What the hell are you thinking!?

I need to get rid of an old TV.

While scouring the internet to try and find a place to recycle an old TV, I’m discovering there are not a lot of options – at least where I live. What do you do when something once shiny and brand new is nothing but something old and used? But that’s how it is with everything in this world. Cars, clothes, houses, appliances, toys, carpet, buildings … people. Used up and tossed out to make room for the new breed.

The computer I am using to type this on is an HP all-in-one desktop that’s about 10 years old. I have been mulling over in my head the purchase of a new one. But why? This one still works. But the lure of something shiny and new is there. The world makes it so, I guess. We are trained well.

And then there’s the world itself, now cycling through to another season. My favorite of them all – autumn. We’ve been sleeping with the windows open the last few nights – haven’t been able to do that in months. Our summer in the mid-state wasn’t as brutal as past summers have been, but it was brutal enough. July was the worst. On many days we topped out with a heat index of well over 100. I hate summer. It’s too hot. I don’t like the choking and sweltering blaze of the day suffocating my soul.

But now that it’s autumn, I can breathe again. The air has that crispness, like chilled apple cider in a blustery orchard. When I was a kid, they called it Indian Summer. I don’t know if that’s a politically correct term anymore because I don’t ever hear anyone say that. But it makes sense. And the Native Americans’ take on summer is better than regular summer.

I’ve never been a beach person. I’ve never enjoyed running around in the sand like David Hasselhoff. I like to look at the ocean, but I don’t want to hang out at the beach all day. I’m not a swimmer. I’m more of a close to drowning type person. Summer just isn’t me. My wife feels the same way about the seasons. Maybe that’s why we gel so well.

The days have been beautiful here. The nights have been cool, and the sky has been full of stars. I often step out onto our front porch just to look at them. Even though I can hear the distant hum of the interstate that runs near us unseen, there’s not a lot of light pollution where we are and so the stars and planets and other spinning objects are very bright and clear. I like to search for UFOs. On some days I wish one would come down and just take me away from this messed up world.

Speaking of UFOs – I used to live in New Mexico in the desert. Talk about clear skies and astronomic visuals. There were times sitting out there that I could count meteorite after meteorite streaking by overhead. One night I saw 11. I miss it there, but then I don’t. It was a different time and a different place, and I was a different me. I’m better now, I hope. I’m definitely more settled. Where the desert night used to give me a peace, now it’s my wife and our beautiful simple life together that does that. Ten years ago, I never thought I’d be where I am now. Our personal seasons change. They stretch, twirl, bend, settle.

It’s October tomorrow. That’s a good month. Hopefully, I’ll be rid of this television set and life can go on.


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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Wallflowers of Chemistry

You invented love
like dragons spit fire
the longing when you are gone,
is an immediate reaction
I’m drawn to your eyes
I’m drawn to the night
the full vibrato of darkness
the stars splashed so randomly across the universe
we can touch them if we try

Candles melt away so quickly here
this otherworld, this neverwhere
We are a collision of chemistry
wrapped in coils of electricity
The ache of our day
becomes the joy of our night
empty wine glasses and ghosts
the bluest tears,
the reddest blood

The valve has been wrestled loose
the drips drop incessantly throughout the house
Impenetrable venom
impenetrable malaise
Someone broke the switch on the furnace
and it’s coughing up hot laughing gas
and I choke on my own experiences
Am I sad?
Am I happy?
Am I a supernova,
Or just merely a simple star,
blinking randomly
from within this skull of space?

Am I a colored moon
peacefully napping
with a nightcap perched upon my point
Or am I a black hole,
sucking on everything that exists?
Or am I merely a chemical byproduct
that sits in an empty room,
waiting for night to pass
and day to begin,
when I can talk to you
and feel my heart thunder against the world

But sometimes,
I just want to be a rocking chair,
swaying gently
amidst the dust of a long-gone grandparent’s den,
listening to the easy tick of the clock on the mantle,
watching the footsteps fade deeper into the carpet,
waiting for the sounds and smells
of a childhood lost forever
lost in the woods of autumn,
across the icy bridge of winter,
into the wet grass of spring
and along the thick dreams of summer
on some Midwestern small-town porch

And so,
when do dreams end
and reality begin?
When is night’s finale
and day’s birth?
One fluid sweep of time
and the Earth still tilts
and I still stare at the ceiling,
catching glimpses of you
in my mind’s eye
the baby’s breath in my fist falls,
landing in a blanket of fresh snow,
you pull up into the white gravel
and I can see your smile through the windshield
my heart still rattles
as the sun breaks through the clouds, and your hand clutches me in dreams.

Sun of Dirt

Why is this world so dirty?
why are the lumps playing King?
I look around, look around
can’t see anything
can’t avert my eyes
to all the splashes of filth
that survive

Dirty walls and dirty streets
a laundromat full of dirty sheets
stained with all those lovers’ dreams
helpless infants, toddlers too
drinking from dirty bottles
with their dirty little mouths
wet with the slobber
of an ineloquent tongue

The dirty gravel lots
lie like flattened skeletons on the grid
littered with glass eyes,
broken bottle-rocket lies
there is no festival here
this is the Kingdom of Broken Dreams
where failed, exhausted lives retire
and bed down in this filthy hole called:
A MEANINGLESS DOT ON THE MAP

The sky is gray but bruised with some blue
there’s a Latin girl walking
she’s overstuffed in a pair of dirty jeans
Does she see it too?
with those frightened eyes,
wayward and crooked eyes void of concern
does she see how dirty the world really is?
or will it all vanish
when she crumples up nice and tight
in front of her dirty TV screen
before goodnight

To my far left
a crumbling beauty shoppe
so, this is irony
a beauty shoppe
left half-eaten by a bulldozer
crumbling beneath this wide, empty sky
the shingles reaching out from the torn edges
like broken fingertips
the guts of beauty torn asunder
again, left to rot on a dirty lot

All these crumbling houses
shelters with fractures
pained monsters dwell within
clutching scepters of whiskey
and bashing out teeth

No scuba diving today
the water has all dried up
leaving us with ink spot scars
on the brown land
it’s all so BROWN here
where is my lovely GREEN?
luscious, wet green
Luscious wet BLUE
it’s just all brown and gray
like the trees themselves
spindly, gray skeletons
in their slow-motion seizures
prying the horizon open
with their brittle, wayward branches

The desolate ranches
plots of invisible earth
miles and miles out into the void
how do they live there?
how do they breathe there?
when the relentless summer sun
pounds at them with its golden fist.


Unintentional Evil

I can’t say anything anymore, it doesn’t fit through the walls — the sun paper is too thin over the windows, and no one knows I’m still alive inside. There is no fortune to be had behind these LA eyes of sparkling white and bright.

And I saw a window cleaner on a skyscraper fall off today. His body looked like a big X as it went end over end in the air. There was a big pile of mashed potato red in the street and then the coppers came and buzzed everyone away and roped off the scene. I managed to take a few pictures but burned them later because they were too gruesome — left a bad taste in my operation mouth.

There’s a big exclamation point in my head, my brain screaming for life relief as I sit on the bed in a darkened room looking out the big picture window at everyone’s Christmas lights. Christmas makes me sad like a snail and I have a bear trap set in the chimney. The news will say that Santa is dead, but then we’ve all known that for a long time – ho, ho, ho horror show aglow.

Alone at the holiday table with my three-pronged fork stuck in a big, green ham — looks like Martian flesh from Area 51 served up on a flying saucer platter of humming silver. And I feel a sliver in my soul — a chilled sliver that guts my soul like a fish.

Someone evil snickers in an empty room. My thoughts all Merry-Go-Round rainbows and black and white radiation eyes and slim summer thighs — flashes of fleshes so perfect and pure — next to the goat house, the monkey bungalow, the glass cases of human beings, like on trippy Planet of the Apes.

The grass in the wide park is full of picnics and pee — shiny happy people with tattoos and guns make gang threats next to orange dragsters and there is great conflagration in the congregation of murderous intent and sin.

Cigarette smoke stings scorpions’ eyes — zoo keep bum cheek baby drags a green hose, a snake, dribbling water and venom on the sidewalk, and everyone is evil at least one day out of their life’ despite any good gospel they claim is in their heart.

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Gwenhwyfar

A rainbow is seen coming out of gray clouds over farmland in Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee. (Photo by A.A. Cinder)
A rainbow in Wisconsin from inside a moving car / A.A. Cinder

Some say they only fall, but I say they walk among us. She walks among me even now. She would never admit to being an angel – I don’t think she believes in them. I would call her a guardian of the heart, if nothing else. She’s taught me to cast out the enemy love once was and replace it with the real spirit of it. And like angels usually do, she came out of nowhere one night when I was alone. She fell from the sky like a derailed comet and exploded everything that was already blown to bits – and what I mean by everything is everything in a good way. I’ve often wondered if I died and she was just helping me along down Heaven or Hell Boulevard – she has carved a soulscape of wonder, my wonder, her wonder, our wonder, two wondering wanderers standing still and cracking until they run into each other, from out of the air just like that – there was Gwenhwyfar.

She came down from the sky on a glowing escalator and I waited for her in the parking lot. But sometimes I think she was maybe there all along, maybe my entire life and I just didn’t see her because they can be invisible. She looks human. She has all the right parts in the right places. A great ass. There is a glow about her though, like sun coming up out of her guts at times. I would call her a beautiful angel. What else could I call her? She helps me when I have problems with life. She’s a pretty decent angel.

I asked her about Jesus, and she said he was a pretty nice guy – just a bit upset about what we do in his name. Gwenhwyfar told me she was an angel of words – the one who corrected the language of the universe. She’s beautiful like that. I’m surprised she eats actual food because I didn’t think angels needed it. She makes me a lot of frozen pizzas because she doesn’t like to cook much. She’s afraid she’ll burn the tips of her wings on the stovetop and that’s not something easily fixed. She watches over me like they say they do – a love never wavering. She can make it not so bad of a day when I am in mental Hades, roasting and getting stabbed, mentally and emotionally. She lifts me up and out of the ashes and shows me the true meaning of love. She is love. She is real faith.

And when the duties of our earthly days are done, she sits with me in the lamplit room of red, and I hold her in the stillness, an episode of House Hunters humming in the distance. I hold her face and tilt her head to kiss her lips… And in that last taste of her before she sleeps, I am fed love, and bow to the mending of a broken heart.

Pink Shirts in Cuckoo Land

it’s laughing about a pink shirt that matters

Pink shirt hanging on a rack in hot land Nashland 

the mannequins greet with greater smiles than the real ones 

corporate propaganda BS blurbs hanging, dangling all around the world 

to coax the penniless to remain penniless, enslaved, inflamed, amazed by the threads sewn by the dead in third-world jungle towns of lumber and dirty sandwiches 

tussled jungle juice at the straw hut bar 

afro shot glasses watching scrambled CNN

machine gun toddies burning flags, slathering the bed bugs with flames

the world all-around a crooked mess

the hate, the slain, the empty and ignorant souls making godless claims of god

it’s all the same

from end to end of Amorika

this global force for greed

brown sewing fingertips

pin-pricked like diabetic blood

so the PR smiles drip on

the glossy lives of commercialized bliss drip on

my wife’s beautiful Sonic Ocean Water eyes drip on

and she is my sanctuary

love is thy sanctuary

family is thy sanctuary

for the world has offered so little

but yet into the world she fell like an angel

all the rest is glittery ash

it’s this bond of love that matters

it’s laughing about a pink shirt that matters

it’s collapsing all the doubts and false dreams like a circus tent, kick out the poles, let the world blow

to give of myself is all I have left

to wrap myself in and all around her 

to furiously love like fire

despite the chill of the Earth