Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
It’s been a lot of hard work draggin my shadow through the dirt, through
The outskirts of humanity—couch-surfing to infinity,
and my mouth hurts from the profanity. There’s a Profane amount of vanity
infesting these roaches and assorted vermin
Talkin to mirrors candidly yet making no mention of the atrophy.
Slap happy catastrophy and I laugh in the face of apathy.
I pinch the cheeks of the cavalry and tickle the feet of the casualties—
If they got ‘em! Big top Jetsam and Flotsam.
The stock market’s as hostile as trading small pox blankets for your wampum.
Playin the fool or playin possum, play your hand or keep on walkin
The line. Either a pauper or a robber, deep pockets lined with genocide
Slash and burner with cash to earn in a Gotham City Nightmare
On Wall Street
with Freddy Madoff’s razor five finger discount – faulty wiring
leads to four alarm fires, and a crumbling empire
where the ghosts in the rubble whisper tales of another life's desires.
Out of sight and out of mind, dancing across the power lines
Electric boogaloo through the loop de loop deception and sour times
Eyes locked with a Cyclops dressed in Armani gear and high tops
And I’ll play him for the coward he is before I smack his smile off.
It’s a sorry state of affairs full of the starry eyed disaffected
While I stay passionate and savage, a master of my own enchantments
It’s a Great Depression Redux so Skip to the Loo, I’m starving.
Feeling duped in a soup line bustling with martians and carnys
So forgive me if I skip the after-work boozing and whoring, I got
Better ways to kill time than spawning another generation of orphans
I’d rather create a moment—a slice of perfection frozen
as jarring as an earthquake, as calming as the oceans.
I spend my money on crap and end up funding terrorists
masquerading as legal governments sanctioned by Bilderbirg cads
And everything printed in popular media is lies filtered and molded
To keep the population distracted and unmotivated to improve their
This is where we say NOT ME!
I won’t be drowned in the monopoly.
I won’t go down with the ship. I will learn to swim. Fuck it.
I’ll grow gills and flippers and become the baddest fish in the ocean.
A killer whale killer shark octopus catfish with wings.
I will evolve into an intrepid creature of light and energy
A monster of positivity bent on lifting my fellow lion hearts from the trenches.
They think they own us. But we are the uncharted waters.
We are the invisible threat of undertow, the deepest ocean currents,
The bloodstream of the earth. It is our movements that keep the moon in orbit.
It is our energy that spins this great globe, and it is our love that brought the sun
To that one perfect point in the universe to perpetuate our life.
As long as we stay in touch with this relationship, as long as we keep
Communication lines open, the balance will maintain.
I will take my gloves off if you will hold my hands and we can
Stand up together.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I’m on the treadmill.
I’m keeping a steady pace.
I’m regulating my breathing.
I am enhancing focus.
It feels good. It feels good to be moving,
Running toward my future,
Soaring into the clouds
Where the air is thin;
I enter a state of subdued consciousness
Everything gray and silent –
Distant steps. Distant breaths.
I’m on the treadmill.
I’m bounding forward triumphantly
Counting the calories as they stream off me
Kissing them goodbye and moving on
Rain and debt, steam and stress
Clouds of dust and regret
Kicked off into my hazy past.
I have a date with perfection.
That phantom who stands me up again
And again so that I eat alone, I sleep alone
And here I am running alone.
I’m on the treadmill.
I’m being pursued by something.
I’m running faster, swallowing short
Violent breaths into miniature lungs,
Rubber arms, doughy legs, Barreling down this
Imaginary line. A terrified sprint, A fevered gallop,
Fleeing the giant question mark, the cold shadow,
Nipping at my tripping heels and plodding thoughts.
Anchored by this foreign machine,
I scamper in place while my greatest fears
wait patiently, calmly for me to run out of breath.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
I don't know why I became so fixated on these particular boots. It's dumb, really. They're just boots. It's not like they were the cure for cancer, or a job at the White House, or even an amazing woman; they were just a nice pair of suede military boots. I should have just bought them. Sometimes an impulse buy is the better option because you never know when simple desire will become a fixation. There was an online sale -- one of those after Christmas deals -- and I was one mouse-click away from having them for 40% off. That's almost half price! And these boots were really, really fresh! They were somewhere between special ops military boots and rock star disco sexy. Think of Eddie Vedder grunge with diamond glitter, except not literally, just figuratively--Sexy Fucking Boots.
Later that night, my friend Tanya, who was a guest vocalist with my band, said that I should have gotten them. She said, "$90 is nothing. You're still talking about them, so you obviously want them. Just buy them." She was so nonchalant about it, tipping back her gin and tonic and shrugging, that I caught myself thinking, "She's right. $90 isn't that much. Maybe I could still get them if the sale hasn't ended." Her flippant endorsement really turned me around. When you want something, you buy it. Simple.
Earlier that day though, as my finger trembled feverishly over the mouse button debating the transaction, I had rationalilzed not to. My credit card bills are not at a comfortable level, and I already have more shoes than any civilized person could need. The stern image of my father, my father who had grown up with two pairs of shoes: black and brown, always manifests in my mind. He shakes his head and I grit my teeth. Every time I scan my magnificent menagerie of hosiery, searching for a pair that will appropriately complement my ensemble, I can hear him grumbling from his retirement cottage in Florida. So I decided not to buy them. I closed teh browser window and went on with my work day. Besides my bills and expenses, I had already gotten through six winters without boots, so why splurge unnecessarily? It was a triumph of practicality in the ever-encroaching face of societal-imposed decadence.
And so the online sale elapsed, and days later I still fretted over the escaped boots. I scoured the internet fruitlessly for a comparable sale. I found a pair of a similar style to the ones I had wanted for half of what I would have paid, and I almost bought them, but then I stumbled on a version of the original pair that was of an even better color scheme. My resolve cemented itself. would buy the boots. It was just a matter of finding a pair of that style in my size.
As I combed through the online retailers, all of whom seemed to be sold out, I waffled. Sure, I had gotten through six winters without boots, but that's not to say that I had not endured countless soggy-socked days at the office and otherwise. Most people can agree that few things can discolor a day so thoroughly as having to endure a pair of soggy socks. In fact, I believe that there is no reason that a modern working man, a single man in his 20s, should have to leap over puddles or inch along snow-glutted curbs until a clear path presents itself. I work hard. I pay my taxes. I send out holiday cards to my family and friends. It should be my right to stomp through any puddle insolent enough to collect itself in my path.
I gave up on the internet and began calling shoe stores all over the city. Lilting voices of pubescent salesgirls greeted me and time and again reported the unfortunate absence of Prouncium boots in my desired size and color. I pictured the girls shaking their heads, foreheads crinkled in disappointment, taut ponytails tittering their dismay. As I worked my way down the list of shoes stores on the boot company's website, I got into a rhythm dialing, reciting my short script, "Hi! Do you have the Prouncium boot in green suede, size 11, by the Prouncium Boot Company?" I got so used to rejection that when one of the electro-ghost voices reported in affirmative, I almost hung up on her prematurely. After confirming that I had heard her correctly and that she had indeed the exact style, color, and size that I wanted, I hung up the phone, breathless, and began to plan an early escape from work.
One of the reasons I became so fixated on these particular boots, aside from the acid-washed, brushed outsoles and the uniquely applied rubber patchons, was that I had seen in a recent music magazine expose a certain musician whom I admire sporting boots of a strikingly similar fashion. He was famous. He had six-pack abs. He was known throughout the music industry for his fantastically disruptive antics, and he eschewed cool in every possible way. Of course, if I were to acquire these boots, perhaps I would be seen in a similar light. Even more, perhaps those enviable aspects of his rockstar personality would become imbued within my own character.
I snuck out of work at four and was almost on the subway when I decided to walk to the store. Ten short blocks in this city was a fifteen-minute walk at most, and the weather was not as prohibitive as it had been in recent days. It had stopped snowing for the time being, and the sun cut through the gray shy with hopeful zeal. I strode uptown into the brisk wind, enjoying the orange and pink light reflected down form the ulofty glass of the surrounding skyscrapers. Every sludge-laden crosswalk I forged further cemented my resolve to purchase the boots. I stared down the puddles of slush with a smirk. Their reign would end soon.
The store itself was nothing special. Like most retail stores, Shoefoolery's facade was made entirely of plate glass windows lined with all manner of men's and women's hosiery. They were like puppies pressed up against the glass pleading at passerby, little orphans huddled together eagerly anticipating a new home. I made quickly for the door, pleased to find the shop more or less devoid of clientele.
There were three saleswomen, each of whom could potentially be the cute voice form the phone. I approached the most likely candidate, a short and shapely latina and mentioned that I had called about the Prouncium boot. She smiled, recognizing my request, and quickly disappeared behind the wall to retrieve my desired treasure from the fluorescent mausoleum where all the shoes sleep in quiet boxes.
I took off my coat, gloves, scarf and shoes, and took a seat on an ample loveseat. She returned, opening the box for me, and said, "They also come in leather." I smiled and said "Thanks," even though I had no interest whatsoever in the leather version. I pulled out the first boot. The suede felt soft and personal as I slipped it on my right foot. It fit perfect. I hurriedly put on the second boot and admired how the olive drab boots complemented my olive drab jeans. You would think olive drab is my favorite color and you might be right. All the shoes on the shelves around me crowded closer to admire as well, obviously envious of this perfect match of footwear and customer.
Standing up and pacing around the narrow lanes of carpet, I found them to be as comfortable as I imagined. The floor-to-ceiling mirrors revealed them to indeed channel my favorite musician's style. I was rocking back and forth on the balls of my feet, flexing and bending the soft suede when the salesgirl approached me from behind. "How do they feel?" She asked.
"Perfect," I replied. "Just one question, though. How waterproof is suede?" I'm no connoisseur of leather footwear usually.
She made a face, a slight wince, before replying, "Not really. They're about as waterproof as any leather, but we don't say that they're waterproof." I was dumbfounded. They were described as military boots. Are not military boots supposed to be waterproof? Are soldiers expected to stomp through swamps with trenchfoot? Am I expected to do the same?
"On a scale of one to ten, how waterproof would you say these are?"
The wince re-emerged, "Again, we don't say that they're waterproof. They're not as easily soaked as canvas, but they will let water through with prolonged exposure." She forced a smile and slid away to help an older woman size up some pet-booties for her rat-sized terrier.
I fell back into the plush depths of the couch and stared at the magnificent non-waterproof boots. My justification for purchasing them as rain and snow boots had been stomped into the dirt by the salesgirl's flimsy heels. They smiled up at me ashamedly. I rocked them from side to side on their ankles and sighed. I could have justified the expense for practical purposes, but to spend $150 on new shoes that I didn't even need just because I thought they were cool was not my intention.
A slightly flamboyant man, dressed in sharp fashionable attire, snapped at the sales girl for bringing him the wrong size sneaker and slumped onto the cushion next to me. Evidently the feelings of the shopgirl were less important to him than receiving his perfect new kicks in a timely manner. He shook his head at me and rolled his eyes as if seeking commiseration regarding the clerk's ineptitude. "In European sizes it would have been the larger size," he said.
"I don't know european sizes," I responded, looking around at the other boots and wondering which of them might be waterproof. I wasn't interested in pursuing further conversation with this spoiled yuppie. He would have to embrace his superiority on his own. I stood up and walked around, studying the other boots, hoping to stumble on a cheaper, cooler, more waterproof pair. One pair I picked up were cooler than the ones I was wearing, indeed were even a closer likeness to the pair I had seen in the magazine. Turning the boot over revealed a $400 price tag affixed to the sole and I quickly put it down. I couldn't afford to be that cool.
I paced around. I stopped in front of the mirror again. They really did match my jeans perfectly. I thought back to the online sale and cursed myself for not buying them then and saving $60. $60 was twelve home-made lunches, two movies, or simply a chunk of my credit card debt. I looked around the store at all the clusters of shoes flaunting their various buckles and zippers, their soft inner-linings, their molded soles and intricate woven labels. I thought back to the boots I had owned nearly seven years ago that had been guaranteed to be waterproof for half the price of these beautiful specimens. How could they demand such a fee for boots that weren't even waterproof? I thought about a spray I had at home that might increase their resilience against the elements. I returned to the couch and frowned down at the luxury footwear.
They had been revealed for what they really were. They weren't military boots. Even though they were purportedly sold at military supply stores, they were fashion boots. They were footwear for those who could afford to wear suede boots to gala events, who would match them with equally extravagant jeans and designer sunglasses appropriate for the dimmest lounges in the meatpacking district. Yet they still looked up at me hopefully. They whispered to me that $150 wasn't that much in the grand scheme of things. They were a day of work, and think of how happy they would make me. I argued back that they were also a week's worth of groceries. They clung to my heels and pouted that I wasn't inclined to fancy meals anyway.
I thought about dodging the puddles my walk up to the store from my office. I considered the fevered internet searches of the past week, and the silent pining I succumbed to at my desk. I took one final look at the boots, appreciating the fit and admiring the style before removing them and putting them back in their box. With a slight pang in my gut, I looked up and caught the salesgirl's eye and said, "I'll take them."
The purchase happened too quickly, too smoothly. The one salesgirl passed it off to a second as I put back on my old shoes and winter garb. The new salesgirl scanned the barcode and informed me the total including tax. I ignored the desolate tugging at the back of my throat. I ignored the notion to ask about their return policy. I ignored the sudden impulse to run out of the store and not look back. I handed over my bank card which she processed and handed back to me. I signed the credit card slip while she bagged the box, and handed me the receipt. As I picked it up I noticed printed by the total in bold letters, "STORE CREDIT ONLY." I swallowed hard and walked out of the store.
As I walked to the subway I considered what had just happened to me. Even if I came to my senses and realized that this was a frivolous purchase, that the money could have been put to myriad more beneficial uses like bills, food, or even charity, I would have no choice but to keep the boots. I imagined the show rack back at my apartment and considered which shoes I should get rid of so as to not seem quite so ridiculously prone to consumerism. I remembered how my roommates already taunted me for having too many possessions, and I chided myself for giving in to this unnecessary purchase. They weren't even practical boots; they wouldn't protect me from the welling puddles of black water that affronted me during thunderstorms. I might as well have bought ballet slippers.
On the subway I looked around at the footwear of the other passengers. It seemed like everyone in the city had practical boots on. I was surrounded by cute rubber skerry boots with floral patterns, insulated timberland boots, rainproof duck boots, all manner of boot made to fend off inclement weather and keep the wearer's feet safe, warm, and dry. The bag hung heavily, more like a cinderblock than shoebox. I couldn't look at it, its dead weight sinking me deeper in my own frustration.
Even now, as I sit at my desk in my room, blindly scanning email messages, I can't bring myself take the box out of the bag.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I don’t know much about this
This fevered chasing
Aside from the lump in my stomach
And my struggling lungs.
We come here to wrestle with our own hearts,
To throw ourselves on the floor,
To break our teeth and bruise our eyes;
We come here to die.
And when the lights turn off,
And the air ceases to rush,
Where will I be but locked inside
Another condemned moment?
Sunday, October 17, 2010
fades and beckons to us. It throbs in our eyes.
The restless ocean swallows itself again and again,
tiny ripples scratching the tired shoulders of the shoreline.
Smoke from distant explosions threads the storm clouds
Encroaching on the horizon. Charcoal fumes.
A chill wind throws itself recklessly about us.
A tiny nor'easter. A baby maelstrom. A sigh.
And your hand squeezing mine. Our feet
Dug into the cool sand, this blue desert song of ash.
My stomach tight with some brew of fear and hunger
Anchors me to this; A soft anxiety gnawing on the tail of Time.
Every dawn colder than the last.
Our faces aching and dim.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Walking into the book store, a beautiful blond girl whisked past me on her way out. She did not make eye contact, did not even glance at me. I wrote a love poem for her in my heart. I held on to it very tightly for a moment before letting it go. She would never know how perfect it was. It could never be more perfect than that.
The book store embraces me, a magical realm since my childhood. I love the smell of the paper and the colorful quilts of covers arranged on every possible surface, stacks of books, cities of words huddled silently. I run my fingers over them as I browse, savoring the different textures. I think of my favorite writers, living and dead, and wonder which books here might attract their attention. I whisper to the books as I browse, comforting them, assuring them that I will be back for them some day, one at a time.
In the greeting card section, I scan the birthday cards on the rack. What kind of card do you get your father for his 70th birthday? Which of these colorful folds of paper will communicate your feelings over so many miles to a man you hardly speak to anymore? The grumpy clown or the watercolor flower? The birthday cake or the cartoon bulldog in a party hat? I sigh. The same sigh as my father.
The only book my father ever read was The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. Though he said he liked it, he hasn’t cracked another book since. I don’t know if he just isn’t a reader or if that particular book just scared him so deeply in his soul that he decided no book would ever be worth that sort of risk again. He has since collected several books that he said he intended to read. He still says he intends to read them. I smile and nod. The books stay on the top shelf, dusty and quiet.
I decide that greeting cards are a sham. They are a heartless racket profiting from people’s gross inability to adequately communicate their feelings. They are a physical endorsement of giving up even trying. I would rather receive a torn scrap of paper with a little heart drawn on it in pencil than a greeting card bought at a store. I leave the store without buying a greeting card for my father. His 70th birthday is a week away and I will create something more significant, something genuine, a personal treasure that will erase all the fear from his heart.
My father’s heart is a delicate thing. I know for a fact that it is the most tender heart in the whole world. I know because only a heart so tender would dare push everyone in life away. It’s a defensive measure, and I understand it, and I forgive him. Everything hurts less if it is far away. I’m sure he would have buried the thing if he only believed he could dig a hole deep enough to protect it. But no hole could ever be deep enough to protect a heart this honest and true. I believe that this is why he divorced my mother. He had grown tired of digging.
70 years is a lot for a tender heart like his; a lot of joy, a lot of laughter, and all the sadness and loneliness that accumulate and hide beneath these things. It is a wretched day when you discover the sadness in your father’s heart. This holy muscle that you grew up revering as capable only of joy and wonder, of love for you, had been lying to you your whole life. And when you find these savage bruises, sighing heavily in some dark corner, it is so overwhelming because it’s actually a testament to the bruises that hide in everyone’s hearts. These are the bruises that even time doesn’t heal, the chink in the golden armor, the loose thread that will eventually unravel the whole façade, exposing all your hopes and dreams to the elements. If I could absorb his bruises into my own, I would.
I decide to build a monument to my father’s heart. For his birthday I will build a giant wooden heart out of Popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue, glass soda bottles and saltwater taffy. I will build it how it would have stood before all the bruises. I will build it weather-resistant and sturdy enough to bet your life on, and I will make it so beautiful that once seen it will be impossible to walk away from. It will be a heart incapable of loneliness. People will come from all over the world to marvel at its magnificence, to bask in its tenderness. They will smile at it lovingly and laugh at its jokes. They will tell it stories and kiss it goodnight. They will pray for its safety and comfort and never take it for granted. It will be the heart that my father deserved, that we all deserve.
When I was a kid I used to crawl under the floorboards of our house while the old man was watching TV. I would wriggle through the dirt and cobwebs until I was just under the armchair where he reclined, and I would listen for sounds of his heart. Mostly I would just hear the muffled drone of news anchors prattling about the horrors of the world, but sometimes he would mute the TV, and I knew he was watching sitcoms, preferring to read people’s faces than to listen to the recycled story lines. And while he sat there deciphering the hidden intentions buried beneath each actor’s expressions, I would listen for the sound of his heart. And when he sighed, I would sigh with him, so many years ago, exactly the same sigh.