Friday, August 4, 2017
We all have strong ideals when we're young. Things we cling to, believe and feel for like it's our own personal religion. That's what really starts to break us; it's that feeling of growing up, getting old and little by little giving up pieces of our ideals bits at a time, not because we wanted to but because it's what we had to do to survive. A man who cries "what's the point of life if you're living just to work" must eventually sit down behind a desk to keep himself alive, a musician who plays for himself must eventually play the hits if he wants to eat, and a writer who works for the love of the craft must eventually write to earn a living. No matter how much it kills us, no matter if you're an artist or a traveler, a lover or a fighter, we are all eventually forced to give up a piece of what made us us to get by. The thing is, it might not be so bad if the knowledge of our loss didn't follow us, poking and prodding as a constant reminder of what we used to be, and the ideal sacrifices we're all forced to make for survivals sake.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
My entire family
was together for the
first time since I was two
My cousins were hugging
My aunts cried together
Grandpa was at the front
Speaking to everyone
And grandma was in the casket
A few words were spoken
We put her in the ground
And then we ate dinner
As a family
For the first time
I ever remember
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Friday, May 5, 2017
The Man in the Basement
He lived all alone in the room below me, though you wouldn’t have known it unless you had seen him. In fact, I didn’t even know the building had basement apartments until last summer when Sophie, my youngest daughter, ran down a steep stair well tucked away in a dark corner of the floor. At the bottom I found her stomping and singing outside of the apartment door that paralleled mine vertically. When, picking up my daughter, the door carefully opened and out stepped the man, middle aged, with a bald head and a shaggy white goat’s beard which offset the neat black suit he wore. He stepped out of his room staring at the floor and continued to do so as he locked the door, then stopped and put his eyes on Sophie and kept them there much longer than I was comfortable with, then sauntered away. I was horrified! What kind of man eyes someone else’s child like that? He must have been a pedophile or some kind of pervert to behave in such a way. I waited for the man to fully ascend the stairs before doing so myself, and grasping my Sophie tighter I vowed as a mother to guard my children with an even keener diligence than I had used before. For their safety, from what potential danger might lurk below their feet.
I mentioned the matter to some of the other women in the building—just the ones who happened to live on the same floor with me. The women above us usually kept to the laundry room and other facilities reserved for them on their own floor. But back to the matter, I told them how the man molested my Sophie with his groping eyes, and how it could have been any one of their own children. They all took great interest in the story and immediately pressed me for any and all details—for the safety of their children—so I shared with them everything I knew about the mysterious man in the basement . Through the space of his open door I had seen a plain room with a small bed against the wall draped across with a neat white comforter. So neat and white in-fact, that I did not but once think that I had witnessed the scene of some awful act hours after a careful hand had effaced all evidence of anything at all—no evidence that is but the pedantic neatness. Next to the bed stood a complementary white night stand with a single drawer and a framed picture of a smiling old woman with tubes stringing out of her nose. I saw nothing else through the closing door, though I doubt there was anything more to see in his lair.
The other women and I agreed that we should have more information—for the safety of our children. So I myself went to the manager of the building and demanded of him what he knew about the man in the basement; but all he could tell me was that he had only ever exchanged a single word and solitary grunt with the man since he had boarded there. The woman behind the front desk of the building had never even seen him before. But she did tell me that he was the only resident that had the front desk listed as their emergency contact. It was a sort of joke between the buildings staff. She told me giggling how they liked to laugh about how ridiculous it was. I didn’t think there was anything funny about it. I knew that it must be some sort of covert ploy to hide something.
I could not find out anything else about the villain, so I fought back by watching my children even closer than I had before and not for one instant allowing them to be alone in the building without me to accompany them. I never did see the man though, only the silhouette of his bald head and devilish beard peeping manically out of the dark corner of the floor. All the other women saw it too, so every morning we all stood out in the lobby clutching our children to our sides and looking at nothing but the tops of their heads until they were safely on their bus to school. It was awful, that man, the anxiety he put me through.
It’s been a week now since he died. It was last Saturday. I was the one to find him, dressed in a neat black suit and blue in the face lying on his back in his single bed with the framed photo I had seen nearly a year ago clasped at his breast. The stench of rotten eggs had drifted up through our floorboards; so I left the children to the watch of my sleeping husband, and ventured down the stairs for the second time to find the door of the parallel apartment unlocked and a terrible hissing on the other side as the stove spewed gas out of a kitchen I had not seen before. I turned off the stove and ran out of the apartment to catch my breath outside of the cloud of deadly gas; though not before seeing a large portrait of the old woman with tubes in her nose and the man smiling underneath a banner that read, “Mother’s Day 2010”. I notified the man’s emergency contact of what I had found and then with the ordeal passed on, I evacuated my children across town to my mother’s house while the gas and body were dealt with; though I couldn’t rouse my husband out of bed to come.
The funeral was held the day after, but no one showed up so they just ended up cremating the body and keeping it in a jar. The mortician had a policy about not keeping remains so the jar now sits on a shelf behind the front desk of the buliding. I asked the woman at the desk if she had to keep it there and told her how dreadful it was to look at, but she said she didn’t know who to give it to and didn’t want to disrespect the dead.
The devilish shadow is still there too. It’s such an awful thing for my children to have to look at, the outline of the devil and a dead man in a jar.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Me and my Uncle
For the Dead
Me and my uncle went riding down from South Colorado bound for West Texas. There was a man in El Paso that was gonna pay my uncle 500 dollars to drive his cattle to slaughter in Dallas and my uncle promised me 75 dollars to go with him. My plan was to save up as much cash as I could in the states and then live like a king in Mexico. I only had 50 bucks to my name but the 75 would more than double that, and if I kept making money like that I would be down in Mexico in no time.
The sun was at its highest point and even with my shirt off the heat was unbearable, and my body ached from three days in the saddle so we stopped off about half way, in Santa Fe. When we rode in, the wind was kicking up dust and the streets were empty, except for a gang of West Texas cowboys all dressed in black, laughin’ and yee-hain’ as they walked into a saloon with a sign that said ‘The Shootin’ Gallery’. You could tell they were from Texas from their belts, with silver buckles as big as dinner plates with a lone star in the middle, and a big .45 revolver hangin’ off the side. My uncle carried too, but his was only a .22. My uncle told me to take the horses to the stall, and I walked away and he followed the cowboys into ‘The Shootin’ Gallery’.
I went to the stall to hitch the horses, but it was full of horses from West Texas and there was no room, though a man at the stall said I could hitch behind his shop at the edge of town and I did. He also told me to stay away from those cowboys. He said they had just gotten a big payday but they still wouldn’t think twice about puttin’ a bullet through a man and taken all he has. I thanked him, assuring him that I grew up in the West and could manage just fine; then I went back to ‘The Shootin’ Gallery’ to find my uncle.
I stepped through the door and found the place filled with cowboys laughin’, and yellin’, and throwin’ down liquor and money. Then I saw my uncle sittin’ down with the cowboys in black doing the same. He was laughin’, and gamblin’, and throwin’ down whiskey like water; then he saw me standin’ there and waved me over. There was a pile a pile of cash in the center of the table and everyone was coverin’ up their cards, looking at my uncle and me. My uncle turned away from the table and put his arm around my neck and whispered to me that he needed my 50 bucks. One of the cowboys asked him what it was going to be and he whispered to me how there was no way he could lose. I’d do just about anything for my uncle, so I took out my 50 dollars and gave it to him. He threw it down in the pile and said, “Alright boys, flip ‘em.” The game was Jack high.
They flipped and my uncle had two Jacks. The cowboys cursed, and drank, and smacked the table. My uncle and I cheered, and drank, and smacked each other on the back. He pulled over his pile and handed me one hundred dollars. God! I was grateful, and I never loved my uncle more than I did right then.
My uncle started counting his money when one of the cowboys stood up and hit the table, demanding one more round, winner take all. My uncle said that was fine, then he laughed and said, “But I’ve got all your cash!” The cowboy tossed a leather pouch that clanked onto the table. “Right there’s an ounce of pure Alaskan gold,” said the cowboy, “its worth just as much as that pile, if not more.”
My uncle’s eyes lit up and he grinned. “Alright partner. One more, then I gotta be going.” He pushed the pile of cash back out on the table and they dealt two hands. My uncle asked the cowboy if he wanted a drink before they flipped. The cowboy called him a bastard. They flipped. The cowboy had Jack, Ten. My uncle had two Jacks. He yelled with joy, took another shot of whiskey, and started stuffing the cash into his jeans, sayin’, “Well I’ve had fun boys, but I needs be on my way.” He stood up to leave and took the gold, and the cowboy who had had it stood up and hit the table again. “Goddamnitt, boy! Two Jacks? Two Jacks again!”
My uncle sat back down, shifting his hands beneath the table and said, “Take it easy, amigo. The cards come how they come.” The cowboy took out his .45, pointing it at my uncle, and called him a cheater. My uncle laughed again and a gun exploded, leaving a smoking bullet hole coming up through the table, and the cowboy screamin’ with his ear blown clear off. My uncle kicked up the table and shoved a gun in my hand just as the whole bar room erupted in a shoot out. Bullets were flying everywhere as we crawled our way to the door. I shot off a few rounds but I don’t think they hit anything, but as we were just out the door my uncle shot one of the cowboys right through the head, screamin’, “Hot damn! He won’t grow old”, and we ran off to our horses behind the shop, with gun fire ringing out behind us, my uncle limping and gasping for breath, and me with four bullet holes through the brim of my hat.
We weren’t a half mile out of Santa Fe when my uncle fell off his horse and just laid there. He had six bullets holes in his back and all he could do was lay there, bleeding into the dirt. My uncle taught me well, he taught me everything I know, so when I heard those cowboys riding after us I knew all I could do was leave him there on the side of the road; but not without grabbing the loot first, and let me tell you, with money like I got, a man can live like a king in Mexico.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Strangers expect too much from me
Like they think it's easy
To wear a face and play the game
And tell them "Have a wonderful day"
And smile while they scream at me
About their soup I haven't seen
And say that "I'm so sorry" for
Whatever thing they're brooding over
And suffer hours of abuse
Until they finally cut me loose
To then go home and go to bed
With angry words still in my head
But I'll be back there by tomorrow
To bare more strangers angry sorrows
And run around and play the game
And take abused until I'm paid
Monday, April 3, 2017
Dabbing (Verb): To smoke a highly concentrated form of Marijuana (wax) by burning it on a superheated piece of metal.
“…Just listen, okay? It was 4:19 and I had just gotten off work when Blake called me and asked to meet up which we did—obviously—so I picked up Blake and we were all set to go smoke when he started talking about how we haven’t dabbed in awhile and I agreed that we should do that. But we didn’t have anything to dab with—you know, a nail and a torch; we didn’t even have any wax to be honest, just the bong and weed— the King Louis XVI we bought last night. But we were already set on dabbing so we drive out to the goddamn valley in 100 degree weather and Blake runs into the club and buys a gram of wax and a titanium nail to dab off of.
“So we start driving back thinking about where we should go to dab because you can’t just go anywhere; you don’t want to be somewhere someone’s going to see you when you have to heat the nail with a jet of fire, when I realize that we didn’t have a torch; so we drive all the way out of the valley and across town to pick up a torch from Smoke Shop®. So we go in and I buy a torch, and butane because they never come filled up; then a bottle of bong cleaner and a metal pick to scrape the wax.
“The guy that rang us up actually looked like Ben Aflac. Blake told him that and he made a joke about Batman; it was pretty funny.
“ Anyway, we get the stuff and go, and as we’re walking out I think to check my receipt and realize I had just spent 90 bucks! And so then Blake thinks to check his receipt back in the Car and he spent 120$! But we figured we would be dabbing soon and it would be fine. So we think of the perfect spot—the hill right behind the doctor’s office—and started driving there when goddammit! We don’t have any water for the bong! So I start thinking of any place we could find a hose to use, but we ended up just stopping—again—and spent another three bucks on a bottle at a gas station.
“So it’s nearly 8:30, we’re finally there and the bong’s out and I go to grab the bong cleaner out of the brown paper bag Ben Aflac gave us and what do you know it’s not there! So we decide, ‘fuck it’, and we sit down and set the nail up in the bong’s mouth and scoop up a glob of wax when Blake tells me that the nail is wobbling in place and won’t get as great air flow, but I pushed it down more and it fight tight so Blake started torching it at the head until the nail was red hot and hands it to me to hit and then Bam! It just broke right there in my hand and the nail dropped to the floor still red hot. And we both just looked at it for a minute in disbelief until I put the bong down and started looking for the pieces that broke off—Blake told me not to and that there was no chance of putting it back together but I did anyway and it turns out that it broke clean into two little pieces and we were able to tape them back together with a miracle piece of scotch tape on the brown bag Ben gave us and the bowl fit back in perfectly, so after spending all that time and cash to dab we just ended up smoking the King Louis.”
“You told me all of that just to tell me that you broke our bong?” Marcus said, more angry than confused.
“No, I told you that to tell you that we broke our bong,” Everett flicked his finger back and forth between Blake and himself, “and that we can still smoke out of it.” Everett took the taped bong out of the bag and started packing it.
God, you guys fucking suck!” Marcus slid down in his patio chair. “I guess it could be worse though—at least we’re not out of weed.”
Thursday, March 30, 2017
Two brothers sat and watched through their window as the rain fell down in thick sheets. This was an incredible sight for the brothers as their country was dry and their entire lives they had never seen more than a light drizzle. So, intrigued by the falling walls of water, the brothers left their home and went into the mountains to watch the rain cover their town. Now, as the brothers walked through the mountain, with droplets trickling down off leaves and over rocks, they came upon a straight where two slanted shelves captured the rain and sent it rushing down the mountain in a mighty current. The brothers were in awe at what they had found. It was as if they had gone up the mountain and entered another world full of wonders they were never able to imagine. The older brother told the younger to wait beside the new river as he climbed up a thick oak tree that arched over the water and hung at its center. Now the tree was wet and slick, and the brother had only a small nub to pull himself up, but he was able to manage up the trunk and into the branches. The older brother stood up in the branches and watched the river rush down the mountain, running and jumping in a smooth unstoppable current. The clouds parted for only a moment and the sun glinted across the patterns of the current before the gap closed again and the sun was gone. The older brother watched the water and listened to the steady rush of the river, losing himself in the rhythm of the current that swept below his feet. He stared into the water as he thought of stepping off the branch and letting himself fall in. He thought of himself falling into the river, crashing beneath the surface, and then letting the current carry him down on his back as the waters trickled over his body and the drops of rain fell and dotted his face. He could feel his feet moving to step off the branch when his younger brother called to him to come down. The younger brother stood at the base of the tree soaked through to his socks, watching his brother up in the branches. The older brother lowered himself from the branches and dug his heel into the knot on the trunk. He had a good grip on the knot, but the trunk was slick and when he let go of the branch his foot slipped and he fell sideways down the trunk and landed with a splash. He had fallen right at the edge of the river covering his front side in mud. Only his head had gone in the water and that was nothing at all considering both he and his brother were soaked. So the two left the new river they had found and ran down the mountain, through the rain.
The boys ran home and told their mother about the river they had found, and when she saw them soaked, dripping on the floor, she was horrified. She was hysterical and began to yell and cry about how they could have been killed. The older brother tried to tell his mother that it was all fine and nothing would have happened, but she just threw the newspaper from the day before in the puddle at his feet and left the room. The headline read in bold print “Man Swept Away: Found Dead”, and there was a picture of the river and the oak tree hanging over the water. The man had fallen in off the bank and drowned after being knocked unconscious. They found his body washed up at the base of the mountain with nearly every bone in his body broken, including his skull which had been crushed into mostly missing fragments.
In a week the rains had gone and the older brother went back into the mountains alone. The oak tree still stood arching over the shelf but the river was dried up, revealing dozens of jagged boulders beneath the tree and running down the straight that had been completely covered with water the week before. The boy climbed up on one of the boulders beneath the tree and sat staring down the dry shelf until the sun went down.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
I wake up past noon just to go back to bed
With yesterdays blues still stuck in my head
I've smoked all my bud my bottle's dried up
I ain't got no friends here to refill my cup
So I'll just keep sleepin' 'til the sun goes on down
Then borrow some money and go into town
Twenty-five dollars will buy me a bottle
And that'll last 'til the sun comes tomorrow
It's a hell of a life that I just can't quit
Sleepin' all day and always drunk sick
Tuesday, February 28, 2017
I spent six weeks in Greece last spring, and as I was walking along the street between the row of shops and the sea, I suddenly had to pee worse than I ever had before. I stepped off the street and into one of a dozen tourist shops that all sold the same thing—olive wood masks, and olive wood cock bottle openers. I don’t know what it is about the Greeks but they have an affinity for penises like I’ve never seen before. Everywhere you go there’s a guy trying to sell you a cock shaped something, or a mural of a naked man painted on to the side of a building. There were no naked men in the store I stepped into and the cocks ended with the bottle openers, there was just one old Greek sitting behind a counter with a little electric fan that tossed the collar of his open shirt.
“Yasu.” I said
“Hello my friend” the Greek replied in heavy broken English
“Do you have a bathroom?”
“Eh? What you mean?”
“A water closest. Do you have a water closet I can use?”
“Oh, oh!” The Greek began to laugh and he slapped the table hard with his hand. “You’ve come to see my snake!” I thought he misunderstood what I had said and I tried to explain more, but he pointed me to a white door in the corner of the room with a blue sign that read “WC”.
“Thank you.” I said. I walked across the shop and opened the door to go in, but when I went to step a pure sense of shock shot up through my entire body starting at my feet and fizzling out the tips of my hair. “What the hell is that?” I yelled. There was a shiny black ball of tar oozing out from between the toilet and the sink like it had been wadded up and stuffed back there.
“This is Malinda!” said the Greek who had appeared behind me.
“What is it?” I said. The black mass suddenly grew a head the size of an avocado and began flicking a little black thread from its mouth.
“She is a py thon!” The head began to creep forward and stretched part of the mass out into a body as thick as a birch tree. “Please go, go! She is very nice, step right over her. Go!”
Malinda stared at me with her black marble eyes and whipped her tongue in and out as if she were daring me to step in and whip out mine. I stepped back, “You know, Malinda took away me need to go.” I turned and began to make my way out of the shop.
The Greek began to laugh again, “Whatever you say my friend, you come back tomorrow and we drink wine. I have best wine in whole village!”
“Sure.” I said as I walked out past the wooden penises.
When I stepped out of the shop the sun had just nearly finished disappearing into the Mediterranean, and I still had to pee—worse than before actually. So I walked out into the water on a little stone walk while the last bits of sunlight faded away and pissed into the sea once it was dark.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Leaving things unfinished is one of the most despicable things human beings are capable of. That’s why I paid all of my debts bringing my net worth to a total of twenty-six dollars and thirty five cents, completed the two weeks’ notice before quitting my job, and respectfully waited until my apartment lease was up, and then and only then did I climb to the top of Jumpers peak. I had sold my car to help with the debt because dead men don’t need cars, so I walked the eight miles from my former apartment to the edge of the Wasatch Mountains and then another mile and a half up to the peak. It had snowed the night before and though the main road had been plowed the rest of the mountain was covered in white, and if it wasn’t for a pair of crisp tire tracks cut into the path to the peak I would have never been able to find my way up to the fence that was put up to stop people from killing themselves. It didn’t do much good; I climbed the fence easily, though I did cut my wrist pretty badly on a rusted piece of jagged fence. I even stopped to worry about getting rust poisoning, but I remembered what I was climbing the fence to do and felt stupid when I saw a gaping hole cut into the fence right where I had climbed over. So I just went on bleeding into my shirt sleeve.
I had pictured myself stepping up to that ledge plenty of times before. I always wondered if I would be afraid and stand there for hours before actually doing it, or if I wouldn’t feel anything and just jump right off. Any way you do it I guess it doesn’t matter because in the end you get same exact thing, but when I was actually there I thought I would just walk off. Not even stop to think, just one final step then nothing. I didn’t want the thought of cops and old woman who read obituaries dissecting me and deciding why I would kill myself stop me from actually doing it. I couldn’t even tell you why I wanted to kill myself. Not because I didn’t know, but because there’s no rational or logical way to explain something like that to someone. It comes with a general feeling of melancholy sadness that becomes what’s normal, and a sense that you’re reliving the same day over and over again as weeks roll into months into years without change, and you realize that the closest thing you have to joy is sleep because at least that stops everything for a little while and punctuates the mundane. I thought about all of that and God as I walked to the ledge, where the snow and the sky met at a white and grey boarder. I couldn’t help the lump in my throat that grew tighter with every step, and I had to close my eyes to keep moving forward towards the boarder. I took two more steps and on the third my foot snagged what I could only imagine was a step up to the ledge, and I fell forward with my eyes still closed. I saw myself falling, falling, falling, until finally I hit the ground and splattered into an abstract puddle of blood, or maybe I would impale myself on a conveniently placed stalagmite and my blood would drip down onto the snow in little droplets. But when I did hit the ground it was face first into the snow and accompanied by a shrill screaming. When I opened my eyes I realized that the ledge was another ten yards off, and the only blood I left in the snow was from the rusty cut on my wrist. The shrill scream persisted in gasps and sobs, and when I turned my head back on my prone body I found the culprit lying at my feet wrapped in a wool blanket and crying its lungs out in the snow.
I stood and looked in awe, trying to comprehend how and why and who would leave a goddamn baby on the edge of a cliff in the snow to die! I picked it up out of the snow and brushed the frost off of it’s face. It’s face was like ice, but when its hand broke out from the wrapping and grasped around my finger I felt how warm the palm was. It couldn’t have been there long; it would have been dead if it had been out there over an hour but it was alive and screaming. I thought about the crisp tire tracks that carved out the path, and the large hole cut in the fence. It couldn’t have been coincidence that all of those things were there at the same time; there was no way they could be independent of one another. I took off my coat and wrapped it around the baby, covering the spot where the wrapping had come undone as a cold wind began to blow and I made my way back, through the hole in the fence and down the mile and a half mountain path, walking within the tire tracks. The mountain path led off to the main road, where the parallel tracks curved off to the left and then disappeared into the plowed road—opposite the way I had originally come.