it can’t take everything

September 25, 2015

there were moments when things made a bit more sense.
a memory of this came with a song the other day.
at a time; my wife and kids and I all enjoyed it together,
one of our momentary family anthems – a peaceful song
and proof that there was this day with enjoyment.
with the memory came a longing for that different day
just so that I could appreciate its happening.

at the core there is a constant reaching…
slow stretch of fingertips
to brush beauty.
its hard to yearn and strive
and keep open;
not to snap shut and turn on something
you can grasp two-handed and throttle
or more often give up in indolence or easy dissent
sinking back into the default of exhaustion.

…but beauty flowing like wisps of smoke
gathering in my hands, winding around my fingers…
what about the dream of you I had once
– all those I love with that ache of longing –
standing together talking, holding their stars.
or the easy afterglow of the Unfair Advantage
or the occasional day alone in wilderness.
I know that I have inhaled beauty
and that can’t be taken from me.

at work…
6 deer stepped across the parking lot.
young bucks; their antlers: big and new and awkward
impeding their quick disappearance
into the thin copse of trees at the edge.
then walking in the community garden
I saw a pumpkin on the dying vine
still small and half buried
but so orange.
is that what it is like inside
the sense of returning?
a few unwithered vines still reaching…
to soon to tell
need more rain.
I hope when it comes I will dance in it with my children.

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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

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.

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.

hello… can you hear me… hello…
hey, God… your cuttin’ out…
im going through a tunnel…
and i don’t see any light at the end of it.

so, what to say about prayer?
(without really thinking very much about it – 
cause i don’t feel like thinking)
well, ive definitely fallen out of the practice.
exempli gratia, i.e., e.g. :
the other day i was sextoning down on the basement level
at work on a stubborn (plumbing) problem.
i got frustrated enough to say out loud
“c’mon God gimmee a break here.”
(mens rea? well, it was the men’s room)
and i was out of character and out of sorts.
the exclamation did not shock me because of banality
but because after the exclamation, i immediately thought,
oh, He can’t hear me,
you can’t get cell phone reception down here.

i was done with the job and half way up the stairs
before laughing out loud at myself:
wow, i am really out of practice

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.”

excreting non-sequitur

August 4, 2014

barely human barely sane barely functional barely alive barely a father barely a husband barely a friend barely a brother barley water

once
i was driving down a side road in a solidly middle class urban neighborhood
and a peacock wandered across the road.
as i sat in my car watching it
a lady leaving her house a couple of doors down
stopped her car rolled down her window and asked if it was mine,
i guess i could have gotten a free peacock that day.

if there is a God
i am completely convinced of his providence
and utterly bewildered by his disinterest
(today)

when i was around 8
i was riding my bike
and a woman ran into me with her much larger bike
it knocked me off my bike and sent me sliding across the pavement
(this was pre-helmets; mind you)
she stopped and as she loomed over me
hands remaining on her handle bars, straddling her bike of apathy
she looked down and said, “are you alright”
i lay there bleeding from facial road rash
feeling a bit confused from being suddenly thrown to the ground
and bounced around a bit
and i thought as i looked up at her
adults are idiots. they’re no smarter than us kids
i felt so indignant (of course i’m not alright)
its the first time i remember feeling like
i didn’t have to listen to these people.

if i could choose the way i am to be judged by others;
i would choose to be judged by the company i keep,
by the quality and character of my friends.

cause i can even make complimenting my friends about me

i was ringing out a mop
and as i picked it up out of the bucket
the mop handle crashed into the open, hanging light fixture
knocking out the two four-foot fluorescent light bulbs
which in turn and in quick succession
bounced off of my head
the very short stubble there
providing just enough cushion to keep them from breaking.
in what seemed like slow motion
i dropped the mop handle
and reached out catching a bulb in either hand
i felt like such a ninja
but i was the clumsy idiot who knocked the bulbs
out of the fixture with the mop in the first place
not a ninja, just a sexton

barely moments barely thoughts barely worth mentioning life.