Forgive

Soundtrack, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.

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I hate unsolicited advice. Most men know that it is not wise to give another man unsolicited advice. The most important thing to a man is respect and his pride. These things are earned and not idly parceled out like cans of beer—–although oftentimes such libations are swilled to make up for the lack of such noble qualities. On a rare occasion a man may give a fellow golfer advice about how to grip a club, how to adjust their swing or stance, but guys like that seldom get asked back for a future game. Guys have gotta figure shit out for themselves, it’s just he way it is.

Men like to give women advice. It makes them feel superior. It inflates their anemic ego’s. Most women will politely listen even though they know that men spend eighty percent of their time thinking about how to get pussy and what to eat next. The remaining twenty percent of their time is spent picking their nose at red lights or making fart jokes. Under the three piece suits, the impressive job titles and fancy cars, men are basic creatures bumbling their way through life. Women don’t give advice, they make sly suggestions. “Honey, maybe it would be better to use dental floss rather than a pocket knife to clean your teeth.” “Please don’t use gas to light the barbecue dear. Let me fry the burgers on the stove.” KABOOM!!!

But, in spite of my prior warnings regarding unsolicited advice, I have decided to dispense some brotherly advice. So please, “Forgive Me”.

Our time here is so short—–it doesn’t pay to deny ourselves and others forgiveness. Anger only cuts off circulation to the heart and puts a strangle hold on our ability to convey empathy. Forgive, because in the big scheme of things your petty grudges will emotionally bankrupt you. It’s like paying interest on a debt but never reaching the principle—-ya see, you can’t loan love or forgiveness, their value is only realized when given for free.

I wonder if we wear clothes out of shame, or is it a means to hide our insecurities. It’s tough to take another person seriously when they’re parading around bare ass naked. Nakedness is God’s way of showing us that in spite of Madison Avenue fashions and photoshopped vanities—–we’re all allot more alike than we are different.  Under skin and bone our fragil humanness flickers…..

Forgive——-because like a fart, the longer you hold it in, the more pressure it builds, hurting only you, and in time growing louder and smellier—- Forgive because sometimes you have to pull the bandaid off along with the scab in order for the wound to heal, Forgive because there is a child with a bald head dying in a hospital rather than playing on a jungle gym. Forgive because nothing seems that bad until it happens to you. Forgive because there but for fortune go you or I. Forgive because there is already enough darkness in this world—-enough sadness to superglue the softest of hearts eternally shut. Forgive because the shits already out of the pony. Forgive because with age the nights grow longer and peace more elusive. Forgive because winter need not be your favorite season. Forgive in spite of God and his promised heaven. Forgive because the shortest distance between point A and point B is love. Forgive because there’s a supernova a thousand times bigger than our puny sun imploding in on itself. Let go, let go, let go—–because as the old Zen proverb tells us “Let go or be dragged”.

Forgive, because one day you’ll realize that all the stuff you once thought so important were just things made up in your head. This clarity only comes after a major life event like getting fired, losing someone you love, going through a divorce, having a major health scare, facing your mortality or watching reruns of “Friends” (they all look so young). You’ll flop around like a trout out of water, realizing you’ve mistaken the barbed hook for the golden ring.

It all seems so absurd——all the girls you tried to impress with false bravado, the fake laughs given for free to please your dim witted boss, the loud arguments availing only hurt feelings——its all comes back to you like a strange dream, like staring up at the shimmering surface of the water while holding your breath at the bottom of the sea. Down there, there’s only shipwrecks, rusty anchors, the eight armed Kraken and the tiny fart bubbles you release as pieces of your forgiveness. Farting is God’s way of telling you to not take yourself to seriously.

We stubbornly withhold our forgiveness, we’d rather offer up snide remarks and sarcastic smiles. We expect others to rain apologies down upon us, but the sad truth is, some people don’t know how to be sorry. They only learn forgiveness by being forgiven—-and the bible along with all the other holy books speak of this irony. The currency of unspoken forgivenesses pays out in wasted time, it lengthens the bridge we’ve all come here to cross.

Get over your self——–Forgive

No Room For Love

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Soundtrack “Oh My Sweet Carolina” by Ryan Adams

It’s the kind of love reminiscent of a house that’s been neglected and is now ghost infested. . Like a room no longer dusted, every surface has lost it’s shine and luster. No one has paid attention to the accumulation of times tiny cruelties. Things have gone messy, unsightly, rundown and tired——entropy, a law of physic’s leading me to loneliness.

The floor is stamped by a stampede of scuff marks across its hardwood planks. It’s as if the inhabitants had walked in endless circles never reaching a place of compromise. The windows now clouded by years of harsh weather . There’s no longer a way to see out, nor peer in, it’s as if the house has lost its vision—a dark place of shadows and gloom. And, if the eyes are a mirror to the soul, then this room should be bloodshot and stained blue.

She left her finger prints on my door knobs, her dirty dishes fill my sink, her wrinkled clothes on the floor, yet the passenger side of the bed is always neatly made up, not so much as an indentation leaning to my side. No matter how hard you clean a tomb, it’s still a place that reeks of death.

I once read that before a big battle, civil war solders would sew their name onto the back of their shirt collars—-along with the regiment to which they belonged. I’ve tattooed the same on my heart, cause with its last beat, I want someone to know it once belonged to someone——somewhere.

The wind whistles through the cracks in our walls. The fireplace has only fine ash from a fire that’s long ago gone cold.

Bad things have befallen this room. “To be perfectly honest, I can’t live like this.” Such mean things we screamed at one another. Honesty is overrated, please tell me nice things even if they’re a stone-cold lie. A temporary lie is better than an irrevocable truth.

The Titanic Swim Team

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Soundtrack “Cascada” by Jesse Cook

This life, man how it pisses me off, locked in, locked out——-passing me by, I don’t know——— I walk around with this old skeleton key, and every lock I slip it into refuses to give way. Lovers, friends, careers, hopes and dreams—even god, they all seem dead-bolted and out of reach. I wanted it all so bad, I wanted everything, I wanted to know something or someone in a better way, a closer way, cause I’m afraid that someday it’ll be to late——-I can’t find my way in——or is it my way out that leaves me feeling orphaned. Another rainy hungover Sunday, cold black coffee, black and blue marks, questions marks, exclamation marks—-moving on, moving out, falling down, falling apart—-how many overs make an end?

I admire but a few professions. The boxer, the standup comedian and the poet. They perform naked, no props, no cue cards, turning the disconnected nothingness of life into form and art. They allow us to take mundane moments and eye them up close as we tumble them over in our hands, like “curiosities” or “what nots” at a rummage sale——It’s a fine line between junk and treasure, truth and consequence, fate and happenstance, synchronicity and chaos———— the “you’s and me’s” and “what use to be’s”——-I wish you could see yourself through my eyes, because beauty is not so much what’s reflected in a mirror—–it’s what lies behind the reflection.

And baby, how I wish I could call you up and ask you to come over, but that number you once pressed into the palm of my heart at 2:00 am under a flickering failing streetlamp is now disconnected, no forwarding address, you’ve gone underground, unlisted, unavailable, I’m just another one of your gypsy memories——- I wish I were more like you, an emotional hitchhiker, leap frogging my way from here to there at another’s expense.

A prize fighter knows the score. He’ll take the hardest punch you can muster and then throw one back at you just as hard, until someone is so busted up that they can’t answer the bell. His only way out of this is through you. You think you’re tough, then bring it on brah! Sweat, spit, tears, Vaseline and the taste of blood fill his split lipped mouth. Rights, lefts, upper cuts, jabs, body shots——with back against the ropes, the jeers of the crowd fade until all he hears is the sound of his own labored breath——-  and from deep down there comes the throb of blood surging through his veins. Don’t get pissed or take it personally if he fucks you up, cause mister, he comes from a neighborhood where there’s only one bone for every five dogs——-

Oh my god, listen to how that comedian weaves rhythm and tempo into a syncopated groove like a jazz tenor player creating tension and release as he steers his ship between awkward truth and twisted absurdity. His riffs cut through tendons and bones with the deftness of a surgeon wielding a chainsaw——-daring those out there in the safe darkness of audience to laugh till it hurts, until tears stream down their cheeks. Killing them softly as he makes them contort and grimace with the intensity of an epileptic orgasm——cause the better part of foreplay is always laughter, and right beneath that G spot lies her funny bone. And I never doubted that Charlie Chaplin had more groupies than Gene Simmons and Elvis combined. If you can get her to laugh, the world is your oyster. Or, if you can get her to laugh, her oyster is your world——-“Drummer!——Rim shot please!”

Then there’s the melancholy poet bending words like forged metal into swords that cut to the marrow as he dissects cumbersome words such as love, and truth, and beauty, doing his best to make you cry until you laugh, cause even the saddest of life conditions eventually reaches a point of hilarity——life——- at its best is a tragic comedy, at its worst, an epitaph marred by graffiti and eraser marks——-

I’ll add one more profession to my list. Magician. He suspends reality as he toys with your sense of certainty. How did that rabbit get into that top-hat? How did his beautiful assistant disappear into thin air? He snaps his finger and a white dove appears, the ace of hearts appears at the top of the deck at his command——his cane becomes a bouquet of flowers. We’re becoming children again, believing in the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy. Life is magic, like the color blue, like the sky blue, like love at first sight, like the purity of children, like ocean sunsets and mountain thunderstorms————like free candy on Halloween….

But adults lose their sense of wonder. Hope and dreams are the currency of youth. Age causes the investment to become devalued by routine and complacency——somehow discounting the small miracles that appear daily——Why? I don’t know, but it scares me when I see those my age stiffen with rust like the Tin Man——If they only had a heart rather than a brain stuffed with straw. Maybe under it all, they’re concealing a cowardly lion. Fear is the lock we must all learn to pick. It takes a titanic amount of courage to swim through this life, cause an ocean of frozen tears can sink the mightiest of ships.

I argue with god, but I’m not sure if it’s him that I‘m taking to task or just one of the cast of voices that loiter in my head. They mumble to me like homeless bums hiding in the shadows of a urine stenched alley. The chorus of voices implore me to watch my cities burn, to stop rattling the chains across my doors——to give up on you, to give up on me——-to severe all connections with an innocence lost.

I”m looking for love by brail, cause love can’t be seen, it’s only felt—-like music. Every word you speak has the power of a million waves, wearing away my walls and causing my granite facade to cave-in like castles made of sand. And did I tell you that I still love you, it’s not a choice, it’s an addiction, stronger than herion, more like oxogen than a drug, something that comes to me in gasps, and at night I suffocate in my bed. And if your phone rings at 3:00 am, it could be me, just wanting to hear the sound of your voice one more time. The right key turning the right lock is a once in a life time chance, like Sir Lancelot pulling a sword from a stone to become king—-but you cut my hair and broke my crown—–

Make no mistake, this is a world where the keys you’ve been given seldom match the locks that you find yourself stranded behind. It’s a place of paddle locks, deadbolts and door chains with squinty eyed peepholes. If ya want in, if what ya need is behind that door, if that’s where your dream lies, where you passion leads you, then you’re gonna have to kick that fucker in, your gonna have to bust it down, you’re gonna have to throw yourself against it, again and again, with all you might——until you get in, or get out, or get through————until you are allowed passage to that place where you know that you were meant to be, that place where you belong.

The Checkout Line

Never fall in love with a girl in the checkout line. Actually, I’d fallen in love with her somewhere between the lentil beans and the egg noodles. I’d followed her down all the grocery isles from the bakery and deli case to the vegetable section. I knew it was creepy, but I just couldn’t stop myself as I watched her fondle the crooked neck squash and those fortunate cumquats.

Is it possible to fall for someone who buys tofu and then turns around and buys cheese whiz in the can——I can’t help but love a fellow conflicted soul. There was something irresistible in her smile, something undefinable about the way she moved——part graceful ballerina and part sensual pole dancer. Is it possible to fall in love with the way someone walks, their scent, the way they read the label on the box of Hamburger Helper? She elevated the rigors of shopping to a thing of eroticism. Oh my god, the way she sashayed behind that squeaky shopping cart was enough to make the bag boys split their sacks and spill their heavy cream.

I wanted to talk to her the way people talk in movies. I wanted to be funny and interesting, profound and witty—-but all that came out was some pathetic mumble about the weather. She responded with indifference, nonchalantly turning away to check her cell phone, a polite way of saying fuck off——- or code for “leave me alone you weirdo”.

I awkwardly looked down at my grocery cart with its random contents; two quarts of beer, generic toilet paper, a single banana and a can of refried beans,——my glum life summed up within a losers grocery list. I fidgeted for a minute, hoping to come up with a clever redemptive line——nope, not today. Feeling dejected, I exited the check outline and headed down the soup isle. In a world of grommet soup flavors, I felt like that dusty ole can of bland chicken stock. Now I know why they call it the “checkout” line.

What’s Your Story

 

The soundtrack to this piece is “You & I” by One Direction. The post is to be read while listening to this tune.

Some will make you believe in love again, and cause you to hear bluebirds singing right outside your bedroom window and you’ll rise to crimson skies and smell the refreshing scent of lilacs floating on cool morning breezes. Love wakes you to life, and where there is love, there is no need for purpose, precautions or possessions, nor drama, pretense or pretending. When it makes no sense, that’s when it’s at its best. Give yourself to such moments, declare a union, commit to an alliance, scream it from behind your window blinds—-only fools limit themselves to those who are possessed by reason, logic and timid passions—— all their nothingness smothering their life force——what is love but the stepchild of fear—— a smoldering fuse waiting to ignite starbursts—-and if it should rain there will be rainbows, cause love is sappy and corny and ridiculous that way. It will cause you to use language in new ways, you will write love letters on unicorn stationary and sign off with X’s and O’s—— hearts——envelopes sealed with a kiss, embossed with burning red lipstick——dripping with honey…..

It’ll blind your eyes, like shiny shards of glass flashing and then suddenly exploding in tremendous balls of whiteness somewhere behind your eyes. I’m broken, I’m drained, but I’d know your face from past life dreams, a thousand lives deep, I wonder what’s beneath that skirt, cause I’m into that, I’d tell you lies if I thought they’d do the trick, to get you alone, to get you to discard your clothes and lay next to me, naked, damp and all a quiver—-and you’d only be wearing a perfect dirty smile—-

We won’t become like the rest of them. The ones bored to the touch of the other, forgetting how to hold, how to fall asleep in love and wake together in a tangle of sweat stained sheets.

This life is your story, nothing more, nothing less. Tell it with boldness, kiss no ones ass, go down swinging, don’t let anyone still your glory or run you ragged>>>>>>never waste time on the bland and the blind, cause you’ll never get that time back…..

And The Dog Said “No”

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Out here there’s a black and whiteness to it all.  Slow gray clouds ponder their descension and final farewell to winter’s skies. They’ve come here to die, to rain down on the brownish sand and yellow sagebrush, because becoming a part of something new and different is the way of dyeing and rebirth.  Being a part of everything, belonging to nothing—-I know how this feels. We don’t lose our way, we just move on to other things—a change in direction, a change in the relationship to other people, places and time. The sandstone cliffs look on with tired eyes, they conceal a millennium of wisdom stored in their souls.  Even mute stones have souls that stir, and if you’d of taken the time to become aquatinted with them, you too might understand these most uncommon things.

Out here, is where I come to do my thinking, to be cut out of myself, to be torn up and pasted back together——and when the pieces no longer fit, it is then I know that I’m moving on, I am letting go of my cloud-ness.  I never know what I may become out here, maybe a raven, a coyote or just alone—-With only myself watching myself, I have nothing here to hide….I can become whatever or whoever I choose—

To some I only exist in my relation to them.  A brother, a father, a friend, a sinner—-a saint?  And what am I to you?  Being cast into your statue of stone is so limiting, so confining.  These are the things I consider when I’m out here—-ya see, out here footprints turn into paw prints or vanish all together—-as if carried away on the wing of a hawk.

It’s going to be a long Friday, snowy and white, listening to my radio, drinking my coffee, carrying on conversations with myself, sharing stories with my Black Lab named Chase.

“Ya ever heard the one about the man who thought he could fly”—–And the dog said “No”.

I climb on his back as we take to the sky, letting the thermals carry us away….

In The Flow

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(This piece is intended to be read while listening to the attached song “Lessons in Love” by Level 42)

The doctor traipses through the door wearing a somber expression.  It’s the face he saves for moments such as these. He looks to be in his late sixties with gray thinning hair, wearing a white lab jacket over a dress shirt and blue Dockers. A pair of silver rimmed bifocals are resting towards the end of his nose. He thumbs through my medical report and shakes his head in confirmation of what he’s reading. Without looking up from the final page he sighs “I’m truly sorry, but, well—-there nothing more we can do—-”.  He’s a picture of detached professionalism, he might as well be telling me that my car transmission is shot.  I squirm on the crinkly sounding paper that covers the exam table “What do you mean, there’s nothing more you can do?” He puts his hand on my shoulder and wistfully responds “I’m sorry, but I’m afraid it’s terminal.”

A fight or flight response kicks in and I feel a jolt of adrenaline shoot through my veins. I instinctively jump to my feet escaping the examining table with its protective paper that clings to my sweat glazed skin.  “You’ve gotta be kidding me.  There’s gotta be other alternatives, other options—-experimental treatments—-.”  He offers me a weary nod that expresses a sense of futility.  “I’ll change my diet, join a gym—-become a vegan?    I’ll quit the beer.  I’ll fast.  I’ll drink vitamin shakes!”  I’m not schooled in all the stages of death and dying, but I was obviously in the bargaining phase.  “I’m still young, I feel better than ever.”  The Doc rubs his wrinkled forehead and then removes his glasses “This is very common, one day you’re running a marathon and making future plans and the next, well—-” his voice trails off as he grimly shrugs his rounded shoulders.

Feeling emotionally and physically exposed, I self-consciously fuss with my hospital gown in an attempt to better cover my backside. I mumble under my breath, “You’d think with all the advances in modern medicine they’d come up with a better way to cover your ass than one of these flimsy butt curtains.  I swear, you’ll see more ass in a hospital corridor than a strip-club.”

With all the melodrama carved from a climatic scene of a soap opera (sweeping organ arpeggio not included) I blurt out “How much time do I have left?”  The old Doc straightens his starched lab coat and takes a deep breath “When it comes to these sorts of things, well—it’s hard to say.  It could be today, or you might have another fifty years.”   “What?”  I stare at the report in his hand, “Well, what does that fucking report say?”  He nods with a sheepish smirk “Oh this, it says you’re perfectly fine.  I’m sorry if I’ve confused you, or frightened you.”  Folding my arms over my chest I respond “As a matter of fact I am confused, and more pissed than frightened. What the hell are you trying to tell me?  Am I well, or am I dying?  What the—-”  In a gesture of sympathy or perhaps pity, he puts his left arm around my shoulder. “There’s a little secret us doctors keep from our patience.”  My voice is becoming louder and more frustrated “Secret, what little secret?”  “Son, we’re all terminal.  We don’t like to spread this kind of medical diagnoses around.”  He squints his eyes displaying a painful grimace,  “It’s rather—how should I say—–well it’s—–it’s bad for our professional image—–and it’s really not good for business.”

My sense of anxiety is replaced with a feeling of shock “So I have a reprieve, I’m gonna live?”  He slips his hands in the pockets of his spotless lab coat “Why no silly, like I said, you might stroll out of here today and be hit by a Mac-Truck or have a massive aneurism.  Or, you could carry on healthy and strong for another fifty years. But make no mistake about it, you are terminal and your days are numbered.  And when that day does come, there’s no magic pill or fanciful medical treatment that will extend your life another year, another day or another second.”

He glances down at his watch “Times a wastin, I gotta get down to the commissary, the Women’s’ Auxiliary is having their annual cheese ball sale—Oh my God, they are to die for—-Oops, sorry for the poor choice of words.” He gives me a hand shake and a wink.  And with that, he turns and walks out whistling a lose arrangement of “American Pie” by Don McLean.

Later that night I fall asleep and have pastel colored surreal dreams.  I’m in a strange cosmic flow between reality and fantasy. I surrender—-I no longer fight against anything—-I desire nothing.  I feel no need to assert my will, The “I” in “I am” is gone.  There’s a sudden sharpness to the existence of nonexistence, awareness of unawareness, the un-conciseness of conciseness—-I’m at a place where all things intersect—-there’s a nothingness to all that is, and an everything-ness to all that it isn’t. That gibberish is hippy-talk for saying—I feel good,—all is as it should be,—–I’m in the flow—-

I wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and born again—-I finally understand that esoteric term “born again”.  I pick up the phone and call my office.  The operator connects me to my boss “Hey John, yeah its me, I’m not gonna be able to make it in today.  No—I’m fine, in-fact I’m feeling great.  I just feel too damn good to spoil it by coming to work.”  I snicker to myself  “I guess I’m calling in well.”

There’s a long pause “Did you win the lottery or are you drunk?”  I laugh “Yeah, I feel like I’ve won the lottery and I feel drunk too, drunk on life—baby.”  John’s voice becomes more curt “Now listen here, those quarterly reports are due next week and all those spreadsheets of yours need to be updated and posted.  Cut the crap and get your ass down here—-now!”  “No I’m sorry John, but like I said, I’m calling in well.  I just feel too damn alive to be holed up in a stuffy cubicle all day staring at a computer screen—-it would bum my stone man.”

There’s another long pause.  I hear a deep sigh come over the receiver “So, you’re calling in well. Now isn’t that some crazy shit—–.   Okay, I’ve gotta hand it to you—-you’ve got balls.  And I hate to say this, but at some crazy-ass, luny level, I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt. Why? I don’t know. But I’ll take your lame honesty any day over someone’s phony ass hoarse voice, whimpering to me that they’re sick.  I guess ya got to do what ya gotta do.”  I think to myself, damn—this honesty is some powerful shit!

I’m not sure if I want to take a shot of Jager or a shot of wheatgrass.  I put on my baggy shorts, tank top, flip flops and head off downtown.  I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the plate-glass store  window and damn, I look pretty freakin good. I’ve got my tunes blasting from the speakers in my backpack.  I’m diggin on the song “Lessons of Love” by Level 42—I never even use to like that song, damn—where the fuck did the 80’s go?  I’m walkin in rhythm, I’m shakin it down like Ellen Degeneres (now, that’s kinda creepy too)—-but who cares, cause baby I’m movin and groovin—I start clapping my hands and laughin out loud like some sort of crazed madman.

I taste the diesel in the air and I suck it in with a smile. I cruz past kids walking home from school and they fall in behind me smiling and dancing,.  Birds chirp, horns honk, an alley cat creeps by.  A stray dog sniffs the air and then prances in rhythm behind the kids.  I drop a dollar in a homeless guys cup—he falls under our spell and joins in, dancing and snapping his fingers at the end of our urban conga-line—.  As we pass a Starbucks, a throng of patrons empty out of the patio and find their place at the tail-end of our looney parade.  Out of the corner of my eye I see John my boss staring down from his corner office window, he shakes his head and gives me a half hearted thumbs up sign——-all of life is sweet and beautiful—-I’m in it—-we’re all in the flow.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.”
Jack Kerouac

“Happiness only real when shared.” Christopher McCandless Into the Wild

 

the teller of tales

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a crazed woman cut my heart out of my chest, she then carelessly disassembled it and put it back together all wrong, it was slippery with blood and hard to handle, so she shoved it back inside me where the organ for caring and giving a shit use to be…..these days I compulsively check my pulse in search of a rhythm, but all I feel is an occasional spastic fluttering within my chest, like a bird beating its wings against hurricane winds—and when it gets dark, it stops all together—

come close and put your ear against my chest—-now be still and listen as I tell you how it is for me, at night those blues come stalking me, they peer through my blinds like some nefarious wide-eyed peeping Tom, leaving foggy predatory breath on the window pane——–the bleakness of it all tramples across the nothingness of another specter ridden midnight—I can feel my heart go still, like an unworn love left hanging in someones dusty closet, an addiction traded against a corrupted souls collateral, broken people warehoused like damaged goods, young kids with no fire in their eyes, an old guy going in circles on the metro for an as-semblance of company, the scent of morning rain on dirty pavement, damp leaves smoldering in the drizzle, the stench of alley piss—time is blurring by like a whirl-wind whooshing past my car window on a Sunday drive to nowhere in-particular—-once again I’m tired of me and how I get things all twisted up, I’m left staring into the futility of a gray weather beaten morning, realizing I’m no longer running from something, nor running to something—-I’m slowly being crushed under the ache that comes with knowing that there’s got to be something better than this—-someplace—–somewhere—-cause this life is way to long to be miserable and far to short to be boring—it’s time I set that lil caged bird free—

say something, I’m giving up on you—-

there’s too much pain in the world to believe I’m immune to it, or can hide from it—–or selfishly fear that I’m the only one being consumed by it—that would be a righteous sadness, the kind of sadness that beckons the lugubrious to replay a heartbreak love-song over and over again.  Real sadness has no soundtrack, no words, no explanation—-it’s like tree sap that mysteriously shows up on your hands and can’t be washed off—-

people always ask me the same question “Was that story you told true or made-up?”   To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure anymore.  Most of the stuff I once thought was true, ends up being a lie or an illusion, and what I thought was fiction (made-up) is just an alternative version of truth or reality that I’ve failed to grasp.  I’ve come to believe that what’s true, and what’s made up, is a predilection reserved for the teller of tales.

but I do know this, one day that little bird trapped inside my chest will be set free—-

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TEN AMAZING STEPS TO BECOMING A SWELL WRITER 

 1.If you are going to be a writer, have something to fucking say. Character development is nice, detail to scene description is beneficial, smart dialogue is helpful, appropriate punctation and grammar a plus, but having a story worth telling is the most important element of storytelling—Start and end your project with that in mind!

2. Not only have something to say, but devise a way to say it that is insightful, interesting and compelling.  Forget about beginning, middle and end.  Every line must be an integral piece of what contributes to the greater whole. If you’re all in, if you’re writing from a place of authenticity—then every page, every paragraph, every sentence and each word needs to be painfully distilled down to its purest means of expression.  Once written, it should sound as if it has always existed, like mosquitos, the moon and a thousand sad truths —

3.Write about what you know, and know about what you write.  All good writing is personal, confessional and honest.  Be authentic, be original, allow yourself to be shamelessly naked—-you must develop and know the sound of your own voice—-Go to those forbidden places that make you feel uncomfortable and exposed, it is there you will find the keys to the kingdom—this is where your true voice lives.

4. The most important person in your audience will aways be you.  If your writing becomes tawdry, trite or boring, then write it again, and again and again—-fill the God Damn Grand-Canyon with wadded up pieces of shitty writing—- never fall so deeply in love with your own writing that you can’t tell the piss from top shelf scotch (I have found that piss is saltier tasting).

5. Don’t leave anything left in the pen, say it all, say it with stark unabashed honestly, don’t hold back—write till your soul bleeds ink.

6. Don’t start with a story outline, format or a preconceived structured layout.  Don’t tell the story, let the story tell itself (Zen, baby!)—filling up note pads with secret random notes is a valuable practice—you never know where or when a good thought may bubble to the surface from the depths of your collective sub-consciousness—to know that you don’t know, is to know that you know—-Do you know???

7. Study many different styles of writing but copy none.  The world does not need another Hemingway, Daniel Steele, Fitzgerald or Steven King. Never forget this—learning to be a good writer is like learning to eat soup with chopsticks—-it’s a fatiguing exercise intended to teach patience.  A good writer stays hungry.

8. Find inspirational music to listen to while writing.  Music requires no words to reach or affect you.  Regardless of what you’re meaning to say, strive to replace your imbecilic words with music— if your prose fail to sing—-then do not commit them to a final draft.

9. Good writing doesn’t come to you, it comes through you—let go of your “self”, reject your ego, stop thinking about thinking, stop thinking about writing, and say what needs to be said.  Write down the words as you hear them, clean up the details at a later time.  Stay open, stay awake, keep your senses at a fevered pitch, listen to all the disembodied voices blathering in your crazy head, but remember that the quiet ones speak the greatest truths—Be still—if nothing happens, then go do your laundry or something productive—Sometimes you have to pull up your line and rebait the hook.

10. A good writer will leave the reader changed or altered after digesting the content of the story.  Once the reader sets the book down, they must feel something—-anything—– pissed, flabbergasted, happy, offended, a-gasped, longing, laughing, bamboozled, crying, embarrassed, tickled, horny, hurt, revealed, inspired, filthy, guilty, cocksure, shamed, holy, dumbfounded, excited, exposed, gritty, mortified, rambunctious—but most importantly, the reader should be unexplainably transported to a righteous place where they are allowed to catch a glimpse into their own soulfulness—–and believe me, that ain’t easy to do!

            Secret Bonus Tip

Tenacity is the secret to your success.  Tenacity will take you further than natural ability, motivation, good connections, good intentions, skill, education, talent, genetics or dumb luck.  Never, never, never, never—-ever give up on the hope of reaching your dreams—-Tenacity gives hope wings!!!

Scoring Your Writing Prowess

Points will be deducted from your “wanna be a writer score” If—–

you wear a beatnik beret, you blather on in esoteric multisyllabic non-sensible rants, sip soy lattes, cosmopolitans or smoke a pipe, chain smoke or have a Marijuana Medical Card, sport a goatee or soul patch, you speak in metaphors no one understands, you’re a vegan, you attend or teach Haiku workshops, you always have a bottled water and smart phone within reach, you have a degree in English, Journalism or Communications,  your favorite Beatle is Paul, you play golf, you have a cat named Zen.

Points will be added to your “wanna be a writer score” if—–

you’ve hoboed on a train, you have a receipt for chili beans, beef stew or anything containing spam, you either have no cell phone and if you do, it’s a pay as you go with a cracked face plate and numbers that stick, beer is at the top of your food group pyramid, your car stereo is worth more than you car, you dig jazz (add five points if you can play jazz), your favorite Beatle is John, you know how to shoot pool, you have a dog named Lucky.

The Phases Of Writing (An exercise in self destruction)

1. Fame makes great writers drunks and madmen

2. Fame makes good writers self conscious and reclusive

3. Fame makes okay (commercial) writers rich and predicable

4. Anonymity makes horrible writers drunks and madmen.

Be advised, being a drunk and a madman does not make you a great

writer—but sadly, it often comes with the territory, see rule #1 and #4.—

If you don’t find any of this shit helpful, then go live your life and write about what you hear, see and feel, then have a taco—-

Helpful Hints :

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”  F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary.”  Jessamyn West

“Try to make the funny stuff sound sad and the sad stuff sound funny—” V Uriz

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Feel free to substitute your word of choice in place of the word “funny”—depending on your mood—

Defying the Doldrums (Soundtrack “Are You Going With Me” Pat Metheny)

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When I was a kid we’d buy paper kites, they were relatively resilient but never intended to last—-their flimsy construction gave them the agility to fly but also made them vulnerable to a host of possible mishaps—they were as precious as they were mortal.  A poorly tied tether knot and all may be lost, or should an unexpected gust of wind blow her into branches, then she’s snared and marooned, left there forever dangling from the sky like a monument to someones carelessness.  I brought myself here, just like you did—-we’re all just holding on by a string, so I refuse to feel sorry for anybody—nobody!—except for maybe one of those kids with bald heads who haven’t been given much of a chance to survive the treatment, let alone the disease—I save my compassion for these cases.

Those mopey fuckers at the grocery stores asking me for spare change or the young dude with pleading eyes and his cardboard sign perched at the last stoplight before the climb to the freeway onramp, they piss me off—-they don’t seem to realize that we all have to make our own wind, running uphill like hell, never looking back until the string feels taunt, until god decides to lightly blow his breath on you, lifting your body above the ground into the void of space and torched stars, and below spins that beautiful blue ball of water and land—here in the ether, even the coldest of hearts will thaw.

I hand a crinkled dollar to a crumpled man, and for a solemn instance we are connected, we occupy the same moment, share the same world—-then without speaking I turn and walk away and return to my world—-as he returns to his—–

Kindest or cruelty—–which way will the wind blow

The older I get, the less I look into the mirror and the longer I stare at my hands