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
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.


what are reasonable expectations?

i don’t really know where to go from that question.

sleep, i guess.
thats the big one.
i used to assume that everyone was tired.
once upon…
a lady asked me how i was
(which at the time was typically low)
i didnt want to tell the truth, that could be obnoxious
but i have trouble saying “fine” like i’m supposed to
so i thought i had the perfect answer and i responded
“oh, same as everyone else i suppose”
she got serious and asked how everybody felt
and my response was: tired.
she said, “I’m not tired”.
and seemed genuinely surprised that everyone else was.
honestly, very presumptuous of me to speak for others
but surely this lady is an outlier.
she has like six kids and is super active all the time with everything
but not tired.
is everyone tired? (besides her)
i am too tired to even write this
that which i am writing
or are you too tired to tell
those who which i are reading.
can you be too tired to procrastinate?
i mean, it seems impossible now
surely i would fall to my knees and weep
if i tried to keep writing, to do anything
but whats to say it will be any easier tomorrow
to order the following into proper meaning
more sleep is unlikely
but i cant do it
put it off
you can read all this later. – oh, sorry.

how are you? says the van…
i am tired. says the wheel.

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.”

in another life that seems like a long time ago
i lived with my new wife in East Africa
we were staying a night upcountry
in the beautiful home of her family
an evening when the electricity
had worn out for the day

everything was green for the season of raining
and in between storms all was close and waiting
no machines were humming or running
no buzz from lighting just candles burning
entertainment was only quiet pages turning
i decided to slip away

out to the veranda in the cool of the evening
dragging the blankets i was secretly stealing
a pillow and snacks to finish my nest
prepared in a spot where i could see best
and not be observed though easily guessed
i was waiting a private play

it opened curtains of mist condensing on leaves
rivulets and drips on the branches of trees
then a gentle wet made it to the ground
as the rain picked up with a hushing sound
the sky clapped thunder and started to pound
without any more delay

i felt a small piece of the release and awe
relief of a land dependent on rainfall
i moved close to the edge to experience more
abandoned my blankets for a spot on the floor
i closed my eyes as it continued to pour
getting wet in the spray

i know that i smiled and probably wept
and then for a while i am certain i slept
as the red mud flowed down the paths and lanes
filled ravines that fed the greens on the Athi Plains
i don’t care if its cliché to talk of African rains
i remember, my spirit rested that day.


i have to admit that i hadn’t planned on rhyming this idea
but it started to on its own and i thought it was kinda cute
i probably shoulda stopped but what fun is that?

uniformed unicorn

May 9, 2014

where’s that new normal
i’d been hearing so much about,
…from myself.
once upon a time…
it was and it wasn’t
it is and it isn’t
it will be what it will be
and thats not much help.

just another myth
but lets not get into all that.
i mean, if its out there
im not against finding it.
im not anti-found
but im not profound either;
nor clever (wasn’t it?)
wielding my cleaver wit
(not a razor)
more like a mallet.
i will never master Ockham’s logic.
yet i am fragile
“handle with care”
as i step out into traffic.
“you can’t sleep here, in the middle of the road”.
thank you, officer. trust me, i know it –
not sleeping is my all time favorite habit.
but i can’t trust myself
i no longer know where i might be
or if you’ll be able to find me when you need help.
maybe i should wear a declarative dressing
so everyone knows what to expect just by glancing
but i want my uniform to have giant beautiful butterfly wings
so i can flap them and change things somewhere i will never see
cause when i try to change me?
its like using a meat tenderizer to chop down a tree.

you listen to me
as i talk about me
the fictional me
the me that i miss
because its missing
the me that i wish to be
with my endless failed attempt
to do what i meant

and you’ll listen to me
as i talk about me
so frustrated with my own inaccuracy
manic need and contempt for my self-expression
with no reasonable end to this attempt at articulation
and a frantic desire for the death of my own opinion
as i dig myself down down down
well past the end of the day
but if i stop you might get up and go away

you listen to me
and it is an act of absolute love
selfless and patient and above all that
it must be exhausting
your eyes are drooping and you need sleep
but i keep going
its so annoying im driving my self crazy
im not only stupid and lazy
but apparently i cant help this thing
that i always do
all of this
just cause i sat down to listen to you

oh that love.

March 12, 2014

you know that love?
it fills up and then overflows
almost overwhelms
where you have to jump up
and the back of your calves hit your chair
and it tumbles to the floor.
even at the end of the day
where you’ve spent everything
and all thats left is the depression
or exhaustion, or breathing, or nothing;
you think in circles of sickness
of work and time and duty and words and infection,
virus that has stolen your voice
a day like sepsis, a swollen mind, aching hands…
but what is that to them
now they are leaving you to sleep
their needs turning to their dreams
demanding Peter Pan and mermaids and fairies and Jesus,
and you’re alone with your ebbing obligation
and collapse
and then…
kisses in their hair
whispered blessings
with an intensity that they can’t hear
and may never fully understand,
these horribly beautiful children
my babies, i love you.
God bless you with
good sleep, good dreams, and a good day tomorrow.

whimper olympian

February 20, 2014

here is an unhelpful analogy:
sore throats are the depression of sickness.
(i’m not talking like strep throat or major depression,
just the normal stuff…
(look, the more you think about this the less sense it will make)
(o.k. lets continue))
you know, if you have a sickness that requires
proximity to a bathroom (or you have pink eye).
– no one wants you around
and you can’t hide it.
or if you gotta fever and you’re all pale and sweaty;
lookin like you’re about to fall out…
somebody is going to say:
“hey, you should probably go home.”
but when you’ve just got a sore throat?
what? – nobody cares, you seem well enough,
we all get some sore throats,
get back to work.
quit complainin , don’t wanna hear about it…
but you feel awful.
it hurts to breathe, you can’t sleep
you don’t want to see anybody
you just wanna be left alone.
you can take some meds and they’ll help a little bit
but everything seems like so much effort
and ooohhhhh the pain…
the excruciating existential doubt and pain!!
the light has gone out of the world
you don’t wanna get outta bed
you don’t wanna eat
the things you enjoy, don’t even sound vaguely appealing,
everything is just soooooo unfair! anguish!
God must hate you.
everything that was once good has burned in hellfire smoke
been inhaled, coated your throat,
and turned into deep scratchy swollen suffering!!
but thats no excuse.
you still gotta go to work, still gotta function,
come home do your part,
and the sickness extends into weeks
and it seems you will never be able to rest
never get better
and the picture of past happiness
or idea of future joy and healthfulness
blurs in the tears of your purulent eye… etc. etc.
ah, i’m tired.

see? – just like depression.

the greatest of these

November 7, 2013

you little thief I cannot catch you
as you rob me of my ambition, intentions and plans.

you hard master I cannot escape you
I must not; though your heel grinds me into the ground.

you angry god I cannot overcome you
your weight crushes, your lack flits and I despair.

you fickle lover I cannot hold you
I love you and let you go but you don’t return.

you lethal physician I cannot quit you
you are slowly killing me but without you I can’t breathe.

you warm friend I can only thank you
never do I deserve you and never do I lack.