Monday, December 8, 2014

I Got It Back Again Today

That little piece of me
you should never give away.
I forgot

I'm here now .....

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Life is

being submerged in(to) this fleshy body 

feeling all of these 

sensations ……

and learning to say 


Sunday, October 19, 2014


The relationship

the experience = my mind

the experience = my mind

I (want) love and acceptance

So why?

I have seen the enemy

and she is


Where are you ....

My love?

Tonight is a night where my breath

is short with anticipation of you.

Tonight our very sweat

would alight,

flame like flambé.

I've never met you, but

I've imagined creatures into

my life before.  Cats who

wish to be petted by my chin.

One or two's taste for caress

complimented nearly exactly

my skill set.

Why not you?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Inherent Problem

Isn't that we try
To buy
Another's love.

It's that we try
To buy
Our own belief

We're worthy
Of it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Positive Affirmations .....

For a moment ....

I caught this glimpse of myself ....

like an adult Pippi

Longstocking in her

woebegone house up on stilts ...

awkward and clumsy, yet

so full of life ....

beautiful really .....

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grief is ......

a factoid I noticed,
it might as well have been
in footnote 32 of page 118,
in a book, long out of print.

it seemed only I
was destined to see,
notice it for you,
who would have loved

it.  So I file it away
in the cache that is
my heart.  Another
bit of information

I don't need, but
cannot lose.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Over dinner ....

Over dinner we decided the four-year-old in the red Popeye shirt was the devil.  It was somehow more than just he was a rotten little shit.

A blonde three-year-old suddenly threw her head back, a shriek raising from her gaping mouth like a swarming column of bees.

"It was him.  That devil boy.  He spun her and hurt her."

I hadn't witnessed that.  What I had seen was a girl suddenly possessed.  A last frame from an old horror show, rather than the lazy Sunday afternoon of beer and song I had come to expect.

I had been distracted.  My ex sat eight feet in front of me and I tried not to judge him.  Not judge like "you dirty bastard."  Rather the soul killing variety of "who looks happier."

Parents rushed out to the stage to sweep the blonde queen back to their hive.  She returned moments later, all smiles again.

The children danced like a trailer from a seventies movie.  One in six actually gyrated to the beat.

And then .... I pulled my mother's credit card from the depths of my utilitarian pouch I use as a purse. I handed it off to a friend, my mouth falling slack jawed and open as if a sorcerer had conjured her in front of me.

"Look at the expiration date."

It couldn't be more recent than 2007, but I was somehow certain without looking it said the 1980's.

That same pouch carried a bent and forgotten piece of 35mm color negative film.  Three dogs, all Mike, and, in negative form, an unidentifiable cat.  Squirreled away like treasure talismans.  I couldn't begin to fathom when I might have done that.  Yet, I use that bag frequently.  Surely I would have reached in that particular pouch.

My life is now charmed.  The universe whispers in my ears and I try to learn from her lessons.

I slipped the talismans back where I found them.

I await my next astonishment.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Family Tradition or Ritual (Writer'sWorkshopAssignment)

I'm a blank

In my family secrecy was tradition.  Judgement was tradition.  Bush, Reagan and John Wayne loving Republicans was tradition.  WWII was THE Great War and I was a dumb kid.


My mother once gave me, I think I was six or seven, detailed instructions on how, should I ever run into my aunt, uncle or cousins, I was to pretend not to see them.

But what if they see me?

They won't.


I lived in fear of running into my own extended family.

Until my uncle became my school bus driver.

"Hello Pumpkin". He said as I boarded the bus.

I half slunk, half scooted to the back of the bus.

Old Me/New Me (A Writer's Workshop Exercise)

I used to be dead inside.  Now I cry ... A lot  ....   I don't know why I cry so much.  It is certainly more than simply losing a boyfriend.  More than losing my parents. 

I cry both with positive and negative stimuli.  I lie down in my couch, positioned to wail and last only seconds.  I sit in a room of 400 people at a workshop I joined to affirm all of my dreams - my very existence and during a writing exercise, I blink back tears, fearful if they get a good toehold, they will never end.

I cry and wonder why it is such a bad thing.  Why it is such a shameful thing.  Why I feel the need to hide it.

I think of my parents and realize.

I don't think I ever really saw either of them cry.

Just another gift they never gave me.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Something Happened

On the way to being yours
I kept taking my own measure
And deciding I was leaving you
Short, I would try to grow

Something happened
On the way to being yours

While trying to love you as well
As you deserved, I built a woman
I thought could love you best
But now she's mine

I love her
Thank you

She became me

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sometimes II

Simply noticing that my own handwriting
is as neat as "the teacher's on the chalkboard"

the stupid archaic benchmark of a 40 year old child

is just enough

to make me smile

Sunday, March 9, 2014

and for a moment

After hours of bracing her
7 year old legs
Against the incoming wave
Later in the car, she realized
"I still feel"

"The sensation"

She could see nothing wrong
With a world where you
Could love something hard
Enough and long enough
That you could carry a bit of it

Back home with you
To borrow

For awhile

Life is

That old Vaudeville routine

Almost exactly


"Niagara Falls!"

Slowly, I turned

Thursday, February 27, 2014

What connects us

The other day something happened
Nothing bad, it was really funny
And I thought how much my dad
Would have liked this story

And in that moment

I really missed him

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Natural Selection

Am I a product
Of my choices
Or did Mother Nature
Slip me the short card?
Saddle me with a chain
So damaged, the universe
Felt they should "opt out."

Leaving me here

No one's parent
No one's wife

No, one, but
Never no one

Sometimes I

I see him as Gene Hackman
in the Poseidon Adventure
Hanging from a wheel,
struggling to turn it,
waving me on,
save yourself.


I glimpse kind moments
only to become lost
in the juxtaposition
of everything


I have treated life like a list
things to see
people to meet
experiences to snatch




but nothing stays
how and where
I left it

even the stationary
is constantly moving
at the molecular level

and whether it was
intentional design
or ridiculous accident
here I stand,
in the breeze
of a new day
on the bottom
of the SS Poseidon

which, if you remember,
is actually the top


I still wish Gene had jumped
into a lifeboat with me


I still wonder if I am the one
left without a lifeboat

no matter

I am here
I am alive

and when I stand
dazed, hurt and confused

I am still constantly moving

at the molecular level

Friday, February 21, 2014

Estate Sale

A box of white china

My grandparents
Scrapng their spoons
Against the twiggish

How many thanksgivings?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Note to self

Learn to think

"Why do you have to be like that?"

only once ...

they have to be like that ...

and the thought?

Was your wake up call

you are somewhere

you don't need



Monday, February 17, 2014

He took everything I ever wanted

and walked away from it .....

really the enormity of that

will never fail to impress


I never knew until then

how lucky I've always been ...

no deadly shards have ever

truly penetrated

Nietzsche's dependable daughter

I always live on

oh ... I sometimes break

a nail, or scuff a knee,

but like a high wire walker

I try my best not to ever let you see

my faltering step


I walk on

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Why I Watch The Game of Thrones

Like a third cousin loudly wailing at a funeral

I was tending to hold

Too precious

Things which were not




The first time ...

Driving the valley 

In springtime

The grey blue clouds 

Weeping over

Grape vine staccato green

With dabbles of mustard


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Lifeboats

This is not the Titanic and
That was not an iceberg

You are perfectly capable
Of finding your own lifeboat

If and when you stop
Skipping like a record needle
Caught at the scratch,

The struggle to disagree
But not to judge
To know one's own self
And accept there are other possibilities

For every man, woman and child
Like me, grabbing and clutching for someone's hand
Finding comfort in just that
The effort, to save and be saved


How many?  How many
Hear the alarm and choose
To return to sleep, alone

How many?

Thank goodness
This is over
I couldn't abide
Another day
Of this


Life is

Like a reward challenge on Survivor
Where we run through a twisted rope maze
Our team mates used to be our competitors
And our competitors used to be our mates

Breathless, we are never quite sure
Where we are supposed to be going or
Which Scavenger Hunt object we need
To pick up next, out of the corner

Our eye we catch glimpses of other people
At tasks we have already completed or snatch
Hints of detail to puzzles we've not yet

Faced, all the while needing to stay focused,
Never drawn to compare our progress
With any other,

The moment

My life's work:

Chasing the moment
Only to interrupt it
With the sheer persistent urge
To lift pen or camera to record
That which
I haven't
Yet finished


Sunday, February 9, 2014

It was Rio Bravo

Playing at my father's today
With that very 1950's/60's appeal
Dean Martin was the same age in that movie
That I am today and when I told my father, 
He said, "Well you'd better get busy then, 
Because you haven't done ....." And instead 
Of the word "much" his mouth
Grimaced and he sniggered

On the television screen, the "cowboys" 
Battled like they were at the ballet

Gun fights happen much faster these days 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

On reading my own earler writings

Awkward enough remembering

My younger, thinner, pimply self,

She has to whisper in my ear,

Giggle giddily about things I have hindsight about

Thrash and cry about burdens she has yet to set down

She's perenially stuck where I have moved on from

One of those people you genuinely

Feel for, but would never hang out with

Friday, February 7, 2014

My father had just spoken.

"I have all these things I want to tell you before you get here ......   and then when you get here . . . . "

He suddenly looks more gentle ......  more gentle and a bit confused.

"then when you get here ....   I forget what I wanted to say."

I know suddenly.  I know exactly what he means.  While I am gone during the week.  While he tries to understand his world.  While he tries to tell his caregivers what to do.  While he tries to control his existence.  I become the unseen enemy.  I become the personification of everything that keeps him from being the man he used to be.

Until he sees me face to face.

I've heard from friends who are single fathers of a daughter of a special bond.  I've heard jokes about little girls wrapping even the largest males around their tiny little fingers, when the man in question is her father.

That has not been my experience.

My experience has been closer to the gruff open paw bear slap a mother bear may give to a cub on that last trip together.  The one where she chases him or her up a tree, abandons them to become an adult.  The cuff that is supposed to teach every last thing you will need to learn from me and then chase you away.

Today, for a brief instance, I saw that "she's my little daughter" moment . . ..   well not in my father's eyes.  It wasn't in his eyes.  It wasn't in his voice.  It was so brief.  So elusive.  It hung only briefly to be seen.  In the hesitation between "when you get here" and "I forget what I wanted to say."  In that moment of silence I knew, if he could express it, the words would be:  "I remember it's you."

Thursday, February 6, 2014


to you

is like listening

to my parents

I survived

around the notion

that my parents way,

the way they thought,

the things they believed,

everything they did.

Would die with them.

And here you are

fanning the embers

of thoughts

that shouldn't be yours!

I know not to slap you,

but I'm caught

between wanting to cry

and wanting to hold you,

brush my hand through your hair

"There, there.  There, there."

I know you.

I've been where you are.

Stop hitting the snooze button

it's time to wake up.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The other day

After years of chasing
And just missing them

I lifted my camera to  shoot
A distant landscape when
Suddenly birds flew
Into my camera frame
Nature's flash mob

Connection - December 2011

It is three days before Christmas.  Even as a child, I felt something larger than myself at Christmas.  It wasn’t about Jesus’ birth or God or religion.  Naively, I pictured an entire world doing the same thing at once.   We all sat down to dinner.  We all watched silly Christmas shows on television.  Grandfathers everywhere farted and said inappropriate things while Grandmothers complained.  In Christmas, I found unity.

Driving home from work today, I passed churches with lit stained glass windows and apartments with lights strung across tiny balconies and I knew I would fit in any of those scenarios.  I could join that church or move into that apartment, try on that cloak and fit in.  In that way we are all the same.  The lifestyles we don’t choose or discard, are forever waiting, a suit of clothes we choose not to select from the closet.  We are all different, but we are all the same.

As I type this, miles away in New Zealand, Daryl is sleeping.  I have my sound turned up and his snoring, even and repetitive, brings me a certain comfort.  With a 21 hour time difference between us, we are within the three hours where we actually are on the same day.  In three short hours he will head into his Christmas Eve, while I have just touched into the day he is leaving.  It is hard not to picture us always being that far apart, always being just beyond each other’s reach.  Yet we both trust we will touch each other, we will be together.

There is something within us as human beings where, at our best, absolutely isolated and alone, we know each other.  We touch each other with empathic senses and know.   We are the same.  But at our worst, we are in a crowd and know our isolation, our separateness from each other.

On my television, Showtime’s Dexter dumps a body into Biscayne Bay and looks up at the moon.  Having silenced his dark passenger for the moment, he wonders if his wife Rita is watching that same moon.  It is a romantic notion that has always appealed to me as well.  The idea that someone, on my side, part of my team, who loves me, is out there somewhere.  The idea, even in the absence of proof, we could simultaneously be united in the same thought or experience.  It has always been an indicator of the wrongness of my current circumstance.  I’ve never actively looked for anyone, but I have passively waited to be found.

I have my computer sound turned up.  Neither Peabody nor myself make a sound, so Daryl’s snore is the only thing peppering the room, as if he were here in person.  I wonder if I shut my eyes, could I trick myself into believing it.  But no one hugs and kisses a pillow and truly mistakes it for another person.  I think of writers and serial killers and the moon.  A television writer put my thoughts as words in the mouth of his character.  Unity.  Connection.  Something larger than just me.  A part of me knows it is a single voice united out of loneliness.  We all long to be found.

But does that truth negate the possibility?


Christmas.  Driving home from my father’s, after an awkward day where he pretends to be himself, but isn’t quite, I spot a flock of starlings twisting over the vineyards just out of Calistoga.  It is a miracle I have wanted to witness since the moment I was aware such a thing was possible.  Starlings fly in a mass of swirling, morphing shapes, more like a smoke cloud than a congregation of creatures.  We pull over, I get out of the car and I experience at least five minutes of exquisite sound and beauty that is almost indescribable.  I thought I touched the record sensor squarely and soundly enough to start the iPad recording, but I find out, as I notice the starlings beginning to drift further and further from me, I didn’t.  Instead I record the moments in between the moments I actually wanted and record several yards of asphalt road.  The day has been awkward, sad, a sad chick flick’s movie of the week rather than the delightful children’s story that would be the ideal.  The starlings have been the only moment full of surprise and joy.

A gift forever locked in my head, not on digital or analog medium.

Distantly I think of my photography teacher telling me “fortune favors the prepared mind.”  Perhaps my mind just wasn’t prepared enough?  One of the most beautiful moments of my life and yet I score near complete FAIL on recording a picture.  But somehow I can’t be upset.  It was a moment so pure and so beautiful, if there were a moment to convince me of the existence of a God, it would one such as this.  Not only that, but in a reality where God = Santa, it is a moment I have asked for many, many times.

I flash on an fleeting awareness that a lot of things I have asked for many, many times are starting to happen.  The starlings, Daryl and so many things about him, his appearance in my life, how perfectly he fits aspects of my heart I’m not even aware are there until Daryl touches them and my soul tingles with response, even the $200 cash my father gave me for Christmas, sneakily, awkwardly, in denial of what he was doing right up to the moment he thrust the hundred dollar bills into my hand.  Even those, could seem to respond to a recent thought I had regarding how few jobs or opportunities I have to receive cash.

Temporarily the joke “be careful what you wish for” skips through my mind until one of the most positive thoughts I have ever had takes residence.  Ask and you will receive, if those are the rules now, why am I limiting myself?  Fairly early in talking with Daryl he told me he always got what he wanted.  When I questioned him about it, he chalked it up to age and experience, but now I wonder.  For someone who doesn’t believe in God, I have the most spiritual moment I have ever had, express my gratitude for the good things that have come my way, and know unlimited wonderful things are possible in my future.

I read back again, over the words I wrote three days ago.  I think of that unified flock of people, wanting, longing to be found.  I know suddenly with absolute certainty the infinite possibilities.  We can be seen.  We can be found.  Every gift that will make us whole, that is ours alone, pieces that fit our individual empty spaces, exist and are ours for the finding.  It is simply that we do not believe.  We get caught up in God and Santa rationalizations or the fears and expectations of our parents and the world slowly beats the confidence out of us.  As a baby or child, we see the world’s delights and know them.  No innocent child’s questioning “Why is the sky blue?” brought about the sorrows of the world.  Those came from questions of inadequacy, lack and uncertainty taught by those who have already been taught their lessons.  A seemingly unending chain of people hobbled by the fears of other people.  I know I have spent years trapped by fear.  I have emerged so recently, I know they still stain the bottoms of my feet and threaten to suck me back into their depths.  Distantly I can remember my childhood enthusiasm and confidence.  I wonder when I learned to determine who I am and my worth by looking outside of me?

I am a special and unique individual, perfect in my imperfections.  I love and have love.  As long as I believe, my future rolls out like a plush red carpet in front of me, simply waiting to be lived like a really good book.

Rationalizations, explanations and justifications flick at my mind like tendrils of fire.  I turn from them.  I need no gods, false or otherwise, to entitle me to all the good things that can come my way.  They are mine for no other reason than they were mine in the first place.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Love is .

when finding yourself being pierced

by the stinger of rejection

rather than declaring war

"Fire bomb every abrasion!"

you gently remove the thorn,

set it aside

where it will do no

harm to anybody,

even yourself,

and when the wound

burns and your ego

aches with fear and pain,

you tell yourself,

"No worries.

You've got this.

Easy peasy.

Piece of cake."

Monday, February 3, 2014

863 Days

More imaginary friend than anything else
I spent far more time with you in my head

I can't think about it anymore, whether 
I am hopelessly screwed up, damaged 

for how I love, 
why I love, 
who I love 

I don't know if it is unfair to judge
a 1/6th failure rate so harshly 
or not 

What I do know is when you wrenched
yourself away from 
me, when we parted, 
that imaginary friend left a jagged hole

I will think something and think of you, 
so turn to him and then as if struck 
by a mental gasp 

I realize that he 
was mainly me
in the first place, 
I was the he that 
was you by proxy 
in my head

And I kind of realize 
He's still here 
If I want 
Because I am 

and that is simultaneously 
so fantastic yet so ..... 

well I don't say words like that 
in poetry 

My father

painstakingly adjusting his glasses 
infinitely patient with finite precision 

sneering and telling me, "you don't know" 

while I explain that his credit card line of credit 
is not money he has in the bank 

Those moments when you're not sure what to think .....







Sunday, February 2, 2014

It takes courage

To throw yourself headlong

as if off a bridge
to your death

into another person

Never asking if
there is a net or
safety word

Without holding
another human being
under a bright light

Eventually we've
all faced our Lucy's,
who snatched the ball
from us right before
our certain victory

We've all had the Simpsons
"HA Ha" kid who suddenly
laughed at us rather than with us

It isn't easy to brush
ourselves off and open up
yet again to the

just maybe




Saturday, February 1, 2014

There is a meme ....

That jokes about hiding a Batman suit in your own closet
To "F" with your potential future dementia'd self ....
It is a funny idea made even more interesting that it is suggesting "punk'-ing ourselves

How do I say this?

We do it already.  Everything you already do and have in your closet
May potentially "F" with your understanding of reality

While a very stubborn opinionated man, my father was not without his talents and he had his fingers in a lot of confusing and complicated pies.  A year or so after his stroke found me trapped at his computer while he scrolled to email after email asking, "What does this mean?"

Some of them were emails where he was the sender.

Nearly all of them were about subjects in which we did not share common interests.  After helping him understand who had written the email and who it had been sent to, I was forced to repeatedly admit.  "I don't know."

You are already creating dozens of things you will no longer remember or understand should dementia be in your future.

I have come to wonder if we only have a very small percentage of control in our lives and the people who are "control freaks" burn out all of theirs on the front side of life.

It seems to me, dementia doesn't have to be such a bad thing after all.  Like every other experience, it is only a question of whether you choose to be happy or not.

It also seems to me that anyone who can truly embrace the notion of being happy with dementia is exactly the sort of person who will probably never have it.

This morning ...

.........  the ghosts
Of all my life's cheerleaders
Gathered in my kitchen
While i fried my eggs

"you know i hate to be watched" I chided,

 As my yolks broke

I've gazed at the moon
Wearing blue lenses
While the beautiful sunsets
Faded behind me

Thought happy was a dial you set
And left, a pirate frequency 

no one clued me into

All I Ever Wanted

Our paths crossed again today
That keychain and mine
You know the one, overcrowded
With keys to the passed doorways
I can't do anything with it
So ....

I baby oil my bath water
Play the bobsled bop
Let the water fly

Adobe Acrobat slowed my computer
To a crawl, a prisoner to its demands

Ignore and I'll just see it repeatedly
I can't do anything with it
So ....

I slip my feet out of my shoes
Squish the mud between my toes
Paint my white feet brown

A drought in the Bible belt
A shooting at Capitol Mall
And you're out spouting politics
As if you can control it at all
I can't do anything with it
So ....

I hit the gas when my car
Crests the top of a hill

Raise my hands up high. 

That Friend You Hate

Louis CK talks of a friend we all have
The friend we secretly hate

C'mon we all have one
Says Louis CK

Mine has called me "Spoiled Brat"
Nearly all of my life

Just as my father's pet name
For me was "Dumb Kid"

Louis' says his is the type person
Who asks, if you could time travel

Where would you go, what would you do?
Secretly, Louis feels, you only asked

To tell your own answer, besides
Who do you think you are?

Like you could really kill Hitler
Although I've never met him

I realize I am Louis CK's most hated friend
Or I would be, but he's got me all wrong

It really is about the game, the discussion
Not my hopes of spiking my point down your throat

Maybe if I could go back in time, I should
Go back in time and unmeet you

I Think It Was Willy Wonka

It was a Sunday
I had been at my dad's
We had talked about Willy Wonka just before
Because I had seen a bit at my dad's house

He had said he'd never seen it before

I had gotten very animated and excited talking about it
You had said it was from your childhood

It was from mine too
Just a little bit older
I almost wonder ...

We saw Willy Wonka at the drive in
The Parkway - which was the furthest distance away drive in we would go to
There were a lot of people there
We arrived late

I'm pretty sure my dad had played his lost game for amusement
The one where we would drive out into the country
And he would suddenly look wide eyed, pantomime astonishment

Oh no, we're lost

And me there, with my parents, yet frightened and worried

Either way there was drama and upset
Because it looked like we wouldn't get in
Or would have a horrible view if we did

They were fighting

And I had wanted to see the movie

Unlike so many we saw where I would watch the cartoon
And then lie down and go to sleep
I had wanted to see this one

And I did

But not until after one of their big scenes and upsets


I think it was Willy Wonka

The horrible thing is
You were enjoying me talk about Willy Wonka
So animatedly - you were concerned I wouldn't sleep
And called me gorgeous twice
With such love in your voice
Which I DID NOT notice on that night

Well if it was Willy Wonka
And I get very excited there
I don't register it as negative
Until just about where you say black grout
Where you're describing that picture

But to me
Willy Wonka is a memory
With some negative aspects
Although I love the movie

Black grout
Brings an image
But I can't attach it to anything

Yeah I really think it was Willy Wonka


I was ten

Right during the epicenter of badness years

And everything I said to you

Was pretty much how I felt at that drive in

But couldn't have said

As If Underwater No 4

I recently discovered i have a secret power, like a super hero, only comparatively useless.  Really probably you could do it, probably anybody can do it, or maybe I have a special ear for it.

I can hear on a movie soundtrack where the audio track was cut and an actor was asked to repeat some dialogue.


Oh you can do that too?

I tried to tell you it wasn't much of a super power.


Does it affect you the same?

It pops me out of the movie.  Today, sitting at my father's house, watching Alfred Hitchcock's "Topaz," I found it almost unwatchable due to audio splices.

For those of you who may not have this power, let me explain how I do it.  In old audio, I'm not sure exactly the cut off point, but I would guess pre- digital, there are little tells I can hear.  The white noise in the background, it won't be the same on each edge of the splice.  I can hear where it shifts and shifts back as obviously as if you heard me change a channel.  Sometimes the pitch of the actor's voice changes.  I can't quite explain how the actor's voice could change in pitch where it is noticeably not the same session.  It must have something to do with other variables in the equation.  The microphone, the distance from mic to performer, the size of the room, how the actor felt that day, all sorts of differences which possibly can be heard in the performer's voice.

I notice it and it pops me out of the movie.

Disturbing the resonance of the room and causing feedback

Places respond to different frequencies

Notching out resonance points

Rooms have frequencies

Live responses to a wide number of frequencies

Sweet spot

How few a people does it take to change the resonance of a room?


The claustrophobic moment of knowing you're watching somebody already dead.  Suddenly realizing you never saw him, an actor popular during the Sixties but who is on television at this moment, any older than that.  Ever after that I looked at him as if wanting to grasp him by the face.  Stare into his eyes to look for a clue.  Before I can, the scene always cuts and fades.


Entering the house cautiously, with Harry Potter DVDs, a slice of homemade Christmas cake, and my iPad in hand, I eye the room warily like a person who knows they are passing through a cave which has been known to house bears.  My father sits, where he always sits, the far stage right of the sofa, watching a movie.  I set the Harry Potters down next to previously delivered, unwatched Harry Potters, that instigated his demand for more.  I show him the ziplock bag with the cake, explain what it is, try to ignore the sarcastic comment that he utters, which is essentially his version of a very droll “oh goody.”  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Morning.  I am sitting in my front doorway with Peabody, hugging his small furry body tight to my face.  I can hear a chainsaw in the distance, a small dog is barking, cars hum down the neighborhood’s streets, people talk to each other.  I can’t make out exactly what they say.  I have had so many moments like this it seems like when I look back over my life, I have always been alone.

In my mind, in an instant, I am sitting just near the fence line on my parents’ property, I can hear the wind, the cars on the highway.  The ground, hard yet slippery, with loose topsoil underneath me.  I can feel the tension of waiting for my mother to call.  I can feel the precariousness of having no solid rights to support me.

Then I am at UC Davis, sitting outside Sproul Hall, the cement hard and cold beneath me.  Bicycles tick tick ticking by me, the hum of fans nearby, the murmuring of students talking.  I take a sip from a small carton of chocolate milk, wonder why it tastes so different from chocolate milk you mix yourself.  I am eating lunch outside my next class, which is still 40 minutes away.

Next I am sitting on the floor near the bathroom at the hospital.  I am so tired the air feels thick like maple syrup around me.  My palms, braced against the carpeted floor, are damp with sweat.  The back of my head, my shoulder blades and my butt cheeks brace against the wall.  When I blink, my eyelids choose to stay shut longer than normal 50 percent of the time.  A nurse passes me, taking a second to enquire if I am all right before she moves on.  I answer yes, but in reality, I feel as if I am caught in the travel portion of a very long vacation at which I never arrive.  One floor above me, my father, who has recently had a stroke and who I have come to visit, sleeps.

Snap, I am in my living room, Daryl is half a world away, taking a plate full of food to his daughter while I sit and wait.  Skype makes the computer speakers whirl like something with a cyclical motion has been set off speed.  Impact seems imminently ahead.

Waiting.  My life is composed of waiting, moments waiting, hours waiting.  

As If Underwater No 3

Is there a dog out there?
Even as my father asks the question and I answer, "Archie, you mean is Archie out there?"
I wonder.  Does the world exist for him as bursts of time and as each moment breaks to his surface, is he a stranded time traveler left to assess his territory?   If we stopped coming by, a few caregivers from now, would he no longer have a dog because he no longer remembered to let him back in at night?  Could the dog wander away due to neglect and loneliness and my father would cease to remember his existence?
Or is it simply he has momentarily forgotten Archie's name and is trying to verify his dog's location?  
Moments later he asks if I will let the dog out.  When I rise to my feet, he turns and tells Archie, "There she'll let you out.". Is it my imagination or is his tone not like that which you use with a dog, but more like speaking to another human?  I flash on a month or two earlier when Archie was drinking the pond water and my dad yelled "Hey you!  Stop that!"
It creates the illusion that we foisted a dog upon my father.  Of course, that's because I know.  His dog, my dad's true dog, was Mike, who had been dead less than a year when my mother pushed my father into buying Archie.  Her intentions were good.  Retired, not getting younger and getting set in his ways, if they waited too long, my father would never have a dog again.  Did my mother foresee a time when she would be gone and his only solace would be his dog?  If so, she got it wrong by one dog.  Archie was a dog, but Mike was my father's soulmate.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


My grandmother used to tell me she dreamt in technicolor like she had a super power. 

I didn’t have the heart to tell her we all did.  

I’ve always wondered why she thought it was a special ability.   

Was it the number of black and white movies or television she watched?  

Maybe sometimes she dreamt in black and white . . .

Now that would be unique.  

The things I wrote to you and about you

Aren't mine anymore

They relocated to a neighborhood

Where all the things we wish were true
Walk the streets with all the things we're glad are not


thoughts you can't quite remember, stuck
almost on the tip of your tongue

In an instant

I realized life is just one long moment.  

A long, run on sentence that only has punctuation at the end, yet makes perfect grammatical sense.  

I realized that in whatever the algebraic formula would be, we are x, always the same.  Always us.  Sitting on a tangent of y.  Which somehow always looks like it is a path, but is really just one point.  Like that vanishing point in a photograph or drawing.  

That is ridiculous obvious bull shit, except that it is everything.  

I am the same me who sat just as I sit in my bedroom, staring blankly at the calendar still set to Enero when we are now in Martes.  At 5 I stared at something else.  Maybe it was a teddy bear who had a bit of fur stuck together or missing.  Maybe it was a space in the grout on the bathtub where mold was just starting to step in.  Whatever it was, then, just like now.  Caught in a moment.  Caught in my thoughts which for that brief instant are actually no thoughts.  Except for that awareness in that instant of the fact that I was caught, staring at the tiniest of details with me.

In that moment.

I’m always alone.  My perpetual state.  In my head.  In my skin.  

If it is true that we are each a bag of molecules without the bag.  
When you and I rub ourselves together chasing those good feelings.  Chasing that cum.  
Perhaps a molecule of you could get mixed in with a bunch of me.

In that way, I could keep you.  Take you inside.  

Integrate you 

so that part of what I really love about you 

could be part of what I love 

About me. 

You know them

demanding attention

look at me look at me look at me 

I will not be ignored

the cries of those who do not reflect

but only absorb




you know them, they’ve sucked your breath from your mouth while the world burned around you, they push you down like you’re their handrail

brace me
support me
help me 

and you try

you are the very best handrail money can buy
stainless steel
rigid with purpose and intention


All is rhythm
And reflection

Get it wrong

The next layer fails to happen

A Rube Goldberg experiment

Left on auto play

The larger universe
Encapsulating our universe

A dead and deserted world
Of automatons
Loss ball bearings
Bump into
Our intentions

Nothing personal

Sometimes life flows 
So perfectly
It is as if you have
God's hand up your ass


At our best it is us 
who powers the universe
pistons pump 
drive the little ball bearing 
to the next domino drop


why things never happen
when put into place

things must fall

an airborne moment of trust
the second between 
the known 
and the known


not forced 
or begged
not fought for 
or won

nothing that can be taken from us 
by anyone 

honestly . . .

does the last domino to fall

question the hand that started the motion?
or does it simply skid and slide as momentum carries it

across the table

You should have heard him just now ....

My father, 

Saying, “I opened a savings account?” 

In absolute disgust 


Christmas.  Driving home from my father’s, after an awkward day where he pretends to be himself, but isn’t quite, I spot a flock of starlings twisting over the vineyards just out of Calistoga.  It is a miracle I have wanted to witness since the moment I was aware such a thing was possible.  Starlings fly in a mass of swirling, morphing shapes, more like a smoke cloud than a congregation of creatures.  We pull over, I get out of the car and I experience at least five minutes of exquisite sound and beauty that is almost indescribable.  I thought I touched the record sensor squarely and soundly enough to start the iPad recording, but I find out, as I notice the starlings beginning to drift further and further from me, I didn’t.  Instead I record the moments in between the moments I actually wanted and record several yards of asphalt road instead.  The day has been awkward and sad, a chick flick’s movie of the week rather than the delightful children’s story that would be the ideal.  The starlings have been the only moment full of surprise and joy.  

A gift forever locked in my head, not on digital or analog medium. 

When he had tried to brush her aside ....

She clung to him like that bit of snot 
you sometimes catch on your hand 
when you touch the end of your nose.

It usually manages to stay there 
until you brush it against 
some other surface.  

Today I watched "Marty" with Ernest Borgnine

Marty's aunt in the movie is 56 years old and she acts as if her life is over.
The whole movie makes me just stare 
So innocent, yet so cruel.

As a kid …  I developed a crush on Marty …
Not a romantic crush, I just liked to watch his movies.  He made me happy   
He looked a bit like my dad, except he was softer and warmer, smiled and laughed a lot more.  

I don't think I almost ever saw my dad laugh where I wasn't the butt of the joke.

Sometimes I think I miss Ernest Borgnine more.

It feels stupid to admit I can miss people I've never met.

In a way …  it is like every human being is their own little radio signal .  .. that can be appreciated and enjoyed ….  and it is sad when ones I found rich with wonderful aspects … suddenly go off the air .  .  never to delight with their special taste again.

Monday, January 27, 2014

As If Underwater No 1

There are human experiences that can't be written.  You are sitting next to a huge koi pond with a fountain.  That noise, not quite "babbling," not rain, what do you call it?  Is there a word?  Could it ever really capture all of the nuances of the actual experience?

Every time I try to write about my father, I return to that koi pond, that fountain, that noise.  I know that I am close to something important.  I know I have something to say.  I just don't know what it is yet.

So I sit by the koi pond.  I'm in a pink, stained and faded deck chair on the left.  My dad's on the right, sitting in blue.  

"What happened here?"  He says, brushing his hand against my chin.

Normally, even if I don't betray it outwardly, I shrink away from my father's touch.  It is not a question of abuse, but more the near constant bullying of the largest kid in the room.  Always the largest kid in the room.   But, in this instance, his touch signals something else.  It is the first time he has noticed something about me that didn't directly relate to him in weeks, if not significantly longer.  

"Bug bite," I say and proceed to show and document every bug bite and it's corresponding mark all over my body.  

For more than a year, my dad's consciousness or level of awareness has faded in and out like a target blown by some unknown wind.   Words have shifted in usage as if concrete meanings have yet to be assigned.  Sine-aid, an over the counter sinus medication, has become the "go to" pinch hitter when no other word volunteers.  It doesn't seem to matter much.  I've never claimed to understand my father.  In many ways, it is as he has been shouting "Sine-aid" for years.

I know that for my father, family always comes first.  

"Friends will come and go, but your family is forever."

Back in the days when they still had me snowed by the "if you lie, we will always find out the truth in the long run" this seemed like an unfair curse. I envisioned lifetimes spent with these people.  You couldn't suicide from something like that.  I'd look at other families and long to move in with them, if only in the afterlife.

Now, my actual family diminished to just the two of us, only child to only child,  it promises a certain freedom I've never had before.  The chance to build a family rather than ....  What?  Be enslaved by one?  Trapped by one?  Saddled?  Locked in a hopeless struggle of co-dependence with one?


At least finally now, rather than my being the stupid one in the conversation, rather than my being the cause of all of the problems he is suffering, he has seen me.  In a moment of isolated clear vision, he has seen me.  

Nagging voices tell me to speak of the stroke.  

"You're being unfair to your listener.  When are you going to tell them about his stroke?"

My father had a stroke, at this point a little more than a year ago.   It is the reason for his mixed words.  It is the reason I have been activated, like a sleeper cell, to handle his affairs.  

I dare to hope I am more than a suicide bomber.  I dare to hope for a life after my life's mission has been accomplished.

For now, I sit next to a 9 foot kidney shaped koi pond where I once taught myself to dive and appreciate the beauty of my surroundings at my parents' house as if for the first time.  The light winking at me through oak and pine and fir is golden and beautiful.  That sound without a name caresses my hearing.  My bug bite recitation finished, I smile and my father smiles back.  It is only a moment.  A moment made even briefer by contrast, but it is no wonder I sense there is something to say, that I have witnessed something important.

"made of a unique self healing composite material"

I should want you

To heal, smooth

Like a reusable self-healing cutting board


I want to leave a mark

When I smell your laundry detergent

Or taste your favorite beer

I think of parallel universes

The Night Bus

Harry Potter has just boarded The Night Bus.

My father alerts, "What is this?"

"Harry Potter"

"It is not."

"Yeah, it is."

"I don't consider this Harry Potter."

Bread Crumbs

It’s one of those days where pithy people would say, “Why, you’d complain if I hung you with a new rope.”

I’d smile politely and you’d be satisfied.  If you were the sort who would see past the slightly sick look on my face.

On the tiny television screens behind me someone’s vacation trip to Venice is burning to    DVD.  One DVD.  The trip of a lifetime condensed down to less than two hours.

That’s my day job.  Your memories.  I salvage them and transfer them from videotape to DVD.  Sometimes I’m too late.  The crumbs you carefully prepared from yesterday’s bread have been eaten.  Or blown away.  Your dog or rats broke into the box in your garage or you didn’t realize the attic got that hot.

My mother used to be one of them.  The ones who shrank from the camera and tried to hide.  Oddly she was also a big believer in photos as memories too.  Our family ended up with boxes and boxes of photos with things written on the back like “Me 1959.”


Some bread crumbs are made of stronger stuff than other ones.

I’ve never been sure on the subject of memories.   I once transferred someone’s final answering machine message to CD and made ten extra copies.  She hadn’t known what was coming.  It wasn’t as if she said, “I’m never coming home, but remember I love you.”

Ten copies.

It haunted me for more than a week, the thought of her kids ten years from now, listening to that message.

Over and over and over.

Them trying to make sense of that small snippet of their missing mother’s life xacto knifed out of what would have been just another ordinary day had she not died.  A 27 second bread crumb chosen and mass duplicated to help guide lost children to a place they’ve never been to before, a home where mother was waiting.

I can’t remember what she said.  It seems like I should remember what she said.  Something about running late, I think.

In the back of my mind, my mother stands, warm in 8mm colors, in a doughboy pool, a large beach ball, quartered in different splashes of color, blocks her face.  A much tinier version of me, who doesn’t “get it,” circles her and circles her, trying to see what there is to see behind the beach ball.

See that’s the problem with those bread crumbs, you may wish you had whole wheat or rye bread, but no amount of paint or grooming will add nutritious goodness to white bread.  My mother, hiding behind her beach ball, is a memory.  It is one repeated over and over as she hides behind her hand, a rock, or other people in countless other videos and photos.

Little bits of mold cling to your bread crumbs, changing their flavor and taste.  That mold is a scientific principle called “The Observer Effect,” where simply watching a process in action changes both the action and the outcome.  The minute dad gets out the camera and calls for everyone to say “cheese,” the moment he admired and wanted to capture has already exited the room.

I have a picture of my mother from the night I graduated high school.  No one would hand her a beach ball.  Her face, lit by the harsh camera flash outside on a dark night, is blindingly white.  Her eyes are wild with fear.  I have never been one to hide from a camera.  I stubbornly set my jaw and face the lens, but even without a beach ball, perhaps especially without one, I see my mother’s face look back at me from the glassy print.

If I handed you the photo, said this is me when I was younger, you’d be satisfied.   If you were the sort who would see past the slightly sick look on my face.

In Pursuit of Eckhart Tolle

Today, undo
and redo cornered me
stole my words not money

Leaving me
A Roy Lichtenstein panel
With an empty thought bubble

As If Underwater No. 2

I sit in my parents’ living room.  It’s hot and it’s stuffy.  Anyone else in the room is asleep.  My only company left is “Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of The Baskervilles,” a version I first saw, with my father in this same room, just two weeks ago.   When it started playing, just after I showed up at the house, I told my father, “Oh look.  We saw this movie a week or two ago.”  For anybody else, it would have been a subtle hint.  For my father, it was a bone of contention, an argument.  
“No we didn’t.”  
“Sure we did.  Remember?  See look at that guy, remember him?”  
“No.  Who is he?” 
“Well I don’t remember the actor’s name.  But look at him, doesn’t he look familiar?”  
My father turns from looking at me to looking at the television set, already drifting to a negative head shake before he even completes the turn.  
“I remember.” I say.  “Richard E. Grant!  If I’m right, the opening credits will list Richard E. Grant.”  
We stare at the television.  The opening credits begin, peppered liberally with scenes of a murder and the body being found.  Finally, right at the end, the words “and Richard E. Grant” scroll down the screen.
“See?”  I say, turning to look at my father.  
“See what?”
My mother once told me that when her parents died, she felt like she was doing something wrong simply by staying alive.  Or that’s how I interpreted what she said.  What she actually said was that, when her parents died, she felt as if she had stayed in a place, like a room or at a party, after her parents had vocally disapproved of it and left.  I suppose if I had been in an argumentative mood, I could have challenged her.  After all her father died more than 25 years earlier than her mother.  Get your story straight.  They died so far apart, you couldn’t really have been worried about “both” of their approvals.  So who was it?
An excellent argument in debate class, but hardly the answer to give when your mother is confessing something so deeply twisted, it can only be a measurement of how much therapy you may stand to need to pay for in the future.  
No matter, whichever parent, she must be in his/her good graces again.  After her death but before his stroke, my father wore his loss and how much he missed her like a deodorant or a cologne.  It clung to him.  He was never without it.  Now she never comes up.  
Well once.  When I asked him why he watches so much television.  He gave me a look as if I had asked the dumbest question imaginable.  
“Because I can watch whatever I want now.”  
The woman he used to tell me was the love of his life reduced to the woman who hogged the remote.   
On the television screen, Dr. Watson accompanies Lord Baskerville to his family estate.  I look longingly at the remote sitting on the coffee table in front of my sleeping father.  I can’t bring myself to change the channel.  For one thing, I know that the minute I rise from my chair, the sleeping spell that has taken the room will be broken.  For another, I know I am here to visit my father, not watch television.  Somehow, sitting watching something he chose, even if he is sleeping through it, fills that criteria.  Changing the channel to something I might like to see, does not.   
The thermostat, apparently unaware the room is already hot, triggers the heater and as it comes on, my eyes snap open.  I haven’t even been aware they were shut.  I lean forward, my elbows to my knees and focus on the television in an attempt to stay awake.  
After awhile, my father rouses.  
“You know?” He says, catching my attention.  “I think I’ve seen this before.”
I turn and stare at the screen as if all of the possible responses I might give were written there.  
“You know?”  I say, turning back to face him.  “Me too.”