Everybody’s Tavern (reprise) 

The acid laced judges threw up their 6 and 7s, as Valium-laden dancers left trails on the floor, scores hitting a glass ceiling, remnants of the chaos their bodies left on the center of the universe long after the last leg pirouette. 

“I loved it”, one judge opined, “but they were just not emanating the life we were looking for…” 

Panning out, the drunks and romantic lovers stared intently at the muddled and illegible network logo at the bottom corner of the TV screen. A television that, at its peak – the long ago baptismal first broadcast – was the undisputed pride of the inebriated community, but has since been buried by the canyon-carving march of time, technological progress, and dust – yes, volumes and volumes of dust – which, in conjunction with gravity, serves only to further weigh on the low-definition relic’s usefulness. It’s role diminished with a purpose now only to act as the moderator for semi-daily arguments of politically incorrect patrons debating the airwave programming selection the way the dancer’s judges do their place in the competition, in judging history and in the world of importance and relevance.

“Pass me another..”, it was heard, as an empty glass of lost time clanged the wooden bar top that has seen one president murdered, another nearly, and another at the height of pleasure, on her dress a famous Clinton pearl. It’s pores, time capsules of smoke and broken dreams, tears the catalyst that locked in their permanence, if only cries from a hapless mouth missing it’s mark. Local outsiders pass through, their worn and desperate eyes addicted to strangers, waiting for the inevitable word that they aren’t welcome – a reception not unlike the scores of those through the airwaves, reality but this time for real. Regulars stared blindly through the thicket of their ever-deepening, seething hate at the joker seated across the range from them, lining up their sights on the trespassers taking up their space. 

The hired magician worked the corner like it was Carnegie in the flesh, to empty seats, deaf ears and cares on not one face. 
“This is my life,” he silently lamented, “so why don’t they give me my respect?” 

As expected and on schedule, if not excruciatingly late, the rabbit appeared and the woman sawed in half clapped for the lonelies.   The bartender, required to show their love, gave out the drinks and more, with bloody noses and itching shells, and bugs – my god, this place was infested with skin insect cronies.  To each their own, and why should it be any other way?  But it never is, not in here, the tavern where you’ll forever stay. 

By now, as the clock perfects the practice of it’s religious reincarnation, the moon above crawls to the finish line, the laughs are belly deep, the conversations as shallow as the mushroom pond landscape, and the vibe as eclectic as the world’s musical playlist. Weathered wing-men and out of work rodeo clowns save the endangered, inserting their borrowed souls to allow for the escape of those who’s connection just missed.   

All the while, hidden in a back room just beyond the searing eyes of those on the outside, the gambler plays his last hand, not knowing it is destined to be a fateful losing one. The grins begin to take shape, the ‘I-told-you-so’s’ muttered under collective breaths of unrepentant stubbornness, and the chips begin to fall how they always do – hard and at their own discretion. For the gambler – just like for the dancers, the judges, the drunks, the romantics, the magicians, the regulars, the strangers, the wing-men, the rodeo clowns, the card sharks, the desperate, the lonely and all of the other nobody’s still looking back at us in the mirror – the jukebox music stopped long, long ago, and the landing was always going to hurt. As the gambler stood up and threw his 52 chances against the wall where on this night lived the writing, he came to the only sense he had left within the shell of his former self, recalled a distant memory of a smile, and proclaimed, “You and I – it just wasn’t in the cards…”

In The Desert

In the desert

I saw a creature, naked, bestial, 

Who, squatting upon the ground, 

Held his heart in his hands,

And ate of it.

I said, “Is it good, friend?”

“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered; 

“But I like it”

“Because it is bitter,”

“And because it is my heart.”                      

~ Stephen Crane

The Time is Mine

There was a time when my time was your time. When any time I had was devoted to few, no time to spare because my spare time was saved for you. I valued my time, just now more than before, and it is for this reason that I spend little time thinking about our time, your time, because this time I have no time to spare you anymore. If you need some time, I’ll still offer mine, but just not my time that’s prime – that time, I find, is my time, and only my time, to sit blind to what everyday still binds. That particular time is buried deep in the pines of my mind, in clean lines counting nine, my natural resource to be mined each time I meet the bottom of the stein. So no more of the whine – you can still have a portion of my less valuable time – but this time it’s gonna cost you a dime.  And any time I worry if you’re ok without my free time, if your cryin’, if malignant or benign, if better here or behind, history always assures me and whispers, “she’s doing just fine.”

A Day Trip to Boulder Field

We wield a lethal pen and a vicious tongue that over the years I have found even time cannot tame. Rather, time has acted as the whetstone on which these traits have been honed and focused to a pinpoint laser edge that causes much devastation when left unchecked. Perhaps the further erosion of these sharp and jagged slabs of granite from the falling tears they have caused will one day yield a smoother, more humane river rock that will cease to tear at the feet of those who remain to traverse across the fields upon fields brimming with the leftover boulders we have left in our collective wake. Boulders that once was the vicious ammunition that cut effortlessly through the defenseless flesh of our enemies – an unceremonious tribute to the words that once meant something to us; a tribute to the unrelenting grip that words will continue to have on our delicate souls. It is not enough to be cognizant of the fear we instill in those nearest – those that are most affected by the reckless slinging of mud, pregnant with shrapnel, in all directions. Rather, we should first be required to dance in that mud. To roll around in the pits that we so very often leave uncovered for friend and foe to fall knee deep in. A required ritual gateway of adulthood – to play in the harnessed arsenal of all of our anger, our sadness, our failures and losses where these words are born. To feel what could have been had the drivel dripped out, had they hit their marks – to bathe in the desperate and destructive words we might have used before we realized how much better it feels to leave them unsaid, to lay down our guns and close our mouth. To maintain the bridge between self and friends, self and family, self and the world full of strangers. Words have always had the power to make or break our relationships – you can’t put them back where they came from once they have been unleashed on the world like the weapons we too often make them out to be. Use them as the currency of the frugal.

Everybody’s Tavern

The acid laced judges threw up their 6 and 7s, as the Valium laden dancers left trails on the floor, scores hitting a glass ceiling, remnants of the chaos their bodies left on the center of the universe long after the last legs moved. “I loved it”, the judges thought, “but they were just not emanating the life we were looking for.” Panning out, the drunks and romantic lovers stared intently at the cookie cutter logo in the bottom corner of the cell, debating the station the way the judges did their place in history and the world alike. “Pass me another..”, it was heard, as an empty glass of lost time clanged the wooden bar top that has seen one president murdered, another nearly, and another at the height of pleasure, on her dress a famous Clinton pearl. It’s pores, time capsules of smoke and broken dreams, tears the catalyst that locked in their permanence, if only cries from a hapless mouth missing it’s mark. Local outsiders pass through with eyes addicted to strangers, waiting for inevitable word that they aren’t welcome, a reception not unlike the scores of those through the airwaves, reality but this time for real. Regulars stared blindly through their ever deepening hate at the joker seated across the range from them, lining up their sights at the trespassers taking space. The hired magician worked the corner like it was Carnegie in the flesh, to empty seats and deaf ears and cares on not one face. This is my life, he thought, why don’t they give me respect, as the rabbit appeared and the woman sawed in half clapped for the lonelies. The bartender, required to show their love, gave out the drinks and more, with bloody noses and itching shells, and bugs; my god, this place was infested with skin insect cronies. To each their own, and why should it be any other way? But it never is, not in here, the tavern where you forever stay. By now, as the moon crawls, the laughs are belly deep, the conversation as shallow as the mushroom pond landscape, and the vibe as eclectic as the worlds playlist. Rodeo clowns save the endangered, inserting their souls to allow the escape of those who’s connection just missed. Hidden in a back room, beyond the searing eyes of those on the outside, the gambler plays his hand, not knowing it is to be a losing one. The grins take shape, the I-told-you-so’s muttered under breath, and the chips begin to fall how they will, soft as this was all intended for fun. But just like for the dancers, the drunks and the romantics, the magicians and the strangers, the regulars and the rodeo clowns, the card sharks and the nobody’s, the jukebox music stopped long ago, the soft landing going to hurt. And as the gambler stood up and threw his 52 chances to the wall where on this night lived the writing, he came to the only senses he had left up hidden up his sleeves, recalled a distant memory of a smile, and proclaimed – you and I, it just wasn’t in the cards.

She’s Worth The Weight

Everyday Reminders

She always reminded me of Neil Young.  Not in the way she wore her long silken curls, or the way she always anonymously waft of a rustic trail that she alone had forged and seldom welcomed others to walk.  Nor was it the muted mud stones that adorned her fair skin.  But when I looked at her, or even in her directions, it was a worn down, loved and nurtured six string that would breathe life in the motion she never idled in.  Directions plural, because to me, she was everywhere all at once.  She infiltrated everything.  My life, my sight, my thoughts and my dreams.  She was in every room I cautiously walked into, stopping to check for weak points in the structure for fear of the dead coming to collect on my debts.  She was in the art I soaked in, the music I was lost in, the work I burrowed into, the food I picked through, the bed I closed my eyes and drifted in.  She was everywhere, and I would have had it no other way.  I could not get enough of her, even on the darkest of stormy days, when our words flew past each other with a destination neither knew of.  When the sharpest and highest of intentions fell deftly short of each other, the meaning lost before ever having a chance to be found.  I would think when I found myself in the wrong, which was quite often, how I wish I had memorized how to let it go, to play the wrong – to make it right.  Words I permanently adorned to my darkest of bodily landmarks. Let it go.  My mind would furiously flip through the scattered pages of lessons I had hastily accumulated and took notes on – becoming a man, on growing up to be who my genetics and the history of mankind dictated me to be.  Let it go.  Where was that page?  All I could find was an amateurish hand sketched two-dimensional home, pigtailed smoke billowing out of the chimney, layered hills upon hills of a backyard and a long inviting path that led the eyes to the front door, perhaps for a chance meeting with Mr. Rockwell.  What the hell was I thinking, drawing such childish doodles on the day I was to be instilled with such important and life-altering lessons?  So many times, therefore, I was left to my own devices to wing it, to apply my rookie status – my diamond in the rough mindset – to the complex adult problems that would confront me on a relentless basis.  And, Christ, what a unequivocal disaster that would always prove to be.  I take with me the feeling that the progression of my life has always been paved with unending and unwarranted forgiveness from others. 

She always reminded me of Neil Young.  Her Puritan waves that rolled with the masses, crashed on the shores that nearly everyone had dug toes into at one point or another in their lives.  So unique, so different, but my god if everyone couldn’t relate to her.  She was the anti-siren whose breathing pushed us from jagged rocks, clarified the complexities of our problems – a voice that brought comfort and peace in a world of chaos and danger.  It was her own drum that made her song, her own drum that she unselfishly let us all dance to, but never could touch. It was her drum we always wanted to hear beat again.  What did I want?  I wanted that and more – I wanted to see her dance again, because I was still in love with her, even as the blood moon relegated itself to our memory.  The pillows under her legs only served to cushion the fact that she would never be yours, that she was an esteem rental, that you would never buy the love she possessed.  If you were lucky, though, she may strip down her feelings and play an acoustic set for you, only for you, and for one night only.  The rattle of the spoon against the glass of an empty bowl was the toll bells that rang poignantly when the music was coming to an anticlimactic end – and heaven help you if you didn’t take the time to record it to memory.
She always reminded me of Neil Young, so perfect, like “Harvest”.  When you would hear it, you just knew that it was the pinnacle of serene, the peak of the mountain she spent a lifetime building.  She was natures magnum opus, and her music was mine for a little while, no one else’s.  Perhaps I was greedy to think that it was how it was meant to stay, to evolve deeper into a storybook ending, where each day bought itself further acclaim in the eyes of her audience – me, and then everyone else.  She was Heart of Gold, and she was loved.   She was the Harvest Moon pseudo-sequel, yet remained The Needle and the Damage Done.  She was beautiful, she was perfectly imperfect, and she was my Hurricane.  And One of These Days, I’m gonna sit down and write a long letter, to all of the good friends I’ve known.   Then again, maybe I just did…

Falling Forward

I want to smell the fresh cut grass,
Walk barefoot throughout, sprouts between my toes.
I want May to rise in my blood,
And Spring to bloom in my body.
I want to be reborn, just like the world around me.
I want to feel the sun on my skin,
The warm showers drip down my face, washing away a season of trial,
Of pain and struggle.
I want to be reborn, just like the trees, now so bare.
Just like the ground that’s held all it’s secrets close to the chest.
I want to open the windows and welcome the southern breeze,
Welcome it’s life and careless nature, it’s perfume of my childhood.
Let it breathe into my lungs, take up residence throughout my senses.
I want the landscape to tilt gently towards the sun, reaching in desperation for relief,
And let me fall off the edge, reborn in finally letting go of Winter and it’s cold embrace.

Unsolicited Growth

Sometimes when you have the courage to ask the difficult questions in your life, you won’t always like the answers you get. I guess accepting those answers, though, whether good, bad, or indifferent, is where our personal growth occurs. It is within that growth that we outgrow where we happen to reside at that point of our lives. When staying in those treasured but fleeting moments no longer is an acceptable alternative to living a fulfilling, meaningful and genuinely happy life. Because of that personal growth, we are forced to move on, to find our place – our meaning. Maybe not so much to bigger or better things and places, but different ones just the same. Places where, and people with whom, our new selves can exist comfortably – new digs that better fit the contours of our experiences and decisions. Where we can finally stop running, to take a moment to stretch our legs out, to breathe easy, and to show deference to our past by only looking to our future. To places where we can reflect in theory only, and truly appreciate the circumstances and people that led to our expanded horizons and world. Love.

Lessons In The Course of Life

I was walking into class tonight, and it just happened that my long walk coincided with a snow squall moving through the area in which the wind picked up and the snow fell pretty heavy. Walking through it, I happened to notice through the snow, and hundreds of feet up in the sky, a lone goose, struggling in the snow and wind, without the benefit of the other geese – who were nearly a football field’s distance away – providing any chance of protection or drafting. I mean, this guy was literally being tossed around up there in the wind like a rag doll, but just kept moving forward the best he could manage – and nearly in the complete opposite direction of the crowd of geese flying in a stable formation. At first, I thought to myself, “Poor Bastard is no where near where he is supposed to be, in the safety and efficient comfort of his crowd, but rather is struggling and heading in the wrong direction..” But as I continued to watch this all play out during my walk, a poignant lesson – admiration, almost – occurred at that moment. The goose, rather than quit trying to face the wall of wind and change course to join his group, just continued his struggle in his own set direction, and slowly but surely, it was the crowd of geese, flying in formation and no where near, that began to change their heading, incrementally shifting course until they too were flying into the wind. Due to their sheer numbers, they caught up with the lone goose pretty quickly, and off they flew, following the one who seemed initially to be flying into the abyss with nothing but his skewed convictions and experiences. The goose who, as it turned out, was exactly where he was supposed to be the whole time. I lost sight of them eventually, but it got me thinking of the inherent symbolism as I finally reached the sliding doors, looked back after entering at the tiny motors laboring to hold the desolate world at bay, and shaking the brutal cold from my bones thought – damn, maybe we all need to look up to the sky a little more often for inspiration.  It was a better lesson than anything I would end up learning in the next three hours at school that evening.