what can I bring

January 7, 2016

oh, my Daughters.
hugs…love…listening…
I am not proud
I know I have no discipline
and when I try it on you = its weak at best
sporadic, erratic; I bark and back off quickly
having accomplished nothing.
what am I teaching…
only what you are watching.
no fooling myself,
I know its only my consistent behaviors.
my inadvertent quirks and starts and lurches
that bring any lessons.
you see me survive,
love your mother well
and the rest is vague.
you know me in my limitations
and lingering sadness; vulnerability.
you know me
and I can’t know what that means
or how it is shaping you…
terrible and terrifying
I don’t even know where to begin.
I was a man of prayer and imagination once.
I wish you knew me before the grinding.
now I’m just tired…
a man of reluctance,
a man who needs a shave
who needs convincing;
and you can usually do it…
because you have soft cheeks that gather when you smile,
interests of your own,
secret ways that know me
to wiggle into all the cracks.
you have learned,
whatever I have brought;
positive/negative.
I hold on to hope that somehow
to you
it will always mean safety.

we awoke to snow the other day
a bit unusual here
the kids went out (ill prepared) to play in it
with wet gloves and pink, swollen fingers

I wanted to go out
but I excused myself regarding my pj pants
and that I remember the treasure of playing alone
without adults.
I did make one snowball
and threw it at a telephone poll (I missed)
but mainly the snow served to more deeply and clearly
define the Woolf tracks at my door; prowling
surrounding me.
come. I want to be eaten – devoured
but my pockets don’t hold enough rocks
and I don’t have the energy to fill them
besides the river looks so cold
to just go walking in gasping
grasping a poorly made snowball
pj pants sagging off from the weight of the rocks,
besides Virginia didn’t have kids
playing on a hill in the near distance.

come Woolf and howl
it is mournful but meaningless.

another Woolf

eggshells and mug shards

December 17, 2014

tell me that you love me.
i just want to stop moving for a little while
have a lie down
sleep to escape me,
but these days i snore
so even in the night
i bother us all.
dammit this stuff was supposed to help me
not make me crazier.
i don’t know what to expect
or what is even a valid expectation.
your love
is the constant.
so exhausted that it
turned to crying this morning
for me for you for us for them.
i don’t know where my heart has got to
and the mug leapt out of my hand
as i was trying to put it away
crashed down on that important plastic thing
rendering it useless
i yelled as it bounced and fell to the floor
broken, ruined
my heart
pulverized
what kind of fragile things
are our children growing up with
as i toss eggshells all over the floor
on the couch, on the carpet, in the kitchen
where ever i went this morning, wherever i go.
i know that our first-born
would cover the shells with candy hearts
and sweet little slogans
sincere visions in colored paper hung on the fridge.
she squeezes into the hug
so tall now
but still finding room…
there is room for them all.
but i lack the strength
to sweep up.
be careful where you step, kids
dad’s heart is missing again.

i will try

November 17, 2014

if i were to come home
wrap you in a cozy blanket
lay you on the couch in warm light
brush your hair and rub your feet
with quiet companionable equanimity
that would be awesome

if i were to come home
grab a cheapassbeer from the fridge
collapse on the couch amidst the chaos
feel the ache in my head and feet
try to accept the noise and my deep tension
that would be obvious

if i were to come home
wrap you in a hug as soon as the kids let me
sit on the couch with them and read books
look forward to when we can relax our minds and rest our feet
together release as much of it all as we can
that will be enough

no groan-ups allowed

November 9, 2014

i think money is better than work
work sucks
money is great
and the two dont seem to have a whole lot to do with each other
so, there you go
debt is easy and depressing and impossible and probable
even though we are careful
and i am a skilled little sexton
i am also a depressed and anxious one
without the possibility of ambition
there is just no money or romance
in exhausting yourself physically
and hurting and being afraid
both financially and of getting older.
it takes years to become a journeyman
or master craftsman and make money as a true tradesman
might as well be a doctor
or learn Japanese
plus most guys slave for someone else
take their paycheck and go (like me for example)
they dont give a shit about what theyre doing
and theyre still all better at it than me
but here i am
stuck and whinging (i like that word –
though its so close to whining its almost pointless to know it)
and winging it – constantly anxious
because i never really feel like i know what im doing
no one has ever taught me any of this stuff
i just kind of had to figure it out
and so i still feel like im doing it all wrong
plus i spend half my time just moving heavy things
my life is a waste
oh by the way
i have a depression problem and am not a reliable narrator
ignore my bullsnit – thats right i said bullsnit – for no reason
if it wasnt for my now crippling anxiety
i would go back to school for a therapy license of some sort
it would be much less stressful in the long run i think
and definitely better money
and everybody wants a depressed, anxious therapist.
i still live in the same place and do the same nothing and my stomach hurts everyday and i keep getting worse as i get older and i am afraid of this and im trying new meds and they always fuck with me but my marriage is exceptional and i get better looking every year. i am so stressed and paranoid but i listen to a lot of good stuff (pod-casts books music etc) to unsuccessfully distract my self from that. being a parent sucks but i like my kids as friends though the anxiety and depression gets in the way of that a lot but i am a gentle man so my kids love me a ton and thats pretty good and im no good at writing anymore cause this is an attempt to be funny

sorry now im tireder and dont want to write anymore
i want to go on a beautiful hike
i dont want to discourage anyone or be a downer
i dont really know anything cause im just a sexton:
a holy handyman a cloistered custodian a justified janitor
a sanctified super – high maintenance
thats me
your friend

aaackkk. its very 1st world educated middle class
to feel this miserable and poor while having so much – its disgusting.
place ourselves before the world… we are not poor
but i wish so hard that i could give my family more.
money is stupid
besides what do i really sacrifice to provide better?…
not enough, i just drink really gross cheap ass-beer,
thats what it is = ass-beer.
my Unfair Advantage still believes that i write songs that are good enough to bring in a bit of cash
i dont know (i doubt it) and cant get my act (in every way) together enough to find out anyway
a best friend once said that i had “production-anxiety” and was so right
i think about that phrase all the time and it constantly almost changes my life and the way i do things
maybe today it will
maybe today it will
maybe today is different

lately i’ve been such a mess that i want to ask people for prayers
i want santa god to help me out
anything to escape me
but there is no way out
not even suicide
couldnt do that to my people
and death is scarier than life anyway
too much of a wuss to live successfully or die properly
or believe anything or to have hope
hip hope hooray
wow, i am being such a downer
such a whinger
such a groan-up
i will stop now

cage

October 16, 2014

my brother (in-law) always asks:
if you were an animal right now, what would you be?
i like this game.
i like to hear the kids answer
and what the adults say if they’re willing to play.
well, since you asked…

i would be a (non-specific) zoo animal.
see, here’s the thing about zoo animals:
for the circumstances of survival? they’ve got it made.
in their modern enclosures
well fed and comfortable, safe,
taken care of, even loved.

i’ll be honest,
as i sit here and write this
i think, “i’m failing to explain myself”.
on the way home, in the car, it seemed like a good metaphor
and i had it worked out on so many levels
that i was surprised.
i mean – all metaphors eventually dry up,
break down and face their limitations
but this one seemed nicely apt
and remarkably nuanced and multi-whatevered.
now i’m not even sure what i was trying to get at.
plus there’s plenty folks who find zoos sad / repugnant
and would have good arguments against what i just said.

but i’m not debating anything here, just wandering…

at the zoo:
when we pass the pumas
their eyes follow my golden-haired child
and i feel their feral thoughts: …food.
the flamingos walk around mumbling at one another;
goofy and striking.
the petting area full of harassed goats
and a carpet of brown pellets.
the enclosed, engineered spaces full of thousands of creatures
worlds away from where their wild fellows are mostly dying.
and they have no idea where they are or what their world is,
and probably don’t care.
but i once saw a local squirrel lose its grip
on the net covering the snow leopard enclosure – falling.
that was an intense few minutes.
but when the chase was over;
the squirrel was breathing heavy on the outside
of the net considering its unfortunate clumsiness;
dexterity, good luck, and freedom…
while on the other side sat a frustrated beautiful beast.
born and bred in captivity, languid and lackadaisical.
then the squirrel had to rush off
to its frantic existence of foraging and survival
while the leopard yawned, stretched,
found a comfortable shady spot
and lay down for a rest after the excitement.
and there it is.

if animals were people
and had some kind of idea about themselves
and feelings about themselves one way or another
as a success or failure in their animalness
what kind of people would your animal be?
(that was stupid but i’m not gonna change it.)

i don’t want to be pacing the cage
but i like being safe and warm,
loved, cherished and taken care of.
our instinct is to be feral
but we all enjoy having our bellies rubbed.
as my mind flies and dives
runs and climbs and leaps
exalting in wild beauty;
i sit in my cage
roll onto my back and wait.

go and do likewise

September 29, 2014

a neighbor, a friend
one who shows mercy.
the inconvenienced, the kind;
you are these for reading.

one of the unspoken rights of friendship is standing permission to inconvenience each other without the fear of reprisal, rejection, resentment or disconnect.

but my Samaritan instincts are lacking
and i need time when someone asks something of me;
to get over my petulance and my tiny self.
yet time is often exactly what can’t be granted –
that being the nature of needing a sudden favor.
(oh me, to suffer inconvenience, to interrupt my privilege)
the thing is
an unplanned conversation can take as long
and possibly be as inconvenient as a sudden favor,
but a good talk happens all the time and goes mostly unnoticed.
but when its an actual physical favor;
why do i want recognition for having been inconvenienced?
shouldn’t one just feel good for being good?
unless you’re talking to me at night…
no one will feel good about that
cause i wont let you go to sleep
though your eyes will be drooping
and you can no longer focus or pay attention
and you will feel like weeping unless i go away…
still i will be talking and talking and failing to say anything.
sort of like… say… me blogging
the recognition in such cases should be me going away.
sorry.

usually you can’t really know how
the other person is put out when you ask a favor
(or have a conversation)
even if they let it be known that its not good timing for them.

im thinking about a time i asked someone for a ride suddenly
or another
when i was with someone who had to borrow an old unused truck.
small things, but there was hesitation before agreement
and i cannot possibly know what it really cost to grant the favor,
what happened during that moment’s hesitation,
they may not be able to articulate it themselves.
but people are so good.

no matter how small the favor
the only possible response is gratitude.

one thing that none of us need
and none of us need be
is a scorekeeper.

forgiveness and gratitude walk around hand in hand
under the auspices of mercy
who in turn is acting for love.

and i am an incredibly clumsy friend.
though i love and i am so loved.
i have seen so many gracious, generous people;
friends, neighbors – inconvenienced and kind.
who am i that my time should be so precious?
my friends are wonderful
and my neighbors have been pointed out to me
by a very reliable source;
i just want to be humble
and go and do likewise.

the last sock matched
laundry finally finished
bed was made before a child got in it
and jumped and wrestled
and hid under the blanket
until bed time
when clothes again filled the laundry basket
and covered the floor
scattered with the legos and cars and more
art work than any surface could handle
oh… someone has taken a deck screw
and twisted it into a candle
red wax chunks all over the carpet
what child did this?
probably the one hiding under the blanket
in the wrong bed, in the wrong room
go get the kid, go get the vacuum
so neither of them get smashed into the ground
do something good, that sucks,
while calming down
floor is cleaned
now what about teeth
that goal tonight
might just be out of reach
but wait there is also faces, feet, hands
off to the bathroom, kids, be a marching band!
no, no fun can keep out the fussing
no level of effort can prevent the cussing
that never comes out
but swirls around in the head
when it becomes certain that the children
will never go to bed.

the sexton vs. the plumber

August 21, 2014

warning: the following prominently features a dream sequence,
and is a bit long for the small story it has to tell…

i do not often remember my dreams.
a lot of times i’ll wake up with some snippet of melody
or a single strange phrase, like: lunch-meat tunnel
bouncing around endlessly in my head
but i won’t remember the story that goes along with them.
i’m glad cause they are always stressful.
(here is an example of one i did remember).
even if i dream about flying
exhilaration will mutate into a terror
of not knowing how to land without certain death.
ahhhh sleep, i’m so good at it in every way you can fail.

i’ve got a friend who is an excellent plumber
and an even better man.
we don’t really hang out on purpose
but whenever we encounter each other
(i think) we are both genuinely pleased.
he is stalwart generous confident capable clever funny,
he often volunteers at the church with labor and advice
+ i know that if he can’t or doesn’t want to help
he will tell me – and that is very freeing.
yet, we are ideological opposites;
but these things that many people would consider core
and necessary to even having a civil interaction
have no effect on the mutual enjoyment of our friendship.
once when watching our kids play the conversation
turned to discipline and after a bit he laughs and says:
“oh yah, i forget you guys are dirty hippies.”
it was a fun talk (really) and as a closing statement
delivered totally straight-faced (but with an eye twinkle)
he says: “doesn’t matter, i know i’m a better dad than you”.
i have been open with him and i trust him
and, you see, all that…
and the fact that i recently learned he is a competitive marksman
is probably why…
in the dream: he is who i called
when my family was taken hostage.

in the hazy way of dream remembering –
i don’t know the who or why; only the what…
it was an intense and desperate situation:
my family was in extreme danger from a group of horrible some-ones.
these others broke in and violently took my wife and children.
the threat to my family of every possible bad thing was implicit.
my life was also threatened but i was alone, powerless
and didn’t have access to wherever they were being held.
so i called the plumber:
“man, you gotta help…
please promise you will do whatever it takes to protect my family.”
in an instant he was there and i was running to meet him
everything in slow motion.
he stepped out of his truck
while fluidly bringing his rifle to his shoulder
and shot twice:
the first bullet slammed into my right shoulder
jerking me to the side,
the second tore through my gut
throwing me backwards off my feet.
the pain was incredible
but worse, was the shock of betrayal
as the bullets ripped through my body;
the thought: no, he’s… with them, how could he do this?
he walked slowly up to where i was lying on the ground
calm and earnest, pointing a pistol to my head, he said quietly:
“this is in the best interest of your family”
and i knew he wasn’t with them
and i knew he was right.

the final shot was ringing in my head when i woke up
leaping through the air, out of the bed, into the wall.
my shoulder hurt for several days.

the thing is – if i tell the plumber
i know what his response will be:
“man, that’s not realistic.
you would have been dead after the first shot.”

paradox and palindrome

July 30, 2014

my firstborn’s initials are HRB
and because we call the middle kid by her initials –
EZB (Easy Bee)
i thought i would use fair practice for initials (FPFI)
and so i started calling her Herb
and then Herbert – she hates this.

HeRB has a strange artistic integrity,
an intensity that commands/inspires respect
though she can have trouble granting it.
she is older than she needs to be
and yet liable to break her self down
to near emotional infancy in a moment.
she can be generous to a point that makes me nervous;
and i want to tell her that she can’t give so much
but she doesn’t hesitate or regret,
she anticipates. (positive and negative)
she does not make it easy to romanticize parenting.
she does desire to please
but is not so eager to do so
that she will allow it to interfere
with whatever story her mind has her living in.
she loves with all her heart
she is passionate, earnest and fragile
she is her own and
has a hundred worlds spinning all around her at once
awaiting her pleasure and continued creation.
she dances in my deepest heart
captures, captivates, fascinates, infuriates
she is definitely not just a little kid anymore;
i delight in her friendship.
i think we will always be friends,
i have joy in that.

she is so much more than I could ever say
so far beyond my powers of articulation or reason
she is exasperating
she is beautiful
she is 7
she is my daughter
i am glad.