She stubbed out her cigarette a few steps outside the doctor’s office
a defiant finger at good healthy living
her legs were cratered with sores, scratches, wrinkles
Her thin body spoke eloquently of liquor and smokes and hot dogs and hostess cupcakes and uncontrolled diabetes and a failure of an old man and boys in jail and girls with a mess of kids and who knows the daddies
The daughter was her twenty years earlier with a kid on her hip while she stepped on her smoke
I smelled old smoke, tiredness, failure to find the good life anywhere beside the sweaty validation of sex
It made me sad
The waves of seed puffs shimmied up heat columns and committed their souls to the air gods
I bet it would be fun to go where the wind carries me
I imagine landing in an algae pond floating on warm tiny waves
or skimming across the hot sand to surprising green oases
I could hear nature music
a symphony of ancient humming
or land on a speeding radiator that struts importantly to
big places, important places
to be rendered into junkyard dirt that rises in the fall rains maybe
I sling words with feeling without skimming on the surface like a cockroach across a puddle.
I get drunk and cry with my pen instead of writing about my tears. Anyone can do that.
I drag myself through a slimy alley of darkness and live to keep it a secret.
I don’t have time to spout pretty words and platitudes and cocktail party phrases.
My life, my existence is this: every word counts.
Every stinking drop of sweat on this table is a poem. Every lamentation for lost vices pushes a limit. Every painful sunrise is a testament to being laid bare every night.
Every click of the compressor motor on the refrigerator counts down to the end, closer than the beginning, and I am alive to feel every second of it, taste every bitter dreg of it, lose myself in all the places where I don’t matter.
The afternoon breeze whipped a fly-spotted curtain into that peculiar fabric dance of letting go
I sweated and smoked, blew rings that vanished honorably like poets from decades ago flicked the same ashes as they thought drowsy thoughts and contemplated what words,
what words, what words
There aren’t any words. There’s just the bottle that drips time down to the table.
And soon, as the sun sets with orange and purple twilight chomping at the bit to bring its brief blaze of glory, a glorious interlude between sweating and swearing and yearning
to cool streetlights, nature night sounds, rustlings of words that sneak by in the dark
little thieves of time and comfortable existence
I took a walk in the woods one day on a well-worn path dappled with shade and sun
beside the path, a quiet creek made its run
to the ocean, you say, but maybe to a thirsty belly or a still
The earth felt alive and laughing at my puny existence as I ground out the miles without a real sense of distance,
but miles went by.
I heard a hum, like the twang of a lonely banjo that slides in and out of the mountains after a midnight rain when the fog settles low
The hum of the earth, the world, the sentience of startling rocks that pace my path, not as stumbling blocks, but
guides to the secrets of the ground
If I only listen and dissolve my barriers of skin, mortal skin
When I walk out to the mailbox in my ratty shorts and the wrinkled shirt that I slept in
three days in a row
And my hair looks like I combed it with a leaf blower from the back
That’s when the neighborhood cop comes by and wants to chat about
just anything at all, because I look sketchy I guess
I don’t want to be rude, because there are times when I AM sketchy
I might need the goodwill, or even since I looked sketchy last week and
wasn’t, I’m not likely to be sketchy this week
Mental gymnastics are the most exercise this ole girl is gonna get any more
keeps the kitties in kibble and me in tacos
They say denial is not a river in Egypt.
Nope, it’s not. It’s a cracked door that I hide behind, listening.
The easiest thing to do is nothing if you need to do something.
The hardest thing to do is nothing if you need to do nothing.
Yesterday is about as useful to me as tits on a boar hog.
A decade ago? Now, that’s a goldmine.
The two greatest smells are brewed coffee and fried anything.
Even liver smells like steak before it gets to the plate.
A cat can be a porcupine and a throw rug. At the same time.
keeps the kitties in kibble and me in tacos
I lost a day somewhere in the ether where beer, getting old, and christian holidays mix together in a stew of oh, I don’t know, maybe a lot of bullshit?
I was thinking today about how I want to be liked by strangers. Not loved, not desired. Liked. As if my wellbeing depends on what some random piece of shit says to me. I feel guilty when slights occur, as if I have some kind of power over someone else to feel a certain way. I thought about this when a friend of mine got dragged very harshly by some people and I wanted to defend her, but short of saying that they were scum sucking sociopaths, I was stumped. Years ago, someone browbeat me in an online conversation that I was blindsided by and had no answer for, so I shut down. What I really wanted to do was go after the person with both fists and as many insults as I could hurl, but I didn’t.
It came to me that I was raised to be nice. Be nice. Be nice, put others first. Be nice, your wants don’t matter. Be nice, don’t hurt others’ feelings. Be nice, excuse others’ behavior.
I turned into a doormat. I turned into a pile of mush. I was weak-willed because of the constant admonition to be nice. I sincerely regret that I took that to heart. It caused me no end of trouble my whole life. I became someone I am not. Be nice.
I admired in a limited way, people who spoke for themselves, ever mindful when they would fall off the “nice” track. They were then bad, and therefore unworthy of my time or attention.
I see all this with a keen hindsight and no small amount of anger, but-no, I’m done being nice. I’m done excusing my shitty upbringing. I’m done dealing with other people’s arrogance because for sure, I’m not storing jewels for my crown in heaven. There is no passing grade. This is it.
This thing called life is it.