Pardon The Cello

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Soundtrack “Learned A Lot” by Amos Lee

Today they would’ve called us geeks or nerds
But when I was a kid we were the misfits, the oddballs

The ones who ate lunch at the ketchup smeared cafeteria table
None of us had cars or the money to eat off campus
all we had was acne, braces and Walmart clothes

Individually we were vulnerable and easily bullied
but as a pack we were freaks of nature to behold, a beautiful mess
We were the ones that were too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, too smart, too shy, glasses too thick, too this, too that, and all the things that come after “too”

The one gift of being “too” is that it allowed us the freedom to not give a shit
about what others thought or said
We carried our band instrument cases with pride
The weirder the case, the better, and I think the french horn was one of the more cryptic ones

The cello was the Yeti of all cases and sure to turn a few heads on the bus
You could hear the hushed voices saying “What the heck is in there?”
Making its way down the narrow bus isle, banging the case into the bullies heads
“pardon me” spoken with mock sympathy

We found the halls best sonically suited to practice the Messiah
And we sang with gusto as the football players, cheerleaders, skaters and preppies filtered by
Some would actually stop and listen, while wise asses would goof off by making fart noises from down the hall

We read fantasy and SIFI books, we were proud Trekkies
We were at home in our daydreams and fantasies
Yes, we were virtual kings and lords of the video games we conquered
We were kids doing kid shit, in no hurry to be cornered by grown up responsibilities

The girls in our clan didn’t fit into the strict rules of fashion and make up
They were smart and had a good sense of humor
They allowed guys like me to give them a ride on my handle bars
crashing into the tall weeds, an accident becoming the prelude to an innocent kiss—–maybe not an accident??? maybe not so innocent???

All the pretty girls were constrained and selling their souls to be popular
They seemed in a hurry to grow up fast and become dissatisfied adults
with Republican biases, expecting to be privileged, smiling smug, indifferent, clinging to their 401 K’s, mouthing simple answers to complex questions, marching like a minion to Fox News and its right wing christian hypocritical drumbeat, dismissing everything and everyone outside their protective bubble of good paying job, new SUV and nice house in the suburbs, with their gardener Jose, whom they never asked to verify his citizenship or green card along with Juanita their maid

for them being an adult was just an extension of high school, sacrificing ones self to fit in with the most current trends

Occasionally I pull out my old battered cello and squeak out a wobbly rendition of our school fight song

Truth Scraps

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soundtrack “Master and a Hound” by Gregory Alan Osakoy

everything and everyone is stupid
This life is stupid, death is stupid
Everything that happens between birth and death is stupid

Politics is a lie
Spirituality is a lie
Sex is a lie
money is a lie

Love is over-rated
Blockbusters are over-rated
New and improved is over-rated
Guaranteed is over-rated

promises are meaningless
careers are meaningless
getting from here to there is meaningless
staying here is meaningless

trying to become something is boring
losing ones self in becoming something is boring
holding back is boring
getting pissed off is boring

newspapers, magazines, the nightly news is repetitive
Putting one foot in front of the other is repetitive
waking and sleeping is repetitive
Everything between waking and sleeping is repetitive

Starting over again is a waste
Believing it matters is a waste
Holding on to things is a waste
Trying to make a difference is a waste

Addiction is deceptive
bargaining with addiction is deceptive
not knowing is deceptive
knowing is deceptive

But you my love, are like my beer and my coffee
You never demand nor disappoint

You lead me on with your truth scraps
You bared yourself naked with authenticity
You said my poetry was like cotton candy
all sugar with no substance
and I said
I didn’t realize that poetry needed to be nutritious
your “out of the blue” honesty sealed my fate
our ending was now beginning

I don’t stand a ghost of a prayer
All my wishful thinking has lost its sparkle
I rub my chin, readjust my drooping pants
The many things left undone——-unsaid
linger like a fill in the blank quiz
I was never good at tests

Did I ever mention, I thought you to be pretty

My Best Mistakes

The soundtrack “Secret O’ Life” by James Taylor.

I climb into my faithful old Tacoma pickup and head west. You can tell a lot about a man by the truck he drives. The cab smells of rag weed, muddy boots and fresh orange peels. I drive past the fields, the farms and the redundant strip malls.  I eye pretty small town girls with odd names like Galenda or Karla.  Their perfume scented skin I won’t stick around to touch.  These places and girls belonged to other boys with their Friday night hot spots and their Sunday morning houses of worship,——— a community of suburban anchored hearts. I’ve tried to fit into such places, but never could. 

I drive til I come to the ocean.  I check into a cheap motel that wears the odors of mold and a thousand forgotten summer vacations. I wonder how many have made love on this tolerant mattress, or how many have cried themselves to sleep within the walls of this soul suffocating room. The walls are knotty pine with a bathroom sink that drip, drip, drips.  Outside my gray skied window the pavement smells of early morning rain, the sun rises with a memory of how small her hands looked when she touched me.  Once again I find myself at the edge of this sad stained continent. There’s a damp coldness blowing off the water that chills me to the bone. January is my favorite month to revisit this rundown seaside town. The boardwalk is empty and quiet except for the rusty Farris Wheel squeaking and moaning under the strain of a gusting wind. I pull my knit cap tightly over my numb ears.

All my once hip friends are now vengeful Republicans, need I say more?  Out of nowhere I find myself singing “Into the Mystic”——I take a shot of Jameson with a beer back.  “And when that fog horn blows you know I’ll be coming home——-I wanna hear it, I don’t have to fear it”. 

The bed-stand clock glows with its red digital numbers, the sound from the dripping faucet warns me of time passing by.  How do I carry on?  Where do I go from here?  Am I too old to start over again? Have I squandered too many chances.  I’ve moved to new cites, I’ve found new jobs and I’ve broken promises to the few who might of cared for me. I’ve never been one to reinvent myself or attempt to tame my faults or bad habits——I’m all that’s left of my best mistakes. 

I sit on a carved up and pigeon stained bench at the end of the pier. A wrinkled asian man is standing as still as a statue as he waits for a fish to bite his line——I suppose we’re all waiting at the other end of one kind of fishing line or another.  A young kid with chin stubble and unkempt hair takes a seat next to me.  He asks if I have a light.  He helps me cup a flickering flame from my Bic lighter. He squints as he stares intensely out at the foggy horizon. I know that look, I know this kid. He speaks “You got a wife?”  “Yeah, I’ve had a couple of them.” He continues his interrogation “You got a job?”  “Yeah, I’ve had a few those too.”  “Did you get everything you wanted?”  “Like most, I suppose I got what I deserved and a few things I didn’t expect.  Sometimes it isn’t what you get, but more importantly, it’s being happy with what you’ve been given——-gratitude is the scale on which to weigh a balanced life.”

An older me talking to a younger me, what a gift. “Take good care of yourself dude.”  I grab his cigarette, then take a hit off it before stomping it out.  “Look after your health kid, you’ll wish you did when you get older——-and yes, we all do get older, that is, if you’re lucky.”  He pushes his shaggy hair back “Do you ever think about your parents?” “Everyday I do. You won’t understand the sacrifices your parents made for you until you become one yourself. You’ll look at your children and be amazed at how parts of you became their flesh and blood. The best of times will be the time spent with your kids.  Remember to give your weary parents the love and respect they deserve.  The kids grow up too fast and our parents grow old and frail too soon. Once they’ve passed on, they’re gone for good.  Time moves in one direction, forward. Regret is the child of missed opportunities.”

“Many acquaintances will come and go, but few will be elevated to the position of trusted friend. Choose your friends carefully, because they’re the only ones who’ll enjoy your ridiculous humor, tolerate your irritating idiosyncrasies and stand up for you when this world leaves you feeling insignificant, irrelevant and unworthy of love. They’ll embark on crazy adventures with you and provide you with the sweetest of memories. Your friends and family are your tribe and their unconditional love is the only thing that will sustain you through the good times as well as the bad.”

“I know that at your age you won’t believe me, but this life is tragically short.  Don’t squander the time you’ve been given being bored or angry.  Monies a fleeting vapor, a job that doesn’t suite you is a snare, pleasure without sacrifice is quickly forgotten.  Look for true love and nothing less.  You’ll know it’s true love because she’ll bring out the best in you.  She’ll make you feel things you never felt and it will cause you to do things like hold her hand when she’s frightened. She’ll bear your children and cook you your favorite meals. For her, you’ll fix the things that break, mow the lawn on hot July afternoons and snowplow the driveway on cold January mornings.  All these seemingly insignificant small things will comprise a full life.  Keep your priorities straight and you’ll enjoy each day as it unfolds.”

The kid offers up a grin.  “When I grow up, I wanna be like you.” “Take your time kid, being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to being.” I climb in my truck and head back home as I give a glance in my rear view mirror.

These Days

Soundtrack “These Days” by Gregg Allman.

He said he’s now a Christian
Another poor excuse for me to scale
He sent me a letter with biblical quotes
Two thousand year old words laden with emotional quicksand
Everything neatly arranged into his boxes of good and evil
I wonder where I’d fit in—–these days

I miss that old friend, this new one no longer laughs at life’s foibles
His company makes our past feel irrelevant, like noticing dings on my car door
I’m reminded that time can be ruthless
Isn’t that just like me, turning the past over and over in my hands
Another shelf-life expired, I’m learning to throwout what’s soured
And this relationship has devolved, leaving a bad taste in my mouth

It took me a long time to get to this place
Sometimes it feels as though no “there” follows this “here”
Old friend, more shadow than substance
Everyone peddling their rendition of love
As if such things came with instructions and warranties

I went back to my fathers house
With him no longer living
That house is just dust and empty rooms
Like leaving a voice message on a dead mans answering machine
Pick up, please pick up, only the mumblings of a disembodied voice

I had to lose my soul, my mind, my self,
I had to lose my everything
To find a voice
The price of loving someone
Is equal to the pain that comes with losing them

Tao

Sound track “Beloved” Jesse Cook

After a million miles
It’s still running through you
A blinding light deafening a sky of jealous stars
We knew a round love in this world of flat earth-ers

Backyard tire swing, like a pendulum of gone by days
Pool chlorine mixed with honey suckles, the smell of summer
July laid out before us like a thousand unused Saturdays

Your cities are lonely
A careless milky-way evicted from time and space
Other people’s suns drenched in nothingness
Other worlds out of reach
Physics, another flawed human endeavor
Didn’t you know that the numbers never added up

Where’s the revolutionaries
Where’s our freedom fighters
An entire population of fools staring at smartphones
A generation of selfies, ego sponges

Angry, ignorant tweets, dissonant wind chimes
Where’s this generation’s John Lennon and George Carlin
Who’ll shame these fuckers
Hypocrisy is the breaking news
Truth has become negotiable
Climate change compromising happy endings

I’m the soundtrack of pissed off
Is everyone else drunk or high on recreational weed
Democracy a chess piece for the rich
Check mate, ponds against kings

Living in virtual bubbles
No longer “We hold these truths to be self-evident”
No more “We the people”
Wall street thieves and politicians
Who can tell the difference
Divisiveness is the cost of doing business with the greedy

Your birth was not an accident
Don’t let this one precious life play out like a sitcom laugh track
Be angry, fight complacency, believe in your power
To be about it, is the way

Undone Reverie

Famous Blue Rain Coat, Lenard Cohen.

Bring back
wandering and wonders

A child’s rain
A cloud’s smile

An avalanche
Of frozen dreams

That night at the lake
scent of campfire in your cloths

That slipping fear
Of days gone forever

And it’s always the same
In my bed of memories

I close my eyes and see
A spiral of life descending

Blue cars
Sing past my window

Pretend people
In fishbowl lives

Blood scrawled
love letters

February winds
Leave a hole in July

Standing so close
I smell your pain

Eyes so brutal
I’ll never blink

Is this really me
Is this really you

With rags of rage
I’ll undress you

One lie at a time
One life at a time

You’ll see me
In your worn midnight

Dry lightening strikes
Set wildfires in burning beds

I don’t know where I’m going
I’ve forgot where I’ve been

Seven turns
on a twisted highway

Listen closely
Hear the sound of your own song

And you said, so cavalier 
Offer up gods will
See things for what they are

Here’s to higher love
Are there scraps left for the likes of me

You’re the everything I wanted
Last thing that I needed

Did you know what you were doing
Because what you were doing
Caused me to choke on what’s never to be
Eternally incomplete, somehow find me there

And for a brief moment
You gave my madness worth
Like making love in your empty bed

Soft sigh, damp breath
Undone reverie, wet flesh

I have no one to hide from
Your ghost looks over my shoulder

This house of fractured mirrors
Broken pieces of me, pieces of you

Oh my god, so much older we’ve become
Sad in spirit, in this season of crucified saviors
Early December, look at what we’ve become
Hometown memories on faded polaroid holidays
And only the virgin snow knows secrets of buried yesterdays
When do old friends become strangers and ex-overs sad poems

This world will never tell us who to be
We’ll have to figure this out for ourselves
And then do our best to let go

A Body For A Soul

 

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All I wanted was to be understood, to once again lose myself in someone’s eyes, rather than being sucker punched in the heart. She said it’s hard to be understood when you don’t even understand yourself.   I thought to myself “Yeah right, you never even took the time to try and know me, you were too busy trying to prove how you were right——-and how I was wrong.”  One thing for certain, I was right about her being wrong for me. Love with all its inherent bad descions makes fools of us all. The more I tried to reach out the harder she pulled away. Maybe blindness is what love is. Maybe it’s tracing with my fingers what I can’t see with my eyes. She shoved my hand away, “Stop, you’re gonna smudge my make up”. Damn, she had all the romance of a cactus.

I’m a fool for girls with sexy eyes in lose fitting see through sundresses. I’ve bumped into a lot of people, but we collided and burst into an awkward erratic orbit—-pulling together then pulling apart. When I peered closer, I realize that I was never really in her eyes. But god, I remember how the sun shown through her cotton dress and how I mistook a body for a soul.

During the day it’s easy to believe in god, clocks and getting to work on time.  When the sun is up I can find purpose in simple walks down by the river.  I’m not shaken by the absurdity of remaining stopped at stale deserted red lights.  But at night, the enormity and emptiness of the universe fills me with an uneasy feeling of insignificance.  I toss and turn in my bed and then get up and stumble into the kitchen for my fourth glass of water.  I’m stuck in a midnight cycle of drinking water to ease my dry mouth and then having to get back up and take a piss.  She hollers from the bedroom.  “What’s wrong with you? Why are you up.”  I reply, “I can’t sleep, I’m worried about stuff.”  Her voice is tired and cracks as she speaks, “Worried?  Worried about what?”

“I’m worried about life and the inevitability of death and what’s it all for.  I’m worried about things I should’ve said and done.  I’m worried about pretending to be something or someone I’m not. I’m worried about my insecurities, my false intentions and my need to be validated——–by people I don’t give a shit about.  I’m worried about our sun and how someday it’ll become a super nova and explode vaporizing our solar system and turn our planet into ash along with all it’s history, paintings, music, books and everything that makes up me and you.  I’m worried about sick kids lying in hospital beds, scared and praying under their starched and stiff hospital sheets.  I’m worried about lonely old people in rest-homes with nothing to do but watch gameshows and play bingo. I’m worried about never being able to write with the truthfulness and rawness as Bukowski, Steinbeck or Kerouac.  I’m worried about roads not taken. I’m worried about why I no longer have friends who I can trust with my secrets.  I worry about being misunderstood.  I’m a hypochondriac so I worry about every phantom ache and pain. I’m worried and wonder where’s god in all this mess?” She gasps,”What the hell’s wrong with you?  You make Woody Allen seem normal.  Come back to bed.”  I gulp down another huge swig of water and head to the bathroom to relieve myself——I swear, how is it possible to pee more liquid than I drink? I’ve grown weary of waiting on another tardy sun.

When I go back to my hometown I drive down my old street and park near my childhood house with it’s yellow nightlight burning on the porch.  It’s just me and a moonless sky dipped in ink.  Tonight I’m filled with melancholy as I creep along in the shadows of haunted streets. Maybe we all leave little pieces of ourselves in the places we once called home. I’ve come snooping for clues that will put “then and now” back together.

When I grew up I was in a hurry to get out of my hometown and escape this puny street that once comprised my world.  But now I’m ironically drawn back to this tired old house on a dead end street. After everyone has gone to bed I buy myself a tallboy and park by the field that’s adjacent to the Catholic church and my childhood house. The cold air with its silent stars brings back the loneliness I knew as a child.  Even then under that misty Milky Way galaxy I’d lose myself in the majesty and unreal-ness of it all.  I think about my old friends and my family, I listen for voices and keep an eye out for falling stars or maybe a UFO. I haven’t come here to repeat the past nor exhume old ghosts, I’m in search of a lost innocence. Right now, all over town it’s autumn and the wind is creating mini tornados of yellow, red and purple leaves. The air is filled with the scent of burning wood streaming from brick chimneys. November is breathing its chill into the coming night.

This was the place where my father would come home wearing his weary work-face.  I think back on all the sacrifices my folks made for me and my sisters. For my dad, everyday must’ve felt the same except for paydays.  On paydays he’d come home late for dinner with beer on his breath and the smell of tobacco clinging to his work shirt. I remember how he’d wrap mom up in his arms and foxtrot her around the living room singing “I don’t get around much anymore”.  Is that what life is, brief moments of joy surrounded by days of nihilistic sleepwalking? In spite of all the hardships we were a family fortified by love who found ways to share our tears and exploit life’s humor. Our house was filled with loud voices and much laughter. My folks did a good job making us a home and they were always there for me. There is still something calming about this funny little house with it’s sagging fence and unkempt gardens——it still defines home.  Memories are my eternal path back home.

This is where my mother cooked our dinners and neatly ironed our clothes. Maybe I’m guided back here to try find pieces of me that I’d forgotten, or that I’d left behind. I can hear the voices and see the ghosts as I sit in my car with the heater on and the radio tuned to jazz. I sip off my beer and let the smell of fresh laundry and pot roast cooking in the oven bring me back to a simpler time.  

I know now, that you can’t go back in time and fix things or make good on delinquent thank you’s.  Things break, mistakes are made, we all say things we regret.  And then there are those missed opportunities where kindness and patience would have played better than selfishness and unrealistic demands.  I watch as we all age.  There’s a feeling of solace that’s found in marching together through the passage of time.  I search for myself with the eyes of days gone by. Buddha would say that attachments to the past is the cause of suffering, but for me there is such a sweet sorrow in these nocturnal sojourns. I feel a sense of belonging under these frigid autumn skies. We may all just be passing through, but my life is held together by the continuum of shared memories.