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.”