Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Alone With Her Thoughts

Sitting in a saloon with a beer on a Sunday, she drank and plotted life on a napkin.

Outside, December's bells and song reminded her that she and all the other dirty drinkers were young once, when wishes were as easy as bubble gum.

Christmas: saloon doors swinging behind her she left a coin for the carolers and hummed their song.


I handed out hope in a glass

to trembling hands and cracked lips

parched and parted and grim

limp, overused dollars

watery hopes


I have not seen Santa in a year

a year of hangovers, arguments, love, and burnt dinners

and heartache, stupid as a stone.

Monday, November 28, 2011

In his attic apartment with my face in the pillow he whispered from on top of me, I have to call my boss and call out sick.

I propped up on my elbows, but from behind he slipped his arms under mine and flattened me. Pressed against my back he said against my ear, I want to stay here with you.

Let's call your boss I said.


Let's call him right now.


Yes, I said.

He dragged the phone by its cord and dialed.

Give the phone to me, I said.

As the phone rang at the flower shop, I tried to calm my breathing and said, I am sorry, he can't come in today. He is in bed. I don't think he feels well. This is his girlfriend, yes, I said.

A few minutes later he let me up. He lit another cigarette and tossed its ashes in his shoe.

Yesterday we sat at the bar's front window overlooking Southampton in the summer. His lighter snicked and Marlboro smoke curled around his fingers. He blew smoke toward the glass and a woman stopped on the sidewalk to smile at him.

One day I would be a star at something, I thought. Across the street sat my battered old pick-up. I laughed every time I looked at it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I remember Albany like a dirty dream.

All I wanted was sex, but strangers' starved grins cooled me.

I wore the heels off new black cowboy boots while walking around frigid, unfamiliar winter streets. I was in a in a New York city I did not know. Catherine had asked me to visit and with an 18-year-old's thoughtlessness, stupidity, or impulsive abandon, I grabbed a spot on a coach bus with its industrial stink and dirty seats.

We stopped somewhere and I managed to suck down a beer hidden in my bags, then begged a stranger's cigarette.

I did not know yet that youth's whims and the scent of urine in an alley in cold Albany would fade. I did not know that one day I would want to fall in love desperately, as if I could bring my dreams to life, but the guitar strings snapped and the music stopped.

Friday, November 25, 2011

I gave thanks, but that was yesterday...

A bloody sunset stained tissue clouds while I stood at the brink tossing pennies -- wishing, wishing, wishing. The sky’s fiery light dimmed and a bruised darkness came, smudging trees’ silhouettes beneath early stars.

Orion hung in the sky as I rolled an empty trash bin across the lot. Such a poised, crooked, and eternal warrior. Light from the bar’s kitchen door threw a path across littered blacktop as I rushed back inside to sweep and mop a lonely room. Gone were the sharp drinkers’ voices.

I swept crushed things across scuffed slate. I once felt doomed. I once felt haunted. Winter’s chill had settled in. Locking the door and giving the bar back to the spirits, I scraped frost from my windows and shivered.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nothing much tonight other than stray thoughts on my hands:

Small white lights adrift along pale pine trim. A little bar of dusty bottles and dried candle wax. Wet wine glasses glistening like tears.

I wiped down bottles untouched since this time last year when I had cleaned and cooked and finally sat on my ass with a drink as guests arrived. Tangerine light spilled from the fireplace, painting long shadows across the living room.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, when I throw a party for anyone who wanders up the walkway with a bottle of cabernet. Happy Thanksgiving Eve, when I listen to laughter echo.



I pressed my cheek against a fleeting dream and swayed

and loved


Ticking past Midnight and listening as rain hit the skylight, I tasted plaintive lyrics on my lips -- words, crying to be free.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Trying To Catch The Echoes

To fading music under a red neon shine, I swept the floor. Time stole another night and soon the bar's crowded laughter tapered into sighs.

I stood alone after closing time, drying my eyes with a dirty rag. With cupped hands I thought I could catch the echo of beautiful things, but heard only my feet on a dirty floor.


I am tired and Thanksgiving is coming. As late autumn color fades early from the sky and sunsets flare against a looming winter, scents of seasoned firewood drift in the air.

It's a short week because we all need to stuff a turkey.

Just give me a glass of wine and leave me alone to dream.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The bay turned to thunder under a sudden rain that soon whispered along drooping Douglas firs. Wind pulled water off drenched Queen Elizabeth roses ringing a stone fountain -- puddles in a cherub's cupped hands shivered.

You've got to love a good, soaking rain, she said. Heavy drops gathered and fell from her brim. it's good for the plants, she said. Around her were bursts of yellow, glossy pink, and sparks of blue. Day lilies, tea roses, and a sea of forget-me-nots drank up from between stones. Pure, undiluted water is good for us too, she said.

I can't think of today and its jumble of confusion, so I think of then -- when I was in Long Island in a summer storm with Patricia. We hurried to pack our edgers and spades, cover the peat moss, and find the last set of shears. My rusty old pick-up was just getting rustier, but it was mine. Every day I dug, planted, watered and watched. Each morning I used my left hand to open the clenched fingers on my right. Hard work made them that way, and I was glad.

The driver's door flew open one day as I made a hard left turn on Sunrise Highway, leaving Southampton in the rear view and heading toward Montauk. With my right hand on the column shift I dragged it into second gear and jammed my knee under the steering wheel. With my left hand briefly free I reach out and yanked the door shut so hard that it never opened again. I spent at least a year hopping in and out of the window, but it was mine and I drove it until the tie rods snapped.

I would get home seconds before dusk's gray smudges in the sky turned black and drag myself and a beer into the crappy plastic shower stall at the cottage I rented. I watched the overhead spray rinse dirt from my skin. I imagined Patricia's voice: it's not dirt, it's soil. If I lit a Marlboro and blew smoke through the Impatiens she would ask, who is smoking that delicious cigarette?

I didn't know what was coming. I couldn't see the future. Had I picked a direction or formed even a tiny plan I might have been better in the end, but in less than two years I would crash. Heartache and sadness were bad enough, but being adrift in life without friends or a clue did me in.

My heartache: I would see him sometimes and wonder why he did not love me anymore. I never waved. I always looked at a shop window, the sunset, my feet, but never at him. I never knew if he saw me. As much as I reinvented and perfected my life in my head, I never gave any thought my life in the world. Goodbye, I should have said to my reflection, because I sank.

I lived by time told on the hands of a wind-up clock. I looked forward to coffee in the morning and a beer before bed. I had no phone and no one to call anyway. I didn't care. I wanted a few bucks for the bar on Friday and enough stashed in the truck's ashtray to buy a few new books by Saturday. I listened to Cat Stevens all summer and must have planted more than a thousand roses, hundreds of hydrangeas, and tore through one old walkway with a pickax because the woman absolutely had to have those aromatic lilacs right there beneath the kitchen window.

I learned to love the rewards of exhausting work that robbed my mind of worry and brought more immediate things into focus, like my shitty boots. These water-bogged things were trash even before I laced them up and ruined them.

I had no demons then. Bad dreams and an invasive sadness were usual, but demons didn't come until later, when I would see myself in my head but the shadow beside me on the ground was not mine. I told a friend months ago that I was haunted, and I meant it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just a few thoughts, and some other things I think:

I want to stand under a streetlight with the wind's echo so beautiful as rain cools my lips.

But there is no streetlight or beautiful wind. No echo. No rain. Just thoughts like photos that fade.

Looking through old pictures I found a bride -- her dress draped across her hips like a caress. With a beer in her hand, she laughed. In another room was her husband, nervous despite a fresh cigarette, pressed suit, and friends.

In other photos is a little girl with a dandelion puff held in the wind. Her hair is shadows and sunlight. White wisps of dandelion seeds fly in the late summer breeze.

I remember being happy. I remember floating as I walked and loving everything. That's when life was coated in gold and gravity didn't touch me. I giggled when I spoke and approached most things like I was at a carnival swinging a hammer for a prize. Everything I had went into every swing. Every time. Now I watch my step. I am afraid I will miss. I am afraid.

I don't feel free.

Monday, November 14, 2011

On a warm November day I turned my face toward an overcast sky and wondered how my heart had turned black.

A nun in the grocery store waited behind me with a family-size bag of Cheetos, a coupon, and wilted stockings ringing her ankles. Could she see my black heart inside? Would she give me advice? Would I even listen? Does she really care about the rest of us tarnished souls?

For weeks I have wondered about the patter of souls sagging under heavy hope the size of parade floats, dreams of heaven, endless love, and mountains. I was among them, and I cast the smallest shadow.

I don’t want to die to find heaven. I want to press against endless love and melt, and I want looming mountains to yield — a soft loam beneath my feet.

Who am I if the world changes and all the familiar things turn away in bitterness and hurt, and I am alone?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Walking uphill toward an early sunset I watched drifting clouds blend and part as the day’s last shred of sunlight slipped through.

Comfort has turned to sand and I can’t see the future anymore.

I am lost.

Creamy lavender hues paint the sky behind charcoal trees dressed in black, swaying leaves. The scene is beautiful and cold.

I am lost.

After pouring a glass of wine I rubbed my fingers along the rim and wondered about the weeks as they pass — time flowing along while I crawl around in the dark looking for answers. Where am I?

Demons swirl in my thoughts and I lift my glass to toast, to sip, to taste bitter beautiful flavors on my lips.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I am afraid lately, and anxiety is pinging inside. I want so much to lean against something and melt. I want a much greater distance between truth and my big, fat lip.


I drove down a rutted lakeside trail with my heart in my ears, eyes skipping across a tightly packed neighborhood of patios jammed against neighbors' sheds.

Where was the for sale sign?

I wondered if a vacant place would ever feel like home as odd headlight patterns danced on the walls at night. I remembered my apartment in Shelton, and just to test a theory one day I fired a spitball against the house next door.

The for sale sign tilted toward a low stone wall. Traffic buzzed nearby, and through a chain-link fence I saw the highway -- Route 84 slices through town, scarring rural countryside and often tossing its shadow in a thick band across summer picnics and kids in the swimming pool.

What the hell was I doing here anyway? I was a kid in mom's closet trying on high heels. I was an idiot.


Moonlight coated dried leaves with a sterling shine along the path as I hurried inside. The day's warm sunlight died early and by rush hour a heavy moon stretched wide over the road, climbing.


I think I need a glass of wine and time to think about this one. Somewhere some asshole is hoarding all the good answers and people like me sit chewing our fingers and making the best of second guesses.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

For My Brother

Finicky time snicks softly past

giving or taking or forgetting us

yesterday a playful dog slept against a child

but today he did not wake

we'll hear those claws on the floor

and a wet body shake

put down the leash and the stick

and wave goodbye to Rudi


Driving home on election night after watching the Republican blade slaughter its opponents in Newtown, I wondered about the price of a split second's breath that often costs a lifetime. Did one man really call his opponent a snake? Really?

Lifting my camera overhead and sliding sideways through a crowd I glanced outside as a near-full moon poured silver light across the landscape.


I don't know what to say today. The muse has stolen my mind and dashed into dreams where blades stab holes in my thoughts and doubt steps in.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Some Things Need To Be Said

These are postings from the dark -- a collection of things I scribbled during the week my power went out and my breath plumed in small pools of candlelight.


Throwing back my head and searching for the Milky Way I said, play me a song. Play me a good song -- something I can press my hips against.

Inside I grabbed a glass of wine and laughed as I stained my lips a deep red. I thought, play me something raw that means everything, but make it small, so I can hold it in my hand. Make it fit. I can't handle too much, just bits and pieces.


The minute I understood I was doomed I looked back and saw my stupid heart a thousand miles behind. Are you coming? I wondered. Hurry.

When I was 18 the world was coated in gold and I was going to touch all of it.

I don't feel so free anymore. I never would have guessed that I would be rumbling along years later in a really old Ford while warm night air coaxed fog from a fluke October snow on the ground, throwing ghosts in front of my headlights.

I had fever dreams and I heard a demon. He told me, you have said things no one has ever said to me before. My friend Tim died about a year ago, but he told me something that just keeps making sense: some things need to be said.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Love, like a breath against my lips, has sunk in. Tears dragged my heart across my cheeks, glistening.


After a heavy snow stole power for days I promised postings from the dark. With a blank notebook and an old pen I understood that a page without words is frightening.

All week I looked up to tall, tapered candles like they held a little bit of sun. I showered from a pasta pot and fell in love with a warm cloth against my skin.