More Progress!

I’ve been lucky enough so far this month to be able to keep up with my goal of 2,000 words a day. I’ll be hitting 36k tonight. In my opinion, the story’s going great. It’s still hard for me to believe I started this project with a single line in my head. Anyway, Chapter Eight is pretty short. Right now, it’s about six pages. I figure it’s a nice little tidbit that helps tie the room together, so here you go. Enjoy!

 

“What is that, bubble gum?” Carl asked.
“Coconut. Is your nose broken?” Bill replied.
“It smells like bubble gum. I can’t help it if none of the assholes in the air freshener factory have ever smelled a coconut before. I’d buy them all a trip to Hawaii if I could.”
“Florida has coconuts.”
“So?”
“It’s closer. It’d be cheaper to send them there.”
“I don’t give a shit where it would be cheap to send them. That’s not the point.”
“No, I’m just saying Florida is still tropical, and it’s closer than Hawaii. It makes more sense.”
“Do you hear what you’re saying? Ah, fuck. Whatever. Bill, give me the diary.”
Bill pulled the writer’s diary out of the glove box and handed it to Carl. Carl picked out the loose-leaf pages and handed them back to Bill. When they stopped at a red light, Carl opened the diary and flipped to a random page.
“God, this guy whined. He was like a little kid, you know that?”
“I know. I read a little of it yesterday. He goes on and on every day about missing his daddy or his sister.”
“Yeah, it’s like, dude, go for a frickin drive. See um already.”
“Why did you say the old guy next door had this?”
“I don’t know. I bet stole it from the house. It was empty for the whole winter.” Carl said. He sneezed into a tissue, then blew his nose into it.
“Carl, if you’re that sick, I’m not sitting in this car for another three days with you. Screw that. I don’t want to be sick right at the start of the weekend.”
“It’s allergies, Bill.”
“How do you know?”
Carl threw the tissue into a plastic bag that he kept looped around his shift knob for trash. He wiped his nose again, this time with his sleeve. Bill opened his window and turned his head towards it, afraid Carl was wrong, and he would get sick breathing the air in the car. The pair were driving back to their office outside of Boston. A few days earlier, they’d received a call from someone saying Francisco had the writer’s diary. Whoever it was, knew they were working on the sequel to their book on Radwin Ali. They were doing their best to turn the house into legend. As they were rummaging through Francisco’s drawers, they saw his stone carving gear. Bill walked around to the back of the kitchen to take get a better look at the sculpture when he saw it through a window that was further away. He shouted to Carl, telling him what he’d found.
“Good. Maybe the bastard will buy the house next door to keep other folks from moving in. If we’re lucky, he’ll die in that house instead of his own. Imagine if that happened. We’d be famous for all this crazy ass non-fiction.”
“I guess we would. I don’t want anyone else dying, though.”
“Bill, he shot a gun into the air to scare us off last time we were here. You better bet at least one of us is dying if he finds us here now.”
“Got it!” Bill shouted. He’d found the diary in the drawer at the end of the kitchen counter.
Carl dashed over. He ripped the diary out of Bill’s hands and rifled through it.
“Shit. This is it. Everything we need to do the next book is right here.”
“Man, it’s going to be nice not to have to stay in this hell hole interviewing grumpy folks again.”
“That’s for sure.”
The two ran out towards their car, parked on the opposite side of the film students’ house. When they were about to pass the front steps of the porch, Bill stopped and ran up them. He put his hands up against the glass of the front door and peered in to see if he could see anything obviously useful. Carl continued to their car, hopping in and starting it. He starred at the wall of the house where Radwin Ali had crashed his car. It was incredible, a miracle that there was no damage. The first few feet of the house above the ground were concrete, but it wasn’t unusually thick. The turquoise paint on the siding above the concrete was chipping. Underneath was a nasty dark gray that must have been the old color of the whole house. How did that car not plow through the wall? Carl wondered.
Bill came running around the corner and slid into the passenger seat. He popped the glove box open and tossed the diary into it, then slammed it shut again. They drove off down the dirt road, going the opposite direction of the town. Neither of them wanted to run in to Francisco. Unfortunately, it meant adding another couple hours to their trip. Because it was early, they decided to stay in the town to the north instead of driving straight home. On the drive to the town, Bill noticed that the scent coming into the car from outside was stronger than the pine scented air freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror. When they put up the windows as it got colder, he noticed the pine scent left completely. That afternoon, as they were walking around town looking for food, Bill bought a new air freshener. It was a brown, two-dimensional tree that was supposed to smell like coconut.
“So, if this Christopher Lawson guy didn’t get shot by his ex-wife, you think he would have still killed himself?” Bill asked, watching Carl thumb through the book.
“It’s hard to say. I had a friend in college who committed suicide. That guy was normal as hell. You never know what’s going through people’s heads.”
“Oh, yeah. He could have moved out to this quiet little town with it on his mind. Maybe he was so nice because he was a little coo-coo.”
“You’re saying you’re not crazy, Bill?”
“I’m not crazy. Plus, if being nice makes you crazy, you’re not crazy.”
“Ha! Got me there.” Carl said. The light turned green and he dropped the diary between his seat and the center console.
Bill lit a cigarette. He rolled his window down a few inches. The smoke from the cigarette between his fingers was sucked right out of the car. Carl wanted a cigarette as soon as he smelled Bills. He lit one and rolled down his window.
Carl and Bill had been working together for five years when they started writing the book about Radwin Ali. They met on a collaboration project between two papers. When they finished the project, they talked about how well they worked together over a few beers. Then and there, a little drunk, they decided to go into business together. Coincidentally, they both dreamed of being non-fiction writers when they were young boys. It was something that always intrigued them. Their fathers encouraged them because, the way they understood it, they thought the boys were interested in becoming journalists. In reality, Bill and Carl dreamed of working on a project similar to Capote’s, “In Cold Blood” or Bugliosi’s, “Helter Skelter”. Four years of freelance writing later, Radwin Ali ran his oversized convertible into the side of his house. Carl and Bill’s days of eating rice and beans for every meal were over.
When wind of the writer’s death got to Massachusetts, they hit up all their sources for weeks trying to find out more. When the anonymous phone call came in, they’d given up trying to get enough information about the writer to put together a book about him. That call solidified their reputation as a non-fiction powerhouse. Years later, they’d go on to build one of the largest true-crime publishing companies of their time. The company, Secret Entrance, would go public fifteen years later. Bill would die of a heart attack before seeing any profit from the initial public offering. His first would weaken him, his second would finish the job. Carl was to ride the crest of the wave until the bitter end, when traditional publishing companies were slaughtered by their electronic counterparts. After that, when Carl finally died in his sleep, of natural causes, he wouldn’t be living in poverty, but he wouldn’t get the plot under the willow that he really wanted.

NaNoWriMo Progress

It’s been a long weekend of not getting as much work done as I should have, but that’s alright. I still got enough done to be on track for finishing my second novel this month. Enough talk about what may or may not be, though. Here’s a bit about some paintings:

The Russian writer wore a gorgeous purple robe. The feather on his pen came from a magnificent peacock, which had been owned by his king. His robe was a gift from a lady who believed he was the best writer that had ever lived. She’d only read half of his second book. It was the book everyone talked about when his work first became popular.
There were two scars on his face, one on his chin and one on his right cheek. His right eye had a squint to it, believed to be caused by the same injury as the scar on his cheek. He was balding, but not completely without hair. His teeth were yellow, except for a few at the front of his mouth.
The book he was writing in was thick. It was believed that he wrote about topics no man had contemplated prior to his writing. While his peers discussed Christianity and the Orthodox religion, he wrote about his love for a druid’s daughter. She lived in a far off, warmer land that he would only be able to visit once every decade. If he wanted to see her more often than that, he would have to abandon his wife and children. He loved his family, though, and chose to visit his druidic love as little as possible. It was his effort to keep them together.
The druid woman spoke no language his companions recognized. She chose to abide by the practices of her culture, and its religion. Once a decade, when he visited, she abandoned her family’s traditions to provide her body for the use of the Russian writer, as he saw fit.
“The shape of your body matches the rolling planes of your homeland.” he told her, knowing she wouldn’t understand.
It may have been that he loved her because the women in her community lived their lives unclothed, as the men did, and she had the most alluring physique. The writer speculated that it was a ray of sun shone down from the sky upon her by God himself, that highlighted her spiritual goodness. To truly save her from the hell she was destined to as a pagan, they were required to copulate.
She was caught in a field between her home land’s rolling planes by Radwin Ali’s mind. He saw her there, nude and hurting for her writer. Her ear held a small, beautiful flower, that had been given to her by a suitor. That is where he painted her. In a way, the druid was his mother. To him, she represented the ideal woman: strong and understanding, with unhindered sexualily.
“What is it you want with me?” she asked him when the painting was complete.
“Nothing now. You are done. I will leave you in a sleeve to be sold for a fantastic amount of money, then some drunk businessman will ejaculate starring into your eyes.”
Radwin Ali was a curious man, both in his interest in the world, and others’ interest in him. Before he was famous, he painted in a single bedroom apartment in Rochester, New York. He survived off the occasional garbage plate, ordered in the middle of the night while college students were recovering from their nights of partying. Radwin Ali was not much of a socialite at that time. His dream was to be seen as the world’s greatest living shut in painter. If he ever bought a house, he wanted to fill it with hundreds of painting that wouldn’t see the light of day for ten years. He planned to then flood the market with his work, once it was worth enough. After he accomplished that, he wanted a famous independent director to make a film about his life. These were all things he wanted before he died.
Instead of moving to the country, he’d originally planned on buying a loft in the center of New York City. A feud he started with a famous gallery owner left him unable to find either a loft to live in or a studio to work in. Radwin Ali quickly learned to be more pleasant to others, even though he didn’t appreciate them. He had an epiphany one night, while having sex with his girlfriend on the roof of their apartment building. The people who would first spread word of his work and those he met in the city at that point were the same. Cultivation of their support needed to happen as soon as he met them.
The strange thing about Radwin Ali was that no one remembers what happened between the time when he was a starving artist trying to make it in the big city, and when his paintings were appeared in galleries across the globe. It seemed to be an instantaneous transition. In interviews, his friends would say that they knew him when he and his girlfriend at the time were poor. They would say they loved her, and it was her fault that he became so well known. At the same time, no one could pinpoint the one event that sky-rocketed him to the top. Because his girlfriend eventually ended up hating even the mention of his name, she wouldn’t tell anyone what had happened to trigger his rise.
Even when he became rich and powerful in the art world, Radwin Ali still had trouble finding a good studio to work in. The feud from his younger years haunted him in one way or another for the rest of his life. Instead of trying to repair the damage he’d caused in the city, he decided to take his city out to the countryside. He bought a car, had a truck packed full of everything he owned, and moved to a small town in Wisconsin. It was a few short months before he moved out of the Midwest, back to the area he’d grown up in. Being too far from New York City was very difficult for him. Something was calling him back to the east coast.
Radwin Ali spent months travelling the north east in search of a new place to call home. During that time, he painted on smaller canvases that were easier to carry from place to place. He completed his most famous painting while on the road. The work was titled “Procession”. It was a picture of a dirt road, splitting a corn field. The road led to an enormous factory building that had been shut down. A handful of children were chasing tin cans that the wind was blowing down the road. The painting was a summary of the feelings Radwin Ali had and the sights that he’d seen exploring the Midwest. It became part of his series of smaller paintings, titled “Moving Still Images”. The series as a whole was labeled as mediocre by critics, save for the “Procession”. No one who was anyone wanted to see the representation of the bleak midwestern American states, they said. Art museums strewn about the midwest were quick to pick up a painting or two. They were the most affordable Radwin Ali’s, and boosted their number of visitors for a good amount of time.
It was while he was working on the last painting in the series that he found the house next to Thomas and Francisco. The entire town was tucked away in the back corners of a beautiful forest. That forest hid it so well, that Radwin Ali drove past the town a dozen times before noticing the road to it went somewhere. He became enchanted with the place at once. First, he’d realized that it was closer to an airport than any of the other towns he’d visited. That would make for an easy escape back to the city. Next, everything on the main street running through the town seemed like it belonged in a different part of the country. The New Orleans café, an exotic pet store next to the antique store, and cevicheria across the street, which was only open in the summer. Moving into that house lifted a massive weight from his shoulders. It gave him the space and solitude to paint non-stop.
Every Sunday in the early summer, Radwin Ali had a bottle of wine and ceviche. After his meal, he would walk to the café for a café au lait and a small plate of begniets. Once the number of guests attending his parties rose enough, he was not seen in town. Someone who’d stayed at his house the night before would come pick up his food for him. Usually, this person would arrive at the cevicheria with a headache and sour stomach. After the third time, the chef started including coconut water in the paper bag along with Radwin Ali’s choice of dishes.

NaNoWriMo Starts!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy trying to get my first novel done before November so I can participate in NaNoWriMo. Yesterday, I completed the first draft of my first novel just in time. Now, I’m working on my second novel. It’s basically a story about a man who lives next to a house where lots of artists die. Anyway, I know it’s only day one, but I’m right on track to meet my goal of sixty-thousand words at 2k done today. I didn’t want to post everything, but here’s some of what I’ve written so far:

As often as he could, Francisco sat on the porch smoking a cigar. He found the most time to smoke in the early morning. Gurkhas and Liga Privadas were the only cigars he smoked. Francisco’s husband, Thomas, would sit with him at times, but only after noon. Francisco enjoyed the cool, East-coast breezes that swept through just after sunrise. Nine months out of the year, Thomas was uncomfortable. After so many decades of forcing himself to sit in the wind, he decided stopped. His opinion was that there were better ways for him to spend time with his husband.

                Francisco agreed with Thomas that there were better ways for the pair to enjoy their days together. For many long years, they worked together at the small grocery store that they owned in town. The only store around for miles, it was a very successful business venture. Now, they were old, though. A young man, Xavier, worked there for the majority of the time Thomas and Francisco did. Xavier ended up investing some of his pay in the store. He became part owner and took over the entire operation when Francisco retired. Thomas worked the counter for a handful of years after his husband lost interest in it. Eventually, he decided it would be best for his health if he didn’t stand still at the cash register all day.

                Thomas and Francisco both loved spending time in their home. It was a large plot of land. There were so many trees that their gardener, Maggie, always said the forest would swallow the whole property one day. Thomas designed the house himself, with a bit of aid from an architect he attended university with. The couple’s dinner guests would regularly get lost on their way from the living room to the dining room. After several complaints, Francisco hung cleverly placed paintings that helped to point out the path. One of them was of a Russian writer with a stern expression, holding a quill pen in his outstretched arm. Another, a ballet dancer dancing with a swan, both facing the direction of the dining room door.

                A massive porch wrapped around the entire house. Chairs sat around every corner. If Francisco wanted to sit in the sun in the winter, there was a chair. When he felt like overlooking the small pond next to the house, he could. Thomas preferred the front of the house, but rarely sat outside alone. In the early days, men would come to their house to threaten them. Many a pick-up truck sped by, tossing road kill at the couple as Thomas drank tea and Francisco smoked. The tranquility of the New England air was always interrupted by those frightening memories. Not long after the third Racoon landed on their steps, Thomas bought a shotgun.

                Neither of them ever had to shoot the shotgun at anyone. They each took it out once, behind their house. Thomas shot a pumpkin and Francisco didn’t hit anything. Word must have got out about their purchase, according to Francisco, because once they had the gun, the taunts only came from teenage boys. The boys would end up coming into their store a few days later to apologize. Xavier often remarked on how funny it was that the grown men, who likely owned guns as well, were so afraid of the cheap, wooden twelve-gauge. Francisco would argue, saying it was intimidating. He would say that grown men know the difference between a toy and a gun, but boys do not. There were a few good years, after purchasing the gun, that neither Thomas, nor Francisco, had anything to worry about. Then, all of the sudden, their quiet life became full of hissing static.

                Their neighbor, known to them only as Joe, lived in his house since the end of World War Two. His wife died the year before Thomas and Francisco moved to town. For the entire time that they lived next to one another, Joe neither caused nor reported any problems. Not a sound came from his windows. After a while, he could be heard yelping in pain while working on some project in his garage. That phase only lasted a few months. He’d lost the hearing in one ear while fighting the Germans. Had a nasty scar all the way across his back. His wife, Ethel, was pampered for the rest of her life after they wed. After she died, Joe was only seen outside working in his yard. There was a beautiful garden that grew thanks to his efforts. Thomas and Francisco regularly found baskets of vegetables outside their front door. Anything that would grow, including things that weren’t supposed to grow that far north, Joe would share with them.

                Eight years after Ethel died, Joe joined her in the afterlife. There was a large estate sale, where Francisco found an Italian tobacco pipe and a box of beautiful cigars. Shortly after Joe’s death, a new neighbor moved in. This man was an artist. He painted large pictures that people liked looking at. Thomas and Francisco spoke with Maggie in depth about how they didn’t understand why people liked looking at his paintings so much. They didn’t understand why he was driving an expensive convertible, having never worked a regular job. The first time they met, he introduced himself as Radwin Ali. He gifted the couple the painting of the Russian writer. Francisco hung it outside of the living room because it was the place that bothered Thomas the most.

                “Do you really have to hang that ugly man on the most looked at wall in our house? This isn’t what I pictured seeing every time I lead our guests to the back of the house.”

                “Thomas, it looks perfect in this light. There’s nowhere else in the whole house that this would look good. I know it’s dreadful, but it belongs right here.”

                Francisco didn’t believe at all that the painting belonged on the wall where he hung it. He thought it was a good way to tease Thomas for years to come.

                Radwin Ali invited the two of them to his house warming party, but they declined. He’d left the note in the same spot that Joe would leave his baskets of vegetables. Seeing the paint smeared envelope on the porch brought back a group of emotions that Francisco, who found it, didn’t want to feel.

                The party was loud. In one form or another, it seemed to go on for a month. After it ended, another party took its place. Whether it was day or night, Radwin Ali kept a constant stream of visitors. The guests were all enamored by the isolation and colorful nature of the area. None of them failed to express their awe. A car would pull up next to one of the dozen others in Radwin Ali’s driveway, then someone would let out a horrible shriek. Overnight guests of Thomas and Francisco were regularly awakened at odd hours by the screams. Their shock would subside when Radwin Ali shouted back.

                “I know. Isn’t it extravagant?”

                Things got to the point where if Thomas didn’t warn their guests of the disturbing activity, Francisco would. it became a strange habit that neither of them enjoyed forming. Many of their guests would announce that they’d changed their minds about staying the night upon hearing the warning. The couple became jealous that Radwin Ali could have all the guests in the world, and they could have none.

When he died, a torturous social weight was lifted from their shoulders. Thomas said he felt bad about how he reacted afterwards. Francisco called him a liar. Truthfully, they were both relieved that they were able to resume normal life. They began having their own guests over again. Those guests would stay the night. For years, no one asked about Radwin Ali’s death. It was a summer night, while the group was drinking a variety of Malbecs, that someone finally asked about it. Francisco was reluctant at first, but told the story as his friend persisted.

“Radwin Ali drove a fast car. It was a convertible. It was blue, with a tan top. He never took it to a mechanic. Obviously, he didn’t know how to work on it himself. The thing had a simple problem. Looked to me like the connector between the alternator and the headlights, or something of that nature. Every so often, his headlights would go dark.

When he drank at those infernal celebrations, he liked to take girls out for a drive. He’d go up and down the dirt road here to the east. I don’t think he lived here long enough to learn them well, because he’d ran his car into a ditch once before.

He took two girls out in his car one night and sped up and down the road, through the fields out there. I saw his headlights go out when they were still far away. Thomas says he thinks Radwin Ali lost track of where he was. I feel bad saying it, but it is kind of ironic, in a way. The man was famous for his paintings. That one you saw of the man with the pen in the hall on your way back here, he gave that to us. Anyway, he had the house painted white when he moved in. When he crashed that convertible into it, he and those poor girls were splattered all over the wall. We still can’t figure out how he didn’t go through the whole damn house, going that fast.”

“He had a lead foot, that’s for sure.” Thomas commented.

The dinner guests were so amazed by the story that they brought others to the house hear it. They’d tell Thomas and Francisco that they tried telling it, but didn’t do the tale justice. Neither of the men told anyone about the frantic pandemonium that had gone on.

The Invisible Flame

I’m standing at an alter in a dank, shadow filled church. The alter is off to the side, in an especially tucked away corner. There are a few candles sitting on the dusty white cloth draped across it. Only about half of the candles are lit and it seems like they’re going out one by one. Those candles are my goals and dreams. The alter is hidden away, far off to the side where no one walks anymore, that’s my spirit. As time goes on, my adult mind picks out certain flames to suffocate. There is a candle near the back that burns low and dim, but hasn’t been put out, yet. It’s my dream of being accepted as an artist. Not becoming famous or rich as one, but being able to really call myself a writer. To have regular readers, have people enjoy my work, and to be able to dedicate as much time and effort as I need to in order to feel justified in calling myself one.

I’ve made what I consider to be a lot of progress in a very short time as a self-published author. A handful of folks have bought and read my poetry, which I wasn’t expecting. Someone once recited a line from a specific poem back to me. That was like being taken briefly into another dimension. Everything’s been moving so fast that I need to remind myself once in a while that I haven’t even been working on this for a year, yet. When I really started writing again, almost, but not quite a year ago, I hadn’t even considered publishing my work. The thought was something I’d always toyed with, but it always seemed so out of reach. One of the things that I learned about art while making music in a past life was that it is a participatory sport. It requires interaction from other people for it to matter. When we’re younger, we suffer delusions of grandeur. Some of us still do, obviously, but not to the extent we do while inexperienced. This isn’t something that I want to write about, though. It is hard to walk the line of writing your unique perspective on an aspect of life and parroting what’s already been said. I’m trying my best not to do the latter, so I am working to avoid the first.

People sometimes put artists on a pedestal. Some artists try to convince others that the urge to create is somehow painful. They want you to think that, because you don’t quite understand the feeling completely, it hurst them. It’s a bunch of bull shit. It’s a sham. I struggle. You struggle. We all struggle. A lot of people suffer a lot more than I do. I’m not going to try to pull a shade over anyone’s eyes saying I’m more in touch with my emotions than someone else just because I feel the need to create. That little candle of mine, it’s totally, utterly self indulgent. Releasing art into the world to be (justifiably) ignored by the masses, that’s not suffering. It’s the absence of feeling. Emptiness. It’s as though there is a flame, but it emits
no heat or light.

Anyway, I felt like I had to express this, but I also feel like I haven’t thought about it enough to organize my ideas well. When I put out my works, there’s the satisfaction of completion. Hand in hand with that satisfaction is the feeling of letting something go to fly off into the sunset, only to have it plop right down on the ground in front of you. I’ll be lying to myself if I ever start to believe the bird is going to take flight. Definitely not a bad feeling, not a defeat, just something different than I’ve experienced elsewhere in life. Maybe I have and I’m just not aware of the paralel, yet. I do know that the alter where my dreams stand, it gets confusing. Sometimes I can’t tell the candles apart, and there’s no way to guess which ones I should keep lit.

New Book Out Today!

In late 2016, depression hit me hard. Everything about my life made me feel stuck. I hadn’t made any sort of art in two years. It had been at least three years since my last show. The changing of the seasons, on top of everything else, had me really far down. One day that fall, I woke up and decided that would be my last day. I got in shower, decided I’d like to have one last lunch with my wife, then I’d kill myself. There was a short list of things I wanted just one more time. One more cup of coffee, another pipe of Dunhill, one last beer with my best friend. Before I’d left to go to lunch, I thought it sounded like a good idea to write ten final poems. At the time, it would have been around six years since I’d written anything (I wrote “Couch to Couch” when I was 17-21). It sounded like a nice way to leave something other than a note. I made a promise to myself that day. No matter what happened, how I delayed suicide, I’d not put it off for too long.

I got six or seven poems done before going to lunch. My wife convinced me it would be a good idea to get that beer with my friend right after lunch, so I did. Luckily, he was able to meet me. We had a drink, then I went home to write my last few poems. As the story goes, those few poems turned into a bunch of poems. Writing poetry is like Jazz to me. I improvise as I go and don’t look back at what I’ve done. The feeling I had while writing those first forty or so poems was something that I hadn’t had in so long. I don’t remember what it felt like now, but I imagine I feel it a lot more since I’ve been writing so much this year.

“That Which Gets in the Way” is the poetic documentation of what was going through my mind as I was depressed, drunk, and suicidal. As I felt better over time, my writing improved, my drinking lessened, and I started feeling better. Granted, I felt better because things in my life overall were improving. This collection, though, it followed me from a point where I was sitting on my bed holding my Walther PPK in my hand to where I am now, not even able to think about taking my own life. It’s all in chronological order. You’ll see the change in my writing as you read it front to back. Not that you have to read it in order, but I think that’s a pretty neat journey. It ends with me breaking a promise to myself. I wasn’t checking out early. I’m in control. Putting off the unthinkable to write a few poems started something inside of me that saved my life.

These days, almost a year after that day, I’ve accomplished a ton. I wouldn’t have published “Couch to Couch” or “four”, let alone this new collection, if I’d made a different choice. I’m a little more than halfway done with my first novel, a quarter of the way done with another, and planning on finishing a first draft of a third next month for NaNoWriMo. Not that I’m trying to be braggadocios, I’m just saying that things are looking way up for me. That they could’ve been extremely different. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year and I plan on continuing that learning.

So, I hope you really enjoy my book. It’s dirty, gritty, sometimes straightforward, sometimes surreal, and most definitely sad. It’s the most honest I’ve ever been on paper. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for checking it out.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1522087931/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507160603&sr=1-1&keywords=that+which+gets+in+the+way

That Which Will Get in the Way

Alright, folks. Only two days until my collection, “That Which Gets in the Way” is out! Here’s a handful of poems from it. I really hope you enjoy these and the rest of my book. It’s a very important piece of my life. I was suffering extreme depression just over a year ago and this work is the documentation of my journey through that. I’d even go as far as say this book helped save my life. That’s probably enough about it though to give you a good taste without ruining the experience for you. Enjoy!

 

Discouraged

On my feet
out of bed
away from the barrel

I can feel the breath of that ghost
where my neck meets my shoulder

I take a piss
and sometimes stare at myself in the mirror
for so long
I have to piss again before leaving the bathroom

I hope folks can’t smell the odor of that ghost
on me
when I walk down halls
trying to look like them
act like them
relate to them

maybe I shouldn’t worry though
since their ghosts are pretty big
and stinky

like they were lookin themselves
in the eyes
for so long
that it was easier to give up.

Havoc

A tree floats above the boys
casting darkness
that passes into our skin
wraps our bones
in bandage

I’m not wounded

our cry as we’re carried to the fire

the darkness looks down
puzzled
peels off the bandage and wrings it

naught but sweat drips.

no blood
no tears

there was a fight that we missed
where men tore their boots
out of mud
curled their lips
and gouged their enemies

our bandage, though,
is dry

available

Some ladies fuckin eat
guys do too, some of them

but that’s what they want to
put in my pocket?

Them chowing down?

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to
put in people’s pockets
I held on to it for years
and it isn’t me clogging my throat with a hot dog.

it’s this, right?

But these fat fucks stuff a day’s worth of food into
their guts like a barbarian covered in green war painting
and the blood of Romans
rush into battle

and that shit’s fuckin normal now!

There are no more bed time stories
they’ve run out
you can’t tell them because they’re outlawed
all you can do is watch simple susan
suck a cow’s tit and
swish it
til it’s butter

then fuckin GULP

Crown

Kingdoms didn’t exist
and neither did thrones

if a woman didn’t write it
about a man

it’s a fuckin lie.

There were never gladiators
no lions tearing their flesh
no brass bulls
with men inside them
being cooked alive

there aren’t testicles
and we aren’t men.

Adult

my head hangs forward as I focus on the screen
it falls back so I can think
I’m out of whiskey
I’m out of stories
and inspiration

My first poetry book sold five copies
I’ve never sold a song
no one watches my videos
my posts are baron
unpainted
whilst others posts
are a nice ‘like’ color white

but I chug, or truck, or carry, or shove
because when I ran out of things to say
and people to pay attention
that’s what sounded correct

so I know I’m an adult now
job, apartment, car, bills
because they successfully beat me down
while instilling the perfect balance
of desire to exist

that’s what an adult is

“reasonable” is what we are.

Finger

ten thumbs press on points around my face
the teeth at the front of my bottom jaw grind
against the teeth at the front of my top
my right eye squints a bit all the time

yet,

look at this shit

yet, I persevere.

At a desk
blue light scarring your eyes

that’s what you get.

You don’t get to jerk off
you can’t lean fully back
or have a quick sniff of
booze

you get to persevere.

But going home for a few hours in between
really only provides enough relaxation
to slightly impede the corrosion
and you get old
and ugly

Poems for the Weekend

Here’s what I got done on my lunch break today. I’m really happy with how these kinds of poems are turning out, even though it’s been years since I’ve written a lot of this style. Enjoy!

punch

 

the one who stores your soul inside his ring

punched the ring into a wall

the bone in his finger broke, the ring shattered

what will you do now that you`re free?

a field of souls scattered about

invisible though they are, through the fog

get fewer likes and views

she sees you, through the fog

grass here is tall

wheat sloshes in the wind

you can’t make out anything

not his face

not his broken hand

you can’t see anything as he approaches

 

dracula

 

a vertical glossy sea reflects beams of the sunrise

windows through which we observe the red breasted desk sitter

he pants for coffee like no other animal

like vlad dracula

impales quarterly reports on pikes stood up

at the center of a roundabout

afront 2600 officebuilding drive

our sun rises red as the ink on the books

necronomicon ex profit

at noon

the buzzards drift in to monitor his progress

but that’s only happening once a month this year

the promise made to the sitter

bound by steel chain

cloth mesh

small increases in numbers on his smart phone

will never be made

 

success

 

i can see how you’ve failed and

know it makes you dislike me

for all of time

after i’m dead, floating

on gray clouds of purgatory

i continue to see

i voice

why? because there is no way to succeed

you don’t, i don’t

you think someone appreciates you

when you fall in love

but after a few years

they don’t look into your eyes like they did

your hands don’t stick together

with that wet ectoplasm

you both accept these things

so i know you can see how i’ve failed

it makes me hate you

for eternity

when you’re sifting through

beach sands in heaven

searching for that lost necklace

the one you wore at our wedding

i know you see

please don’t tell me anything

just this once

 

escort

 

sometimes duty calls for you to escort

the bare elephant man through the streets

to tell him he looks like the rest of us

pat him on the back when he makes a wise purchase

despite the draw of rebellion

one must perform things considered to be duties

to hold together the rest of us

elephant men

to keep us thinking we’re healthy and alright

looking in the mirror to see gritty bone

protruding from your lopsided forehead

must not turn your gut

or alter your ability

we must take our turn

know how to recognize what must be done

for fate and fortuna constantly try to trick

all

the elephant folk

 

lamp

 

i climbed

out of my lamp

people were

nicer

than I expected

so was

the weather

it could

trick you

into thinking

it’s safe

that it’s safe

to kiss her

even though

there’s a

ruby red

cold sore

get back

in the lamp

 

smile

 

i see my hand pulling up scoops

of cold stream water

blessing my dry throat with them

they see my skinless hand

a skeleton rubbing tiny drips of

lava onto my melting, floppy lips

all i can do is smile now

show my charred gums