Thursday, February 28, 2013


            It smelled terrible on the train. Jefferson couldn’t believe how rank it was. It almost made his eyes tear up. It smelled of body odor and something like mildew growing on an old couch left on the curb, in the rain. There was also the smell of hot, wet, cat in the air. It made Jefferson feel a little dizzy. The train was crowded so he didn’t have much of a choice of where to stand. He was sure everyone else, all the business women in their fine outfits and men in their classy suit could smell this stench and they were all doing what he was doing. Hating it but trying to ignore it.

            Jefferson tried to concentrate on the music playing in his headphones but every time the train stopped and the doors opened; a backdraft of horrendous odor would be reinvigorated and swirl up his nostrils and tickle the gag reflex in his throat. He looked around for the culprit. He wanted to know who the offender with the offending odor was. It was something he had to solve.

            He started scanning the people around him and no one looked particularly dirty or unkempt. All the riders seemed to be just regular business folks or students just riding the train like normal. No one seemed the have been bathed in feces or urine and then rolled around in hot garbage. Everyone seemed clean.

            A woman covered her face near Jefferson and seemed to make an, “oh my”, face, as she caught a terrible whiff of the stink wafting through the crowded train car. Jefferson had a clue. It must be someone near the woman for her to make cower with disgust. He looked passed where she was standing but was only met with a hard stare from a tough looking Hispanic guy. The Hispanic guy looked clean though so it probably wasn’t him. Jefferson looked past him, trying not to make any eye contact. He certainly didn’t want any trouble this morning. He had a lot of appointments to make and the last thing he needed was to get embroiled in some roughhousing with this stern looking Hispanic guy.

            The train came to another stop and the doors opened, re-activating that terrible rotting corpse smell. The people on the train were becoming noticeably uncomfortable. A woman got on at this stop and she caught the awful scent and tried to turn around but the doors closed in front of her. She exhaled audibly. Jefferson thought he should welcome her to this nightmarish stink-a-thon with something clever, like, “Hot enough for you?” or “You should have smelled the other guy”, but then decided against it. He wasn’t really interested in talking to this lady anyway. He had plenty of woman problems as it was.

            The young woman, this new rider, took a small perfume spray bottle and asked the folks around her if they minded if she sprayed it into the air. No one told her she couldn’t so she gave the bottle a few quick puffs and a remarkable mist smelling of warm chamomile and lilacs gently wafted through the train. Jefferson thought it was a remarkable perfume, it smelled clean and fresh, like talcum and honey. Jefferson smiled to himself.

“What are you smiling at”, asked the angry Hispanic man.
“Huh”, said Jefferson, pointing to himself.
“Yeah man, you frigging stink man. Get off this train man. You stink so bad man. Did you get those clothes off a corpse or something man”, said the angry Hispanic man.

            Jefferson tried to pull his headphones off. Then realized he actually wasn’t wearing any headphones. The music was just in his head. He looked down and saw his jacket was in tatters and his shoes were mismatched. His pants were so stiff with his own filth that they could practically stand up on their own.

“Don’t say that to him”, said the young woman with the sweet perfume.
“Shut up lady. This guy stinks and nobody wants him on this train. You hear that man, get off this train”, said the angry Hispanic man.
‘Don’t tell me to shut up you jerk. You get off the train if you can’t handle it”, she replied.

            Jefferson felt his eyes well up with tears and his vision got a little blurry. He looked down again at the floor of the train and tried to remember how he got there. He didn’t remember boarding the train at all.  The young woman with the perfume reached over to Jefferson and she tapped him on the arm.

“Are you okay”, she asked.

            Jefferson wanted to thank her for her kindness, he wanted to tell her she was pretty and she smelled like what a beautiful woman is supposed to smell like. Instead he started rambling with nervous anxiety.

“The Germans took my ship from the electrified field scanner with the blue rune stone”, said Jefferson.

            She looked at him but she didn’t understand. Jefferson could see that she didn’t understand. She nodded at him and asked if he needed anything. All Jefferson could do was shake his head no. The train pulled into the next station and the angry Hispanic guy started telling Jefferson to get off. Jefferson didn’t want any trouble. He moved from his spot on the train to the doors next to the perfumed woman. He looked at her but couldn’t find the words to express himself. The doors opened and Jefferson stepped from the train onto the platform. The doors closed after him and he turned back to look through the window. Someone was congratulating the angry Hispanic man for something. The perfume woman was moving away from him to another side of the train car. The train pulled away and Jefferson wondered where he was and how he got there. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Random and Without Sense

            The old lady just wouldn’t get out of the way. She was riding the escalator in front of me and just wouldn’t step to the side or walk up. She was just out for a jolly morning ride on the upward automatic stairs. It was infuriating. I excused myself in an attempt to pass, which seemed to wake her from her old lady funk. Instead of stepping aside so I could pass and make the morning train, she decided that she would now start walking up the escalator. She was still blocking my way. The train was arriving in the station and I could not for the life of me get around this little old lady.

            When we finally arrived at the top of the escalator she still managed to box me out and I had to excuse myself again, as decency and politeness dictates, to squeeze around her on her left side. I hustled past her and ran toward the waiting train, which promptly shut its doors right in my damn face and took off. I looked back behind me to see where the old lady was and she was comfortably boarding her train going in the opposite direction as mine. I cursed.

            Now I was going to be late for work. All thanks to the little old lady that couldn’t. But then I thought it wasn’t really her fault after all. It was my fault for dragging my butt so slowly from my bed and standing in my shower like a zombie. I just let the minutes and seconds fly away as I sat on the couch to catch the weather and smoke a cigarette instead of hurrying to put on my shoes. I could have just grabbed my coat and hat and headed out the door without knowing the weather or smoking.

            So ultimately if I had left when I should have I wouldn’t have been train blocked by this little old lady in a blue winter coat and head scarf. I would have made the earlier train and not feel so stressed about being a little late to work. Then a little voice in my head said a familiar phrase, one that I’m sure we’re all used to: “Everything happens for a reason”. I cringed. This phrase makes me nuts.

            Of course everything happens for a reason, everything happens as a result of Cause and Effect. Everything moves forward in a linear flow chart of decisions and actions, constantly. Ceaselessly. I think the only time this flow chart pauses is while we’re sleeping, but even then we’re sleeping as a result of the activities taken previously. So it’s clear that everything does happen for a reason. However, I think most people tend to be less clinical about it and more often are considering the philosophical aspects of this statement.

            This little old lady was placed in my path to make me late for work as part of a divine plan. A plan so mysterious and complex I cannot fathom its details. It’s the story of my life, as written by God, who is working me toward some greater goal as determined by His providence and reason.  I can’t imagine why this little old blue coated lady would be in my morning path, but because I’m human, there must be a greater, more holy, a more inspired reason. It simply cannot be because I was lazy. It must be something more.

It is just too perfectly timed, this old lady in my path, just as the train arrives and I can’t get around her. That’s just too coincidental for my taste. Why does the universe seem to operate this way? Why do we spill something on our favorite shirt or pants right before the big meeting or interview? Why do we always seem to get in the slow lane of traffic? Why are the most wonderful moments in our lives usually accompanied by the most terrible gas pains?

I can hardly believe all these things just happen out of the randomness of the universe. It just doesn’t seem right or logical that a little old lady left her house and walked to the train station without the intention of making me miss my train while she makes hers because I forced her to move a little faster than she was. She would have missed her own train if I hadn’t been trying to get past her. Perhaps I was the randomness in her universe and got her to someplace she needed to be ahead of schedule which then brought her some good fortune at the expense of mine?

The mind does too many jumping jacks and leapfrogging all over this concept. It’s just so random and without sense.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

It Will Fall

The sky has been gray
and ominous, fat with
potential winter droppings
to blanket the streets.

It makes weathermen
and weatherwomen
nervous to see the
spreading clouds on their
radar screens. They feel
like Paul Revere or Israel
Bissell and are compelled
to warn us that the white
coats are coming.

The White Coats are coming.

The snow will fall.
Fat flakes tumbling down
 to the bare sidewalks and streets
   and coat them all with a wintery

                 The snow will drift
         back and forth over our heads
    as we try to struggle through it’s
rapid accumulation.

           We’ll trudge through it as it continues
    to drift and sway in the strong wind
         that blows it in swirling dancing spires
of a winter ballet.

It will kick and buck and do it’s
best to slow us down,
to keep us mired. It won’t last.
It can’t last. It has no staying power.
The sun will return and smile, warming
us back up into something less abominable.

Something to rise. 

Monday, February 25, 2013


            “I just possibly couldn’t stay”, stuttered Jeffrey as he put down his tea cup, “I really must be going. I’ve a terribly long day ahead of me and I wouldn’t want to inconvenience you any further. You were quite marvelous and I hope I can see you again very soon”.

            Sandra closed her robe a little as Jeffrey stood up from the breakfast table to retrieve his coat from the floor near the couch. He’d thrown it there as he and Sandra kissed like two people possessed with Cupid’s poison. She watched as Jeffrey collected his coat and gloves. She felt her thin robe was now ineffective in hiding her previously uninhibited bare breasts.

“When will I see you again”, she asked, already knowing the likely answer.
“Hopefully this coming weekend. This week is so busy for me. I will certainly call you though. I really had a wonderful time with you”, said Jeffrey.
“I did too. It was nice”, said Sandra.

            Sandra stirred her tea in her cup as Jeffrey stopped at the little hallway mirror by the front door and checked his hair.  He turned back to her and she stood from the breakfast table.

“So, I will call you later”, said Jeffrey.
“Yes, please do”, said Sandra as she walked toward Jeffrey.

            He leaned forward and gave her a weak and passionless kiss on the lips and then fumbled with opening Sandra’s apartment door.  She had to reach around him and unlock the door. He chuckled nervously and slunk into the apartment hallway and then quickly rushed down the three flights of stairs. Sandra closed the door and went to her window that over looked the courtyard. She watched as Jeffrey exited the building. She noted that he didn’t look back or up to see if she was watching him.

            She returned to the breakfast table and sat down. She tried not to let herself feel like a fool for letting this man charm his way into her bedroom. He wasn’t even all that charming or exceptionally good looking. He’d made her laugh but he was probably just confidently drunk. Drunk and able to say all those smooth sweet nothings that Sandra actually needed to hear.

It was her fault for being this way. She had promised herself that she would try to get out of the shadow of her previously cloistered lifestyle and experience the pleasures that sex could provide. It was something adventurous and a little dangerous. It was also leaving her feeling empty and unfulfilled.

            Now, sitting in her kitchen in front of a cold cup of tea, wearing a thin sexy robe for no reason, she felt like a fool. A fool searching for romance and love in the worst possible way.  She rapped her fingernails on the breakfast table and chewed slightly on her bottom lip. She suddenly really wanted to take a shower, wear sweatpants all day and eat as many terrible things as possible.

“No”, she said to the empty kitchen, “I’m going for a run”.

            She picked up her tea cup and the half full cup Jeffrey left behind in his hasty exit and dropped them in her sink. She walked to her bedroom, tore off the robe and changed into her running gear. She told herself that a confident woman doesn’t let herself be defined by a lousy one night stand. They take life by the reins and make it their own. She was a confident woman and not going to let the Jeffreys of the world ruin her.

            With her running gear on she moved to her front door and looked at herself in the mirror. She had forgotten she had done the whole “smokey eyes” make-up thing last night and it had smeared down her cheeks. She looked like Alice Cooper. It was like she was wearing a disguise. She kept looking at her reflection, leaning in closer, looking at herself in the eyes and wondering where she had gone; or wondered rather, who she was becoming.

            Sandra turned from the little hallway mirror and went to her bathroom. She washed her face, fixed her hair and silenced her thoughts as best she could.

“No more Jeffreys”, she promised herself aloud. She grabbed her iPod and programmed her playlist with upbeat songs. She wiped her eyes and when the music started she went out into the world to run away from whomever it was that was looking back at her from the little hallway mirror. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wild Island Words

            Sometimes the words seem to inhabit a terrible island, where there is no place to make landfall. I can hear the words from my ship, beating their native islander drums through the thick jungle as I circle the island trying to find a place to come ashore and set my word traps and capture some really excellent words.

            Those words dance around a giant bonfire for hours, gyrating and whooping, and cavorting like wild beasts. They are tricky to capture in a big group so you have to be selective. The leader is a great chieftain named Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis and he is a wise chief. He’s been chief for a very long time, mostly because even if you do capture him you really don’t have much use for him. (Seriously, it’s a real word).  So you just end up throwing him back in with the other restless natives.

            The tribes are numerous and I’m often amazed they can congregate on such a small island without sinking it under their weight. They are terrible, crafty and elusive. Eventually I’ll find a place to tie up my landing craft and wade ashore with my traps and gear and those words will come to me like I’m coated in a delicious word honey. Until then however, I’m just floundering at sea with a head full of nothing to write.

            The words led me down a few paths this morning. There was the story of the two robbers trying to break into an apartment building but were having existential debates about the validity of their chosen profession as they were climbing in through the window. The words fled back to the island about a paragraph into that story so I had to go on this word island safari.

            A few straggling words didn’t take off to the island with the rest. They’ve been with me a lot lately and figured they might as well stick around. Love, loss, depression, loneliness, beautiful, sex, and strangely the word “creepy” stuck around to see where they would wind up. I think they are beginning to develop a taste for the finer civilized life they do not have on their savage island home.  I can’t say that these words are all that helpful while trying to write something about something something.

            Looks like a few more words have abandoned me for life on the island. Here I am still trying to set my traps and bring down a few choice sentences and paragraphs and appropriate descriptives to articulate some crazy story about, maybe, a lady having a conversation with her cat, which has been dead for ten years.

            I’ve made my way ashore now and I’m setting my traps and in three days I should have some excellent choice words to hurl and these pages. They’ll stick like a scab over a wound that just won’t heal right, eventually becoming a scar, eventually a reminder of some deed that didn’t work out the way you planned. Something something words, mumbling. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Melancholy Medley

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

A cigarette smolders in the street as I wait for the bus.
The smoke rises and swirls in fantastic and impossible
circles as cars drive by and whip up the breeze.
My eyes are teary from the cold wind blowing.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

The tears that leak from my eyes, I’m not sure
if it’s completely from the cold. Or if it’s
from a dark cloud that lingers over my
head. Memory and failure.

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seems to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I've never done before.

I realize that I’m petrified. Of everything.
the bus, the people on the bus,
the downtown crowds, the future, my past,
time, love, cats, dogs, bugs, too much sunshine,
not enough sunshine, bad milk, trains, women,
men, the cold, the heat, the wind, the rain, the snow,
the irregular thumping in my chest.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me.

The Beatles came to my mind as I sat across from a
beautiful young woman on the bus and I realized I wasn’t asking
for someone outside of myself to help, I was asking
me to help. I’ve got to get my feet back on the ground.

“I’m terribly mushy”, I think and smirk.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round.
Help me, get my feet back on the ground,
Won't you please, please help me, help me, help me, ooh.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Rain in Hell

             It started with a faint whistling sound overhead which then became a rattling of the windows and the China cabinet. A glass fell, and then a plate as the sound grew in proximity and intensity. Maxine held onto the edges of her breakfast table as the building shuddered. Her tea cup rattled off the edge of the breakfast nook table and shattered onto the floor, but Maxine hardly noticed as the world seemed to be coming apart. She could swear a rocket powered freight train was passing directly in front of her apartment building.

            The sound seemed to pause and the windows in Maxine’s apartment exploded inward. Glass shards whizzed through the air, slicing everything its path. The wooden sill was splintered and cracked up along the wall. Maxine only had a second to turn her face away and fall to the ground under the breakfast table. She covered her head with her arms and hands and heard herself praying. The crackling and the shattered glass and the crunching of the brick work filled the new silence.

            Maxine lifted her head up and saw her front room wall was completely gone, replaced by a clear view into the courtyard below. She looked up at the blue sky now visible where her favorite portrait of her grandmother had been hanging on the wall. She stumbled to her feet and noticed she had somehow lost one of her slippers in the blast. She looked around for it but couldn’t make it out among the debris that now littered her cozy apartment. She staggered toward the hole in her wall and looked out at the city skyline.

            She could smell fire and smoke and saw that the three houses next door to her apartment building were now just giant scarred pits in the Earth. Car alarms were blaring, horns were honking, and sirens were wailing all though the neighborhood. It was such a racket that she was barely able to perceive that nightmarish whistling sound again approaching from the sky. It was a little different this time, perhaps a little further away.

            The building two blocks over to the North disappeared behind a giant cloud of smoke. The blast wave knocked Maxine backwards onto her butt and her whole apartment building shook. She heard screams and yelling and more sirens. She heard a dog barking. She thought it was probably the Jefferson’s dog in the building across the street. She worried that the dog was left all alone while Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson were at work. She decided that she had to help the dog if she could.

            Maxine gathered herself and started toward the front door to her apartment. She dazedly noticed the door was still in place but the frame wasn’t really attached to anything. The wall had fallen away from it and plummeted three stories to the lobby area of her building. She wasn’t deterred by this and opened the door. It fell backwards away from Maxine into the hallway. She stepped over it and started to make her way to the stairs. She felt a pain in her bare left foot and remembered that she had lost that slipper somehow. She considered going back for it again, she was sure she could find it, when another explosion shook the building’s foundation and plaster and wood started falling around Maxine. She listened for the dog but couldn’t hear anything but a dull ringing in her ears.

            She wrapped her housecoat around herself a little tighter and continued on her way down the rickety and damaged stairs toward the apartment building lobby. The banister was broken in several places but the hard wooden stairs were still passable. She stepped down them like a three year old might descend stairs. She stopped on the second floor landing to see if Mrs. Grainger was okay.

            She could see into Mrs. Grainger’s apartment. The door had cracked in half and the side with the bolt and lock had fallen inward. Maxine saw Mrs. Grainger’s legs sticking out from under a heavy beam that had fallen from the ceiling. Mrs. Grainger was clearly not okay. Maxine continued down the stairs and felt fairly lucky not to have run into any of the other tenants in the building. She guessed most of them were probably at work or something.

            Another explosion shook the ground and Maxine had to steady herself against the remaining first floor landing walls. Dust fell from above and Maxine brushed it from the curlers in her hair. Maxine almost laughed at herself for thinking that today, of all days, was the one to try and curl her hair. She felt silly for thinking it would impress Mr. Derry at the grocery. They had been flirting at the register for a while now and she thought it was about time to make her move. Now she felt foolish. He’d only been a widower for three months.

            Maxine stepped into the lobby and crossed the threshold outside. The desolation was much worse than she could have imagined. Fires were burning everywhere and the smoke was thickening. She couldn’t hear the Jefferson’s dog any longer. It was swallowed by more distant explosions and fire trucks and ambulances. She looked up at the big blue sky and wondered where all this madness had come from. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


            Every so often I come to realize how many of my stories seem to be about love, or women or the lack thereof and it starts to get to me. I used to write stories about people’s faces getting chewed off by giant monsters that lived under the bed or in the closet or Grandpa’s special chest of mystery. I thought about it this morning as I saw a young couple huddling together for warmth against the cold and brutal Chicago morning winds.

            The young woman seemed to forget that 14 degrees actually means -2 with a wind chill and decided that she could go without a hat or gloves. Her male companion was fully prepared with a big goofy looking fur hat with ear flaps and gloves. He had his arms around her to keep her warm against the bone chilling 30 mile per hour winds that whipped over the train platform. It seemed to me that they were characters right out of one of my recent stories, or at least could have been. I could see that they cared for each other and were depending on each other, perhaps she more than he, but it was recognizable. It was sweet and something I know that I would want. Although I would have made the young woman wear a hat and we wouldn’t have left the house until she had one. They did seem to come right from my very imagination though. My romantic imagination of late.

            Then it got to me and I suddenly wanted something bad to happen to them. I don’t know what it was or why their romantic huddling made me wish some ice beast stormed down the train tracks and gobbled them up in a few icicle toothed mouthfuls. I imagined this ice beast, sparking blue in the distant winter sun, crackling as its icy body moved and thrust after the little cold couple. The ice crystals of it’s tiger like form whining like the top layer of a frozen lake against the weight of your foot. Its roar was a trumpet of frozen fear and its eyes were fiery yellow. I imagined the beast running down the length of the train tracks with the bloody limbs of this couple dangling from its mouth.

            None of that happened of course, the train finally came and they boarded, likely thankful to be warm again. I imagined their conversation on the train.

“I wish I wore a hat”, she’d say to her warm boyfriend as she tried to shake the chill off.
“I told you to wear one”, he’d say.
“I left it in my car. I already told you that”, she’d say.
“What are you going to do later, when you have to come home”, he’d ask.
“I’ll probably buy a new one at lunch”, she’d say.

            He might shake his head and wonder how he hooked up with this forgetful woman and her silly logic. He might wonder how many other times she’d been with different men and what kind of things the other guys had to do for her because she was so forgetful. I can’t comment directly on their actual conversation since they got onto a different train car than me and I didn’t see them again. I can only wonder and let the possible story unfold in my imagination.  It seems to me though that I’ll probably make it a mushy story instead of a gory horror show. It’s just what I seem to be writing about lately. 

Monday, February 18, 2013


James marveled at the spiral swirl in his coffee cup. He’d added the sugar and cream and had stirred it vigorously as his boss described the weeks coming agenda. He was only paying half attention to his yammering boss, who said the same boring thing every Monday morning. The spinning mixture of cream, sugar and coffee in his mug was far more entertaining. It made him think about the bigger picture.

            He knew the bigger picture of the universe in his mug was pretty cliché. The galaxies spinning out there in the vast blackness of space and how he was just a very tiny part of it all was an idea oft repeated by philosophers and poets. He thought he was very much like a grain of sugar against the enormity of the cosmos. He felt very small and insignificant and maybe those poets and philosophers were right. His boss continued to drone on about the upcoming quarterly reports and how important it was to make sure the F-32, part B section 108, forms were completed and filed with corporate before the issuance of Standard coding number 87, section D through D-1 asterisk.  James took a sip of his celestial coffee.

            The coffee wasn’t great. It was pretty normal stuff for a big office. He wished he was closer to a chain coffee place or even a diner that made fresh coffee. His coffee was sprinkled with enough sugar to cause diabetes and cream to make it taste like a French villa, still it couldn’t cover up the wet gym sock flavoring or whatever this “Morning Blend” was. All he could do was choke it down and ponder his place in the universe in its spinning whirls.

            The morning meeting finally ended and his co-worker Mandy nudged him in the ribs. She looked at him with one adorable eyebrow raised.

“Where are you Jimmy”, she asked, “Helloooo, Earth to Jimmy”.

            James hated being called Jimmy, but he made an exception for the beautiful Mandy. She was the reason he started working for this faceless corporation in the first place. They had met in the lobby on interview day. She was the receptionist then and they got to talking while he was waiting to get called in. He hadn’t planned on working very hard to get this office job, but after seeing her smile and hearing her voice and getting completely lost in her green eyes, he knew he would do anything to work around her. She was the face that launched his current career path.

“I was just wondering about my place in the coffee universe”, said James.
“Just another spoonful of mediocrity”, said Mandy.
“I guess”.
“Well, don’t be so glum chum. I’ve got a surprise for you”, said Mandy.

            James stopped near his cubicle entrance and turned to look at Mandy. She had a devious grin on her face. A face James longed to see every morning of his life, every time he opened his eyes in the morning he wanted to see her in bed next to him. That devilish grin made him nervous and excited.

“We’re going to lunch today still right”, asked Mandy.
“Absolutely. It’s the best part of my day”, said James.
“Excellent. I can’t wait to tell you”.

            Mandy lingered at James’ cubicle entrance for a second and after the last of the meeting stragglers had passed and no one was around, she reached out and grabbed James’ hand in hers and gave it a little squeeze. James’ heart stopped. She let go and smiled and turned to get back to the reception desk.

“11:30 okay for lunch then”, she asked.
“That’ll be perfect”.

            James sat down at his nondescript desk and smiled. The size of the cosmos and his place in its vastness suddenly didn’t matter at all. Mandy had squeezed his hand and he knew he’d never feel alone and adrift through the murky coffee universe again.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Lotto

It's a crap shoot,
a lucky draw,
the right time,
the right place,
the perfect throw,
the right words.

A sunny day,
a twinkle in her eye,
a subtle smile
tickling the corners
of her lips.

To see it is to
To miss it is to

You never know
when you'll see
Or know why.

It's all chance,
it's luck.

Making that
luck is the real
tricky part. But
I keep playing,
hoping my
numbers will come
up, my horse
will come in.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


            I’ve struggled mightily with St. Valentine’s Days over the last few years; mainly because I have been without an actual Valentine to shower with affection and trinkets of devotion and love. I do enjoy doting affection and an ‘I Love You’ wink from across the room to my special lady friend. There is simply no greater feeling in the world than when they wink back and smile.

            I think Valentine’s Day is more than just a cookie cutter holiday. It’s a validation of being wanted and wanting someone back. It’s supposed to reinforce those feelings of devotion and lusty loving. I feel like there’s something incredibly special and unique about two people, from completely different backgrounds, getting together and discovering how much they mean to each other and how they’re lives would be less rich without each other. I think Valentine’s Day should remind us just how amazingly lucky we are. (If your significant other is not reminding you of these things then perhaps it’s time for a new significant other).

 I’ve had some great Valentine’s and some incredibly not so great ones. I think they were all charged with emotion however. A few have been bold expressions of love and desire; other’s have been gut wrenching lightening bolts of pain and heartache. Each Valentine’s Day has added to my emotional make up and if I ever have another special Valentine’s Sweetheart I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to do it right. For the right person that is.

I can’t say I’m disappointed to be alone on Valentine’s Day because I don’t actually feel all that alone. I know I have a lot of people in my life who genuinely care about me and may even love me a little (but just haven’t said it). So I’m not overwhelmed with sadness or some bittersweet chocolate heart hell. I’ll see the smiles I want to see tonight and imagine the rest. I’ll resist any temptation to feel jealous of the couples around me as they kiss and coo and generally fill the room with steamy love. (I will also resist the temptation to violently vomit candy hearts).

Allow me to digress a little bit; I am disappointed that I don’t have a special someone to share Valentine’s Day with. I know I have people in my life that care, but I certainly would still like a special woman to lavish romantic attention on. And that she would like to reciprocate that attention. I’ve sent flowers to women in the past who were happy to receive them but didn’t consider me in “that way”.  Cupid’s arrow stings like the dickens, especially if he misses the heart.

All in all, I don’t hate St. Valentine’s Day. I think it’s a wonderful holiday for people to celebrate and honor the amazing in each other. It may seem trite and silly for a couple to just go out to dinner and have a little wine and complain about work or the kids or how they might not get that vacation this year. Trust me, from the eyes of the single guy who hasn’t been anyone’s Valentine in a very long time; it’s a golden moment between two people that were lucky enough to have met in the first place. Just don’t talk about money.  

Happy St. Valentine’s Day all you lovers of love out there. What do you think of St. Valentine’s Day?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

It’s Been Tough

“She’s amazingly graceful”, sighed Ralph as he watched the young bartender whip up a few shaken martini’s.
“Yeah. She’s something alright”, said Cubby.

The two old men watched with jealous glee at the young and firm body of this new lady bartender who had invaded their normally dank and quiet bar.

“She’s quite young”, said Ralph.
“Yes. She sure is”, said Cubby.
“How do you suppose she’s keeping that little top on”, asked Ralph.
“I wish I knew”, said Cubby.

Cubby shrugged and took a sip of his beer. He still liked to get his bottle of beer with a glass and sip it slowly over the course of the evening. It was a habit he’d held onto for as long as he was allowed into bars.

“I mean, look at her. Do you remember women ever looking like that”, asked Ralph.

Cubby looked down the bar at Brandy and gave her a quick ogle. She was wearing a very low cut black and white striped top, off the shoulder, showing a ton of cleavage, which she had the right amount of. She was wearing a pair of tight black pants. Cubby thought they were called Yoga pants and you could clearly see every curve of her well maintained and crafted young body.

“No. I don’t ever remember women looking like that. Maybe in the movies but not in real life and certainly not here in the bar”, said Cubby.

Ralph kept staring at Brandy as she placed some dirty glasses in the dishwasher and flicked her long dark hair over her shoulder.

“I think I’ll marry that girl”, said Ralph.

Cubby chuckled and pat Ralph on the back, “I’m sure you will Ralph”.

“No, I’m serious. I’m going to quit drinking, get in better shape and ask her to marry me. I’ve got nothing but money and time to spend on her. What young woman wouldn’t like to be taken care of and bought lavish gifts”, said Ralph.
“I don’t think you are her type”, said Cubby.

Ralph studied Brandy for another few moments as a rap song came on the juke box. Brandy was flirting with some college age looking boys and laughing, flashing a beautiful smile. Ralph put his head down and felt his eyes tearing.

“I miss Margaret”, said Ralph.
“I know you do buddy, I know.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Abraham’s Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras arrived in the United States when King Louis XIV sent Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne De Bienville to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiana in the late 17th century.  By 1703 French settlers had the first organized Mardi Gras celebration in what was to later become Mobile, AL. The first real Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans didn’t happen until 1830.

By the time Abraham Lincoln was President there had been thirty years of Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States.  It got me wondering if President Lincoln ever was in New Orleans for Carnival and Mardi Gras. It seemed like a strange idea, to imagine tall Abraham Lincoln strolling down Bourbon Street, drunk on rum, telling women on the street to show him their ankles so he’d give them some beads. 

This is of course, pre-beard and pre-politics Lincoln. He was still just a young lawyer out of Illinois just trying to get a little fun in before the serious business of life had to start. I just think it’s a very funny idea. I doubt the real Lincoln actually was ever in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. But I just want to imagine he was. I mean they already made him a vampire hunter why not a Hangover type movie staring Lincoln and a few of his buddies having a wild Mardi Gras night?

I think that would be hilarious “Four score and seven beers ago and all that”. We could get Daniel Day Lewis to reprise his masterful performance from Lincoln, but get him all schnockered. Or would it be too disrespectful?

While you ponder this wonderful idea I must off to a two hour meeting about insurance stuff. My mind will likely continue to linger on Lincoln screaming from a balcony about how hot that woman’s ankles were. Maybe a little shoulder. 

Monday, February 11, 2013


I think I’ve always been an escapist. I’ve almost always been daydreaming about the adventures I wanted to have and the women I wanted to love. As a boy I spent too many hours in the basement, alone, just imagining being somewhere else. I had little interest in the reality of now and would rather wonder about the possibilities my imagination could dream up. It made me a liar at times. My reality as a boy was so tense and nerve racking that I often wonder how I made it to this somewhat slightly well adjusted age.  Seriously, I had anxiety attacks as a child.

It’s why I shut off when confronted with emotional situations. I simply check out and decide that the reality is not worth getting invested in and I’ll just turn inward and shrug and let the moment pass by without allowing myself to be bothered. It’s made me cold at times. I’d rather think about someone else’s imaginary and/or fictional problems than my own. I am disassociated at times. It’s not until later, when I’m alone, unable to sleep that my personal removal haunts me and by then it’s usually too late.

It’s why I write and why it matters to me that people read it I suppose. Since I’m so very prone to just turning it off in person, I think the words on these pages are the best look into my delicate psyche. The things I write may not always be true, but there is always a grain of humanity and honesty in them. Or at least, honesty as I see it and I want to let people into that world, without having to actually look at them.

It’s why I drink. I went on a pretty good bender this past weekend and it has me feeling a little depressed. Not because I probably made a total ass of myself, but because I allowed myself to go through with it.  Friday I simply decided that I wasn’t interested in the realities of it all and seemed to think that drinking like a fish was the best possible course of action for a lonely loser like me. It had it’s moments of outright hilarity and fun, and it seemed like the perfect way to avoid having to feel or think about anything. It was like pushing somebody who represented feeling and thinking into a shallow grave and covering it with a little dirt and walking away like nothing happened. Of course that somebody wasn’t dead and they dig their way out and come after you. With a chainsaw.

I’m not saying I’m an alcoholic. That wouldn’t be apt. I am saying that I am an escapist with addictive tendencies. Which for some people might be splitting hairs, but I think it’s a more correct description. I know that I can control it. I have on many occasions simply put the drink down and had a pop or juice. But I have let it get the best of me lately and that has to stop. I’m no longer comfortable with it like I was several years ago. It hasn’t brought me much of anything except embarrassment and foolishness.

There are things we all want to change about ourselves and for an escapist like me, it’s very hard. I’d rather think about the life of a fictional Joe Schmo than about my own. But as they say, just admitting there’s something amiss is a pretty good start in the right direction. I just can’t wallow in it. Or use it as a crutch. Or complain about it endlessly. I just have to look it in its face and remember I am greater than the sum of my parts. And then make a funny face back. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sweater Sweats

There’s a hole in my
favorite sweater
and it’s
bothering me.

It’s a small hole
on the sleeve
near my wrist
and I can see it
when I look down
and it makes me

I’m not sure how
to mend a very small
hole in my
favorite sweater.
I can sew it I
suppose, but that
might look odd.
A stitch or two for
a tiny hole that
no one else noticed
but me I’m sure.

This sweater and I
have had so many
adventures together
and I’m amazed it has
held together this long.
I wonder where it’ll
be in ten years.

Will it still be on my
back? Will it be on
my future, currently imaginary,
girlfriend’s hope chest?
Do girls still have hope

Will this sweater follow
me to the grave? Will
my casket be warm?
Will I die stupidly?

Will it come quickly?
Will it be slow?
Will I know?

Maybe I’ll just
fix the hole in my
sweater for now
and take the rest
as it comes.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


For the last three days I have been aggravating the hell out of myself due to a sudden burst of clumsiness. I haven’t fallen down mind you (although with the way the weather is, all sleety and snowy and icy, it might not be far behind). I’ve just been dropping things, spilling things and managing to cut myself.

It’s rather strange how irrationally angry I get when I drop something that seems so easy to carry. It started Tuesday with a 12 pack of Coke Zero that I deftly banged into god knows what, which busted a can in the case, which then started leaking all over the damn place. It was quickly followed up by cutting my thumb with my own fingernail while angrily reaching for paper towels. So now I’m bleeding ever so slightly.  After taking care of that caramel colored mess I just needed something fast to eat. I was just starving and felt some extreme hunger pangs, so I grabbed a slice of bologna (which all bachelors must have in their refrigerators by law) and was just trying to roll it up to put it in my mouth when it just dropped from my hand and landed with a splat on the floor.

“God Damn It”, I shouted to my empty apartment. I picked the bologna up and threw it in the trash. I left the kitchen simply too disgusted to carry on any further. I sat on my couch and lit a cigarette in a classic attempt to relax and try and figure out why I was so mad for dropping bologna on the floor. When a hot ash from my cigarette dropped off and burned my middle finger like the dickens. “Aahhhrrggg”, I cried. “What the hell is going on here”, I shouted again to no one.

I’m a kind and patient person. I try to treat everyone with respect and dignity. I don’t like to be mean and I do my best to be honest with everyone. I am charitable and loving and caring and don’t wish ill on anyone. So I wonder who the hell cursed me to this living hell of clumsiness. Was it something I said? Some Voo-Doo visited upon me?

These strange occurrences continue to plague me even to today. I was just getting myself a cup of coffee here at work in our break room and for once there was a fresh and full pot of coffee ready. I couldn’t believe it. I think I’ve made coffee every morning for the last two weeks. So I greedily grabbed the fresh pot and started pouring myself a delicious cup. I’m not sure if I wasn’t used to the weight of a full pot of coffee since I usually get the end of a nearly empty pot or this Karmic clumsiness wanted to continue toying with me, but as I was pouring the coffee I managed to spill a goodly amount of it on the counter. “Mother F**ker”, I said under my breath and through clenched teeth.

I just wanted to drop everything in my hands and just give the hell up and wait for the piano to fall from the sky and crush me, followed by an anchor, a cruise liner, airplane and then God’s banana peel. I’m normally very graceful, agile and sure handed. So this recent spate of the dropsy’s gets to me. I get almost volcanically angry at these minor occurrences for some reason. While the plight of the homeless in winter, which should make me angry, is just something that happens and I can easily turn the newspaper page to something else to occupy my mind. But God forbid if I drop the newspaper.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Daily I decide to deal
with the degradation of
my dignity with
dalliances into day
dreaming and doting
on the don’ts, the
doubtful and the
didn’t happens.

I squander the sensitivities
I so sincerely wish to spend
on the special, softer sex with
spoliations of my stuttering
speech and slurred intention.

This thumping in my
throat, from a thudding
heart, threatens the temerity
of my intentions and the
tone of my thinking.

How hard I hope for a
half-moment to hold her
hand in a heated moment
and hear her whispered
heart humming a harmonious
hymn of happiness.

For as far as I can feel
with every fiber in my
flesh, I can’t forget the
fantasy her female form
found worthy in this

All around my adoration
is an abyss of the actual and
the armored anti-bodies of
the real anatomy of amorous

I am diligent in my delusion
but deftly aware of it’s seriousness.
No drifting into damaging day-dreamings,
deny the depth of the desire
and do the can do’s, the doable,
and the definite. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Widower

George wasn’t a depressed mess of a man constantly crying over the grave marker of his lost love. He didn’t feel the need to hurl himself onto his wife’s casket as it was lowered into the ground. He was sure he felt sad but so far it hadn’t manifested itself. The priest brought everyone else to tears with his stirring thoughts on how wonderful a woman Marjorie was and how she was truly a part of God’s kingdom now.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the church, except for George.

He sighed and looked out over the cemetery as the final prayers were said and Marjorie was put into the Earth. George looked at all the other grave markers and considered how soon he’d be beneath one of those stone monuments to mediocrity. He’d be next to his mediocre wife, near a mediocre tree, in a mediocre cemetery, in a mediocre suburb. He sighed again.

George was approached by his only loving daughter April and she took him by the hand. She’d been crying since George called her on Tuesday to let her know that her mother had passed away in her sleep. A weak heart the doctor had called it. It just seemed to give out. George knew better. It was a broken heart. A heart that loved too well a man who’s passion had gotten old. He didn’t tell April that though. He just squeezed her hand back and walked with her to the waiting Town Car.

April’s douche bag husband opened the door for George and he got into the back seat. George had forgotten what restaurant they were going to after the funeral. It was probably some cheap place with a phony aura of expensive taste. Probably some buffet style place were all the food is the same but white table cloths and white napkins was somehow supposed to make you forget that you were being served crap they wouldn’t allow in British Children’s workhouses of the 1880’s. He really didn’t care though.

The car moved forward and George looked back at the grave marker for his now departed wife. He figured she’d be okay there. They’d looked at the plot nearly ten years ago after George had a little scare with his prostrate. George’s father had always told him to buy land as a good investment, but this probably wasn’t what George’s father meant.

George knew he missed Marjorie. He missed her presence already, but he was just so accustomed to a silence that developed between them that he just wasn’t all that worried that she was gone. He remembered when they were quite young and couldn’t keep their dirty little hands off each other. He remembered Marjorie’s affinity for garter belts and thigh high nylons. She only wore them for George and he liked that. She loved him. He knew it. They had simply run out of things to talk about. Or their conversations were incredibly brief because they knew each other so very well that they just didn’t need to verbally communicate. A nod, a wink, or a quick hand gesture was all their communication was for the last few years of marriage.

Neither one of them was angry with the other. George and Marjorie hadn’t argued for 15 years at least. The arguments they’d had in the past were never all that bad. They were pretty silly in fact. He remembered one about a TV show and a comment he made about a woman’s “endowment” and Marjorie got so mad at him about it. They fought for hours only to wind up having some of the best sex they’d had for years.

“Dad”, said April.
“Yes dear”, said George.
“Why are you smiling”, asked April.
“Oh, just thinking”, said George.

He looked at his daughter and saw so much of Marjorie in her. He felt this feeling of mediocrity start to melt away and realized that he had loved his wife as passionately as he could and their life together was amazing.

“Dad, are you really alright”, asked April.
“I’m fine”, he said.

A tear was rolling down his cheek for the first time and he felt wonderful about it. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

When I Tumble

I don't usually fall down.
In fact, it's probably been four
years since the last time I slipped
and fell on the icy sidewalks
of wintery Chicago.

I also can usually stay on
my feet after a long night
of drinking. I don't wobbble
or waver or find gravity to
be an issue.

I don't have trouble staying
on my feet through the
crowded hustle and
bustle of the crowds
where feet are often
stepped on or ankles
kicking in the mad rush
to get off the train.

I don't fall going up the
three flights of stairs
to my apartment.
I don't fall reaching
for the soap in the

I have a pretty good
ability to stay
on my feet.

When I do fall however,
it's usually my heart that
does it. It falls quite
easily and often.
Sometimes I think it's
constantly in a state
of falling.

It takes very little for
my heart to fall, in lust,
in sadness and love.
Just a nudge in either
direction and tumbling
it goes.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Hot Words

I’ll be supremely honest.
I want her.
And, it’s a peculiar thing
to want someone you’re
not supposed to want.

There’s something verboten
about it that makes it
all the more desirable.
I want her all the more.
It’s on my brain like a
leech, sucking the
sexy blood from my

Her body, her brains,
her mouth, lips, style,
curves, hair, voice,
softness, laughter,
eyes, quiet, legs.


I can’t quite control
myself when she’s
roaming around the
warehouse of my
mind. Looking
through boxes marked
private and confidential,
I let her look though.
I’m helpless in her
mind grasp. I want her
to know that I want her.

I mean, look at her,
leaning over that memory
file cabinet. She’s wearing
that short skirt, I mean, c’mon.

She smiles like a sunrise.

How can I resist?