Cold rain falls in the river, flows down to the sea, gets into the skyline, circles endlessly. Same old rain on the wind, same old pain in my soul.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Teaching Hummingbirds

I live deep in the, well, -shit. Far from anything resembling a town or village, if you please. But what we lack in two legged beasts, we more than make up for in birds and critters. Idiots that we are, we feed them as if they’d starve otherwise. Or maybe we just like playing God. Anyways, hummingbirds come by the dozens daily. Thirty at a time. Four feeders of four openings but it’s never enough for the greedy buggers and they never seem to get enough. They really are quit rude and their language awful. I must teach them proper manners some day.

the bar is open,
come one, and come all
portals to nectar
sweet julep
of crimson.

I’ve put one here,
and there
and filled them to full
admission is free
and the ambience
with just a hint of

I’ll be your host,
please have a seat.
now, now behave!
there is plenty for all.

but behave you do not!
pooping my porch,
sneering your buzz
shagging the slow
and chasing new guests.

such language! I never,
and what right?

now you, over there,
and you, wait your turn.
no fighting, no scolding
no shagging, be nice.

oh, no? so you say.
shoo shoo
impetuous rascal

I’ll take them away.
yes I will, wait and see.
I’ll teach you of manners
and how you should be.

is that boy on my yard?
hey you! get away
who ate the last cupcake
and drank all the wine
I’ll pee where I want
to claim it as mine.
ooh, Fay Johnson looks good
through the hole in the fence,
I think that she wants me,
it’s only good sense.

if only you birds
could be civil,
like me
you’d live in a house,
and not in a tree!


Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer Visitor

How many times had he walked this path? Daily and for the few years his legs had known.
Just a dirt trail along the riverbank that led from house to town and back again. Sometimes it was to go to the store for his mother. Sometimes to visit a friend. Sometimes to fish or just sit upon the rock. But always, it was plain and uneventful.
A few others knew the path, but no one he looked forward to running into.
All that changed on July 17, 1972.
It was hot, as usual and the bugs flooding the weeds screamed out in anguished rituals of mating. A fish could be heard jumping occasionally beyond the cattails lining the shore. And the smell, the ever-present smell that rivers in July give off permeated the way.
He swiped along the dirt with the stick he had picked up and occasionally picked up a large rock and heaved it over the cattails just to hear the splash. When he rounded the bend where the boulder offered faithful rest, he glanced up and stopped mid stride in shock. There, sitting upon the rock, his rock, with one knee cocked up in all it’s sunburned glory, was a girl. Not just any girl, but a pretty girl. Young and strange and beautiful.
There, sitting upon his rock.
She was wearing only her underwear and they clung to her, obviously wet as her pants and shirt splayed the rock to soak up the hot sunlight.
The choices available to him were immediately taken away as she sensed his presence and turned to meet his gaze. He felt embarrassed and trapped, but she only smiled and turned back to the river.
“What’s the matter?” the words carried out over the water. “Haven’t you ever seen a girl before?”
He didn’t answer . He wasn’t sure how to.
She turned her head and lay it on her arm, which rested across her knee.
“It’s OK, I don’t bite”
He moved a little closer, but still didn’t speak.
Even in his youthful unknowing, he couldn’t help but study her. She was about his age, maybe a little older. Long dark hair that knew no certain direction, and her body had shape. He was amazed that she wasn’t embarrassed to be found this way and that she hadn’t shrieked and raced to cover up as he would have expected.
She looked him up and down in a way that made him feel naked even though he was fully clothed. It seemed she looked right through him to someone else on the other side. Her eyes sparkled in the sunlight and she again spoke.
“What’s your name? Mine’s Miriam.”
“Jeff,” was all he could muster, and was even surprised to hear that come out.
“Jeff is nice,” she offered. “You live close by?”
He turned and pointed to where he had come from. “Yeah, bout a mile that way.”
“Well, pull up a rock, Jeff, plenty of room for two.” She moved her jeans over a little and patted the rock.
Jeff knew the girls from school. He knew the girls from his church, from his neighborhood and from stories both told and read. But he knew nothing of a girl like Miriam. She was from Bloomington and was staying at her aunts for a month while her parents went to Europe.
She talked. Slow, easy and plain. When she smiled, her breath fell on his face like buttercups in a spring time pasture. Some times her arm brushed his own and he shivered from the connection.
She talked- he listened. She talked of the city, of rivers, of dreams. Of growing up in Bloomington. He too, cocked a knee up and his eyes, too, began to sparkle, as the rhythm of her spirit caressed his youthful heart.
By mid afternoon, he too, stripped to his underwear and they waded the soft mud and swam to gentle eddies.
Several nights later, they swam under a full moon while even their underwear kept to the rock.
Miriam taught Jeff how not to fear. She taught him how to kiss without worry of failure. She taught him how to grow, how to dream. She taught him of passion without shame. She taught him of love and of leaving.
By the end of summer, Miriam was gone. Back to Bloomington. The rock was barren once more, though he put his nose close to find just a trace of her scent, a scarce trace letting him know she was real.
He didn’t heave large rocks over the cattails anymore, but rather skipped small stones and he wondered why. And he thought of Bloomington, and of damp white underwear, and love upon the sand.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Hot July

Quite by chance, or so it seems, I find myself these days in a place where July knows no mercy. Damp, heavy and suffocating. It wraps itself around your shoulders like a hundred pound shawl and smiles to your misery. Thank God for fans and lemonade.

the air falls thick
in layered waves
masturbating the fields
in perfect disorder

cream coloured strokes
fly the fields
and rise the ridges
in Gettysburg waves

as it was before Noah
as it was before love
before emotions were birthed
and ejaculated
down the tendrils
of our uprising

July bakes
because it can’t spill.

the heat thrums
up, down and out
while we hanky our brow
and nose drip
the fever that plagues
our stolen comfort

by noon,
the feet will grow heavy, dense.
eyes will narrow
in pleas of mercy
and hair will stray
to pasted surrender

by late afternoon,
makeshift fans
on shaded porches
keep time to
rockers that cradle
and comfort
in all, there, there

when the dishes are done,
and the sun finally
falls silent,
when a breeze dares again
peek out from
whence it slept,

windows will again fly open.
box fans will fill them
with a wellspring
of dusk delight
and we’ll lay
one leg out
in wait
for tomorrows heavy dew

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


before asteroids,
before space invaders,
before X-Box-
there was a sloped table
on four chrome legs.

the top was filthy
and cigarette burned.

the kid,
what he could do
with it!

a pull with a twist
and a knock of the knee
and the little steel ball
was in play.

up and bend
groovin the paint
smirkin the move
all brass balls

the kid would push
at just the right time
and the ball would
bonus X500

a bump to the side
and the ball would
fall in the hole
with a ding! ding! ding!
as he cracked his knuckles
in well, fuck yeah!

the ball would try to escape
maybe down the side alley,
but he was too good
and could bump it back into
siderail torment.

by now,
the ball was weary,
as the knock
told the score
and the games piled up.

it tried to race for the exit
down the middle,
but that only played
to his power
and once more
the ball was sky rocketed
in sideways cacophony
bing! bing! bing!
bip! bip! bip!

I’d like to hold that steel ball,
that cold little steel ball,
in my hand.
rub it warm
like a wounded bird.

I’d like to carry it to an ocean
and bathe it in my palm,
with a one finger stroke.

maybe it and I
would share chardonnay
on a Paris balcony,
laughing to the headlines.
I'd show it the moon,
I suppose,
and roll it
through soft
easy meadows.
or maybe,
just maybe,

I’ll just carry it
in my pocket
til we’re both free
from our glass encasement
and the games
of another’s quarter.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thompson Security Co.

When I was younger, much younger, I did some crazy things, though they seemed perfectly sane to me at the time. In the early eighties, I had a nice job behind a desk as a regional sales manager for a large corporation. I had taken the short cut to the fast track, and all I had to do was play the game. Trouble is, I never could play the game.

So one weekend, with no thoughts to future consequences or care of common sense, I decided to quit. I had been there three years and back then, three years was well beyond the life expectancy of anything I might be found involved in.

There was no plan beyond getting in my rattle-trap Pontiac on Monday and pointing south. Somewhere around Kansas I flipped a coin and Texas won. I fished the Colorado in Austin for supper while living in my car. I danced with Miss Houston at Mickey Gilley’s just after Urban Cowboy came out and agreed to share living quarters with a bum under a bridge over a six pack.

But Texas was loud and unkind and gave me a traffic ticket I couldn’t pay so the Pontiac set sail and easted, to Florida.

I had a friend there, just slightly less stupid than me. He let me stay with him and his roommate. I sold my blood, I worked at an ABC liquor, and I squeezed dead fish and pulled gonads. But before all these glamorous ways of making a living, I installed peep sights.
Here’s where it gets interesting.

Back in Texas, my black sheep uncle whom I had never previously met, told me of a great scheme for jackasses like me to make some money. Here’s the deal; you go to Lowes (for Marion) and buy a two dollar peep sight. You drape a drill over your shoulder and go looking for neighborhoods of old people easily given to fear and no peep sight.

knock knock

“Hello! My name is Mike and I represent the Thompson Security Company. Did you know there has been a rash of burglaries in this neighborhood?” I would lower my voice near the tail like the bad guys might be listening in.

Old women-because old men were out fishing or golfing this time of morning in Florida- would clutch their drab blouses with both hands and oh my! with exaggerated brows mostly painted on.

‘”Yes, I’m afraid it’s true, and did you know you’re vulnerable?” I would raise one eye brow.
About this time, I would also glance over my shoulder for any sign the cops were onto me.
I would go on to say how my company, out of deep concern, was installing peep sights in homes without them for only ten dollars. After that, she would be able to always know who was lurking just outside her door. State of the art security for only ten dollars!

The beauty of this scheme was that it only takes a quick drilling and screwing in of the sight for an eight dollar profit and the old lady would feel safe. In theory, it was all win-win. But for some reason, old people in Florida in 1982 were not all that interested in state of the art security.

The last time I did one of these installations, I was able to convince the lady that rapists and burglars were watching her even now from bushes and beat-up chevy vans. She wanted to wait and ask her husband but I convinced her of the great surprise it would be to him when he returned to find his home so much safer for only fifteen dollars. (Due to slow sales, I had to raise the price.)

Now this was no shanty, this was good digs with a gorgeous door. As she watched nervously, I quickly drilled from the outside without taking so much as a glance to the inside. The bit seemed to go through too quickly. I swung the door open and peeked to the inside. There were square indentations on the inside of the doors and beautiful inlaid decorations. This door hadn’t come from Lowes, that's for sure.

There were now two immediate problems. One, the peep sight was too long for the whole drilled in the upper corner of one of the receded squares. When you screwed the thing in, it just hung out one side or the other and you could just push it back and forth like a cheap trombone. The second problem was that the wood had exploded on the inside. Like Butch Cassidy had blown the thing open with dynamite.

With one glance, I could see her look of deep consternation and my mind found another gear I had forgotten about. I quickly smiled to calm her fears as she nearly strangled herself in blouse-clutch.

Hmm. Seems I have a small problem. But don’t worry, I have a shorter sight back at the shop and I can make those white splinters not even noticeable,” I lied.
“But my husband will be home soon. I can’t let him see it like this!” Her eyebrows disappeared into her blue hair.

I waved her off and told her the shop was nearby. Don’t worry about a thing.
I then left and went back to the apartment. I really did intend to make things right somehow. But as I leaned on the railing trying to hacksaw the too-long brass sight, my friends showed up and asked if I wanted to go out on the boat. I thought of an angry husband possibly now home, and of a boat and a cooler full of beer.

I wish I could tell you I didn't throw the thing in the bushes, that I did the right thing and became fast friends with the family whose door I had so badly mutilated, and married their beautiful daughter. The best I can do is tell you I resigned from the Thompson Security Company and never again maimed a strangers door. And in case anyone is still looking for me in Florida or Texas, (yeah, I know, Texas never forgets) I declare this to be a work of fiction.
Wink, wink.
(I don't mean in any way to justify my behavior either real of fictional in this post. It was a recession. I was broke and desperate and figured my incarceration wouldn't help anyone. If I could go back and make it right, I would.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Al Mitzler went to Deadwood

Al Mitzler went to Deadwood

I had a friend. He had a wife. They had some children. They had a home. He saved money. Retirement would be early. They had a boat. He fished. They had plans. He was a nice guy. I liked him. He looked good. People liked him. There are a billion combinations to a formula that if only one were altered, this story would not be written. But Al Mitzler went to Deadwood.

this ride.
his life
bikers, babes
and beads.
everyone’s a superstar
-for a day.

“ya goin to Deadwood?”
the question
and probed
and roamed
on the wild wind
of midlife’s

the ol’ lady
fear and apprehension
all took on a shrug
of noncommittal purpose without

but go he did
a last second whim

is there really any other kind?

Peggy’s wedding
wasn’t til next week,
work let him off,
the ol’ lady said go
and money was just portraits
of dead presidents on shit-green paper.

all the planets
in line, seemingly still
at warp speed
and the kids
who knows where
Al Mitzler
went to Deadwood

“I’ll see ya on Monday.”
a kiss and a smile
and on Monday
she did.

the day
warm-blasted their ride
and cold beer
doctored the fuel
that starry-eyed the night.

Sunday morning
is kind to bikes,
the highway
fat and lazy.

the music in his head
smiled his ride
and hid the mundane
of urban resettlement.

he looked to Jerry
off the port bow
smiled and drummed
the polished chrome
to the remembrance
of Saturday night

he didn’t see the car-
that didn’t see the truck
that beasted blindly,
and the planets fell
out of orbit
as Al
fell out of life
and came home
riding coach.

the sun came up
on Tuesday.
work was work
jokes were funny
and the moon
didn’t so much
as hiccup or burp,
it just mooned as before.

“what a nice wedding.’
“yes, Peggy looks so happy.”
“shame about Al.”
“yeah, ya just never know.”
“I almost went with him, ya know?’
“you don’t say!”

Al Mitzler went to Deadwood.