...while you were sleeping.

"Shuttlecock"; "Raincheck":
These are words I don't understand.
Like when you ask someone
middle-aged or older
their telephone number and they look
you square in the eye, foolishly unashamed
and say "I don't know
it, I never call myself."
Well, maybe no one else should be calling
you, either, pal.
Nero played that fiddle beautifully as Rome burned
but I doubt a person such as yourself could
make ignorance nearly as tasteful.

And girth, can we talk about girth for a moment?
The blessing, the curse, the verdict is in
and the Feel Good Revolution
just got a little hindered by diameter.
Their mothers must tell them to say that
to all the boys, though it's a kind strategy.
Butt it sure is pleasant to think up names
when my mind wanders at work.

The irony of the lousy job I'm on right now
is that it's one giant mud pit.
Sometimes I sink halfway up to my shins
as I trudge along from building to building
trying my best to roll with those right hooks.
I related this woe to a friend the other day
and she said she didn't pity me, she'd love
to play in the mud. That's fine and good, but
I'm sure there are also a lot of perverts who'd swear
they'd love to be gynecologists until the day
they'd actually have to stare up those for eight hours.
When the analogy went unanswered I considered
the Realist the victor and flicked the butt
out the window of my car at a garden

Though I'm not always such a crabapple.
Yesterday driving home I saw a turtle in its shell
in the middle of my lane. My first reaction was
to stop, but the rush hour traffic suggested otherwise.
When I stopped with a passenger last summer
she jumped out and saved it in time. A few months later
when I saw another one and didn't stop since
I was with a coworker and too embarrassed
I saw its smashed shell upon returning.
The law of averages told me what would happen to
yesterday's jay-walker if I didn't stop again, but I couldn't
bring myself to turn around and do it with all those
damn cars. Me of all people should've been able to relate
being the recluse that I've become hiding in this
shell made of bottles and bookshelves, but pride wound up
costing that turtle his life, too.
Or maybe that one made it.
It's not enough to lose sleep over
but it still irks me to know
that I'll never know.

At least there's one thing I'm sure of now:
Wednesday, April 30th, 2008.



Dear Jim,
I am writing again to remind you there are worse things than Death.
Sleeping has been fun again as of late. The sore throat and fever are finally gone so a full eight-plus night is once again possible. It's the subject matter of the dreams that have really made it a hoot, though. Two out of the last three nights I've had dreams similar to "Die Hard" movies, only I always have a partner and I'm not balding. Guns, terrorists, public places in need of rescue: these are the things that swirl in my head at night as I try to save the day, in my fantasies at least. Last night's sidekick was a guy from work we call Rambo since he has a veritable arsenal at home. We had the stealth mode hand signals down and everything, duct-taped the clips of our automatic weapons back-to-back like in the movies to make for faster reloading. But somehow I was always running out of bullets and scrounging for more magazines on the ground that usually turned out to be empty anyway. I'm not sure if this is supposed to symbolize some sort of self-perceived sexual inadequacy or if I'm really just paranoid about shootin' blanks in a fire-fight. Either way I was always alright in my dream, Rambo had my back and that's always a good thing.
Which really isn't too far from the truth. Eddie's been good to me, one of the many father-figures I've met in this silly union business who has replaced the absent sperm donor. Edward "Rambo" Staff III, doesn't get much manlier than that. He's given me everything from recipes for vennison, to tools he has extra of and knows I need, to tips on wooing women and sexual positions that only older men have had the time to discover. Not having raised his own child for whatever reason (I never really asked), it seems as though he's another who passes the torch to his apprentices to fill a void similar to mine. I'm one of the few "Kids" he'll agree to work with, him being such a meticulous craftsman of the pipe trade and all, so it's an honor to be deemed a valuable commodity to the company in his eyes.
Which is why I know he'll be disappointed to hear that they're shipping me out to another job this week supposedly. It's a long story that you've probably heard in bits and pieces over cocktails and soapboxes, Jim, so I won't reiterate all the details. Apparently, though, my employer became angry when he found out that I took five days off last week due to my illness. I had a serious throat infection that only allowed me to sleep two hours a night and prohibitted me from speaking. Do you think I wanted to lose a week's pay? Sure, I could've done what most guys do and went to work sick. I wouldn't have been worth a shit and would've gotten my coworkers sick, though, so I opted to take one for the team by staying home, rolling around in bed with sweaty fevers flipping pages of books between the sheets. It was no vacation, trust me. Well, my boss didn't see it the same way and decided a few days ago that he wanted to punish me by sending me to the housing job across town where the benefit package is a fraction of what it usually is for a commercial job. I worked the last phase of that project for the majority of last year and took the hit already; the vacation check I'll be getting May First which is usually a few grand is only going to be a lousy forty-eight dollars for Christ's sake, all because of the lesser rate being paid into my benefits fund. That's a hit I'm not willing to take again. Besides, I've already mastered the mindless art of plastic piping a la crawlspace. I'm learning new aspects of the piping industry on the courthouse renovation job I'm on now, which is the point of the apprenticeship program after all. I don't want to be one of these useless slugs who comes out of his time without really being able to call himself a mechanic. Those are the guys who sit on the bench waiting for that job that never comes. No, that won't be me, dammit. If this arrogant prick wants to play God now that he can afford to write a good paycheck on time again for the first time in a year then I will be forced to stick to my guns by taking a lay-off. There are other contractors out there, I work out of a hiring hall whose job it is to find work for me. In the meantime I'd collect unemployment and work on the side and wind up making double my normal income anyway without even working a full week. So, Jim, if you know anyone who may need some plumbing and/or heat work done in the coming weeks...
But enough about me for a minute, how the hell are ya? Oh, really? Well that sure is unfortunate if I do say so myself. I tried to tell ya, but you didn't wanna listen. Yeah, that's what she said. Good talk.
What is it with these band names, Jim? All of these ominous phrases stating some kind of urgency, some sort of debauchery, maybe a bit of John Wayne Syndrome in there. It's getting to be ridiculous. I think a band should name itself with one to three words. This music of today isn't changing the world, it's just dropping teenage panties. And any "musician" who says he picked up an instrument for any reason other than pussy is a fucking liar, right? We seasoned veterans do it for the love of the game at this point, of course, but those initial teenage years of fumbling through clumsy chords and feeling our fingers hurt from the strings were only inspired by the desire for otherwise unobtainable ass. It scares me to think we'll be too old for this someday, the second we resort to playing covers to get gigs we'll know and have to get out.
People like them deserve each other. That's all I have to say about that, please take the hint by not asking such a personal question again so shortly after the quake. You know I'm not one for being candid, but even this greenhouse pulls the shades once in awhile when absolutely necessary.
I hit the books pretty hard this morning, it felt good to do it by choice instead of necessity now that I'm no longer deathly ill. I let the rabbit out of her cage to romp around my room for awhile. I felt bad because I failed to set her free yesterday since I wasn't home for long. I don't get us, Jim. We can feel guilty for not giving a pet it's exercise/play time while reciting our sins of the last six years without as much as flinching. Somehow what we've done to people in the past isn't as big an issue, at least not in the forefront, as littering or not doing the dishes promptly or being late with a credit card bill. People are only people and deserve what they get since people are the ones who made us the way we are, right? Hurt people hurting people, justifying it all with the weird way God wired us. It's really gotta end, man. Maybe it finally has this time.
I'd love to stay and bore you some more, but I want to go clothes shopping. Sometimes the second-hand T-shirts just don't cut the mustard. And I need to get out into that fresh air so I can smoke a cigarette. Feast or famine, brother. You decide.

Your equally disgusted compatriot,

Currently reading:
"Alcoholics Anonymous" by, uhhhh, some dude who used to be a drunk I'm guessing (I found it at the Goodwill and couldn't resist).


Padre Santo, Padre Bueno.

My mom just stopped by with some soup
some meds, cough drops, and Jello
(like I don't have enough of the latter)
to combat this latest illness. As she picked up my rabbit
and held it close she told me my grandmother
fell in the bathroom again today, threw her nightgown
at her last night saying she wants to die.
Her eighty-eighth was four days ago, she told me
she was turning fourteen when I asked
and she may have believed herself.
I guess I can't blame her for her wishes, though.
Her husband died before my mother was even born:
fifty-four years of solitude, far more real than Gab's 100.
Maybe He'll be gracious and grant her wish already.
Call me morbid if you like, it's just how it is.
Or maybe not and the more she asks for final rest
the longer she'll stay on Earth. He's a funny one like that
and I wouldn't put it past Him. Just look at what he did
to our alleged Superman and "Magic" Johnson.
I don't believe in God
but I fear Him.

Fall back, Spring ahead.

Laying here with this one
something fever
watching the ceiling fan spin
its futile heart out
as the neighborhood weed-whackers
don't seem to stop
except to refuel, reload
it all culminates
into so jagged an edge:

A million coal shovels
when all ya need is a spade
but the antibiotics haven't kicked in yet.

What I really mean to say--
ask, rather--
Would you lose a finger for me?
And if so, which one?

I don't think I could
get her off--
beat her off me, rather--
if I tried with all my two-twenty
not that I'd ever want to.

If this isn't It
then it's something similar
maybe better.
Now I know what my mother meant
when she said she wished she could
suffer that pain on my behalf.

Maybe it's just the weather.
I'd like to think it's not.

But what will the neighbors say?

Do you think empires were built
pondering the answer to that question?
Did Alexander, Attila, and Napoleon
take that into consideration
before building what they did?
This has the potential to be
of the same caliber, don't sell it short.

And while I'm at it let's discuss
what one of those red-petaled
thorned stems that tend to smell
how mothers are remembered
would truly be if referred to as
by any other name.
Spades are spades; anyone who can't
accept that rule might as well cash in
their chips and get out of the game
because from here on out I play for keeps.
I've been bluffing these Aces and Eights
for four years now, Fate owes me some
pocket Queens or better.

You're the only one who's heard my voice
for more than three sentences in days
strep throat be damned
and it was worth every second of pain
to know that you slept better as a result
as I sit here sleepless downing pills
trying to practice my persuasion.

If the ring fits
wear it, dammit.


Number 85 slides into Third.

Hem's first kill, Hank's first beer
Dostoyevsky's first betrayal
Gabriel's first piece;
they'd all be lying
if they claimed to remember them
perfectly, or even as anything more
than a haze that started them all
on their respective journeys.
So, it's with humble reluctance
that I mention mine now
for fear of feeling fake.

Suffice it to say that I was fifteen
in the foothills of some New Hampshire range
visiting family when my cousin's friend, Meg
took a liking to me, or at least tolerated
my innocent exploration of the female form
for the first time. The frustrations of finding
the finger's true function only served to reinforce
prior failures as I never found many specifics
that fine morning in May after my family
had fallen asleep. I don't even remember if
we kissed or not, just that the movies we'd rented
were over and there seemed only one thing left to do
and not very well, at that. My hand so timid that her
skin warmed mine before I'd crossed that boundary.
My heart churning it's irregular beat at the pace of
ten thousand coca leaves. My mind wondering
if this was really it, the final frontier so many friends
had raved over, a scattering of coarse hair over an
indefinite wetness in the Holiest of Crevices.
I think what bothered me most about the ordeal
was how silently submissive and lovelessly limp
she was, merely accepting it as something
that was supposed to happen next in the script--
probably not the first time for her,
unfortunately not the last
for me.

Like a man knocked unconscious
I'm not sure how long I was under

just that I was.

Retracting my hand as the sun came up
in case someone stirred awake
and found us on the couch under the covers
I knew life would never be the same
even though I'd merely touched upon
its new meaning, literally.
And nine years later I hold strong
that I was right, though I doubt she remembers me
any more than I do her last name
but that's only appropriate
for the crystallization of the fairytale
in my mind's eye
that may or may not have happened
as I like to
or need to
remember it.

(D. I swear it was something British-sounding
starting with the letter D.)


On writ-

Yeah, but we need more whiskey.
What do you mean there's no C.C.?
Seagram's will do.
This is stronger than five dollars-worth.
They must know.
Be right back, I have to go say Hello.
If I'm not back in ten
write it for me.
Ten went by, and four did, too.
Masters? Me too, in Life.
I bought four so we can double-fist
for the main event. They're opening strong
so I'll piss during the follow-up that no one knows.
This doesn't matter, your bobbing and weaving
in the crowd with my rum-and-coke.
He rubs my shoulders during the chorus
and thanks me for the refill.
She doesn't matter because She does.
It's all come full circle as I light up
the rebel cigarette and think back
to how it was
how it could've been.
The kids don't know
they aren't alright
But I will be now.
He punches me in the ribs
as I take my hat off and rub
the sweat from my brow.
A leg hits me in the head
and I almost spill my cocktail, she saves
hers as she falls to the floor
and I help her up.
I go for a strategic piss during another one
no one cares about.
When I return it's the last, he grabs my arm
and we sing again. They walk off the stage
and we chant for an encore.
The next four mean more.
I go to the center and hurt
the kids trying to crowd surf.
Not totally intentionally, mind you.
I find a wallet on the floor that I'll return
to the proper authorities later.
This means more right now.
I'm OK and I'm sweating and my neck hurts
because I'm too old for this shit
but he has the same amp as me
and he's playing all the right songs
and she's disappeared from my sight
as much as she has from my heart.
I know it this time.
I've found it again
among the roots somewhere
in western New York.
They finish and I stomp out my second
secret cigarette and find my ride.
We bitch about our battlescars
and sing the band's praises.
We're young again, celebrating
second chances.
I say goodbye at some point
but think more of how much
I can't wait to say Hello
again to the one who's
managed to rupture the balloon
and save its captive.
The ride home is mostly silent
as I smoke cigarettes and think
of how lucky I may be
if all goes as planned.
(It wasn't what you think
but it doesn't matter now.
Let's finish growing up.)

-ing Chapter Five.

Currently reading:
"Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters 1960-1970" by Charles Bukowski.


Shave the beard, lose the Christ Complex.

Then there was that one part
of the Sacred Myth Worth Killing For
where He washed the sinner's
feet with His hair to prove His love
for her (She was a hooker
if that helps the anal-
ogy any.) though scholars swear
it was for all humanity
which sucks out the Passion
for me, at least.

Well, the way I see it is this:
if she really
appreciated the gesture
like I do
and the effect it had on her life
like Yours has on mine
then she should have rode up on Calvary
with a band of fellow strumpets
hacking through Romans
in order to take Him down from that cross.
But hey, that's one story I didn't write.

Don't worry, Honey.
No good deed goes unnoticed
around here, just like others can't seem
to forget the shamefully
less-than-sober ones
that this old whore's still payin' for.
I'd sooner sell my soul (again)
than watch You take that spit and whip
that spear and nails
'cause hey, it's obvious that the hardest part
to believe for most (the ones we kill for disagreeing)
isn't all those Revelations at the end
but where that tired Martyr rose from the dead
like it'd matter two-thousand years later.
I couldn't sleep at night knowing
I'd let my Savior go out like that.

I'm hangin' up the gloves;
This lover's done fighting
unless it's
for You.

Currently reading:
"Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


Compliments from a bullfrog.

To talk about time so flippantly
like it's something to possess;
I was born there, too, you know.
The one thing we have in common
is who we'd die for--
you: rightfully
and me: still, and
proving it every day.
(Proving it's harder, brother.)
But most things don't turn
out as planned.

Most of us start out wanting to be more
than we ever will be, -ologists especially:
zoologists, marine biologists, paleontologists.
Me, my first unrealistic career choice was
to become an archaeologist, maybe because
I'd seen the Indiana Jones movies too many times.
In a way I've fulfilled that elementary school dream
if you look at it in the broader sense
of making a go at digging up the past.
Next came the FBI Agent phase. Imagine me
in a suit and tie with badge and gun
and hangover-- not quite what J. Edgar had in mind.
But again, maybe I still wound up trying to
bring about some sort of justice, warped as
it may be at times.
So then there was the teacher thing, to-date
the ultimate failure of dropping out
though I still find myself teaching
myself, mostly
about myself.
And now, in the grand scheme, the pipe-fitter
making substances move from Point A to Point B
more efficiently than the me of yore
with the aid of convenient tubes and pumps
and, yes, gravity riding it all
in the end
having the last word
which is something a writer would kill for.

And even then, I'm still no bonafide plumber.
At the union hall tonight someone asked
if I was a boxer. I didn't understand at first
until he mentioned the tattoo on my left arm.
I said it was on "some guy's" tombstone, failing
to mention that it was on the grave of my favorite author.
A true fitter would've laughed it off and thrown a jab
to the arm while changing the subject, though at least
I knew better than to deny ever stepping in
for a round or two. Not all prize fighters wear gloves.
Not all rings have ropes around them, though
the spectators are always there. (Stalk much?)

The black half of my rabbit's face has black whiskers
and the tan half shoots out tan ones, thus proving
to my chagrin, that there is in fact a God
and His hand is infallible. There, I think that's
how he would've ended it.

Alas, I've had far too much gin
(if there is such a thing) tonight
for this to make sense
the way it did in my head.
I know this because I've played
the same song over and over
for the last twenty minutes.
how Hank would've ended it.
(Do you still remember the song, Friend?)
Make that a K.O.


It's all over but the screamin'.

I stayed home sick from work today.
An old spark on amiable terms heard this
and took the time to assure me that it was
in fact caused by germs
not karma, despite my personal conviction.
Laughing at the need for such consolation
I scrubbed the toilets in preparation for visitors
and wondered who will win this week's round.

Went to my mother's for some comfort food--
turkey legs and mashed potatoes--
one of my favorites since I was a kid
that she still makes for me from time to time
even though my stepfather hates it.
My mom explained to my grandmother
that I didn't want to kiss her hello
for fear of spreading germs. She responded
by shoving a piece of turkey down my throat
in typical grandma "food heals all" fashion.
The meal went well, I told my mom some
funny stories in between covered coughs
to pass the time as she cleaned up.
As she did the dishes in her big
yellow rubber gloves
she appeared to be Wonder Woman
or some other Superhero, which she still
is and always will be. After all, who else
would a little kid trust to remove splinters?
Who else would this punch-drunk
recalculator still confide in?
She packed some leftovers for me
asking if I was seeing anyone new
as I put my shoes on to leave.
When I shook my head tentatively
she responded to the transparent half-lie
with a jagged statement laden with latent advice:
"Good, you don't have time for women."
She wasn't done exhaling before I countered with
"Yeah, they cut into my drinking time
and get pissed when I ignore them in bed
for books." Pretending to be astounded
as I walked out the door she unsuccessfully hid
a proud laugh; she knew she didn't raise no fool.

Driving home in the still-present evening sun
I decided to call someone I may have
been able to comfort, but failed miserably.
I said something about hoping she was
enjoying the weather, she said it was a bit hard
considering she was at the wake.
And there you had it, the soft damp hum
of final radio silence.
Epic fail, in short.

Later on I was accused of being evasive
and informed that defense mechanisms
cause people to die younger.
"Good," I said, half joking.
"Why would you say that?"
"Because most of my other habits are self-
destructive. Why not be consistent?"
I smiled whatever a shit-eating grin must be
and wondered why people bother talking
to me anymore. After a day of dialogue
like today I might as well donate my
tongue to science, pre-mortem.

But maybe tomorrow when I go to work again
that old mason will be cutting his bricks at
the wet-saw again, whistling that sweet
40s Standard that only a man over sixty
can lull even the most angst-ridden beast
of a plumber with. And the only sound more
comforting than that will be her

Currently reading:
"The Waste Land and Other Poems" by T.S. Eliot.


Some clarification on my alleged Misery, partially for myself.

Shitstorms come in threes, when it pains it whores or something like that, yadda yadda yadda. I can't seem to shake the shadow of death lately, though it ain't me in the valley. Once again the nefarious Mr. Vahsen manages to skate along the rim of the volcano, but this time he can't help but take some time to put it in perspective for himself and those who may judge him for his deceivingly pessimistic outlook. I've been thinking about the strange and unfortunate coincidences lately, but the flip-side of the coin was revealed to me in a way unusual to those other than my over-analytical self. See, I was driving to stupid plumbing class, windows down and a cigarette dangling from my lips, when I thought I noticed a friend coming towards me in the opposite lane on his motorcycle. Whenever I see a big, doofy bastard in a bright green jacket on a crotch-rocket of the same color I automatically assume it's him, only this time I was right. He put his hand out to say hello as he passed and I felt embarrassingly special as I braked for the traffic light and joined my fellow rush hour motorists. I took a drag and felt foolishly proud. Yeah, that's right, I know people. Good people. People who wave. And somehow, silly as it sounds, it got me thinking that it's time to acknowledge that the glass is in fact half full, though some of you may have just fallen out of your seats at such an astonishing revelation from your favorite incorrectly labeled misanthrope to stalk.

Without getting too into detail I'll briefly describe the first two-thirds of the recent eye-opener. An important character from the last innocent chapter of my life (yes, I had some of those) was recently diagnosed with a serious illness. A kindred soul with a spirit too different to accommodate just lost a close relative to cancer. (Maybe I should stop smoking.) And the kicker came today at work when word got out that an apprentice from a class two years ahead of me was killed by a drunk driver last night. I heard his last name and wondered if there was any relation to a kid I went to elementary school with since the wake is being held in the town we grew up in. I asked around at the union hall during plumbing class this evening and my assumption was correct, it was my old friend's older brother. Thinking back to the only memory I could really muster up from such an early age I was instantly brought back to the green vinyl seat of a schoolbus sixteen years ago. My friend had a backpack full of X-Men "action figures" (they're not dolls, dammit) that he was pawning off on me for some questionable reason. He briefly explained each superhero's mutant power and shoved them into my bookbag. When I asked him why he was getting rid of them so hastily (OK, so I didn't use that word back then) his succinct reply was that they were his older brother's. I got the vibe that they had gotten into a fight, and though it was wrong of me to accept his vengeful gift, it is highly difficult for an eight-year-old to turn down an entire assortment of new toys. Flash-forward a decade-and-a-half, a few dozen other dolls of sorts, and here I am: a grown-ass man with a dead kid's old toys in his mother's shed somewhere. It's enough to make a guy think twice about his whole immortality complex.

That sort of thing makes me feel bad for spending so much time and energy bitching about the trivialities. Granted, I use this medium to vent on a rather frequent basis, but please don't think by any means that that makes me a miserable human being. A lot of people joke about my so-called Misery, myself included, but it's all in good fun. Most people who take the time to get to know me would probably admit that I am actually a pretty positive person and can even be fun sober, though sometimes at the expense of others. It's more or less an identity thing really; Mike, the Miserable One who gets hammered alone on weeknights and whines about how much certain aspects of his life blow in pretty little stanzas. Don't be fooled, folks. I'm a'ight. In fact, I have a lot to be thankful for: a loving mother who's made more sacrifices than any martyr I know of, a great job with benefits that will allow me to support a family someday, coworkers who have taken me under their wings and filled the void of my estranged sperm-donor of a father, friends whose company is chosen by the beating of their hearts, a rabbit who licks my face and chews my beard when I get home, and maybe a few women who have tried to teach this stubborn prick what love really is. So there you have it, an apology for my favorite passtime. Don't get used to it. I eat haters like you for breakfast.

Currently reading:
"Come On In!" by Charles Bukowski.


For S.M., No. 327

Somehow the music faded away
as our hands met by accident
one night on a checkered floor
and we went with it anyway, made
that reach work for awhile.
Yours had stretched.
Mine had stretched.

Without knowing the extent
we went ahead like the fools
that we still were. After a month
mine had stretched yours.

Versions of what came next vary
as the middle of a long joke always does
so I'll keep this part vague
for faux friendship's sake.
Let's agree that we grew up together
too fast, perhaps, and our hearts
couldn't take the pace.
Sometimes I wish I could explain
but the statute of limitations is up
and it's more important that
you're content now
than whether or not I sleep soundly
due to deathbed confessions.

I started writing
on myself (both fig. and lit.)
or having others do it for me.
There's one looking up at me now, my third
ever, capable of being drawn with
four strokes of the pen, and it's
lines are thin and faded in places.
My muscles have grown in my line of work.
Mine have stretched.

I didn't plan on getting the second-to-last
but who ever does, really?
It was an excuse to reconcile again
and be for you what I couldn't the first time around.
I didn't blame you for leaving early
when my turn came; it's something
I prefer to do alone anyway
and it made the beer taste better.

Someone gave me that book recently
without knowing that I'd already read it
let alone why. It was no secret that
it'd still always remind me of that
time I saw you for three hours
and three hundred dollars, no secret
that she'd never change that, so I tried
that truth thing again.
She took it well.
I did, too, after a few drunk weak-
nights in my room.
All this thought over a gift that
I helped put on your body once.
Someday you'll find a fit father for them
(send one my way) and
yours will stretch, too.

Our lives out before us--
sometimes red carpets
sometimes gauntlets--
but always ours to make
better or worse
always expanding
until that big Last Call.
Yours will stretch.
Mine will stretch.

Years have stretched.
Months have stretched.
Years will stretch
Months will stretch.
That's just how life goes I guess.
That's just how we'll grow (confess):
Apart, together.

Currently reading:
"D.B. Cooper: What Really Happened" by Max Gunther.


I don't call her Phoebe no more.

A month-and-a-half ago I bought a rabbit.
I'd had a few growing up, missed that simple
companionship, wanted to have something
to love and come home to that can't fuck
it up by talking. I knew I wanted a female
since they tend to make friendlier pets
(once anything with testicles reaches
puberty it becomes frustrated and ornery)
and thought I wanted a black one
since all of the others I had were
(creature of habit that I am).
I was proven wrong about the color preference
the minute I saw the store's one dwarf rabbit's
black and tan face, split down the middle;
I figured we already had one thing in common.
And I wasn't too far off
because for as sweet as she can be, she's
awfully mischievous at times.

Like when she developed the habit of hiding
under my bed. It was amusing at first
but the novelty faded once she started
refusing to come out, especially when I
was running late for something.
Then she kicked it up a notch
by chewing a hole in the felt lining underneath
my boxspring and would hop up inside of it.
All I'd see was the weight of her body
forcing her nails down through the thin, black
cloth. I'd try to coax her back down through
the hole, but it proved difficult so I tore some
more holes in the fabric. About three weeks went by
with this daily routine. Finally I got fed up
and ripped out the entire lining off the bottom of
the boxspring in a fit of desperate rage.
Later that night I felt terrible for taking her
hiding place away from her. How would I feel
if someone burned my bookshelf or broke
my keyboard?

I felt bad for awhile and took it out on her
by not letting her out the next night.
(It's funny how guilt works that way.)
I heard her rattling the door of her cage
with her teeth as I rattled my saber
in front of this screen and turned the music up
louder to drown out the noise.
Sorry, Rabbit, I guess
weren't each other's saviors

The day after I let her out
in the hopes that she had
the fifteen-second memory
of a goldfish, such a promising
quality to possess. She pulled the
tattered cloth from under the bed
and played with it for old time's sake.
It was a truce for the time being.

A week later I noticed that my mattress
was no longer level, being a pipefitter and all.
Upon further inspection
I found that the two legs under the foot
of the bed had somehow been bent, either
from diving into bed after a hard day's work
or excessively aggressive extra-curriculars.
For fear of crushing the rabbit by accident
while reading (or something more and less exciting)
in bed one night I removed the frame
and settled for having the mattress on the boxspring
on the floor. So now she just jumps right on top of it
chewing the sheets, scratching at the comforter
shitting wherever she pleases when my back is turned
as I sit here typing this stupid anecdote.

The moral, if there must be, is of course
that women always win.
Well, at least until they meet
Yours Truly.

It all means nothing to you, far less
than the typical passive-aggressive, ambiguous
banter that I ramble on with here.
But maybe twenty years from now
it's something I'll want to remember, and thank
the gods that I'm no goldfish
for once.


So much for the double-header, again the booze got the better.

Today I picked up a check
from my union hall to reimburse
a dental bill I had. I don't have an
account with their bank
so a fingerprint and photo ID were required
to cash it. I knew the drill, fascist as it is
but didn't anticipate the remark from the bank teller
since I always expect it but never receive it
when handing over my license to buy booze
or smokes.
"This was a long time ago," he said
in reference to the young appearance
of my typically terrible license picture.
"Yeah," I replied as I forced air through
my nostrils in a barely audible laugh.
"My nose was broken and I had two black eyes
when I got it renewed a few years ago
so I passed on the new photo."
He shook his head and tapped his keyboard
some more while I waited for that laugh
that never comes. (I guess that incident is
only funny to me; it really was hard to hear him
that night at the bar, though.)
It was as though he didn't believe it was me
at first, beard and facial scars and all
but finally saw the resemblance in the eyes, still
just as stern
yet piercingly hopeful.
(Maybe I was handsome then, just didn't notice.
Now it's a far cry, especially on the inside, despite
a not-so-general consensus of the less fortunate.)
He counted my bills aloud, I shoved them into
my pocket and got the hell out of there
before he thought better and tried to
accuse me of impersonation.
And rightfully, perhaps.

While I'm at it, why is it that
people watch football in groups
but baseball alone?
Probably because
as much as I hate it, it's
a sport similar
to this.