Weekly writing assignment

This week’s writing thing: “It’s not my fawlt I wuz home skoold” So I have to write about this for four minutes:

This is a stupid sentence. You figure someone home schooled is going to have a parent that gives a shit and maybe has some kind of pull to get that sort of thing approved. If home schooling for stupid people was acceptable then you wouldn’t have all the kids of the parents who don’t care in schools fucking it up for all the people who actually want to get good grades because they’re competitive or their parents have taught them to care or maybe they think they have to so they can get into college.

I don’t know why I did well in school. I’m lucky. I’m glad I wasn’t home schooled. That is some shit. I was bad in kindergarten. I remember one time, I was pushing this tall skinny black kid named Donnie around the classroom in his chair. This chair had no wheels. Little metal feet on carpet. He had a little basket of tiny tiles we were using to make these sort of flat things to put hot tea or a pot on for our parents. Donnie was using these little tiles as ammunition to chuck at the other kids. At some point after that, we had to stand up on chairs holding big dictionaries over our heads. Man, my arms hurt right now from trying to dig this stupid hole for a dry well but I bet they hurt worse back then.

And for some reason, in the second grade, they decided I needed to be switched from the retard class to the honors class. My dad never helped me with homework. I didn’t have any tutors.

I don’t know how I didn’t end up shot or a bum on the dirty narrow crunchy streets of Allapattah.

Time’s up.

Writing Assignment

My friend gets a writing assignment once a week at school for the next four months. His teacher gives him a sentence and he has to write for the next four minutes with that sentence in his head. I’ve decided I will go along so as to keep my mind from atrophying as quickly as it is right now.

This week’s sentence is: “Half the lies I tell you are not true.”

I am not even sure what this means when I first read it and technically I’ve been thinking about it for a couple days. Mostly I am not sure I’ve remembered it correctly, but looking at it up there now, yeah, I guess it was the weird thing I thought I’d read. So it sounds like it means someone is telling someone else some truths that are lies, right? I’m telling you a lie, but presenting it as truth, so that’s why it’s not true. I don’t know what else to make of it. Someone was just trying to sound cool. I’m trying to type this on a keyboard I got for my ipad, while lying in bed, on my stomach. My shoulders are up near my ears. What do shoulders sound like?


I wonder if it means that someone is telling lies, but even the lies being told are not true either? Kinda like, if I TELL you I’m lying, maybe I’m telling the truth? Like you have sex for the first time and you’ve been lying to the girl beforehand, telling her you’re very experienced. But everything you know you learned from videos and you make sure the both of you are nice and drunk and buzzed and happy so that when it’s all sloppy and like fish fins slapping at each other, it’s not because one of you has never done it before. It’s because of the booze, but this girl is taking your virginity and she does not know it.

Time’s up.

10 o’clock on a Monday

I tried to find a song
didn’t know the name
or artist of it
just needed
to hit the spot
bring me down
to the llano
something in it
about a hundred phones
One of them
was calling for you.

Clicked through
the emo junk
painted blue fingernail crap
crude mascara painted tears
trenchcoats in summer.
But I stopped
Wish You Were Here.

I turned off
the music
one line blazed
on to the torn
and yellow
projection screen
in my crusty head:
And I’ll still think of you on cold winter mornings.

I remembered
Trains to Brazil.
My face went from
scrunched up concrete
rigid arched lips
to silk slack
gargoyle down.

I looked in
on the boy.
His pale skin
caught bits
of light
from the toys
that cast stars.
Today he busted his lip
first time taste
of blood
but he went to sleep good
sucking and chewing
on his bug eyed
pillow friend:

I sat in
my Cuban carved
rocking chair
Indios o diablos
etched into
the arch behind my neck
I closed my eyes hard.
Waves of words
rocked me
back and forth.
I said
your secret name
to the darkness
five times.

Eat N Run

Eat N Run

Orange haired
potato sack tricepped
bullhorn mouthed
Keeper of the cafe con leche.

She calls for hellfire
on the skinny Brazilian
who trundles over
to make the toast
(with or without cheese)
(provolone, Swiss, or American)

She rolls her eyes
at him
frowns her head
at the cameras
hanging from the ceiling
shows off
her freckled hot swollen hands
curses a fan
that should be there
cooling her off
threatens to leave
doesn’t need this.

This is how
she winds up
to slow down
makes it like waiting
for the dentist.

The empty spinning cages
of the hot dog ferris wheel
clink the seconds away.
Someone quits
the line.
She beams
a victory smile.

Brave black dude
makes it to the front.
Speaks to her in English.
Wears an Indiana Jones hat
but forgot his whip.
Doesn’t realize
he’s in
The Temple of Coffee Doom.

She wags her finger at him
trying to wipe his english
from the air.

I translate for him
for all of us


My dad doesn’t remember much when I ask him about the kinds of things I did as a baby and when I did them. He says, “Eras normal.” Walked at about a year. Talked at about a year. And a shrug when pressed for details. Even when I ask if certain things I remember are true or just hopeful made up memories, square pegs for round holes, he says, “Quien se recuerda de eso? Era hace tanto.” Hell, no one remembers where the fountain of youth is, right?

So, Jack, this is for you and me. This is so I don’t have to remember. And this is so you know. This is so your road’s beginning can be etched just so. But let’s be honest here, from me to you, the details are choices.  Continue reading “Remembering”

Momma Gets Older and Finer

Today was babymomma’s birthday. We’re not allowed to talk about how young she is as it’s a national secret and if she tells you, she then has to come to your house and do terrible things to your underpieces while you sleep. When you wake up, there will be no feeling below your waistline (or the belly, as it is in my case). There was no taking the day off of work to celebrate her excellence, but we went to lunch at Harvest Moon.  A place that doesn’t take credit cards and believes that the boxes for leftovers should be the size of an altoids tin. The food was satisfactory to She Who We Must Worship. So much so that she did skip to and fro on the way back to the car as she sang Skip To My Lou, a song that I only learned recently because it’s stuff you play for babies. Come to think of it, I don’t know ANY of his nursery rhymes. This could be because Cubans only play Guantanamera for their kids. Or it could be something we weren’t allowed to listen to for religious reasons. Maybe the jehovah’s witnesses think skipping is a sin (just like all the other fun stuff, such as “cutting the cheese.”).

Well, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve started complaining about my childhood instead of doing what I came here to do: worship the woman I love with words (so that she does not dip my electronic devices in water while I sleep). Grandma, graceful woman that she is (AND she shares her birthday with William Shatner, so you KNOW she’s awesome) took babymomma and myself to eat at the Cheesecake Factory where Jack proceeded to scream in agony as soon as we stepped into the restaurant. After selling our soul to the devil, he finally calmed down and we had a pleasant time. I was even able to convince the waiter not to have anyone sing Happy Birthday or Skip to My Lou (I sensed jehovah’s witnesses in the place and I did not want to agitate them. If you make them angry they just start handing out magazines and speaking in tongues. Or Spanish.). Christina returned from the bathroom where she had gone to change Jack, or as I like to call him when poops: The Smelly One, and found her apple crisp ice cream dessert had a candle in it. Just one candle.

Because she is the best one in our life. Happy Birthday, darlin’. May your best skipping days be down the line.

Red Deck, Blue Sea

Almost done painting the deck

Almost done with the deck now. The worst of the cracked and rotted boards have been replaced. They sit on the temporarily relocated deck table in the northeast corner of the yard casting long shadows in the late afternoon sun. Some of boards’ ends arch up at the sky like old fashioned cartoon skis.

Got all the rails and the posts under them done yesterday. That took up a gallon; so many damn skinny posts. I went for another gallon today, but we ran through that, too.  Going to need another one to finish feeding this monster.

I have learned that this is the thing with wood: it swallows paint. Like it knows we’re trying to change it. Maybe this is where the ghosts of the previous owners make their last stand.

I admire these stubborn boards. I don’t like being prettied up either. I grumble at change. I creak. So maybe it’s just having a drink before the pretty party. Taking the edge off. It’s an alcoholic going on a final drinking binge. A painted oblivion. Lying out here behind the house, drying, creaking, cragging its edges up. Cutting and splintering. Taking a nice chunk of my right pointer finger. I’m letting it scar. It’s best to respect the deck. It took its flesh fair and square. A lil thin string of Cuban for about 130 feet of wood.

I remember the first time we saw this house and the realtor gave us a tour. I remember a child’s things in the back yard. A plastic Playskool playhouse and assorted dolls and a toy shopping cart. That playhouse was still there when we skulked through the alley in Elaine’s car later on, peeking at life in a home we thought we’d never live in. I was a little surprised the playhouse was there. I was sure the realtor put it there to sucker in anyone with kids. But I never thought about the darkness of the deck. That faded blue jean deck that seemed like a cowboy’s best friend.

Wasps underneath. Tripping me in the dark while I carry a bag with a dirty diaper in it. Splinters. This one board that rotted through so bad, a leg from the barbecue went in and the whole thing tipped over, spilling ash. The side steps that don’t really seem attached to anything. They clunk down when you walk on them. Like a lil wooden gotcha.

The toys in the yard made me ponder a family life. The grass made me consider responsibility and the upkeep of a full on home. The deck lured me in with promises of barbecues, card games, shade under the umbrella, and whiskey sours.

This week, it left me with a sore back, sunburns, and the smell of treated wood in my nose. Even in the light of the computer screen, my flesh is emergency sign red.

Jack slept for most of the time we were out there painting. Momma brought him out when we heard him on the baby monitor smacking around the toys in his crib. We’d run out of paint  by then and had been chilling under the fox palms. I had my head in her lap and Jack was standing on my face. It’s what he does. He climbs people.

The deck squatted before us, with just that tiny section of blue left. Defeated, really, like this was the last tooth left in its mouth.

Millions of wooden slivers of blue made up what was left: about 12 square feet.

Christina mentioned how beautiful Jack’s eyes were. So blue. Though sometimes crossed.

She comes from Vikings, you know? And his blue eyes are her baby blues which turned green eventually. Green by way of the blue sea that Vikings sailed while pillaging.

I wonder if they burned any decks.


I think the little guy is teething. He’s usually in a good mood but since last night, he’s been cranky and drooling like crazy. We gave him some baby Tylenol to maybe help him with any potential pain. I can cheer him up as usual by throwing him around and “flying” him. But it only soothes him so much. He’s out to the pastures of baby dreamland right now thanks to a combination of exhaustion, the drugs, and the tinny baby music we have going on.

I’m glad that he may potentially be hitting a milestone here. But I’m genuinely and unexpectedly going to miss when he surprises me with nose chomps. It’s something he’s done for awhile now and he always leaves tons of drool and a smile when he’s done.

What years old habits is he going to form that I’ll miss down the line? Hopefully not being a big old pussy like his dad.

How Do You Smell?

The assignment was: How do you smell?

I will shower with Dove. I will meld the remaining sliver from the last bar on the top of the new one. Some Arctic Breeze deodorant the lady picked out for me. It’s got an orange top and it’s not the gel stuff I like. It’s that hard white stuff that looks like powder later on, if you look, if you give a shit. But hey, it’s better than nothing. I will sweat as soon as I get out of the shower. Always foggy in the bathroom when I’m done because I turn the water hot enough to make me red. The smell of cut grass and gas from the lawnmower won’t leave me for days. Sometimes when I kill lots of ants I feel them on me as if their dying gasp is a hundred temporary psychic ant bites. It’s the same with the grass. A million felled blades have fired telepathic chlorophyl stabs at my brain. This particular pair of jeans never fades from green at the bottom of the legs, stained from the eternal yard holocaust. I get the baby for a bit. He smells sweet, he is milk and flesh. He hasn’t bathed in two days and smells the same even though he peed on me again this morning and surely got some on himself. While lying sideways on my chest, piss leaked out the back of his diaper and at my neck. I could only sigh. Feel it go from warm to cold against my chest.

It smells cold in the house. The giant Rheem outside has not stopped cranking cool. It intends to be victorious over the heat. My nostrils are flashed with the air conditioner. Makes me think of mornings and how my nose has to wake up with everything else. Mornings, I smell that bit of salt on me, the grease in my hair, ball sweat from the wakeup tug, that slight cheese from fingernails and the skin underneath.

The baby farts a man’s fart. Like an abandoned egg dish. It’s 12:07 pm. The cracked white leather chair I sit in when I’m sweating creaks hello with every adjustment of my body, soaks up my wet shirt and jean hips. She is doing something in the bathroom, so I have him for a little bit. I bring him close to my nose again because I don’t want to smell myself: funk, root dirt grown in layers as my arms twist my pit hairs back and forth, making a fire while I wrestle with the mower, drag the trash bin in the alley, throw another fucking palm frond over the fence where they go.

This is where I sit when I smell like a man.