Feeding The Habit

"I will go in this Way, Oh but I will find my own way out." -Dave Matthews

Monday, October 25, 2004

Non-Automated Biography

A taxi drive

My Grandmother was a large woman, though somewhat frail she had always seemed to me. Even now, wrinkled and bent over, I can still feel her tower over me. But really, I have her by few good inches. I remember mostly, when I let my thoughts drift back, her arms. Not so much their largeness, as when they were at her sides they were rather thin—skin sitting over bones—but more so the bottoms running elbow to chest, how they would wave back and forth more than the hand she was using to say goodbye.

But it wasn't even the gentle rocking back and forth of it that sits most in my mind. It was the way they would clutch me, desperate, just before goodbye became final.

She would hold on like she would never see me again, the arms smothering. I would be choked up and gasping like hell to try and suck what air I could into the still half closed nostril that I had managed to wiggle free. And I remember the tears streaming down. They eroded her face, washed trenches in makeup that wasn't supposed to carry such a burden. And then her arms would crush in more, covering my eyes, and everything goes to black.

That's as much as I can remember of that. Oh, and the kisses and the tears and the sobs and the "I'll miss you so much." And while she was doing all of that, I could never understand why. "I'll see you again, Grandma," I would look at her and say. But it was never enough it seemed. Just words lifeless in the air.

It took a long time for me to understand, but one day, on one goodbye, I did. It was a time when I had wrinkled up into my heart and tried hard to stretch out my love. It came easier than I thought it would. It was rather effortless really and I could feel my whole body ache. Suddenly, I became aware of the things that had been in the past elusive, I could feel a slipping of what I had so quicly come to know as a daily joy. The tears, the sobs, the kisses, they were all there and came at me like fire. "I will miss you" was all my mind seemed to understand, all it seemed to cry out with. Each minute moved by so quick.

The only problem was I didn't understand the need for suffocation then. I hadn't been learned that yet.

But then I knew it as soon as I drove away and found myself staring out the back window. I imagine if my Grandmother had been much of a philosopher and was around to say it, she would have told me there are few times in life when we have a chance to learn this love. It will come hard and quick. The trees will blow softly for you though, she would say, and that great ball of the sky will beam down. Love's lesson will fall like a hammer, a sledge in the hands of an old spike driver. He'll later rest his arms and look back at the miles of track he has layed.

Looking back though, my arms only felt large and empty resting on the back dash of that taxi. It's as if they were waving alone, slowly back and forth in the wind, wanting something to squeeze, and needing something more than a wave goodbye—

I turned around and muttered something to the cabbie about alergies and wiped my eyes dry. They would be wet enough soon again, I knew, too. And besides, it wouldn't be too long before I learned also; I could still feel you in my mind.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Sunday Thoughts

The wind blows, and sometimes
we should stop to listen. See
the trees, how they lean in
with their leaves rustling?
It sinks in slowly at first, but
this world is talking,
telling you things in a whisper.

Friday, October 15, 2004

His name was Bill

          He stood facing the last sliver of a setting sun beside a dirt road. He held the name tag clenched in his hand. Looking down he lingered over the words, mouthing them softly, “Bill Frances. Maintenance, Staff.” He let his arm drift back down then held it back, poised, like a pitcher. Bill took two shuffled steps and gave it a hardy side-armed throw. He waited and watched, determined, until it cleared far over the other side of the dirt road. The corn fields seemed to be waving at him softly in the breeze.
          They have no idea, Bill thought. It’s not like I come a dime a dozen. He walked back over to his pickup and slammed the door. The pedal sank far down and brought some satisfaction as rocks flew and pelted on the no trespassing sign. The truck pulled a nice 180 and headed back towards the main road; wind rushing in through the windows. Bill liked the way it obscured the steady click of the tires and the engine’s hum bearing down over the Metal on the radio. He fumbled with his pocket knife, fliping it open, and then back closed to pass the minutes of the drive home.
          Pulling into the suburbs, he turned the radio down. Those filthy pigs. They think they can drive all over without any care to who might be around, who might be trying to sleep. I’d show them a thing or two, Bill thought as he pulled into his driveway. Bill pushed the door shut on his blue pickup and wiped the dust off his jeans. The screeching hinges had a welcome sound that tried somewhat to soothe him. The telephone was already ringing as he opened the door. He walked slowly towards it as the ringing stopped. He picked up the receiver anyway.
          “Yah?” he said as he fumbled into the cabinet for a glass.
          “You weren’t at Bubba’s tonight man, what’s going on!” the voice at the other end said.
          “Just not in the mood. I’ll see you there for drinks next Friday night maybe.” The voice went on for a while about what a great game Bill had missed and how the Dolphins looked like they might make a comeback this year. Bill thought about the neon signs and how they always looked so bright against the dark sky all the way down Jefferson Street. A strip club under the guise of a sports bar was no place for a guy like him to hang out at anyway. The voice was hollering something about his birthday next week and Bill came back to the conversation. “Uhh, I don’t know,” Bill said, “I’m supposed to have dinner with the kids.” He pried the cork out of a gallon jar of wine and poured the first glass.
          “No way, just move it to the next day. Your birthday is for you!” the voice responded. Yah, maybe I will, maybe I’ll do that, Bill thought as he set the phone absently on the counter. He swirled the tumbler of wine under his nose then cleaned the glass without breaking for air. He poured another and set it on the table remembering to carry the child support check out to the mailbox. He raised the flag and slid the check in over the rest of the mail that was in there. He ignored Sally waving at him from the window next door and went back inside. When he thought about it, life was a lot like the gallon bottle of wine. He took a full gulp. It’s only worth it when someone is there to enjoy it, when someone is there to savor every sip. And sooner or later, it’s bound to be empty. Bill set the roast he thawed that morning in the crock pot. We’ll put this on slow.
          The cutting board had deep scars as Bill set it on the counter. He always liked the faded off-coloured pine and all the childhood memories it held. It’s important to have an heirloom. Something of worth to pass on to those you leave behind. Bill was always bragging about his worth, how important he was. “It’s not like I come a dime a dozen,” he’d always say after a good story about how he fixed the mess someone else had made. And rest assured there were plenty of those. Every stripper in Bubba’s knew to steer clear of Bill once he’d had a few. It always started with “you’ll never believe what this idiot…” and by the time he was done he was telling the girl how to get out of her pitiful line of work.
          He once met Carla and her not knowing any better told him how she was stripping to make a good life for her two kids. You think you’re doing anything good for your kids? disrespecting them like this! Bill had yelled after his lap dance was over. He started escorting her towards the front door forcefully, determined to make her leave and start a new life. She was yelling about her clothes. Oh, so now you’re ashamed are you? Bill said. And moments later he was knocked out cold by the big guy watching the door.
          Bill set the Butcher’s knife down beside the cutting board and went to take a shower. He stayed for a long time under the hot stream of water, leaning against the wall, until it turned a bitter cold. When he finally got out, he climbed naked and wet into the bed. Most of the night was spent sleepless in a drunken daze.
          It was the lawnmower that woke him late that Saturday afternoon. He stumbled up and into the kitchen to put the coffee on. It had been so long since he remembered to savor its rich fragrance, even though he still bought only the best coffee from Venezuela. “The damn roast oughta be ready by now,” Bill said out loud. He moved over to the crock pot, turned it off, and reached in to pull it out. He ignored the scalding juices as they ran quick between his fingers and he thumped it loudly onto the cutting board. Sally would be over for lunch soon.
          He picked up the knife and let it slide through the first slice. Normally, he liked to cut it delicately and thin. Today it got cut thick. He thought of the turkey he had carved on so many holidays. The smiling faces and “hurry daddy” seemed so far from him now. He felt his heart tighten in his chest with each resounding slice. He watched the browned flesh as it pulled away from the hump, lifeless. On slice six, the knife stopped dull as it struck a bone. He looked up out the window and saw sally walking, dressed in a mini skirt and a tight shirt from her front door. Her heals clacked loud on the sidewalk.
          A huge gasp welled up in him and he walked back as if struck until his butt hit the table. He sunk slowly to the floor. Floods of the past two years washed over him like a memory. It brought out a huge sob and his eyes began to overflow. He saw the knife still grasped in his hand. He could almost picture it slicing through his skin. Sally knocked on the front door and the knife fell, clattering on the kitchen tiles. He put a hand on the table to try and pull himself up. It fumbled and knocked over the half filled tumbler he had left there the night before. He let his hand fall back down beside him and he watched as the deep red wine poured down. It formed a puddle around his outstretched body.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

What I would have thought on Sunday

I listened to the wakes of your
lengthwise breath. I felt their sighs singe
only my hopeful ear. The truth of the
vacant heart is in its fullness
every time I wander, though vagrant, through the
yesterdays of tomorrow. For all I’ve thought, I know
only of the heaven’s lifting through the
understated and ever greater meaning of you.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Non-Automated Biography


        The hot embers of the sting spread from my cheek slowly. Its redness soon covered the whole face. The echo from the slap was still resounding like sunlight. It was the first time we had met. He was some chubby little black boy and he thought he could kick my ass. Moments became hours.
        "You wanna fight me now?" he said. As he spoke again it was some cross between a snake and a gurgled whisper. But there wasn't one ache in my body that wanted it. What I needed was to sit, to curl up even into the dirt, and cry.
        The background noises grew louder. And not the ones of the voices and murmurs around me, but the quiet ones you don't usually hear. Noise like the hum of your computer, or a fan, or sometimes the sound of water lightly dripping. That day it was all the rustling of soft leaves. They were deafening like an angry child's scream.
        The little chubby boy was still waiting, anxious for an answer. He was looming over me for being about the same height. I twisted my face into something I hoped said determined and slowly shook my head back and forth.

Friday, October 08, 2004

With me there were others

It was three times, four times I hurled into the darkness
and watched those stars like complication, overwhelming.

And I felt your teeth inside me
and I felt you breath beside me. I saw your hand at my ear.

A child then said:
look at the trees, their bark is like your skin their
roots are like your tongue, your thoughts
are like their leaves.

And for the fifth time, the sixth time I currled into the darkness:
All the tears shed being complicated.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Big River (Little Bug)

The wasp stops lightly on a blade that
dips down into the river.
The Rio Grande.
It's about as big as the creek I used to play in.
Anyway, I'm watching the wasp as it follows the blade's curve
down to the water's breath.
It reminds me I was terrorizing a poem. What for?
Some people just want words; anyway you put them on a page.
I'm fine with that. I turn the page over.

My world is but a dream and I fumble in it sometimes.
Lignthing dashing out from the inside.
Today I don't want to hear. I don't want to listen.
Tomorrow will be better.

Imagine larger than what you can see. Think bigger
than words that are falling. Fill your head up
with all these viscious lines. They are less
than what you think.
But somehow, still, so much bigger.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Thank You

Sometimes it's nice to know someone. They comfort you. If you want it, that is. And sometimes you want it. It slides down your spirit like a good wine. It wraps you like an old blanket. And brings that smile along. It's nice to know you. It's nice to think of those dangling days.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Road Kill

Two cars approached on a dark highway.
They illuminated, if just for a moment,
the dull eyes of a hare. The deep forest of pines
watched and stood by--
each looking solitary and alone. The hare,
bathed in the warm, radiating light
at last saw the night revealed.

Unsure of how to feed it he leapt full force
into the light. Tires squealed
and headlights veered, the rabbit
left cowering against the dark.
He looked over at the twisted heap.
It steamed like a volcano, then
joined the pines in their solidarity.

Sunday, October 03, 2004


Saturday, October 02, 2004

Sunday Thoughts

I am standing there, looking behind the shadows
and the sprinkled drops of last night's dew.
I still see your footprints in the courtyard. I
still fumble inside of myself for you.

There are two trees along the outer wall of my heart.
The dog barks between them,
breaking the silence, loudly. It's only so far
I can shove you away. There is this corner

and that corner I try hiding in. There is
the outside street sounds of Mardi Gras.
Their bright beads and flashing skin do nothing
to soothe me. Would you like to take a hand

and dance with me, whoever you are?

Friday, October 01, 2004

On the quest of Lighter than

Why do we dream of endless nights
and forlorn wisdom like it would matter?
What is the form of impeccable
that you would cling to?
I could go on over the days
about hard labor
and golden sunrise that falls,
not on the ground and its seed,
but on me. And only for a little while.

It is for reason that I refrain. The time
to make this thought your own
will only last as long as you want it.
It will only come once you have
fondled it, tasted it, and are ready. There is
nothing more that I could show you.
Nothing and everything
sits waiting in your own head.

It is all there. Even though it never has been.

How long until tomorrow gets here,
and what then will you do?