Thursday, October 31, 2013


            Sharon brushed her black dress flat as she sat on the funeral home sofa. She folded her hands in her lap and looked up at the casket of her departed Henry. Her relatives and well-wishing mourners shuffled about in the long weeping line in front of her. Sharon sighed and looked at their shoes. She wondered what she was going to do with all of Henry’s shoes. He liked good footwear and had more pairs of shoes than she. Over their 45 years of marriage he had amassed a collection. There were hiking shoes and walking shoes, dancing shoes and running shoes, painting shoes and slip-on shoes, tuxedo shoes and casual Friday shoes, and now the shoes he wore in the casket.

             Sharon shifted on the lumpy funeral home sofa and felt a strange soreness in her back. She figured it was from the two hours of standing she did at the start of the wake as she greeted the early arriving mourners. Henry was a popular man and had so many in this world that would miss him. Sharon was past it. She had already come to terms with Henry dropping to his death at the shoe store. “Damn shoes,” thought Sharon.

             Henry’s business partner, Dave Klapper, approached Sharon on the lumpy, uncomfortable funeral home sofa and reached his hands out to her. He kissed her on her cheek and expressed how very sorry he was for her loss and if there was anything she needed, not to hesitate to ask him. Sharon thanked him as politely as she could and he moved off to join his wife Carol. Carol had not offered any condolences to Sharon. She stood coldly as she waited for Dave to join her. Sharon assumed it was because of the affair she and Henry had so many years ago. Sharon had caught Carol and Henry having drunken sex in the laundry room of Dave’s house at a Halloween party just a year after she and Henry were married. Sharon was mortified and was ready to leave Henry that minute. He convinced her however that he thought Carol was Sharon and he was drunk and confused. She let herself believe the lie. She let herself believe all of Henry’s lies over the years.

             The sad parade continued to funnel past Henry’s casket and Sharon was bored with it. She wasn’t numb or in any state of denial about Henry’s death, she was honestly bored with it. She decided she needed some fresh air. She stood from the sofa and mildly stretched her aching back. The crowd seemed to stifle as she moved toward the back door of the parlor. A few sad faced people stopped her as asked if she was alright. She smiled kindly and said she was doing just fine, she just wanted to get a little air as she felt it was a bit stuffy. A few offered to accompany her but she declined, saying that she really just wanted to be alone for a moment.

             Sharon went to a side door of the funeral home and stepped outside into the crisp autumn evening. She rummaged through her purse and found her cigarettes and a lighter. It was a pack she had been saving for a very long time. Henry had forbade her smoking so long ago but now she realized she could once again do anything she liked. She had smoked in her twenties when she and Henry first met. It was actually at Dave Klapper’s first Halloween party.

             She was dressed as Baby Jane from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? but perhaps a bit sexier. She actually felt very sexy that night and when Henry complimented her on her costume and later pressed up against her and felt her breasts she knew she would marry him. He was so kind then. He was dressed as Dracula. Not the most original of costumes, but he looked very handsome in it. He’d spared no expense on the costume though and it looked very authentic. Sharon and he started dating and were married a year later. One year after that she’d catch Henry in the first of his philandering.

             Sharon lit the cigarette and took a long satisfying drag. She exhaled and a tiny smile pursed her lips. The wind was chilly and the moon was near full. She looked up and wondered if Henry was in heaven or if she had to forgive him for his failings first, before St. Peter would allow him through the Pearly Gates. He was never cruel to her, or outright mean, he was just a cheater and a liar. Sharon only put up with it because of the children and she didn’t have her own finances to sustain a life, at least the wealthy life, she’d grown accustomed to with Henry. He was very successful after all. She supposed that was why there were so many more business people at the wake than there were family members.

             Their children, Max and Simone, were distant from her. She loved them, but she didn’t understand them. Max was supposed to be returning from Thailand for the wake but got delayed in customs. Simone was pregnant and couldn’t fly in from Seattle. They were taking the train, but it wasn’t scheduled to arrive till very late tomorrow. Sharon didn’t worry though. She may not understand her children; she at least knew they were resourceful. She’d tried to make them that at least.

            “A beautiful night wouldn’t you say,” said a near-by voice.

             Sharon turned and saw a young man in a dark gray suit. He was also smoking a cigarette. She hadn’t heard him approach.

             “All things being considered, I would agree. It’s a lovely fall night,” said Sharon.

             The man in the dark gray suit nodded and took a drag from his cigarette. Sharon noticed the length of his fingernails reflected in the glow of his cigarette and the almost full moon. She was not afraid. She knew right away.

             “Are you here for me too, Death,” she asked.
             "No Sharon. I’m not here for you. Just having a cigarette and admiring your strength upon this sad occasion,” said Death.
            “Why the shoe store? Why did he have to have a massive heart attack in a damn shoe store,” asked Sharon.
             “It was his time,” said Death.
            “Who decided? What celestial machinery made that determination?”

             Death took another pull from his cigarette. Sharon thought she could see Death’s eyes, blood red reflect the glowing cigarette ember. The cigarette smelled terrible. It reeked of something rotten.

             “You know I can’t tell you that,” said Death as he exhaled.

             Smoke billowed out toward Sharon and snaked around her. She thought she heard the smoke hiss at her like an angry serpent.

             “Well, I suppose so. He did love his shoes. I guess it was only fitting,” said Sharon.
            “That’s the spirit,” said Death
            Sharon tossed her spent cigarette toward the funeral home driveway.

             “Is that supposed to be a pun? The spirit,” asked Sharon.
            “No pun intended,” said Death.

             Sharon reached into her purse and took out a breath mint. She unwrapped it and popped it in her mouth. She then offered another mint to Death who politely declined.

             “I suppose I should get back inside,” said Sharon.
            “Probably,” said Death.

             Death opened the side door for Sharon and she stepped back in toward the funeral parlor and the body of her dead husband. She stopped after entering and turned back toward the door as it closed. Death was gone and all that lingered was smoke and a heavy sulfur smell. Sharon turned and headed back toward the lumpy, uncomfortable sofa and sat, flattening her black dress as she did.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gray Business

            She avoids heartache at all costs. She shelters all she has to offer behind rock walls of humor and craggy sarcasm.  She wants to tear the beating thing from out her chest and throw it out the window, perhaps to see if it will fly. She knows it won’t though. It would just fall to the ground with a thud, food for the scavengers. So she leaves it in her chest, beating, like a metronome without a song to keep time for.

             A cold metallic gray cloud hovers over the love she would like to share. It rains and storms. Thunder claps and the wind blows turbulently, stirring the cold air into swirling twisters of confusion. Up is down, left is right, every dimension is affected by the unknown weather of her heart. It beats loudly in her ears drowning the rational and soundness of the real love she knows is somewhere inside.

             There is so much she wants to give and share and be revealed about her. She won’t though. The risk to her wild heart is too great and she’s too afraid she’ll like it. She’d like the release of someone with an umbrella to cover her heart from the rains, someone with a shield to protect her heart from the arrows of dishonesty and disloyalty. She longs for warmth in her heart provided by the heat of another’s passion for her.

             But she mistrusts. She worries. She cowers. She fears that while worthy of love, no one is worthy to know hers. She doesn’t believe there are arms strong enough to hold her or eyes that can see the humor in hers. She sails onward on the stormy seas of her pulse. She lashes herself to the mast in the rollicking seas of her oceanic emotions to keep from going overboard, yet trapped to the very vessel that batters her.

             She knows the power of her passions yet she is reluctant to unleash them. It has become safe under the cloudiness and it’s hard to see anything through the pounding rain. Her stomach gets upset, she’s nauseous from the seas, but she can’t stop. She is in her present and only wishes to deal with the present. There’s no land ready for her and she’s not ready for land. Even though lighthouses dot the way and fog horns blare through the night, calling for her to step ashore and let the sun thought the grayness.  

             Her aloof heart, so willing to love, beating with present passions hidden under a soft body and bright eyes. There’s a fire inside. I just can’t seem to see if from the shore. It’s a gray business she attends to, blocking it from, me, my eyes that wish to see.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beware the Bus Stop

            The bus stop was crowded with people that appeared to have emerged from 1989. Stone washed jeans covered their legs and their fall jackets were a bit short and neon. The women had hair teased up too high and poorly dyed. The men looked as if they had found their outfits in some lost and found bin at the airport. Perhaps brown dress shoes, light blue jeans and white socks work in Prague but there’s something not quite right about it on a Tuesday morning at a Chicago bus stop.

             Then it occurred to me that those people, while dressed like some sort of living monument to a bygone era, are at least going somewhere. While I, I sit in my underwear at my computer look out at them. They have a greater purpose than I can possibly fathom. I’m positive that their lives have meaning, at least more meaning than my underwear clad one.  

             The bus arrived and the fashion challenged boarded in orderly and quiet obedience. Now the bus stop is bare of any activity. It’s just there, sitting silently for the next group of people. I think about it like a Venus Flytrap for some reason. As if the kiosk will bait the unsuspecting folks with the lure of a ride on the bus and as soon as they sit down, CHOMP, and down comes some giant jaws. Blood squirts out onto the street but the passing cars hardly notice because the people driving them are too busy having their brains sucked dry by the latest Apple iDevice.

             The walkers, the pedestrians, they don’t notice anything out of the ordinary. It’s just business as usual for the Venus Bus Kiosk.  God damn murdering bus kiosks. There oughta be a law.

             I think about these things as I sit here in my underwear, wondering if I’ll ever be gainfully employed ever again.

             The thing about unemployment is how free your mind is to dwell on the emotional side of life. Lately I’ve been wounded by the constant insincerity of people I thought I knew, but maybe never actually knew at all. I’ve discovered how worn out I am by passive aggressive behavior and the constant nonsense people feel the need to push onto each other. I met an Irish couple last night. They were a young couple which recently got married. A week ago in fact. The funny thing about them, really, was that there was no bullshit about them. They were who they were and they felt no need to pretend otherwise. I threw on my weakest brogue and spoke to them at length. The woman was from town, the guy was from a farm, and was still a farmer.

             It was obvious she was from town. She danced like a townie while he hung back against the bar and rubbed his scruffy chin. I could tell he was wondering what the hell he’d gotten himself into. She obviously loved him though and stopped her gyrating to mash his face and tell him he was a weirdo. Ah, Irish love. They were headed to Vegas for their “Honeymoon”.  As I write this I suddenly hope they made and were not devoured by the bus stop. I guess I felt good around them though. They were new and interesting and without pretension in any way. It was refreshing. I think I’ll go put pants on.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Crowing Brightly

Out my open window
is a crow, cawing as loud
as a crow can caw.

Each caw is the same,
no varying tones,
caw, caw, caw.

Across the room,
sunlight pours in the window,
glaring off the glass, the
keyboard, my eye glasses.

The light and the sound
meet somewhere in the

It's a scene bathed
in the sounds and
sights of Autumn.

I look and listen to
both, hoping one
or the other will,

provide me with the

Friday, October 25, 2013

Marking the Day

                On October 25th 2010 I started A Minute with Michael (with a little help). Three years later I have written 677 articles, stories and poems. What started as an exercise in exploring my own writing ability has blossomed into the greatest public forum I have ever been a part of. It has been liberating to pour my thoughts and imaginings out onto these many white pages. It is a true chronicle of my own evolution as a writer and human being.

             These pages have borne witness to my heartaches, my joys, my silliness, and at times my silence. I’ve discovered the true power of words and have been very impressed by how my words have affected others. Now if only I could get some of you to read them, and at times, see the meaning behind some of my more abstract pieces.

             I’ve been lucky to stretch out my artistic heart on these pages. I’ve been lucky to have been a part of so many lives. I’m not sure what effect I’ve had on my readers but I’m pleased to have set up a little tent and campground in your brains. Sorry about those campfires, I might have been drunk while trying to roast marshmallows.

             These pages are like holding someone’s hand as we cross the street. There’s something safe about it. What’s on the other side is part of the wonder of the unknown. I can’t wait to get there though and I hope to soon turn a lot of my stories and poems into a small book; which you can then buy and have in your very own homes. (Perhaps a little bathroom reading.)

             Overall, I thank you, the reader for allowing me to express myself. It’s been fun and I hope to continue for as long as my brain works and my fingers can fly across these keys. I also hope that you, the reader, continue to enjoy these pages and offer any constructive criticism you may have. I’m always willing to get some feedback about anything I write.

             I will endeavor to continue to improve and hopefully, one day, your children will have to write a book report about a book I wrote. Then my revenge will be complete, um… I mean goal…goal will be complete…right. (Cough)

Write on!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tis the Season

            Ron was a superstitious man. He wouldn’t walk under ladders and he avoided black cats. He was delicate with mirrors and never stepped on a sidewalk crack. He always picked up pennies off the street and made wishes in wishing wells. He steered clear of Gypsies and did his best to protect himself from the evil eye. Ron hated Halloween. It was the worst time of year for him.

             He was scared of dark Autumn corners and the long black shadows that occupied them. He didn’t like the scouring, scalding eyes of Jack O’Lanterns glaring at him from the neighborhood porches. They made him feel like the Devil was afoot and he would be weak against Satan’s evil onslaught. He felt like they stared right into his innocent soul, burning him with the fires of hell.

            He didn’t even like the cardboard skeletons pasted to the front doors of the houses on his block. They reminded him of his childhood nightmares and their rattling bones chasing him through abandoned houses. He imagined the skeleton’s chattering teeth clacking in their jaws as they raced after him through dusty, rickety corridors. He would scream and yell for help but no one would ever come to his rescue. The cardboard skeletons made him shudder.

             Ron didn’t like the costumes that the children wore. He felt they were embracing some evil force abhorrent to all that was good and pure. He would cross the street if he saw costumed children walking his way. He wanted nothing to do with them and wouldn’t even answer his own front door on Halloween when they came begging for the sugary snacks that he felt would probably give them all diabetes for their unholy sins of greed.

             He was also unnerved by the whore-ish outfits all the young women wore. He felt himself committing the sin of lust as his eyes coveted their smooth skin and long legs. He would sit in his darkened house and watch through the windows as the young roamed about the neighborhood, some high on candy, others drunk on the devil’s booze. He would sweat and fear that they would egg his house or spray shaving cream all over his driveway. He would cower inside and pray for Halloween to end.

             Now Halloween seemed to last weeks instead of just a few days and it would make Ron ever more scared to do anything to upset the cautious superstitious beliefs he’d so carefully crafted. There were too many black cats, there were too many broken mirrors, there were too many mother’s with broken backs. He rarely left his house at all during the Halloween season. There was too much horror outside, too much evil.

             Ron’s doorbell rang and he steeled himself in his lounge chair. He would not be swayed by any trick or treater to rise and answer. The doorbell rang again. Ron crossed his arms across his chest and said a small prayer asking whomever was at the door to just go away. The doorbell rang again followed by some furious knocking. The bell rang again and again and Ron jumped up. He’d had it with all the evil and the devil works carousing through the streets. He felt it was time to take a stand for the superstitious.

             The knocking at the door persisted. It was rapid and heavy against the old oak door of Ron’s house. Ron stepped into the foyer and tightened his old robe around his waist.

            “Who’s there,” asked Ron.

             There was no response to his question. The knocking however stopped suddenly.

             “Hello,” asked Ron again as he inched closer to his front door.

             He leaned up against the front door and pressed his ear to the wood. He wished he had a peephole in the door, but the house was old and the door was an antique. Ron held his breath, aching for some sound, perhaps some footsteps on the old wooden porch. But there was nothing. He could only hear the distant revelry of the other Trick or Treater’s flooding the street. Ron relaxed and turned from his door. He thought his prayer might have been answered.

             His doorbell rang again and Ron jumped and spun around to face the door.

             “Who’s there,” demanded Ron.

             The knocking started again. Faster and harder. Hard enough to shake the door on its hinges. He thought he could hear talon-like scratching along the door. Ron stepped forward and braced the door with his hands. He felt the doors vibrations through his arms. He yelled for it to stop but the door kept thudding and pounding. The doorbell starting ringing over and over and the lights in the foyer started to flicker. Ron cried out again, begging that it stop, pleading forgiveness for his lusty thoughts about all those young women in their skimpy Halloween costumes.

             Ron’s arms started to feel weak against the knocking at the door. He decided he had to put a stop to this. He was an innocent after all, what harm could come to him. He reached down to the chain and unhooked it. He flipped the deadbolt and felt the door shove inward. He grabbed the doorknob and turned it open. He flung the door open and leapt backwards. His panicked eyes wildly scanned the doorway.

             A few fall leaves fluttered past the doorway swept up in a chilled Autumn night wind. The porch was bare. There were no Trick or Treaters, there were no demons, there were no black cats clawing at the door. Ron fell to his knees and swept his sweaty hair off his forehead.

             “Damn you Halloween,” sighed Ron.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Behind all of our walls

are little pockets of

electrical energy,

humming and purring,

to bring electric life

to the items we daily use.


Behind the walls of

our skulls is that same

buzzing and popping

electricity searching

for a way to provide

power to our daily



Some outlets spark

and hiss, spewing

static singed air.

Some outlets sit

quietly unused.

Some outlets perform

their diligent duty.


The sad, scared screams

of some outlets, staring

from white painted walls,

begging for use, for something

to power.


The sad, scared faces of

some people, staring at their

own electrical reflection. Looking

for something to power.


I know I’m filled with

so much, to give, to share,

to power, yet nothing has

been plugged in. I want to

share my electricity.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Troubling Chill

The chill seeped in through
the drafty spaces of my
windows and walls.

As much as I loathed
the arrival of the chill,
I felt some relief upon
its appearance.

The chill cemented the
truth of the changing
season and the ever
progress forward of

Unstoppable and
irresistable, yet
subtly welcome.

A change is good
for everyone as the
world is remade in
yellow and orange hues.

The wind bites and
reminds of the possibilities
fresh new air can bring.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Employ Mentation

            Tony toyed with a small twig between his fingers. Traffic rushed by on the busy street as he waited to cross. His stomach was rumbling with nerves. His neck tie was feeling tight around his throat and his suit coat felt ill-fitting. The traffic signal changed to green and Tony started crossing the street toward the imposing concrete building. He fell into its shadow as he approached the front entrance.

             Tony dropped the twig that had giving his idle fingers something to do on the long train ride and entered the through the revolving doors. The lobby was cold marble and Spartan furniture. His footsteps echoed uncomfortably through the cavernous space. He approached a white marble security desk and smiled awkwardly at the guard.

             “Good morning. I’m here to see Mr. Jerry Sampson on the 25th floor,” said Tony.

             The guard nodded and picked up a telephone and made a call. Tony rapped his nervous fingers on the cool marble desk top. He looked up at the imposing corporate logo that hung like a Swastika over the security desk. Tony shrugged off the shivers that ran down his spine. The security guard hung the phone up.

             “Someone will be down in a moment to take you upstairs. Here is a visitor pass, please wear it around your neck at all times in the building and return it to this desk upon your departure. Also, please sign this guest book including the time, date, and the name of the individual you are here to see,” said the guard.

             Tony nodded and took the pass and looped it around his neck and filled out the guest book. The guard motioned toward the stone seating area. Tony nodded and shuffled toward the seating area. As he has about to sit a woman appeared from the elevator bay. She was a dish-watery blonde, short, bespectacled and wearing far too much make-up.

             “Tony,” she asked.

            “That’s me, “said Tony as he recovered his standing positing in the midst of his downward sitting momentum.

            “Please follow me,” said the woman.

             Tony stepped toward her and he extended his hand. She turned too quickly and didn’t see Tony’s out-stretched hand shake.  He fell in step behind her as they headed toward the elevators. She stepped in first and Tony stood next to her. She pressed the button for the 25th floor and the elevator doors closed. Tony cleared his throat.

             “I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name,” said Tony.

            “I didn’t give it,” said the woman, not looking at Tony.

            “Gotcha,” said Tony.

             The elevator smelled like hot rubber; not smoldering rubber that you might smell near a tire fire, but like a gasket that might be overheating in an engine. It took Tony a second to get used to the smell and he exhaled through his noise loudly.

             “Don’t let them see you do that,” said the woman.

            “Do what,” asked Tony.

            “Make such loud noises,” said the woman.

            “Loud noises,” asked Tony.

            The woman shifted her weight onto her left side and kept her hands clasped in front of her thighs. Tony wiped the sweat from his forehead and temples. The elevator crept up slowly toward the 25th floor and the smell of the hot rubber seemed to be getting stronger. Tony felt a little nauseous starting to couple with his nervousness. They passed the 20th floor and Tony started to think about how terribly torturous this was. He didn’t even really want to be here but society dictated that he had to have a job and be a monetary contributor to its continued illusion of control.

            The elevator passed the 23rd floor and he took a deep breath.     

            “Shhhh…,” said the woman.

             Tony looked at her profile. She never even looked at Tony. She kept her eyes focused on the copper elevator car doors. He wondered if she was some sort of service droid; some sort of flesh covered android programmed to be as inhospitable as possible. He thought that is was pretty typical for a giant corporate monster to have robotic employees. A former person with a soul reduced to bells and wiring and heartless processes.

             The elevator dinged at the 25th floor and the doors opened. The woman stepped forward and Tony followed her out. The 25th floor was dimly lit, yet bathed in fluorescent hues. It was like a hospital or better yet, a hospital morgue. The woman led Tony through one of the dimly lit corridors of cubicle walls toward a barren yet cluttered conference room. She pulled out a seat at the long wooden table and motioned for Tony to sit. He sat down and turned to the automaton woman.

             “Thanks,” he said.

            “Shhhh…,” she repeated as she exited the conference room, still never looking at Tony.

             “…it,” said Tony.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Bloody Words

A new day brings the

challenge of words.

I can’t make them

work the way I want.

They’re being evil to

me. They’ve abandoned


They are not conveying

what I want.

The silence is louder

than the words.

A phone off the hook,

a deserted farm house.

The desolate hillsides of

a fire ravaged countryside.

The words aren’t there.

They’re fighting me.

Maybe I’m just too worried

about money and love.

Or just hungry.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

To Do The Things

            Larry was cold. The crisp fall morning had crept in through his open bedroom window. He shivered and pulled his bed clothes up tighter around his shoulders. It was still dark. The sun had yet to rise and warm the concrete of the world. Larry tried to return to his dream about the girl he loved. She was cold too.

             She was cold to his affections and wishes for love. Larry burrowed his head further into his pillow. He was trying to shake the terrible thoughts of her in the arms of another man. It made him sad to think about her affections being lavished at the footsteps of some other jerk. He wanted to act to prevent such a terrible atrocity. He wanted to tell her all about his desires, his wants, his willing devotion to everything she was and all that she could be. He didn’t though.

            Larry muttered to himself about his inability to tell her how much he wanted to adore her and give her everything of himself. He was shy. He was more than shy. He was afraid. He was afraid that if he told her about his feelings, she would spurn him. He didn’t want to lose the way she looked at him in her unknowing of his feelings. Her eyes were bright, laughing, cheery, engaged with the light of capable mirth.

             He opened his eyes and looked toward his open bedroom window. A chilly morning breeze was blowing the drapes full with specter’s of last night’s poor choices. Larry mourned his affability.  He wasn’t bold enough. He wasn’t as brave as the character of himself that he imagined he was. He imagined he was tough, like an outlaw, Jesse James or Tony Soprano. He wasn’t though. He was annoying; a burden on others and a wreck of his spoiled potential. He blinked hard to try and re-focus his blurry, sleep filled eyes.

             He rolled over and pulled the covers up tighter again. He closed his eyes and wished he could tell her that he thought he was in love with her and he was tired of the torture his soul constantly endured. He wanted her embrace. He wished that his professions of love would be reciprocated. He just feared that they would not be. He had no guts.  Larry chided himself for being weak. Life was too short to waste on inaction and waffling.

             The wind blew the drapes out, billowing them out toward the bed. Larry decided he’d have to say something to her. His alarm clock started beeping and Larry tossed the covers off and stepped out of bed. He shut off his alarm and sighed.