Construction Worker

In plump raindrops, the construction worker, with his hard hat and faded denim jeans, dirty-orange safety vest, pulls taut a white string that comes from a manhole in the lane nearest the sidewalk. He labors slowly, like a man pulling a semi; like a centaur. With the rope over his shoulder each step is deliberate as he steps, one by one, away from the manhole. Each step a strain and burden. The object, which he pulls is never seen, always out of sight -much like the ones that are paying him. He puts the rope down, puts his hands on his waist, and stretches his neck. Students walk by, some chatting, some not. The sound of cars driving over the wet pavement rise and fall. Now the man begins to descend into the manhole. After not too long, when he comes back up, he has the other end of the string.

Modernization

While you’re walking down paths of progress, between redbrick post- Victorian apartments and new construction framing, under berry laden but otherwise bare branches, through the din of robins and chickadees, finches and sparrows, the ancient cacophony spills out from every direction, you know it intrinsicly and realize it won’t be long forgotten even in the face of modernization.

Like You Always Used To Do


you look up at the moon tonight, like you always used to do. not the same pale arizona moon, though. the douglas fir points with tri-tips, bent like a phoenix, toward it. clouds pass by swirling and melting. the moon shines with a rainbow halo surrounding it, which changes shape and intensity as the clouds pass. some kind of animal screeches in the tree behind you, you think maybe a baby. from a few blocks away, maybe half a mile, you hear a crash, a thud, and it doesn’t occur to you until moments later, while the car horn continues to blare that its an accident. minutes pass; police sirens. the clouds still pass by, the moon still shines, the branches of the doug-fir still shake in the breeze. a couple more minutes; ambulence sirens wail. that’s when it occurs to you that hope is the same feeling as despair.

Out by the Cedar

Sat out by the cedar, lines run along her bark like stretch marks, they seem to be a test of time. She leaned over and said everything’s gonna be just fine, stop trying to live up to good enough, chasing shadows. I know. I know, years ago it was only your burden, now it’s his too. I can’t help it! I said, I’m a child of the eighties, molded by Ray-gun’s greed! Waves of traffic on a distant shore, wrapped in green, shielded by her barrier canopy. Sat in silence, she listened as I tried to repair all those words. Time slowed, until, eventually, it had no meaning. Followed a line of red ants up those stretch marks until we reached a knot, as big as my face, where they seemed to disappear. I felt around the edge, it was warm and soft, like a sea urchin’s belly. So I did what any man would do and leaned my face in. It was dark, but warm, I hadn’t even gotten half way in when I pulled out again. Scared, but craving more, I reached with my hand and tugged on the outer rim, she stretched enough to fit my arm in, then my face and suddenly I was pulling myself inside her, her womb. Was it I that was pulling or she pulling me? perhaps we worked together, until I had no body, or face or any physical characteristics, I was her and she was me and I looked into her heartwood. Kaleidoscopic shades of red filled my vision, a unifying warmth enveloped me and She said: old habits change slowly, with patience, attention and understanding. All you have to do is support him. And when she said him I thought of his face and the pang of despair rippled through my heart, and hers, and we shared the lonely hollowness of fatherhood, knowing that anything we do won’t be good enough, and is bound to make a scar. All the world is conditions, and of conditions there are supporting and unsupporting, choose to be the supporting condition for growth. Then our consciousness expanded; all life is expanding, changing, looking for answers to questions that generate growth. We looked out over the horizon, we were the horizon, and everything we saw was also us, and the warmth radiated over everything. Then I was birthed to the ground in a thump, covered in sap, and bark and red ants. My son stood there, in the dark, cold, wind-swept rain, astonished and he said, da-ad, are you OK? I couldn’t help it, I began to cry. He said something to me and put his hand on my shoulder, and I couldn’t hear him as I looked up her skirt at the knot where I was birthed had disappeared, and I said, not now son, she’s gonna come back to talk to me again. And I cried again. Seeing the repeating, though unable to move, until eventually he went away. Days and nights, months and years have since passed and I still sit at her base, like stone, waiting for her return.

Out by the Cedar

Sat out by the cedar, lines run along her bark like stretch marks, they seem to be a test of time. She leaned over and said everything’s gonna be just fine, stop trying to live up to good enough, chasing shadows. I know. I know, years ago it was only your burden, now it’s his too. I can’t help it! I said, I’m a child of the eighties, molded by Ray-gun’s greed! Waves of traffic on a distant shore, wrapped in green, shielded by her barrier canopy. Sat in silence, she listened as I tried to repair all those words. Time slowed, until, eventually, it had no meaning. Followed a line of red ants up those stretch marks until we reached a knot, as big as my face, where they seemed to disappear. I felt around the edge, it was warm and soft, like a sea urchin’s belly. So I did what any man would do and leaned my face in. It was dark, but warm, I hadn’t even gotten half way in when I pulled out again. Scared, but craving more, I reached with my hand and tugged on the outer rim, she stretched enough to fit my arm in, then my face and suddenly I was pulling myself inside her, her womb. Was it I that was pulling or she pulling me? perhaps we worked together, until I had no body, or face or any physical characteristics, I was her and she was me and I looked into her heartwood. Kaleidoscopic shades of red filled my vision, a unifying warmth enveloped me and She said: old habits change slowly, with patience, attention and understanding. All you have to do is support him. And when she said him I thought of his face and the pang of despair rippled through my heart, and hers, and we shared the lonely hollowness of fatherhood, knowing that anything we do won’t be good enough, and is bound to make a scar.  All the world is conditions, and of conditions there are supporting and unsupporting, choose to be the supporting condition for growth. Then our consciousness expanded; all life is expanding, changing, looking for answers to questions that generate growth. We looked out over the horizon, we were the horizon, and everything we saw was also us, and the warmth radiated over everything. Then I was birthed to the ground in a thump, covered in sap, and bark and red ants. My son stood there, in the dark, cold, wind-swept rain, astonished and he said, da-ad, are you OK? I couldn’t help it, I began to cry. He said something to me and put his hand on my shoulder, and I couldn’t hear him as I looked up her skirt at the knot where I was birthed had disappeared, and I said, not now son, she’s gonna come back to talk to me again. And I cried again. Seeing the repeating, though unable to move, until eventually he went away. Days and nights, months and years have since passed and I still sit at her base, like stone, waiting for her return.

Thug Raid at 4 a.m.

The raid happened swiftly. Under the cover of night where the moans and groans would be a little softer and the insolence suppressed by the tremor of wakefulness. RV’s lined the street sandwiched between an industrial park and rail yard. The police ushered all the campers out of their RV’s, took their names, or whatever form of identification they could get, and politely told the squatters they’d need to find somewhere else to go. A young loner gets escorted while he wails about his plight. The cops turn up some opioids from his den. If they couldn’t move their vehicles the city would have them impounded. By then the grumblings and the protestations of the campers were drowned out by the big rigs hauling in the bollards, tow trucks arriving, and the crew setting up floodlights.

By early morning city sponsored trash bags filled with things, which were already once discarded, then picked up with a hope for some future purpose, fill the empty space behind the concrete bollards. A tent had popped up sometime in the hours between and a social worker would be onsite by mid afternoon. Amidst the emptiness in the air is the sense that perhaps all of this amounts to only the amassing of things. Regardless of social status, the only thing we can all be said to be doing is collecting for some greater future.     

Consumed

 

He was already dead before he was born, came out of the womb like   void                     and now he’s the nightmare that lives down your street. Dwelling in desolation and isolation, he just wants to live in your house, live in your skin, take it all in. He’s never really seen but lurks from within. it’s kind of an addiction, if you know what i mean. Sitting on the sidelines, life never really comes for him. Everyday he makes exactly the same. He lives in emptiness outside the sleepy hallows, on the periphery, imperceptible. When the night comes, he swallows his breath and gives in again and again, rolling his eyes in the back of his head, devil’s cock in his hand, wanting only to consume, to be consumed.

A Brief Transcription of a Phone Call Where for the First Time a Middle Aged White Man Complains to his Wife of Being Marginalized

“No, you’re not,”

“But I mean it’s like nobody wants to hear my voice, my perspective. I’m a dad to a daughter, a husband, raised by a single mom, we’re all in this together and I matter too dammit.”

“Mmhmm,”

“…”

“Honey, you’ve had the whole of history to be ‘heard’ exclusively. You’re voice doesn’t need to be heard right now, move on.”

36

“Jesus is Just Alright,” by the Moody Blues plays overhead from the drop off parking area of the casino. The Beachside Resort and Casino.

My wife and I were blazed as fuck, I mean tore up, when we walked out to meet our shuttle driver for the satellite hotel, who was waiting to take us back down the main strip. His name was Stan, Stan the man, “Ok here we geaux folks,” the music is drowned out as the double doors to the van shut, the brakes squeeze, sqwoosh, and we head out. Stan is a nice guy, a good ‘ole fashioned kind of gay, never realized it, kept repressing it, for the longest time until he had a daughter, with his ex wife, Sherry. moved out, got divorced. Now he drives the Beachside shuttle at nights and waits tables at a breakfast diner down the strip. It’s not exactly a gay Haven out here, so it’s kind of a lonely existence if it weren’t for his daughter, which is exactly why he has no regrets.  

 

We’re here celebrating my 36th. We got a whole day before the kids meet us, so we’re doing it right, just like the old days, smokin’, drinkin’, fuckin’, we plan on being the seediest couple in the motel tonight, we won’t be.  

 

Terry Ann catches a ride with Stan the man, she sits in the way back, in the shadows, with her thirteen y/o granddaughter, who sits, mortified, looking bored like a real sweetheart, “ch’ya ri ight, chhh’ this little sweetheart right here won’t do her chores, won’t do her homework, and I know she’s stealin’ my rum.”

She isn’t.

 

Anyway Terry Ann tells us we’re a real sweet couple, she starts talking us up, like she done any night a young couple is in town, plenty of em pass through, that’s all this town is anyway, passers through, drunks, lovers, sunsetters, and Terry Ann.

 

Moxie doesn’t like Terry Ann, well she doesn’t not like her, she just kinda can’t stand being around her, it’s a constant reminder of how her mother left her, and her daddy, who’d been leaving both of them since she can remember.

 

Terry Ann’d been following booze all her life. Grew up about an hour south of Coeur d’Alene Idaho, followed her first drunk husband to Spokane, settled down, got beat, had her only daughter. After the last time she got beat she took her daughter and left, continued on to the coast. “Hey, we drove through Coeur d’Alene once on our way to Montana.” Her daughter did about the same as she did, married a drunk and an abuser, though she was smart, “‘cause he was native.” When her daughter left Terry Ann took in Moxie and they been doin’ the best they could ever since.

 

“Did’ya get to spin the wheel?” she said under a half buried smile. She knows we spun the wheel, they all spin the wheel.

Stan the Man sure was being quiet, and that silence made me feel isolated, watched. How did I get this way anyway, so separated from anyone else, where does that come from? now it all starts to sink in, the quietude of space. I’m an asshole. How will Moxie remember this interaction? probably not much in the long term, but it’ll probably be thrown in with the other late night shuttle ride conversations, people being fake, distant, polite, but acting like they’re on some kind of pedestal, what makes me better than them? cause I live in a bigger town, cause I have other addictions that I think are ‘better’. Goddamn I’m an asshole. now this karma shit starts to hangover my head, like ‘cause I’m responsible for contributing to Moxie’s fucked up outlook on life, and furthering her alienation from people. Aren’t we all just furthering our alienation from people. We pull up to the motel, the brakes squeeze and Stan opens the door at the same time the shuttle comes to a stop. Thank cod. we stand up and I, trying to make up for my previous self, turn to Terry Ann and Moxie and say, “Well it was real nice to meet you,” and shake her hand. But that doesn’t do anything to make me feel better, because that’s exactly it, I was trying to make myself feel better.

 

We get into the motel room and my wife disappears to put on her new bra and panties she bought just for tonight. in order to get myself in the mood I turn on reruns of Seinfeld,

 

Kramer: I still don’t understand what the problem is having her in the building.

Jerry: Let me explain something to you. You see, you’re not normal. You’re a great guy, I love you, but – – you’re a pod.

 

“Oh. My. God. this is disgusting, I can’t believe it! There is a stain in my new panties!”

“Do you think someone tried them on and…”

“That’s gross.”

“Could you go look at them?” sure enough slug trail down the crotch.

“That’s like a dude trying on underwear and starting to jerk it and like precumming in them and putting them back. Ooh maybe that’s what happened…”

“Maybe,”

“Cause women aren’t perverts right? if it was a woman then people need to know, we can’t just have everyone thinking that only guys are perverts that precum in the dressing room at a department store and put the underwear back on a shelf… Where’s my phone?”

“Oh, I can’t believe it!”

 

“I,” Seinfeld continues, “on the other hand am a human being, I sometimes feel awkward, uncomfortable, even inhibited in certain situations with the other human beings…”

 

“Terry Ann and Moxie were really sweet,” I say distractedly. “I can’t believe I forgot to introduce us.”

“Who the fuck is Terry Ann and Moxie?”

“From the shuttle,”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, they never even said their names. And plus she was drunk.”

“But sweet.”

“Whatever.”

Low Tide

Sandpipers piping in the sand bar at low tide.

The mist was a cloud. We stood at the ocean’s shore, waded in the tidepools, as the wind ripped in every direction.