Monday, October 26, 2009

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Good Will Prescription Eyeglass Bin

Trapped inside the bellows of a concertina playing unsent letters and forgotten promises to harried crowds unaccustomed to foreign tongues, my smiles stick like barbed wire peanut butter.

Somehow this billboard marches along where I think I am with people tilting their heads to read the words.

I can look up all hot day but plumb line brick layers will never fit this in their wall no matter how sturdy or bright my mica sparkles from its uncut rock.

Last years poinsettia where my steering wheel stood missing roads to cut diagonally through back yards and retention ponds with a laundry line and trash can lids crimping wiper blades missing the glass to interfere menacingly with radio reception.

Retiring to drift on air mattresses splashing to Cuba my dreams instead take me past Blackbeard commandeered cash registers swashbuckling paper cuts in lemon juice seas.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


In boyhood Saratoga my dad leaned on the antiques case as a clerk described tools made from worn 19th century farm implements. A file, you see, will always retain it’s grooves, never relinquish them.

They kicked most of me out just after turning sixteen, the police station would have none of it. I slept in the driver side back seat of a trash filled Mustang, February. When I snuck into the Y to warm up in the shower there was a man watching with a lit cigar. I paper toweled off and dressed to become a display for other kids behind passing school bus windows.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


My car is remarkably slow and tiny so I’ve grown accustomed to muscling the teal speck into a middle lane from an on-ramp abreast scoffing semis and braking sports cars. But even amidst that today I was able to notice a disemboweled animal lying just where the slow lane merges.
Whenever I see the image of roadway carnage I brace myself; feel alone. A gentle amorphous part of me begs to resist further knowledge while something from almost the same place feels obligated, as if there is something to be gleaned. But what can be? An insight into the moment? A gesticulation languishing in the discarded body? Or maybe the satiation of a darker need. I hope not.

So there I find myself horrified, jostled about by traffic and unable to look away when I realize that this viscera is nylon batting oozing from a toy. And now there is no other place for my original emotion but aside that bear in the path of oncoming motorists.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


On a long, slow Southern coast I settled in for a bus ride as the eager congestion of signage abated to homes, then farms. Resting my forehead against the air conditioned pane, rutted side roads permeated with a heat and stillness deeper than skin. Toiling from the city, stoplights stretched further apart as the vehicle’s groan from them became a tympanic hum. From beyond wool checkered seats two disembodied British voices happened.
I gathered that these friends were returning to Danville, a city not far from my own stop. As I listened they continued:
-If we’re meant to stay we’d best figure this out
-It seems more like something you’d best figure out
-I won’t be handing it off to you then
-I don’t see why not, you seem to be done with it
-Would you rifle through to dial the numbers and
contact all my girls?
-No…not all at once. I’d start where I was a weak fist
and a strong second
-You see, how can I trust you?
-With the contacts of women you stole from me?
-Jenny will not have it in the house
-Two valid passports stamped by agents of the Queen
-She’s the one
-Very page three
-I won’t have it
-Then let me…If you’re sworn to be done with them
-There’s a finality to it
-Or to your feelings for Jenny?
Here there was only the motor’s comment as we accelerated through a remote stop light. Well ahead, beyond the drivers shoulder in his recessed compartment, the bus’s curved tempered windshield heaved through humid cicada air as that tumbled around the rectangular body to succumb to a vacuum behind in a gentle serif.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


The heat and intangibility of sound, flora and cadence of the place leave me feeling like I’m below water. Lizards and insects bob upside down, under eaves and throughout improbable surfaces like fish in their composition while the sun shimmers overhead unwaveringly. As my cigar smoke wafts bubbling surfaceward I crush the butt surprised to notice my flippers unafixed.

Friday, May 08, 2009

.009 Bosch

Sometimes I think back and say Schenectady, what the hell was all that? And find myself remembering white and black tiled bathrooms in catacombs under San Diego that only one other person I’ve met knew of and am glad that even though all that comes to me about it is four pints of apricot brandy and floor to shoulder urinals I know I was there and so was the High School biology teacher I met in a store that sold kites, and even if the day comes and goes intertwined with cricket ball collisions of unidentifiable memories I still have that with the same evening coming up from them almost as drunk as I was that afternoon in the kite store to find a dark café where people were waiting for us along with a bowl of Captain Crunch which preceded another from the counter with the woman who knew the name I used to go by and was laughing about how the biology teacher was saying that even the kites couldn’t pass a breathalyzer after I stepped into the store and that’s why she said hello.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A Brim Slightly To Wide To Go Unnoticed

Sunk half asleep in the leather backseat of Robert’s car zooming across Tampa to the Cuban section with sunlight kaliedescoping through palm trees not much of it matters anyway. And as we make a sharp turn onto Bayshore Boulevard and the conversation up front switches from Heulobecq to Morales and the Sunday New York Times catches wind and a laptop case leans against me, the debate remains the debate remains the debate.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Forrest Dwelling Bearskin Capped Eastern European Collaborationists

I just love everything there is about my delightful little neighborhood…but I think the guy next door is a Nazi war criminal. The evidence, which I’m sure you’ll find convincing, is as follows.

1) Resilient European Tendencies: This man and his wife have a way of sitting about and enjoying the day which I find particularly alarming. There’s something about their overly worn lawn furniture, wine grape trellis and meticulously ironed clothing that just doesn’t seem to lend itself to normal suburban living. They smile to much, and I think I remember her arm resting on his while they spoke. Believe me, I’ll be looking into these things.

2) Longevity: These people seem very old and yet remarkably healthy, and not in that patriotic old-people-propped-up-on-pharmaceuticals sort of way either. People with clear consciences enjoy their elderly years, but so do those without a conscience. And part of the reason there’s so many strudel shops in French Guyana is that this same agedness preys on our capacity to seek, and therefore grant, redemption through personal enlightenment. Which in turn, of course, provides the perfect camouflage for a sick death camp butcher.

3) Mailbox Lettering: There are far to many Cs, Js and double vowels in their name that send normal tongues somersaulting during pleasantries. Now if the newly immigrated simply want to save a few Rubles or Kopeks or whatever at Home Depot by purchasing decal lettering from the bargain bin that’s one thing, but all these consonants are bound to remind a civilized person of that funny a/u/e sound Europeans make when they’re mispronouncing Treblinka or Birkeneau.

Anyway, I’m not saying we should string these two up or anything, but if I see any lederhosen on the clothes line I’m rushin’ the place with granddaddy’s Confederate sword, that’s all.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Several blocks away in a shuttered cape there lives a nice plump and friendly cat who enjoys sitting on his street corner. As neighbors stroll, which some do while others hurry off to barter crescent wrench sets containing missing 10mm counterparts for moth eaten Indian Motorcycle sew-on patches, the cat watches on. Slower travelers are approached for a pet, and many who notice the lovely feline’s coat and kind demeanor decide that he would make a fine companion. Removing his collar they take him back to their dwellings, whatever that may mean. When struck by the notion the cat returns home unfazed, and no party shows any wear and tear from the process but the tattered Missing Cat signs which are repeatedly hung. When I pass the corner with that missing cat I note his absence sometimes with the same sort of attention I might pay to pinto beans on sale two for a dollar. Stroking his fur right where he belongs I still think of him as missing.


In the fashion of traditional Southern cities this one also was designed to have alleys running between the lots with houses that sail neatly pointed through manicured lawns. These back avenues offer a secondary view of the workings which power the neighborhood. There, a crying child may be explained the next morning by a new white sofa with a large chocolate milk stain on it left out for trash. Beer bottles whisper tales of unseen homeless and local teenagers, trash that mingles in a temporarily ominous way. Kitchen smells and Tungsten shadows sneak over the sandworn brick in early evening as bougainvillea toss their violet capes like matadors braving garage doors.
Diagonally against the sky a rare temperate oak stands with sturdy arm quietly braced against muted watermark pastels. And from that gesticulation comes swooping death between in-law apartments to tiny peeping birds bent toward seed and insect beside a gurgling fountain.

I arrive home from work to find my neighbor shouting into his cell phone and wonder if someone somewhere is listening to his counterpart on her patio replete with hawk and tiger cat and bougainvillea conquistadors.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


After the nose picking there would always be a wordlessness, just as she had once seen my confidence round the corner in an argument.
With those faults we were pleased to lie in bed late into the night whispering and peering out the wintry headboard window sipping our sleeping hours away.
In Florida you miss the cold as it rattles around lead painted window frames to kiss a backside edge of glass with fog. And the way your girl’s feet come to you in sleep for warmth.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Root, Structure and Truncated Meaning

I live in a small community in the South once fabled as a cherished and tucked away retirement and holiday Valhalla. Long ago in the days taken from Nabokov Chevrolet cross country family vacations, sleepy homes and motels nestled in the balm and bougainvillea along cobbled streets and avenues numbered for the ease of tourists and newcomers. As the heat of the days bleached bricks, though, they cracked to recover less and less frequently by repair, and the prevalence of greed and banality which crept through sidewalks elsewhere overcame like Kudzu the easy ways of this town.

There are porches dotted about on which seersucker suit coats hung in pre air-conditioned breezes with sounds of groaning wicker rocking chairs and clinking mint juleps caught in their folds. Remnants of that, and that thinking, can be found; in the furniture and golf clubs one comes across at tag sales, or unexpectedly Sunday shuttered storefronts. And today, astoundingly, a gym of adolescent boxers barked at by aging men in Wal-Mart sweats as I froze half seated on my bicycle to peek through an emergency door.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just outside Georgetown Connecticut there is a small mill left over from the days of last century’s industrialization. There you will find a business owner who, noticing in the late fifties a trend towards large steel and glass corporate architecture, specialized in the small orders of plate glass those buildings would require, and that larger producers would be loath to supply. On most days, were you to drive down the slender cobblestone lane beside this factory, you might pass by and observe yourself doing so in a mirrored plate glass panel tilting against the building waiting to be shipped.

Even as they hung on my lips the words struck me like handfuls of pennies thrown against a mangled dimestore concertina’s bellows … “excuse me Sir, may I assume it’s my hat and newspaper you have about you”? But the yelling and screaming afterward seemed easier to assimilate as the face under my visor somehow held me accountable.
But I sat still.
Because in the end I was not leaving without my cap and paper.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Only Buy Used Potato Peelers from Left Handed People

I just got my first email from a right wing nutbag celebrating the accomplishments of the bush administration. Of course she's someone who’s become quite well to do working for a contractor to the U.S. military so things are pretty rosy there. I, on the other hand, recently left a job where I was responsible for phoning the inhabitants of inner city Florida, the ranks of which are recruited for military service in the Middle East. This is what one guy who still had hands left to pick up the phone had to say:
I was a sniper over there. When people think of snipers they think of someone lying on a building top with a rifle. What they don’t realize is that you have to silently fight your way to that position. I just spent four years sneaking up on people and killing them with a knife while muffling their screams. Or getting ambushed by combatants trying to do the same to me. Do you have any idea what a scene it is when my kids jump in my bed to surprise me first thing Saturday morning? I’m not a human being anymore. My job is gone. I came home to a drug addicted wife and soon I’ll loose my kids to homelessness. Everyone I speak to from my service days is going through similar stuff. Why are you calling man, what are you selling?
I guess when you’re snuggled in expense-accounted digs snacking on freedom fries next to the fire you don’t have to worry about your wife hitting the pipe thousands of miles away or some guy who may be walking around the desert with the rusty blade that’s going to scrape against your vertebrae as it passes through your jugular and trachea. Healthcare isn’t an issue when you’ve got a cushy gig like that and you sure don’t have to worry about its obsolescence. All you have to do is make sure you don’t stop and ask the guy wheeling himself on the sidewalk why he’s rattling a can for your spare coins.

Monday, February 09, 2009


I used to think I had a drinking problem, but I’m starting to doubt that now. Don’t get me wrong: I was drunk a great deal of the time and consumed, daily, amounts of liquor that would send others to the hospital. I was unproductive, slovenly and hopelessly maladjusted. But still, I’m not sure I had a problem.

Now I work almost every day as hard as I can to accomplish as much as possible. I live a tidy life dedicated to improving my lot, attempt to be kind to others while managing my affairs in a responsible fashion. I maintain positive relationships, keep my eye peeled for opportunity and strive to display virtue to all around me. And for almost two years now this attitude has kept me in the exact same oppressive, grinding poverty experienced while drinking.

Two days ago I was faced with a decision: wether to risk seven dollars on an enterprise that could help me bring things around. Seven dollars. I weighed the decision very carefully and examined all it’s possibilities. I applied effort and enginuity into surveying its possibilities and decided to roll the dice. By that time though, hours later, the opportunity was gone.

If I were smart enough to drive a large National bank into failure I would have been compensated with hundreds of millions of times that seven dollars. If I were nakedly aggressive or unscrupulous I would have had thousands of times that seven dollars. Or if I poured myself into a meaningless, socially detrimental occupation I would have had a hundred thousand times that seven dollars. But I am just a worker so I don’t really even have the seven dollars.

When people offered their sympathy for the horrors I used to endure I would glibly reply that all was nothing six or seven martinis couldn’t fix, though sometimes now I think those words may have been profound. The martinis didn’t make anything better, but they made me feel better, and either way two years later I still don’t have the seven bucks to change.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cotton Candy/ Cobweb Mélange

Once, on the phone, a guy described it as an Elephant Burying Ground which of course could have been almost justly misinterpreted to mean a place where old people go to expire and have parasitic estate dealers rummage through their hoard. But being the kind that he was I understood it immediately as a creepy place that one mishaps upon through unruly circumstance only to discover ghastly mementos kept from our knowledge by beings with a sounder grasp of the general futility and suffering of it all.

Sometimes it seems like the only rule around here is unrelenting exception. You’ll be soothed upon spotting a well jacketed business man in a café only to reveal his coat pocket adorned with greasy screwdrivers and half smoked cigars. Or a sundressed blonde will smile down at you when asked driving directions to reveal nostrils bulging like a basket of avocados with antiquated mucous. It doesn’t end when you notice that the slender, lisping shopkeeper is sporting a seven pound bronze Skoal belt buckle: It doesn’t end when the one Mercedes in town turns out to have a rotting garbage smell to it when you walk by on a hot day: And it doesn’t end when you see the father who lives down the street riding his eight year old’s bicycle with a paper bagged pint in his hand. The guarded responses these people offer when greeted are not indifference, they’re suspicion coupled with a snap analysis of their own firearm’s load.

You can catch glimpses of how it all came to be, too. As you’re driving by sometimes there will be an empty lot or a field and you’ll realize what used to be here: nothing. Scrubland. Palm trees and the kind of hard grass that would saw off a toe through flip-flops. It’s all just backstage behind the tourist catalogue shoot where skill and effort is applied with cakes of makeup to dress up the fetid appendage oozing on the inner thigh of the country. And these are the people who sprung from it. Or worse, came to it. Like me.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I Was Thinking That Abandoning and Discovering Ideas May Just Be Shades of the Same Thing

I woke up at the same time this morning but this time it was a little earlier so I took a moment to listen. To the news and birds. And some music. It all kind of made me feel like I thought adults would feel when I was little.

I wonder if being French is the answer to being American.

Your love is a soap bubble in a twister and my arms are a meddlesome bumble bee in the cockpit of a helicopter hovering in its vortex.

People’s torsos and trunks weren’t lining up again today. This time some were also on backward and one woman in line at the grocery store had two. I wonder if it’s getting worse.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

When In

Recreate old Charlton Heston movies with NASCAR taking the place of chariot races.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Next Ham

The only reason I had the job was to see for myself how this store around the corner stayed in business. I couldn’t imagine how these people kept their doors open, unless they were a front for the mob or a cardboard set for a John Watters movie or something.

So of course all I discover is that not only are there idiots out there dim enough to speculate their dead grandfather’s hard earned money on a softball, Prozac-housewife idea like a spiral cut ham store, but also that the only thing the average American can turn his TV off long enough for is to drive around the corner and pick up a frickin’ spiral cut ham. Incredible.

Of course all the businesses ideas I came up with were good ones. That’s why they never succeeded. If I opened a store selling flannel and silk garden hose cozies I’d probably be writing this from a private 747.

So last night on the way home from getting smacked in the face by my ATM I noticed an office holding some sort of new years celebration, which sent me driving home to put on a nice shirt. Back at the door I turned to a guy who looked like he was about to ask me who I was and said I thought Caruthers was out here for some reason, give me a hand finding him, will ya’? And of course the guy turned and disappeared and I was in. People seemed to be mingling in a predictably awkward way, the 30 year old music was just enough to get the white guys doing their weird wiggle and the sheet cake and meatballs looked like they would be happy to start an argument in just about anybody’s lower GI tract without discriminating.

Fielding and sweeping up little pieces of conversation these people turned out to be regional transportation brokers for CSX; Large and stable enough. A few minutes later I turned to laugh at one of Cindy’s personnel department anecdotes and mentioned that a friend had just come on board and was asked for an ID when he came to say hello at my office. She was nice enough to mention that the attendant at the photo ID office was still in at this hour and if Tim was around he could just step in and take care of it. After my photo was taken the guard congratulated me and mentioned that he’d look forward to seeing me on Monday at 8;30 where he offered new hires a ten minute security briefing.
In 24 days I’ll have dental.