A Reversal of Reverence

When one is inside a living hell
one begins to wonder if life is really hell
and that we are living as damned souls
rather than breathing, beating flesh
is it a reversal of reverence?
or a carving into a dirty brick wall
running along an avenue
in some dirty brick town hall
where everyone lives and dies at the mall
because shopping soothes the grated spirit
and machine guns make us heavenly patriotic
we all share the same hell,
but it’s personalized just for us
a little agony here,
a little sadness there,
a few suicidal tendencies sprinkled in between
like tooth-cracking rock candy on a wedding cake
spelling out disaster
and the peace sign
all muddled together
painted in a gleaming red of blood
and all the crystal tears dry up
and blow away in the breath of broken angels slouched at the bar
my world is spiral notebooks full of spilled and infinite ink
and dreams filling these white, chalky veins
dreams of innocence twisted inside out
like guts in a blender
and the torturous high-speed button is stuck,
lashes of a wicked wind like a bunch of reckless bros
tossing back Fat Tires at a pub in Nob Hill
and smoking black cigarettes with a scent of pine
and when will it be time
to throw the switch
and juice it up real bright and glossy
fizzing orange firebombs
licking at tender wounds
while wearing this metal hat
and laboring in the pain
of beachside memories
of little boys tossing sticks at the water
and maternal maids bracing themselves
against a chill California wind
and then what of him
as he shakes bone-chilled against the cement
of some dead-end den
watching the whispers of a life gone by
float to the endless sky,
but he never wants to say goodbye


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The Rascals of House Hunters

My wife and I love watching House Hunters, especially the international version of the show. It’s been a thing for us for a long, long time. We love to yell at the people for making stupid choices.

Now, we know a lot of the show is fake and from what I read the people have already made the choice of what house they want even before they are filmed “house hunting.” I also read that sometimes the show utilizes younger actors to play the buyers who in reality may be old, ugly, and boring. Something like that. But even with all that in mind, it really grinds my gears when I see people who make a living as “social media trendsetters” or “lifestyle enthusiasts” or “product ambassadors for an international marketing start up” or “nomadic online fashion consultants” and they have a budget of like 2 million dollars and I’m just like “WTF!”

Just once, I’d like to see a guy who vacuums for a living and makes 13 bucks an hour trying to buy a house. Now that’s putting reality in Reality TV.

My wife understandably gets frustrated with my House Hunters frustration. I just can’t help it, though. I’m an edgy individual. Take last night for example. The buyers were two guys — 23 and 24 years old, respectively, who were friends and business partners — who earn a living by making YouTube videos about video games or something like that. It was never made totally clear. But nonetheless, they supposedly have 2 million subscribers to whatever they do and in turn must make a shitload of money because they were looking at houses priced around $1.3 million. I just sit there and shake my head and I truly don’t understand it. How!?

Am I envious? Yes! Am I bitter? Yes! Why? Because (with the exception of the last two years of my semi-retirement and “working” as a struggling writer) I have worked my ass off my entire life at jobs that were killing me emotionally… And for what? I never got ahead. I never got noticed. I barely squeaked by. And in the end, I got kicked to the curb like a bag of trash because of some corporate algorithm. I bang my head against the wall and holler to the heavens, “What am I doing wrong! I just want to live, not suffer to live!”

It seems so damn easy for so many others and some days I struggle just to get up, make coffee, and do the laundry. Sigh.

But then I look over at the corner of my desk and I see a pile of notes from my wife. She leaves me a love note on my desk every morning before she leaves for work. Even if I have been an ass. I’m usually still sleeping. But reading her note is pretty much the first thing I do in the morning. They are a daily reminder of all that we have, together, in this life. She’s my Reality TV.

I know I bitch and moan about life plenty, but she is always reminding me of what truly matters. And when I stop and really think about it, instead of getting caught up in the charade of societal guidelines, it doesn’t matter I don’t have 2 million followers or a million-dollar house. I have our simple sweet life together, and though it’s not always easy and often fraught with worry, fear, problems, and so on. The love we have is the richest in the world.

Well, that ended completely different than I thought it would. But she’s good at getting me to turn things around when I need it most.


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Hairy Pancakes and a Bad Honeymoon

It was a warm morning in late July when I woke up alone on the wrong side of the world. The bathroom mirror greeted me with a reflection of disorientation, mussed hair, and puffy eyes. I tried to shake myself awake, for this morning I was to meet my bride and have breakfast at the downtown café we frequent for our marriage meetings. I had my notes prepared. I was going to lay it on the line. Little did I know what was to come.

I rode the curving roadways for miles. The wind struck like a moist dryer drying towels. The engine hummed like a good motor should. I thought about Detroit. I thought about Japan. I pretty much decided in my own head that I was going to go for the pancakes. With sliced banana. With sweet maple syrup. And a good cup of coffee. My spirits were slightly elevated. I thought about my love. She was waiting there in her car, pulled up to the curb, diagonally. I forgot to bring the bandage like she had asked. My memory is slipping like an old lady on wet winter ice. Damn it. I should have written it down.

We met up. Did the ritualistic kiss thing. I may have palmed her butt a little. It’s okay. I’m allowed. We went in and ordered. I laid out my plan to the clerkie. She took it all down, I guess. We found ourselves a table. A tall college kid came in and said he knew us. He joined us at the table, and we all waited for food. The clerkie brought us silverware wrapped in napkins, but I was missing a fork. I cried out something like, “How am I supposed to eat pancakes without a fork!” The whole place got silent. People were stunned I suppose. My wife and the college kid were embarrassed. Reminded me of when I was in the Kroger the other day and some guy suddenly blurted out to his kids: “Stop fucking around!” And the whole world was in silence and shock because he really did say the F word really loud, right there in the meat department. I thought to myself: What an asshole. Yeah, that really happened.

Anyways… The pancakes came and I was eating them, and they weren’t as good as they usually were, and I was bummed about that and then I found a hair — cooked into the pancake. Yep. My wife was like “Eww.” She said I should take them back, but I was too embarrassed and figured if they were going to give me a fresh plate, they would probably stuff the pancakes down their pants and jiggle around a bit before slapping them on the plate. You know, like in that movie. I just took the loss because I have serious trust issues. My wife let me buy a cinnamon roll. My woman is good about that. Caring and such. She was very sorry that happened. Now we’re going to take a nap together and that’s pretty good stuff.

Earlier we had talked about the Memphis woman who was killed in Fiji on her honeymoon, allegedly by her husband. Um… On your honeymoon? You kill your wife on your honeymoon? Damn. Talk about a bad time. I guess getting a hair cooked into my pancakes isn’t so bad after all.   


Author’s notes at the edge of daylight

I thought I would do something different today and create a post about the notes I make when thoughts come to me at 5 a.m. and I get up and write them down in a frenzy, so I won’t forget what I was thinking while lying there in bed and worrying about the world and my place in it. I have to do it quietly and mostly without light, my way illuminated only by the glow of a computer screen in dark mode, so I don’t wake my slumbering wife.

What follows below are the unedited notes for Child of the Cabbage Ep. 6. Thought it might be interesting to share part of my process. I’ve debated in my head if I should post this before or after I write the actual piece. In one way, I don’t want to give details away, but on the other hand, maybe it will be cool for people to see how it all comes together, and from what… And hopefully generate some interest. Readers don’t know how it will actually turn out, and neither do I. So. I guess I will post it before.

I don’t always use notes to frame a story. Most times I just sit down at the computer with a small spark of an idea and start typing with absolutely no thought of where the story is going or what character is going to be bred from the dust. It just kind of happens. Some days my thoughts flow like water, other days they flow like cement in the desert. I’m positive every writer is familiar with how extremely frustrating it is to sit down and want to write so badly, but then nothing happens. It feels like failure. It feels like: “If I’m a writer, why can’t I write!?”

I’ve accepted that when I’m feeling blocked that I shouldn’t try to force it or what comes out will read as forced. It will be weak. As much as I want to write, at those times I just step away from it and wait for the ideas to come rushing back in… Which is often in the middle of the night or early in the morning while I’m tossing and turning in bed – like today. If I don’t get up and get the ideas out of me, no matter how incoherent and scrambled, I’ll lose them. It’s sort of like jotting down the details of a dream as soon as you wake up before they completely vanish. And my memory isn’t what it used to be.

As I said, the notes are in an unedited form, so please excuse the typos and disjointedness. I don’t stop to correct things when typing notes. I just go.

Thanks for reading.


The Notes

Gracelyn rides bike to school, stops at vinegar village when she hears hammering, meets a man mending a fence, his name is farm guy and they talk about names,

Gracelyn asks why the world is so hard on people, because we were hard on the world, pulling the nicest cat y the tail cat still turns on you, talks about greed, selfishness, upside down priorities,

A man sits in a fancy restaurant on one side of the world ad he’s given so much food he can’t even eat it all, and then he walks outside and everywhere he looks there are more restaurants overstuffing their guests and the food goes in the garbage bins and at the same time there are these people, on the other half of the world who walk around and they look like skeletons movig through all their dirt because they don’t have any food. They ie down at night to sleep but its hard to sleep because starvation hurts. How can we even have a word such as starvation when there is food being tossed away. That is one reason the world is so hard on people. There is so much carelessness n the act of kindness.

Talk about fat people vs. starving people on one half of the world, and how there are so many restaurnats and just put restaurants where the starving people are but that won’t work because the people n the hgigh towers don’t want that because the starving people can’t pay….they sit in tall shiny buildings of polished glass and stone and around long tables and talk about how they can squeeze more out of every man, woman and child, and it’s all very important to them, consumes them, so much time wasted on greed, and all this goes on under the nose of some caring creator who does nothing. And the whole conversation is about this lack of empathy throughout the world and then there are countries who decide to step over country lines just to kill and destroy and take and for what, for what purpose. A nod at Russia in Ukraine and the senselessness of all that and why isn’t anyone doing anything about it. Why doesn’t anyone fucking care!? This is why the world is so hard on people because people are so hard on people. And we invest in war and killing and destruction, billions upon trillions, to rape each other to death, to rip the earth apart, and for what? all that we have to cling to is love, yet we nurture it so little among ourselves, the people ofd the planet. I want to hold my wife forever and never let go. If this world ever takes her away from me, there would be a fury in me that I could not live

The world is so hard on people because the people are hard on the world. Look what they left us with. Total ruin except for a few lost wandering souls. We elevate orange fools to power and give weapons of mass destruction to mad men.

Do you know someone named Astron puffin…. He just vanished.

The cabbage farmer from hillsdale

Farm Guy isn’t a name, it’s just a description, and you don’t even really live on a farm

The role of Farm Guy should be played by J.K. Simmons

Pull the cat’s tail and even the nicest cat will turn on you and bite and scratch and scream.

Why, I should be named young girl then

Thatts ridiculous, youd me more like youthful female or metal female and your not made of metal are you

In some ways yes I am

Starting to get a wizard ofg oz vibe

Do you want to come in for milk and cookies. You have milk?

Yes

You have cookies?

Yes, I do

Astron looks down on the earth, spinning there on its fragile thread set to snap

And then where will the world go, he asks the green skin and blue hair aliens who talk in very deep slow voices like a tape recorder on slow speed

It will drop out of the universe like a plinko chip and there will be no prize.

They worship products, build great temples to honor all their producxts, milesand miles of storefronts, profit over people, that’s a big part of it,.

I don’t want to ever go back

But you may have to go back one more time

I think I will go lie back down I feel depleted .

The Linguini Ballroom

The Linguini Ballroom
is a black and blue champagne glass
the bubbles being elevators to space
the crystal reflections being the light
the people spinning lovely
my heart-wrenching demise —
the parquet floor of time
is a long-bedazzled square
of lines and rituals carved in it
greasy secret codes
and polished roadmaps to secrets and sand
one must step lightly on the floor
for it is slick and one could slip
spilling their brains
all over the barn —
I had to get outside the Linguini Ballroom
sit on a bench
smoke some rope
try to get my heart to stop beating
it’s wrinkling my roughshod tux
looking like my little green jeans
muddy and torn
as I spun like a wheel
on the oceanside roundabout
years ago…
Before the wind dragged me back inside
the Linguini Ballroom
and the liquid slide
and the rhythm of the jazz
is all hyped up and pounding
the feet are all slapping the floor
dreary teeth are spitting
limbs are making me dizzy,
the way they spin is so criminal
and I pound my fists
against the gold, velour wallpaper
and it’s soft like cloth
and no one can hear me begging to escape
from the madness of
the Linguini Ballroom —
and a cold mountain of snow
crowned by a ring of trees
comes to my aid
ever so suddenly
and it’s depression on snowshoes
looking for an ice spear
to shed a tear
across blue-black veins freezing
and down the hill
rests a little town
and the sign says Damnation
and it’s straight to the whiskey bar I go like Jim
and family portraits are nothing but piss
and winter sweat
and I drown in the rollback stitches
tearing down my spine…
And someone taps my bowed head
seems I’m back at the phone booth
cradled behind the glass
to keep the mad steps away
swirling lavishly
beneath bee lights
of the Linguini Ballroom
dripping cancer and JFK —
eyes drooped so low
I push the doors aside
and take my stride
to the gun cabinet
tucked neatly back
in the Linguini Ballroom vault
reach out for a magnum sunflower
a golden crown of velvet peace
take my stance on the mossy drawbridge
and blow all the wishes from the stage, to send the spores to Heaven’s edge.


The Temples of Celestial Evacuation

I floated above the road from out of LipLock, Tejas earlier in the day and headed north, then east. I rumbled along with the roar of it all past that Tulia place again, into the belly of the Yellow City and then back out again like a screaming colon blow.

There was a place further down the road there that looked like some gleaming white Zionic temple minus Moroni but turned out to be some angelic rest stop – a sort of place for celestial evacuation I suppose. It was a high-tech joint with sliding doors, acid-high neon and brightly buffed tiles. The walls were decorated with all sorts of Americana logos and pop posters made to look like they sprang right out from the 1950s – they were going for the whole Route 66 celebratory theme, but an earth closet is still an earth closet and making pee is still making pee. I guess it was comforting enough for weary travelers and indeed kept very clean. I saw an immigrant from Nicaragua wildly mopping the floor with mad vigor and I sort of shook my head and laughed at the fact that Wild West rest stops are kept better looking than most of the towns and the cities – and I guess immigrants are fine in our country as long as they are cleaning up after our savage releases.

I stopped for the night in the town of El Torino, Oklahoma. Clint Eastwood was working the front desk of the glowing green hotel and he was kind of grumpy and called me a “punk.” There was a dirty steak place just down the road from where I was staying and I went there for some supper, as my lady friend Ms. Tinkachook says.

The hostess was a sad and desperate-looking white-skinned soul who didn’t smile much and merely mumbled. I followed her and she seated me in the section for all the lonely people who ate by themselves. The joint had been kicked around in the crotch a few times it seemed – a greasy sort of place with smudged windows and a smell more fit for a bowling alley than a restaurant. I felt the need for the animalistic Reverend Jim to be there with a big ol’ bottle of hand sanitizer to baptize me in, but like most men of Bog, he must have had his hands tied by other spiritual and cleansing emergencies.

The waitress chick was a spotted-owl kind of gal reeking of sad spirit and boredom. She strolled about the place with little sense of purpose and recited to all her tables the same rehearsed speech that lacked any sense of genuine care for her work, but I understood her malaise completely, even though I was convinced she hated me.

I ordered an 8 oz. top sirloin that looked pale and beaten but tasted good nonetheless when slathered with some sauce. I got fries too, a salad and some warm bread with cinnamon butter. The food was decent enough for what it was and anyways I was never one to complain in a restaurant. I never thought it wise to piss someone off who was handling my food. There was a table across the way from me with a couple of moms and their dirty kids plus a husband or boyfriend or two. They loudly bitched at the waitress about their steaks not being cooked as they wanted, and they passed their plates back to her and she humped off to the kitchen to turn them back in. I could imagine the cook growling and spitting on the meat or shoving it down his pants and jiggling around a bit to add some of his own spice and sizzle.

My steak was good, and I scarfed it down quickly. And that’s all I said: “It’s good. Thank you.” She smiled halfheartedly and I knew she had better problems than me.

But I had been there before too. I had my time – those days so completely overtaken by life’s strife that I could hardly move or utter a word. Those days of hurt – like a hatchet buried in my skull cap and someone cranking on the handle. There is a laundry list of agonies I have endured that I really don’t want to talk about now except to say it was all about busted up hearts and people dying in real bad ways and there were plenty of times I just wanted to snuff it as Alex DeLarge says. Lights out like a hammer to a lightbulb. No more pawing and panting at the stars like some broken bird who felt like he would never ever fly again. Hopefully I’ve come around to the other side of those ills and I will press on, for there is nothing left to do.


The Rorschach Puppets Come to Dinner

Sometimes life is like a Rorschach test and a bomb
all mixed together
and whatever shape one sees
suddenly changes motion
fluidly escaping the grasp of the eye
What may seem set in stone,
is suddenly morphed by disaster or love…

And on this night tonight, how I wish for a winter scene; a frozen sky, the iced over trunks of trees solidly resting in a bitter chill, a still lake covered in the powdery skin of snow… But then again, this place is a hot plate, a coil wrapped tight and injected with the fury of the sun, the fury of me, the calm of me, the widespread panic of me.

Lying on a wet couch in a goldfish bowl. The world is breathing outside the glass. A lamp with a red shade speaks softly in the language of light as I tell my darkest secrets to a tube and a box. Dear Wishes, you had a penchant for family and happiness, existence pounded oblivious — how I miss the sweaty mistakes of the rocky lair, out there on the cusp of the mountain air. But I am in another world called future tense dive board, encased in this jar with nothing but a pen and a bow and arrow. My blue bruised heart dropped onto the wooden floor, the sun of dusk shaking the leaves on the tree — I’d go hunting, but there is nothing left to kill. Flip on the radio, the BBC flickers through a darkened hall, orange chrysanthemums float down from the attic — a wedding jaunt Halloween, to the bedroom and the screams… For now, I fear the ache of the end of days.

Splash some blood on the screen for me
and I will tell you what it means to me
a wreck or a wedding
a chalice or a paper cup
a diaper or a doggy bag
both filled with the leftovers of life
and the indecisions left stagnant
and the decisions leaving me wondering
wondering why
split-second mishaps
leave me empty and dry.

I feel trapped on a fine line that runs from north to south, a scissor slit ripping east to west, a collection of yellow lines and yellow lights that at the end of the night leave me in a place not unlike La Brea. A million, billion voices and I can’t seem to tap into one, always stumbling to play the trumpet when I have merely a stick; a stick to beat on a wall or beat on a stone or beat on the boiling sky spilling over me, soundless silence and perilous moans in the night brought forth by yet another puzzling dream. Down in Jungleland? Top drawer of the nightstand. Sweet wish upon a lover’s lips spread wide with a smile in sleep. And who and where am I? The bubbling neon strip of gold-flake Oz, or blackout city of the underworld? This desert den of constriction, can never find any conviction, can never find proper diction, only friction beneath the blurting of a red glass DINER sign.

Will we ever sip rum and coffee from chipped Swiss cups?
Will we ever be able to shout out “Magnificent!”?
Will the sirens rip through the sky once more???

There’s a madman in Missouri
with a doll head and a gun
driving toward the razor’s edge
licking the blade clean with wide eyes
There’s a rock star dangling from a ceiling
spinning like a paper pinata on pot
a Rorschach test for the OMI
There’s a girl sweating in a Texas garden
wiping away the sweat with a small hand,
nursing her wounds with 100% cotton
stamping out the blood of rejection.

And there’s a manic man behind a typewriter
his heart in his hands
sweating away in this disillusioned reality fantasy
dreaming of hijacks on islands
and saying “bless you” when they let him go
a green Irish doll tapping out code
with a toe tip and a lover’s bone
so one begins to realize
that all of this life, his and hers,
is nothing but one giant, spinning Rorschach test
and we all see, just what we want to see.