'The Walking Dead' for a Thousand, Alex

It's the annual night
for fledgling ghouls and goblins--
All Hallows' Eve
whatever that means.
Timid young parents
walk gentrified streets
with their miniature witches and warlocks
heroes and objectified female royalty
reflecting in shop windows
while the sun sits safely down
and mocks their quest for candy.

Little do they know
that true evil lurks
two miles west
in a city whose demons aren't painted.
That sidewalk hosts candles
unsheltered by pumpkins.
Two budding lives lost
in a shooting
two nights ago
but it's not too late
to reflect on the themes:

We're only as good as the way
we treat strangers
and only as blessed
as the fates of our kids.


Gigolo Inertia

The phenomenon has many names
with varying connotations:

process of elimination;
trial by fire;
ridding it of one's system;
glorified hermitism;
imposed isolation
brought about by
the systematic alienation
of those left who care
perfected by dope-sick strippers;
selective reality.

The natives have no problems
with hat hair on the warpath.
You can teach anything
as long as you have the answers.

Are we there yet?


Misguided Attempts to Repair the Mothership

"They're banking on my death,"
she tells the airbag
encased within her steering wheel
after an abrupt stop at a traffic light.

That word, "Supreme", seems hypocritical.
The polls have been floundering:
Blues and Reds and Battleground States.
The country whose Law she presides over
has devolved into madness
in the wake of a social cocktail
soured by discontent.
Her pending grave
has been reduced to a bargaining chip.
The road signs on her street
also come in threes.
Justice itself seems a joke.

Her garage door rises
as surely as the warheads
allowing her Mercedes
to trace its oil stains
on the cement.

"Little do they know of our Deal,"
she says to an invisible Stranger
standing in the doorway
waiting for His due.

Counting as her check clears
while laughing at a populace
she wonders what the media sold
to dupe a once-great nation
to sleep through Armageddon.



Woke up
to a nightmare
the revelation
that we die
how I sleep:


Karmic Blunderbuss

It's the last thing I expect to see
when walking through the lobby
of my storage unit facility
which doubles as a makeshift art gallery.
My boots glue to the floor
in front of the massive portrait.
but I don't know which words
can respectfully finish the sentence.

The soccer-mom-sentry sitting behind a desk
cluttered with smutty romance novels
homework forged for children
and unfinished job applications
speaks on my behalf:
"...One of the homeless guys in town."
The way she puts it
grinds my teeth.
I prefer to refer to those gentlemen
as "permanent outdoorsmen".

"A lot of people ask about that photo,"
she continues
as my pupils absorb the aura
enhanced by a crafty lens.
His blue eyes glisten
a story all their own
from their perch above
his beard that's long and gray
but perfectly managed.

"I give him a few cigarettes
whenever I run into him,"
I tell her, the busy patches
on his tattered denim jacket
drawing my attention
south from his countenance.
I'm sure that some were earned in Vietnam.
"He always nods his head
when I drive by."

She scrawls some minutia
on a form before her
and informs me of the reason
for this unexpected meeting.
"The owner here
is an amateur photographer
and asked to take his picture."

I wonder if there was monetary compensation.
The way he's reduced to pronouns
brings forth my next query.
"What's his name?"
I feel guilty for not knowing already
since we cross paths so often.

"Patrick," she replies.
"Tell him he's famous
the next time you see him."

I will do no such thing.
I will claim no authority.

I walk up to my 5' x 7' garage door
on the second floor
of a building with heat, locks
and strong lighting
then ponder what Patrick would do
with $79 dollars-a-month.


Representative Sample

The Hunter's Supermoon didn't help.

Riding home
he still imagined comets
and other astronomical signs
despite the brightened sky
while witty dinner jabs
and moments of parking lot vulnerability
mistaken for the path
played over in the thickest skull
this side of the Prime Meridian.

If ice had struck his tires
he'd turn into the skid
but he'd never admit the merit
in conquering oneself first.

She was magical in person.
It plucked and played on strings.

He swore he was storming Normandy
when returning to the crime scene
in that scholarship town
an hour north through red-leaf peak.

The story of Waterloo will confirm:
We lead several lives
in the breathing time we're given
and waste just as many
mining for more dirt.


Punch Buggy Red

Part of me wants to toss off the wrenches
and patent inventions to solve problems
that don't exist:

The Tooth Fairy Glue Trap;
Quadriplegic Sex Swings;
A trampoline designed
specifically for dope-sick strippers;
An app that texts your exes
as you take that first sip
of your fifth adult beverage.

Oh God, I could change the world
all right
but I'd rather be lucky
than good.


Big of Us

That plumbing we threw in
on a Sunday:
I'll have to rip it out
and replace it
when family's gone.
There in my old man's basement
we used what fittings we had
to make it work
like we do for a living.

Now I see that piping
whenever I do laundry
and wonder which deep, dark
of mine
you'll be telling first--

But not really
'cause you'd never
like I thought I'd never
lose your respect.


Homely Happy Hour

We're texting in Spanish
like code talkers
since our naturalized tongue
would feel too real
for the topic at hand.
She tells me I'm like her--
"hard-headed", in English.

I scoff at my mother's accusation
turn up the Tom Petty
and the sizzling chorizo
seeing no one all night
but the drowning aloe
she gave me
on the sill.


The Magnificent Six

My favorite local outdoorsman
bends outside a gas station
cramming two bagged tallboys into a jogging satchel
that doesn't attempt to match his raincoat
reminiscent of a film noir detective.
I should give him some useful detritus
from my vomiting closets
but right now there's not even time
to pass a smoke through the passenger-side window
before the light turns green.
A mental note is made
to have him up one evening
for a cocktail and a shower
and a lifetime's worth of stories
crammed into 20 minutes.

An elderly couple readies to cross Main Street in the rain
as I kick mud from the treads of my boots against the curb.
The groom grabs his bride's quivering umbrella arm
urging her to wait for a rapidly passing car
in this world that sped up too damn much
over the course of their dedicated decades.
We never stop trying to fix and save
our lovers, though it's luck of the draw
and a wink from above
that determines most of the hand.

There's a dead katydid guarding
the front door of my building.
I'm not sure why it'd care so much.
Shane Killoran has a rubberbound stack of
mail on the steps--some first-class, bills
a package the size of a lost lover's diary--
though I've reason to believe
he moved out weeks ago.
My mailbox, like my Saturday, is a void
that can't be filled with hope nor redemption.

The sour aroma of my neighbors' dirt weed
hits my nostrils at the landing
well before I ascend to the third floor we share.
Oh Christ, it's getting worse.
Is it them or me?
What's the fucking difference?

Ramblings of a writer
must seem mundane to most.
Do you live your life or see it?
Which would you prefer?

Currently reading:
"Salamander #42".