Friday, December 31, 2010

Quesadillas and the Simpsons

[I wanted to get one last poem in 2010]

Girl,

I want to make you a quesadilla

with sour cream, salsa, and chicken too.

I want to light a candle

sit you down in front of the TV

and watch Simpsons reruns.


Baby,

you know you want it too.

The tortilla will be browned and crispy

That cheese will be melted perfectly

and the Simpsons reruns

will be from an early season.


Sweet thing,

you need to come on over

I got the tortillas out

the cheese is grated

the chickens about to be grilled

and the Simpsons come on in a half hour


So you coming over?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rain

Growing up here

didn’t make me love rain,

but I got attached to it.


The sound of a downpour on cedar shingles

the rhythm of windshield wipers

hydroplane-ing over puddles on I5

taking off damp socks

the smell of the sidewalk at the beginning of a drizzle

hiding deep in a rain jacket.


It’s not like I feel happy when it rains,

just at home.

Jake's Top Five Poems of 2011

I fully realize this is an exercise in blogging narcissism, but I'm bored. I hope that these brief commentaries don't kill the poems.

5. A Mixed CD for Graham

This is a poem form that I think is a Jake-original, which is one reason I like it. I was also happy that the importance of rooted-ness came out in the poem. It’s satisfying to have a big idea successfully communicated in a poem. I think home and Graham are to important topics that are not written about enough.

4. The second of my Four Short Morning Poems

Even though it’s only three lines, this is one of my favorites. Morning bus stop waits are poem worthy events.

3. 2nd Corinthians

This is the best example I have of my faith-based poems that get at some of the juxtaposition of the ideal and reality. Also, illustrated in this top five is my clear bias for faith-based poems. They are hard to write in ways that aren’t cheesy or jaded, so I’m excited every time I feel I’m able to steer between these two poles.

2. Genesis 2: A Love Poem

I like writing about little kids, love, and scripture; this poem has all three. It borrows from Mike McGee at the end. It’s also a love poem that I feel avoids over-use of hyperbole, which is a sign of progress for me.

1. Follow the Leader

A fictional poem based on a real person (who rules) and a scriptural reflection by a real person (who also rules). This poem makes me smile. I like the big idea I was going for, and that that idea is not the only thing one can take away from it. It’s also part of a complete, though flawed, mini-collection of poems; which is something I have tried and failed to create many many times. I also like that the poem is hella Calvin and Hobbes-y.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Boyfriend Troubles?

or Why You Shouldn't Have Private Conversations on the Bus

A young girl sits next to me on the bus. 19 or 20. She avoids eye contact, like all attractive people do on the bus. The bus is full but quiet.

A block into our ride her phone goes off. She answers it, with a voice louder than I’d expect from a girl her size and age:


“I don’t want to talk to you

No you’re being an asshole

No I’m pissed

Don’t come over tonight

Don’t

How did you think I’d react?

Really, that’s all you have to say?

So mature!!

No I’m not pissed

I have to go this is my stop”


She hangs puts the phone away and rolls her eyes.

I lean over and use my Barry White voice: “Boy friend troubles? Girl, you know I wouldn’t treat you like that.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bio

Jake Tucker was born in the bowels of Everett, Washington when the nation still loved Van Halen. He currently lives in Vancouver BC, where he studies theology. He has been published in a few places online and in print, Jeopardy being the glossiest. He has self-published two chapbooks, both of which are loved by his mother. He began reading his poems at Poetry Night in Bellingham, Washington.

Miracles

He told me he fell asleep on the bus and woke up at home

he called it a miracle, something like Jesus would do

somehow I doubt that passing out on public transit and

leaving a trail of vomit from the back door to the bedroom

would have made it in a gospel,

but maybe I’m just a cynical old skeptic.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

JEREMY!

A brown-haired boy

runs laps around the coffee shop

bare-assed

with his pants around his knees


An old couple scowls

the barista’s eyes search the shop

for the boy’s mother

two high school girls laugh


A middle-aged woman

exits the restroom

immediately turns red

“JEREMY!”

Genesis 2: A Love Poem

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.


When God put Adam in the Garden

He brought out a parade of

all the things He made


The most badass animals at the front

grizzly bears, wombats, and wolverines

each of them introduced themselves to the man


God showed Adam

all his favorite things


His parrots sang in harmonies

His gibbons had choreographed dances

His pandas had tumbling routines


His elephants did head-stands

His puppies tripped over their ears

His alligators performed Handel’s Messiah


And after all this

Adam was still lonely

and sulked


. . .


When I went to my friend’s house for my first Canadian Thanksgiving, he had built up my arrival. As I walked in the door I heard the high pitch screams of two little girls who showed me into the living room, and then the rituals began.


First they brought out their building blocks, handing them to me saying “these are our building blocks” and then retreated into their playroom. Next they brought out their toy cars, handing them to me saying “these are our cars” and then retreated into their playroom. And so it went until their playroom was empty, the turkey was waiting, and I felt like one of the family.


. . .


I like you

more than a little

more than a lot


I want to show you my hometown

“this is my favorite teriyaki place

they have the best spicy chicken

I’ve ever had”


“This is the first bar

I ever drank an IPA at

you can play horseshoes out back”


I want to show you all my favorite people

“This is my Mom, Pam, she’s a teacher,

like me, but full-time and with young kids,

she beat cancer”


“This is my sister

she has two masters degrees

and planted an artsy church

in Sacramento”


“This is Graham,

he writes, like me, but better

he has a masters degree too

he’s the one who got me to start writing”


“This is Mike,

he climbs mountains

and has an awesome story

about a man-parts injury”


I want to show you

all of my favorite things

so that you can like them with me


I want to know all your favorite things too

so that I can like them with you


This might mean

I’m moving past liking you

more than a little

more than a lot


And I may have to start using

a new verb altogether.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Christmas Liturgy

So this is loosely based off of Isaiah 11. The idea is that the congregation reads the bold, and the leader reads the rest. As I doubt this will ever be used in a church, I mostly just think its a fun form to reflect on scripture with. These poems have names too, and I'll probably post them individually at some point.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.


The old man stopped playing his guitar after his kids grew up. The guitar was placed in a closet under suit jackets that no longer fit, and old rain coats.


His daughter found the guitar while cleaning the house after her mom died. She asked her dad why he never played anymore. He grunted and shuffled to the kitchen to make some tea.


After everything was dusted and the suit jackets were donated to the Salvation Army, the guitar sat, un-played, next to the television. The Gibson hollow-body was now an antique, its red-orange sunburst the only color in gray room.


On a Wednesday morning a few months later, the old man was passing the time staring. Sun-beams roamed the living room like spotlights. One came to rest on the antique. The old man got out of his musky recliner, shuffled out to the shed to see if he could find his old Fender amp.


with righteousness he will judge the needy,

with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.


The wolf will live with the lamb,


Border-collies can’t help but herd

its fun to watch them on walks with families

running circles around them


The herding instinct is a vestige

of when border-collies’ ancestors

were mortal enemies of sheep


Now they are domesticated

to protect their former prey

and I think this may be

a form of foreshadowing.


the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them.


Ian and I play “follow-the-leader”

Ian, being five years old,

plays the part of the leader


we crawl all over his house

over dusty linoleum

underneath the kitchen table

my allergies start to kick in

as Ian taunts me

telling me to hurry up


when we reach

the edge of the linoleum

Ian explains to me

the hardwood floor

is actually hot lava

and that to get over it

without being burned alive

we had to build a bridge

of the couch cushions


on the other side of the sea magma

there is lost world

where we are cave men

hunting long-neck dinosaurs

when suddenly we’re ambushed from behind

by a tyrannosaurus rex

who had taken the form of a bunk bed

the great beast tears off my legs

with a mighty gulp

I drag myself to safety

with my elbows

while Ian destroys the t-rex

with a somersault-roundhouse kick

to baseball-slide combo


when his dad got back from the store

I was covered in dust from head to toe as

Ian spewed an endless stream of incomplete sentences

with copious amounts of gestures

in an attempt to regale his dad with the details

of our epic adventure


exhausted, I

sprawled out half-dead

on couch-cushions

in the middle of the living room floor

sneezing with bloodshot eyes

happy to have followed a leader of true vision


The cow will feed with the bear,

their young will lie down together,

and the lion will eat straw like the ox.


The infant will play near the cobra’s den,

the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.


I’ve always hated snakes. Like most honest people. They move weird, have an evil look in their eyes, and generally freak me out.


The cowboy pastor of the church my youth group stayed at on our way through New Mexico told us there were plenty of rattle snakes around. Told us about how he’d chased one down in the parking lot and squashed its head with the heal of his boot. Our youth minister did the only responsible thing a 25-year-old man could do: he took us on a rattlesnake hunt. We all piled into the ten-passenger van with big sticks and went down to the bridge, where we threw sticks and rocks at shadowy areas that looked “snakey.”


There are mice that live in the wall of my room. They nibble and scurry all through the night. Mice are adorable, as comes naturally to all small mammals with the exception of the opossum. But their evil-disease-ridden-vermin. They got into my pancake batter last week and crapped all over it. I had to throw the whole thing out. You know how many pancakes I could have made with that batter? A lot, that’s how many! If I could, I'd squash every one of the little bug-eyed-bastards.


Now I feel bad I was ever mean to snakes. I look forward to the day when this global warming hoopla finishes its work and the rattlesnakes migrate up to Vancouver. Maybe then I could get a decent night’s sleep.


They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be filled

with the knowledge of the LORD

as the waters cover the sea.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Strawberry Plants

Our garden was crowded in August

the strawberry plants covered every inch

but none of them had any strawberries


In October I searched the freezers of Safeway

for frozen strawberries to go in my oatmeal

failing this I grabbed a bag of blueberries


I paid six dollars for frozen blueberries

and sent up a small prayer for my strawberry plants

The Old Man and the Guitar

A piece inspired by some art. Old Man Playing Guitar is a Picasso:




The old man stopped playing his guitar after his kids grew up. The guitar was placed in a closet under old suit jackets that no longer fit, and rain coats.


His daughter found it when she came over to help clean the house after her mom died. She asked her dad why he never played anymore. He grunted and shuffled to the kitchen to make some tea.


After everything was dusted and the suit jackets were donated to the Salvation Army, the guitar sat, un-played, next to the television. The Gibson hollow-body was now an antique. Its red-orange sunburst was the only color in gray room.


One Wednesday morning sun-beams roamed the living room like spotlights. The old man wondered if his amplifier was still in the shed, and if so, if it worked. Getting up out of his musky recliner, he shuffled out to the shed to see if he could find the ancient Fender.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hops of Healing

and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:2



I left behind pictures

of white clouds

old men in flowing robes

with long white beards

golden gates

halos and harps


I’m more persuaded these days

of vineyards and orchards

mid-day naps

clean water

wheat, barley, hops

warm pubs

cold beer

enjoyed with the One

who made it all new.

Red Red Wine

I cut the sleeves off my sweatshirt because it’s awesome

I know you disagree, but you’re wrong


you’re not wrong about many things

but you don’t understand that awesome is better than classy


tonight I’m going to sing that red red wine song loudly

ask the pretty girls if they’d rather date a man with a Hitler-stach or me


you never answered the question when I asked you

but I still think I can convince you to sing with me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good Morning

When the sun came out

I was already soaked

my socks were damp

I was shivering


When I arrived at school

you greeted me

“Isn’t it a beautiful morning?”


In reply

I smacked

the coffee out of your hand.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Want a Coyote T-Shirt

I recently

spent twenty minutes

researching the differences

between wolves of coyotes:



wolves are larger

coyotes appear on fewer truck stop t-shirts

coyotes are also anti-social

I assume their loner tendencies

signify a propensity

for deep thoughts

they also have bushier tails


on an evening run

through the endowment lands

I spotted a coyote

only thirty yards ahead of me

on the windy trail


it was jogging

ahead of me

so I matched its pace

to follow it

to get a better look


unfortunately

the coyote was startled

by my curiosity

and began running

so I ran too


soon the coyote

abandoned the trail

I couldn’t justify

trampling through the brush

and so gave up the chase


I only wish

I could have told the coyote

that I’d choose its shirt

over a wolf shirt

because I like bushy tails.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Home for the Holidays

The lights are out in downtown Everett

Christmas music is blaring from street corner speakers

as I walk from the bar to the hockey arena


Our team is not good

but we Everett people

are a classy bunch

we stay civil

even when our team is down 6-2

at the end of the second period


A pony-tailed man

three rows up on center-ice

holds a hockey stick

with a teletubie

dressed in a referee outfit

hanging from a noose

I think it’s tinkie-winkie


He leads us in a liturgy

leader: HEY REF

congregation: YOU SUCK

leader: That’s for you Johnson

you jackass


While it doesn't look like our team
will mount a comeback of any type

it still feels good to be home

especially for the holiday season

celebrating it with thousands of drunks

the way my family has always observed the holidays

with blind, irrational, and misplaced rage.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas in the Northwest

[cheesiest Christmas song ever]

it drizzled

then hailed

then poured


I sipped coffee

from an oversized mug

wrapped myself in a comforter

and listened to rooftop percussion

over-top the Charlie Brown Christmas album

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Another Christmas Poem

[this poem is the result of a snow day and Christmas music. Like musicians, my standards for Christmas material are somewhat lower than non-seasonal material]


The waiting is the hardest part

but then again

it is the only part

or at least

the only part we’ve seen


We like to remind ourselves

that we already have

the thing we’re waiting for

and that this is somehow

a comfort helping with patience


It’s like someone

wrapped up a refrigerator box

then told us

how everything we’ve ever longed for

is in that box

describing the contents

in excruciating detail


And this box

has been wrapped and waiting

for two millennia

and we’re stuck

waiting for a day

undisclosed to us

when we get to unwrap it


So every year

we practice

our waiting and unwrapping

as we remember

when the gift

was first placed under the tree

The Necessity of Long-Johns

my loins are freezing

I’ve got plenty of wool

cotton, and poly-cotton blends

protecting my torso

from the coldest wind

in two years


but my legs

are on ice

with only

a tough layer

of blue denim

between skin

and the elements


forgetting to wear long-johns

was a regrettable mistake today

Monday, November 15, 2010

Psalm 56:3

What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.


When I was four

my Christian preschool

taught us bible verses

we’d memorize

for gold stars


They taught us

Psalm 56:3

King James Version

the first verse

I ever learned


On a picnic

with my family

at the park with

a dragon fountain

I wandered off

up a tree

got stuck


Unable to move

up or down

my parents not around

just me

in a tree


I started to cry

mumbled to myself

the memory verse

and was unstuck


That was my conversion

when I learned

God was the one

I could trust

when I was afraid.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Daniel 3:22-23

Therefore because the king's commandment was urgent, and the furnace exceeding hot, the flames of the fire slew those men that took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.


As a Seahawk fan

I’m used to things ending badly

seeing the glimmer of victory

swallowed up in the inescapable jaws

of ineptitude and failure


leads squandered

come-backs falling short

penalties, fumbles, and interceptions


dramatic games won

by last second touchdowns

make for good TV

but are hard on my heart


. . .


Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

were thrown into a fiery furnace

but the son of God came down and

protected them from the flames


this story and Johnny Cash’s “The Ring of Fire”

come up often when they describe their relationship

as if inescapable flames were romantic ideals


they are constantly about to break up

or about to get engaged

with wild swings between the two poles


even if the story ends at an altar

it will be hard to convince me

it was a happy one


. . .


Every Thanksgiving

people burn their house down

because of unfortunate mistakes

while deep-frying their turkeys


I love fried food

but I prefer to leave it

to the professionals

at McDonalds or KFC

because grease that hot

makes me nervous


I used to clean those things

when I worked at a cafeteria

I know what it feels like

to get burned by grease

several hundred degrees hot


I prefer to cook with crock-pots

set on low for twelve hours

until the flavors are mingled

the vegetables are soft

the meat is falling apart

all with a very low risk

of getting burned.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Psalm 82

Reflections on an Election


God takes His stand in His own congregation;

He judges in the midst of the rulers.

How long will you govern unjustly

And show partiality to the wicked? –Selah


Vindicate the weak and fatherless;

Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.

Rescue the weak and needy;

Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.


It’s been a long time

proving the same point

over and over again


people with means

don’t care for

those without means


and we can march on national holy sites

hold signs and chant slogans

we can vote out the corrupt

but the ones who take their place

will become just like the ones they replaced—Selah


If our hope is in voting booths

legislatures and the oval office

our hope is dead


in three thousand years

nothing has changed

because those who govern

care more about keeping power than

taking care of those in need


Rise up, O God, govern the earth,

for all the peoples are your possession.

Monday, October 25, 2010

There is a Time and Place for Ramen

Under the awning of our porch

we huddled in warm blankets

slurped up steaming top-ramen

listened to the pounding rain

and welcomed autumn.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm a Gizzly Bear!

And God said,

let us make man in our image,

after our likeness:

and let them have dominion

over the fish of the sea


the big bulky monsters

filled a small creek

flowing through fields of cow patties


hundreds of them

with bodies in various states of decomposition

changing colors in clear water

looking like Christmas-zombie-fish


the mossy greens

and rusted reds

ran up and down

like lazy tiger stripes


they traveled in packs

ignoring skillfully tied flies

perfectly placed

by frustrated anglers


we were defeated

Adam and I put our fishing rods down

and took a long rest

while Matt smoked his cigar

we passed the time

throwing pebbles

at the giants


it rained earlier in the week

with nothing but sun afterward

there were lots of stagnate pools

the river had stranded


Matt noticed a monster

stuck in one of the pools

and I took off running

splashing and screaming

I’m a grizzly bear


that rascal fish

went straight through my legs

then hid under a dead branch

only to dart out again

splashing me in the face


I chased him round and round the pool

till I caught his tail with my right hand

and dragged him out

from behind a curtain of thorns


we were both exhausted

in need of a nap


had I not intervened

the poor old dog

would’ve died a virgin

without finishing

what he’d come to do


like when I went to Memphis

and nearly left without getting barbecue

it would have been tragic


as I lugged the behemoth to the main channel

cradling him in my arms so as not to drop him

he looked up at me with one of his glazed over monster-eyes

as if to say “thank-you”

or “let me go now!”


watching him swim off

I knew he’d meet some lucky hen

and the two would become one

and shortly thereafter

die.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanksgiving

You prepare a table before me

In the presence of my enemies;

You have anointed my head with oil;

My cup overflows

-Psalm 23


In the midst

of worrying about

money that isn’t there

frustrating relationships

and mounting school work

I walk with my head phones turned up

hoping to tune out the accompanying anxiety.


Down sunny sidewalks

I wrestle with constant nagging.

My thoughts turn to my stomach

and the mashed potatoes and turkey

I ate two days ago with my family.


I remembered the gravy

beautifully clumpy and rich

dressing laden with salt

rhubarb crisp covered in ice cream

and I smiled.


When I remembered

my cousin asking how I’d been

like she actually wanted an answer,

I nearly teared—up.


This Thanksgiving

I’m thankful

for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Four short morning poems

woke up before my alarm

after a long hot shower

I ate an easy breakfast

with a large cup of coffee

unrushed with time to read

a few psalms and the news


the sun painted the bus stop pink

women with hair still wet sniffled

you could smell a frost coming soon


breakfast is waiting

at a dinner downtown

biscuits and gravy

coffee and eggs

over-medium

where the earlier night

will be reviewed

with droggy roommates

with vague recollections

of a night that ended in the morning

and recovered from in the afternoon


under a big blue blanket

I wait for the morning to leave

the alarm has been turned off

the lethargy has been justified

in between sleep and consciousness

I rest in half-dreams

that have a nagging tone

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Psalm 27

One thing I have asked from the Lord

that I shall seek

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life


My best friends dad would answer the door

slam it in my face and yell

“Garrett, your idiot friend is here”

then welcome me in his home


we’d play Doom in the basement

and his dad would come down

every half hour to tell us to be quiet


in the morning we’d have frosted flakes

by noon we’d be eating hot pockets

and playing video games

until his dad came down

to tell me to go home


For in the day of trouble

He will conceal me

in his tabernacle


When that day comes

no one will tell me to be quiet

the Hot Pocket’s won’t burn my mouth

and no one will ever tell me

to go home.

2 Corinthians 13:14

Reflections on.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,


on Robson street

she sits next to a streetlight

with bare feet

on a newspaper

rattling a Tim Horton’s cup


when I walk by

I stare down at the sidewalk

and speed up


the love of God the father,


when I first heard

Reverend Falwell

linked 9/11

to homosexuality

I think my exact words were

“that dude needs

to get punched”


and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit


the awkward man

smells like curry and body odor

stationed himself

next to the coffee

after the morning service


last week he explained to me

how the communists infiltrated

the Democratic Party in 1968

and how the Apostle John

foretold this very thing in Revelation 12


I was nodding off during the sermon

and I know my church values

strong, delicious, freshly ground coffee

but I skip my cup this morning

leave quickly, skillfully

avoiding eye contact with

the awkward man


be with you all.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe

The barista
was cute
I was
not surprised.

“You read that poem
with the Silmarilion reference,
that’s like my favorite book.”

My heart dropped
somewhere around my ankles
but she didn’t notice
so it wasn’t awkward.

When she handed me my coffee
I noticed one ring on her left hand.

I wish she had kept it secret.

Are You Ok?

Graham had allergies
that made his eyes water
people would ask him
if everything was alright
this would I annoy him
I knew this
but asked anyways

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Trumpet Shall Sound

1. A Voice Like a Trumpet

I played trumpet
for four months
when I was ten
I couldn’t quite get the timing right
had trouble holding notes

but I could play loud
and noises like those
are best blown in
unsuspecting sister’s ears

the surprise was terror
I never thought
about what would happen after
I just blew hard
worked the diaphragm
hoped for the best

2. The Whole Creation Groans

the trees clapped their hands
the stones shouted out-loud
but the whole thing was off

the trees only clapped sarcastically
I waited for them to speed into a crescendo
but they didn’t

the things the stones shouted
I can’t repeat
such awful hateful things
drenched with bitterness
laced with profanity

they’d lost patience
a long time ago
waiting for people
to get their shit together

they were disillusioned and cynical
and I couldn’t blame them

3. Come and Eat

growing up thanksgiving was my favorite holiday
my entire family would come together
to eat turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and gravy

but the turkey was never on time
the table would be set
the cranberry sauce ready
the rolls covered and waiting
but the turkey was always off schedule

I’d complain to my mom
“how much longer,
I haven’t eaten in years!”

“you’ll just have to wait
like the rest of us
it’ll be ready when it’s ready”

it never failed
the second I gave up
left the table
to watch football
the turkey would come out
on a platter
with the gravy and stuffing
following close behind.

4. The Trumpet Shall Sound

I’ve never been a competent musician
but I’ve been blessed
with musical friends
with large amplifiers
and an affinity for metal
I’ll be deaf by the time I’m forty

while I have faith in technology
even without space-aged hearing aids
or laser-guided restorative ear surgeries
I have faith I’ll be able to hear well enough
to be surprised like terror
when the trumpet sounds.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Car Rides

Whenever any soul music came on the radio, she’d get quiet. This was not a normal thing for her. And after she was quiet she’d start a sentence with “you know the thing about.” The comments would always be insightful, but sad, reflections on the mixed-ness of blessings.

When the song “Cat’s Cradle” came on the radio, he got quiet. From the drivers seat I looked over and saw his lip start to shake. And the conversation turned sharply. To nostalgia and fatherhood. I hate that damn song and change stations whenever I hear it.

When we were in college, we’d take drives and listen to new albums to stave off boredom. And it worked for the most part. Following back roads through flat valleys we’d stare out at silhouettes of mountains and talk about girls. The lulls in conversation weren’t so bad, but that’s probably because we liked the same music.

Band T-shirts

I realize
I own a lot
of t-shirts
for bands
I don’t listen too
anymore

but the shirts
are artifacts
that show
I was once
someone who was
somewhat hip

someone who knew
people with guitars
and played them loud
and never thought
of finger picking
or turning down
their amplifiers

these shirts
stop me
from being old
no matter what
my joints say
or how early
I go to sleep

they are magic
time machines
like Doloreans
or phone booths

making me
hip again
despite my
tapered khakis
and worn out
tennis shoes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Clubbing in January

It was 20 degrees
the wind swept
downtown streets
of all things warm

But it was Friday night
were people supposed to stay home?

The ladies walked in pairs
between clubs
down icy side-walks
in four-inch heals and dresses
hanging just past their waist

Heads turned
and in their minds
this was probably
the result of lust

But I’ve seen heads turn
in a similar manner
as I turned the wrong way
onto a one-way street.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mission Folk Festival

I’m eating
an elephant ear
(fry bread
covered in cinnamon and sugar)
at a folk music festival
in the ruins of an old
reservation school.

These folk festivals, for all their celebration of diversity,
are remarkably similar. The same dred-locks,
smells, crystals, and arrhythmic dancing.
It’s easy to mock. But

with the full moon
sitting above a pink Mt. Baker
and the sun setting on the opposite horizon,
it’s hard to hold these hippies’
new-age sentiments against them.

The band on stage
is from somewhere in the South Pacific.
They’re familiar with things like reservation schools.

The patchouli stink is like incense
as the band sings about the regrettable results
of a great commission that lost it’s way.

It’s a strange setting for a festival like this.
A place where native culture
was systematically destroyed
not more than a generation ago.
And now it’s crowded with white people
wearing dream-catcher ear rings.

As I eat sweetened fry-bread
I wonder if all this is cultural misappropriation
or an awkward form of redemption.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Poets and Prophets

that awful man
made good art
and lots of it

it wasn’t beautiful
but is was an honest ugly
you could see
shit-stained truth
on the edges

when God told the prophet
to chew up and choke down
the word of the Lord
one wonders what it smelt like
when it finally came out

Oompa Loompa

the woman who made my iced coffee
was practically glowing orange

there was a cheerleader at my high school
who had the same complexion

we called her Oompa Loompa
behind her back
because she was a cheerleader
and thus any cruelty towards her
was excused

later someone told us
she had some type of skin disease

this was a few years after high school
and suddenly our cruelty was unexcused

but what could we do?
it’s not as though she knew who we were
and what we called her
behind her back
what good could an apology do?

I tipped my barista a dollar
on a 1.65 bill
and hoped that God was watching

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Our House

My house shakes
like my cat used to
right before she started to purr
before we put her to sleep
for puking blood all over everything

My house has ferns growing out of the roof
squirrels living in the walls
and single pane windows

Last month a giant back-hoe
knocked down the house across the street
my roommates and I watched from our porch
shouting like it was a football game

the landlord will probably do the same
when the back-hoe comes for this house.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Murder Ballad

After I pried the mice’s not quite dead bodies from the traps, I made myself eggs, and tried not to think about how the sounds were haunting me. I didn’t grow up on a farm. I never had to shoot my dog after it contracted rabies. So destroying something that was cute, was not easy. Thinking of all the food that had been spoiled by their dirty paws, and all the shit they left along the floor-boards of my kitchen didn’t help me get over those sounds. It may have just been the air escaping from their tiny lungs as the grip of the tongs crushed their ribs, but in my head those squeaks were pleas for their lives. But I was in no mood for bargaining, and we were not about to share our kitchen with those unwanted tenants. So I ate my eggs and tried my best not to think of it anymore. On my walk to school, I couldn't help but hum the Mickey Mouse song, which for some reason had taken a melancholy-Appalachian-murder-ballad-type quality to it.

Sunglasses

We lose our sunglasses every year. Tear apart our rooms looking for them the first sunny day in May. Drug store sun-glasses are no big loss. But for those outdoorsy types who ask for REI gift certificates for Christmas, and drive Subaru’s—200 dollar Oakley’s vanishing into a bottomless thicket of dirty laundry is frustrating. And no amount of screaming, frantic digging, and forced recollecting will resurrect them from their grave. But so goes the underused and half-forgotten prizes of summer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cohen

Cohen is eight months old. His mother informs me he’s tall for his age. I don’t think he’s that big. I doubt he even comes up to my knee.

We’re in a Mexican restaurant. The signs by the door claim that it’s the best in Sacramento. I’ve never been to a better place in this city, but I live in British Columbia.

Cohen is making faces at the waiter while I try and decide between chicken and beef.
I go with chicken.

While we wait I play games with Cohen: he drops his plastic keys, like a drunk, and I pick them up. His interest in this game outlasts mine.

I tell him that his name in Hebrew means priest. This seems to have an impact on him. He makes a contemplative face, like I’ve just revealed part of his destiny. His mom looks at him and tells me he’s gasy today.

His t-shirt has a lion and a giraffe on it and says “best friends.” I explain why his shirt makes no sense, that lions eat giraffes’s when they can, and that he should not expect mortal enemies to be best friends.

After reflection on this thought he challenges me to a staring contest. I win. I always do.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Little Caesar's

We had seven maybe eight pizza boxes. We were, as earlier stated, a cliché college house. We had collected the boxes over a length of time unknown to my roommates, myself,
and probably God. These pizzas accompanied football games, hangovers, and nights when there were no clean dishes—often various combinations of these.

We had at least ten pizza boxes and I had the day off. It being the heat of summer, I woke up early. It was noon and I had at least ten hours to kill before I was going to go back to my cave and sleep. It was hot. There was no need for a fire. But I had time and pizza boxes.

I lost my shirt after the first four started burning. Cardboard burns hot, and it was summer, and I was alone, and I don’t need a damn reason to take my shirt off in my house. When I threw in the next three, I lost my pants; which invention of a fire dance. The dance consisted of a pattern of thrusts and shakes and something like a wobble. If my roommate hadn’t walked in before I burned the next four, I think I would have looked quite silly. But as it was I was only mostly naked dancing in front of a burning pile of Little Caesar’s at one o’clock in the afternoon. Nothing silly about that.

My Brother

[I suppose this is some sort of flash fiction or something]


My big brother used to come home from work and eat frosted flakes with me. We’d sit out on the back porch and talk about girls. He’s the one who convinced me not to quit the football team, and taught me how to swear.

He was an asshole too. After he moved out he got mean and drunk. Once he showed up late and punched our dad in the face. Broke his nose. My mom and sister were crying and I told my brother he’d better leave.

I saw him two weeks later. He asked me for money and I asked him about girls. Both our answers were disappointing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

This Morning's Thoughts

I wish oatmeal tasted more like frosted flakes
I would be a better man if it did.
The coffee makes me feel like I’m in a commercial
only there is no attractive woman bringing me my coffee,
just my housemate Caleb, and the memories aren’t Vienna,
they’re a truck stop in Montana on a road-trip to Yellowstone
with my dad and uncle after my uncle started to dose at the wheel.
I used to only be able to listen to finger picking in the morning
now it’s overwhelmingly positive pop music or metal.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Theology and Star Trek

When you got back from the public lecture
on the interface between theology and art,
specifically music, you’re mind was working
making new connections and it was easy to tell
you were excited about the new ideas.

When you asked me what I had done with my night
I said “watched Star Trek” because I had watched Star Trek.
Four or five episodes of Jean Luc patrolling the Neutral Zone
not letting those sneaky-ass Romulans get away with any of their shit.

You laughed. It was funny.
I said it dry. Like I was being clever.
But it wasn’t a joke, it was a lament.
I just said it like a joke because I say everything like a joke.

Instead of going to a lecture
and discussing the lecturer’s points
over beer and sweet potato fries
I sat on a couch and watched
science fiction. And as a result
my mind was busy with
critiques of Data’s conclusions
about what it means to be human
and the theological difficulties posed
in Star Trek’s condescending utopia.

Somehow, I think your thoughts
about Handel’s Messiah
and how it mirrors the Psalter’s movement
from individual lament to communal praise
will be easier to discuss seriously
than my thoughts about Worf’s commitment to Klingon tradition
while being a Star Fleet officer as a model for the Church
in a pluralistic secular society. But to be honest,
I thing both lines of thought would be correctly described
as being ridiculously nerdy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Mixed CD for Graham

1. I’m So Bored With the USA, The Clash

I understand why you had to leave. I suppose I should be excited for you. But my writing has gotten worse and there’s no one to go on pointless drives with anymore. Still, I’m happy that you’re learning new ways to curse.

2. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel.

The Atlantic is much too large. I realize that the Pacific dwarfs it. But I don’t much care about China and Japan. I’m sure they’re beautiful. But somehow, I think part of their beauty is in being far away. Wales could be Oregon and still be cool. Being on the other side of the damn world is just excessive.

3. Of Minor Prophets and the Prostitute Wives, Pedro the Lion

I suppose in this analogy you are a whore. A moniker you probably are not wholly unused to me calling you.

4. This Side of the Blue, Joanna Newsom

This side is in decay. Families are spread. The Seahawks are getting worse. Coffee shops are going out of business and rent is going up.

5. Ramblin’ Man, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan

I suppose ramble is a romantic word. An odd construction of masculinity. As if moving around made one more of a man. Are restlessness and solitude badges showing your rank in the fraternity of dudeness? Still, when Isaac told me how he always dreamed of riding the rails, I think the word I used to describe this longing was “badass.”

6. Be My Baby, the Ronnettes

Since you’ve been gone the oldies station became a talk radio station. Talk radio. What the world needs now is not another talk radio station.

7. Call Me (Come Back Home), Al Green

I’m not sure about the long distance rates. I’m suspicious of Skype. But the sentiment holds true. When I first left home, my mom never nagged me to call her. I hardly ever did. So consider this nagging.

8. 18 Wheels, Murder City Devils

Things need roots or they fall down. Tires have no roots. Most barely touch the ground. The big trucks are the worst. All they ever do is hover. Never touching down. Long drives with bad coffee from state to state, never actually being anywhere. On a trip to Montana, I passed a semi that the wind had blown over. I was not surprised.

9. Stuck On You, Elvis Presley

Everyone talks about you. These days, I’m asked about what you’re doing more often then I’m asked about myself. I am not annoyed by this. When asked about myself I say “napping.” When asked about you, I lie. You have really gotten into the music scene in Wales and now wear eye-shadow and have tried heroin more than once.

10. Bring It On Home, Sam Cooke

If there were no predictable songs, how would it be connected with the person who sent it to you? Also, I secretly wish I were a soul singer.

11. He’s a Mighty Good Leader, Beck

Good indeed. He’s like the president in Independence Day. Though sometimes we have to listen extra hard to hear the inspiring speeches. Sometimes they are not inspiring at all. Sometimes they knock the wind out of you. Sometimes they’re too easy to ignore. So I guess he’s not all that much like the president in Independence Day, but I still think he’s good. I hope you don’t have to listen too hard these days.

12. Eurotrash Girl, Cracker

I don’t suppose the girls are much different there. Famished for complements and exceedingly attractive. But aren’t we all?

13. Thrice All American, Neko Case

Remember what I said about this side and the decay and lack of oldies stations. It’s true. But it’s home and homes are hard to come by. Just be glad yours isn’t Tacoma.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Moths

The moth under the book had been dead for two days. After I buried it in the garbage, its shadow stayed on the kitchen through several washings. It was Icarus, flying to close to a Japanese woman with a book, and phobia of all things that flutter. The death was not mourned by her, and was insured through repeated steps on the book.

It was a big moth. Strong and fearless. But no moth can live under a book and the weight of a frightened woman. I took it as a lesson, and hope you do as well. Let us not wander where have no business, else our bodies be dried to the linoleum under the weight of our own hubris.

Christmas in July

Woke up at noon to the sound of hammers.
Brushed my teeth while neighbors mowed their lawns.
Stumbled down the road to a coffee shop
and attempted morning devotions and homework.

Listened to a dog in hot car bark
and Christmas music for two hours.

When I took my head phones off
I heard an old man with a hair-piece
rant about the conservatives
while a white-haired skeleton nodded.

Somehow it finally set in:
summer had arrived.

Friday, June 11, 2010

At the Pearly Gates?

[I needed to get to writing, and this is what came out]


The important thing is that we all got here safe and sound
except those who didn’t, but they were wanderers
so we shouldn’t feel any great sympathy for them
they found their own paths and it’s not easy
to know where they are, or if they’ll ever get here

The important thing is that we are all here
though where here is is not entirely clear
what is clear is that wherever here is
we are most certainly there
and if you think about it long enough
it will make all of our heads hurt
so don’t think about where we actually are
or the people who aren’t here or how we got here
or how they got to wherever they are
think only of the joyous fact that we are here
remember the apostles words when he wrote that

The important thing is that we set our hearts on things above
and that we remember where we came from
and where we are going, which is here,
so I guess it’s not so important, but it was important
and that we must never forget.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to Write a Gospel

As John remembered things
or as he came to understand them
or a little of both
his old friend never answered directly
never off point
always straight to the heart of the question
no detours
which left His audience
searching for connections

he remembered the faces they made
furrowed and scrunched up
muttering under their breath
“what the fuck is He talking about?”
he had seen the same face many times since

he remembered people frustrated
squeezing the teacher for plain answers
answers that made easy sense
baby food, applesauce, yogurt
something that didn’t require chewing
but all they got
all He gave
was poorly cooked steak

John still had bits stuck in his teeth
and they didn’t have floss in those days.

iCarly Episode

The Seattle Times made a mistake when they wrote about the death of Carly’s brother. It was a small mistake. Easily fixed. Carly’s brother was only on vacation. But now his sculptures are actually selling and so he stays dead, or in the back room, when potential buyers come to offer their condolences. Which works well. But now his good looking ex-girlfriend is there, and is broken-up, and is very fetching and after-all he wasn’t actually dead—only in the other room, and he had forgotten how attractive she was and she just can’t believe that he’s actually gone and he’s in a real pickle this time.

When You Wish Upon a Star

Families are like elephants who never forget
even when they want to.

Even when they see a shooting star
every night for a year.

Even when they throw their life savings
into mall fountains.

Even when the have God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost
by the short hairs.

And they make the same wish every time.

. . .

David Attenborough is calm as he narrates
(with a soothing British accent)
a young elephant being separated from it’s herd
with a family of half-starved lions
on it’s back and hanging from it’s ears
their eyes glow into the night vision camera
they saw the same shooting stars too, and after tonight
they won’t be half-starved.

Eggs

The first time I turned onto a one-way street
I pulled into an alley before anything bad happened:
a head on collision with a single mother pushing a stroller
chipped paint or broken headlight or cracked radiator

This time it’s in cruise control and I’m asleep
who’s going to flinch first?

. . .

I woke up with a yawn
sunshine in my eyes
the birds were out
but they were quiet
and baritones
which was strange
but what’s more important is—
where are my pants?

. . .

The pants were in the laundry
I had soaked them with urine, sweat, and love
When people noticed they were unimpressed
and continued eating their eggs
most people most times will continue eating their eggs
this is what makes the world go round, or at least seem to
some people never get back to their eggs
for these the world stops abruptly—
single mothers pushing strollers
hit by navy blue sedans going much too fast
for example.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Zombie Resurrection

or The Problems With Being Full of Shit

He told me this is how resurrection feels. Lit his cigarette and breathed in. I didn’t quite follow, but I’m slow picking up on things. Especially when they’re supposed to be deep. He looked at me like he wanted to show me something. I’ve seen the same face on my cousin’s kids when they show me their toys. He was going to show me his toy tractor.

I saw this crouch-rocket-riding douche bag two minutes after he was on in an accident. He was laying five feet away from me. Fucked up. Legs going every which way, like some crazy yoga. He was holding some woman’s hand, probably didn’t even know her. When I turned off the radio, I heard him moaning. ‘Oh God’ he’d say, sobbing. ‘Oh God it hurts’. That was the first real prayer I ever heard. That was a conversion moment—you know those alter-calls you religious types are always on about, that was a real one right there.

I just watched him smoke. He liked the attention. I was trying to decide if I thought all this was bullshit. That’s the hard thing with talking to people who are generally full of shit, when they say something that isn’t complete and utter bull shit, it’s difficult to tell. I could tell that he had rehearsed his story. And I think he was right on some level (about the conversion). The nearness of death. The moaning prayer. The life changing moment. I’ve heard sermons and testimonies say about the same thing—but I still thought he was full of shit, and I didn’t feel like nodding or giving him the impression that I was moved by his story. I didn’t want to give him any satisfaction. So I deflected the flow—with my own soliloquy that I had rehearsed as well.

I always pictured resurrection like a zombie movie. All us starchy-church-types digging ourselves up from the grave. Glorified-glowing hands reaching up through cemetery lawns. That’s why I want to be buried shallow and in a cardboard box—so I can be the first one out. And if all this bible stuff is bull, at least if an actual zombie apocalypse happens I’ll have an easier time getting out, and get first dibs on the good brains.

He wasn’t impressed. Looked at me like I was full of shit. And I was.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stanley Park Par Three

Our hands were clammy. Our rain jackets had raised a white flag, but we finished the round. 18 holes at the par three course felt epic. The raccoons watched under the cover of cedar trees. They listened to muffled curses, and snickered to themselves as t-shots flew into bushes and chips rolled over greens. When the round was finished, our scorecard was used tissue. The scores I was proud of were gray smudges that wouldn’t mean a thing to anyone but me. We were glad to have played, but even gladder to have such an excuse to go for donuts and hot chocolate.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I'll Wait For You

[This is a reworking and frankensteining of an older love poem. Pretty standard cheesy fun. It's basically two poems smooshed together. Hope y'all enjoy.]

You may not know this, but your eyes are big.
Bigger than average. Bigger than your head.
Bigger than the sun. Bigger than a Centaur’s appetite.
They are big and sticky. Evergreen sap sticky.
I can’t get unstuck. Your eyes are big brown balls of sticky.

And when you laugh, it’s an earthquake.
I lose my balance. I lose my breath.
When I am around you, I make damn sure
I’ve got my inhaler. Ventolin keeps me alive.

And you love things I’ve never thought about.
Like pine nuts and things made from soy.
And dishes with names I can’t pronounce.
You make me think tofu is tastes decent.
Better than decent. Good. Tim’s Cascade Jalapeño Chip good.
This is not normal. Your dimples are bear traps.
I could try to gnaw my legs off,
but I’d rather not.

When you’re away my head isn’t settled.
It wanders through fiction. Imagines a life in Shire.
In Narnia. On the moon. With you. And as long as blood
pumps through my brain. As long as these wrinkly lumps
behind my forehead still project images. As long as
your eyes are imprinted in the neurons and synapses
and other scientific big words for fancy parts of my brain,

I’ll wait for you.

Alone, on my couch with two blankets.
I’ll wait until the sea turns to Tabasco
and the mountains turn to hash-browns.
I’ll be your breakfast sausage if you be my eggs.

I’ll wait until the stars turn into wombats,
group themselves in fours and sing barbershop.
In that sorrowful gloom, in those harmonies

I'll wait for you.

Until the Book of Common Prayer is rewritten
to include the hokey pokey, until sweatpants
become formal wear, until my stomach learns to speak to whales;

I’ll wait for you
as long as the sun holds a grudge against Pluto.

I’ll wait for you
as long as people on Uranus
giggle when they say Mercury.

If I ever see you coming in the distance
I’ll take my dragon wings and pizza rolls
out of the freezer, let them thaw,
sit myself down in front of the TV
and put on some cartoons.

I would like to eat pizza rolls and watch the Simpsons,
with you, until they cease to be funny,
until Krusty the Clown telling John Updike to shut up
stops making me chuckle,
until Lenny and Carl go their separate ways.

Which is to say:
I would like to eat pizza rolls and watch the Simpsons
with you
forever.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Keep Smilin'

She’s someone you remember as a smile. Bright eyes. Easy to laugh. Upbeat. The type of person that makes you wonder if they’ve ever had a bad day. Makes you wonder if she’s ever had to walk home in the rain. If she’s ever been dumped or turned down for a job.

On Sunday, she found out she has to have heart surgery. It’s scheduled for Wednesday. Tomorrow. Midway through her spring break. It’s her second this year. It’s one of a dozen in her life. It’s not her knee. Not her shoulder. Not arthritis. It’s her heart.

She is a smile and I wonder where she finds it.

It’s bright sun outside. The cherry blossoms are busting with color. It smells nice outside. And the birds can’t shut up. Girls walk by with a bounce in their step, dimples out in full effect. Everyone seems to be smiling everywhere I go.

But don’t understand how I could smile. I don’t understand how anyone can. When friends have to have heart surgeries twice a year. When everyone is lonely. When friends die in car crashes. When kids in Africa are born with AIDS. When couples in Uganda are prosecuted for their sexuality. When millions of people will never know anything besides poverty.

I don’t know how to smile. When the weight of all this hurt presses down. I feel the imbalance in my gut. I can’t see the scales as being even. The cherry blossoms and sun shine can’t outweigh cancer and poverty. I feel like if I were to smile, I would have to trick myself.

And those few who smile honest. The ones who seem to come as close as humanly possible to being a good person. The people who bake brownies for the brokenhearted. Who serve soup to homeless. Who split pitchers with the depressed. These people don’t get a free pass. They seem to suffer more for their good hearts. When I see them smile, with honesty in their eyes, I can’t help but wonder if they're blind or dumb.

I feel dumb when I smile. Or at least I do today. But when I think of my friend going in for heart surgery, I hope she never feels dumb when she smiles.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Manifesto: The Mad Student Liberation Front

[This is me trying to channel Wendell Berry's poem Manifesto: the Mad Farmer Liberation Front. It's definitely a new style for me, so I would be open to any suggestions.]

Nap. Take the best part of the day
and offer it to your mattress.
Don’t call the girl of your dreams.
Be cynical. Of legends and spring.
Practice giving up. Let things go.
Call it forgiveness. Call it reality.
Don’t listen to friends.
Suspect every compliment.
In this you will always be free.

If this is too hard, give up on giving up.
Drop freedom and pick up surrender.
Practice falling down. Make it a game.
Roll down grassy hills sober.
Don’t stop rolling until your floating.
Swim to the furthest shore you can.
Think of new colors and paint them.
Get dirty. Invent stains. Do your mom’s laundry.

If that’s too hard, forgive yourself and try again.
Try to read Dosteosky, and when you fail
read the anthologies of Calvin and Hobbes.
Build a transmogrifier. Become a tiger.
Wrestle kindergartners. Play games you can’t explain.
Buy a red wagon and find a hill.

When school makes your mind small, stop.
Work. Work until your tired.
Work just hard enough to live.
Live poor or close to it.
Remember to play games.

If this is too much imperative:
examine yourself and do what you want.
Want good things. As for me,
I am going to go home
to pour a bowl of frosted flakes,
and watch Darkwing Duck with a friend.

Oh. . . and call the girl.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring

[trying something new here, hopefully it works]

Spring was prancing around today. Fancified: wearing light blue, all shades of greens and a white that bordered on pink. It made me queasy. Not that there is anything wrong with spring—but there’s no reason it has to flaunt it in my face!

I’m not trying to say they’re all the same. Some of them, I’m told can be harsh and grey. Those ones I’m okay with. They don’t invade my living room. They don’t burst through the shades and shout their flowery-pastel propaganda. They don’t leave mounds of cherry blossom pedals on my car’s windshield. They’re hardly noticeable at all. They fade into winter.

But today, spring was intolerable. Shoving its colors down my throat. Pushing its agenda. Before long there’ll be flowers popping up everywhere and then there will be no stopping summer from moving in.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Facebook Ad

Need a girlfriend?

The woman in the ad
wearing a child-sized
USC jersey
yellow panties
black stripes under her eyes
makes me reticent
to answer the question.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Homesick

There used to be a douchey little club near the hockey arena. The owner was the cousin of my friend Isaac—this was more than enough connection to get me to check it out. Isaac and I went on a weeknight, paid full price and played Pac Man.

The place filled up with 30 something women in short skirts and pornstar heels flirting with greasy-haired muscles in half-buttoned dress shirts. We heard multiple Nelly songs. Isaac came close to his all-time high score more than once.

When we were on our last quarter, a couple of the greasy-haired muscles started shouting. Pretty soon the shouts turned to swings. The tussle spilt my beer. It’s always the innocent that get hurt most in these types of situations.

I think the bouncer sensed that a beverage was in danger, because he came running. He parted the crowd like the Red Sea. The man had a face tattoo, which I assume meant he did not take shit. Most people tend get out of the way of big men with face tattoos. He grabbed one guy by the collar and the other by the head and dragged them out of the bar.

It’s the little things I miss about my hometown.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rehearsals for Departures

I fell asleep to this song in your passenger seat on the way back from Oregon when we were 16. The stars were out, and your car smelt nice. I wasn’t familiar with the highways back then. I had never listened to this album either. The songs and scenery were brand new. I didn’t mean to fall asleep. But it was late. I’m not sure if I ever apologized, but I think I meant to.

I still think about that drive every time I get on the 84.

The Winter Olympics

This town is getting ready for the Olympics. Streets are closed everywhere. People with plastic badges walk around in light blue coats. The construction projects on campus are all frantically trying to finish.

The man who sells me meat asks if I’m excited. I tell him I’m leaving town. He doesn’t look surprised. I don’t know why I would be excited. Maybe I’m just an old curmudgeon.

Back home friends ask me if I’m going to any events. I tell them no, I’m going home. They inform me it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. They’re probably right, but I just paid tuition today, and I have a hard to finding room in the budget for a hockey game; even Kazakstan vs Belarus is too expensive.

I don’t think about the Olympics much. I’ve got papers to ignore, and Greek participles to cuss at. I don’t have much time to worry about people in unitards flying down frozen waterslides on a fancy sled.

It’s been unseasonably warm the last few weeks. The trees are catching on. Up and down my street their starting to bud. A friend told me they saw a cherry blossom in full bloom on the Eastside. The trees don’t seem to care much that it’s the Winter Olympics. I couldn’t agree more.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Visiting

The Cheez-its were gone by the time I got to the border. Friends met me in dark corner, where we ordered pale ales and watched a drunk become belligerent. Beaty eyes sinking behind a half-gray mustache. With crossed arms he stared at the bartender. Fucking cunts! The warning that followed was stern. Soon enough he was escorted out, flailing a bit.

Bobby said it was a good thing. I agreed. He left credits on the jukebox. Bobby played the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and I took long sips. The nostalgia and beer lead to more candor with old friends.

The bill was less than it should have been, by accident or college-town-magic. We watched DVDs until the wee hours of the morning. I should visit more.

T-Shirts

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ephesian Musical

[This is not a poem, but I wanted to share it, and it didn't fit into the article I was writing]

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:10-20
I’d like to believe that the church in Ephesus operated like a musical for a few weeks after this letter arrived. Greeting each other with sing-songy voices and choreographed dances. I have spent more than a few moments day dreaming about a chorus taken from Ephesians 6 about the armor of God, hopefully with the refrain mentioning something about “girding your loins with truth” (Eph. 6:14).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Trench-Foot

It’s soggy
the sidewalk is flooded
my socks are soaked and it’s still raining

It’s soggy
like home
like 8th grade touch football games
with puddle end-zones

This January trench-foot makes me home sick