Category Archives: Time Machine

The Boy With The Spanish Bayonet

Her cactus bed smelled like butter nectar. She swears that lying down on the thorns helps her back, yet all the red marks there on her skin, looks like she was nearly eaten alive by fire ants.

Fire ants. She remembers the hot summer day when she was maybe 12 and she was playing in a field in Colorado with the boy who lived next door. He was a year or two older and she liked him, so she didn’t mind playing in a hot, thorny field in Colorado.

The fire ants build great volcano looking mounds and they were streaming in and out of the top of them like an army. The boy thought it would be fine and fun to destroy their mounds. He gripped big stones and hurled them at the ants. The sand and dirt splattered like a bomb hit. The ants grew angry, and their movements sped up as if someone pressed a button… And then the bites came, all over her legs, his legs. The pain made her cry, and she was embarrassed, and she ran home.

Her mother was upset that she had gotten bit by the ants while playing with the cute boy next door. She made her stay inside and so she sat near the window and watched him play football with her brothers in the long yard between their houses. When she knew he saw her there, she smiled and made kissy faces at him.

Then her mother came up behind her with a thin stick cut from a lilac bush and in a threatening way she tapped the stick against her motherly palm, and she said, “I don’t want you around that boy. He has problems and will be nothing but trouble for you.”

The girl looked up at her mother. “What problems? He doesn’t have problems. He’s just a boy.”

“He’s not just a boy,” the mother sternly answered. “He’s a dweller in the darkness.”

And perhaps he was, for just the other day he had been out in his front yard wrestling with one of the neighbor boys who lived around the corner and up the hill that led to the foothills. It was supposed to just be a fun thing, but the troubled boy took it too personally and started punching the other in the ribs as hard as he could. When the meeker boy was breathless and writhing on the ground, the troubled boy cut a green spear from a Spanish bayonet plant growing at the edge of the yard and proceeded to stab him in the stomach with the sharp point.

The boy started crying out in pain and that’s when the troubled boy’s mother came bounding out of the house yelling at him to stop. She yanked him aside and berated him in front of the other kids gathered there in the yard. She shook him as she screamed at him, “What are you doing!? You’re hurting him! Stop it! Stop it you crazy child!”

He pulled away from her and grinned. He couldn’t help it. “We were just playing,” he said.

“Stabbing is not playing,” the mother corrected him. “Get in the house!”

As he walked away, he turned and saw that his mother had knelt near the boy he stabbed with the Spanish bayonet, and she was caring for him. She was caring for him, this weak boy, this new boy, this stranger boy. She was caring for him more than she had ever cared for him. Maybe that’s why he was crazy and reckless and dangerous and unstable.

The girl’s name was Linda, and she was Middle Eastern in a way and so her parents were strict. The boy’s name was Coal, but not the normal Cole, Coal like the earthly material. They decided to meet one day in the Netherlands, not the country but a place beyond the new neighborhood that was pressed up against the foothills of the green Rocky Mountains, a place undeveloped and open. There was a strip of forest that was dissected by a cold mountain creek, and there was a trail that ran along the creek and the trail meandered far and deep until it ran up against the very base of the mountains.

It was in these Netherlands that the outsiders would escape to. It was in these Netherlands that Linda and Coal decided to go to together. They walked side-by-side. She reached out to hold his hand. He held it loosely. She stopped and turned to look at him. “Do you want to kiss me?”

He moved quickly and did it. The he turned his attention back to the exploration. “That’s the reason for all life in the world, human life, I mean.”

“What is?” she asked.

“That kiss… A kiss like that is the start of everything for humanity and beyond. Just look around at the world and everyone you see walking or talking or falling down. It’s all because of a kiss.” He picked up a rock and tossed it. They heard it smack against the trunk of a tall pine.

Her heart smiled at the sound of his words. She thought he was everything. “But it takes more than a kiss,” she said.

He stopped and looked at her. “But not today. I want to remember that kiss just the way it happened. Nothing more and nothing less. So, leave it at that.”

“Okay,” she smiled. “I’ll leave it at that.”

“Until I say different… But let’s make a fire. I like to look into the flames. I like to look through the little Russian black doors.”

“What do you see on the other side of those doors?”

“Most of the time I see nothing but more flames. I think that it means that life means nothing to me.”

“How can life mean nothing to you?” she asked as she followed his lead and picked up twigs and set them in a pile. Then she helped him gather stones to make a fire ring.

Coal looked down at the gathering of stones once it was a complete circle. He assembled the sticks inside, laid out the kindling below, set fire to it with a yellow cigarette lighter. The flames attacked the dry wood. There was crackling and smoke and the smell of a campfire.

They sat down on the ground around it. Coal seemed mesmerized. Linda watched him. “What do you see now?”

“I see a future fraught with upheaval… You may want to do yourself a favor and step away from me.”

“My mom says you’re a ‘dweller in the darkness.’”

“She’s not wrong.” Coal turned away from looking at the flames and fixed his eyes on her. “That’s why my name is Coal,” and he spelled it out loud, “C-O-A-L. But that was my doing, not my mother or father’s. I mean, the name and the darkness… Is it true that your family are terrorists?”


“Because everyone at school says your family is from Iran and that you are all terrorists. Your brother, at least, seems like a terrorist to me.”

“He’s not a terrorist. None of us are. People are so stupid. We lived over there because of my dad’s job. That’s where he met my mom. So yeah, I’m part Iranian but I’m not a terrorist. Small minds…”

“Do you want to get high and go listen to Rush in my bedroom?”

“I’ve never gotten high. What’s it like?”

“It’s weird. Hard to explain. But everything changes. Perception changes, sound changes, time changes. I want to see what it’s like to kiss you when I’m high.”

She was intrigued by that idea. “Are you sure I won’t go crazy?”

“I can’t promise you that.”

“Are we ever going to be more than this?”

He ignored her question as he worked to douse the fire with dirt.

“Are we?”

Years later, Linda sat on the edge of her cactus bed and blinked her eyes and took a breath. “What am I doing with my life? What are any of us doing with our lives?”


The Moon Scars of Elysium (1)

Blue balloons bounce in a field of wheat. Church bells toll in the town beyond. The lone white church and its spearfish steeple is from where they clang melodiously, like a chant, a heavy metal chant…

The boy was grinding the tip of his blue ball-point pen into the white lined paper of a notebook. The sheet was ripping, splattering, tossing dust into the air. He was angry because he was tired of being locked up in his room on the second floor of the blue farmhouse on a hill overlooking a meadow and beyond the meadow the tips of the town. The dark rooftops, the verdant treetops, the spearfish steeple of a white church.

The boy went to the lone window of his room when he heard the bells toll. A sheet of blue balloons waltzed across the spring sky. Something was happening but he did not know if it was good or bad. Then down below he saw, running through the yard, his mother, his father, his younger sister. Where were they going in such a hurry? He tried to open the window, but it was nailed shut. He turned and took up his desk chair in his hands and smashed it into the glass. His mother turned to look when she heard it, but only once. She had a sheen of terror about her. She kept running.

The boy cried out, “What about me!?”

Then the bomb hit. A blooming blue wild mushroom leapt skyward on the horizon like in a nightmare. The sun turned purple. Trees bent. The house shook and the boy stumbled backward. He fell, hit his head, and went to sleep.

When the boy woke the world was silent except for a voice down in the front yard. He could hear it clearly through the broken window. Someone talking to the ground.

“There’s just such an abundance of things. There are just so many things. Why do we have so many things… but our hearts are empty.”

The boy got up off the floor and went to the broken window. He looked out onto a creation that was now winter, but the color of the snow wasn’t pure white like it used to be… Now there was a tinge of blue to it. All of it.

And there was a hunched man puttering about the yard and muttering at the ground. Something soft and disturbing.

“Are you lost?” the boy called out.

The man’s head snapped in various directions as he searched for the source of the voice.

“Up here,” the boy yelled.

The man finally locked onto him. “What are you doing in there, boy?”

“I live here. What are you doing in my yard?”

The man turned away and mumbled some more to himself before answering. “I’m digging for gold. Don’t you know everyone wants gold? Why just look around at the world now. Look what they’ve done to it. All they cared about was the gold. And they didn’t even know where it really came from.”

The boy hadn’t fully paid attention to him because his eyes had latched onto the vision before him. The full scope of the blue-tainted snow that covered most everything. The smoke drifting up from the town like ballet. The spearfish steeple of the church scorched and cracked. The bells were silent. The trees across the whole of the landscape now stripped bare of everything they once wore. From where he stood, it looked like an abstract forest of burnt bones.

“What happened?” the boy murmured to himself, and then louder to the man below him, “Have you seen my family?”

The man took a double-take. “Family? Boy, there aren’t any more families. The Greedsters took care of that. The war maniacs put an end to that. The bullet lovers decided that. Love turned upside down demolished all of that.”

“Who are you?” the boy wanted to know.

The man made a ‘hmmpfhhh’ sort of noise. “And what do you plan on doing with my good name and valuable identity?”

“Nothing. I just want to know what it is. Don’t you want to know what mine is?”

The man looked up at him, turned away, and then looked back up at him. “I don’t know that I want to know. Are you good or are you of the devilish persuasion.”

The boy frowned as he thought about it. “I don’t know if I am either one… Or maybe I’m both.”

“How old are you?” the man wanted to know.

“I’m 12. At least, I feel like I am. How old are you?”

“Doesn’t matter anymore. Age is just restlessness etched in the air. We just wait for the calendar to spin. We wait and do nothing. Lives once had meaning.”

“Well, then at least tell me what year you were born in?”

The man raised a hand and wagged a finger up at him. “Ahhh… I see your wayward divinity at play. You’re trying to trick me into telling you… My age. Let’s just say I’m old enough to always be smarter than you.” He laughed, then he clutched himself and shivered.

“You should come inside. Come inside and unlock my bedroom door and I’ll come out and build a fire and make you some tea. Do you like tea?”



“A boy of 12 who makes tea?”

“Yes. I’m different. That’s why they locked me up.”

Once freed from his room by the stranger, the boy went to work boiling water by means of magic thoughts. He willed his young muscles to load wood from the lean-to out back into the black iron stove and set it alight. The house soon warmed, and the tea soon steamed in two fragile cups. They sat across from each other at a table and sipped and stared.  

The man was run down, his floppy coat and underclothes were torn and dirty. The shoes on his feet had holes in them. His hair and face were unruly.

“How have you survived?” the boy wanted to know. “How have you lived through whatever happened out there?”

“Oh this?” he gestured toward his appearance. “This is the culmination of a very hard life, young man. A very bleak life. A life made more bleak by the ways of so many wicked, wicked men… And women… And even children.”

The boy smiled at him. The man was pitiful yet spirited. Almost comical in a sad clown sort of way. “I want to know who you are. I want to know your name and how you came about to being in my front yard yammering on like you were doing. I think I have a right to that. I want to know what’s going on. I was kept isolated for so long.”

The man stared at him grimly for a moment. “It’s the end of the world as we know it, boy. The end. I don’t know how I got here. I just ended up here. There’s nowhere else to go except wherever you can go.” His voice had a scratchy overtone to it. He raised himself up a bit and stretched a hand across the table. “The name’s Algernon Wasp. And before you doubt me… Don’t. It’s true. And I like it.”

The boy smiled again and took his hand and shook it. His skin was cold and rough. “I like it, too,” he said. “I’m Tacitus Cornwall, and this is my house.”

Algernon sat back and squinted at the boy as if to study him on a deeper level. “You’re not really 12, are you?”

“I was once,” Tacitus answered. “I’m just not sure if it was a day ago, or a thousand days ago.”


The Harmonious Calliope Fortune Machine

Photo by Fernando Paleta on

Midnight moon plus 33 is the title of his latest thought. A man named Lance Birmingham and nearing the end of the road sits in a chair near an open window and listens to the rain and the emperor sighs of summer cicadas. Someone’s playing Monopoly out on the lighted screened-in porch across the way. He can see how it juts out the end of the neighbor’s house that sits too close by.

Three kids in pajamas. They can’t sit still. He can hear their bare feet slap against the plank flooring when they run around. Who runs around when they play Monopoly? Maybe not kids—preteens, full teens, adults who act like children. What’s the difference, he wonders. Unlike him, they have all the time in the world. Or do they? What about a lightning strike, or what if an alligator gets up in the yard and sucks one into its powerful jaws during a lightning bug hunt.

He can hear their squeals, laughter, taunts upon one another that float out through the thin mosquito netting in the window frames. One of them just landed on Park Place and it’s breaking them to pieces. A girl complains loudly of going bankrupt. Maybe she’ll jump off the ledge of a tall building. But then again, maybe she’ll just go to bed, wake up in the morning and go to school. But then again, maybe she’ll get gunned down in the cafeteria just as she’s about to dig into her fruit cup. Where are the peaches for justice?

The tumbling dice scurry like mice and helicopters now fill the air above our playgrounds.

You bastards don’t want to save anything. You just want to corrupt your own corruption. Those were Lance Birmingham’s last thoughts as he crawled into bed and turned off the lamp on the table beside him. Click. Quiet. Dark. Mostly dark save for the glow coming from his harmonious calliope fortune machine that sat atop a well-polished dresser of deep-veined oak.

The very first thing Lance Birmingham would do every morning is go to the harmonious calliope fortune machine and pull out the white slip of paper from the dispenser and read it. Sometimes it gave medical annotations, like it did yesterday when it spit out: Your heart will not stop today. Good. Other days the little white slip of paper will show something completely random and mostly of little concern. Like the day it coughed up: There will be no newspaper on the front walk today because the industry as a whole is collapsing. But so what? Just get on your computer, Lance. The entire world exists in an electrified vapor.

Yes, the harmonious calliope fortune machine knew his name somehow even though he had never programmed it to do so.

“Well, someone did,” he told his invisible wife. Well, she wasn’t really invisible. He spoke to her picture. He carried it with him all around the house. It was in a silver frame, and she had the prettiest smile. He missed her.  

On the most recent of his days, Lance Birmingham shuffles out the front door and looks around the yard. It’s about 6:30 in the morning and the day is just beginning to yawn and the grass is wet with dew. No newspaper once again even though the harmonious calliope fortune machine said nothing about it this time. He forgot what it had said. He tries to remember but it just isn’t getting through the thick walls of his corroding brain.

He goes inside to make himself a cup of coffee. He sits at the table in the mostly quiet kitchen and waits. The sound of the coffee maker dribbling the juice of the gods into a red cup is the exception to the silence. The cup had belonged to his wife. It has her name on it: Monika. He gets up, retrieves the cup, and sits back down. He drops in some artificial sweetener and a couple glops of flavored creamer. An egg yolk-colored glow fills the room as the sunlight outside stands taller, a nuclear soldier. He takes a sip of the coffee. Now it is very quiet.

He notices the slip of paper from the harmonious calliope fortune machine. He must have set it down on the kitchen table in his aimless wandering to get to the morning newspaper that never came. He picks it up with a shaking hand and looks at it. It’s blank. No words at all, just an empty white space. He hears a whisper fall upon his ear. He suddenly turns around and sees his wife standing there. It’s Monika, young and golden. She smiles and holds out her arms. She isn’t inside a picture anymore.


Time Machine Clouds

Time Machine Clouds.
Photo by Pixabay on

She’s scared of me I can tell.

Not that I’ll do some horrible damage.

But that I’ll just mess up my own heart and mind with memories that aren’t even mine.

Because I’m a train with several wings.

And the stops we make are to all sorts of different places at the same time.

The steam stack release like time machine clouds… Puffing.

The whistle long and guttural and hopeful.

People pattering about on the platforms in clothes appropriate for the various times.

But I have no idea where to get off or if I even can.

I’m somehow glued to the seat like in a dream.

All I can do is look out the window and scream.

But then I settle into the movement, a verdant massage.

Like somewhere in Italy, the sky is hot, the clouds are sweating, the blue is melting.

My guts are wallowing in upended nerves, I need to catch my breath for just a moment.

The conductor walks by and hands me a package wrapped in yellow.

He tells me not to open it until I get to my final destination.

“In case it’s a bomb,” he bends and whispers. He straightens up and reaches into his pocket and pulls something out. “Peanuts?” he asks.

“If only there were an ocean,” I answer. “I’m afraid of choking.”

He takes offense, snaps his heels together and walks off. I can hear his voice in the narrow distance trail off. “Peanuts…”

I look out the window to remind myself I’m on a train and not an airplane, but then that’s where I am wrong. The meadows of white clouds below my feet correct my thinking, my dreaming, my pure reality.

I look down into my lap and I am still holding the package wrapped in yellow. I don’t care what he said, and I open it anyways. The sound of ripping paper wrestles some others from sleep. Some moan and groan and look around. There’s a small box beneath the paper. I hold it to my ear, and I can hear something skittering about and breathing.

I open the box and a yellow canary flies out. It flutters all about the cabin. It bumps into people’s heads, chirps, and claws. Other passengers are flailing their arms and hands and teeth. One man tried to swallow it. Another man was screaming and tried to open the emergency exit door. Because of a bird? A canary? What a fool, I thought. And yet another man had to punch him in the face to knock him out and tame his irrational outburst.

Then the turbulence came as we were descending into… Denver, I suppose. The Rocky Mountains can be a bit rocky. The toasted landscape below is topped with a tab of buttered pollution. It grossly melts. The skyscrapers poke through it all.

I get that weird feeling in my stomach as we quickly come down, the ground is rushing by, the wheels hit and there’s that momentary rough nudge. The voice of the pilot comes on over the sound system. Most of the time, you can never understand a damn word they say. But this time it was clear. “Nailed it!” she said. The other passengers laughed and cheered. Had we been in some sort of danger? I wondered to myself. I guess it didn’t matter anymore.

Inside the terminal of Denver International, I was the only one remaining at the luggage carousel. I watched it go around and around and around. There were no more bags. They finally shut it down. A man came along. His head was down, and he was sweeping the floor. Then all the lights went out and it was very quiet. I ignited the flashlight on my cell phone and began to walk. My footsteps fell heavy and loud on the tiled floor. I was always the last one to depart.


Elves Chipping Ice

Elves Chipping Ice in a cold, lonely city.

A dark hotel room in a cold Midwest city. The only light there is comes through the love slit in the drapes. The bed in the room is a California King. It’s large, alone, built for four, but cradling one. The air smells of ghosts, gin, and God. There’s a noise in the deep uncomfortable band of golden gray light. The heater box by the window is puffing suffocating breath as the glittering ruby blue town twinkles like radiated space.

“I’m going to be late for my flight,” he tells her as she rolls like a comfortable cat on the giant bed.

“There will be other flights,” she says. “Come keep me warm. It’s so cold in here. It’s like elves have been chipping ice.”

He turns away from the window to look at her there. She looks welcoming yet evil.

“That’s a weird thing to say,” he tells her.

She shrugs, unwraps a piece of gum and puts it into her mouth. “What can I say. I’m a weird girl.”

“Why are you trying to sabotage my flight plans?” he asks her accusatorily.

She props herself up on her elbows and gives him a dirty look. “If you don’t want to spend time with me… Just say so. But keep in mind, I came a long way to meet you.”

“This whole thing was your idea,” he said.

“And you agreed to it… Reluctantly.”

“You know I must get back home. I have work tomorrow.”

She scoffs and moves to the other side of the bed. She sits up on the edge, her back to him.

He turns to the window again, spreads the drapes like he would a woman’s legs. The city is there, staring back. Tattooed gray homeless shelters, black as witches’ wings ramp and soar, the energy cuts through like a whip. Tall buildings penetrate the atmosphere of aluminum blood, erections of steel and glass, the people inside creating humanity bombs. Lights pop, flicker everywhere and even there. Strangers stand on a bridge and kiss before one of them walks away in the neon rain. Somewhere in a cardboard box a broken man is sad about the decrepit condition of his underwear and wonders about the angels. Where are they now? In their bourgeois arenas of hypocrisy.

Her disappearance mingled with the thunderclaps. There was nothing left of her on the bed. He wondered, had she ever even been there? He turned away from the window once more to verify he was truly alone. There was another round of thunder. He turned to look out the window again just as a crooked line of lightning illuminated the sky. He winces.

He glanced down at the winding water burrowing through the guts of the city. That’s when he saw them. Warships of elves coming up the canal. Pointed ears twitching, ice picks in small hands. The sight of them is far more ominous than the Winter Warlock in an animated childhood Christmas tale. There’s a sudden hard knock at the door. He whips his head around as his heart flies up his throat. He stumbles to the door and puts his eye to the peephole. Her blonde fish-eye image is pouting. She pounds on the door again with a flattened palm. He undoes all the locks and pulls it open.

He doesn’t know who she is until she says something. “It’s just me baby. What’s wrong?”

He points to the window. “Have you seen what’s going on out there?”

“It’ starting to storm,” she says as she looks at herself in the mirror and tosses her hair around. “Do you want to go get breakfast before I take you to the airport?”

“I’m not going to the airport!” he protests. “Not when there’s elves attacking the city.”

She spun around to look at him. She noted that he was completely serious. “What? Elves?”

“Come look out the window,” he encouraged her, and he took her by the hand and led her. He yanked the drapes apart. “See!”

She looked out and saw nothing except the city wrapped in a thunderstorm. She glanced at him, concerned. She touched his trembling face. “I think you need to see someone… Again.”

“What are you talking about. I can’t see someone when the city is under siege.”

“There’s nothing out there. It’s just a passing storm, my love.”

“Your love?”

“Absolutely. Do you want to sit down. Or we could go to the lobby for some coffee. You always enjoy your morning coffee.”

He didn’t look at her when he spoke. “No. Go ahead. I may come down later. Just give me a few minutes to collect my wayward thoughts.”

She went to kiss him. Her lips tasted like grape water. “Okay. But don’t stay up here too long. You must get on that plane eventually.”

“I’ll miss you,” he mumbled as she went out the door. It closed with a heavy clunk.

He stood in the lobby and looked around at all the people there. There was a lingering fog of meaningless copulating conversations. He didn’t see her. He went to the front desk. The woman behind it smiled at him. “Good morning. Checking out?”

“Not yet. I’m looking for my wife. Have you seen her? We were supposed to meet for coffee.”

“Your wife, sir?”

“Yes. My wife.”

The desk clerk leaned forward and whispered something to him. “I believe she’s already left.”


“I saw her get into a taxi with another man.”

“Another man?”


“Do you know where they went?”

“No, sir. No idea at all. But if you ask me, something’s not quite right.” She took a step back as a breathing black cloud came through the front doors of the hotel. “You better run!” she called out.

The horde of elves came upon them all there, screaming and shouting, thrusting their ice picks into everything.

He felt something pierce his heart and he fell to the floor. He gasped. His head swam and his hearing faded as he looked up at the dust and chaos all around him. He just closed his eyes and waited until it became quiet again.

There was a long pause in his life and when his eyes finally did flicker open once again, she was sitting in a chair beside his hospital bed staring at her phone. She jumped up as soon as she noticed he was stirring. She held his hand and her eyes danced all over his tired, whiskered face.

“What happened?” he wanted to know.

She squeezed his hand and almost cried. “You had another one of your spells.”

He tried to sit up. “It wasn’t a spell. It was real. It was all real.”

“Baby,” she whispered. “You told the doctors you were attacked by elves with ice picks.”

“I was.”

She sighed. “I’m going to run down to the cafeteria for a snack. I won’t be long.”

He watched her walk out of the room… Again. She was always walking out of the room.

A young nurse came in. She smelled like a freshly cleaned restroom. She smiled at him as she checked his vitals. She glanced at the monitor. She wrote something down. “Any pain?” she asked.

“Just my heart.”

She panicked. “You’re having chest pains?”

“Not like a heart attack. Emotionally. I’m broken. Isn’t that what it says in all those notes?”

She smiled at him. “The sun is out. Would you like me to open your curtains more?”

“Maybe a little bit. I’m not much for sun.”

“Okay,” she said as she moved toward the window, and he noticed when she turned and brushed her hair back… She had pointed ears. 

His wife was the one who walked in when he was attacking the nurse. She was sprawled out on the floor, and he was on top of her. His hands were around her throat. “Baby!” she screamed out. “Stop!” She went to pull him off the nurse. He fell back. The breath of the nurse sputtered like a dying engine. His wife ran out into the hall screaming for help.

A team of nurses came thundering into the room and secured him. Someone called for security. The nurse on the floor was attended to. His eyes darted around madly as they worked to get him restrained in the bed. He caught a glimpse of his wife cowering in the corner. She was crying. A gurney was brought in and the nurse he attacked was placed upon it and wheeled off. He wondered if she was still alive. “That elven scum should not be allowed to live!” he cried out. Haldol was ordered by a doctor. A beautiful hospital pharmacy tech in tight scrub pants that accentuated her perfect ass went to work. The frantic day eventually ended, and the moon came out and barked softly above the city.

His imagination often went on wild rides in dark and lonely hotel rooms in midwestern cities with a brutal edge. He breathed deeply as he looked out the window. The storm was over. The elves were gone. He could hear the clock ticking away in his chest. His heart. He turns to look at the king-sized bed. It’s neatly made. Smooth. Empty. The digital clock on the table reads 3:13 AM. He hates it when he can’t sleep. He hates it especially when he’s alone. If she had been there, he could have at least held her close, felt her warmth. But she was somewhere else. He picked up his cell phone and called her.

“Baby? What’s wrong?” she said in a very sleepy voice.

“I just miss you.”

“Baby. You’ll see me in two days.”

“Right. I’ll let you get back to sleep, my love.”

He saw her beautiful face as she said it. “I love you so much.”

He ended the call and sat on the edge of the bed in the quiet, lonely room. He took a deep breath and went on living.


Tomah Graph


Censor me still-life
take my Tomah Graph
swimming in the Hollywood Holiday Inn pool
now drowning in a pool of my own
painful frustrations and jitters
uninvited guests in the gray of night
this brain hurts like cinema for Alex
have another stick of chewing gum
another stick of dynamite to ease the grief
you so gallantly feel at this moment
these white office lights bleaching me pale
invading my blood and neuropathic welly wells
the gondolas paddle through my veins of Venice
churning up all the nicotine clots and bad vibes
where is my slice of American apple pie
I must of dropped it in Vietnam
when the grenade went off and all was nonsense

Cradling three bags of light in my coat pockets
as I walked along
the Lake Marion Passage Trail some 30 years later
I noticed the sky was still the same deep blue
the leaves of the trees still fell in perfect rhythm
every year
the dissection of Autumn
Saroyan and Whitman staring down
Jack passed out in a beached aluminum fishing boat
the narrow, quiet roads lined with the dangling limbs of tall, skinny trees
the Spanish moss hanging there like the fallen locks of a stoned Medusa
the quiet so soothing, the calm so intoxicating, the wet so disheartening
but a woodsy wander it shall be
in the rural confines, gloriously gorgeous confines, of the southern Carolina place

Until… Put my fist through the timber lodge paneling
the boiling inside again
asking for it again
just asking for it again, the other side of the coin.

Ghost Mints


Winter’s weight and dust galore
Eyes heavy in the pain of dawn
cheekbones ache
whiskey madness takes its toll
on an ever-building mint bridge to heaven, scars, delusions
I’d be cutting the lawn
if there were a lawn to cut
I’d be drinking soda drops and pops
if I wasn’t a ghost
such a ghost
walking through walls
wading in the stalls
I might be painting the fence
if there were a fence to paint,
the barricade is metal, so rusted
stained with the sweats
of dashing immigrants
this mind so invaded
where are you lumber lady now?
on the seven seas forgetting
fornicating the sailor boys
as I drown in cold crab legs
you flag hags
put your pink slippers away
and start another war
be careful
you kings of New Hampshire,
you Queens of Albuquerque
do be careful.