Tuesday, December 30, 2008
When I find my voice
it's usually off key and shaky,
but I throw it out there loud with my toe tapping.
People in the pews scoot away from me
or smile awkwardly, I smile back.
When I find my voice
I hope it won't be to late
to ask questions
to show the rocks
When I find my voice
I doubt it will be the 4th of July, Christmas or Easter.
I doubt it will be when I win the lottery
or when the Seahawks win the Superbowl.
I'm afraid, I will probably be next to a hospital bed
hands clasped together pleading and sobbing,
or maybe, by some divine mercy,
I'll find somewhere I've looked a thousand time
under the couch cushions, next to the coffee maker
or some place in Psalms.
When I find my voice
I don't think I'll say anything new
I'll probably say things we've all heard before
with a few exclamation points added on.
When I find my voice
it will be a call and response,
an echo of a bigger voice.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
giant and green
with huge black claws
toothy gentle smile
wearing a Santa Clause beard
standing next to
a body builder lamb
covered with bad-ass tattoos.
There's a thought bubble
containing a question mark
coming from the dragon.
The dragon's claw
tears deep into body tissue
chunks of bloody flesh falling to the ground
as he reaches into his chest cavity.
The dragon holds his prize,
a still beating heart
topped with a ribbon.
He holds it out to the lamb,
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sitting in the Chinese place near my house
with three of my room mates, I'm beginning to realize
I'm no good at waiting. General Tso's chicken
will get to me, but every time the door to the kitchen
moves an inch, I start salivating. 5 minutes turns into 10
turns into 15 could turn into anything: a month
a year, hell it could be another 2000 years.
HOW LONG MUST I WAIT? Bobby has a final at 1
for Gods sake, How long?
Every second is torture on an empty stomach.
It's December 7th, and as a history major
I know it's an important date, but I can never remember
just what happened. Was it D-Day, or the Attack on Pearl Harbor?
Google tells me Pearl Harbor. A man at my church was at Pearl Harbor
when the attacks happened. I like the way he tells the story, "Well,
everybody had to be somewhere, I was on the John." I wonder
how many of those service men had finished their Christmas shopping.
How many were waiting to go home for holiday leave? I hope it wasn't many.
Had to be a bummer, no Christmas with the family
and on top of that, a fresh new global conflict.
My little cousins are at the age where this season is at full effect.
They can't sit still. Santa is ever at the for front of their minds.
Waiting for Christmas morning is tough for them--but fortunately
they don't have to wait the full time. Christmas Eve, they open
at least a few gifts. A sneak peak. It makes me smile, even though
they can be quite frustrating in the run up to opening time.
It makes me smile, because though the presents are divorced
from the traditional meaning behind Advent, the effect is still working.
They're waiting, growing ancy and excited--anticipating future awesomeness.
It's Advent, and I'm trying to do it right. Trying to look back
so I can wait, so I can look forward. Look back on Immanuel
and the nativity to look forward to Christ coming in power. Looking back,
into a stable and manger to look forward to golden streets
to tears wiped away, to unwrapping that big present
I've had my eye on, the one the perfect size to be anything.
I'm looking back to a morning star to look forward
to that everlasting, great getting up morning when
I won't have to wait.
It's Advent and I'm struggling to do it right.
I'm looking back, but my eyes are wandering.
The girl with the Seahawk sweatshirt, my gas gage,
the numbers on my scale and on my pay check.
I'm having a hard time not looking forward
to bills, oil changes, new semesters and new papers.
I'm trying to take the time to wait
to climb the tower and keep watch.
I wonder where the magi were when they saw the star.
If they had just stepped out to the out house, and noticed
something new on the horizon. What did their wives think
when they told them they were going on a trip with their
work friends to find some new King? I bet they were caught off gaurd.
Like the man at my church, on the John, thinking about a million other things:
the weather, dinner, business, family issues, and then BOOM
there's a new star. Shepherds had to have shit themselves
when the chorus of angels appeared to tell them
God had come.
It's Advent, and it's time for me to look back
so I can look forward to a time when I'll be taken-off gaurd.
So I can look forward to that great moment when, throughout the world,
every pair of underwear will need to be changed. It's time for me to remember
a single mother and her fiancee trying to understand what had just happened,
so that I can look forward to a new morning
when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
The wait is indeed well with my soul.
Some days it feels like
I'm burning down a forest
Then planting a tree
My infection (failed Negotiations)
Somedays it feels like
corduroy, others it feels like linoleum
the weather seems to have an affect
it usually hangs out near my knees.
I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it is.
I've been tracking it
through cities, valleys,
mountains and deserts.
It's huge--I saw it once,
fangs like javelins
and a real mean look
on it's half dozen glazed over eyes.
I've tracked it here, to this wood
I don't think I can kill it
but I won't let it hide--
I'm burning down a forest
leaving the thing to rest
in the embers.
I think it's an urge
to leave, to run,
to hit restart, to die.
It's 2 am puking
in an effort to exorcise
a night of Caucasians
or boxed wine.
It's there, sleeping
restless--tossing and turning
just an inch under conscious.
I'm digging a hole
deep and narrow,
right down through my esophagus
straight through to my knees.
Tomorrow I'll throw it down
wait to here it hit bottom,
pile dirt, concrete,
fire and hope on top.
I'm digging a hole
then planting a tree
to trap it, to give it a gravestone
that will have flowers in spring
and apples in fall.
I'll let it suffocate and hopefully
die in a place that I will forget.
This is a failed negotiation
with a self that won't compromise
or listen to reason.
This isn't a solution
it's a last resort.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
When I was old enough to understand I liked saltines much less. I've taken communion countless times with varied results. I remember tearing up once as I dipped a papery wafer in grape juice because God loved me, but I also remember drinking a little cup of creamer when there wasn't enough grape juice to go around and joking about Jesus' blood tasting like Irish Cream. I had my first taste of alchohol taking communion, nearly threw up. It's the only religious ritual I participate in regularly and that throws me off a bit.
I have other rituals, I think most people do, but none of these are as lofty: like when I turn on the faucet after I pee so people think I'm washing my hands, or checking my alarm clock every night exactly three times. These may be stretching the definition of ritual, but stretching is good, it's how we grow. I remember when I played football, before games every player would hit a particular sign as we ran onto the field. I think the sign was something about the field being closed at dusk, but everyone hit it before games. It had absolutely nothing to do with playing well, it wasn't even superstitious, we just did it. It was a completely empty ritual.
These empty rituals scare me because they make me feel like an actor. When I take communion, I don't want to get into character. It's difficult not to try and get into character for church, everyone dresses nice, stained glass and funny things we Christians have been doing for a millenia. I don't like putting up a front so I often wear sweat pants and old t-shirts. This gets me through most of the service, but when it comes time to take communion I often find myself putting on face that tells people I'm thinking very hard, because this means a lot to me, I'm spiritual.
Right now, I want to write a solution. Something sweeping and beautiful. Tying bits of my experience together to make sense of my struggles. Unfortunately, I am, as of yet, unaware of any secret solutions. The answers, if you want to call them that, I've found are frustrating. Faith is more a decision than a feeling. At times it can feel like I'm just acting, like I'm just practicing a script made up for me, but faith ought not be dependent and feelings, comfort or vague, inarticulate doubt. If the connection with God I am looking for is a warm feeling in my stomach, than my faith will be either empty and bitter or a superstition.
My parents were right, when I eat that wafer, and drink that juice I have to understand what communion is about. It's not an empty ritual. I need to remember why we Christians get together and act kind of strange for an hour each Sunday.
On the night he was betrayed he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
It's about remembering. The feelings will come when they come. Sometimes I have to be content singing terrible songs, with people who are tone-deaf, eating stale wafers with bad grape juice and sitting through long, meandering, convoluted sermons. I have to be content because it is about more than good songs and tasty crackers: its about something that I couldn't accomplish on my own and the person who accomplished it for me, namely Jesus. And if the pictures I've seen are accurate, which I think is a good bet, he's about the coolest cracker ever.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
it was hot,
the kind of hot that made sitting in the shade
complaining about the heat with no shirt on and
sucking on a High Life
a full day.
the kind of heat they tell geriatrics
and small children to avoid.
the kind of heat that leads to day dreams
of sleeping in a king size bed of Otterpops.
if He had driven out here,
there would be marks on His legs
from where he peeled them off
of vinyl seats.
this was the middle nowhere,
twelve miles from the nearest inn
slurpees still a couple millennia away.
He needed a drink.
He wished he didn’t live in a desert
He wondered why he had taken up the company
of so many slack jawed yokels
blue collar tools with small vocabularies.
they told Him to wait
apparently they forgot
who the leader of their operation was
he was the Hannibal to their A-team.
a fact they'd do well to remember.
they told Him to wait
because apparently there was
A woman of ill repute
A lady with loose morals
as if He would be embarrassed.
they were an uppity bunch,
if the son of Man was thirsty
the son of Man was going to get a drink,
even if the well was in the middle of a brothel
frequented by Hitler, Ted Bundy, Nero
and the defensive line of the 1985 Bears.
it was a hot day and He was thirsty
He was going to get a drink of water.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
We drank beer, every brand I've ever heard of, and some that I've only seen in my basement. The empties and half empties would show up in our recycle for weeks. Clean up meant--take a broom knock down all the bottles and cans off the heating ducts, sweep the shattered glass and empty cans into a corner, then search the entire basement looking for unfinished beer. Once I took a five gallon bucket down there to drain the left over beer and Carlo Rossi. I filled it half way up, used it to watered the rhodies out back.
Our backdoor neighbors would hold impromptu jam sessions on their porch, they would leave us presents from the "beer faery," and tell us stories. God the stories we heard. Nick Nelson. His bandana sewn round his neck. Beard long and hippy-ish. Staggering in asking us to touch it--"don't it feel like a girl's pubes." Shit, he could tell stories. Down in Arizona, he was leaving a party at ASU. The drunks were scouring the yard. Rummaging through Bud-Light cans, searching for the left-over beer. Nick offered to share his Nattie Ice. They looked at him like he was crazy. Like he was offering them dog shit laced with arsenic. I never found many Nattie Ice cans half empty. Seems like the people who drink Nattie Ice finish their beer.
Sitting alone in the room I grew up in, in a town that doesn't sell Natural Ice listening to sad-sappy music on an apple laptop: I miss those half empties; hearing the bottles hit the concrete, their smell exploding through the room. The cans in the lawn, the cans in the shrubs, the cans in the alley. The under-aged metal heads breaking bottles in the street. I miss the people, I miss the cliche--I wish when I went out to my garage I could find a half empty bud light, or at least an empty Natural Ice.
But in my garage there are tents, ten year old Corollas and lawn tools.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Bobby is an awkward tall. 18 and armed with the kindness of a grandpa whose pockets are full of butterscotch. He is someone who thinks at the right depths, tells stories that never stray from the point but still manage to hop around like a frog being chased by a 5 year old.
Camp stories are a staple for him, most of them involve mischief or at least copious amounts of nudity, either way they keep my attention.
One his stories has a more somber tone. Every year the camp we worked at was invaded by Japanese students on a tour of the West Coast. They come to camp, ride motorbikes, play basketball, dance and sing. At the end of these weeks they write their counselors thank you notes. Most notes express how much fun they had at camp, but the note bobby received was different, more succinct; it said simply
"please, don't forget me."
Months after hearing this story I'm sitting between cobwebs and drunks in my basement listening to Ryler read poems over beer bongs and keg stands. He tells us what angels ought to be, screen doors fly, gorillas snatch up baby girls and people die of wonder: he is opening up his chest and going on the discovery channel. I get to watch. Metalheads in leatherjackets stumble by with Carlo Rossi. They don't get it. They leave.
Downtown legends are oral traditions in Bellingham. In dark basements the stories are past down. My favorites are the stories of Geronimo. He is somewhat of a local celebrity: homeless as far as anyone knows and social to the point of frustration. One day Geronimo found a dead raccoon. He paraded it through downtown explaining that he had hunted it down and killed it. Going up to different cafe's and dinners he would hold the carcass against the window and its bloody entrails all over screaming "THIS IS MY WOLVERINE! THIS IS MY WOLVERINE!"
Geronimo was letting people know: he was here. The smeared blood on the window was Geronimo's way of saying "Please, don't forget me". Poetry for me is just that. I putting me, out there. Letting you know that I was here and that this, THIS, is my wolverine.
Sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes it’s a pile of uncomfortable disjointed thoughts. Sometimes I would rather do a thousand keg stands than write another word. But every time I come back, with each letter I write there is a part of me writing a simple note:
"please, don't forget me."
1. As Future Jake I will try and open up dialog with my past self by going back and leaving encouraging livejournal comments on my blog.
2. As Present, or Past Jake, I will write a series of apology letters to Future Jake. These letters I will keep in my glove compartment for 2 to 5 years. Hopefully this will help alleviate any bitterness towards Past/Present Jake that may have built up.
Utilizing these to method I hope to reduce tensions between these two factions who have historically been enemies. I realize it is a large task, not unlike the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East with both sides playing a large role in the others destiny; but I believe with perseverance and a little bit of exercise these deep wounds can begin to be healed. Until then we can all pray for peace between Past/Present Jake and Future Jake.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Followed me all the way to my gate; I went in the back to keep him from sticking his head through the door. I was opening the back door when I saw it jump the fence, the cedar planks bent back until under it's weight. It trotted up to the porch and stuck it's head in the door.
It was all I could do to shove him back out onto the porch, which was where it stayed, looking inside, tongue wagging, head cocked. It stayed until it's owner came to my door looking for it. He was big, dumb and muscled like the dog. l grabbed the dogs collar and lead it back the the man's black pick-up.
I never saw that dog again.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Socrates and John the Baptist got in a fist fight
Socrates with his leading questions
John pouring a jug of wine on his head
Nothing major, you see
Just a misunderstanding about the tab
That they'd somehow rung up
Neither would cop to the expense
After they had both fallen on the floor
And forgotten how they'd gotten there
They walked out the door as friends
The wait staff collecting the dirty clothes
And scribbled pages
They'd left behind
And sold them as holy relics
And grand philosophy
(the tab must be paid somehow)
They breathed fire
The mist of saliva and everclear
Igniting like a firework
While everyone cheered
It was the night of their life
Immortality proven by survival
The music was loud enough to wake
The Peterson's next door
Neither hearing-aid turned on
But the vibration enough
To shake them from their adjustable bed
When the old man yelled
Vainly into the night
He imagined how respectful, reasonable and upright
He had been 'at that age'
And went back to bed
The crossing-guard stop sign was no match
For the speeding SUV's distracted momentum
The children were fast
But that old man with the reflective vest
Crumpled up like a mosquito
Against the radiator
Over the wreckage
A woman with coffee spilled all over her
Finally hung up
Were no help
The only thoughts that came out
Of such deliberation were:
"I have a nice beard"
So the silence went on
Each one of us hoping
That someone smarter would speak up
"Quite a problem"
"Well, the only thing to do about it
I suppose, is to ascertain the Will of the People"
Which was quickly seconded
And removed from our concerns
Shouted and screamed
I love you
Sounds more like a command
Or a curse
Sounds just like
I hate you
Kicked up a dust storm
Dancing in the desert
So fast and so hard
Like it would bring the rain
Threw off our clothes
Like they would become animals again
Let our skin burn
Like burning was a penance
Like our whiteness, exposed
Could become something else
We touched like it was forgiveness
For sins we've committed so casually
And with such industry
It doesn’t feel like anything anymore
When the night came
And we lay down in the sand
It got so cold so fast
I thought we'd die
And that we would be sink down
To become seeds
For some grand forest
When morning came
We saw the mess we'd made
And hurt from hung over eyes to broken toe
We drove home
In total silence
That was seen for miles
And this was only seen through the keyhole
I would not expect you to know it
The day the buildings fell in burning ruin
I was just trying to write a resume
Trying to get myself into a job
And I knew
That things were not going to get easier
St. Peter broke the fight up
Using his key like a sword
To smite them both to the ground
And deliver a famous line
From the gospels
Which was the moral of the story
Though most of it was fighting
Not found in the bible
In the movie
He was played, appropriately
By professional wrestler
John the Baptist had a bloody nose
Sloppy washing after the beheading
But she didn't mind that
She didn't need the souvenir
It was for her mom anyway
Though she had to wonder
How a head was worth
Half a kingdom
And Socrates lost an ear
When the bust hit the marble floor
With a great crack
In the silence of the museum
Docents came running
Like it was Murder
And I put my hands up
Not sure what they'd do
But they rushed to the broken ear
Sending everyone away
While I apologized and apologized
Two weeks later
You couldn't tell the difference
Sometimes I think the artifacts
Are mostly glue
Swallowed whole by the locust eater
One less hungry mouth
In a wave of billions
But the beak keeps picking them off
While it lasts
The famine is riding their heels
After the fight
I never thought I'd talk to him again
Never thought we could see each other
And not immediately start up again
Knowing how wrong he was
But somehow when I saw him on the bus
We nodded warily
Mentioned the weather
And never brought it up again
Which, being men
Should not have been surprising at all
Socrates heard crickets everywhere he went
Some defect in his inner ear
That's why he was always getting into trouble
Asking what? Why?
Couldn't quite hear people
They thought he was mocking him
That's what I read
On the internet
Quit his philosopher job
At the help desk phone bank
Asking Socrates questions
"Is the computer plugged in?"
"Have you turned it on?"
"Have you tried reinstalling?"
And got a job in voice-over work
And corporate training videos
If Jesus came back today
He'd be the first apostle
And became an exterminator
And became a consumer
And forgot all about
Finally, becoming nothing but
A few numbers
A large, soft corpse
A small box to keep it in
Friday, October 24, 2008
Saturday's my mom and aunt Diane meet for lunch at the Maltby cafe
out in the sticks of Snohomish county: not quite Woodinville, not quite Bothell.
The cafe is in a basement, it's not a secret and it gets real crowded.
The wait is routinely 20 minutes
I am hungry 20 minutes feels like I'm on a hunger strike,
one of my top 5 fears, most the others are in American History X;
whoever thought of curbing must of felt a lot like God did
when he created spitting Cobras.
Chris Cornell signed a poster up on the wall,
huge good food, right next to Bob Nelson from Almost Live.
Stephanie party of 5
Stephanie party of 5
The girl across from me is wearing great big movie star sunglasses.
Is she hungover or possessed by the wandering spirit of Roy Orbison?
We're in a basement for God's sake, and outside the sky is slate gray.
Stephanie party of 5
last call for Stephanie party of 5
come on people!
The two old men next to me reminds me of my Grandpa
who thinks the Communists infiltrated the Democratic party in 1968 and that
there is a giant computer somewhere in the Netherlands that controls everything,
I mean everything: global warming, elections, sports and the cost of cereal.
The old men are talking about Robert Gates,
bald one says oh yeah, he's a spook, all of them are spooks
part of a secret organization.
Skull and Bones?
No, Free Masons.
Mike party of three
Mike party of three
I am picturing my order in my head
mushroom, bacon, sausage and onion omelet
drenched in cheese and a cinnamon roll.
The Maltby Cafe makes plate sized cinnamon rolls
dinner plate size, big dinner plates,
I'm guessing Chris Cornell was talking about the cinnamon roll.
the middle-aged purple-fleeced woman to my left
is reading the Everett Herald,
Couple gets 8 years a piece for boys starving.
I wonder if that boy would have cried
if he saw a Maltby Cafe cinnamon roll in front of him
floating in a pool of gooey frosting.
My lunch just became a memorial.
Diane party of 3
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
when the trees argue about what season it is
coughs linger and chimneys feel at home
We'll throw the football and pretend
it's January under lights and camera flashes
with the game on the line
We'll walk over dead leaves
survey the landscape and wonder
where Bob Ross hid his secrets
These cold clear days
we'll miss things we never noticed before
doughnut shops, rope swings, smells and laughs
These cold clear days
there's gold under foot every step
we may forget, but it will stick with us
cling to the bottom of our shoes
until we need to be reminded.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Burger & Teriaki Stop
two girls on a swing set
a gray van, with no windows
a billboard that says "TV"
fog rolling through the Snohomish valley
a faded American flag
gray haired man in over-alls, digging
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I'm not the type of guy
to know what type of guy I am,
but I have lots of theories.
I'm the type of guy
who thinks he's listening
but is actually thinking about
I'm the type of guy
who thinks he's skinnier in mirrors than pictures
consequently subscribes to wild conspiracy theories
I'm the type of guy
who wonders too much
about convergent zones
I'm the type of guy
who wishes he had a castle,
hatches secret plots
to take over Wales.
I'm the type of guy
who pretends he's sniper
in Vietnam as he's falling asleep
hidden deep under covers.
I'm the type of guy
who cried the first time he watched First Blood
didn't cry at Schindler's List
cried watching Bridge to Terebithia
publicly disdains crying at movies
still cries when he watches the Lion King.
I'm the type of guy
who only seems functional
secretly thinks he's a psychic
wears ties with short sleeved dress shirts
wishes he was a flying squirrel.
I'm the type of guy
who thinks introspection is whoop-la
but does it
usually when he should be listening.
I'm the type of guy
who stretches to make connections
that only make sense to himself
but tries to explain them anyways.
I'm not the type of guy
who knows when to
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Jonah was swallowed up by a whale; I wonder if there is a story about a whale being swallowed up by a dude in the whale bible.
I have a skinny friend that thinks he may die of wonder; I wonder if anyone has. I wonder what the doctor would write on the death certificate, I bet it would be something like “died of acute neurological meanderment.” I wonder if doctors ever make up words just to see if anyone will call them on it. I mean if a doctor says I’ve got a bruised left tribono, who am I to argue with him? Personally, I would hope that a doctor with all those years of school would come up with a better word than tribono.
I wonder if the whale that swallowed Jonah went to see the whale doctor because Man… how would you explain that one?
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Gas can in hand
he watched the flames
with a smirk on his face,
his wife trapped inside.
He imagined the flames
shooting from the master bedroom
pink and baby blue,
the colors his wife painted his den,
along with everything in the house.
She was unconscious and burning;
chloroform and fire
make for clean breaks.
The only thing to come out from the flames
was black smoke and a golden lab
his wife named his dog.
Now the dog’s name would be Bear;
he and Bear were going for a drive.
tells me most poetry
People who got
nothing to say are
writing books and books
of terrible poetry.
They work hard
at something they won't ever
be any good at.
He's got a sparse beard
covers deep acne scars,
he's absolutely hideous.
I tell I'm going to write anyways,
I tell him he's hideous.
The capillaries in his nose
have all burst.
He takes another swig of his Heineken.
Poetry should come out like a hot beer shit
when you finish you should look down
and see it all out there.
I shake my head
little comes out.
I'll be back in an hour
to finish up.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
So we were left alone,
we hadn't known each other fifteen minutes.
She had on a black beanie
held in place with a black bobby pin
tight black jacket and a pair of lip piercings.
Said she like liked it here
didn't have to worry about
what people thought about
what she looked like.
I agreed. I was wearing sweatpants
and hoody I bought in the 7th grade
so I felt particularly genuine.
beer and sweat pants
usually have that effect on me.
She asked me what I was doing up here.
I paused a minute to decide which story I'd tell,
I said I was going to school to become a minister.
She asked if I was religious, I said I was
she paused, then told me that was neat
then looked down at her beer
while I sipped mine
We sat at in our booth.
She avoided eye contact
while I tried to think of something:
an off color joke or drunken story
something to show that I'm still cool
not like those other people she's met
or seen on television
or go the other way
actually try and explain
maybe even have a conversation.
I wanted to say
just sat there
listening to the jukebox
waiting for our friends
to finish smoking.
Monday, September 29, 2008
tired sun-burnt faces
out of hooded college sweat shirts
while a balding man
wisdom and understanding
can be found.
Few bibles are open.
The bubbly girls are yawning
while the chubby-funny guys
are more asleep than awake.
I'm watching a bug circle the room
trying to remember how to spell
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I'm clumsy in boats
I always have been
I maintain what the boy scouts taught me
three points of contact at all times
I'm a decent swimmer
but I want to keep it a voluntary thing
The outdoor channel shows bass fishing
all the time
they have tournaments
the fishermen have fast boats
They stand on flat decks
and toss lures on weeds
it makes me nervous to watch them
I find myself clutching the arms of the couch
I change the channel quickly
I don't know why I'm writing this.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
When I wake up
I hit the snooze 4 times
mutter an expletive
and roll out of bed
It's dark when I drive to work,
brake lights and street lights
reflect off a slick empty highway
I listen to sports radio
I pass three porn stores
a strip club
and a casino
on my way to work
Five car lots, a Wal Mart
my old church
the house where my bible study met
when I was in high school
the church no longer exists
but there are teriyaki shops
at least 10 of them
just on my drive to work
I pass my old orthodontist's office
the field I learned to play soccer on
the music store where I bought my guitar
I commute when I used to watch grindhouse flicks after bar close
I don't know what I'm doing at work
People are friendly
ask how I'm doing
You know--keeping my head above water; or
highs and lows, strikes and gutters; or
starting to get the hang of things; or
same old same old
Oh and. . .
I went to sleep at 6:30 last night
because I just couldn't think of anything else to do; or
counting down the minutes until I can fall asleep or drink myself stupid
Monday, September 22, 2008
My cousin Tom smoked until his grand children were in kindergarten. When I was 5 I spilled frosted flakes on my crotch. He said he'd done it a dozen times, and that I shouldn't be embarrassed about it: he's always been my favorite cousin.
Now he's got emphysema and big bushy beard. I only see him at reunions, he can't be around camp fires and he wheezes all the time.
Last time I saw him, I was drinking a High Life out of a styrofoam cooler. Tom asked me if he could have one, said he'd have to owe me till the next reunion. Under his breath he muttered "if I make the next one." I told him he'd better because he owes me a beer.
My cousin Scottie was 17 when his dad died of cancer. At the next reunion Tom took him aside, gave him a beer, told Scottie the only thing he looked forward to about these reunions was having a beer with Scottie's dad and that he needed to have a beer with Scottie.
A few years later Scottie told me if he ever met cancer he'd kick him in the balls. I don't think I'll ever know exactly how he feels but I do know this: if I don't get a beer at the next reunion emphysema better find a cup.
Friday, September 19, 2008
my tattoo is going to be
on my side from my hip
up my rib cage
Where oh death is your sting
With a hornet
with a 4 inch stinger
broke in half
in comic book letters,
like in the old Batman
With Jesus in a karate outfit
double black belt
chopping the stinger in half.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I fall in love often: baristas, lab partners, girls ordering dark beers or talking about fantasy novels have me head over heels faster than I can stutter an introduction. While I'm stuttering I'm writing the love poem. Planning it out in my head, calculating my approach to the poem she'll never hear or if she does, she'll never know it was about her.
There is strategy to these poems: go big or go home. I know how to go big. I've got so many lines popping out my head it's hard to concentrate. It takes me 5 minutes to answer the question "you want room for cream?"
When I'm asked that question I'm not thinking about anything going in my coffee. I'm thinking 'If you were a princess I'd be your mario. No amount revolving walls of flame hammer throwing koopas or slowly shot giant bullets with angry faces could stop me from storming the castle and saving you from Bowser.'
In my head I make outrageous promises like climbing mountains crowded with angry monkeys wielding switch blades and monkey-sized broad swords, or swimming shark infested seas wearing a wool sweater soaked in seal blood.
Someday, when I finally find someone who's writing poems about me in her head, they'll be no use for hyperbole. I'll say unimpressive things that are actually true. "I probably wouldn't walk 500 miles just to fall down at your door, but I would walk 5 or 6 miles just to watch the Big Lebowski.
"Your smile doesn't remind me of a sunset, but I do think it's pretty
and I'm willing to make a complete fool of myself just to see it."
Someday I'll write a love poem that's true. I won't even have to use my imagination. I'll actually read it to the person who inspired it; and when the girl at Starbucks, or whatever locally owned coffee shop I happen to be at, asks me if I want room for cream. I won't pause. I won't look deep into her eyes. I won't try and think of any romantic analogies. I won't think at all. I'll say casually, instinctively, "no, thank you" then turn and try and locate the sports section of the Seattle Times.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I feel like a man when I drive
when I pull into gas stations
buy a cup of coffee
confirm directions I have on a map
I wear an over-sized Washington belt buckle
with an eagle, mountain and evergreen tree
501's, hiking boots and a T-shirt with a cougar on it
I belong on the road
I like the seeing
trees, rocks, people
taking it in
with eyes stretched
like NFL linebackers
eyes almost popping out
because something important
is always about to happen
a grove of cypress trees
a concrete caveman
an old man on a front porch
widdling himself into a cliche
the route is a free-write
going where it will
with a general sense of direction
destinations left to be discovered
I need the road
I need to see something new
rivers, lizards, cities or diners
I need to study things for the first time
I have inherited the wander lust
from generations of ancestors who needed the road
across the Atlantic and across the plains
because they'd seen home
driving is an instinct
like house cats stalking dirty socks
or dogs peeing on mail boxes
I feel like man when I drive
Monday, September 8, 2008
I'm Lee Van Clef.
When I smoke
I have a handle bar mustache.
I see things
When I smoke
I think about
lots of things,
in the smoke
I see faces
of the people
or at least
I've seen killed
three plastic bins, a guitar and a backpack.
I'm a long ways from being a nomad
riding the rails, following the great herds
but I'm a gas station and a reason away from anywhere.
One bin is pants and jackets.
One bin is shirts.
One bin is books, dvd's and pictures.
I keep miscellaneous Best Buy suburban necessities in my backpack.
I'm happy with the little inconvenience
of making room for a passenger or two,
though there may be a few small digs
about the clutter.
My car is a closet,
for right now
I live in it.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
told me it was great, that it would be my new favorite place in town.
I tried it and it was pizza.
It was good
but it was just pizza,
there was nothing special about it.
Like when I went to the Grand Canyon
drove out there with a buddy in the middle of the night
drove 6 hours out of our way, because it was the grand canyon,
we sat in my Camry and watched the sun come up.
It came up slow and we saw more and more of the canyon,
it was big.
I read Ovid's Metamorphoses.
I didn't get what the big deal was.
Maybe I'm not cultured enough.
Maybe I need to read more things
to be able to read Ovid
and actually like it.
People say that's what I need to do,
but I think those people are in love with being smart.
They want to have opinions on Ovid, Plato and Tolstoy.
I wish I hadn't read Ovid,
it was crap.
Most things that are supposed to be special
The people who say they are
just want to be special themselves,
but they aren't.
Now when I went to see Crater Lake
that was special.
Friday, September 5, 2008
mean that the lease is up
in a college town
they migrate there every fall.
For a week
their owners advertise their comfort:
drinking cheap beer and smoking cigarettes
while lounging in their old davenport.
Some are snatched up quick,
depending on the corner they're on and their condition
some could be on the lawn an hour or less
but some aren't so fortunate.
This is for the unlucky
stuck out in the rain
mildew growing in their pull-out mattress,
for the ugly and torn
on inaccessible back alleys
drooping with fall rain,
for the last one taken to the dump
collecting dead leaves
into the depths of October,
for those cushions
that will never smell right again
never have another out of town friend crash on them.
Those who are gone,
buried in landfills
or lost under a mountain of clutter
next to old cans of paint
in the back of poorly lit basements.
they soaked up the PBR
wore the spilled marinara sauce with pride
hid pens, bottle openers and change so well
we forgot they even existed.
Let us not make that same mistake
with these noble embracers of ass,
for while we may have abandoned them
in favor of our Aunts reclining love seat,
nothing could replace the love they showed us
on those late nights
watching Warner TimeLife's Golden Oldies informercials.
Monday, September 1, 2008
in dimly lit dives
frequented by girls
in tight black jeans,
bullets hanging round their waist.
He spills bull shit
emanating bullshit of their own,
it gives off a faint glow,
it's how those tanks are lit.
Smokes in alleys
walks down dirty sidewalks
laughs when he's supposed to
knows the right people
orders the right drinks,
he's vaguely liked by most.
His disease is buried
like a cicada,
once in coon's age.
When it does
it makes a big noise.
On the side of the road
a dead coyote
Friday, August 8, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
Fires in Mendencino
There are 134 fires burning in Mendencino County.
People are wearing gas masks in Ukiah,
it's hazy in Santa Rosa.
At camp the smoke settles over the Redwoods
while the sun is dropping in near the western horizon.
I've never seen the world look so red,
the sun looks like it's blushing.
The bay and oak trees are glowing.
I know the fires are still burning
houses are being destroyed
little kids are having asthma attacks
eyes are burning from the poison oak in the air,
but I can't help thanking God for the pretty sunset.
The squirrels are huge down here,
they look like small cats
The rabbits are big too
with gigantic ears
It hasn't rained in two months
I can't seem to find a 711 in all of Sebastopol and Santa Rosa
haven't found a teriaki place either:
for me, home is drinking a coke slurpee
during a slow drizzle filling the air
with the smell of wet sidewalk.
Monday, July 21, 2008
1. Al Green, Tired of Being Alone
The man at the bus stop
checks his watch,
it is 4:30
he is waiting for the 4:15
2. Johnny Cash, Solitary Man
Whenever I watch a Clint Eastwood western
I squint for days
a quiet resolution resides in my belly
I speak succinctly
3. Local H, Lovey Dovey
Today, I hate people in love
I want to drop cinder blocks on them
I want every request for the Temptation's My Girl
to be replaced with Slayer, Raining Blood
I need to hear the couple in the apartment screaming
about who did the dishes and who fed the dog
I want to see wandering eyes at the restaurant
I want to hear short breaths and sighs
slamming doors and people crying
4. Led Zepplin, Heartbreaker
The man is still waiting at the bus
runs his hand through his thin grey hair
he has a briefcase
looks like someone
who has somewhere to be
it is 5:00
5. The Righteous brothers, Unchained Melody
I was listening to the oldies yesterday
I felt like I was going to puke out my heart and choke on it
6.Bobby Darin, Dreamlover
I've been praying
for a longtime
praying for the same thing
I can almost see her
7. Elvis Costello, Imagination (is a powerful deceiver)
Her eyes are hazel and brown
like sunburst on a guitar
I can almost see us
splitting a pizza
watching a Seahawk's game
I can almost hear her
cussing at the ref's
it's making me sick
8.Weezer, Why Bother
Hope is a brick
dropped on your chest
every time a girl tells you you're funny
9. Hank Williams, I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
He's still at the bus stop
swearing under his breath
waving his hands in the air
pointing to the bus schedule in his right hand
10. Tom Waits, I Hope I Don't Fall in Love With You
Last night I met a girl at a friends house
she had black hair and a Led Zepplin Shirt
her favorite album is 1
she has a big perfect smile
I can't get it out of my head
it makes me feel like shit
11. Neil Young, Only Love Can Break Your Heart
I'm done writing love poems
might as well be writing fantasy
I have more experience with wizards, elves and hobbits
than I do with love
12. Weezer, Only in Dreams
I don't normally put two songs by one artist
on the same mix
but when the mix is for myself
I make exceptions
13. Bruce Springsteen, Reason to Believe
I see a man standing o're a dead dog
by the highway in a ditch
he's looking down kind've puzzled
like if he stood there long enough
that dog would up and run
The man is still at the bus stop
sitting on the curb
silent and still under streetlights
his watch is broken in the gutter beside him
it's almost midnight now
I still pray
I still tell friends what I would name my kids
I still find myself singing along to love songs
I still steal secret glances
I still crush until my heart hurts so bad
my spleen has sympathy pains
I still think of new ways to describe eyes
I still write love poems
still at the end of every hard earned day
people find some reason to believe
Saturday, June 28, 2008
When is Washington?
Washington is in a warm drink.
We take it with us when we feel the dew soaking through our socks.
It is 4 o'clock.
It is turning in the squinting sidewalk man's belly.
It is a sneeze walking past plastic trees.
It is a mustache that isn't.
It is red sweat shirt girls buying yogurt in the self-check out lane in Fred Meyer.
It is in three empty pitchers and a teary eye remembering John Keister.
Washington is my appendix.
or more accurately
Washington is late August in a dusty corolla, if she makes it.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
So this is my attempt at writing a worship poem, like a Psalm. Most of my poetry I try to keep emotion out because it makes poems generally feel like the were written by a high schooler. This one I decided to suspend my efforts. Hopefully it won't make you puke.
by all means at your disposal
every word spoken
every letter written
every note hummed
with you gait, smile, laugh and tear
make your heart the garden
walk with him
notice his beauty
take time to lean over
watch the ants
consider the flowers
with silly rhymes
with clever new slang
in dark downtown bars
eat the popcorn
savor the beer
and find your voice
This is important
Rehearse your priorities
at the top place
because in him
the blues tremble
and the love he loves
is greater than the love you love
gossip incessantly about him
find your voice with others
and praise him
This is important.
from a college town
where I'm 23
and feel old
everyone does it
I'm eating my last
Hot and Ready
the boxes used to pile
next to the fireplace
sometimes ten high
It was a cliche college house
beer and pizza
over and over
Now I have to be grown up
these posters just aren't
Thermals "Fuckin' A'
Weezer, Sonic Youth, Nirvana
the posters and posters and posters
the parties concerts and people
friends crashing on the couch
friends in the fridge
friends in the cabinet
the friends have left
in boxes and boxes and boxes
I'm in boxes
wading the clutter
packing things that won't be unpacked
the pictures will find themselves in shoeboxes
or, at best, a photo album
that will be dusted off
when my kids head off to college
proof that at one time
I was cool
the posters will disappear
or be rolled up in crates
placed in the back of a closet
and the beer bottles and pizza boxes
will be thrown out
I think I going to throw up.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
I wish it weren't
but it is
real damn sunny
the sun is being an asshole
going straight through my blinds
laughing through my pillow
I feel hungover
but i'm not
I went to sleep at 10 last night
and 8 the night before
haven't had a drink in a week
all i've done is sleep in
hope for someone to call me back
play video games
swear under my breath
the fucking sun just won't leave me alone
it's a 11 am and can't sleep anymore
wondering whether or not I should get up
and the sun is still out
photographers are out taking pictures
for college brochures
of all the attractive young people
playing hacky sack and frisbee
I hope they all get skin cancer
and die in the dead of winter in Alaska.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Out from under a black hood
a wispy mustache stares up at me.
The upper lip looks like a clear-cut after a fires
with burnt out black trees sticking up sparsely.
I want to puke all over his face.
I worship Satan. . . See!
He points to a pentagram bracelet:
I want to puke
all over him,
stain his black clothes
with acidic orange and
chunks of partially digested chicken.
I want to say
just because you wear
and don't identify with
the majority of your
classmates--does not mean
you're special or that
you don't have to do
your damn MATH!
Even Satan uses math--DAILY.
Since you claim to worship him
you should emulate him.
You think running HELL
doesn't involve algebra--
Where do you think it came from?
Here is an equation for you:
(You + Your Ugly Mustache) x eternal damnation =
FINE BY ME; if and only if
You finish Your Damn Work!
I worship the devil--he repeats
want to worship him with me?
I want to puke all over him.
of Hurricane Ice in a downtown alley
while giant cranes build half million dollar condos
for young professionals who pay twenty something
girls with hipster flair to walk their Boston Terriers
past the men in the alley-ways drinking malt liquor.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
The sky was clear.
The night was cold.
The stars were bright.
I drove way out to the desert
set up camp in the dark
listening to a family coyotes
hidden in the hills.
To not have a chat with God
seemed silly to me.
I scrambled up to the top of a big rock
lied down on my back
stared up at the stars.
The wind was cold up there,
made my eyes water
but I stayed up there.
Wrapped in my Seahawk blanket
I wondered what to say.
I felt like it should be a special conversation,
1200 miles from home
in the middle of the desert
by myself--seemed like the place God tells people things.
I knew he said things.
I didn't know what he said or
what language he spoke,
but I decided I would listen anyways.
I stayed up on that rock and waited.
There were stars everywhere;
every conceivable place in the sky
there was a star.
They were all doing their thing.
I wondered what it would look like
if they were different,
if God ever made revisions.
It probably wouldn't matter
where they went.
Their positions probably
weren't as important
as what they were doing:
sitting up there
night after night
just doing their thing.
It got down to freezing that night.
I got real cold, climbed down
curled up shivering in my sleeping bag.
The next day I had a head-ache.
I sat on the hood of my car,
watching the sun rise through
the branches of Joshua trees
trying to translate.
Friday, May 2, 2008
in navy blue
was not great:
only had three
out of a possible six,
climbed those stairs
let it drop
from the middle
that chip danced
to the right
to the left
a pogo stick
in slow motion
Drew could hardly
his fists in the air
jumped up and down.
rocketed to 1000
Hector pumped again.
to have the
drive to make it
but the coach's
must have lit a fire
it too danced.
the chip fell
it was a Wednesday
the district didn't call
I had all day.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
We played in a cover band
Sam Cooke and the Pixies
practiced in Jimmy V.'s basement
"How about Sugar Tits and the Feminists"
"The band will be call Fucked by Lightning"
I furrowed my brow
peed all over his amplifier
smashed my mandolin on his computer monitor
ran up the stairs crying
I didn't stop crying until I got to the bubble tea place
a block and a half from Jimmy's
I drank bubble tea until I puked
and Sam Cooke played
I know a change is gonna come
Monday, April 28, 2008
I thought myself a romantic.
I created dates in my head
whenever the inspiration hit
chocolate factory tours
Pike Place dinners followed by
the Seattle Art Museum
sandy bluffs and spring sunsets.
I saw myself as the Bob Ross of romance
who only lacked canvas for my masterpieces.
I am a super hero
hunting down and destroying fashionable demons
in a robotic suit I found in a dumpster
behind Round Table Pizza in Mill Creek.
On it was a note:
"Tucker, there is a war, you have be chosen
here is your weapon, here is your canvas"
I am Bob Ross motherfucker,