Thursday, August 30, 2012

Everybody jump, jump

I recently became aware of a theory being presented by some scientists. They may be mad scientists for all I know. I hear they do have an exclusive club working on death rays and the like (perhaps in Tampa Florida this week?) I heard that they believe that if they got every single person on planet Earth to jump simultaneously we could slightly alter the Earth’s course and orbit around the Sun.

This, I think, is completely preposterous. With the Earth’s molten iron core being the main gravitational balance between Earth’s position with the Sun I find it highly unlikely that the collective weight of all of the people on the planet could have any effect on our position in the cosmos.  Plus there’s all that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction” stuff. When you jump both you and the Earth will be given the same change in momentum, in opposite directions. You land back at each other essentially so the result is negligible.

So in other words, what the hell are these scientists doing? I’m sure a bunch of them got huge grant dollars from some foundation or even the government to discuss a theory Isaac Newton put to rest hundreds of years ago. I think I’m in the wrong business. I need a grant to study nothing.

I think I would like to study the rhythmic gyrations of American females between the ages of 23 to 28 having been subjected to 1990’s dance music and its effects on the polar ice caps. Now there’s a worthy field of study. I wonder if I could get a grant for that. Oh, wait, they did that one already, it was called Dance Party USA. Damn.

Maybe I can get a grant to study my own bad luck with women. Imagine the papers I could publish out of that! It would probably be something like this:

Day One: Saw pretty girl on the train and was about to talk to her but then I realized I was a fat, middle class American male with a dead end job and I was sweating quite a bit. Got burrito instead.  
Day One Evening: Went to local bar in the hopes a pretty woman would notice me and say hi. Got drunk instead and urinated in tub. Was that my tub?
Day Two: Told girl about theory regarding everybody jumping on Earth at the same time to shift Earth’s orbit. She nodded and moved to a different seat. (Getting somewhere?)

Imagine how awesome that would be if by the end of the experiment I had a fully formed guideline for all the other hopeless romantic guys out there that I could sell for a huge profit. Maybe I could join the mad scientist club then. Hell, they’d probably make me club president.

Then they’d pay. They’d all pay. Mmmwahahahaha! (Stroking white cat with claw hand)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Don’t tell me you like me and then dance with someone else. I can’t stand that. I can’t tolerate it. Don’t tell me how you want me in a flirtatious, sexual way but then go out with someone else; even if we’re not in a real relationship. I can’t understand the person that thinks that is okay. I don’t know what world that person comes from. I just don’t understand. It’s so offensive and hurtful and cruel. You’ll never find anything meaningful that way. Traipsing around like a late sixties hippie, trying to experience all kinds of different relationships makes every relationship somehow meaningless and shallow. And always leaves someone hurt.

All relationships are, “relationships”, in one way or another and they require a certain amount of nurturing. I’m tired of people that think they can do anything they want. There are consequences to that wanton disregard for that nurturing. Maybe these girls have been able to escape the consequences or somehow rationalize their actions by saying, “Well, I’m doing what I want so it must be the other person’s problem”.

No. It’s you. You have the problem. You see no moral complications with treading on the hearts of people. As long as you get what you want, but you don’t even know what it is that you want so it’s just a big clustercuss in the end.  I’m not compatible with women like that. I like women that mean what they say and say what they mean and do what they say. I don't get it when the woman I might be seeing kisses every cheek in the room and whispers something sweet in every man’s ear and then looks at me and wonders why I’m frowning. They can’t make the logical connection that it’s a betrayal of conscience. Where’s her Jiminy Cricket on her shoulder telling her that it’s not okay to play fast and loose with people’s affections?

You can be as up front as you want and state that you’re not interested in any kind of relationship but if you make intimate inquiries or flirt excessively and experience pleasure together you’ve a responsibility not to belittle that connection by doing the exact same thing with someone else. It is a “relationship” and to think otherwise is indecent. You can’t be surprised when a person is offended by that behavior. You’ve lost that right when you decided to throw your affections around like candy on Halloween.

I’m a very capable man. I’m emotionally available. I’m passionate. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I react very strongly to things. I take the availability of my emotions very seriously and I cannot tolerate someone who doesn’t. It’s taken me a very, very long time to become an emotional person. It’s been carefully crafted and studied over the course of my life and I can’t handle it when people crap all over it and think nothing of it. People that somehow think I’m being judgmental or insensitive to their needs need think about what they’re doing before judging my emotional reaction to their behavior.

I’m not a plaything. I’m not a ball of string to be batted around when the desire strikes. I’ve made my mistakes with the hearts of other’s. I am no saint. But I am emotionally aware enough to recognize how bad I made them feel. My conscience tells me that I’ve done something wrong. That I’ve hurt someone because I was insensitive to their expectations or personal desires. I try very hard to be aware of what others are feeling now and try not to abuse their feelings.  I don’t tell someone I like them and not mean it. I don’t passionately kiss someone and then kiss someone else. I don’t express sexual desire to more than one person at a time.

I only expect people to do the same with me. I suppose it’s foolish these days. There are too many “liberated” types out there doing whatever they want regardless of who gets in the way. Go ahead and kiss everyone, tell everyone you want them in your bed, tell them you want to be emotional with someone but not too emotional. Tell them you want a connection but don’t want the responsibilities that come with that connection.

My heart has been heavy for a long time. It’s held together with glue and tape and small pieces of wood. It struggles to beat with each longing breath. Relationship, no relationship, I just expect people to know I have a heart and that I care deeply about them. Maybe they could let their heart see the world through my eyes for a while and perhaps then they’d understand why my heart is so weary.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Building it

There are many parts to this life that we struggle to assemble. We start at a very young age, as babies actually, with the concept of object permanence. As babies we think that once an object leaves our field of view it simply ceases to exist. It takes us a few years to realize that mom isn’t gone, she’s just in the other room and if we scream or yell she’ll come running in to check on us. Once we make that connection we start using it to our advantage for a very long time. It’s the first brick laid in what will be a larger structure.

When we first make friends and start to play and build a social dynamic we are continuing the process of building something. We’re learning how to be polite or share or feel the emotions of another human being. We develop our own conclusions about things and start stating what we believe. Which at an early age is usually wrong, but we are taught the right way and the construction continues.

Our bodies grow and change and hormones start going crazy and we try to hold ourselves together at prom or after the homecoming dance and not become a wild ravenous beasts bent on sexual conquest. We remember what we learned on the playground and try to keep the foundations of our burgeoning structure in place against the earthquakes of trivial youthful indiscretions.  

We enter a new stage of construction as young adults, in college or in the real world and the pieces start lining up and making more sense. We have a balcony now and can look out at the rest of the buildings going up and find some real estate that we’d like to have a little closer. We get to the heart of our structure and see that it’s fragile and it needs supports, sometimes a wall, sometimes it needs help just to get pumping again. It all depends on who else is in your neighborhood at times.

It takes a while sometimes and maybe you have your small skyscraper of personality is in a bad part of town and the expressway is just out of reach because you let the tenants tear you down too much. After some gentrification and kindly rehabilitation you discover your neighborhood isn’t so bad and you’re pleased with the company that has grown up around you. So you start to expand again, hoping that this time will be better.

You’re past your mid-twenties at this point and the concrete forms of you are well formed, but as you discover, far more difficult to adapt. You find there was a new neighborhood that you can’t seem to see into. You know it’s there and the music coming from it is very loud and you don’t quite understand it. It barely makes it to your observation deck anyway. But you keep building and perhaps have an executive level now where you keep an office and co-workers. It seems there’s no stopping the rise into the clouds.

Perhaps there’s an accident, maybe an elevator fails, a union strike; maybe there’s a fire or a bomb or someone just doesn’t want you around and your construction pauses. We try various things; drugs, sex, money, to get it going again but it seems you just can’t get any higher. You see that the middle has gotten too thick and it’s a little clearer why you haven’t risen any higher.
There’s a long lull as you try to organize your workers to try something new. Plans are drawn and re-drawn until they start to resemble something familiar and something that seems achievable. In your mid-thirties now and you know that in order to continue you need a little better plaster or drywall. You understand how it needs to be assembled and hope that the weather or the economic climate doesn’t keep your expansion plans from collapsing. It’s a risk but one that has to be taken on order to obtain that shimmering spire crowing your top.

Perhaps you move again, to a little more upscale neighborhood, maybe there’s a closer train, maybe that building near-by that you’ve had your eye on has their eye on you too. The winds come, the rains come, the summer sun beats at you, the snow buries you, but you have no choice now but to keep building.

One day you open your eyes and you tower above some of the buildings around you. The little annexes that you built have now moved to their own plazas and there’s nothing blocking your view of the world. The last of the construction crews have gone home and birds now coo and nest in your bell tower. The sun feels good and the wind isn’t so bad. You’re not so worried that the foundation has cracked. It’s only a matter of time that you have to come down and make way for newer buildings around you.  You only hope that it was a good build and other structures benefited from your rise and that some will also benefit from your fall. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Violent Universe

“The universe is a dangerous place. We inhabit a very tiny portion of the universe. It’s a mere speck on the tapestry that is the universe and we’re constantly in danger”, said Professor Jacobs just as he crumpled to his knees, clutching his bleeding stomach, and died.

I had been there to save him but I wasn’t in time. I found out too late about his penchant for young female students and graphic Romanesque sexual appetite. I thought it was his stalker that was the crazy one. She exhibited all the signs of someone desperately obsessed, right down to the cliché candle lit shrine to the late professor in her dorm. I didn’t put it together until I found the Professor’s photo collection hidden behind his astronomy book. It was him, driving her insane in an overcomplicated plot of sex and drugs.  I felt it for the first time in a long time; that I wasn’t able to help the girl or save the mark. I thought I was getting too old, too slow. At least I caught the poor young girl. And maybe I was just lucky.

“Detective? Detective Marsdale”.

A young uniformed police woman approached me from the rear and I turned to see her. She cut quite a nice shape in her uniform. There was a twinkle in her blue eyes that reminded me of my own daughter.

“Detective Marsdale, there’s a call for you”.

That’s never good news.

“Thank you Officer?...”
“Dakota, Officer Dakota”, she replied.
“Dakota? Really?”
“Yes sir”, she replied.

Clearly it’d been a point of contention for her for a long time so I decided to drop it. I thanked her and headed to my car and called in. The lieutenant wanted me to wrap things up at the University and head down town. There was another murder. Always another murder. I tried to tell the Lieutenant that I was tired and just wanted to finish the paperwork on Ms. Lonelyheart and go to bed. He told me that someone else would take care of it. This needed my attention.

It was just getting cool outside as I drove toward the Hessman Building. A summer rain had fallen and the streets were cooling off.  The very wealthy Mr. Hessman was found dead by one of the cleaning staff employees about an hour ago. It seemed he was drained of all his blood but there was none at the scene.

I lit a cigarette and remembered I promised my daughter I would quit. I tossed the smoke out the window and accelerated.  

Friday, August 24, 2012


Jerry picked a bunch of the flowers in the railing planter.
Karen made herself a little something sweet for breakfast.
Thomas decided to walk.
Steven held the door for her.
Molly took the stairs.

Brian folded her clothes.
Roger brushed his daughter’s hair.
Kate remembered his name.
Laura decided what to wear.
John put down the phone.

Brian took a second to remember.
Devon stepped out of the way.
Hilda hugged herself.
Lashawn took a look skyward.
Maggie wrote a letter.

Mary missed the bus.
Tony took the train.
Robert found his bicycle pump.
Ann sipped her coffee.
Walter read the news.

Harold fixed his tie.
Jennifer started the meeting.
Lauren answered a question.
Donna closed the drawer.
Silvia decided to quit.

Evan woke up early.
Joe rubbed his eyes.
Bridget found her sunglasses.
Jessica lost her way.
Bob took advantage.

Sarah found a dollar.
Bill made a mess of it.
George fixed the drain.

Michael wrote a poem.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Hive

Barry tried to listen to the Queen but all he could hear was her usual droning buzzing about collecting pollen and feeding the babies blah, blah, blah. It was always the same; every day was just as un-exciting as the rest. Barry sighed and wiped a little dust off his antenna. The Queen finished up her boring warnings about winter coming and that it was important to gather as much as possible for the hive.  Barry yawned. He looked over at Mandy Bee, the fair and lovely Mandy Bee, and wished he could talk to her. But she was so dedicated to the bee cause she didn’t have time for him.

The morning meeting was mercifully over and Barry’s brother Brian nudged him as they headed for the exit. Brian was the way too peppy type frat bee that Barry found most distasteful. Brian wore his antenna slicked back and had recently got a, “Buzz for Life”, tattoo.

“Hey bro, are you pumped up for this”, shouted Brian.
“Yeah. Bro. I’m really pumped”, said Barry as he rolled his eyes.
“C’mon Bro! It’ll be awesome! Let’s go, bro”, yelled Brian.

Brian flew off toward the meadow while Barry tried to shake the shouting from his brain. He couldn’t understand Brian’s excitement about collecting pollen. It was just so boring; especially for such a short lifespan. Barry wished for more. He’d been out there in the world now for three days and was fascinated by the giant world around him. It was completely beyond his understanding but he wanted to be part of it.

There were giant hives made out of something peculiar, it was very hard to get any pollen from. Plus he didn’t know where those fleshy wingless creatures secreted such a hard substance. It was a mystery that he wanted answers to. Colleting pollen for the larval babies seemed stupid by comparison.

Barry went to the doorway of the hive and flew out into the world. He stayed away from the meadow and headed toward the giant hives across the strange black river that strange monsters cruised back and forth on.  Barry tried to talk to one yesterday but it said nothing. Apparently it was just a beast that was incapable of understanding the clearly superior bee language. All these monsters did was bray and fart black clouds it seemed.

Barry flew over the tops of the monsters with ease as he headed toward a grassy area where there were some fleshy creatures gathered. He’d tried to talk to them as well but they were also incapable of understanding the complexities of the Bee language. Although they did seem to wiggle their abdomen quite a lot while talking to each other.

Barry wanted to know what their world was like. It didn’t seem like they were all stuck working their lives away for some Queen that didn’t even know their name. The last time the Queen even paid any attention to Barry was when he was a pupa. It’s not that he was bitter, he just felt unimportant. He wanted to be important. He wanted to be loved.

“Yo Bro”, called Brian, “get your pollen on bro. C’mon bro”.

Barry nodded and started to fly back toward the meadow. He only had another week to live as it was, so he might as well make the best of it. He was going to ask Mandy Bee out and take her to that pile of oranges in the meadow. Maybe things would work out and something amazing would happen. He just had to be patient. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Laundry Night Rises

I need clean shirts
and socks and tees.
It must be laundry night.
The most baneful
night of the apartment
renting, single guy

I need an Alfred or
Jeeves or my man
Godfrey or even a
Mary Poppins to sing
a song about a job, once
begun, is almost half

Although, this hired help,
they’d all probably try to teach
me a moral lesson about
doing such tasks for yourself
and how it
builds pride and character.

I’d have to respond that
I have plenty of character
and to just wash the damn
shirts for me.

It’s the lugging of a big dirty
laundry bag up and down three
flights of stairs, it’s the waiting
in the laundry mat surrounded
by the wounded and the weird.

It’s seems there’s always some
guy in the laundry mat that has a
bloody bandage around his head.
Like he was just released from the
hospital, but needed clean clothes
more than bed rest for the concussion.

It’s expensive, it’s time consuming,
it isn’t sexy, it isn’t fun. I hate folding
my underwear in front of strangers.
Especially the ones I may
have hung on to for a bit
too long.

Laundry night is like
Judgment Night. I almost
wish to be the laundry mat’s

Who would have thought
I’d pray for an in unit

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Ellen watched the plane glinting in the sunlight across a wide and clear summer blue sky. She was laying on her back in her grandmother’s yard on an old plaid blanket she found on the back porch. Ellen squinted as the plane moved through the sky and away from her. She imagined all those people on board, maybe a mother taking the kids on vacation, perhaps a business man meeting his mistress for a weekend tryst, maybe a college kid wide-eyed and optimistic about the future. She rolled onto her right side and looked back at her grandmother’s house.

Grandma Jones had passed away nearly a month ago and had left the house to Ellen. Ellen wasn’t sure what she was going to do with this little brick and wood bungalow her grandmother had lived in for nearly 48 years. Ellen had lived there herself for the last ten. She had been through a pretty bitter divorce and didn’t have anywhere else to turn. Grandma Jones immediately offered her a place to stay. Ellen’s own mother couldn’t be bothered it seemed, what with her life at the gallery and the newest young lothario to entertain.

The house was a place of contentment for Ellen. It was where, as a small child, she first went for a swim in a little plastic pool. It was where her First Communion party was held. It was where her Grandfather taught her how to garden.  She had her first kiss near the back yard fence with Robert Kowalski. It was where she got high for the first time and her grandfather just stared and laughed at her. It was always the safest place in her life and memory.

Grandma Jones had lived nearly another lifetime by herself after Grandpa Jones had a heart attack and died, far too young. Ellen’s own mother was inconsolable, but Grandma Jones just accepted it, mourned and then moved on with the business of life. She knew she had been lucky to have had love with a wonderful man and cherished every moment. Ellen’s mother never got over it and seemed to go through her life trying to find another man just like Grandpa Jones but she never realized that they don’t make men like him anymore. So it was divorce and marriage and divorce and marriage and divorce all of Ellen’s life.

Ellen felt the warm sun on her exposed arms, legs and on her face. She sat up and reached for the bottle of water she had brought out with her and took a long cool sip. Grandma Jones wouldn’t go outside in the summer without a cool glass of water or lemonade within arm’s reach. She had been thirsty as a little girl and seemed to always worry, in the back of her mind that the dust bowl would happen again and she’d be left without something to drink. Ellen had pointed out to her that it seemed silly and Grandma Jones had laughed about it too. But she was too set in her ways to change it and could laugh it off as one of her foibles.    

There was another rumble in the sky above as another plane ascended into the high atmosphere. Ellen looked up at it. She and Grandma Jones would sit in the yard and watch the planes taking off from the near-by airport. Grandma once had worked in an airplane factory during the war and then in the offices of an aeronautics firm, so she had an affinity for planes. She always said that it was the greatest feat of mankind to see a bird and think, “why not me?” It was something Ellen had come to admire so much about her. It was the thing that she would probably miss most.

A car alarm started blaring in the distance and it disturbed the peace Ellen had been enjoying in the yard. She realized that she had to get up and go back inside and continue sorting through her Grandmother’s things. It would take her a long time to examine every little shred of her Grandmother’s life and wonder if she’ll ever be as lucky as her. It was a journey she was looking forward to. She wondered what Robert Kowalski was up to these days.

Ellen chuckled to herself and picked the blanket up off the soft grass and headed back inside the house. She knew at that moment she’d keep the house. She smiled and opened the squeaky screen door and stepped into the cool comfort as another plane soared overhead. 

Monday, August 20, 2012


“So I’d like to discuss your work performance issues with you Greg”, said Mr. Undertow.

Greg looked up from his computer screen in his little shoebox size cubicle.

“Sir”, asked Greg.

“Yes, Greg, we would like to discuss some of your work performance issues. Please come with me”, said Mr. Undertow.

Mr. Undertow walked away and Greg stepped out of him tiny cubicle world and followed. Greg could only imagine what terrible thing he had done now. It was always something. Either he wasn’t working hard enough or he wasn’t focusing his energy on the right tasks or the client didn’t like him. It was always some kind of bull.

Greg was led into one of the small conference rooms and he sat down in one of the uncomfortable, second hand office chairs that seemed to have been lovingly plucked from some pile of slightly fire damaged garbage. Greg could swear he could smell brimstone. But then thought he didn’t really know what brimstone smelled like having never been anywhere in the world because he was always at work.

“Greg”, began Mr. Undertow, “we want you to know that we think you’re not doing enough to make the client’s perception of you change”.

“I’m sorry? The client’s perception”, asked Greg.

“Yes, you see, they seem to think that their priorities are not your priorities and frankly we feel the same way. You know our company motto, that we’re all in this together as a team, and we just don’t feel like you’ve been a real team player lately.”

Greg thought for a moment.

“Well, you see Mr. Undertow. I have been going through a lot of personal issues and I’m not inclined to talk to you about them. I have been going to therapy to try and work out my frustration with this job and I’m hoping to have a breakthrough real soon”, said Greg.

“Oh, I wasn’t aware you were seeking any kind of, help”, said Mr. Undertow.
“Yeah, you know how this company values a healthy home life. Well, I decided to try and follow through with that philosophy”, said Greg.

“I see”, said Mr. Undertow, “Well, I would think that in order to have a healthy home life you should try to have a healthy work life too. So I just want to stress to you the importance of having those reports to me no later than the end of the day. If we can be a bit more proactive with the client’s priorities then it’ll go a long way toward changing how they perceive you”.
Greg was seething under his skin. He wished he had superpowers to crush all the corporate evil doers into a pasty mush. Those reports. Those stupid reports. The reports that took two days to compile but we wanted by the client in mere hours.

“The reports you pulled me away from to have this meeting about making sure the reports were ready for you by the end of the day. Those reports?”
“Yes”, said Mr. Undertow.

Greg sighed and said he would make sure to have the reports to Mr. Undertow before the end of business. The meeting was over. Greg was dismissed and returned to his shoebox.  He sat in his chair and wondered what he did to feel so miserable every damn day. Those criminals had stolen his life.

Greg’s phone rang. He answered it out a sick sense of duty instead of just getting up and walking away and never coming back. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ooh that smell

When I was in seventh grade I went to a Halloween party at a young friend’s house. I was dressed as Indiana Jones and thought my costume was basically the greatest costume ever. The party night didn’t go very Indiana Jones for me though as I recall crying and begging my mother to come and pick me up and take me home. (Something about it belonging in a museum). But actually, it was the smell that drove me out of that place.

There was a kid there who used some kind of body pant to cover himself in green so he could be the Incredible Hulk. That paint smelled so terrible I could hardly stand it. It was just awful. It made me want to puke and pass out and piss myself all at the same time, that’s how awful that smell was. It was like garbage rotting in the sun under a peed on tarp under a peat roof that was mostly held together by manure. I’m can’t stress to you enough how badly it smelled.

I could smell something similar last night and I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. It smelled like hot balls being munched on by a wet cat that had rolled around in the feces of dogs that had eaten the rotting corpse of a possum that had been baking under the porch. Let’s just say it was an unpleasant odor. It wasn’t coming from my apartment, or my hands or my shoes or anything that I could find. There was just a stink.

This morning the smell was gone and I started to wonder if I had imagined the smell. Maybe my mind had conjured up some horrific smell just to mess with me. I thought that maybe it was my brain telling me that the heartache and misery I live with on a daily basis is starting to rot and I should bury it in the yard. In the middle of the night, Under a full moon. Wearing a black cloak. Maybe say something in Latin when done.

Smell is a very powerful thing; in fact it’s the sense that is most closely related to memory. It’s really quite amazing how a scent or just a drifting wafting odor can send the mind reeling back through hallowed antiquity to some strange moment of childhood. Like the first time you ever smelled bread baking or drove through Wisconsin on a summers day. Maybe it reminds you of that blanket at grandma’s and how it smelled right after she took it out of the dryer or how grandpa smelled like tobacco and whiskey. It’s really the smell of things.

I suppose that’s one way to actually define reality. By the way it smells. I know that when I’m dreaming nothing smells like anything, but in the real world there’s an abundance of smells. The blue line smells very metallic to me, almost like blood and sweat. The Metra train smells like wet socks. My car smells like hot dust. My clothes smell like cigarettes. My breath smells like booze.

Work has a terrible smell. It smells like so much death and defeat. It reminds me of the way a gym smells after the home team loses the big game. Sweat and tears that seem to have permeated the walls and with every day gets stronger and more powerful until everyone realizes that the walls have to be torn down and rebuilt.

It’s almost so bad it’s hard to breath.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Baked Goods

“Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot”, said Anna Mae. She pulled the baking pan from the oven and quickly placed it on the stove top. She tore off her oven mitts and blew on her slightly singed finger tips.

“I always forget how hot that gets. My word”, she said to the empty kitchen. She wiped her recovering hands on her apron and checked the thermometer sticking out from the edge of the tin foil wrap. She read the gauge and smiled; being satisfied with the results.

“I do believe that’s just right”, she chuckled to herself. She turned to her counter and surmised the baking damage. Two large mixing bowls, the mixer, the hand mixing, the egg shells, the sweetener, the powdered sugar, the flour, the knife, the cocoa, the vanilla, and the milk all spread out in a long chain of creative destruction.

“Now for the special ingredient and it’ll be all done”, she said. She turned to the cupboard behind her. It was a special cupboard with a large heart shaped padlock holding its contents safely locked away.  Anna Mae reached down the front of her blouse and produced a thick black skeleton key on a string and put it into the padlock. She mumbled a few words of prayer and then turned the key in the lock. There was a clicking noise and a heavy thunk as the padlock released and came away from the clasp. Anna Mae returned the key to its safe place against her heart and took the padlock off the cupboard.

The cupboard was empty except for a very small blue vile placed on the center shelf. It had a slight luminescence to it and there was the faint sound of children giggling with each shimmery wave. Anna Mae took the small bottle from the shelf and pulled the tiny cork from its mouth. The air became filled with the scent of roses and lilies and dirt after a spring rain. It made Anna Mae smile and took her back to her earliest days in the kitchen when she would make this special recipe with her grandmother.  It always took her there no matter how many times she made it.

Anna Mae turned back to the now cooling creation on the baking pan and pulled back the tin foil. She started humming a small tune, the same tune her grandmother used to hum. It didn’t have any words but sounded like an old spiritual song from the darker days of their past. She gingerly sprinkled a few drops from the blue vial onto her baked goods. Each drop had a faint sizzle as it hit the crust and seemed to evaporate in. The aromas released swelled in the little kitchen and Anna Mae marveled at how much it smelled like love. In fact, it was just an overpowering happy smell she couldn’t help but wrap her arms around herself and give herself a happy little hug.

“Perfect”, she said.

She re-corked the blue vial and returned it to the cupboard. She reattached the padlock and locked it up tight. She was already looking forward to the next time she got to use it. There was a murmur behind Anna Mae and she smiled again.

“Just a second darling”, she said.

She fixed her hair a little and wiped her hands on her apron again. She closed her eyes and turned around to face the stove. A quiet cry from the baby on the stove. Anna Mae picked the child up and held her close to her bosom and started humming a lullaby and rocking the small new baby.

“You’re made out of love my sweet child, and love is what will sustain you all of your days”, said Anna Mae. She rocked gently as the little baby girl gently fell asleep. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Back Breaker

It's been a busy morning. I've had two bosses hounding me to, "Re-Prioritize", some of the tasks I have ahead of me because clearly they think I'm a moron. I'm not sure when they got that impression. No wait, that's not true. I know exactly when. It was when the client said their perception of me was that I didn't seem to care about them. My employers sided with the perceptions of a client instead of using what then know about me after seven years at this stupid company.

Seven years and they don't trust me to do my job. That's the biggest insult there is. So I must re-prioritize my tasks because they told me to do it, even though I don't agree with the bosses or their claims handling abilities. One's a complete micro-manager who is nearly half blind and types with two fingers and the other has never handled a liability claim in her life. But they know better.

This is why I want to quit nearly every day of my life. It's a job. It's never been a career. So I can't devote this time to entertaining you, or myself, so I can do things I don't agree with and hate.

Find me another job public. Save us both.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cucumber Man

I’m Cucumber Man.
I pretend to be cool
but I’m not.

My cape flaps in the
summer winds as I
hang on for dear life
on the ledge of things
suddenly seeming
out of my control.

My battles are epic
in the landscape of
my mind’s Metropolis.
I’ve laid waste to
years of potential and
productivity through cold
and hot wars with my arch
nemesis, Count Anxiety and
his Legion of Doubt.

The fights pitch between
confidence and cowardice,
honor and stupidity,
patience versus impatience,
all while wreaking havoc
through the innocent lives
of the city dwellers.

It’s a stalemate most of
the time, with neither side
claiming victory or defeat.
Usually Drunk Man appears
to mediate a peace, but his wise
words are quickly forgotten once
Super Drunk Man crashes in.

Cucumber Man just leaves because
he doesn’t have time for that and
Count Anxiety has turned back into his
alter-ego, Fuck It Man.     

Either way, they’re all wearing
masks and they’re
all me. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stealing Glances

It’s not as if anyone can claim any ownership of glances so I’m not exactly sure how they can be stolen, but I know that I’m guilty of it quite often. I’m usually a full on glance stealer on the train in the morning as my squinting eyes try to find the most attractive woman rider. It’s a little bit of an evolutionary compulsion to find a suitable mate for the promulgation of my genetic materials (romance!) as well as the old eyes seeking out the things they like, to covet. Perhaps that’s why it’s called stealing; coveting is a sin.

I’m not actually all about the whole “sin” thing. I’m not the most pious or Godly man. I simply can see the logic of a nomadic people cruising around the desert for forty years deciding that watching your neighbor’s half naked wife wash the lambskins in the stream was probably a bad thing. It could only lead to trouble within the tribe and therefore, as a practical measure, they decided that to covet was a sin and there was a punishment for it.

I suppose it’s very much like the laws on the books our society has against Peeping Tom’s or more recently, Stalkers.  I don’t think stealing a quick glance at a pretty woman or a handsome man while riding the train is a God’s wrath worthy sin. Lightening doesn’t rain from the sky to smite the cute girl in the cubicle across the office for mildly checking to see if I have a fourth head.  We don’t drag the coveters out into the street and stone them to death (well, in the United States anyway). Ultimately, we’re not murders for merely checking out a woman’s possible breeding potential based on the size and shape of her ass. (Cough).

The real punishment for stealing glances is getting caught in the act. There’s something slightly humiliating about looking at a woman, her shape, the cut of her chin, trying to see how she might look smiling or laughing, what a fun summer day in the park would be like rolling around in the tall grass by the pond when she catches you looking. That face you imagined being so pretty a moment ago turns into a subtle scowl of sorts and she moves from your field of vision without fully betraying how uncomfortable you might have made her.

I know I try to pretend that I wasn’t actually looking at her but somewhere past her, perhaps right over her shoulder. My eyes take on a fuzzy, glazed look, as if I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t even really notice that she was there. I’m pretty sure the girls never fall for it though. There’s just too many subtle male tells that ruin any attempt at being completely covert. 

There are those rare occasions when the theft of a glance is a mutual experience and both parties look away with muted embarrassment. Some of us actually act on it and say hello, others of us chalk it up to a “what if” moment and go about the rest of our days because we know that while we both looked at each other and imagined life together in the retirement home after a 60 year marriage there was something that told us that our kids would have started a war with Jupiter or something.  So it was best to leave it as a stolen glance and move on.

I do like an actual shared glance though, that leads to a smile, which leads to a conversation, which leads to a date, that leads to a kiss, which leads to a second, third, and eighth date. It turns into a relationship which might lead to marriage and then kids and then jealous looks at other men that are stealing glances at your wife because let’s face it, she’s pretty hot.

I’ll go on stealing glances until I do find that one woman that I can’t take my eyes off of and she can’t stop smiling at me. It makes me feel more like a fine art thief than a glance poacher.

I am a romantic dreamer aren’t I?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Street Sock

One black dress sock
Separated from others
of his own kind,
left to rot on
the cruel city

How’d he get there?
Why was he abandoned?
Had he done something wrong?
Was he banished like Napoleon?
Or sent from the comfort of
his master’s feet to the concrete
Gulag for a crime?

A crime of passion maybe,
maybe this lone sock
had fallen in love with a
shoe but was crushed to
learn that they could
never be together.
They’d never make love,
they’d never have any,
slipper offspring.
They wouldn’t get
put in the donation bin
in their old age together.
Their love, a crime, so
off the sock was sent.

A single black sock
left out in the rain,
heartbroken and perhaps
insane. Is the concrete the
end of his story?
Will he be picked up and
become part of a new family
of mismatched pairs?

I can only hope that sock
is saved and finds the right

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Arthur swirled his beer at the bottom of the bottle and ordered another from the curly haired bartender. He wished he could still smoke in the bar since the ambiance in his mind was very film noir. The neon and the soft jazz in the background set the scene.
Arthur just didn’t get it. Relationships, women, girls, ladies, dames, skirts, broads, birds, none of it made any sense to him. It made him very frustrated and sad. He was raised right, he was taught to be upstanding and moral. He was taught to be passionate and kind, yet forthright and strong. He was told to be himself, but to be the best version of himself and women would find him and want him. But so far, those lessons, everything he learned, have not turned out to be correct.

He tried. He really made efforts to meet woman of intelligence and class, of sophistication and humor, but they always seemed to want nothing to do with him. He was always the good friend, or the lover, or the guy that could be counted on to provide some thoughtful advice.  He was always polite, he was always honest, and he was always willing to be there if she really needed him.

But none of these smart, classy and funny ladies saw themselves with Arthur. It baffled him. He thought about all the things he’d love to explore and see and do with someone very special, instead he rocked a bar stool and mused on the nature of his relationships. He used alcohol to cover how hurt he was inside by all the woman he’d wanted to love, tried to love or dreamed about that had essentially rejected him either through action or inaction. It made him terribly mad and sad. A state of being that he knew was a real drag for everyone that cared about him.  

Arthur had been broken hearted since high school and the rejection by the first true love of his life. He’d been in love several times since, but there was always something wrong or the timing of the relationship was off or he just couldn’t bear to be the anchor weighing down the potential of someone special.  So he’d put on his brave face and go out in the world and try to be attractive, to be worldly, and to be someone whose experiences would be delighted in.  

He failed. He’d meet woman who weren’t on the same page as he. They wanted to go cliff diving in Panama or whale watching in Alaska, or zip lining in Costa Rica, or sky diving in Milwaukee, all things Arthur just didn’t really care about. He didn’t find any of that interesting or charming. Arthur’s problem is that he thinks he’s worthy of being loved by someone who’d rather sit with him on the porch on a summer evening than drive to Mardi Gras just cause it was there.  He’d rather be adventurous with someone.

He’d fooled himself into thinking he was someone another person could get excited about. He wanted more. He wanted a relationship that was larger than him, but still something that could be held in his hands, close to his heart and looked in on from time to time with awe.

 Arthur had high standards. He needed his partner to be someone of substance. He couldn’t stand stupid women or classless women. He didn’t like crassness or rudeness. He didn’t like women that hid behind the affectations of youth culture rather than dealing with their issues constructively. He didn’t get girls with tattoos across their breasts that said things like, “Precious”, or “Princess”, he didn’t like excessive facial piercings, he didn’t like woman that didn’t like to read or watched too many hours of reality television. He didn’t like flirts or girls that seemed to want to talk to every guy but him and then be dismissive of his jealousy. He didn’t like women that were still girls.

Arthur tried to fit in to the mold created for him. He tried to be the open armed open minded lover, he tried to be the patient man, the hopeful romantic and believed that love would indeed conquer all. He was beginning to believe that was all just romantic tripe and reality was that he’d always be alone. He was starting to think that no one would find him charming or lovable or worthy of deep and devoted affection to the point that a life without him would be less important. It was the way he wanted to feel about someone. He wanted his life to really start the day he looked into her eyes and fireworks would explode in his brain. He’d know that these were the eyes he would want to stare into as he passed from this Earth.

For now though, Arthur had to deal with his reality. He was broke, he was tired, he hated his job, he was lazy, he was getting fat, and he was morbid and too sad for most people to take. He was annoying, he was silly, and he was discontented most of the time. Arthur thought that perhaps he’d have to try to find himself a bit more attractive and maybe someone special might too.

Arthur pushed back his barstool and stepped outside. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pigeons Eat Pizza

I had no idea that pigeons ate pizza. This morning two pigeons were pecking away on a slice of thin crust pizza. I’m not sure how a thin crust pizza even got into Chicago, but there is was, being slowly consumed by the two pigeons. Each one would peck at a time to keep the pizza from bouncing too far from each other’s beaks.

It was a full slice too with cheese and tomato sauce still on it.  I only had a moment to really marvel at it as I was in the flowing river of commuters exiting the train station. I would have liked to watch a little more just out of sheer curiosity. I really had never seen a pigeon eat pizza, let alone two pigeons. It made me wonder what else pigeons do that I am not aware of.

Pigeons play cards. They huddle together in tight poker table type groups and play Texas Hold ‘em. However, pigeons don’t call it that, they call it, and “Coo-Coo, deal the frigging cards already ya cheatin’ bastards”. They don’t play with money because pigeons don’t understand how paper can be traded for goods and services. They use seed or shiny things they found to ante. Since they are terrible at math they always think the other pigeon is cheating. This wouldn’t be too far off base because;

Pigeons cheat at cards. Of course their cards are usually Chinese take-out menus and any of them with the fire breathing pigeon pictured on it is an ace. Pigeons aren’t familiar with dragons, so they assume it’s a fire breathing pigeon named Roy. Every hand ends in a draw because all the pigeons claim they have seven “Roys” in their feathers. Or as they call it, a Full Roy.

Pigeons are ninjas. They are silent assassins trained in the deadly and ancient art of Pigeon-fu. This martial art has been practiced for centuries. It consists of casually bobbing in front of a full speed walking human being and then suddenly changing direction and causing the human to stumble ever so slightly. In more extreme cases the masters of Pigeon-Fu take flight right in the faces of the on-coming humans causing panic and the human curse word, “Ahhrgh”.

Pigeons don’t speak English.  They’ve been known to pick up a few words of obvious tender endearment like, “Sky Rat”, and “Festering Poison Fowl”. Humans don’t use the quantifier “Coo”, for most of their phrases so they pigeons just can’t understand them. The humans just don’t seem to want to learn pigeon. A clearly superior language.

Pigeons secretly want to drive. Sure the power of flight is okay, but what most pigeons really want is to drive a super fast American car from the 1960’s. Something with “Coo-balls”. And then they want to poop on it. They live half this dream on a daily basis all over the world. They do wait until you wash your car to do it. They are jealous of the supercharger.

It seems pigeons do a lot amazing things, from crapping on great sculptures to slamming into office windows for kicks. They are the daredevils of the bird kingdom (Daredevils not always being the brightest of us though) and they will not stop until they get their “Coo-uppance”.  Just watch them someday. You’ll be amazed. Plus, they’re already watching you and are poorly planning your DOOOOOOM. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Science Triumphs!

This morning humankind made another amazing leap forward in the field of “look at our big brains” contest.  NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, successfully landed on the surface of Mars. Curiosity is the most sophisticated roving lab ever to land on another world. The rover is the size of a mid-sized SUV with some of the most advanced technology available.

It was launched in November and finally made it to the Red Planet this morning. So that’s one hell of a commute. It’s designed to last two years on the Martian surface but might operate longer. Considering the successes of the 2004 rovers, Spirit and Opportunity; Spirit stopped working in 2010 and Opportunity is still functioning. So odds are pretty good that Curiosity will not be killed by the cat. Unless that cat is a mutant Martian monster who our rovers disturb from its billion year slumber then proceeds to wreak havoc upon the cosmos.

I find it fascinating that at this very moment there is a device made by the hands of men and women rolling around on the surface of a planet 352 million miles from Earth. It’s astounding. It’s monumental. It makes me proud to be a human being for once. Considering how awfully we tend to treat each other I think this dedication to the exploration of another world is inspiring. Also it’s kind of neat to happen during the Olympics.

It was ambitious and I think it’s something we’ve been lacking for a while, especially when it comes to the solar system and universe around our little planet. Our home is essentially a giant rock in space, luckily caught in the “Goldilocks” zone of the sun’s gravity. Liquid water can exist on Earth which allows for the promulgation and expansion of organic life to root and evolve. It’s really a celestial crap shoot to be in the butter zone of the universe.

I’m happy that there are scientists still breaking the boundaries of our little planet. I don’t think little kids want to grow up to be Astronauts anymore. I don’t think there are many explorer types any more. I miss the kinds of people that were only interested in the expansion of their own knowledge and the knowledge of future generations. I just don’t hear much about them. I’m sure they are out there, working at some dead end job for now and working on worm hole theory on the their nights off. I’m sure there are brilliant minds just itching to try out that Flux Capacitor or molecular displacement laser, a.k.a., Death Ray.

I respect these men and woman that devoted their time and intelligence to making something so fascinating possible. We have a huge robotic craft rolling around on another planet. In fact, we have two! That’s the kind of big brain stuff we need on Earth. I think we should put away all this petty squabbling about religion and politics and get back to what made our species the most dominant ever. Exploration. Discovery. Intelligence and perhaps a little profit.

I’m not advocating a whole Avatar thing and mining the resources from a distant habitated planet. (Seriously: unobtainium? C’mon). I do want us to stop thinking so small about our world and remember the universe is bigger than we can imagine. However, our collective imaginations do make it ever more reachable. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hotter ‘n Hell

Sweat trickled down my nose,
down my back,
over my chest,
dampening my once
laundered shirt.

I had to run in the
morning sun,
trying to catch a train
to get to my bane.

I missed it.




I ran back down from
the commuter train platform and
raced to the local
train the next block over.
Breathing heavy
and already a sweaty
mess of a man.

I rushed into the station,
paid my fare and got
stalled on the
escalator by the
walking dead.

I had to run up three
flights of stairs only
to just miss the next
local train




I sweat, there’s no denying
it. I can’t help it. It’s my genes.
I couldn’t stop while waiting for
the next train.

A salty puddle of out of breath
hotness, sitting on the next
train that came along,
wiping the copious wetness
off my nose and forehead
while trying to look put
together for all the pretty
married women I saw.
(and there were a few)

It was hot.
I wondered what I did to
deserve such hellish
morning treatment.

Then I remembered last night
and I wonder if she’s mad.
A sweaty man,
sitting in hell,
wondering about the
curses of the previous night. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Art is candy for
the soul and it’s every

A poem,
A painting,
A dirty limerick,
A cloud that looks like a bunny,
A mother’s smile,
A spot on the mirror,
A blurry old Polaroid,
A girls crumpled sweater on the floor by the bed,
A song,
A beat,
A drink of cool water,
A beer,
A kiss placed on the edge of your nose by the softest lips ever.

It’s candy of the sweetest
kind, just sugary enough,
but not sticky.

It lasts in your
memory long after it’s gone.

It stirs the blood pumping
in your veins and makes
you marvel and hold your
breath a little so not even
the sounds of your own
body can deter you from
the magic.

A bird’s song,
A long summer shadow cast on the dusky sidewalk,
A crunchy, rocky beach path,
A laugh from a lover,
A breeze that smells like lavender,
A rain shower that pelts the window.

The soul isn’t an art critic.
It’s a candy lover.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


August is one of those months that reminds me of how tightly we hold onto traditional names of the past. The month was originally named Sextilis by Romulus on the original ten month Roman calendar around 753 B.C. In 8 B.C. it was renamed August in honor of the Emperor Augustus to commemorate his many victories and conquest of Egypt. By then they had adopted the 12 month Julian calendar.

Could you imagine if it was still called Sextilis? Hump day jokes would pale in comparison. So I’m a little glad it was changed to August, I don’t know if I could handle the embarrassment of Sextilis. (Although, I’ve been told that I have nothing to be embarrassed about).

It’s been 2,020 years of August and we’ve seen no reason to change it. I can’t imagine why we would need to either.  It is something that connects us to the past and certainly the incredible world domination of the Romans. There’s very little in our culture that was not in some way influenced by the Roman tradition; for Westerners anyway.

From the way we address each other to handshakes, we’ve certainly been conditioned by Roman history. With the introduction of Christianity into the Roman world a lot of those social morays changed and adapted into what we would consider civil and polite society. Those purists would look at the Romans as Pagans and be appalled at their debauchery, but still we owe it all to them, and their forefathers, the Greeks.

The Romans had a society equal to our own, with all the major problems we often find ourselves embroiled. Foreign wars, taxes, legal wrangling, sports entertainment, religious conflicts, political intrigue, crime are all things very common to a super power like us. It’s important that we not forget the lessons learned. Of course under the Roman Emperor things operated a little differently, but the idea of the Republic still mattered.

I think August is a good month to reflect on history. It’s a chance to explore who we are and how we got here before fall arrives and winter sets in. There’s still enough bright summer sunshine to get to know this world we’ve inherited, molded, reshaped and plan to hand down again someday.

It’s a chance for new possibilities, new ideas, perhaps changing or challenging the concepts or ideas we’ve thought were so important to us and re-examining them in the bright backdrop of history.

Maybe I need another cup of coffee. Or another great kiss. I’m hoping there’s opportunity in August for plenty of both, maybe the latter more than the first. Only time will tell.

P.S. Rest in Peace Gore Vidal.