I went out between rain showers to stock up for the next few days

and my guy was in there, doing his thing, selling the booze, chatting up the customers

I got my stuff, he showed me a stash of a rare minibottle that I covet

He said he saved it just for me, and you know, just for a minute, I thought that we are more than just customer and clerk. He thought of me when I wasn’t there.  In my pathetic isolation, I believed that.

But it was ok in the end.  I told him I needed to write today, and he said, today is a good day to make some great poetry, what with the rain, the grey skies, and a couple of pops of liquor to lubricate the wheels, I mean, that’s what I do when I want to create.

And in that moment, we connected. He said, your eyes are twinkling today.  I said, you look about sixteen with your new glasses. He said, write about it!  It’s a good day to write!

In the half dark, I write.  The rain falls soft, then hard. The tv murmurs in a back room. And I write.  I write. The booze sits untouched, waiting for a celebration or maybe a wake, but the words come

strong and sharp and cut me to the quick.

 

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keeps the kitties in kibble and me in tacos

$1.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

You wanna know what’s sad?  I’ll tell you what’s sad.

It’s sad knowing that your cosmic twin, thirty years younger and fifty pounds lighter, is

sitting in an apartment in a giant, never sleeping city

feeling just as alone and isolated as you are, but she

still has hope.  She thinks she’s jaded, but she’s not.  She thinks she’s weary, but

she doesn’t know yet of the soul-crushing exhaustion of chronic empty bank accounts and crummy lovers and shitty food

She has no idea what despair is, and that’s a good thing because her still pure soul would disappear with the realization that nobody cares. Not really.

Imma tell that girl, my cosmic twin, to make friends with her isolation because it’s gonna be there for good.  Imma tell her that despair isn’t so bad when it’s a catalyst.  Broken dreams pave the way to reality. Imma tell her to drink the good booze when she’s flush and the shitty stuff when she’s broke.

I know she won’t listen, because she holds out hope that it gets better.  She has to believe it gets better, otherwise, she will shatter into a million pieces, maybe end up pushing a grocery cart and feeding pigeons with the crumbs in her homemade dreads, drinking buzzballs, collapsing into a heap in the park.

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keeps the kitties in kibble and me in tacos

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Wondering where the dream went.

If she’s lucky, she will claw her way out to the other side and sit under a bare bulb over the kitchen table, thinking about her younger cosmic twin just starting out, sipping a fine microbrew and sending not good vibes but survival vibes.

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keeps the kitties in kibble and me in tacos

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There are certain foods that can cause vivid, lucid dreams and nightmares.  I have a wild time with tomatoes.

The acid rewires my brain and causes some of the strangest dreams I’ve ever had.  Tonight was no exception.

After four homemade tacos, my body wanted to lie down for just a bit.  As my body is getting older and thus deserves all the respect, I acceded to its wishes.

In that ninety minute nap, I dreamed of electrodes fastened to my body while I entertained that weightless feeling one gets when the plane descends for a landing.  I was dredging up memories for a therapist, which I obliged, recounting happy times, sad times, all flashing like a newsreel with missing frames.  I was narrating, of course.  The therapist gave me a hug, and I felt warm and safe, sharing all these secrets with her.  I have no idea what these memories actually were, but they didn’t feel nearly as devastating as waking memories do.  Small thing to be grateful for, nevertheless.

At some point, I started talking.  Out loud.  For several minutes.  I woke myself up.

I got up, rubbed my face, noticed both cats staring at me, and the little one had her patented wide-eyed “you gonna eat me?” look.

Jane called from her room.  “You OK?”

“Yeah, why?”

“You were talking away in there.”

“What was I saying?”

“I don’t know.  It was gibberish.  Lots of it.”

“I guess the cats understood.  They are right here.”

“Maybe so.”

At that, I landed with a thump, gathered my mythical baggage and trudged off to reclaim life.

 

The aching blue mountain sky rips out my heart and wraps me in a cold cocoon of despair that cleanses the palate of platitudes and uncomfortably warm enclosed spaces because I loved you and I left you.

I left you in the orange sunset of a fall Sunday when your pain hard as plaque in my veins moved me to remove the source of your pain.

You surprised me.  You moved in circles, you searched for yourself.  You found yourself.

I am distantly happy that you found your place.  As for me, I will move along like a lone pinball, ringing some bells and causing upheaval. I gave away my compass, my true north. I rejected the notion that love conquers all to find a misplaced noble sacrifice.  Perhaps it was a coward that set you free.  Perhaps it was not a martyr.

The veneer of adulthood wears thin after a few decades. There’s a pause that sounds like a hiccup in the middle of a weather forecast.  It resets thoughts.  It rearranges beliefs.

Maybe it’s overwhelming, contemplating the vastness of life and realizing that my significance has no more weight than the dot at the end of this sentence.  Maybe I shrink at some visceral level to keep claim to “me”.

I am a stranger who may or may not exist without the largesse of other strangers who believe that I, in fact, am here, in all my crazy, continually failing glory.

A terrible sadness overwhelms me at times when reverence and serene solitude are the expected emotional states.  That muddy and dark grief is a lonely blacktop that unrolls as far as my eye comprehends. It always appears like a faithful mourner that shows up to every funeral because it’s supposed to show up.

Where it comes from–who knows?  I have determined that I must make friends with it, hold it close to my heart and no longer treat it as an adversary to be conquered but a worthy opponent deserving of vigilant respect.

 

 

Where is the middle ground between my loving altogether in the whole sense

and walking an ascetic life?

It’s no accident gurus and crones are long in the tooth

It takes decades to learn anything in this life

Anything that is worth a damn, anyway

Those of us who claim to be forever youthful and therefore excused from

learning lessons and little grievings of maturity, mortality

whistle through the day with a jaunty tip of the cap and a nod in toasting

We, the orphaned children of Pan, we winking curmudgeons,

for us, there is no middle ground for anything

and I’m fucking grateful for that

This depression spreads more like a slough or a valley of barren dusty bowls of tinny wind chimes and

wind that whistles through a crevice or two in trusting minds that all will be fine if one just keeps on

through just one more day and one more night

Really?  Another day of this muddy cloud?  Another hour of active, yearning boredom for comfortable satisfaction?

The arid sunset promises another day of static from mortality

that whispers in that bare murmur of voices that grow louder

with every death of a past lover, a beloved relative

The tongue of grief is sharp, lashing out wildly while

soft righteous regret smells like burning natural gas from

an iron stove that used to bake biscuits and boil stock pots

of beans flavored with tasty bacon grease

Hang on just one more day, I say

slog through one more hour

chew just one more kernel of popcorn

that tastes of tears and stereotypes

 

In between here and there lies a place of quiet

a place of no longer yearning for others’ attention

or affection or respect

It’s a place fully alive to absolutely everything in the universe that exists

to know the mysterious workings of things

It does not love or hate or boast of arrogance

nor bow in humility

to be fully alive and quiet in the now

In the flow of a silent eternal rhythm

 not watching

clocks or calendars or seasons changing

The essence of unbottling this quiet

belongs to nothing and everything

but exists on fairy wings, those mythical sprites

that flit in the gloaming of life that possesses

more yesterdays than tomorrows

I never thought that my best friends would have been objects instead of people, but here we are.

I liked to smoke.  I loved to smoke.  My favorite time of the day was early morning, with cup of coffee in hand, pack of cigarettes on the table, and an hour to leisurely peruse Facebook and Twitter before my caregiving responsibilities came into play.

I cherished the twin jolts of caffeine and nicotine, and to a lesser extent, the solitude to indulge in those old friends.  Of course, at night, there was nothing better than a few beers, a lot more smokes, and hitting the hay with a pleasant buzz.

Then, the virus happened.  It started like my usual infection that happens every year at the same time:  sore throat, headache, nasty asthmatic cough.  I took my usual store meds to keep the symptoms to a dull roar and continued to do my usual, albeit with the added stress of Thanksgiving just a couple of days away.  I powered through, prepping for the big day, hacking and blowing my nose, smoking less and drinking more.  Alcohol is a disinfectant.  The logic seemed impeccable, really.

Then, my roommate started sniffling.  Started wheezing.  By Friday, she was puffing like a steam engine.  I was somewhat concerned, but not unduly so.  Although she indulged in the same habits, her smoking took a big hit.  She just couldn’t draw a deep breath.

By Saturday morning, she sounded like Darth Vader and looked like him without the helmet; grey, sickly, weak around the eyes.  Her stubbornness would not let her even touch her rescue inhaler until it was too late to do any good.  Off we go to the ER.  She spent six days in the hospital, struggling to draw a breath, taking breathing treatments and injections every two hours.  I had another day of self-recrimination and smoking, until I gave it up, too.  There was no way I could continue to smoke after what I saw her go through, even though I hadn’t planned to quit, exactly.  It just happened.

So, this Saturday, she will be two weeks smoke-free, on a strict heart-healthy diet, one drink limit, and as much walking as she can handle, which is to say, not much right now.  my drinking is down to one beer a night.  I didn’t plan that, either, but it happened.  Sunday will be two weeks smoke-free for me.

My so-called best friends ended up not being my best friends after all.  They didn’t care about my wellbeing.  They just wanted to kill me.  With friends like that, who needs enemies?  I can live without them and I have more free hours to do what I really want to do.  I thought I would be depressed, but the opposite has happened.  I feel more energetic, more positive, and I cook a whole lot more because I feel like it again.  I’ve noticed that my back no longer aches when I walk a lot.  I don’t get in a hurry to finish something so I can have a cigarette and a beer.

My roommate still has breathing treatments for the next few months, but she sounds better now breathing-wise than she has in years.

As for me, I’m still taking doctor-prescribed meds, still sniffling, still keeping a headache, and still smoke-free.  The gut-punch of wanting a cigarette happens and I let it come and go.  If I could train myself to not smoke in the car or the truck and be happy with it, I can train myself to not smoke anywhere, anytime.  I thoroughly enjoy my one beer and don’t miss the other five or six at all.

I once thought that being an adult meant doing what I want when it turns out that real maturity means doing what is necessary and liking it for the sheer joy of having the choice to make good decisions.

The Columbus Chronicles, episode 4

 

We can still smoke in the bar

a relief for the reprobates

Pretty soon the pine smell is obliterated and a

blue haze floats just above our heads

We’ve become animated, my barfly friends and me

outside the sun creeps down the west side of the street

and brightens the inside just barely

we play liar’s poker, crack peanuts so stale

the shells are rubber pellets

popcorn is fresh, though

The woman with the Lucy eyelashes and smeared lipstick

laughs out loud with a bray that donkeys envy

I see black molars and bits of popcorn falling out of her mouth

A younger guy, maybe 25. slips off his stool and staggers to

the men’s room.  We laugh and catcall at his stumbling

silently vow to make sure we don’t do the same thing

After all, it’s only 7 am and real people that do real jobs

are prancing down the sidewalk

and we aren’t there