Friday, March 21, 2014


I have never pounded on a door. I have sat half way up the stairs to the landing of an apartment. The little stones pressed into the hand I sat on. I examined the skin on my knee and tried to work out plans for the morning. 

It was a list. 

Names of friends and coworkers. Distances from that stair case. The availability of a couch or floor. 

I had developed an ability to create long detailed lists internally and never cross any of the entries of. 

Occasionally I flick a cigarette that's not there. And it reminds me I eventually learned to make less lists. And to cross things off. 

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A Long Time Coming

The pages have been stacking up. They yellow in lines as the sun breaks through the mini blinds in the second room. On days when I am home I throw one hastily penned page in the trash for every church bell ring. Cobwebs, dust, spiders, and rings from wet glasses gather anywhere they can. Some melody bounces in my head and I think about when I would just run to some dark space to drown and choke whatever demons or semi-demons would pop up.

The joys of your skin growing is that it gets easier to grab a hold of. It is easier to start ripping from the rest of you. And you can push it back together. You can make it fit how you want. You can use it as an excuse for the things you do and do not want to do.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Brian Cummings

You left town about sixteen years ago. One Tuesday in March you were sitting in front of me in a science class. Then you weren't. But I heard you were doing pretty good for yourself.  A new pair of boots showed up in time for the first snow. And your second son is saying his first words. The car starts every morning and no one mentions that night at Ray's anymore. I wonder what you think about every night in that second just before you fall asleep and dream of the old boulevard and that house on the corner you told your mother you would buy for her when she retired. Does the sting of no one clapping when your name was called during graduation from eighth grade return? Does the smell of Kristen after your first kiss at my birthday party bring back the chill of November desert nights? Or do you hope this is the last night away from home?

Friday, December 28, 2012

pieces of fabric

I am back to tearing off labels of beer bottles. I rip them into small pieces and roll them into balls. They sit inside the front pocket on the shirt I wear when I go out. It used to have snaps, now it is held together by buttons. There is a hole on the left arm, half way up from the wrist to the elbow. I press my finger into it and feel the skin of my arm. Sometimes I pull on the hairs that stick out until one lets loose and I put that in the pocket too. The guy next to me sits on his stool like an egg and rests his shins against the red vinyl. He spins his bottle on his right knee and some formerly attractive woman rest her hand on the other. There is lipstick on her teeth and the butt of her cigarette. She laughs at a show on the television. There is no sound, just her laughing. The man keeps starting a story and stopping. Her laughs make him drop his head and spin his bottle more. The woman puts on more lipstick; I order another drink.

Friday, September 28, 2012

shallow water

I had a dream you had died. Some piece of conversation between two strangers I overheard. A couple of months had passed, from what I could gather. That happens sometimes. When I woke up I called an old friend to see if it was true. He said he hadn't heard from you lately but felt pretty confident you were alive. And that made me sad. Not that you deserve to die, or that you should die. But that I thought you could be but weren't. I guess people can't always be what you want them to be.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

But me, I'm...

The spots on my right arm that I pick, you can see them. It is not covered in ink like the other. You can see the blood and the scabs and the puss. I stop mid-sentence to scratch and pick and bleed and dream. Every minute or so I dab at the wound to clear the things that drain out. My fingers run through my hair and blood bursts from my lip; my teeth have split it again.

The locks were changed at the other apartment when I was moving out the last of my things. There is a box and leather jacket I never recovered. I went back a few nights ago with crowbar that helped me back in. The jacket and box and new resident were gone. So I left the crowbar and took a bottle of wine and walked to that park where the maids smoke pot after work. No one was there so I opened the bottle and called Leslie to pick me up.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

From the heart, my heart

We laid on a couch, in that old house, and cried. We listened to Paul Baribeau and cried. The two of us went to that old bar with Bill and drank grandpa's drink because grandpa had been dead for weeks and no one told us.

We sat on the curb in front of the other old house and smoked cigarettes the best we could. We sucked too hard, or not enough. We called Tony and tears ran down our face and ash covered our hands and we thought this is how you feel, when something dies; when something goes away. But we went to bed alone and didn't know what to do.

We sat in a garage today, thinking about where you had gone. We played the songs that had meant everything; and the new ones that helped us pull your skin back and see you.

And we knew you were gone. And you were never coming back.

We replayed the conversations from your porch; to find our missteps.

We scanned photographs in our head to see where the cracks started.

We didn't find them.

We opened boxes we threw away three addresses ago. We retold stories to bring us closer. We put things in our skin that were supposed to bring us together, keep us together; they just remind me we are all gone.

So we will steal a smoke from our sleeping love. And we will send thoughts or prayers or whatever your way. And know we will never speak; but hope we are wrong.