Why Old Dogs Learn New Tricks

 

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Soundtrack by Paul McCrane from the movie Fame.

In my humblest attempts to write something that sounds Twain-ish, I came up with the following.

“If you wanna know a man, meet his dog first.”  You can unpack that quote several ways, but I’ll leave it up to you to deconstruct as you see fit.

 

For Chasey——-my Pal….

I don’t walk my dog, he walks with me. We go to fun places together, not stores, restaurants and malls, I think that’s stupid and weird.  That’s as absurd as taking a cat to church.  Cats don’t believe in god, they think they are god.

We prefer walks around our neighborhood or hikes in the woods.  Being a Lab, he loves his swims down by the lake.  He tips the scale at over a hundred pounds.  That’s twenty pounds of sweetness, thirty pounds of slobber and fur and fifty pound of love.  He shakes his wet coat all over me, drools water across my freshly shined hardwood floors and steps on my bare feet with his heavy sharp paws—–Ouch!!!—–If he wasn’t so damn cute he’d get a lot more scoldings.

There’s a quiet calm about him.  He’s at peace with himself and the world, minus the mailman, garbageman and the neighbor’s cat.  The cat sits smugly behind her window as Chase is pulled back to his yard by his collar. I’ve never been at peace with myself, the world, or anybody or anything. I’m more the restless type who’s easily tangled up in my own expectations.  I anxiously cling to desired outcomes that are out of my control. He stares up at me with his eyes that seem to say “Don’t worry bro, it’s all good man, everything is as it should be”.  Chase is Zen; he’s simple, honest, loyal, kind and empathetic——-he expects nothing. He lives in the moment, joyfully running in circles, never mired in selfish conclustions. He doesn’t even care when he misplaces his favorite tennis ball.  He naps when he’s tired, eats when he’s hungry and walks around with a big contented Zen smile on his doggie face.  In his serene mind he wags his tail in time to “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.

He doesn’t much care for fighting, but if provoked he can be vicious——-he has a highly developed “bullshit detector”. Lying and cheating must give off a subtle scent, because his keen sense of smell can detect those qualities from miles away. His intense listening skills alert him when someones words don’t match their voice inflection. He’ll piss on the lawns of those who are deserving of his mark….

People fall out of love.  They change, they lose touch, they move on,  They’ll selfishly take more than they give, until one day they wake up and  find themselves friendless and loveless. Little by little they wear out others with their chafing annoyances. I think you know what I mean, like the petty cruelty of repeatedly leaving the cap off the proverbial tube of toothpaste. It becomes a process of slowly wringing out their partners patience like a stiff old dish rag until they’ve squeezed out every last drop of civility. All that remains is bitterness and lawyer fee’s.

Dogs don’t know how to keep score. They only have two emotions, love and forgiveness. Unlike humans, dogs make great listeners.  Most folks don’t listen, they just yammer on with all the eloquence and articulation of a squawking Stellar Jay…….Chase cocks his head sideways, props up his floppy ears and offers up a sigh of acknowledgment.

There’s a fine line between love and hate. Most people don’t know when they’ve crossed that line until it’s to late.  They refuse to learn or change, they prefer casting blame rather than trying to become a better person. It’s hard to teach old humans new tricks.  They always want to know, “What’s in it for me?”

Old dogs don’t learn new tricks just for a treat, they learn new tricks to please you. Some folks will say “I love you” every chance they get, but they never take the time to show it through their actions.

My dog is ten years old. They say a dog ages seven dog years for every human year. My dog at ten knows more about life and love than I ever will—–and I’m middle aged—– I’m being conservative in regards to defining my age.

Chase and I are growing old together.  He’s slowed down a bit, but he still has the heart of a pup.  He barks a jet airplanes, gets excited when I put on my shoes for a walk and would follow me to hell and back agin.  I  wish my dog would never grow old, because when he’s gone I’ll be lonely here without him……..

Feeding The Lion

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For Haley and Taylor.

Soundtrack “It’s For You” by Pat Matheny

So ya wanna be a writer. Writing takes enormous courage, at least for those who dare to stand in the center-ring and call themselves the master of ceremonies. When I say master of ceremonies, I mean standing in the center-ring with a chair in one hand and a whip in the other—–cracking that whip as you attempt to tame language, coaxing those unruly words to jump through rings of fire. It’s being honest and pure——it’s as insufferable as siphoning ink from an anemic soul. To go to such places you must first face down who you are or who you thought you were–you must be prepared to shine a light on your blind spots and shake hands with your darkest shadows. What’s in there? What’s way deep down inside me, that thing I’ve carried with me from the womb, that shameless thing that’s a part of me like a birth mark in the shape of original sin. If you can go that far down then you’ve earned the privilege to call yourself the zoo keeper of words. You have fed the lion, but you have not tamed him. Beauty, danger and fear are the bars that cage our confessions. A long lost friend once told me “Where the beauty of the soul is, there’s always danger.”

The next step is to put your head in that lions mouth. Choose honesty over insecurity. Allow space for venerability, don’t be anonymous——be outrageous, be original not a trend chaser, be forthright rather than pious and vain——take no-ones word other than your own, search everywhere for yourself and then let it all go, unleash your restrained emotions and when all the stiff mannequins misunderstand you, tell them to fuck off———it’ll be scary, but it’ll make you feel awake and alive—–trust that it will be worth it. Your words are your weapons, surrender is your shield. Make shit happen, even if you have to make shit up as you go along, walk the high-wire, be a fire eater, play the clown, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s how you’ll learn to orchestrate your circus. Be persistent, have tenacity, be a seeker. Be good to yourself, be kind to others, smile, even when you don’t feel like it—-take the body and the mind will follow. .

Life is a beautiful thing——-people like you make this so.

 

Little Wing

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Soundtrack “Little Wing” by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Some people know your secrets before you let them slip, before ya allow them to spill out during one of those beer riddled drunken nights. They can see through you, as if they’ve known you before this brief life stint. There’s no pretending, they draw out the best in you, like a spike struck to the heart, or the rude awakening that accompanies a stiff slap across the face——Boy, she sure shook me up, she took me back to a life I’d forgotten. I knew from that first glance, she belonged to me…..She’s a part of me, always had been, and always would be—-there are few who can make one feel less alone in such an indifferent world, maybe that’s the definition of love? She was partial to me, like the sound of a familiar melody, she could play me by heart…..

I’m gonna take off every piece of your clothing till all that lies between us is freckled skin, damp breath and sloppy wet kisses, we’ll go around and around, then back round again, peeling off our tawdry disguises one layer at a time, till we’re naked, till we’re almost perfect, except for fresh blue bruises and old stubborn scares. Here, take my wallet, my car keys, my cigarettes, along with all the other bad habits I’ve used to hide myself—cause I belong to you like a bad habit. All I need right now is to be wrapped up in your arms, let me tear down those walls that protect your secret garden—now come over here—-yeah, just like that. Let us for now be silent and we’ll speak to one another with our eyes closed. I don’t need to know your name, your age or the name of your hometown, all that stuff is ordinary, frivolous and unimportant to me. You my love, are anything but ordinary——I cut my dreams on the teeth of her diamond shaped heart——

We’d been more than friends but less than lovers, we offered one another awkward goodbyes with tenuous hugs——only our eyes kissed farewell. She’s my little wing, “When I’m sad she comes to me with a thousand smiles she give to me free.”

I’m In A Walmart State Of Mind–Doors

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Soundtrack by Pat Metheny “Last Train Home”.

I’m in a Walmart state of mind. The fluorescent lighting gives the vast yet cluttered place a harsh two dimensional appearance. It’s a landscape crowded with cartoonish characters wearing thousand yard stares.   I’m staggering my way through this cathedral of capitalism, a place where everything has its price, but negligible value. It required the consumption of two tall boys and a shot of Jameson in order for me to enter these doors——I’ve come here to hopefully find an old friend of mine.

I do my best daydreaming while wandering through these isles of meaningless shit. There’s something about the endless isles of blurred colors and the monochromatic shopping muzak that puts me in a walking meditation. I peruse my way through the shameless drooping bra display, past the old ladies laid out in the pedicure highchairs, the in-house McDonalds with ketchup smeared tables, the strange optometrist alcove next to the restrooms and then past the immaculately arranged shiny fruit and vegetables, through the wall of HD TV’s, housewares, hardware, sporting goods and the disheveled toy department. I feel myself being swept away into a Fellini plot with its array of bizarre looking zombies.  It’s a nightmarish funhouse of warped mirrors, insane laughing clowns and Andy Warhol’s stacks of Campbell soup cans. The deeper I’m pulled into the bowels of the store, the more surreal my thoughts become——— Maybe I’ll find her in the shoe department.——

Why is there no three quarter life crises? It’s a misunderstood age ignored by a world consumed by youth culture and the next “big thing”. At this stage of my life, it’s no longer what I’m becoming, or who “I’m supposed to be” I know these things. Today, it’s more about “What have I done”. Or, “What haven’t I done?”  If you’ve aged well, you no longer give a damn what other people think, you are——–(good, bad or indifferent) uncompromisingly “you”.  Time strips away vanities, insecurities and pretentiousness. There’s comes a forced introspection knowing there are more days behind me than in front of me——-

The mirror has become a contemptuous tool of fucking deceit. My internal mirror has me forever young.  When I smile at pretty young girls they offer up blank stares,—–Just for kicks, I give a sly wink====”Better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn’t smile back.” Adam Smith

From the corner of my eye I catch the blur of something flittering amongst the exposed heating ducts, light fixtures and skylights. I scan the upper regions of the massive ceiling. I hear a sound reminiscent of a bird chirping. I follow the sound into the infant department. Could she be here?

My children are now grown and on their own. I carry their old memories frozen in time, but as I’ve grown older they’ve begun to thaw and slowly drip into my consciousness. Out of nowhere an old memory will surface and I will suddenly be consumed by a sense of nostalgia—- I’m taken back in time to cartoon gibberish, ski trips on snowy days, nervously letting go of the handlebars as she wobbles off without me, contentious teenage arguments with my son, teaching them how to swim, drawing the line “because I said so”, sleepless nights listening for the sound of the car returning in the driveway, holidays, family get togethers, loud parties——-tears and laughter——-I wonder, did I do it right? Did I do the right things for the right reasons? Did I tell them how much I love them? Did I say it enough? Did I show it enough? The past is malleable, I wonder about the memories they now carry of me???? Those were the best of times…….irreplaceable, irretrievable, irreparable, pressed like rose pedals within the pages of my heart——-

Perhaps she is by the water fountain near the layaway counter. Haughty shoppers offer up smirks as they jockey past me. They’re in a hurry to fill a hole left on their shopping list. The hunter gatherer gene lingering in their DNA causes them to stalk the shelves with a competitive killer instinct. For some, enough is never enough——hoarders of
“things” forget that everything they purchase comes with an expiration date…….

Have I failed god? Is he mute or am I deaf? Why are we born, why does everyone we love have to die? When I was young I was reckless, such things didn’t matter, back then I was unbreakable, irreverent—— There was always more time, time to say the things I needed to say, time to make up for the things I did wrong, time to apologize to those I’d wronged. I never looked at my watch or a calendar as a fuel gauge, or as an alarm to go off as time grows shorter.

I use to think I had control over my destiny, but not so much anymore. My grand designs flip flopped so many times that I’ve forgotten where my ego ends and my destiny begins.  Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, two way mirrors, dead ends, trap doors and enigmatic mysteries. I use to take credit for my successes and make excuses for my failures, but time has humbled me. Someone must have been looking out for me, a higher power, God, grace———Thank goodness that the divine takes pity on little children and fools….

Such a beautiful disaster, filled with prophetic accidents and comical mistakes, the art of life, falling apart and coming back together, riding the wave of brief eternal moments……recollecting all the people I’ve found and lost along the way. There’s always been more room for love. I should’ve hugged more, forgave quicker and been slower to anger——-

I follow the sound through the doors leading to the Yard and Garden Center. I know that she likes it out here where there is sun and fresh air. It’s an atrium of sorts, here I’m surrounded by chain linked fencing and a netted ceiling. I whistle hoping to coax a response from my shy friend.

Did I make them proud. After all their sacrifices and compromises had I come up short? Did I become a better part of their dream. It makes me wonder how others perceive me and what are the blind spots I fail to perceive in myself. Unconditional love, like the air I breathe, has always been there, taken for granted, worse yet——-expected.

Youthful enthusiasm kept me running in scribbled circles, impatient, forgetful———memories of sitting on my folks couch, with the evening news in the background, they leaned into me, listening as I explained my scrambled schemes and how I was going to have things my way.  It must have taken monumental patience on their part to allow me my fanciful indulgences.  In spite of all my false starts and wrong turns, they were behind me, no matter how cocksure I must have appeared. I hadn’t counted on all the fractured relationship, career stumbles, strange lonely towns, sucker punched failures, bad days, night terrors, faltering steps and stumbles——-but I always carried with me the knowledge that there was a place I could still call home, someone who would answer their phone no matter what hour of the day or night, they’d see me through—what a beautiful complete love——

In the corner of the atrium there’s a nest behind a flood light fixture. And there she is, sitting above the rows of patio chairs, barbecues and artificial plants. Her nest is constructed of candy wrappers, recipes and colorful strings gathered from the clothing departments. I’m reminded that to adapt doesn’t always mean to evolve……

I’d first noticed her several months ago perched upon an exposed vent. She must have accidentally flown in the store when the electric doors were open. I’ve continued to make occasional visits to see if she was still making this place home.  I’m not sure if she is trapped, or if she has found this way of life to be more predictable then what lies beyond these walls—-Life without surprises leads to complacency, and complacency compromises ones soul.

She must subside on the fruits and vegetables and other tidbits tossed into the trash cans.  The water dispenser has become her birdbath and drinking fountain.

This Walmart will be her chicks only world, all that they will ever know. It seems cruel and unfair that this sterile box-store will be the extent of their universe. But, if this is all they’ll ever know, then I suppose it makes no difference.  They don’t know—-that they don’t know——-that they’re captive birds.

To know that you don’t know, is where wonder collides with wisdom. I reach in my pocket and pull out a handful of birdseed and place it in the plastic rubber plant.

Leaving the store I’m filled with a sense of freedom. I inhale a deep breath and look up at the sky above me and wonder what doors may be hidden up there. I suppose we are all captive in one way or another ——-insnared by gravity, stiched to space and time, enslaved by our beliefs, stalked by our memories—-and ultimately, entrapped by the limited time we are here and alive………..

Forgotten

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Soundtrack Van Morrison “Oh The Warm Feeling”.

I was there, you were standing right next to me, I swear I could hear you breathe. I felt everything so deeply—but that’s nothing new. I desperately tried to get you to see, but you saw nothing———to get you to hear, but you heard nothing. You wore the expression of someone waiting on a ghost taxi, you wanted to be anywhere but here——-alone with me. The gulf had grown to wide to bridge, the fortunes walls to high to scale.

Life is not a book, a poem, a movie or a song. Life is a cold clammy messy ball of unformed clay, a mine field of misconstrued words and veiled emotions, its harmony pitted against dissonance, it’s pages of dull descriptions with no plot or character development, it’s being locked inside someones illusion of you, it’s giving yourself to fate cause freewill failed, it’s a sledge hammer to a diamond shaped heart, it’s junk mail when you deserve a love letter, it’s spam when you crave intimacy, it’s holding hands with a memory, it’s french kissing a specter, it’s a text message when all you really want to do is lie on your back with someone in the middle of a quiet meadow and count falling stars, it’s asking for your secrets back, it’s cutting down a tree with a dull ax, it’s blunt answers when all you need is a soft touch, It’s a relentless wind whistling through your window pane on a sleepless night, it’s finding a beautiful feather after the bird has flown, it’s waiting in the wings, it’s a gray and rainy January day in California, it’s missing someone who has long ago forgotten you…..

 

Mini Deaths (Fade Into You)

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Soundtrack “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star

I think of you when it snows, because that’s what the sky was doing the last time I saw you—the last time I felt your warmth—-that was back then, when I thought I’d always feel you. Little pieces of whiteness falling gracefully from the heavens, collecting in your hair, clinging to pine trees and covering the tired backstreets of our hometown, back then, this pale city was ours for the taking.

We were becoming one, one with the sky and the ground, as our bodies clung together, our eyes pure and childlike, as we shared a common breath that fused into  a cloud of steam, immaculate and white, it felt like eternity, like that moment would last forever, as if time stood still, but time stops for nothing and takes pity on no one. Life is a dissolving vapor, love a dream.

I can hear the passage of time in the strange silence that accompanies a fresh layer of snow, I recall the sound of your voice, the way you listened to my stories, the little pieces of you that still inhabit my soul, your smile, your laughter, your eyes, how you moved through the ether, giving shape to this void we call life.

I love you in that place where there is no time or space, in that mini death between heartbeats, in the stillness that separates each breath, only you have the power to take me to that place where eroticism and ecstasy collide.

Is time real, or man made, is it linear or circular? Time without you is meaningless—-I walk through the vacant snowy streets like a ghost, invisible as white on white. Is this real? Am I real? I fade into you——-

Worth It???

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Soundtrack “Sideways” by Sheryl Crow.

“Don’t you believe in love? Sure, I believe in love, I just don’t believe in people.”

People will let you down, they’ll offer up a thousand promises and then forsake you as they play dumb, as they stare past you with those faux naive eyes——- People are fickle, love is temporary, time is fleeting, —-lipstick stains while french kisses fade—love letters are scribbled in disappearing ink

yet love is always good. I didn’t say that it’s always worth it, but it’s good while it lasts.

Love, it brings out the best and the worst in us all. It has caused some to take their own life, while others in a jealous rage take another’s life, and some will sacrifice everything for a believed to be one and only———it’ll leave you with blood on your hands, it’ll lead you down dark blind alleys, leave ya stupefied broken and adrift—-

yet love is good. I didn’t say that it’s always worth it, but it’s good while it lasts.

It’ll make ya feel invincible, immortal, it’ll pull back the drapes covering your parched heart and let in all the colors you never knew existed, it’ll rock your world like a shot of tequila burning the back of your throat——-causing your eyes to water as your face contorts into a squinted fist, as you let out an involuntary “Ahhhhhhhh”—-

yet love is always good. I didn’t say that it’s always worth it, but it’s good while it lasts.

It’ll come to you exulted, wearing the robes of royalty, rose pedals line its path——- only to reduce you into a beggar, a panhandler, a homeless heart aimlessly wandering the bleakest of city streets. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, you’ll realize you’ve been chasing a mirage, you’ve been kneeling before a charlatan, duped by a chameleon. You’ve drank the potion, taken the cure, only to find that the miracle drug is snake oil.

yet love is always good. I didn’t say that it’s always worth it, but it’s good while it lasts.

She speaks to you in a slow deliberate voice, a whisper, so precise, so careful, like a priest giving a crowd of strangers a eulogy for someone who’ll never be seen, heard from or touched again. And, that’s how this thing called love works. A hundred years from now, who will know, who will care, who will miss you?——

yet love is always good. I didn’t say that it’s always worth it, but it’s good while it lasts.

“Don’t you believe in love? Sure, I believe in love, I just don’t believe in people.”

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.

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Soundtrack “Wish You Were Here” Pink Floyd.

“Hey man, are you okay?” His voice draws me back to the surface where imagination and reality collide. “No man, I’m not okay, not at all.” He’s dressed in a blue sales associates vest with a name tag bearing the name Cameron. I think to myself, what a distinguished name for a punk kid with unkempt hair, nose piercing and tattoo sleeved arms. It’s Saturday evening and the huge box store is still a thrashed mess from the ravages of yesterdays “Black Friday Sale”. The wall of big screen televisions with their pristine HD pictures compete for my attention. I feel myself slipping back into their hypnotic grasp. “Hey man, do you need something?” I turn to him and speak “To love life, to love others, is how we show our love to god.” Cameron stares at me as if I’m speaking a foreign language: and I suppose I am. He laughs “Brah, your watch must be set to 420. Are ya sure everything’s cool by ya?  Ya need me to call someone?” “No, I’m just changing buses at your station.

“Sometimes at moments like this, I think in poetry and talk in prose. Everything hits me all at once, and things become clearer and more confusing all at the same time.” He takes a couple of steps backwards, “Tell ya what mister, let me go change the channel on those TVs. They’ve got ya all messed up.” He disappears into the maze of florissant lite isles while speaking into his radio piece.  I can hear him whispering the word “security”. I turn back towards the halo like glare of the T.V.s and lose myself in haiku thoughts.

Standing there at Walmart, in the electronic’s section, I feel myself being absorbed into the wall of flat screen TV’s. The sheer spectacle of all the pictures repetitively tuned to the nightly news is mind sucking. The female newscaster’s voice has the rehearsed sex-appeal and charm of a beauty queen. There’s not a hair out of place, her blouse is low cut, you might even say a bit provocative.  Her eyes conceal any sign of distress or outrage as she glibly reports the days menagerie of mayhem and tragety.  There are film clips of dead bodies in the streets. Another mass shooting at a school, a church, a mall. There’s a drive by shooting that’s killed an innocent three year old caught in the crossfire, a suicide bomber has murders 26 people in a marketplace, a minor traffic altercation leads to a road rage incident, a cop shoots an unarmed kid, there’s another hate crime— someone shoots somebody because they’re a different color, religion or sexual orientation, terrorist chop the head off of someone who worships a different god, disease and famine take the lives of thousands in a third world country, the bell rings ushering in another profitable day on Wall Street, gun control is defeated in the house of representatives——My bus pulls in and I climb aboard.

There’s no map, no compass, no destination, just me thinking in circles—-a meditation of sorts. My mental landscape begins to change.  I’m listening to voices as the birds eat my bread crumbs——there’s no backtracking, no going back.  I hear the bus’s air breaks release and I’m on my way.  God only knows where my thoughts are leading me—-

We tuck our guns away in our bedside drawers with a bottle of Viagra, cocked and loaded, god lays sleeping under the pillow, we shoot blank prayers into oblivion, bowing our heads to phones and tablets with the reverence once afforded holy books—-QVC is now the temple of worship, all our sins exposed on Facebook, true love is calculated with algorithms designed by a technician at E-harmony, although the earth is dying we remain distracted by soap operas, porn and gameshows, we drive SUV’s with bumper stickers damning climate change, politicians and lobbyist share sly winks, credit cards and umbrella drinks—–I find no rest, I can hardly breathe. Infomercials and pharmaceutical ads blanket the space between the nightly news stories.  Disasters, wars and mass shootings are reported alongside weather forecasts.   There’s an acceptance and tolerance to it all, as if we have no control over any of these events.  

So much hate, so much unbridled violence. I wish guns shot Hershey kisses, and religions taught grace (loving others, even when they don’t deserve it) I wish they’d turn all the mega churches into waterslide parks, and that all soldiers were ordered to wear lederhosen (its hard to kill a man wearing shorts with suspenders) and political speeches were judged by how well they expressed humor and espoused love, and that the Pope would turn the Vatican into a homeless shelter, and he’d trade his big pope hat for a chef’s hat as he cooked free spaghetti suppers for the hungry, and Joel Osteen installed dancing poles for his audience, and at the end of each sermon he’d make it rain dollars from the ceiling (now that’s prosperity preaching), teachers would be paid like pro athletes and pro athletes were paid like teachers,  and Muslims stopped falling to their knees five times a day to pray, but instead opened their arms to hug five strangers a day, and the leaders of countries resolved disputes by mud wrestling one another, and cannons shot confetti and AK 47’s sprayed gumdrops——and of course, our national bird would be a unicorn, our flag emblem a rainbow and “Imagine”would be our national anthem——

Is this the season of celestial checks and balances—of universal reciprocity? Has the Law of Attraction delivered what we’ve choose to manifested? Are we reaping what we’ve sowed. All the money wasted on wars could have sent tens of thousands of kids to college for free, could have created education and training programs for the poor and those incarcerated. We could have built hundreds of hospitals, built community centers, senior centers, child care centers. We could have fed the starving and provided free medical care to the sick.  I feel the door to my bus opening at a strange destination.

A security guard approaches me with his “I’m a badass” swagger. I noticed that the leather holster holding his pepper spray is unsnapped and his hand is resting on his belt next to the canister.

“Boy, ya been drinkin, maybe takin some medications?” His fingers idly strumming on his service belt. As he moves from foot to foot there is the sound of leather stretching and squeaking. “No, I haven’t been drinking, but I could use a pull off something strong right about now.”

“I hear ya all been makin some crazy talk, bout god and love and what not. Sounds like ya feelin a tad bit out of sorts. Now, they’ve got folks down at the County booby hatch that’ll give ya a lil sompin to calm ya all down.” I couldn’t tell if this was his attempt at being empathetic or if he’s trying to intimidate me. “Ya got some I.D. boy? And what ya all got in that there nap sack?”

I turn to make my exit but realize there’s a second security guard who’s snuck up behind me and is now blocking my way out. “Son, let’s go on back to my office so we can figure out what’s going on here. We gonna see that ya get proper help and such.”

The security guard leans back in his office chair as he speaks into the phone. He talks about me as if I were a child or as if I wasn’t even there. He keeps using the term “5150”. “I think he might be a good candidate for a 5150. Oh yeah, he could be of danger to himself and others, definably 5150.”

A sheriff shows up and he drives me down to the County facility. I’m ushered into a room where I’m introduced to a guy who identify’s himself as a psychologist. He asks me questions and prods me about my thoughts and beliefs. He wants me to explained my earlier comments regarding loving life, loving others and how this is a way to show god ones love. I tell him that I ‘m a storyteller and that I’m a voice for sad people. He looks up from he notes he’s been taking and asks “Why do you want to be a voice for sad people?”, I said “Well sir, cause the happy people don’t need a voice.”

He says that it would be best for me to remain at the faculty for a couple of days so that we can get to know each other better. I reply “It takes a long time to get to know someone, and even longer to say that you understand them—–And, cause everybody is always changing, we must be vigilant in our quest to earn someones trust and understanding. Some people think that if they get naked with someone, that they know them. Or, that if they make love to someone, it means they understand them. Some folks believe that because they live with someone or get married, that this means they belong to one another.  But that’s not the case.  Love isn’t belonging, love is letting go.

If ya want to know someone, ask them what breaks their heart, what makes them laugh, what was their childhood like, who they admire, what songs, books and movies touched them. Watch how they treat animals, strangers and children. These little things matter. You can’t say ya read a book until you’ve been through every chapter, every page, paragraph, every sentence and word. Like I said, it takes time, patience and communication to understand someone.——— People don’t read books anymore, they speak in acronyms, send out tweets, write 26 character text’s, they post selfies and collect friends on Facebook.

Ya see, I want to feel another’s thoughts, I want to think another’s feelings—-I know that doesn’t make much sense to most, maybe it’s even a bit crazy. I don’t know, but I”m reaching out to you, to life, to god—–with all my might.  I reach out to hug the therapist and he freezes up.  His eyes reveal a sense of fear or panic as he gently pushes me away. “That’ll be enough for today.”  He presses a button under hidden under his desk and a large orderly dressed in white appears.  He looks more like a bodyguard rather than a nurse.

The orderly leads me to my room and gives some Ambien to swallow. He leaves, I spit it out. I lay awake for a long time. I wonder when my next bus will arrive……..

 

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.