Backlit Tuesday Afternoon

Tall girl dressed in sleepy black
with the blonde sorta pom pom hair
sits at the bar
while I do work lunch
in a nearby booth.
A glass of wine arrives
for her.
She kicks off
her sandals
avoids the cold round footrest
and retracts
a leg under her young ass.

I wish I was her.

She mumbles with the bartender
and the wine leaves.

No.

Couple minutes later the bartender returns.
Pinot Grigio, she says
and it appears.

Yes.

For Erik and Suhaill As Max Approaches

I’m not one
for the divine
preferring to live
with the reality
that the road we travel
(the actual fucking road)
dips and meanders
not because there is a reason beyond
but because an idiot was in charge
of supervising the road workers.

So
I often ponder
the potential very imperative biological necessity
of the collection of stirrings
and machine gunning neuronal orchestra
that make up
what is known as
love
for one’s child.
In that bond
I think you may find
the very thin yet dense
gnarled and spiky
root of our social contract
if you search for reasons
to explain
how your child continues to survive
despite their constant assault
on the previously assumed
beachheads of normalcy.

Surely
in the crux of the machinery
that creates the seeming vast reserves
of parental restraint
must be the very spark
that prevents us from engaging
in the sort of behavior
that is only rewarded
in Grand Theft Auto.

I’m not trying to scare you.

I swear
this is about a hope
you have never known
that will break you
and fill you
the way colors can define light
the way fear falls with you
from a broken rope
into the relief of cool water
in a suffocating summer.

As you
strap him into the car seat for the first time
learn the noises that bring a smile
hear little knees squeak across your floor
follow tiny feet over sand
you will know true worship.

November 22, 2016

November 22, 2016

Cold on the way out this morning
well, cold for 305
at just above 65
driving with the rear window frosted
mostly with dirt.
Two pastries
and that just good enough Keurig coffee
for breakfast.
And the fiber pills.
We mustn’t stop things from happening.

At lunch I flew my quadcopter
the fat one with the ass
that slides all over the place
yeesh…
at that weird property with nothing but grass
oaks, tall pokey hedges for walls
and a road blocked at the street that leads to a cul de sac.
Like someone had a plan for tiny town
and said fuck it
or maybe they lost all their drug
related investment money
this being Miami and all.

For dinner we had potatoes
and meat bought from the internet.
I was told
it was a chicken, pork, and beef pack
and I was asked to remember
that they do not sell skirt steak.
I bet they’ll have a wifi enabled button
for that shit soon, though.
But hey
this steak was good, man.
And it wasn’t anybody’s birthday.
Some would call that Blessed
especially on a Tuesday
with nothing good on tv
or anything.

In the drive thru getting cookies and ice cream
and tweeting a joke about cocaine on
elementary school bumper stickers
“My child made the right choice”
my #Abuela died
as my son read a Pixar Cars book
in the back seat.
I couldn’t see him,
but I know he had his left leg crossed over his right.

He dressed himself after his shower
mixed his top and bottom pajamas
Star Wars and Batman equal bat wars.
Obvs.
I read Rumble at the Rustbucket
as his bedtime story
and went into the garage
to wait
for
some
thing.

I hate this place sometimes

I hate this place sometimes: the people it attracts, the things they throw in the streets, the paths they choose through traffic, the places they decide to park, eyes on no ball whatsoever. But this morning, in the shadow of one of the buildings at work, the air was perfectly kissing cool on my face, that Miami humidity drowned even though everything was wet. The sky clouded just enough that the sun didn’t get to say HEY LOOK AT ME I’M THE SUN! It peeked out just a bit, like a cute girl rolling out from under the covers, mumbling, “Hey, tiger.” Miami winters are the best. ‪#‎IGuessIHateThePeopleNotThePlace‬ ‪#‎FuckSnow‬

New Year And All That

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I’m going to try to write once a week this year, for a couple of reasons. First, I often struggle with the “who gives a fuck about this”-ness of the act, but it’s interesting to look back on these key pecks from time to time. Second, my son is getting older and part of me thinks there should be something of me in writing for him to have someday.

About a month ago, I found out my Abuela has maybe six months to live and I’ve avoided going to see her. My aunt said she hasn’t informed her about the predicted remaining time. Couple days later, she told me that she HAS told her and I can’t really get it in me to push the point and find out if she’s fucking with me or what, because it’s not MY mother this is happening to, though I’d trade my mom into my Abuela’s situation in a heartbeat. Man, I hope it’s not 52 posts of me being a complete asshole for a year…

I haven’t lost anyone close to me yet, so this sucks. Such a weird thing, being told someone has x amount of time to live. Predictor of the ax swing. The first thing I thought about was who the hell figures out how long the person has left to live? Is there an app that figures this shit out? Do you enter the weight and the height and the cancerous organs and the percentage or the kind? Is there a menu where you select the cancer by how it looks? Do they ask questions like, are you going to fight it? She doesn’t seem to want to. When my aunt asked her to take some sort of medicine, my Abuela said, “Pa que?” This makes me sad because I remember one time she threw a bag of beans at my head when I was a kid. I’m sure I deserved it. Now she’s all “for what?”

Whenever I think about it too much, I have to bite my lip or get up and pace. I figured if I don’t think about it or go see her, it’ll be easier somehow. But I went to see her the other day and she seems thinner. Maybe she isn’t. Maybe she’s been this thin for a while and it’s just the real life Photoshop filter called “she’s gonna die” that makes her look thinner. Her big gray fro has less volume in it. Even her big ass feet that she always shoves into tiny shoes look smaller. She sat in her big backed green chair and just stared straight ahead at her furniture.I wondered what she was thinking about. The tv wasn’t even on. She seemed to stare at the red laser point of the power light on her radio. I asked her if that’s what she was watching and she said oh yeah, she watches it all the time and then one of her little scoffs. She asked me to check the cable on her HD antenna and I did. I asked if she wanted to watch any movies and my aunt came in and said she’d never watch any modern movies. My aunt who said now she has to be like a rock. No bleeding. No tears. She is the strongest person I know. Puts all these broken crazy old people on her back and sticks them in her little Toyota sortaSUV and takes them where they need to go, with her one brownish tooth and her pretty eyes and her soft soft hair I cried in her neck after one bad break up and she laughed and called me pobresito. Laughed at my crying and made it better. And now she’s gonna carry my grandmother into her grave as best she can.

I feel like I’m not allowed to ask my grandmother anything. Part of it is I’ll explode into tears, but also it’s like if I go and open my mouth, I feel I’m being selfish. Like helping her or pretending to help her is more for me than for her. I want to ask her if she wants to go on a cruise. Or some restaurant. Disney! A beer! Has anyone asked her if she wants some rum? She’s Cuban for fuck’s sake! Maduros! A big comfy chair and a giant umbrella at the beach! She can go in her regular clothes! Pants and one of her flowery blouses! A floppy hat and her little annoying dog, Chispita, and a quiet spot in the sand, good sunglasses to stop the sun, it never snows and the best time to go to the beach here is in the winter when everything is dying everywhere else. She doesn’t even have to get in the water. But let’s say we went to the beach with Abuela in the winter and we didn’t just sit there in that room with the red light from the radio and no music. We could play some Juan Luis Guerra for her. 440 is the only Spanish music I know a lot of the lyrics to and she let me copy it off her cassette. Ha. Cassettes. Let’s fight it, just a little, with some sunshine and sand and sunscreen and a little Me Sube La Bilirubina.

My grandmother is going to fucking die and my piece of shit grandfather is going to outlive her all senile and not remembering the horrible shit and irresponsibilities he has delivered to people. Why not him? Why not that stupid fucking chihuahua? Why not anyone but my son and his mother, my father, my aunt, I’ve got a list, I swear, it’s not very long, I hate most people, look, take anyone but these, like, fifty people.

Please.

Because Casey

I got home and I sat in the bathroom, my baggy pants around my ankles and when I was done, I was like, man, I really just want to put on some shorts. But you can’t just shuffle like the fucking Penguin to where the shorts are from the bathroom. You put the pants on. You do the belt a lil, maybe not all the way. Then you go and change into the shorts. But you don’t just leave the pants in the bathroom at the base of the toilet and shamble ass nekkid to the shorts drawer. There’s a WAY to do things, dammit. One foot in front of the other, motherfucker.

Thinking about that made me want to write for some reason. Probably because I’m good and crazy. And I haven’t written in forever. But I think it was mostly because of my uncle.

I was talking to him tonight and I swear it started with us talking about Camaros and Chevelles and Chevy Novas but it ended with him calling me a socialist and us arguing about the flag on top of the Dukes of Hazzard’s General Lee not being racist, except, you know, everyone thinks it is, so it is. Perception is reality and all that.

He’s always been on this philosophy kick about how humans have a reason for existing in the universe and that we don’t do what we want because we’re afraid. And I told him that I fear writing because I don’t want to write something stupid. But beyond that, what I didn’t say, is that I don’t know what value I could ever add to the ongoing conversation that humanity has with itself. And why would humanity even care? I mean, there’s ebola, people. EBOLA!

The answer to that, from people pushing the writing thing, is that at least you’ll always be the best writer there is that can write from your own head sapce. So if I see, oh, another sunrise, let me come up with a way to describe it that no one has used before because sunrises are pretty, you know? And sure, shitfuck tons of people have described them and that doesn’t make them any less prettier. I guess. But each way is somewhat unique. Maybe. But I don’t buy it. Not usually.

I read this article about the first space walk, the one the Russians did. Dude said he felt like a grain of sand out there, holding on to a cord of some kind, floating some feet away from his craft out in the big bad nothing while his suit was puffing up for some reason. “Grain of sand,” you’re so original dude, I thought at first. But you gotta give that guy his “grain of sand” description. That’s the truth. Give it to that 80 year old former cosmonaut who had to release oxygen from his suit through a valve because the suit was puffing up for some reason and he wasn’t going to be able to get back in his craft. Ain’t nobody Yeatsing it up when floating in space takes your breath from you. When the vast comes to kill you, you can have your “grain of sand,” bro. You earned it, like the eyepatch that comes with a lost eye.

I think, in that way, in the way that stories like that can immortalize you, it’s easy being a hero.

I’m no hero. Just a dude. Along the way, I’ve become a bunch of other things, too. A bad person. A father. It’s nice to have this gift, though. The weird ability to fill an empty page with words and it usually make some sort of fucking sense. And if I’m honest about it, there are times I will write in my head. I’ll get an idea and write a scene or a line in my head. The astronaut needed to leak some O2. I sometimes need to leak words. I’ve been doing this for an hour now and I don’t even feel it. Well, maybe in my neck, from craning down over the screen, but the whisky will make me forget.

I asked my uncle what he wanted to be growing up or what he’d do right now if money wasn’t an issue and he didn’t have to make sure he kept a roof over his head in case his kids ever need a place to go. Were the great big anvil of parental burden not placed over his coyote head by the road runner, what would he do? He said he’d try to find the truth about why we’re here. Who put us here? What is our purpose? What was HIS purpose?

I laughed because I don’t believe there is a truth. Maybe there’s an explanation to the system but it doesn’t mean we’re free of the system. We can’t all be Neo, if any of us can even do that. You gotta put your pants on and walk out of the bathroom because damn it, there is a smell and there are places in the house that smell better. And you want to put on shorts. If we could see beyond the barrier of this universe into the place beyond, we could never go there and survive. I’m certain.

I’ve found that the truth is more about what you do after you find out whatever the fuck it is than the thing itself. Like the act that crystallizes a man into the vision of a hero instead of a casualty. Grain of sand instead of dead in space.

My uncle influenced me in a way no one else in my life ever did. I don’t know if he did it on purpose. I think some of it was me. I’m just naturally a cynical “nah” sorta dude. Out of all the people in my family who were brainwashed by the religion, I was dense enough to resist the Jaysis waves. My uncle’s slight influence tweaked me just so, too. He let me watch Reservoir Dogs when I was way too young. Heavy Metal. Ghostbusters. National Lampoon’s Vacation. I’m pretty sure the first tit I ever saw was because of him. That’s no small thing. I mean, I think it was a pretty regular sized boob, but you know what I mean.

And he was right about me liking beer more than soda one day. Eventually. Though soda can kick a headache’s ass and beer just brings ’em sometimes.

And classic rock. Classic rock is awesome. All music is, really. It all turns into classic rock at some point. Ask Nirvana. They were alternative at one point.

One time, my uncle told me he had this book about a dude who knows the truth about the way things in the world are put together physically and he can walk through walls and he can take a bullet out of a person. I asked him if it was magic stuff and he said, no, not really, it’s about the way the world works. I wanted to read this book and he said, I really shouldn’t because your aunt and your dad and all these people are gonna be mad because these things kinda go against the religious stuff you learn and I don’t want to get in trouble.

I already didn’t really believe in the faith based bullshit machine I had to sit through multiple times a week with drool sliding down my neck, but he wasn’t gonna give me the book so I just let it go. Many years later, while in Portland, Oregon, I found that fucking book in a used book store. I knew it was the book just from the description.

I was happy to feel like in this cold hard universe I’d found something magical or that it found me. It chose me, that little hunnert or so page novella about the dude with the plane that never wore down. And the other dude who learned from him. I felt a little vindicated at the time. Like my choice to ignore the churchy stuff was right and here was the proof. The thing my uncle tried to keep from me ended up being mine anyway, three thousand miles away. I left it all behind and won. I ran so far away.

I only now realize that whatever I was looking for in that book, it’s the same shit people look for in a bible. The truth is it was just a fun book and it made me try to move things with my mind just like every fucking comic book I’ve ever read. Now it’s just another book on the shelf.

This is a long one. I don’t know what got into me. And I’ve come back to it over and over because it kinda doesn’t make sense. But it does to me and I guess that’s ok because sometimes it’s just about getting it down. Maybe it will make more sense later.

First Day of School

first day of school

Today was your first day of school.

You knew off the bat we were not going to the babysitter. On the road, when we turned right instead of continuing South, you said, “This way! This way!”

We’d been telling you for a week that you were going to school. That you’d be playing with kids. That you’d be learning.

As with most things, you ignored us because you had better things to do. Lightning McQueen and Towmater and Mack truck and such. So important because now your life of nine to five has begun and this is the cage, welcome and sorry.

When we pulled up and put you on the sidewalk so you could walk on your own, you rooted your feet to the dirty concrete. I gotta be honest. I couldn’t look you in the eye.

Your mom and I each grabbed one of your hands and hopped you along the sidewalk, yanking you into the air and dropping you slowly back to the ground. I could tell you were not buying the hoppitty bullshit. You were tense, my boy. Like you were taking one of your bad shits. A seizure of suspicion. The blue wooden fence was  an unfamiliar sight early in the morning. The old lady who greeted us was not the dark smiling woman who smells of curry and lets dogs lick you every day.

You did not want to cross the concrete courtyard to where the kids were having breakfast. I picked you up and carried you. I saw a rocking chair and put you in it.

Because rocking chairs comfort me.

You sat there and looked around from beneath your furrowed brow and slightly lowered head.  You seemed to be checking the place out.

I told your mom we were leaving and she asked if we should say bye to you. I told her no.

I checked with one of the women who worked there, this was the right thing to do, right? Not make life difficult for everyone else by allowing our son to see our sadness and to share in it, to bring us to the point of saying fuck this, it’s pretty expensive anyway, we can wait another year or two or three or fuck preschool altogether, if we could figure out a way to win the Powerball, we would never have to educate you, you could avoid difficulty forever, you could grow up to be a super wealthy mongoloid asshole. But always happy.

She told me that yes, it was best if we just departed. So we did.

In the car, as we drove back home, I could see your mother’s head get lower and lower. Not bowed down, but a complete vertical drop, like ET is wont to do. An alien driving me around. Her shoulders twitched a little as we went and when we parked, she cried and her face was a green eyed question mark with ruddy cheeks. “We abandoned him.”

I said all the right things to comfort her.

I remember my first day of school: Kindergarten. 1982, I’m guessing. I never had any daycare or preschool or anything. Just always with my cousins. Four boys breaking things. Getting our ass beat a lot, though my aunts and uncles deny this shit the way escaped Nazis deny participating in war crimes. I remember being aware that this school thing was going to happen. And that WORK was being missed for this. For me.

I remember my father standing outside the low two door kindergarten building with his hands in his pocket. My god, he would’ve been 42.

I wrapped myself around his legs and apologized. I apologized for the universe, the big bang, for not reading the bible more, for talking back all the time, and for every horrible thing I would do after that day, just please don’t make me go to school. I did not look up at him. I buried my head in the stiff green of his pants legs and I could smell the dust of the polished metal that he fought every day and still does. My teacher pulled me away from him and into the classroom and he just stood there, his legs and the light of the sun and then the closing door.

Thirty years later, I saw my father’s face in my reflection in the bathroom mirror at work.

Jack’s First Wasp Sting

The wasps around here are territorial but they’ve never stung anyone. We have a silent agreement where I destroy their nests but generally leave the wasps themselves alone as long as they don’t come at me. I often walk right into a small group of them and they don’t do anything. I believe in not projecting fear when dealing with animals. Especially insects.

So, I didn’t think anything was wrong when Jack seemed a little scared of the wasp that was buzzing around him in his Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. Until he started to cry and said, “I sorry, I sorry.”

I pulled him out and eventually found a small sting on his toe. His little foot had swollen a tiny bit on top and on the toe.

From my chair, where I was sitting with Jack on my lap, I kicked the Cozy Coupe into the middle of the yard. Once Christie (who was visiting) and Christina took Jack inside to soothe him, I went and picked up the Cozy Coupe to see if there was a nest in it somewhere.

Once summer starts (in May for Miami, pretty much), I tend to step up my wasp nest prevention patrols. I look under the railings on the deck and porch. I check in and around all the hurricane shutter frames. I even look under the damn Cozy Coupe. But, I never thought we had wasps who were trained as smugglers, because this time I found a nest underneath the dashboard of the Cozy Coupe. I didn’t even know there was an “underneath” FOR the dashboard! But there it was, a half formed comb of sorts. I pulled it out, stomped on it and flung it into the air, where it blew back at me.

I went inside and got the wasp spray. I drowned the crushed nest and kicked it under the deck. Then, I waited for the wasp to come back, and when it did, I bathed it in a nice firm chemical stream.

The thing that pissed me off the most wasn’t even that Jack got stung. I mean, shit’s going to happen. It was those sad, teary, “I sorry”s. It was like he thought he did something wrong and we were punishing him. And that’s so unfair.

For the wasps, too.

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Sentence Assignment

I may have gone over four minutes on that last one. I had to quiet my phone timer because it woke the woman from some strange sleep. I think she mumbled, “I’ll cut it off and people will thank me.” So I’m scared now. And thankful that there’s only one sentence to go. I have to write about it for four minutes. And it’s the shittiest sentence I’ve had.

Group relaxation will be cancelled for the duration of the academic year

If they said this to me at work, it would mean that we’re all getting fired. I work at a school, so I would assume this means no one is getting to relax because we’re all going to be looking for jobs and canceling our cable, lawn fertilizer guy, cell phones, motorcycle insurance, trips to Toys R Us to glance lovingly at light sabers, and some other stuff. I have a spreadsheet I need to check. But I can’t do that right now because I have two minutes left on this word roller coaster of DOOOM.

But for my friend Chris who gives me these sentences, well… that guy never relaxes. Chris, this one is for you. Relax. Fuck the cancelation of group relaxation. You relax better alone anyway. One cannot cancel relaxation anymore than one can cancel erections. Sure, time may take erections FROM us, but it will never cancel them.

It will steal them. But relaxation? A motherfucker in a hole can find a way to relax somehow. Mentally. Maybe he would curl into a strange sort of apostrophobic position. Looking like a lima bean.

I got ten seconds, man, but I did it. I finished these fucking sentences.

Sentence Assignment

I really screwed the pooch on these sentences. Man, I hate when old Cuban guys tell me about how awesome it was to bang sheep when they were young, and here I am talking about fucking dogs. But, I really thought I would make the midnight express. But here I am on my third sentence with two minutes left… Oh, well… there will be words, regardless. Or irregardless, if you like to make up words. I have to write about the following sentence for four minutes and I feel that I am running out of interesting and original things to say.

There’s a little bit of truth in every lie.

I gotta agree with that one. I’m a good liar. An excellent liar, I’d say. And I always try to keep my lies simple and partially true. If you do something you’re not supposed to be doing and you have a good time, keep the fun in the lie. Maybe you went and bought a dirty magazine instead of going to study at the library?

Did you have a good time at the library?

Hell yes, I did. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, oh hell yes, they were solving crimes and getting chloroformed out of their minds and everyone was hooting and hollering and reading from the same book! Fucking awesome!

Speaking of dirty magazines (segue win!), I remember a time before the fish market that sprung across the street from my house, the way shitty relatives spring from dark and cobwebbed corners for people who have won the lottery… oh my god, fuck you, sentence from hell. I remember a time, here we go, when there was a Farm Stores across the street from me.

Shit.

It turned into something else, but I don’t remember what, but FOR A TIME, the Indian dude that ran it had dirty magazines on a little rack next to the fridge that had all the milk in it. I know, how apropos. I would cross the street and buy Snickers bars just to get a peek at the titties through the cellophane wrappers. And now we have the internet, you know?

We have a lil convenience store around here and there’s an Indian dude with his own rack and dirty magazines, and I’m like, seriously? For what? Does this guy have any idea what I just downloaded AND streamed like an hour ago?

I mean, I had four media player windows open to take care of this problem.

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