm glad,
and you think back
while daisy tugs a bit
while the man rubs his head
and maybe
you say,
but i knew you okay,
and the man blinks
and smiles
and maybe
he says,
you didn't know me at all,
and he smiles
and turns
and walks away
and maybe you say,
i don't understand,
you say nothing at all
and a train goes by
or a bird flies past
or a dog barks twice
and you forget
just as fast
as you remembered
that maybe
you didn't know
all along

Monday, June 8, 2009

a write to write, if only a little something...

scottie hadn't written anything. it'd been 17 days and he hadn't written a word. not a line. his notebook lay barren on the floor, collecting dust, carving a permanent shadow into the cold, hard tile beneath it. they only want you when you're had, he wrote, they only want you when you're up to the test. it was the last scribbled line in over two weeks. now it was just a remnant, a ghost of a long lost feeling that he knew never really existed in the first place. he sat against the heater, eyes closed, facing the oven that loomed over his lonely notebook. he wanted to write. he wanted to stretch out with all his emotion and pour into the very fibers of that notebook, empty his heart onto the pages with a great ferocity. but he couldn't. instead he just sat there, arms folded around bent legs, cradling his own unhinged longing. he shifted in his spot. quietly. it was there for the taking, he knew, but the pressure now was too great for him to overcome. he blinked twice and stood up. they only want you when you're had, he recalled. some cosmic game of chicken. the phone rang a shrill, unnerving tone and scottie reached for the door. it rang twice before he closed it all behinfd him.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


there are billions upon billions of galaxies in the universe.
there are even more stars within those galaxies.
and we are one.
one planet to one star.
one star to one solar system.
to one galaxy.
one galaxy in billions of billions.
in a cosmic blanket of matter and mass and celestial stardust.
so what does that make us?
what does that make this sentence?
this word?
this letter?
these hands?
these fingers?
this body?
this mind?
this heart?
this life?
what makes me me and you you?
what makes this?
what makes that?
a grain of sand on a beach
of billions of grains of sand.
i'd like to know
what it's like
to feel the electric charge of thought
before it's being thought
to peer into black holes
to swim in synaptic gaps
to see the end
and know that we were right all along
because it was a beach all along
and we were okay with that
because we loved
we laughed
we lived
like tiny stars in a galaxy
in a universe of tiny galaxies.

Monday, June 1, 2009


wake up.

your mother's on the phone. gunner's dead.

lie in bed. roll over. just more bed. a cold pillow. gotta make arrangements. roll back.

phone rings. ring. ring. answer. "yeah, this is-" hello. hang- "not here but le-" no. no, i'm here. hang on. "back when i can-" hello...

the pot bubbles. fills the air. smells like death. didn't change the filter. old grounds. shit.

out of bed. phone again. at the edge. let it ring.

gotta piss. can't. he's dead. and i can't piss. maybe i'll drink some coffee.

paper. why read it? dead this. dying that. poor this. killed that. this coffee fucking blows.

shower. look down at my dick. god that's depressing. grab it. tug it. nothing. off to a great start.

knock at the door. cheryl. needs sugar. fuck you, lady. clean your dog's shit off my front lawn and we'll talk. sure, one second.

dad calls. gunner's dead. i know. well, get a new one. don't really care. stop by later? sure, why not?

piss again. barely. turn on the faucet. no help. broken cock at 26. r.i.p.

out the door. hey, tom. hey. no, didn't see. sure. yeah, your wife is pretty hot. she wants it? sure. send her over. okay. see you later.

school bus. school bus with a pop-out stop sign. cars telling me what to do. that's good. that's just...

freeway. 63mph. 74mph. 78mph. 85mph. 89mph. swing it into the divider. flick of the wrist. 3. 2. 1. go.

late. thanks for the reminder, asshole. so far up his own ass. need a new job. 4 hours 'til lunch...