Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Future's Bright

I’ve lived here two weeks now and I can still see the carpet in my room. I’m not quite out of clean clothes. My car has yet to fill up with slurpee cups and empty chip bags.

We’ve known each other for a while now, though we haven’t spent much time together. We know enough to have conversation. You know not to mention the fucking Steelers. Assholes. I try and avoid talking about zombies and the post-apocalypse.

My room will soon be unmanageable. Every other day I’ll tear it apart in a frantic search for my keys. My outfits for the day will simply be picked-up off the floor and given a sniff test. The smell of stale chip crumbs (jalapeno flavor) will soon fill my car.

Sooner than I’d like, you’ll find out: I forget birthdays, conversations revolve around me, my love of beer is borderline dependence, and I am unable of making any real decisions.

But for now you think it’s cute that the first date was a trip to the 711, followed by a couple hours in a dive bar making fun of the regular’s mullets.

And you’re probably right.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bless this Mess

After another drink
I think I’ll wake up
but probably with a headache

That’s the way it is with these blessings
drink enough of them and they’ll turn on you
but only after you’ve had too many
so there’s no reason to stop just yet

For now I’ve got a wicked thirst
a debit card with overdraw protection
a mind to numb and a song to sing

Blessings All Mine
With ten thousand beside

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

In Stitches

After you left
we woke up
in a tub
filled with ice.

Our fingers wandered
to our side.
We ran them up and down stitches,
wondering what to do next.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hard to Be

[I'm thinking about writing a poem for each song off "Curse Your Branches," using the songs like writing prompts]

I don’t know if it was an apple
those types of details are fuzzy.
I do know things aren’t right.
Haven’t been right.
Don’t look like they’re going to be right for quite sometime.

People walking
are half-dead.
Half empty
of what they were supposed to be,
or so the story goes.

There are lots of stories
most of them are sad
or not quite finished.
I’m not sure any of them are finished.

Ever since that damn apple
we’ve lost our breath,
become a pack of zombies
wandering around
with messed up gaits
eating each other.

I’m not sure on the details of the story
but ever since that fucking apple
it’s been harder than hard
damn near impossible
to be a decent human being.

But, like most all stories,
this one (if it’s true)
is only half done.
Though, if you take a look around,
that's not an easy thought to take comfort in.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fallen Leaves

All fallen leaves
should curse their branches
David Bazan, Curse Your Branches

This year it wasn’t even late August, it was mid-august, when the trees started showing a tint of red. When I first noticed it, I wanted to flip them off. Tell them they were quitters. Sons of bitches. There’s no going back with these things. Green turns to red turns to yellow turns to orange turns to dead—I’m not certain the order, but I know how the story starts and finishes. Those leaves will die, be swept off sidewalks and clog storm drains. There is no going back with these things.

When I was in 8th grade, I went on a class trip to New York during spring break. I don’t remember much besides being awkward. I do remember that the hotel we stayed at was across the street from an old porn theater, and that one of the streets next to the hotel was where they were filming “You’ve Got Mail.” I’ve never seen the movie, though I do like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Apparently part of it was set in autumn. They filmed it in early spring, so I guess they had to glue or tape rusty colored leaves to the trees. I don’t imagine those leaves stayed up very long.

I’m no botanist, and I can’t explain why leaves fall from branches. They do, and this is enough information for me. I know enough that that they don’t go back, or at least I’ve never seen it. Maybe I shouldn’t be making such absolute statements like “there is no going back with these things.” I definitely have never seen it. But it’s mid September, and more and more leaves are going chameleon on me, so I suppose it’s time to hope and pray—maybe a few leaves can go back. I can think of one I really wish would.


for now,
will have to suffice
for successful.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mold Spots

The road map in my trunk has mold spots on it. It’s still works unless I want to get around certain parts of northern California. My Mom gave it to me before I left on a road trip. I called the trip a vision quest, partially because I thought it was funny, but partially because I wanted to have someone else figure out my life. He politely declined the offer, or used ways of persuasion beyond my abilities to detect.

I don’t think I’ve used the map since that trip. I’ve looked at it a few times. It’s detailed, but I haven’t needed to use it. Most trips I just have a general sense of direction and get myself there. I suppose the maps I had before this one gave me some of the sense of direction I have. I’m not totally sure where my sense of direction came from, it’s tough to trace those things back. Windy logging roads and frequent turns on curvy one-way roads in cities still get me turned around. But for the most part I get around just fine.

Sometimes it’s fun getting lost, just to see where I come out. A lost highway dropped me in a small, out-of-the-way town in southern Oregon that had a diner with great biscuits and gravy. I find some pretty cool things on drives where I get lost. I like to chalk that up to providence; but though those types of things are difficult to trace back to a source.

I like the mold spots on my map, they add a certain amount of flair.

Eye Contact

Sitting on a blue couch, her attention was undivided. She took drinks of coffee without ever taking her eyes out of her book.

His attention was divided between a conversation with a friend about classes, and the girl he’d had a passing conversation with a week before. Keeping her in his peripheral vision, he waited for her to look up. He hoped for eye contact. The thought of going of to her had crossed his mind, but for fear of awkwardness or being to forward he stayed seated.

Her focus was admirable, his courage was somewhat less than this.

Fire and Sunsets

[this is playing on Dave Bazan's song "Lost My Shape"]

The sky over Vancouver is lit up. A thunder-storm moved in over downtown for the fireworks show. Lightning strikes behind the colored explosions. Just after sunset, the sky is glowing an eery red—maybe a bit orange.

I used to feel like a forest fire too. But it didn’t last. Fire and fireworks are like that, they are unsustainable. I’m not sure that I ever glowed, but if I did, I don’t think the glow was me. Fire and sunsets can do funny things with color.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Shoot For the Stars

He was fond of clichés:
danced like no one was watching
loved like he’d never been hurt
shot for the stars
followed he heart.

This was problematic,
because he was not perceptive.
People were watching.
He was getting hurt with regularity.

He followed his heart,
which he always called his north star.
A few months back
the metaphor was forgotten.
He froze to death
200 kilometers short
of the Northern Territories.

World's Greatest Husband

[this poem is dedicated to Ryan and Graham]

The post-it note you left me on the kitchen table
was short and snippy
(I’ve told you before
how much I hate post-it notes
damn it).

Apparently an implied
(or inferred
I can’t remember the difference)
has been broken.

Something about the dishes in the sink
collecting mold and stinking up the whole house
(though, in all honesty,
I could not smell anything
in the living room).

I distinctly remember saying:
“I’ll try and do the dishes
before I leave for work.”

I did try.
If you would have looked at the pile
you would have noticed
two spoons and a spatula

If you would have taken the time to look
you would have noticed those items
scrubbed and drying
along with my “World's Greatest Husband Mug.”

So my promised effort
was delivered.

This is too long to fit on a post-it note
so I’m writing it in a poem.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Fell asleep half-drunk dreaming of biscuits and sausage gravy
Woke up with a stuffed-up nose, ate a bowl of oatmeal and choked down a cup of Foldiers
Put the day on repeat and slouched until I could find another pint then smiled


If I’m going to be a grown-up
I suppose I’ll have drink coffee
read a classic and watch documentaries

If I’m going to be grown-up
I’ll have to learn to pay bills
work 40 hours a week and think about marriage

If I’m going to be a grown-up
I can’t throw out a conception of the divine
because it’s not cuddly enough

If I’m going to be a grown-up
I’ll have to be okay with discomfort
hard beds and hot soup

If I’m going to be a grown-up
I’ll have to be able to articulate my beliefs
even the tough ones

If I’m going to be a grown-up
I’ve got a long way to go

Cast Iron

[If i'm not mistaken, this is the seventh post in seven days]

the room has not been lived in long enough to bear the signature
there is no layer of miscellaneous dirty laundry
stretching from wall to wall, two feet deep

the streets have not been walked enough to become familiar
directions have to be written down
each corner still concealing their secrets

friends are still a few shared adventures short of comfort
jokes land flat
histories yet to be told

people say that cast iron skillets
soak in a little flavor from everything cooked in them
this may be new place, but soon it will have unique flavors
that make eggs and hash-browns delicious

Out of Place

[this may not be a poem, but I'm going to count it in my 7 poems in 7 days thing]

I went to church for the first time in an age last night (there are valid excuses for this). It was a big cathedral looking place, with high ceilings and stained glass. I think the window had a crucified God looking down on WW1 veterans, there was a rainbow as well.
It was an Anglican church, and I was unpracticed with the responsive readings: a second late with the Thanks be to God’s. I felt a bit out place, though I don’t think it was the denominational peculiarities, or even my Seahawk jersey (I was not planning on going to church and my attire testified to this).
I felt a bit of place at church. I understand this is how many, if not most, people feel whenever they go to church but I have generally felt like I belonged, as much as anyone, in the pews. Besides being late with the readings, I was messing up the lyrics to the hymns, kneeling when I should have been stand and vice versa. It may have been lack of practice, the high ceilings or the weird window. For whatever reason my mind was wandering. When the minister (one of these charismatic young people with all sorts of potential I’m sure) began his sermon of fascinating footnotes I was thinking of slurpees. It was not a short sermon, and my thoughts of slurpees were many. This is not to blame the nice young minister, I just naturally sound a bit cynical, it’s hip like thick-rimmed black glasses and fixies. The minister seemed to make some good points (I guess slurpees weren’t my only thoughts).
This is beginning to be long, drawn out and a bit awkward, like after church conversations (Hey-OH), so I will do my best to conclude. Church takes practice and discipline, if you want to get much out of it. By much I’m speaking more spiritual than social. Over the past few months my thoughts have become somewhat free-range and are still un-used to a leash. I would be remiss of me to blame that on a particular service or sermon, as I have in the past. Now, as it nears noon, my thoughts return to slurpees and I must sign off with this blessing:

May the God of slurpees and stained glass
Cast out every misplaced thought
And give us a spirit of comfort and fellowship
In the midst of the peculiarities
In His Holy Catholic Church


Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Bargain

She asked him to wax the hair on his toes
his explanation of how they looked like hobbit’s feet
did nothing to persuade her

She said he look like a monkey-man with the hair on his toes
she was not going to marry a monkey man
it was creepy

He searched for something to bargain with
something he could ask her to change
but couldn’t find anything
she was perfect, at least looks wise, and he knew it
and besides the hairy toes thing
she wasn’t an entirely unreasonable person

She could ask him to wax every hair of his body
and in his mind, he would still be getting the better end of the deal

His more idealist friends told him these types of negotiations
were strange and had no place in a healthy engagement
but they were all lonely video-game-nerds
even they had to admit the bargain was a steal

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An Apology

[this is a bit more absurd than most of what I've been writing lately.]

There is no word in otter
for love, but this doesn’t mean
they don’t know the concept.
It may only be through grooming
and various fish analogies,
but Otters do express love.

It’s not that there is now room
in Otter for a new word,
it is by no means a stagnate language.
Of all woodland languages
Otter is generally recognized as
the most dynamic.
Otters have purposefully
not made a word for love.
Otters are passionate and wise—
they recognize that the concept
of love must be approached
with care and skill.
That is why they only express love
in art (through the various fish analogies)
and action (grooming).
There is much we could learn from otters.

Sadly, when I began licking your head on Friday
I fear I may not have communicated
the message I had intended,
and for that I apologize.

Unexpectant Gardeners

-this poem is for Ryan Johnson, who is an ass.

The plum tree split.
Ripe fruit is everywhere.
The rhubarb needs to be used

We just moved in.
We are not gardeners.
We did not expect this bounty
In the backyard.

But it’s there
so now, I guess,
we have to do
about it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Pub Night

There are five accents
three types of beer
and at least four conversations at my table,

we eat nachos and drink.

Mike tells us about the Huskies chances this season.
Betsy explains how she became interested in plate tectonics.
Iain, Susie and Sarah talk about how to pronounce Edinburgh.
Aaron is just happy to have a real IPA again.
I have half an eye on a baseball game
while Lucas thinks of funny ways to ask for a menu.

We’re a large group,
polite and tip well.

It may not be heaven
but nights like these
make me proud
to be part of the Church.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Coffee and Newsweek

Old men complain about credit cards
over coffee and Newsweek.

A dog taxi parks
in-front of the café.

“Well, I never.”

Monday, September 7, 2009

the Rain

[I'm going to try and write and post a poem a day for a week, this is the first in that effort.]

It wasn’t so much the rain
exploding like fireworks
on the dark grey asphalt
or the wind in the trees
moving like James Brown.

It wasn’t the streams in the gutters,
the black clouds smiling
or the branches drooping
with more than they could carry.

It was the middle-aged woman
hiding under a black umbrella
unlocking her Volvo
with urgency.

It was the cringe
the cower
the shrink
away from the storm
that caused a sigh,

like the exuberance
was simply tolerated
by slightly annoyed people
with schedules and preferences
for quiet and sun.