Let It Kill You

Title: Let It Kill You

You Actor’s: Kevin and Joel Staging: Kevin lite in a spotlight sitting on left side of stage.

Joel lite in a spotlight on the right side of stage. 3:07 am phone rings. (Clock on bedstead shows the time)

Kevin, “How did this happen?”

Joel, “What time is it? How did what happen?”

Kevin, Ya know, there’s something I just discovered. You can fall in love in the course of a second, in the blink of an eye. But falling out of love can take years. Little things start to imperceptibly build up, change, irritate—— aggravate——infuriate. Did I ever really love her? Where’s did it all go? Love? When did it go bad? Does love have a expiration date? Why the hell did this happen? I can hurt her or I can stay unhappy.”

Joel, “Dude, it’s three something in the morning.”

Kevin, “I don’t even hear what she’s saying anymore. It’s just background murmurings, like the drip of a leaky faucet’s. I’m constantly saying ‘What? What did you say?’ I don’t think she hears me either. We’ve tuned each other out. We’re sharing the same bed, but fighting different demons, chasing different dreams.”

Joel, “Have you been drinking? I told you not to call me when you’ve been drinking. Morning will be here soon. Take some deep breaths, take an Ambien. Turn on the TV and watch some infomercials or the Fox channel, that will put you ass to sleep.”

“Kevin,“I feel the darkness inside me. I wanna be happy again. What do I have to give up to feel alive again? A divorce will leave me flat ass broke. My daughters will side with their mother and I’ll probably never see them again.”

Joel, “As the saying goes——shit happens. Are you still chasing that young skirt at your office? How long have you been married?”

Kevin, “34 years.”

Joel, “Now listen to me. Everybody is struggling with their existential crises. Life is a grind with its meaningless jobs, empty marriages, pretend love, endless bills, too little passion, to many petty arguments over petty shit, relationship betrayals, people unexpectedly die. This life is thwarted with the ‘what once was, what is now and worries about about what will tomorrow bring. Life is a tangle of knots that we all struggle to untie. After 34 years there’s a lot of tangles to undo. Some just cut the rope in the hopes of starting over again. There is no starting over again, you can’t separate yourself from your past selves, or your past choices. You drag all your shit along with you. Life just keeps happening with or without your consent. If you can’t sleep try counting sheep, pray to your god, take an Ambien and call me in the morning.”

(The phone call ends and then the sound of a dial tone).

The phone rings. Bedstead clock reads 6:13am

Joel, “Hello, are you there?” Kevin, “Who the hell is this?” Joel, “It’s me, Joel.” Kevin, “Do you know what time it is?”

Joel, “Yeah, it’s early. Pay back is a bitch. If you can call me in the middle of the night, then I can call you back at the crack of dawn. You asked me about how things happen. Things happen because we forget what matters. We waste our time. We let worries consume us. We stop having fun. How’s that saying go? ‘We don’t stop playing because we get old. We get old because we stop playing.’ We end up playing parts that no longer fit. Now listen to me. We’re all gonna die. All of us. And you’d think that would make us want to be kinder and honest with one another. But it doesn’t. We become selfish bastards wanting more. More this, more that. More stuff and things to plug the holes in our lives. We go out there looking for love and happiness—— but—-life becomes a train wreck happening in slow motion. Love is riddled with compromises and sacrifices. Love is no good unless it’s tested now and again. Maybe nothing lasts forever. But when that magic feeling hits you, it’s as if you’re the only one who’s ever experienced that sweet madness. Pussy can make a man do some crazy shit. Careful not to confuse sex with love.

” Kevin, “I try, I really try. But the love I want no longer exists in my marriage. I wanna feel real love again. I need a connection with someone. I got to have this. If mortality has taught me anything, it’s that this life is too short to waste it trying to bring back to life to something that’s dead and gone. When I’m with Katlin we talk about life and love. We laugh, we get each other. And there’s no substitute for that feeling of being understood. So many people are imprisoned by the mundane. Boring people talking about boring shit. All their time spent rattling on about nothing. I don’t wanna talk about politics or the weather, I just wanna take a drive with her in the country with the windows down and good music playing on the radio. And, for a few minutes I can forget about the cruel world out there waiting for me. Something as simple as that makes me happy. But nothings gonna change unless I change.”

“How did this happen? We get forced into a corner, doing the same things day in and day out. The same arguments, the lonely nights lying in bed next to someone who no longer knows me, and doesn’t even try to understand me. And I’ve tried to understand her, but I don’t. We’re speaking different languages. I just wanna feel free and alive. Katlin has a way about her. She has that unexplainable sexual energy. Her touch is electric. It’s not just the sex, it’s an indescribable connection. If you’ve never had it, then you’ll never understand what I’m talking about.”

Joel, “34 years? It’s an unfair game with unfair rules. A sixty something wife can’t compete with a thirty something mistress. Be careful, be very careful. Love is boring——while infatuation may be exciting, but it’s often times fleeting. A true love should be like a fine bottle of wine, getting better with age.”

Kevin, “Nah, love is more like old cheese, it gets green, hard and smelly.” “I wanna be drunk on love. I wanna take my clothes off and dance naked in the kitchen kind of love. And Katlin would do crazy shit like that with me. I could wait another 34 years and that’s something Mary would see as stupid and ridiculous. She just does’t have it in her to be wild and crazy. To be fun. She’s always has to be in control. I fucking hate being controlled.”

Joel, “So, you’re saying this new girl is a nut like you? A naked dancing idiot? Give Katlin 34 years and she might tell you to put some clothes on and take the garbage out and stop acting a fool. Life is full of boring necessary chores. You have to be practical, responsible.”

Kevin, “Fuck being practical. I’d take 2 years of real love over 34 years of practical, predictable—-stale love. Marriage is impractical. It’s absurd to think two people can stay in love through an entire lifetime. People change. People grow apart. You can’t un-curdle sour milk. Once its gone bad, there’s no going back and making it good again.”

Joel, “So, now you wanna run off with this young chickadee and leave everything and everyone behind. Spend your days living on the beach and making a living selling conch shells to the tourists. God, you’re such a dreamer. You can’t sale off your past like pieces of junk at a garage sale.”

Kevin, “The heart wants what the heart wants.This emotion, this thing called love is powerful. It makes me believe in things again, it makes the colors brighter, the sound of birds singing sound louder. It opens up my chest and lets the fresh air in. Every breathe is a rebirth. Two hearts beating as one.”

Joel, “Dude, you got it bad. There’s a fine line between love and fantasy. Passion can turn out to be a passing fling. Love is a drug, it’s a mixture of chemicals in your brain. It’s addictive. It can save your life, or it might destroy you. Love is like Fentanyl, you never know if it’s going to kill you or give you that warm and fuzzy feeling in the pit of your belly. When it’s forbidden it’s at its strongest, the more dangerous the better. It can bring out the best in you, or it can bring out the worst in you. Beware, some willingly die for it, some vengefully kill for it.”

Kevin, “But In spite of it all, with its good and the bad, life without love isn’t worth living. Bro, I’m torn and twisted. This life is funny, once you’re woke 4 it hard to fall back to sleep, literary and figuratively, if ya know what I mean? This thing is driving me crazy. Thanks for listening to me. I owe ya one.”

Phone is hung up, then the sound of dial tone. (Phone rings) (Clock on bedstead reads 2:47am)

Joel, “Yeah, hello Kevin.”

Kevin, “How did you know it was me?”

Joel, “Uh, let me see now, is it because you’re the only person who calls me in the middle of the fucking night asking me to help them unravel the mysteries of love and life. Have you been drinking again?”

Kevin, ”Did I wake You?’

Joel, “Of course not. I was just rearranging my sock drawer at 3am in the morning.”

Kevin, “I’m gonna do it. I’m leaving her.”

Joel, “Dude, don’t say stuff like that unless you’re mind is clear and you’re sober. Drunken decisions lead to bad outcomes. Life is hard, but harder yet, when you’re drunk and stupid. You’d better remember, you’ve got a lot on the line.”

Kevin, “I don’t want a pretend love any more. I need something real. Do you think I’m doing the right thing?” Joel, “If you’re asking for answers, I don’t have any. You’re not looking for advice, you’re looking for someone to offer you their approval. When it’s your circus, it’s up to you to decide who’s the the clown. No, you’re more like the tight rope walker, the circus flyer. You’re in a no win situation. You’re walking that tight rope, with no net. You’re gonna fuck around and find out. And the more you fuck around the more you’re gonna find out.”

Kevin, ”Find out what?”

Joel, “You stay with your wife and you’ll be forever unhappy. All her little quirks and nuances that once were adorable will become annoyances. Her touch will make you recoil. You’ll forever be comparing her to that young little love tart. You’ll ache for that girls touch. You’ll imagine her in one of those short see through sun dresses. But, then again, If you go all in with this chick, then you’ll be starting all over again. And it ain’t easy starting over when you’re in your sixties. You’ll end up living in some shitty little apartment with her and her snotty nosed kid. This is where pretend love meets real life. She won’t be walking around the apartment complex in sexy skirts, she’ll be wearing three day old sweats. Someone will have to do the laundry, wash the dishes, sweep the floor, pay bills, get gas in the car, fix dinner and feed the kid. It’s that cliche, old man has an affair with pretty co-worker and loses everything. Broken vows lead to broken hearted old fools. And there ain’t no fool like an old fool. Is it worth it to lose your house, the respect of your children and break the heart of the woman who bore you children and who stood by you for 34 years. Old love doesn’t stay young and pretty, but it does remain tried and true. Brother, like I said, you’re in a no win situation. You are not going to be happy regardless of which choice you make. Have you ever tried marriage counseling?”

Kevin, “Marriage counseling at best will only clarify all the reasons I no longer want to stay married. You go there and they expect you to air all your raw personal ugly shit to a perfect stranger. You end up talking to some counselor who’s the age of my daughter, who thinks her psychobabble is going to mend the relationship between my wife and I. She doesn’t realize that we’re two old bumbling warriors with many years of treachery between us. What the hell does she know about life and love at her age. I need a counselor who’s ancient and gnarled, someone who’s seen enough to be suspicious of life and pessimistic about love. I want a counselor who looks as old as Clint Eastwood and wears that same angry sneer. I really don’t want to expose all my insecurities and vulnerabilities to somebody who keeps asking, ‘And how does that make you feel?’. It makes me feel like shit, how bout that for honesty and personal growth. And then having to explain why I can’t get a hard-on anymore cause fucking the same women for 34 years just doesn’t get me excited anymore. No thank you. Falling out of love isn’t a disease, it doesn’t require a cure. I don’t know how or why it happens or where it goes, it just happens. Falling out of love is like aging, little aches become unbearable pains.”

Joel, “Just be careful man. Co-workers can pick up on that sappy vibe between two love struck fools. You think it’s a secret, but it gradually becomes obvious to everyone else that you have goggly eyes for one another. Fishing off the company pier has its dangers. Then one day you’re called up to HR and given your walking papers. You’re playing with fire. I know you can’t see it, because you’re blind sided by love——-You’re deep into it. I’m worried about you man. I’d say have a good night, but I don’t think that’s in the cards. Love always has strings attached, ulterior motives and power struggles. Buenos noches mi amigo.”

Phone hangs up, and then just the sound of a dial tone. 6:00 am, phone rings: Kevin, (In a groggy voice)

Kevin “Oh hell no. You know I don’t do mornings.”

Joel, “Good morning sunshine?”

Kevin, “Sunshine my ass. You don’t seem to understand. I’m going crazy. This is my last chance to have my story end with a happily ever after. Am I asking to much, is it so wrong to want a sliver of happiness?”

Joel, “There’s fleeting happiness and then there’s lasting contentment. I wish I could help you, but I can’t. Contentment is something only you can give yourself. Contentment isn’t exciting, it isn’t skipping hand and hand through life. LIfe’s is fucking hard. It’s full of challenges, and thankless jobs and unrecognized sacrifices. And at the end of the day it’s you——-it’s just you that has to learn to live with yourself. Let you conscience be your pillow. Should you stay, should you leave, should you turn right, turn left? I don’t fucking know. Nobody knows. There’s no guarantees, no instruction manual. Most everyone is hanging on by their fingernails.”

Kevin, “Sometimes all I have left is the realization that I need to let go. To say fuck it. There’s no lonelier feeling than being with someone who makes you feel even lonelier. I want love to be fun. I want to be happy. I wanna feel alive. I don’t want every little thing to seem so serious, so freaking heavy, weighing me down and wearing my ass out. I don’t want to worry about saying the wrong thing, navigating my way through an emotional mine field, only to end up in another stupid argument.”

Joel, “Maybe you can’t go back to that feeling of falling in love, making out in the backseat of your daddies big ole Buick. Maybe love is something that morphs into different things at different stages of life.”

Kevin, “Yeah, and maybe love dies a slow painful death. And, once it’s gone, it’s never coming back. I doin’t want to end up like one of those old couples you see sitting across from one another at a restaurant wearing drawn blank stares. Sitting there in total silence, nothing left to say except pass the salt please.”

Joel, “Perhaps you’re mistaking silence as contempt, when its just being comfortable with having nothing to say or share.”

Kevin, “Or, maybe all that ever needed to be said or shared has already been said and shared. Spontaneity and romance is replaced by monotony. Shit, have I wasted the last 34 years with the wrong person?”

Joel, “You can’t ask someone to be something they’re not. You got to learn to love someone for who they are, not what you want them to be. That’s not reality.”

Kevin, “Fuck reality, I’m searching for the sublime and the magic that makes life worth living. I don’t know where this is all leading, but I’m going. Ya see, you can do everything right, eat good, exercise, go to church, pay your taxes and help old ladies across the street, but without inspiration, without adventure, it’s a life wasted. Waisted on waiting for things to change, that are never gonna change. Nothing changes until I change. There in lies the rub. No one can live my life for me. I woke up one day and realize I’ve been living a lie. Trapped in a meaningless job, marooned in a loveless marriage. Its grinding me down as one day bleeds into the next, until one day I just said, “fuck it” what do I have to lose?”

Joel, “I think you’ve listened to one to many love songs, watched to many chic flicks. Marriage is a job, it takes work.”

Kevin, “What the hell happened to you?. When did you become obliged to just settle for table scraps. You’ve become one of those people who turns love into a job, a chore, a drag. If love were a job——then what they’re paying surely ain’t enough. Cause, you don’t get paid overtime and you 8 don’t get to take weekends off, no holidays, no vacations. If love were a job, I’d go on strike.”

Joel, “Let me ask you this. Is your heart beating right now?”

Kevin, “Of course it’s beating.”

Joel, “How do you know? Are you hooked up to a heart monitor? Are you taking your own pulse right now? How do you know your heart is beating?”

Kevin, “Well, I haven’t killed over dead yet, have I?”

Joel, “You just take it for granted that your heart is beating. And you take it for granted that your wife loves you. You mumble some vows and promises about loving someone for better or worse, through sickness and health. But you’re just speculating that this person at the alter will be the same person in 34 years. It’s a lie. Love changes, moves, morphs, It’s a moving target.”

Kevin,“Yeah, is that why cupid shoots arrows into fluttering hearts? When do the reasons to leave out weight the reasons to stay? Jesus, why does love have to be so hard?”

Joel, “Love is complicated. It means different things to different people. For some it’s security, to others it’s great sex, for some financial security and for others someone to split the bills with. Sometimes it’s someones hand to hold in the darkest of nights. For some, it’s sharing meals, or simply the comfort of hearing someones footsteps coming down the hall in the morning. People expect to much out of love. At best we’re all needing someone to love and someone to love us back. That’s the secret to life. And that’s all there is. So, we forgive one another and carry on.”

Kevin, “Or, maybe people expect to little out of love. They settle, they do without, they no longer touch or kiss, they no longer hear the other persons voice or see their desperation. When does love become connivance, indifference——work? Maybe Thoreau was right when he said, ‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.’ Love should make you want to sing and not leave you mute.”

Joel, “There’s the old Chinese proverb that says, “A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers. Maybe love is more about giving than taking?”

Kevin, “Maybe once the flower is picked, the bloom begins to wilt, the scent dissipates and the garden goes dormant. Is that a tad bit pessimistic or what? How do we keep love alive?”

“I’ve never been one to believe in soulmates and all that new age crap. But damn, there’s this feeling she gives me. I don’t want to lose it. I’ve known love, but nothing ever as strong as this. It’s as if she’s always known me and I’ve always known her. Regardless of the pain and misery this thing has brought me, I’m still glad it happened.”

Joel, “Shit happens. Sometimes you step in it. Love makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It can’t be qualified, quantified, measured, weighed, seen or touched. It’s a fools game. Over fifty percent of the marriages will end in divorce. It’ll bring out the worst and the best in you. It will destroy you, it will give you wings. What is love? Is it only a case of hormones gone wild? Is love at first sight real? Is it a check list of things required to qualify as love? Is it finding someone with compatible Zodiac signs? Is it chemistry? Is it even real?”

Kevin, ”I suppose It’s like the Easter Bunny Santa and four leaf clovers. Believe in them for as long as you can. It doesn’t matter how it happens, or why it happens. All that matters in life, is that love does happen. And good luck if it unexpectedly happens to find you.”

Joel, “So, what are you going to do? Join the Foreign Legion, consult a witchdoctor, write a sad country song about the woes of love?”

Kevin, “Katlin once said to me, ‘don’t say you love me, treat me like what you think that word means. Cause, love is such an overused word, it’s meaning has lost its potency, it’s a cliche of a cliche.’”

“She could get away with saying shit like that because she’s deep, she’s smart—she’s authentic. She’s got a poet’s heart. She cuts through all the bullshit and puts her words together in a way that makes me shake my head and smile. She pierced my heart. I’ve never known anyone like her. And I’m sure I’ll never meet another person as real and transparent as her 10 ever again. My love for her has nothing to do with her looks, although I think she’s absolutely beautiful. It has nothing to do with sex, but she’s has a way of making loving fun. It has nothing to do with politics or religion. Calling this indescribable connection as love (whatever that means) is selling the emotion short.”

“She saved me, she ruined me. Before her, I thought I was content. But now I can’t un-feel what she made me feel. She makes me laugh, she makes me feel good, she makes me a better person. No one has ever been able to do that.”

Joel, “So, what are you going to do?”

Kevin, “Sometimes you don’t get closure, you just gotta decide to either carry on or to move on.”

Joel, “There’s never two loves that are the same. I guess you’re gonna have to decide which version of love is right for you. But, whatever you do, don’t go and get yourself a love tattoo. Cause, it’s a lot easier to have one inked into your skin, but much more painful and expensive to have it removed. Kind of like love, if ya know what I mean.”

Kevin, “It’s too late. I already got one on my arm.”

Joel, “What does it say?”

Kevin, It says ’Love’ followed by a question mark.” Joel, “Love is a freaking unexplainable mystery. I wish you good luck with your once dreamed of ‘Happily Ever After’ ending. With that said, I wish you a good night.”

Kevin, “Yeah, and the same back at you. I’ll leave you with a Bukowski quote, ‘Find what you love and let it kill you’’’

(The phone clicks, then the sound of a dial tone). 11 12 

Between Love and Disaster

Soundtrack by Ruston Kelly “Hellfire”.

This is your life, take it or leave it

Thru your tears and laughter

Were’e all just finding our way

Ya never know what ya got

Till you find out what you’re not

And most the time there’s nothing

There’s nothing there at all

Make your choice between love and disaster 

This is your life, to use as you choose

There’s anger and there’s forgiveness 

They’re both out there waiting for you

Grab a hold with both hands

Sometimes ya win sometimes ya lose

It’s no good to go it alone

Inside your soul make a home 

Made of Glass and stone

Make your choice between love and disaster 

This is your dream, to awaken

Watching your life unfold

Some give in, some give up

Trust your heart, trust your gut

Search the edges of your thoughts

What’s illusion, what’s not

Be careful what you’re chasing after

Make your choice between love and disaster 

Reprieves And Lost Causes

Let’s get this straight, people who seek simple answers are stupid. The ones who say, “Just repeat this mantra, just take this pill, go to this church, become a vegan, do yoga, read this book, join this party, attend this meeting, be affiliated, be indoctrinated, surrender yourself to a cult, follow this preacher, prophet, shaman, sacrifice your individualism, follow these steps, support this program and on and on into perpetuation. If anyone offers you simple solutions to the myriad of life challenges, immediately run in the opposite direction. Nobody’s gonna save you———except you!

Get this through your complacent brainwashed mind, “Life ain’t simple and surely not easy”. It’s filled with tough decisions, difficult questions and complex choices. Furthermore, life is unfair. Innocent children unexplainably die while evil murders on death-row live out long heathy lives——it’s infuriating! These dreadful thoughts keep me up at night. What kind of god creates a universe that approves such horror, inequality——such depravity. 

There was a time many years ago when there were only three TV networks to choose from (ABC, NBC and CBS). There were two types of bread, white or wheat. You were either a Chevy person or a Ford person. You were a Beatle fan or a Beach Boy’s fan. You either watch CNN or Fox News. There was a time when we only required one hour of nightly news to cover the local and national fresh batch of calamities. 

Nothing is simple anymore. Is “more” always better? Maybe the Amish have it right with their horse-drawn buggies, silly bonnets and goofy black hats? Maybe enlightenment is more achievable for the Zen Monk living alone in a cave in the Himalayas, no distractions, no facebook, no TikTok, no porn. Is ignorance bliss? Was Socrates right when he said “unexamined life is not worth living”. Are the stupid people happier than the seekers? It’s so much easier to be stupid and happy rather than struggling to find yourself, to be “woke” (whatever that means?) 

Now a days, we want to see, hear and know everything. We watch with glee as our heroes fall from grace. Does the tragedies of others make us feel better about our lackluster lives? Life is no longer lived, it’s processed, deep fried, homogenized, propagandized.  We watch life through a porthole, secretly peering into others Social Network realities. We seek out others in an echo chamber that supports our beliefs. We’re overloaded with conspiracies, truthiness and artificial intelligence (oxymoron). There are now computer apps that can be programed to write college thesis papers, compose music and create original paintings. I don’t know what original means anymore. Is there an algorithm for originality? For beauty? For reality? For Love? 

What’s real, what’s illusion. What’s true and what’s bullshit? It’s all up to you because the future is up for grabs. There’s no longer a truth filter or bullshit detector. We live in a world of contradictions and complications. I don’t know about you, but I’m pissed off. Why you might ask? 

The rich pay no taxes while the rest of us fight over table scraps. Politicians sit on their asses and do nothing while our children are slaughtered in another mass shooting. We have resources to better feed and house the homeless but yet there are more starving people living on the streets than ever before. We have better medications available to save lives but pharmaceutical companies charge more than what the sick can afford. We have science that has revealed the imminent dangers of global warming, yet our governments and industries fail to implement changes that will reduce the greenhouse effect. 

This one life given, should be better lived.

Sometimes it’s a curve ball

A dear John letter

A tire with a slow leak

A misfire

Ruble and ashes

Simplicity lost

Regretful goodbyes

Cold left overs

Prayers and futility

Unexpected farewells

Stained excuses

Potholes and apologies

Pretend love

Leached out success

Players and fakers

Listing ships

Death by loneliness

Silent betrayal

Orphaned dreams

Waiting on nothing

On no one

Self forgiven

Forgotten promises

Stubborn solitude

Watered down desire

Driving alone

Getting nowhere

Squelched confessions

July Snowstorm

Unhappy endings

Reprieves and Lost Causes 

Don’t wish me a good night

I too suffer from insomnia. The night can be a prison for the over thinkers and senseless worriers of the world. So much empty time to recount all my failures, follies and faults. Things I should have said and done, opportunities missed, loves gone ill-requited. The red numbers on the bedside digital clock appear frozen in time. I consider taking a half of one of my Ambien sleeping aides, but the after effects often leave me drowsy for several hours the following morning. So, I’ll bravely stare down my meddling ghosts. 

Time is so precious but at this tortured hour time takes on a different meaning. I have what the Buddhist call monkey mind. This is when my thoughts jump from one unrelated thought to the next. What a silly ass thing to say “Good Night”. There is no such thing as a “Good Night”. there is only darkness and solitude awaiting me there. Night is where my demons and devils churn out boogiemen that hide under my bed or breathe loudly from behind my closet door. 

Are you a believer in ghosts? Do they come from within us like a dark psychoses? Or, are they materializing out of the night ether? Have you ever seen one? If god created all of the universe, then he/she (binary?) surely could include ghosts in this odd ball thing called reality. Reality is malleable, depending on whose version of reality you choose to subscribe too. There’s a fine line between reality and illusion. And, I don’t give up my illusions easily, they have sustained me up to this point. 

I hope my rants don’t scare you away my dear old friend. Maybe “scare” is too harsh of a word. Perhaps the way I connect my esoteric thoughts is too confounding.  I’ve even grown tired of my own ruminating thoughts. You’ve peaked under my covers and seen my nightmares. I didn’t formally invite you in, but now that you’re here, feel free to make yourself comfortable. I offer you my friendship and therein my condolences—–as this is a package deal.  

The Lost Letter

Yes Norm, indeed it is true—-relentless snow and gray skies can render my mood gloomy and lead me into dark bleak places. It’s been a long hard winter—The Winter of my Discontent” John Steinbeck. I haven’t gone completely mad—-yet? I haven’t killed anyone and buried them under my floorboards “The Tell-Tale Heart” Edgar Allen Poe—-yet? But under the right conditions we can all be driven stalk mad crazy. We can find ourselves doing unthinkable things to one another. And may I ask, when did the hug become a choke hold? I hear them talk, I hear them whisper to one another, plotting against me, making wretched plans to foil my dreams and undo my flawed desires. One man’s fetish is another man’s torture. The opposite of love is not hate, but rather vengeance.  

The snow hems me in behind my frozen doorways and the wind whistles through my windows at night. It sounds like the soundtrack to a scary clown movie. The pantry is empty, my snow shovel broken and my only light is that from a flickering candle. I keep my one good eye on her and my other on the hands of the unwound grandfather clock. Time no longer exists in this abysmal season. She desperately wants to leave this god forsaken cabin, but she is stuck here with me until the spring thaw. And god only knows what the melting Perma Frost may reveal. 

I think walking on all cylinders isn’t an oxymoron, but rather a mixed metaphor. Words are precious things and not to be toyed with or misused. When people mess with things that they don’t understand it leads to a break down in communication AND THAT MAKES ME AWFULLY ANGRY!!!!  

Who’d of thought that out of 26 letters all the masterpieces have been written. What if there were 27 letters? Just think, what poems and stories that could be comprised of 27 letters, a hundred letters?   

The white snow blankets everything, like a white canvas covered in white paint. They say no two snowflakes are the same……I extrapolate from that, no two women’s bodies are the same, but that makes no difference to a man who craves the sun.

Love Is In The Small Things

I hold her hand

So nervous like the first time

She offers me a gentle smile

It hides a trace of pain

2 Days mean more

When they’e numbered

I can’t imagine my days Here 

Living without her

3 She use to make my meals

Use to mend my clothes 

Now there’s only shadows 

Where she made a small house our home

4 The sounds of laughing children

Once filled these empty rooms

The best of times in our life

We danced and laughed and struggled through

Those were the days

Even if we didn’t know it

Love is in the small things

Seldom seen and often go unnoticed 

1 She wants to walk in the garden

But her legs have grown weak

I help her to the window 

She shuffles her feet

2 Holding hands in silence 

Siting in the setting sun (ya see)

Love doesn’t belong 

Only to the young

3 Sunday drives in the country

Picnics by the lake

It doesn’t seem that long ago

But time moves on, refuses to wait

4 Whispers a Hail Mary

Tells me there’s angel circling

She can hear them calling

Calling her name

5 I kiss her forehead, and say

If you must go, I understand

What will I do without my sweetheart

Who I shared my life, hand in hand

Those were the days

Even if we didn’t know it

Love is in the small things

Seldom seen or noticed 

Soul Ache

I’ve been trying too hard, for to long , to be something…

I don’t even know what that something might be. For some people life just falls into place. They find jobs and love and buy houses and cars and have backyard barbecues. They don’t need to be seekers. They have their church of stone and their benevolent gods. Everything they want, is given. No questions asked. 

But not me. I spend my sleepless nights wondering about the sanctity of this life. So much bullshit. Dumb fucks are our political leaders. Rich bastards living in luxury while children in poor countries die of hunger. What passes as spirituality fails to give me peace of mind. 

These things don’t make me depressed, no——they make me sad. There is a difference between being depressed and being sad. To be depressed is a chemical thing. It can most often be cured with a pill. It can be prayed away. 

Sadness is rooted in a sense of hopelessness. It can be heard in Chet Bakers trumpet. Sadness comes from facing the futility of life. It has something to do with exaggerated empathy. Maybe it’s laying oneself open to nihilistic thoughts. I’m not depressed. I have a soul that aches, So, I know in spite of it all; I still have a soul. Heart-ache is depressing. Soul-ache is sadness.   

Life Without Love Is A Lie

I don’t wanna run, I don’t wanna hide

Finally found someone who made me feel alive

I don’t wanna waste, no more time 

Life without you, has got me losing my mind

You got me running in circles blind

You got me crossing forbidden lines

I know we both, have are reasons why

But baby, this life’s too short to compromise

Can’t get you out of my heart

As hard as I try

Life without love is a lie

Every-time we say goodbye

I die a little bit more inside

I know we both feel the same way

I want you more than words can say

No one see’s, and no one knows

The pain we feel, as we’re letting go

No one wins, we both loose

The ones we love, isn’t who we choose

Can’t get you out of my heart

As hard as I try

Life without love is a lie

Grand Canyon

Who knows why anyone ends up where they do? Or, how well they do, whatever they do, once they get there?—-that’s an odd sentence, but I like it for some strange unknown reason. Odd things and people have always been good friends to me.  Friends and family scatter, some are chasing something others are running away from something. But I suppose we’re all getting there—–wherever “there” may be? It’s hard for me to conceive that I’ve lived in Tahoe for 35 years—–and yes, where does the time go? Days go by like the raindrops that carved out the mighty Grand Canyon. Nature is patient, silent, unrelenting—-and unforgiving to those who might challenge her.
I noticed that I’ve used a lot of question marks in my prior sentences.  As I’ve gotten older, I realize that I have a lot more questions than answers. Time is such an abused but precious commodity. I have to remind myself of that. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, sentimental or just kind of self conscious. Sorry if I’m not making much sense, but as you must know, that’s nothing new. 
The wind is howling outside my window, sometimes so hard that it shakes my house. It takes a lot to shake a house and even stronger forces to revive a love. I like the painting by Andrew Wyeth of the dog sleeping on the bed. I miss my old black Lab named Chase. Such a faithful friend. When all the world was too busy to go hiking, biking or whatever, I could always count on my Chasey-Boy to be ready and willing to go anywhere with me and I with him. Dogs are great practitioners of unconditional love. People should be more like dogs, but not pee on fire hydrants. 

Give Yourself Some Room

Give yourself some room

Give yourself some space

This life’s a marathon

Not a foot race

Beware of fools and takers

Be your own best friend

It’s all about where you’re going

And not where you’ve been

Learn to love yourself

Find a way to make a home

Know I’m always with you, 

No matter how far you may roam

Take your time

Don’t get in a hurry

Life’s to short, 

To waste on fear and worry

Don’t be afraid to try

Be strong, be brave

Don’t feel alone

We’re all just, finding our way

Live out loud

Live wild and free

Don’t let anyone tell ya 

Who or what ya suppose to be

Chase down every dream

Cause time flies by fast

Let go of your sorrow

Even the toughest of times will pass

(Repeat Chorus)

Duct Tape And Hope

Life is fleeting, time can be cruel, money has wings——and in the end what matters most are the seemingly insignificant forgotten moments. It’s the ones who we surround ourselves with that matters, the ones who make us laugh at ourselves and help us to untether from this claustrophobic existence. Those honest ones, who in spite of ourselves cause us to wanna be a better person. But in the end we’re exposed as frauds and not what we had hoped to be.—- Hope is duct tape.

Unrealized dreams, fitful nights, trust betrayed, falling through that trapdoor in a used up life. Illogically, love is something that comes from nothing, like the meandering melancholy melodies of Chet Bakers trumpet on the tune “My Funny Valentine”. 

How can something so simple tie knots in tangled hearts. How many lives are wrapped within one life. Ends become beginnings. Promises and vows are watered down “what use to be’s”. Sadly, there are no second chances, only the impulsive choices we must now learn to live with. 

Loneliness makes its home in the heart of old loves that in time have become contrite.

Music and Aliens

Thanks for taking the time to listen to my music. I don’t expect any great revelations or scathing critiques. It’s just nice to know that my music is being listened to by someone out there in that big ole universe.
Perhaps, once a sound wave of music is made, it goes off into infinity, passing by silent stars, forgotten planets and yet unnamed galaxies. Maybe an alien will come across the sound wave and find themselves happily tapping their foot to the beat—–wouldn’t that be nice.
Music is one of the few things that brings order to the chaos—-and for a brief moment provides refuge to the weary.
So my good friend, open up your ears and heart and take a peek at the sound of my soul……
P.S. I’m big on planet Zaltar—-ha ha

Choke Hold

You must transcend yourself to become a better person than who you are right now. Abandon old limiting thoughts, erase false beliefs, overcome compromising barriers. Never, never, never compromise your values, in the end they are what define you. Resign yourself to the fact that life is at times going to be hard. The greatest joy is in defeating the pain and suffering that will test you. Your power is in your persistence and perseverance.

Fall in love with each new day. Love it all. The hardship and the failures, because they are life’s most important teachers. Let fear be your fuel. The greatest dream crusher is fear. Welcome it in and then spit in its eye. It will try and stop you before you’ve even started. Realize you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Stop the cluttered thoughts. Have a clarity of mind. You are what you think—–what you think becomes what you do— and what you do becomes who you are. Your greatest adversary is so close, that you may not be able to see it. It is hiding in you. Conquer yourself and you’ll be rewarded by the universe. You will dane the dance of freedom.

Be mindful of your thoughts. Stay positive—-attitude is a choice. Surround yourself with positive people. Loser’s and complainers flock together to bolster their toxic energy—-such a waste of energy.

Don’t try, do!—–And then do it again—-and again and again. Don’t you dare give in or give up or allow yourself to sleepwalk through this one life you’ve been given. Life is short, it will try and turn a hug into a choke hold.

In Spite Of It All

I didn’t sleep well last night, all on the account of our raggedy-ass phone call. I got up in the middle of the night and walked around in circles. The sun refused to come up, the stubborn sky remained gray from all the wild fires burning up California. I knew it was a Monday. I can feel Mondays even if I’d lived in a cave for the last year and had no access to a calendar. It smells, tastes and has the stench of a Monday. I don’t even work anymore—so it really doesn’t matter what day it is——-but it’s definitely a fucking Monday.

Music. I love all kinds of music. But as the saying goes, “There’s only two kinds of music—Good music and bad music”. But music like all art, is subjective——-So who’s to say what’s crap and what’s God smacked?

Music and writing have been good friends to me over the years. It consoled me, taught me lessons about myself and others, its given my blues a place to call home, its made me laugh and awoken the devils and angels haunting my soul. It’s my Kryptonite to stave off all of life’e bullshit–it’s given me a tiny glimpses of nirvana. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever sale one of my songs or stories and I suppose at this point it doesn’t really matter all that much to me. I’ve never written anything with the sole purpose of being published. I just enjoy the process of writing, dropping my fishing line into the abyss and seeing what I reel in——it’s always a mystery and fills me with a sense of wonder. A lot of my stories and songs are catch and release——Damn, see what I did there with that clever lil metaphor twist?

Here’s what I think. I think we should be kinder to one another. We should be supportive and encouraging. We should find ways to be complementary and positive. We’re all just fumbling around with ideas, emotions, words, melodies, rhythms and vibrations. We may not be on the same vibration, but we can be there for one another at some level. You’re the one who turned me on to the vibration concept. I believe there’s some truth to your theory. Those closet to us are the ones who vibrate at the same frequency. It’s something that once experienced requires no explanation.

The world is full of critics and nay sayers. So, am I asking you to offer only “happy” input in regards to my music? I guess I am. And if you feel this is phony—Well maybe it is. Art is a lonely pursuit and artist need supporters and benefactors. I’m sure you can come up with many reasons why this is hypocritical or of no value. You are entitled to your “truths”.  But for me, find good things to say or say nothing at all. And in return you can expect nothing less of me. And if this rubs you the wrong way, then I think it’s best to no longer send you projects—-I respect your opinion, although it differs from mine. 

P.S, Van Gough painted like a three year old. In his lifetime he only sold one painting. It’s hard to believe in yourself until the world believes in you. I think ya have to let go of what the world thinks. 

“Thank you, in spite of it all

For the good, the bad, the rise, the fall” 


“I’ll be me, and you’ll be you

In the music, find me, I’ll find you”

Love ya always brother, 

I Over Think Stuff

I wrote this for a friend of mine who recently celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary.

Forty years is a long time to believe in anything, but if you’re going to believe in anything, it might as well be love. Love, what a strange and unreasonable concept. We promise to love people and things as if they’ll always remain the same. Maybe love has nothing to do with those things. When love grows old and uncomfortably comfortable——- is when it is the most real. After the sex is gone, after the sweet Hallmark Cards have all been sent, signed and delivered with their cursory hearts and X’s and O’s.  After all is said and done, there’s only you and that fool-hearted promise that you’d give your love to someone forever—it’s truly hard to love anything or anyone forever. Commitments and promises belong to fools, dreamers and those who know the gift of a miracle. Love is a miracle. If ya wanna be loved, then ya gotta be lovable—–its the receptacle law of give and take. There are some who never “get it”.

Lately I’ve been having this awful feeling that I’m forgetting something, or missing something. I get this overwhelming feeling of loss. I feel like life is going too fast and I can’t catch up, or worse yet, I’m wasting time going in the wrong direction. So many forks in the road. I’m so damn sentimental, I hate letting go of people and things. The Buddhist believe that all suffering is due to the attachment of people and things—–And then there’s the physicists who say change is the only constant. 

I overthink stuff. 

In Spite Of It All

You can feel life distancing itself from you

Your gait slower now, as this impatient world accelerates by you, through you, past you-without you

Eyesight blurred in failing light, colors yellowed— fading

Sounds of yesterday’s life muffled, is it my solitary voice, or a strangers echo

Foggy memories withering, names and faces drawn dimmer

Time is a fools theory, where does the circle begin, where does it end

Joints creek and pop, conspiring with winter chill——breaking colder—harsher

What are the things we choose to recall, what are the things we wish to forget

How many overs make an end

Old ships battered, listing in high seas

Less and less of her in view

The saddest four words

She once loved me

In spite of it all

Life remains an unexpected gift

Those Were The Days

Sorry I can’t make it to your mothers Celebration of Life event. This will be my final installment to Jeanne’s letter writing project. I hope she enjoyed the previous eight letters I sent to her while she was in the rest home. I hope they comforted her and made her laugh or perhaps cry—- my stories and words were intended to help her relive some of those good ole days we shared on Briar Lane. I can’t be there to tell my story in person, but if there is a place where pictures and such are being displayed, perhaps you can post this letter.

I’m going back, I’m going way back in time. Back to the 70’s. Back to when classic rock wasn’t something you now hear being played in the produce department of Safeway. There is something unsettling about listening to Van Halen “You Really Got Me” on the store sound-system as I watch an elderly woman examine the firmness of a zucchini. 

 No, I’m going back to when rock and roll was still rebellious and social networking was hollering out your car window at girls in their cars—I can still recall those hot summer Yuba City nights and that distinctive scent of rotten peaches lingering in the stale night air. It’s the end of August and another summer is slipping away. The sound of crickets, bullfrogs and a lone barking dog make up the evenings chorus. Thoughts of returning to school leaves me feeling flat and uninspired. This is the stuff that keeps a small agriculture town like Yuba City forever tucked away at the edges of my memories. We all carry pieces of our hometowns within us. Rainy days playing monopoly, making jokes to hide our insecurities, experiencing an awkward first kiss, playing baseball in a weed strewn field, climbing the levee for a swim in the the river——and coming to appreciate the value of being part of our Briar Lane gang——-where we made friendships to last us a life time.

Back then, on our block we played outside until it got dark or someone’s mom hollered “Supper time”. Yeah, “those were the days”. That’s what old farts use to say to me when I was a kid. I thought that was a bunch of nonsense, but now that I’m an old fart, I find myself muttering “Those were the days”. I suppose, ya don’t know somethings, until you’re ready to know them. Sometimes it’s too late——- and there’s nothing worse than being too late. Too late to share a morning walk, too late to share an evening sunset. Too late to share all those seemingly insignificant moments that comprise a lifetime. Too late to say the things you always intended to say. Things like, thanks for always being on my side, thanks for believing in me when no one else did——thanks for loving me—-cause that ain’t always such an easy thing to do——just ask my wife.

So there you lay and here I stand. Although you no longer inhabit your body and it no longer imprisons you——-I will always carry your voice and memory within me. Somethings are immortal. Somethings never die. 

Jeanne——mother, wife, friend, neighbor, teacher, counselor, life learner, strong and courages, gone but never forgotten.  And to you I proudly say—— “I love you”.

Victor S. Uriz II

Briar Lane Poet Laureate  

I’m Stuck with you, You’re Stuck with me

Tell me daddy, what makes the sun burn so bright

Who turns on the moon, when it gets dark at night

Oh Daddy, what makes the wind blow

Who turns on the rain, who freezes the snow

Tell me Daddy, why’s the ocean so blue

Who decorates the flowers, with morning dew

Someday my son, you’ll be a man

You’ll see, it’s all part of a plan

What you take, and what you give

Gonna come back to you, in this life you live

Love is all, we came here for

Nothing less, nothing more

One day son, you’ll leave home

You’ll find love, and have children of your own

You’ll teach them all, all ya know

You’ll wish them well, then ya gotta let-em go

You can choose your friends, but not your family

So I guess I’m stuck with you, I guess you’re stuck with me

Someday my son, you’ll be a man

You’ll see it’s all part of a plan

What you take, and what you give

Comes back to you, in this life you live

Love is all we came here for

Nothing less, nothing more

Things I Had To Find Out

I remember my first apartment. It never felt like home, it was sparse and empty. It smelled of stale cigarets and flat beer. But I needed to go there and find things out for myself. I had to rid myself of parents and daily routines of doing chores——that draining feeling of being someones child, being someones pride and burden. It’s an awful feeling of being young and realizing that you’re going nowhere fast. Failure is a brutal teacher. 

I thought it was going to be a lot different. I dreamt that there’d be girls, all kinds of girls. Girls dancing with me in the dark, spending their nights in my ramshackle pad. I thought there’d be late night parties, beer for breakfast and never having to make my bed or mow my dad’s lawn. But mainly, it ended up being me and a couple of buddies sitting on my broken down couch, smoking pot and drinking the cheapest beer we could find. 

We found out the hard way that the girls wanted boys with fancy cars and college bound incomes. They went for the boys who were going to Cabo for Spring Break and living off the money their parents gave to them freely. 

Me and my buddies spent long nights hanging out in my dimly lit apartment. Our big plans veiled the fear that our dreams were like all those pretty girls, untouchable, just out of reach. And it ached deep down to watch them walk by, hand in hand with their privileged preppies. They left a trail of republican stench in their wake. 

As for us, we were never going to comprises and end up working for “the man”. We were going to travel, see the world, have grand adventures and yes, we’d find carefree girls too. But we found out that everything had a price, everything cost money.  The fast-food jobs sucked, and the jobs working at the Canneries were tedious, heartless and grueling. We were constantly being fired for showing up late, or being hungover and not showing up at all. We were  expendable to “the man”. Our only refuge was the broken down apartment where we could exchange big ideas and plot out our untested futures. 

But, this world is designed to castrate young men and squeeze every last drop of life out of them. They wanted us to be content working at their mindless, meaningless, soul sucking jobs that were designed to make us feel insignificant, replicable. Replaceable like a worn out part or broken piece of machinery. They enjoyed watching us fight each other over the table scraps they tossed us. 

There would be a string of rundown apartments, quicksand jobs and that sound of silent screams of someone under water, someone suffocating. The American Dream was a con, a lost cause, a carrot dangling just out of reach, but close enough to keep us plodding along like dimwitted plow horses. 

So, one day I woke up and I stopped trying to be something or somebody. I stopped, shook my head and walked away from it all, from the city and its constant drone of nothingness. Along with its horde of brainwashed proletariat working stiffs, who’s only purpose was to make the rich richer. They worked at dreadful jobs to pay the mortgage on houses they left empty so that they could go to work and pay their mortgage. They got loans to buy cars that they drove from home to work and from work to home in a vicious circle. It all seemed so senseless to me. There was nothing there for me. I had no use for that world that once left me feeling insignificant. I moved to the mountains and never looked back. I found purpose hiking in the woods and sharing sunsets and sunrises with fellow pariahs.

Like I said “I had to find things out for myself”.

Education and Knick-Knacks

This piece is dedicated to a good friend and talented teacher—-Roberta

A complete education teaches critical thinking, non conformity, risk taking and personal accountability. It teaches students to think for themselves and to follow facts not opinions. This requires students to become well rounded in their quest for knowledge and truth. What good is it if a student studies nuclear physics but has no appreciation for the frailties of humanity. What good is it to study philosophy but to not be given the tools to decipher right from wrong. What good it is to study history if you can’t apply it to solving todays social issues. As the saying goes, “Those that fail to learn from history are destine to repeat it”. An education should prepare students to answer the most difficult questions. This includes questions regarding morality, social justice, racism, global warming, political ideals and religion—-to only name a few.

The core purpose of education is not to receive a piece of paper that states a student has completed a series of classes and successfully passed a list of required tests. Education should provide students with the tools and skills to become contributing members of their communities. Compassion and empathy should be a common thread that runs through the curriculum of all subjects and disciplines. This is more true today than ever before.

I’ve dedicated over twenty years of my life to serve as an educator. It’s been an honor to have touched so many lives. I’ve always prided myself in being a motivator and mentor who sought to help each and every one of my students reach their highest potential. I’ll always carry with me the memories of my high achieving students but in some ways, I’ll remember the students who had to struggle and fight to meet their goals even more so. Sometimes what they needed more than anything was for someone to believe in them. That is something not taught in books, but rather given as a gift. These fond memories put a smile on my face. No one can ever take that from me.  

So, I leave here with a cardboard box of mementoes. Some silly knick knacks, a coffee cup and twenty years of student pictures, poems and old flyers advertising plays and concerts. I even have a couple of plaques that recognized me for a job well done. Such a bitter sweet feeling. I’m acutely aware of the sound of my footsteps as they echo down the deserted hall for the finale time. I slowly turn around and whisper, “Farewell old friend”.  

Two Ticks Of A Clock

Between two ticks of a clock

A baby inhales its first breath

Between two ticks of a clock

An old man exhales his last threats

Between two ticks of a clock

Lives may be changed, forever swallowed up

Between two ticks of a clock

Names and days may forever be forgotten 

Between two ticks a clock

Someone falls in love for the first time

Between two ticks of a clock

Someone falls out of love for the last time

Between two ticks of a clock

Entire lives pass by

Between two ticks of a clock

Entire lives slip and lose their grip

Between to ticks of a clock

Everything can change

Between two ticks of a clock

Everything dangles in an abyss 

Between two ticks of a clock

Anything and everything is possible

Between two ticks of a clock

Everything conspires into nothing


There’s no reward for a life well lived

There’s only the conquering of midnight thoughts and defeating those loathed barbed days 


Time has sun baked our souls and left craters and wrinkles deep in our faces, that mirror like a river refuses to be damned or tamed——-inhale-exhale-sigh

Once young and untested she gave her body to me 

I took it and imagined it would always be this way

But I was wrong, now-a-days the destination is seldom worth the journey—exhale-exhale-sigh

Were we ever that young, that hopeful, so foolish and immortal inhale-exhale-sigh 

Love has a life of it’s own

It lives, it dies

No one knows its life span—exhale-exhale-sigh

It morphs into memories of sun kissed spring days

Time lays in-wait, slipping by, steadily unwinding

Self-doubt is contagious, and it will kill you

Just when you think you have it all figured out

It changes direction—inhale-exhale-sigh

No more listening to boring dweebs yammer on about their views, their values, their beliefs, their god—their rights 

Nobody gives a shit about your petty proclamations, I said nobody, nobody cares asshole!—exhale-inhale—sigh

STOP!  Stop blathering on about your politics, your Jesus, your conspiracy theories and the price of gas and how it was so much better back in the “good ole days”-inhale-exhale-scream!!!!!

Prize Fighters And Poets

With a tone of scorn and eyes conveying pity I’ve been called “sensitive”. I hate the term sensitive, it brings to mind weakness and vulnerability. To write a poem requires guts. To paint a picture requires vision. To play the blues is to open up ones soul and expose a heart callused and gnarled. To put pen to paper and write is fool hearted and as brave as taking off all your clothes and running down main street bare-ass naked.  We’re all awkward and sensitive when naked. Most will point and snicker, but few will understand.

I suppose the opposite of sensitive would be insensitive, indifferent and selfish. Imagine being described as a sweet fellow——-but so terribly insensitive, indifferent and selfish. The worlds full of bleached out souls afraid to air their feelings. These are the ones who lean on trite “Hallmark Cards” to express their orphaned emotions. 

I ain’t sensitive, I’m the underdog in a prize fight. I’m the guy that’s willing to take a hundred punches so I can get one in of my own. I’m not particularly fast or talented, but I can take a punch. I’ll weave and bob my way into the face of any dumb ass critique. I’ll shove them against the ropes and whisper in their ear “Is that all ya got?”. My eyes might be swollen shut and my nose may be bloodied, but you’ll have to take me out in a stretcher before I’ll give up. I’ve done my work in the gym. I’ve done my early morning roadwork. I’ve pounded that heavy bag until my fists bled. I’ve hit that speed bag until it became a blur. I’ve earned this chance. I’ve been patient. I’ve waited for my opening. I’m one dangerous motherfucker, I’m one of those with nothing left to lose. I’ll hit that son of a bitch right on the jaw with a right hook.  I’ll watch him crumble like a sheet of bad poetry headed for the waste basket. 

People don’t drown cause they can’t swim, they drown cause they can’t hold their breath long enough.  And brother, I can go forever on one breath.

Inventing Colors

Art is everywhere, but most only see it when it’s put in a fancy frame, installed in an art show or defined as such by pretentious critics’. I do love art. I love Bukowski and Kerouac….Their pens like divining rods, separating raw sewage from raw beauty.  Some people breakdown playing the piano into a math problem, into intervals and the frequency of notes on a page, but that’s missing the point of playing the piano. Why paint by numbers when there’s so much more waiting outside the lines. Doodle, scribble, close your eyes and let the music flow through you, out of you, into you——like a new color that’s yet to be discovered. 

Our Better Angels Have Flown

Our noble experiment in democracy has begun to fracture and crumble. It seems all the mechanism and systems our forefathers created as checks and balances are failing due to the love of power. The two party system is in gridlock. Compromise is a dirty word. The majority of wealth is held by a minority of individuals. The peaceful exchange of power is no longer abided by. Big lies and fake news outlets such as Fox have made a mockery out of facts and truth.Angry internet sites and inflammatory pod casts encourage violence over civil discussions. Big money and special interests have replaced majority rules. What has become of all the good men and women who once treated our system of democracy as something sacred—-something that was paid for with the blood of thousands of perished soldiers. Our better angels have flown….Shame on us. 

The Forgiveness Song

This one’s for all the old couples who stuck it out through the hard times.

I’m tired of you

Being tired of me

I’m tired of me 

Being tired of you

Once again

You forgive me

Once again 

I forgive you (2X)

Your my friend and lover

I’m your lover and friend

We’re still together

Cause we’ve learned how to bend

Wrote you a love song

Wrote me a letter

Some loves fall apart==but

We’re better off together

We can take bike

We can take a bus

Enjoy the ride 

Don’t get in a rush

Come on to bed

Don’t make a fuss

Shut off those lights

I’m gonna make ya blush

I’ve been wrong

A few times right

You’ve been right

A few times wrong

After all our trials

And tribulations 

Our loves like a sweet song

Playing on a country station (2x)

Gave me a kiss, and a hug

Gave ya a hug, and a kiss

Turn tears to laughter

Cause it’s better than being pissed

Doubts and questions

We’ve had a few

But, you still love me

And, I still love you

We can take a Harley

We can take a bus

Enjoy the ride 

Don’t get in a rush

Come on to bed

Don’t make a fuss

Shut off those lights

We’ll polish off the dust

I’m gonna make ya blush

God, Vaginas and Wieners

There should be a little bit of nothingness in all our lives
I’m talking about the nothingness that my lazy ass cat shamelessly flaunts  
She could care less about worries, victories or life goals
She’s at her best when doing absolutely nothing
She sleeps when she wants to sleep
She eats when she wants to eat
She yawns, stretches, then takes another nap in a sunbeam
What others may think of her, does not concern her
If you get on her nerves she’ll put her ass up in your face 
To remind ya who’s the boss
She squints her eyes like Clint Eastwood, as if to say “kiss my ass”

Woman are like cats, fickle, complacent, impossible to figure out and even harder to please
A pissed off woman is a frightening thing
There’s “mean” and then there’s “woman mean”
They’re more interested in being right, than being happy
You’ll never out-talk or out-argue a woman
They’ll always get the “last word”
They’ll smirk, pout and then vindictively proclaim “I told ya so”
They find contentment in the nothingness that fills their nothing-less day
It’s all too much, causing a man to mutter, stammer and cus under their defeated breath——sheeeet!

But when a man needs a woman, he’ll act a fool
You’ll see him heel at her side like an obedient dog on a short leash 
She’ll yank on that choker-chain every now and again to keep him in his place
Men will connive, lie and feign politeness in a futile attempt to get into a woman’s heart—or more importantly, their pants
So, ya buy them jewelry, take them out to dinner, comment on how beautiful their eyes are, how stunning their dress is
All the while, she'll absentmindedly stare into her compact mirror  

Women's personalities are hidden, just like their women parts
Men don’t understand how a woman’s body works
Everything about it is a mystery
It looks like a gapping wound that sometimes bleeds
Nipples, breasts, legs
The softness of their ass
Where to start? What to do?
It’s all to much for a simple man to grasp
But grasp, they shall try—-and try, AND TRY!

Women don’t have time for a man’s bullshit
They have more important things to do
They construct purpose out of life’s nothing-less—ness 
They fill every moment, of every hour, of each day with endless busyness
They fabricate grand schemes 
Things they're determined to make men orchestrate 
Life becomes one long laborious “To Do list”
To women, everything means something, especially the insignificant petty shit
Wipe your feet, take out the garbage, feed the cat, cut the lawn, bring me my tea, it’s too hot, it’s to cold—-did you hear me?

They somehow make babies out of their own flesh and blood
Their bellies swell up to accommodate a parasite living deep inside their womb——
Men only know about the fucking part of making babies

Men are happy in their nothingness
Men’s body parts, are like their personalities, right out there for the world to see, compare and giggle at
They grab at it to show dominance
They believe theirs is bigger and mightier than anyone else’s
They expect it to be worshiped and fawned over
In reality, it’s the goofiest looking thing you’ll ever see
And if they can’t find anyone to grab on it, they’ll jerk on it themselves

I guess this is the way god planned it
And what a sick sense of humor he must have



One of life's greatest mistakes 

Expecting to be loved
Expect is a word best not attached to love

There’s many versions of love
Few are lasting, and even fewer are memorable 

Some covet it as if it were property
Others wear it on their arm like a flashy bauble
Or, proudly tattoo it permanently upon their skin 
Oftentimes vanishing before the ink dries
At times it’s confused with sex
You can have sex without love
And you can have love without sex

After all the gyrations and moaning
Even if she lets you put it where you want?
You’ll still need to find things to talk about at the end of a worn-out night
Humor is the best aphrodisiac 
Honesty is the slipperiest of lubricants

It's naively offered up with open arms 
Like a soon to be broken Vow
Vows are for love-struck suckers
It’s a fabled belief in security and sincerity 

Sometimes, it's a broken record that skips and pops
All noise and no melody
Like a sympathy composed for the deaf

Most want love to be soft and tender
Like sappy verses from a smarmy poem
But it's none of those things 
It's a prize fight, a spectacle of blood, rage and courage
It can suddenly switch from an endearing hug to an enraged choke hold 

It begins with a polite first kiss, ending up in a dark room that reeks of raw savage sex--that is--if you get lucky

Yet, there are those rare flashes of something
Some may call it love, but that's an over-used euphemism
It stirs an ancient ache that resides deep inside us all
Where does it come from? Why does it go?
Who knows? It's a vexing enigma 

It comes with no warranties, no guarantees
It’s fragile, so handle it with care

If ya break it, you'll have to pay for it 
Once shattered, you’ll never be able to put it back together
No glue or counseling can dull its painful shards 

Once the shelf-life has been reached
You’ll need to decide——should it be thrown out?
Or painfully watch it continue to curdle and sour 
Salmonella is a bad way to go 

The trouble with love—-is
It’s what happens between life’s otherwise mundane moments

It has no soul or conscience 
No sense of right or wrong
It makes fools out of it’s gullible victims



One of life's greatest mistakes 

Expecting to be loved
Expect is a word best not attached to love

There’s many versions of love
Few are lasting, and even fewer are memorable 

Some covet it as if it were property
Others wear it on their arm like a flashy bauble
Or, proudly tattoo it permanently upon their skin 
Oftentimes vanishing before the ink dries
At times it’s confused with sex
You can have sex without love
And you can have love without sex

After all the gyrations and moaning
Even if she lets you put it where you want?
You’ll still need to find things to talk about at the end of a worn-out night
Humor is the best aphrodisiac 
Honesty is the slipperiest of lubricants

It's naively offered up with open arms 
Like a soon to be broken Vow
Vows are for love-struck suckers
It’s a fabled belief in security and sincerity 

Sometimes, it's a broken record that skips and pops
All noise and no melody
Like a sympathy composed for the deaf

Most want love to be soft and tender
Like sappy verses from a smarmy poem
But it's none of those things 
It's a prize fight, a spectacle of blood, rage and courage
It can suddenly switch from an endearing hug to an enraged choke hold 

It begins with a polite first kiss, ending up in a dark room that reeks of raw savage sex--that is--if you get lucky

Yet, there are those rare flashes of something
Some may call it love, but that's an over-used euphemism
It stirs an ancient ache that resides deep inside us all
Where does it come from? Why does it go?
Who knows? It's a vexing enigma 

It comes with no warranties, no guarantees
It’s fragile, so handle it with care

If ya break it, you'll have to pay for it 
Once shattered, you’ll never be able to put it back together
No glue or counseling can dull its painful shards 

Once the shelf-life has been reached
You’ll need to decide——should it be thrown out?
Or painfully watch it continue to curdle and sour 
Salmonella is a bad way to go 

The trouble with love—-is
It’s what happens between life’s otherwise mundane moments

It has no soul or conscience 
No sense of right or wrong
It makes fools out of it’s gullible victims

At The Speed Of Foreverness

In spite of our long days and the swiftness of these passing years 

We’ve reluctantly grown old
Old as in running out of time
The potholed street of aging leads to a cul de sac of convalescence 

Age robs us of youths vanities
It rubs our hair off, dulls our eyesight and deafens our hearing
We slowly cave in on ourselves

We can no longer get by on our sexiness or youthful bravado 
We’re left with a fading wit and the shreds of a once charmed personality

This leaves some bitter, while others are liberated 
There’s nothing more attractive than someone who no longer gives a shit about what others think of them

Shriveled skin, brittle bones, hemorrhoids and varicose veins ain’t so bad

It’s the fading of memories and the onset of feeble mindedness that leaves us befuddled

There’s that moment of confusion when we enter a room and forget what we needed there, or what we were looking for, or even why we came there in the first place???

But, I’ll fight like hell to forever remember your face 


Tigers Or Table Scraps

The universe keeps trying to convince me that I’m mediocre, but I refuse to give in. All the greats have had to fight that urge to shrink and fit into normalcy.

Crazy is better than normalcy, going mad is better than normalcy. Do something, do anything to prove that you’re still alive—-that you’re a worthy opponent. Release your bullshit on the world like a tiger ripping into a fallen gazelle.

Kill or be killed—–most are already dead and feeding on table scraps. The true holy ones aren’t afraid to climb free solo—they know that no one is tethered to security.

Make fear your best-friend and nothing will ever scare you again. 

Cinderella And The Glass Heart

Staging-A little girl sitting crosslegged in a tent holding a Teddy Bear.

Sarah-(speaking to her bear). “I don’t know how this all got started or how it’s going to end, but right now everything seems so strange and so wrong. At first I missed our apartment, then I missed our motel room, then I missed our car——now I’m missing a lot of things. I’m only ten years old and I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know it’s wrong to not have a home. Everybody needs a home. A place with a lock on the door. A place to do my homework, a place with a kitchen, where mom can cook good food and the bed sheets smell fresh and clean. I like to listen to the rain on the roof of our tent. My mom use to say that I should pretend that we’re on a long camping trip. but I don’t think that’s so. There’s no bonfires, no s’mores, no sound of crickets. Only the sound of big trucks driving by fast, they drown out the sound of the raindrops on my tent. I pretend that the sound of the raindrops are a song.” (She sings along to the sound of raindrops). 

“Rain, rain, go away.
Come again another day.
Baby wants to play.
Rain, rain, go away.

Rain, rain, go away.
Come again another day.
All the family wants to play.
Rain, rain, go away.”

(Her voice is drowned out by the sound of traffic.) “I like to play hop scotch, but I don’t have any chalk and besides, there’s no playground here. My only friend here is my Teddy Bear. I sleep with him at night. He protects me. 

My daddy use to say that he’d always protect me. But one day he went away and never came back. My mom said he is sick and has lots of problems. When I asked her what his problems were, she just shook head and said he had lots of devils in his head. Sometimes I think he got tired of me, got tired of saying things were going to get better——when they never did. He must of gotten tired of this pretend campout.  Maybe he just got tired of pretending things would change for the better. I wish angels could help my daddy. Maybe they could chase away his devils. I’d like to believe there’s angels even in this horrible place.”

Bear, (Sarah pretends she’s the bear and speaks in a high pitched voice) “I wish I could move, because if I could, I’d give you a hug and keep you safe. I’d always be your friend, no matter what. Do you have any friends to play with?”

Sarah, “I only have you and one other friend.  His name is Johnny. He walks me from the school bus to my tent.”

Bear, “He stands up for you and protects you?“

Sarah, “One time walking from the bus this man came up to me and asked if I’d like to see his kitten. I knew that I shouldn’t of, but I love kittens, they’re so cute and cuddly.  He said, I bet you can’t guess what color that kitten is? I said, is she maybe orange with green eyes?” He gave me a high five and said I was right. He said the kitten was down the path, just a short walk to the river. I told him that I suppose to come straight home. He said that if I went with him, I could name the kitten any name I’d like. I always wanted to have a kitten, and if I did, I’d name her April because my birthday is April third. He told me that was a perfect name. He said I could take her home with me. I followed him down the path and he said I could hold his hand cause the path was steep. He took my hand and held it very tight. I thought that this man was dirty and had messy hair and an ugly beard. I thought, if he can’t take care of himself, how could he take care of a little kitten. I tried to pull away, but he held my hand even tighter. I tried to twist loose and started crying. He said we were almost where the kitten was. I kept crying and screaming for him to let me go. That’s when Johnny showed up and cracked that mean man in the face with his walking stick. This made him fall on the ground and Johnny kicked him in the belly. He said if he ever saw him around here again he’d kill him. Then, Johnny pulled out a knife and waved it in front of that guys face. He put a deep cut across the ugly man’s face and then he said, “If you ever think of hurting a child again, let this scar remind you what happens to freaks like you.” He walked me back to my tent. He got down on his knee’s and said I should never, ever talk to strangers. He said that there’s bad people out there who steal little girls. He said these little girls never come home again, and never see their mother’s again. He said from now on he’d walk me from the school bus. And he does. If there were such a thing as angels he’d be mine, he’d be my guardian angel.”

Johnny, (Johnny pops his head into Sarah’s tent). “Hey shorty, I got a surprise for ya. You like surprises don’t ya?  Ya won’t believe this. Well, I was going about my business collecting cans when this church van pulled up and started handing out baloney and cheese sandwiches. I got one for you and one for me. (tosses Sarah a sandwich). These church people all got in a circle around me and started to pray over me. I felt something strange in my chest. I don’t know if it was Jesus or just heartburn from the baloney. Then they gave me a $25.00 voucher for the Goodwill store. I ran into Crooked Neck Tony and I traded the voucher for fifteen bucks cash. And here’s the surprise. The Nickelodeon Theater is having a Disney film festival. I got us two tickets. Matinee’s are made for rainy afternoons like today.” 

Sarah, “Oh my gosh, my favorite all time movie is Cinderella. Do you think it’ll be one of the movies they’ll be showing?”

Johnny, “I don’t know, but we’ll find out. I know this much, it’ll be warmer and dryer than this leaky tent.”

Sarah, “I love theaters. They’re warm and they smells like buttered popcorn. Do you think we could get popcorn?”

Johnny, “For sure. I have money from the cans I collected this morning.”

Sarah, “Movies are the best. In the darkness nobody can see you——everyone’s the same. They take me away from the real world for a little while. I like when the lights go down and it gets real quiet. Sometimes I forget where I am or even what day it is. I know that movies are only make believe, but maybe dreams can come true.”

(Sarah sings) “

‘When you wish upon a star
Makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires
Will come to you

If your heart is in your dream
No request is too extreme
When you wish upon a star
As dreamers do

Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true’

Johnny, “That’s a good song. Yeah, there’s magic in that darkness. In the movies there’s always happy endings.  Every wish that becomes a reality starts with a dream.  Don’t let anyone step on your dreams shorty. Here, put your coat on, let’s go see Cinderella.”

Scene II

(It’s a new day and Johnny is walking Sarah back from the bus to her tent.)

Johnny, “How was school today shorty?”

Sarah, (Her head is down, she sighs, she looks sad). “It was fine.”

Johnny, “What do you mean fine? Did something happen at school?”

(Sarah remains silent).

Johnny, “Did you get in trouble or something? Did you remember to turn in your homework? Did somebody say something that hurt your feelings? I’ll go and talk to your teacher if ya want me too.”

Sarah, “No——just forget about it. I’m sick and tired of everything and everybody. Nobody understands.”

Johnny, (He stops and gets on one knee and holds Sarah’s shoulders). “I’m your friend. You can tell me anything. I’ll be your friend no matter what. What’s wrong?”

Sarah, (She hesitates before speaking).  “Look at me. Look at my clothes, look at my book bag. Everything I have is old, torn and dirty. This stupid boy at recess pointed at me in front of a bunch of kids and said I was poor trash. He laughed and told everyone that I live at the shelter and that anyone who lives there is dirty and smelly like the monkeys in the zoo. He moved around me in a circle pretending he was a monkey, Everyone started laughing at me.  (A teardrop roles down her cheek).

Johnny, “What’s this punks name? I’m gonna report him to the principle. I’ll kick his dads ass and make him apologize to you. Don’t people teach their kids manners these days?”

Sarah, (Sobbing) “I don’t know what to do, but I don’t want things to be this way anymore. Everything is so hard——people are so mean. I’m never going back to school. I’m gonna quit.”

Johnny, (He brushes Sarah’s hair back from her face and wipes away her tears). “Don’t ever use that word quit. Don’t ever be a quitter. Quitting is for losers and you’re not a loser. School is the way out of this place. Things will get better, I promise you that. And, I don’t make promises that I can’t keep.”

Sarah, “Yeah, that’s what everyone says. But everyone has let me down. Everything’s a mess. I don’t need any friends——I don’t need nothin from anyone.”

Johnny, “You can count on me. We’ll stick together and we’ll be stronger together. You can lean on me. We’re never gonna stop or quit or give in. Cause you’re Cinderella —-Right?—-Right?. Just like her, you’re gonna turn the tables on this thing and things are gonna turn out right.” 

Sarah, “Yeah, I suppose. I don’t even need a glass slipper, I just need new socks and shoes. Why do people judge other people by the way they dress or how they look. It’s hard to make friends when ya don’t fit in. It’s not fair. I wish I was special to someone.”

Johnny, “Sarah, you’ll always be special to me. Someday things will be different.”

Sarah, “Yeah right, someday?”

Scene III

(It’s 2am in the morning. Johnny is wearing a miners hardhat with an attached flashlight. He’s digging through a garbage ben. He’s singing as he’s retrieving aluminum cans. A cop approaches Johnny). 

Cop, “Hey you, what the hell are you doing out here in the middle of the night digging through a garbage ben?”

Johnny, “I’m having a banner day, or should I say banner night? This is my eleventh bag of aluminum cans. The frat boys in those house over there must of had one hell of a party. I’ll tell ya this, when garbage juice rolls down your arms it’s sure gets sticky. I haven’t had a drop of booze, but I’m sure I must reek of alcohol due to it dripping all down my arms and on my pants and shirt.”

Cop, “Why don’t ya just wait till morning to go dumpster diving?”

Johnny, “I’m on a mission for Cinderella.” 

Cop, (Scratches his head). “Are you on drugs, have you skipped taking your meds? If you keep talking gibberish, I’m gonna have to 51/50 ya.”

Johnny, “Look, I’m not crazy. Ya see I’ve served our country——three tours in the middle east. Look it here.” (He pulls up his sleeve and reveals a Special Forces tattoo). “I need to get enough money to buy Cinderella a pair of glass slippers.”

Cop, “Special forces. I guess that makes us brothers.” (He pull up his sleeve revealing a tattoo identical to Johnny’s). “I don’t know what your mission might be, but we’re brothers and I wanna help ya in anyway I can.” (He pulls out his wallet and hands Johnny two twenty dollar bills and a business card).  “Look, this is a a guy who works at the Vets Center. He’s a good man. He helped me out a lot. I had a lot of problems adjusting when I first got back from my last deployment. They have a lot of good programs to help Vets get back on their feet. They can help with housing, job training, physical and mental health issues. Please, give them a shot at helping you.” (Out of respect, he salutes Johnny and Johnny salutes him back). “Hey, here’s some latex gloves I use when I’m frisking someone. They’ll help keep a little bit of the garbage juice off your hands.”

Johnny, “God knows, I’ve had worse things than garbage juice on these hands.  Maybe some things never come clean?”

Scene IV

(It’s the following day and Johnny approaches the tent). “Knock, Knock. Anybody home?”

Sarah, (Responds in an unenthusiastic tone). “Yeah, I guess if ya wanna call this home. Come in.”

Johnny, (He enters the tent and sits cross legged). “I got something for ya.” (He reaches outside of the tent and grabs a new backpack and hands it to Sarah). “Go ahead, look inside the pack.” (She begins to pull items from the bag. There’s all kinds of school supples, hair berets, combs, brushes, shampoo, tooth paste and tooth brush). 

Sarah, “ Is this all for me? How could you afford all this?”

Johnny, (He once again reaches outside of the tent and brings in a large bag). “Okay Cinderella, it’s not a glass slipper, but it’s a start.”

Sarah, (She reaches in the bag and pulls out a pair of shoes, socks and several outfits). “I can’t believe these are all mine. They’re so pretty, so, so— cool. I feel like a princes.”

Johnny, “Yep, just like Cinderella. I don’t know much about girls clothes, so I had the young lady at the store help me pick these out. Do you like them?  Did I do good?”

Sarah, “You’re the best-friend anyone could ever have. I can’t wait to wear these to school. I’m gonna be the coolest kid in my class. I’ve never had things so new, so pretty.  (She stands up and holds one of the outfits up in front of her. She smiles and give Johnny a big hug). “Dreams do come true.”

Johnny, “Yeah, sometimes they do.”

Scene IV

Johnny, (He’s seated at a desk at the Veterans office). 

Veteran Representative, “Looks like all your paperwork is in order. You’re eligible for assistance with housing, employment training and counseling. You served your country and now it’s time for your country to serve you. Why didn’t you come in sooner?”

Johnny, “After my third tour, I came home and I couldn’t get my feet on the ground. Everything seemed to be moving too fast. I couldn’t find my place in the civilian world. I didn’t want to go on another mission but I didn’t want to be back home, I was in a no man’s land. I was outside my self—— I was just going through the motions. I’ve seen some of the cruelest things humans can do to one another. A lot of bad things. I’ve seen and done things that keep me up at night——-I have night terrors. I just wanted to be left alone and numbed up. I once thought I had it figured out. I believed in duty and honor. Duty and honor? I don’t even know what it means anymore. When I was in a fire fight, I didn’t know or care what the politics were for this mess we were in. All I knew is that there’s a guy sitting next to me who would die for me, and I’d die for him. Isn’t that some kind of twisted love. I did a lot of bad things in the name of Duty and Honor. I came home with a bum leg and medals for valor, but I didn’t feel courageous. I felt angry, anxious, depressed ——lost. I was in a very dark place. I didn’t like what I’d become. I wanted my blood and bones to turn into dust. I was burned from the inside out out, My core felt like ash.—-I wanted to be gone permanently.  No more me, no more pain.”  

Vet Rep, “Look, there’s a group of Vet’s who get together weekly and support one another. These are guys who can understand the things you’ve been through. These are guys who can relate to your suffering. Don’t try and go it alone. You should attend a meeting and check it out.” (Vet Rep hands a card to Johnny). Why don’t ya give this guy a call and he’ll give you some details about the meetings. It’s a group of great guys and I think it would be something good for you. These guys are veterans like you who are facing some of the same things you’ve been dealing with. It’s no good to go it alone.”

Johnny, “I suppose nothing changes unless I change. I’m ready for a change. I’m ready for something different than the hell I’ve been living in. I admit it, I need help. I suppose I’ll give it a shot. I can’t keep running from myself.”

Scene V

Group Leader, (A group of Vets sitting in a semi circle. Group leader speaks). “We have a new member today. Welcome Johnny. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about who ya are and what brings ya here today.”

Johnny, “My mother named me Johnathan, but everyone calls me Johnny. I think it’s my mother who first started calling me Johnny and from there on everyone called me that. I prefer Johnny, Jonathan is a bit too formal for a guy like me. So, What brings me here? (silent pause) I’ve been living on the street for the last five years. I guess I’m tired of what I’ve become. The cold nights and the long days didn’t use to bother me. I just wanted to get away from me and all the shit in my head. I’m tired of running from myself. I want to make peace with myself.”

Group Leader, “Peace? Without peace of mind we’re all doomed. We can become our own worst enemy.” 

Johnny, “I’ve got medals that say I’m a hero, but I don’t feel like a hero. I know guys that never made it home and they weren’t given any ribbons or medals. They got a flag neatly folded into a triangle and handed to their loved ones. They received an honor no one wants. They call them a Gold Star Family. Ya see, I got stuck thinking about the past and things I couldn’t change. Someone recently taught me that there are things bigger and more important than me. I’ve been wasting precious time. Waisted time is something you can never get back. More time is something some of my comrades will never get. Some of them made it home only to die by their own hand. Ya gotta hurt pretty bad to go to that dark place. (Loudly says to himself) “FUCK. I need to to find a way out of here. I wanna get better, but I don’t know how. I’ve lost things that I can’t get back. (A long pause). I use to think that PTSD was something weak guys made up to ease their conscious. I’ve come to believe that war goes against what it is to be human. If you hurt someone, it will somehow come back to hurt you. And, if you help someone, that too will come back on you. (pause) I wonder, Is it ever too late to start over again? I’m gonna do something they never taught me in Special Forces training. (Pause) I’m surrendering. I’m surrendering all my mistakes, bad habits, all my selfish thoughts. It takes so much fucking energy to stay full of angst and hatred. I’m surrendering all my anger and self hate. I’m turning it all over to god, to a higher power. I wanna remember what it’ feels like to be forgiven——to be loved. Oh Jesus, I’m a tired old warrior looking for a little bit of peace.” (Johnny wipes a tear from his cheek).

(The members gather around Johnny and give him a group hug. There is the sound of quiet sobbing).


Johnny, (He opens a letter and starts reading. He begins to laugh out-loud. He screams “Yeah, Yeah, Fuck Yeah!  I Can’t wait to tell Sarah.”

(Johnny runs to meet Sarah at the school bus stop).

Johnny, (Speaking excitedly to Sarah). “I got approved, I’m in. This time things are really gonna change. You aren’t gonna believe this.”

Sarah, “I have good news too. I made a friend today. Her name is Maria and she invited me to a sleepover at her house. A slumber party. She has two cats and a dog. We’re gonna play boardgames and watch movies and just do all those things that friend do. She lives in a nice house.”

Johnny, “Well that’s great news. How would you like to have a friend over to your house for a sleepover?”

Sarah, “That’s not nice to tease me.”

Johnny, “I’m not teasing. I got approved for housing through a Veteran Program. I’m approved for a two room place. Your mom can sleep in one room and you can have the other room for yourself. I’ll sleep in the living- room. We can cook are dinners in a kitchen of our own. We could be (Pause) We could be a kind-of self made family. What do ya think?”

Sarah, “Oh Johnny, is this true. And, did you say my own room, my own bed. Did you say we’d be a family. (She gives Johnny a hug). A self made family? I get it, we’ll be put together just like Lego’s. I can’t wait to tell my mom. She is going to be so very happy.”

Mom, (Johnny and Sarah telling Sarah’s mom the news). You what? Hey, I appreciate you walking Sarah home from the bus stop, but that doesn’t make you her daddy, or us some weird dysfunctional family. What do you get out of this? I’m not gonna be your ole lady, your girlfriend or your lover. What’s in it for you? I’ve had it with broken promises from lying men.”

Johnny, “I don’t want nothin. Sarah deserves better. You deserve a better life——-Maybe all three of us need a second chance. I’m not looking to make you my ole lady, or Sarah my daughter. We’ll just be roommates, but we’ll have someone to come home to. Someone to sit with and share our meals, we can talk about our day like other people do. Aren’t you tired of going it alone?”

Mom, “You want me to talk to you about my day? I’ll tell ya how my day went. It’s been shitty. Do you smell what I smell? It smells like that Porta-Potty sitting over there. It smells like garbage. It smells like lies and bullshit. It smells like people holding on by a string. Every time I’ve trusted someone it ends up making a fool of me. I’d rather go it alone than be betrayed again.”

Sarah, “Mama, I don’t wanna wake up here no-more. I gotta believe that this is our chance, our chance to make things better. Maybe our last chance to make things right. I get so scared when I see that worried look in your eyes. Please——-please Mama, I’m tired of pretending to be brave. This place isn’t meant for families. It’s dark and sad here.”

Mom, “Don’t be afraid of the dark baby.”

Sarah, “No, I don’t get scared when the sun goes down and it gets dark. I get scared in the morning when I first open my eyes. I get this awful feeling that things are never gonna change. I’m scared we’ll always have to live this way. I don’t have nightmares, I have day-mares. At night, in my dreams I’m free. I dance my fear away. I need this dream to come true or I’d rather just not wake up. I wanna wake up one day and turn my dream dance into real life.”

(The lights go down and a blue spotlight trains in on Sarah.The song “Fade Into you” by Mazzy Star begins to play. Sarah gets up and in a dream state dances around the stage. At the end of her dance she is standing in front of her mother).

Sarah, (Nearly in tears). “Please Mama, please don’t take this away from me. Please don’t take this dream away from me. Not now, not this time. I”m so tired.”

Mom, (She shakes her head hesitantly and sighs). Look what you’ve done, you’ve got her hopes up. Hope’s a fragile thing. If you take away someones hope, you take away everything. You end up like those zombie people walking around the shelter with that million mile stare. The ones with the cardboard signs that say ‘Anything will help’. Those are the ones who’ve had their hope drained from them. They’ve traded in their hope for the false peace that alcohol and drugs temporary provides. They’re dead already and they don’t even know it. I never thought I’d end up homeless——-homeless and hopeless, but shit happens. (Angry voce) If you give her false hope and then take it away from her, I swear to god————I swear to god almighty——— I’ll find you and personally beat you.”

Johnny, “The motto of my special forces unit was “Who Dares, Wins”. We are gonna win, I promise you that. I dare anyone or anything to try and stop me.”

Sarah, (She grabs Johnny’s hand). “Maybe we’ll get a kitten? Maybe we’ll have a yard with a swing-set? I can’t wait. Everything is gonna be better. I’m gonna wake up every morning in my house, in my room and in my own bed. I can hardly wait. When will we be able to get to move into our home?” 

Johnny, “The guy at the Vet Center said that in a couple of weeks the approval will be finalized and we can start looking for are own home. Home? what a sweet word.”

Scene VII

(Johnny picks up Sarah at the bus stop).

Johnny, “Hey, look what I got ya. I got ya some candy, sodas and chips for your sleep over. And, here’s a ‘Thank You’ card for Maria’s Mom. It’s good to have manners. (Sarah hangs her head). What’s wrong? You should be excited about the slumber party.”

Sarah, “I don’t——I don’t need a sleep over or any stupid friends. I don’t need anyone. I don’t want friends who only care about being popular. Or, only like me if I’m wearing the right clothes with the right brand names. It’s not someones fault if they’re poor, friends should stand up for one another. All that other stuff shouldn’t matter.”

Johnny, “You’re right! What’s wrong? Did something bad happen?”

Sarah, “There’s not going to be any slumber party. Maria said her Mom doesn’t want her hanging out with kids who live at the shelter. Her Mom said that kids who live at the shelter have head lice and are dirty and she didn’t want them in her house. When we get our home, I’m gonna invite poor kids to come over and we’ll play games, listen to music, watch movies and we’ll find ways to make each other laugh. We’ll forget about all those unkind phony people.”

Johnny, “You’re right honey. Real friends will stand up for one another regardless of how they look or what they wear. A good friend doesn’t care about what someone is like on the inside. And, if someone hurts their friend, it hurts them too. And, if something makes them happy, it makes them happy too. I’m sorry that someone hurt you. But don’t ever let the mean people turn you bitter and angry. Be kind even when it hard to be kind to unkind people. What really shakes up mean people, is when you smile at them.”

Sarah, “Don’t be sad for me. I got you as my best friend and that makes me happy. I’ve got a family now and that makes me stronger.”

Johnny, “How bout we share some sodas and chips. We can go down to the pond and feed those ducks. When the train goes by, we’ll each guess how many boxcars the train is pulling. The winner get to take the candy home with them.”

Sarah, “I’d rather do that than go to some stupid slumber party.” 

Scene VIII

(Johnny sitting in the Vets office).

Vet Rep, “Well your vocational test scores indicate that your training to be a Para-medic is a good fit. It’s a two year program and I’ll be honest with you, it’s a damn hard program. We’ll provide financial support and housing.  You’ll be expected to maintain good attendance and keep your grades up. Like I said, It’s a hard program and a lot of people washout.”

Johnny, (Pauses, intense and thoughtful). “Do you know what it’s like to be dead inside?  It’s like being soulless. You have a body, you walk around on your legs, you breathe in and out——but you’re no longer alive. You slowly become invisible. People walk past you but they no longer look at you. It’s as if you’re a ghost and people can see right through you. And stranger yet, it feels good to be invisible. No one touches you, or speaks to you. No one offers you the ole “have a nice day” bullshit. But it’s good to be alone, cause you no longer believe in any of that “Have a nice day crap. Cause everyday is a new hell. But something miraculous happened to me. I found a purpose, a reason to keep going—-to keep believing and not give up in spite of all the fucked stuff this world can dish out. I got someone who’s depending on me. I have someone I want to make happy, someone I want to make sacrifices for. Because, when you love somebody, it’s not really a sacrifice, or a duty——-no it’s an honor to feel that. I’ll finish this goddamn program, I don’t care if I have to study 24 hours a day. Now that I know the “why’s” of what I’m doing, the“how’s” are going to come a lot easier. Because I’ve got a purpose, I’ll find a way.”

Vet Rep, (Shakes Johnny’s hand).  Keep going to your group meetings and I’ll be checking in on ya. If you need anything, just let me know. I believe in ya brother.”

Scene IX

Johnny, (He’s walking behind Sarah and is covering her eyes with his hands). “One, Two, Three,——-now you can open your eyes”. (They are standing at the front door looking into a small older house).  “Here’s our new home.” 

Sarah, (She stands still, transfixed by what she’s seeing). “What? How? Are you kidding? Is this a dream?——-Is this real?” (She walks slowly into the small front room). “This is our couch? This afghan is ours?” (She wraps herself in the blanket and spins in a circle). Oh my gosh. Look at all this, our own kitchen with a a stove and a refrigerator. We can cook our meals and eat our meals together, just like a family. We can talk about our day and laugh because we know we got each other.”

Sarah’s mom, “I guess we’re like a lot of families, a little crazy and dysfunctional, but still got each others back. I don’t want something for nothing. Now that I have a place to clean up and get organized, I’ll be looking for work to contribute. I’ve been praying for a sign, praying for a second wind——-I thought god abandoned me, but maybe this is my second chance. Johnny, I had my doubts about you, but maybe you’re our guardian angel. I feel a weight lifting.”

Johnny, “I’m no angel, but I’ve been to the gates of hell and I’m not ever going back there. I got one more surprise for Sarah.” (He walks down a small hall and slowly opens a wooden bedroom door). 

Sarah, (The bedroom is freshly painted pink. The bedspread, pillow and sheets have a Cinderella print. There’s a desk that is set up for doing homework. She walks in slowly, as if in disbelief. She gently touches the bed, the dresser and desk, as if testing if they are real).  “Oh Johnny, am I dreaming? Is this really happening?” (She sits down on the bed and quietly cries).

Johnny, “What’s the matter? I thought you’d be happy. Is pink the wrong color? I can repaint the room. I thought the bedding was what you’d like.”

Sarah, “No, no. I’m so happy. But I’m sad too. I’m so happy to have a home, to have you and mom. But I know that there’s so many other kids at the shelter who’ll never have these things. Everyone deserves a home, a family. One day I’ll find a way to help other kids.” (She walks over to Johnny and gives him a hug). 

Johnny, “You’ve got a good heart Sarah, And one day you’ll find a way to be of service to others. This is your time. Your time to shine. I believe that with love all things are possible. It’s written in my favorite biblical quote. Corinthians 13:13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

Sarah, “You have faith——mom has hope ———and I have love. These are happy tears.”

Johnny, “I feel something I haven’t felt for a long time. I feel at peace.”

Scene X

(Vets group leader). “Does anyone have anything they’d like to share?”

Johnny, “ I just want to thank you guys and the Veterans Programs for helping me. It’s been a long road, a hard road, but it’s paid off. I’m receiving training, housing and a financial stipend to help me get my life back. But most importantly, I’ve been fortunate to have you guys to listen to me and to believe in me. Honesty is the the best medicine for healing. In the past I’ve let friends, family and myself down. I lied to them and I lied to myself. I wasted a lot of time blaming everyone for my messed up life. But not anymore. I wake up in the morning and I’m glad to be alive. I had to find purpose again, and thanks to you guys and god, I’m here to say I’m feeling stronger. The past is the past and I’m letting that go. Today I’m looking forward. Life is always worth living, especially when I have others believing in me. I won’t let you guys down. I won’t let myself down.”

Vet Rep, “Ya know, it’s one day at a time. You’ve got your head right, but there’ll be challenges yet to come. That’s life, you got the good and you’ve got the bad——we all gotta find our own personal reasons to give life purpose. It’s a daily commitment. Stay committed to your values and the right choices will reveal themselves. We believe in you brother, we’re always here for you.”

Johnny, “I now have my mission. I’m not leaving anyone behind. I finally understand what duty and honor really mean——-Oo-raw!”

Scene XI

Johnny, (Enters kitchen, Sarah doing homework at the table, mom doing dishes. Johnny’s dressed in Para Medic uniform—-smiling). “How’s my people? I just passed my first quarter of training. Everyone in my class is young and committed, but I’m old and crafty. (Holds up his hands) These hands have done a lot of things in their time, but now they’re going to be taught to heal and save lives. Imagine that. These hands use to carry a weapon, now they use a stethoscope and a medic bag. I’m learning how to intubate someone, literally helping someone breathe, actually giving them the breath of life. It’s strange, by saving others, I feel like I’m saving myself. Maybe that’s the secret to life—-the more you give the more ya get back. It’s amazing how my life has changed once I decided to change my life. Now, that’s ironic. How’s that old definition of insanity go? (Pauses in thought) Oh yeah. Doing  the same things over and over and expecting different results. I feel like I got a new lease on life. Man, I really want to thank you both for helping me get this far.” (He does a little dance and sings ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ by Bill Withers). (Mom and Sarah join in).

Johnny, “Once I complete my program I’m gonna hook up with the boloney sandwich van people and provide medical services for folks on the street. Boloney for the soul and medicine for the body.”

Mom, “There’s a lot of people on the street who don’t have access to medical services. It’s hard to dig yourself out of a hole when you’re exhausted and sick. There’s a lot of folks out there that could use some help physically, mentally and spiritually. You don’t end up homeless overnight, it’s a slow agonizing fall from grace. And it robs you of your self esteem and self worth. I know this, cause it happened to me.  When you’re poor, people look at you differently. It’s a look somewhere between pity and disgust. When you’re poor, it’s a slippery slope to get back into a world that’s turned its back on you. All of life’s pretty things just out of my reach. I’m gonna tell it to you like this——I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Today’s a new day and I’m ready for the fight of my life. Baby, we’re gonna do this.”

Sarah, “I’m doing homework in my home.” (laughs) “I don’t even mind doing homework cause I have a home to do it in.”

Johnny, “What are you studying?”

Sarah, “I’m learning geography. I’m learning all the names of the 50 states and their capitals. Someday, I’m gonna travel and see all these places, and maybe even Europe and Africa.”

Johnny, “You’re still young with all your life still ahead of you. When you get older you’ll see many strange and beautiful places——I traveled to a lot of places when I was in the service. One thing I learned is that no matter what someones nationality, race or religion may be, we’re all a lot more similar than we are different from one another. It’s a big ole world out there and it’s full of adventure and challenges. It’s the challenges that make the victories that much more sweeter. Maybe someday we’ll take a road trip together.”

Sarah, “Do you ever wish you could start all over again. Maybe lived in a different city, worked at a different job——-fell in love and married and had kids of your own?”

Johnny, “No. In spite of all my mess ups, I‘m here now with you and I know this is where I’m suppose to be.—I’m where I belong. I have to believe that. Home is as much who you’re with as to where you’re at. What ‘might have beens’ and regrets keep ya stuck. I use to fight against the flow of life. I was going in circles and getting nowhere. I wake up now and I know that I can choose to do or be whatever I want——that’s is if I’m willing to fight and work hard for it.  Rule number, don’t worry about what others may think of you. Breathe deep, walk with purpose. When something scares you, do it anyway. That’s how you earn self esteem and self worth.…….It’s the little things that make this life worth living. Things like giving someone a smile and a hello. The smell of fresh coffee in the morning. Taking walks and feeling the earth beneath my feet. I don’t know much about anything, but I know that life is precious, love is rare and compassion is something we all need.”

Sarah,“I think you know more about life than most. When I grow up I’m gonna be like you. (She pauses and is in deep thought). Can we go down to the food bank on Sundays and help out?”

Johnny, “And you Sarah are a very special kid. I think that’s a great idea. (Johnny laughs). No Sarah, when I grow up, I wanna be like you.”

Mom, “Well you guys can count me in too. It’s time to start giving back. No strings attached. Isn’t that what they call unconditional love?”

Scene VII 

(The Food Bank)

(Mom, Johnny and Sarah handing plates of food out).

Johnny, “Hey, I’ll be damned how ya doing Thomas?”

Thomas, (Seated in a wheelchair). “I’ve been better. Last time I saw you was in Fallujah. If you think you’re gonna get some kind of thank you for saving my life, well you can go to hell. You should’ve left me there to bleed to death. What’s left of my life hasn’t been worth living. The days are long and the nights even longer.”

Johnny, “I always wondered if you made it out. Hey, there’s a group of Vets that get together and help one another. Would you like to come to the next meeting with me?”

Thomas, “Yeah, I made it out, but my legs didn’t. I don’t need a support group. I got better things to do than sit around and cry about life to a bunch of losers. I’m doing fine on my own.”

Johnny, “Where are are ya living now?”

Thomas, “I wouldn’t call it living. I have a tent over there by the freeway overpass. Ain’t America beautiful.”

Johnny, “Well shit, that’s kind of rough. Now that the war’s over, what have you been doing with yourself?”

Thomas, “You got that wrong. It’s never over. Not for me. It’s there in my head, waiting for me. I can’t sleep. I have these god damn firefights in my head. I’ve seen things I can’t unsee. I take a little something to find my sleep——to find peace—— I take something to quiet those demons i my head.  I tried praying——— but the drugs worked better. There’s nothing as deafening as God’s silence. I don’t want your support group, your pity or your bullshit ‘bro talk’. You wanna help me? Then just leave me alone.”

Johnny, “Your life was saved for a reason. It’s not meant to be wasted. Look, here’s a card with the contact person who facilitates the group. Please, come and check it out.”

Tom, “Fuck you—-fuck your group. Don’t try and save my life a second time——I’d of been better off if you’d of let me die the first time. At least I’d be at peace.” (Johnny leaves the business card on the table next to Thomas’s plate).

Scene VII

(Johnny is kneeling over a patient giving CPR to someone in the street).“Come on! Don’t give up! Breathe——Breathe!.”

Para Medic Trainer, “Johnny it’s time to call it. We gave it all we had. Sometimes ya have to let them go.” (The Para Medic forcefully pulls Johnny off the patient).

Johnny, “What a shame. What a fucking waste. A kid in his twenties OD’s on drugs. There’s so many roads in life, but he choose this dead-end street.”

Para Medic, “In this business ya walk a fine line. Ya gotta have a thick skin, but you also have to never stop caring for each and every patient. This is a hard job.Your’e gonna see a lot of tragedy and suffering, but on occasion you’re gonna pull someone back from  deaths door. Those successes will keep you coming back. Never lose your compassion, but never let your emotions cloud your decision making. Don’t be judgmental,—-use all your training and skills——don’t pretend you’re some kind of god—-No—- instead let god use you.”

Johnny, “How long have you been doing this?”

Para Medic, “I don’t measure my time in years, but rather in the days doing something that matters. I count the days I’ve been of service to others and not the bad days. And there will be bad days and good days. I prefer to count the good ones, not the bad ones. I’ve seen my share of car accidents, drug overdoses—-I’ve seen old folks take their last breath. But, I’ve also delivered babies and watched them take their first breath. I’ve restarted a heart or two. It’s a dance with death, sometimes you step on its toes, and sometimes it steps on your toes. Ya can’t have a glass heart that breaks every time things don’t turn out the way ya planned.”

Johnny, “I look up to you man. I really don’t know if I have what it takes to do this job. I’ve been in my share of firefights and seen death up close. I thought that by being a para medic, that maybe I could even up the score for the bad things I’ve done. I want to make a difference. I don’t want to change the world, I wanna a chance to change me.”

Par Medic, “I’ve watched you Johnny and you do have the right stuff to do this job. You’re making a difference and will continue to do so. Don’t be hard on yourself. The past is the past, every morning is a new day. Each day you’re born again. This life can make you hard or it can make you compassionate. Some mistake compassion with being weak or soft. But in reality, it takes courage and strength to be vulnerable and remain caring——to reach out and give without expecting anything in return. On the flip side of hurt is anger. Some patience may act out in anger, but under that emotion is someone who’s really hurting. We may never know the suffering someone is living with. We will care for others until they have the strength to care for themselves. Many are called but few are chosen. Like it or not, you’ve been chosen my friend.”

Johnny, “It’s a blessing and a curse, but I do feel alive when I’m doing this job. We’re righteous warriors. The Grim Reaper better get out of our way.” (They hight five each other).

Scene VIII 

Johnny, (He’s alone on stage holding a cell phone to his ear). “Wait a minute. What are you saying? Where is Sarah now? The emergency room? I’m coming right now. Hold on. Just fucking hold on.”

Doctor, (Johnny and Sarah’s mother are in the ER). “She’s had a seizure. We’ve taken a series of tests and things aren’t what we hoped for.”

Johnny, “What do you mean things aren’t what we hoped for? When will she be better so we can take her home.?

Doctor, “She’s may not get better. She’s a very sick little girl.”

Johnny, “Bullshit! The streets are full of druggies, drunks and people who don’t give a shit about their lives. And, you’re telling me that a ten year old girl who’s full of life is———is——gonna die? What kind of world is this? What kind of god creates a world like this?”

Doctor, “There’s a children’s hospital across the country in California that’s doing some clinical trials on some new treatments. I can call and see if there’s any availability for her in the program. If I can get her in the program, you’ll have to find a way to get her there.?”

Johnny, “Call now! (Johnny pulls his cell phone out and with an out stretched arm shoves it towards the doctor)  I’ll find a way. I don’t care if I have to carry her on my back across broken glass and through a fire storm, I’ll get her there.”

Doctor, “Wait here, I’ll call from my office and get right back to you. I don’t want you to get your hopes up. Be aware, If I can get her in the program, the success rates have been negligible.”

Johnny, “I’ve faced worst odds and I’m at my best when somebody I love has their back against the wall. I’ll be in Sarah’s room. I’ll be waiting for your confirmation that’s she’s in the program.”

Johnny, (Enters Sarah’s hospital room). Speaks in a soft voice).” How are you doing?”

Sarah, “I want to go back home. This place scares me. All the doctors and nurses who come into my room all have this terribly sad look on their faces. What’s wrong? What wrong with me.” (She whimpers ).

Johnny, “You’re gonna be fine—-I’ll see to that. Do you remember that first day we met and how I protected you? Well, that’s my job. I’ll always look after you. We’re gonna take a long trip and get to a place where the doctors there can make you better again.” (He hugs Sarah. His cell phone rings). “I need to get this call. I’ll be right back.” (He walks into the hall).

Doctor, “Well the good news is they have one opening in the program. They’ll hold the space for a short period of time, but you’ll need to check into the clinic ASAP.  If you can’t expedite the process they’ll have to provide the opening to the next candidate on the waiting list.”

Johnny, “I don’t know how we’re going to do this, but I will find a way.”

Johnny, (Walks back into Sarah’s hospital room). We’re going to go on a road trip. Have you ever been to California?”

Sarah, “No, but I’ve always wanted to see the Pacific Ocean.”

Johnny, “We’ll, there’s a place in California that will help you get well again. So, we’re headed there. Remember Cinderella? She had to be patient and try on a lot of glass slippers until her prince came along. Be patient, be strong, be brave.”

Sarah, (Hugs Johnny). Does that make you my prince or my frog?”

Johnny, “Ribbit! Ribbit!

Scene IX

Johnny, (Approaches church van). 

Church person, “Hey brother. You looking for another ham and cheese sandwich? I got ya covered. Jesus loves you. Are you saved my brother?”

Johnny, “Hell no, I haven’t been saved. But satin knows who I am. I’ve sent him a few dead soldiers and civilians. I’ve shot, stabbed and choked anyone who dared cross my path. I don’t need one of your stale sandwiches—-I need money. I need lots of money. I’ve never pan handled, begged for money or asked anyone for anything. But right now, I’d get down on my knees and pray to Jesus, Buddha, Allah or even strike a deal with devil if it would get me some money. Ya see, I need a miracle. I got a little girl who’s very, very sick. I need to get her 3,000 miles to a medical facility in California. So, spare me any of your sermons about loving my neighbor or asking god to save my soul. I need god to save a little girls life. Do you have a prayer for that one? Do you have money for that? Where’s your Jesus when he’s  really needed?”

Church person, (Comes around the van to face Johnny). “I don’t call myself a Christian, a Jesus Freak or even a Good Samaritan. We’ve all got our own reasons for being down here in this shit hole neighborhood. I bought this van for the church. It’s in my name. I’m down here doing penance. Ya see that alley over there? My boy, my son died there. I tried everything to save him. Tough love, soft love, but he traded his self love for drugs. He was in pain, suffering——- I didn’t know how to save him. I watched him descend into hell. I come down here cause I wanna try and save someone else’s son. I’m here to honor his life, to give it meaning or purpose. I don’t want him to have died for nothing. I bought this van cause I thought it might buy me redemption. But ya can’t buy redemption, sometimes there’s no second chance.”

Johnny, “I’m sorry about your son. But, there’s a little girl who’s banking on a miracle and a second chance. I believe things happen for a reason, the good things and the bad things. You could help tip the scale in her favor if you’d drive us to a medical facility in California. Even though you didn’t know it at the time, but you bought this van just for this moment. The flip side of redemption is mercy. Mercy is doing the right thing, even when there is no reward for doing the right thing. ‘Redemption’ you do for yourself, to relieve yourself of the hell this life can be. Mercy is what you do for others. Let go of your redemption, have mercy on my little girl. It’s in your hands. You have the chance to be a miracle maker.”

Church person, “You’re quite the persuasive messenger. We’re gonna need a lot of ham and cheese sandwiches to sustain us over 3,000 miles. Let’s do this thing. I hope you like country music, cause that’s what we’ll be listening too——-my van, my music. (He shakes hands with Johnny).

Johnny, “If I start to sing along, it’s going to make a long tone deaf trip seem even longer.” (They Laugh) “She’s very weak. We’ll need to put a mattress in the back. I can switch off the driving duties with you.”

(The song “Anchors” by Ruston Kelly plays. There’s a backdrop movie screen on the stage that shows vignettes of the three driving across the country. Finale shot shows them looking out at the Pacific Ocean).

Doctor 2, (Sitting in a Doctor’s office in California). We’ve got her checked in. We’re running some preliminary tests. We’re going to have to find a bone marrow match for Sarah. I have to be honest with you, the odds of finding a perfect match is extremely rare. The more people you can get tested for a match, the better.”

Johnny, “I’m on it. I have some favors from some folks that I can collect on.”

Church person, “I can get the request out to my congregating. If there’s a way to help, I know they’ll put everything aside and do what’s right. Don’t mistake religion with compassion. Religion is list of rules and commandments, hells and heavens, but compassion is answering the call for brothers and sisters in need. Doing the right thing won’t get you coupons towards your future place in heaven. But you’ll sleep better at night.”

Johnny, “I’ll get a hold of my Vets group and I know they’ll all get tested to see if they’re a good match for Sarah’s treatment. I’ll have them put up poster requesting folks at the shelter to participate and get tested. Don’t confuse poor and homeless with useless and heartless.”

Scene X,

Doctor, (On a phone call to Johnny). “Well, it’s been a month and we’ve had four hundred and thirsty six volunteers tested. Sadly, there were no bone marrow matches.  If we can’t find a match in one more month, then we’ll have to consider some other options.”

Johnny, “What are the other options”.

Doctor, “We’ll keep her comfortable and try some traditional treatments that may extend her life for——-“

Johnny, “What the fuck are you talking about. We didn’t come this far to just throw up our hands and say we give up. There’s got to be someone out there who’s a perfect match. Four Hundred and thirty six people ain’t shit. I don’t care how many days you’re giving us. I’m going back across the county and I’m gonna stop along the way at every TV station, speak at every church, Vet’s hospitals, every School, biker bars, service clubs and beg people to get tested to see if they’re a match—-I will complete this mission——mark my words!”

(Movie screen on the stage shows short vignettes of Johnny speaking at different venues. Painted on the side of the van in big letters “Be A Miracle Maker”.

Scene XI

Doctor, (On a phone call to Johnny). Well, it’s been sixty days and I know you have given it everything you got. I got to say that——“

Johnny, “Please don’t pull us out of the trial yet. Just give me a couple more weeks.”

Doctors, “You didn’t let me finish what I was saying. You might want to sit down. Believe it or not, we’ve found a perfect match. The only catch is this person doesn’t want to commit to being a donor until they personally speak with you.”

Johnny, “Holly shit! Tell me when and where and I’m there.”

Doctor, “He said he’ll meet you at the vet center today at 3:00 pm.”

Johnny, “Consider it done. I’ll be there.”

Scene XII

Johnny, (Sitting in a room at the Vet Center).

Thomas, (Enters the room in his wheel chair). “Ain’t it funny how things go full circle.”

Johnny, “What do  you mean?”

Thomas, “When I came back home from the war I was emotionally and physically in a lot of pain. My finance had left me, I was disabled and my hope of getting my piece of the American Dream was gone. I was pissed and bitter. I hated the world, I hated life, I hated you for saving my life. I spent the last fifteen years self medicating and living on the street. I backed away from everyone who tried to help me. I was full of self pity and self hatred. I read your flyers about providing a bone marrow test and I thought, fuck that. Why should I help someone else. You get what you deserve in this shitty world. I went back to my tent and shot up enough herein to intentionally end this hell. I don’t know what happened, but I came to with the empty syringe still stuck in my arm. To my surprise I was still alive. I knew then that I’d been saved for some reason. At first I wasn’t sure why. But, everywhere I went, I kept seeing that little girls face on those posters. I felt this strange emotion, it was as if something was trying to burst out of my heart. I then let everything go. I let the weight I’d been carrying go. I stripped away the pain I’d been holding on to. I allowed myself to feel something I’d blocked out. I felt sympathy. I felt sympathy for everyone, because life is beautiful struggle. This made me feel a closeness to everyone. I broke down. I broke down and allowed myself to cry.  Something opened in my chest. I felt a presence. Maybe it was god? I don’t know? But I no longer felt alone or abandoned. I got to thinking that maybe things do happen for a reason. When you saved my life all those years ago, I didn’t know that we’d meet again under these circumstances. Yeah, things do go full circle. I can see that now—-now that I’ve connect the dots.

Johnny, “Yeah, things have gone full circle.”

Thomas, “I found that card to the Vet Center you gave me and I started attending the group meetings. The group leader asked me to get tested to see I’d be a good match. I knew that a match was one chance in ten million.”

Johnny “Maybe it wasn’t chance?”

Thomas, “Maybe some things are meant to be. Connecting the dots from you saving my life all those years ago, to me being alive today and able to help Sarah completes the circle. The past, present and future are cosmically connected. I know now that my life has meaning. I’ve had the opportunity to help another, and helping others is what gives life purpose. I have one more request?”

Johnny, “Whatever you want or need my brother, I’ll get it for you.”

Thomas, “I want to meet this little girl who I’m forever miraculously connected too.”

Scene XII

Sarah, (Walks up to Thomas and holds his hand). Hi, I’m Sarah. I’m so glad to meet you.”

Thomas, “You’re one brave little girl. I have something for you. (He reaches in his pocket and pulls out a medal). “I received this medal for bravery, but I think you deserve it more than me.” (He puts it around her neck).

Sarah, “I want to thank you for saving my life. “

Thomas, “No, I think you got that wrong sweetheart. I want to thank you for saving my life. We’re somehow connected and forever will be. Johnny is like your step dad and I’m your step Uncle. It’s taken a while, but you gave me a second wind. Through you, I’ve learned that we are all connected. Love——-you can’t keep it unless you give it away. I met this crazy guy who owns a church van and he’s hired me to be a driver. He had the van retro-fitted so that I can drive it. This has become more than a job, it’s my life mission. An old soldier like me will do whatever it takes to complete his mission. I take vets to appointments. I take old folks meals and help them with their shopping. And now and again I hand out ham and cheese sandwiches for the church.

Sarah, “When I lived in the shelter I said that one day I would find a way to help others. Would you let me ride with you on some of your missions?”

Thomas, “Why sure. We’ll even let Johnny tag along too. What do you thing of that Johnny?”

Johnny, “Things do go full circle. We all save one another through service to one another.”

(Sarah hugs Thomas. Johnny gives both of them a group hug).


Soundtrack by Mazzy Star.

I’m homesick for a time that no longer exists

Unfulfilled dreams from youths lost innocence 

What happens to a love that no longer calls my name

She just stands there not even knowing how sexy she is to me

I want something back I’ve never had

She looks like a memory, lost

Dim the lights of truth

You’re that song that makes me miss you

I want you to find yourself inside me

I want me to ache inside of you——- too

Only the broken know how love is never eternal

Lonely inside, without you

Wanting you is unbearable, far beyond unbearable

Falling through ghosts of you, where angels and buzzards circle

Fatally falling asleep after hours of telling our biggest dreams and secrets to each other.

Such beautiful sadness in your eyes

I’m your night inside you

I shivered inside when our souls touched

Belief, Beer and Tide Pools

The sky remains cold and damp as I fiddle with my windshield wipers intermittent timer. Too fast, then too slow and constantly falling out of time with the songs on the radio. Even though it’s late afternoon the gray skies and drifting fog gives this dreary day a sleepy morning feeling.  I pull into the parking lot of an ancient looking motel and double check my GPS to confirm if this indeed is the Ocean Spray motel. I begin to have second thoughts about saving fifty bucks by making reservations at a place that only has three out of five stars. Never trust the glowing comments made about an establishment on the internet. No one, or nothing is what it appears to be on the internet. Anyone who’s tried their luck on one of those internet dating sights can attest to this. I figured that after I downed three beers my motel arrangements wouldn’t appear so shabby. Beer makes life’s intolerable events bearable. 

The old gal behind the registration counter stares out at me through thick eyeglasses that gave her the look of a bulging eyed goldfish. From the back room, which I surmised is her living quarters, I can hear the familiar voice of Pat Sayjak blathering on about someone buying a vowel.  She tilted her head back and looked down her nose at me. “Is it just you mister, or do you have a lady friend along for the ride?”  There was a bit of sarcasm in her enunciation of the words, “lady friend”. I stared into her exaggerated bulging fisheyes and responded, “No, just me ma’am, just me.”  She offered up a suspicious nod, “Okay, no partying or hell raising allowed, quiet time starts at 10:00 pm and check out no later than 10:00 am.  Here’s your key, room number 12.” She turned and shuffled back into the blue hue of her TV room. 

I open the door to room 12 and I’m greeted by the odor of mildew and the lingering hint of Fraabreeze. It’s a poor attempt at giving this joint an air of respectability. I’m more than sure that these four walls have seen and heard their share of dirty things——(maybe I’ll sleep in my clothes). I crack the window, pop a beer and lean back against the squeaky headboard. In the distance I hear the comforting sound of waves breaking against the rocky shore. The occasional lonely sound of a foghorn gently lulls me into slumber. It calls out a warning to those lost sailers who may be drifting too close to the rocks. These waters with their tricky currents and hidden reefs have pushed many a vessel into the teeth of its rocky shoreline.   

I’ve made my share of memories traveling up and down the northern coast of California, but my favorite memories go back to when I was a kid seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time.  My lifelong buddy’s name is Patrick and his mother’s name is Jeanne. Jeanne had a big influence on my young life. She’d pile Pat, his sister Erin and me into her 1970 Bonneville and we’d drive westward out of the flat Sacramento Valley. We’d travel through the green lush coastal range making our way to a place on a map where the land gives way to an emerald sea with its endless gray horizon. My god, I remember how those enormous vistas made me feel small. Highway 1 meanders its way along the rugged cliffs and through the stands of mighty old growth sequoias. We’d eventually reach that sea weathered town known as Fort Bragg. Even though fifty years has passed since I first pulled into this town, it appears to have changed very little. It’s a landscape of moss covered picket fences, overgrown berry-bushes and a misty coastline that time seems to have forgotten. Home isn’t where you’re necessarily from, it’s more about being at a place where you feel that you’ve always belonged. I finish off my beers and fall asleep to the sound of breakers crashing on the shore and that sweet song of a foghorn calling out into the darkness.

The next morning I wake early and take my shower in a yellow tile stained stall. I stop at a cafe and grab a hot coffee to go. I’m headed to MacKerricher State park where my tide table guide indicates low tide is at its peak at 5:50 am.  I look at my watch and see that I’m on schedule to get to the tide pools on time.  Out on the horizon I spy a fishing trawler chugging its way north. If I weren’t prone to seasickness, I’d love to be at the helm of that boat. I imagine myself being addressed as captain Sabino by the bartender as I enter the local tavern. After being out to sea for weeks, I envision myself saddling up to the bar and buying a round of drinks for the entire bar. Lost in my fantasy causes me to absentmindedly drive slower than the speed limit, the car behind me impatiently honks, rousing me from my daydream. I think to myself, “Fucking jerk”. 

I pull up into the parking lot of the state park and roll my window down. Man, the smell of the ocean does something to me that makes me involuntarily smile. In the past fifty years there’s been a lot of changes, but this place remains frozen in time. The damp weather is the great equalizer making everything look permanently worn and tired, yet it’s comfortable and unexplainably familiar, like the face of an old friend. Thinking back, I remember Jeanne with her fiery red hair and her strong willed personality. She had an independent streak that fostered a fearlessness in her eyes.  If inadvertently provoked she could have a bit of a temper——you didn’t fuck with Jeanne! She was a feminist before that word had become into vogue. With just her tenacity and a love for nature, she’d haul us kids into her car and we’d head out on spontaneous adventures. We were like a bunch of carefree gypsies rolling down the highway together, playing twenty one questions, singing along with the radio and laughing with a spontaneity that only comes with that rare feeling of being young and free.   

Before the intrusion of smartphones, social networking and 24/7 news cycles, we’d spend an entire day exploring beaches and the woods. I suppose this is gonna make me sound like an old fart, but I do believe life was simpler back in the “olden days”. Kids these days would probably shake their heads and laugh at the notion of being unplugged from the internet for a twenty four hour stretch.That twelve year old boy inside of me is still amazed at the beauty and danger that comes with climbing down the slippery cliffs to the wave sprayed rocks.  It’s a funny thing how beauty and danger seem to go hand in hand. I clamor from one green mossy rock to the next. I peer into the tide pools observing their tiny worlds within. Each tide-pool is a community of sea urchin’s, sea anemones, starfish and skittering rock craps. I stick my finger in the middle of a sea anemone and watch as it closes around me. I lick my dry lips and taste that organic flavor of  sea-salt. The ocean is mother-nature’s womb, the place where life first quivered into existence, evolving from nothingness into everything-ness——what a beautiful mystery to behold.  I’m not sure why it is, but the ocean with it rolling waves and windy cliffs draws us all back to its holy vastness. I watch folks standing silently at the edge of this continent staring introspectively into the hypnotic waves. Couples hold hands as the whistling winds mess their damp hair. I suppose there’s still pieces of us all in those thundering waves. I stroll the beach and see the litter of driftwood and seaweed left behind from where high-tide left its mark. These tides are tied to the pull of the moon phases—-all things supernaturally connected. Nature is my cathedral, my church. 

I climb back in my car and head to the harbor where I’ll have lunch at one of the open air grottos’s. The fishmongers are busy cleaning and laying out the days fresh catch. I smell the fresh fish, deep fried calamari and steaming clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls. The glass refrigerated case is filled with squids, abalone and a multitude of different types of fish neatly laid out atop white crushed ice. Behind the counter with its decorative fishing nets and colorful buoys is an old 19 inch TV hanging from the ceiling. It’s hard to believe, but fifty years ago at this very grotto I watched Neil Armstrong on a snowy TV screen utter the words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” My god, how many grains of sand have passed through my hour glass since that memorable day? I wish I could turn that hour glass over again and allow me another fifty years.

When I visit a place from the past that changed me, I become engulfed by a tremendous ache deep inside my chest. I’m keenly aware of the impermanence of all things. This life is chaotic and messy, people come and go, people change, memories become irretrievable and the continuum of time splinters and disappears into thin air.  There’s no way of going back from what was, to what is, time only moves in one direction——-forward. Time is like the waves that break on the shore and then recede back into eternity.

I hand my motel key to the googly eyed women at the front desk. She in-quizzically  inquires, “Did ya enjoy your stay? Ya find everything you came for?” I responded in a pensive tone,“I came here to remember something——or maybe more importantly, to once again believe in something.” She leans forward and in a hushed voice asks,“And, what do you believe in?” I pause for a moment as I consider her question, “That each and every day is truly extraordinary. And, if this enormous ocean is possible and real, and if it can be imagined like god can be imagined, then anything and all things are possible. That’s what I believe.”