An Investment in Interesting

I can’t get to the truth

the same way twice

because magic is the man who does impractical things

Beaten pathways are trod-on by hard-hitting people

their meaning is confirmed by money

but Death is the only currency

Why is it that a stranger has more love than a best friend?

Position, fame, and material gain

make living a laugh

while everyone tries to be exciting

the world is coming to an end

the hold-outs have value

kindness, a smile, a friend

those with little to say

say a lot

they give hope to humanity

because they don’t want to save it

and anyone who does, I stay away from

in my tiny room

where the walls speak

We are a thousand things in the dark

until we decide

to be one

and that

is an investment

in interesting.

Rodeo Clown

I sit in the dirt

asking why?

Why should I get up

when I’m just going to get bucked off

again

this is a one man show

and I’m the only one watching

I’m not even the hero

trampled on

riding a beast

of my pleasure

tearing my fingernails

lying in my underwear

eating chili

contemplating momentary power

while I squeeze meaning from

my empty ketchup bottle

You have to shake it

and hit the end

until it pukes everything out

I’m a rodeo clown

seeing the limits

wanting to jump fences

with painted face and ring heroics

masking, my trampled drifter status

I’m not funny

though I laugh at myself

How can I leave this circus

and become a man in a suit, reading numbers, and saying the right things?

that is a different rodeo

where one clown rides high

even though, he or she is feeling low

if you wipe off their paint

you see their nakedness

hung by ties

it’s a rodeo

with 8 seconds of fame

before getting bucked off

in the dirt.

Disaffected Golfer

I have become a cynical, distant, lover of my own thoughts. I romanticize depression and solitude, while the world has fun. I love to think myself superior, while simultaneously knowing I’m not. It’s just an act, to get from one boring moment to the next. So, in desperation, I decided to play golf on a luke-warm beautiful blue day. The skinny blonde in the pro shop wears a pink polo shirt, with tattoos in all the wrong places. She doesn’t belong.

“It looks pretty busy… did a tournament go out earlier today?” I ask.

“Yes. Do you want to pay for twilight?”

“Yeah.” I can tell she doesn’t know anything. She got hired because she was hot; I don’t even think she plays golf. We all have a sixth sense about these things. I meet the guy I’m paired up with. He has a pony tail, white hair—probably a hippie educator. I can spot them anywhere… their Prius, their love, their reading of books written by disaffected dissidents. I knew what I was in for. He would tell me that he had a handicap of 32 and shot over 100. This would break the ice, the prime message being… “I’m just a guy that needs to get out and walk for a bit.” The conversation would be superficial, mostly about golf courses, handicaps, and what we did for work. He would be pleasant to perfection. And he was. Luckily, I only had to play nine holes with him. There is only so much pleasantness I can take before I want to start a fight. Don’t tell me why I think these thoughts—it’s the desperation to make something happen, something that makes the cardboard faces burn.

Dark spiritual fog usually makes people stay away from me, and it’s utopia, but when I have conquered my spiritual problems through clean living, meditation, and ethics, people are attracted to me. I have experienced both, and I prefer not to be bombarded by superficial praise or sycophantic magnetism. It may be what the celebrities experience, a similar syndrome where they all get together and whine about how famous they are and how much money they have. This plays out in the workplace in the following way…

“You know, so and so was talking about you, but I don’t think you’re an interesting person.” This is a straight-up test I get a lot—always from the female, and No, I’m not being sexist.

“You should get a Harley; then everyone would think of you differently.” I could tell her that I don’t care what other people think, but this is always said by people who care the most, so I stay silent. Apparently, I’m not reacting how she wants. She doesn’t know why. I know why. It’s the spiritual discipline. Then she says…

“You know, I heard you did some traveling; so did I. I went to these islands above Norway; they look like sperm.” I don’t react; she’s the science teacher, so she has an out.

Back on the golf course, I was having some strange thoughts, while holding a pleasant conversation. I don’t wonder what others are thinking, because I am thinking. I love golf because of the distance between shots. Long periods of walking and thinking. Girls up ahead. Both wearing mini-skirts. They are attractive.

I finish 9 holes with the hippie and start playing by myself. Canadian Geese are everywhere, pooping, and eating. I think about what might happen if I slip and fall.

THE END

At Night

at night

when we are all alone

the darkness wraps us in a dark blanket

where we can be

all the horrible things

in the cold.

at night

we melt away

into walls that shut us in

security

for all the visions

that keep us looking

in the same direction.

at night

what we love

is no longer the same

when we do it

without the ones we love.

at night

desperation sinks in

as we float above our mind

until we fall into the depths

of unconscious dreams.

Conversational Wars

“Congratulations Budd, what are you going to do with your degree?”

“I don’t know… maybe I’ll be a lecturer.”

“Those jobs are really hard to get. You know… you might try to get a continuing ed job—they’re less competitive.”

“Oh, thanks.”

“You know Budd, I tried to print something on mom’s computer and it took 30 minutes…”

“I know, I did my taxes on that computer. I finished and then dad tried… the swear words were flying.”

“The reason your mother’s computer is slow is because of the anti-virus software she installed on it,” my brother-in-law said.

“I know, I have McAfee. It wants me to renew, and I don’t know which button to push to Not renew. Now it pops up in Spanish and Russian. I don’t trust anti-virus developers. Have you seen the documentary on McAfee?”

“No.”

“Well, it might be something you’re interested in. He was a sexual deviant.”

“I’m not interested in those sorts of people.”

“Oh, that’s not what I meant. I know you’re not a sexual deviant.”

“That stuff doesn’t interest me.”

“What does interest you?”

“I don’t know… everything.”

My Love Affair with a Mermaid

“You look like a land whale,” the bikini girls giggled. Mandy was so used to the hurt, she buried it deep inside, where she hoped it would never resurface. Her cramps were beginning to feel normal now; they didn’t go away, but she wasn’t suffering from them either.

“Hot chocolate, that’ll make me feel better.” And she went to the stand. Lenard was there. His eyes were huge. “A fudge sickle,” he said. He was one of those boys who would grow up to be a billionaire. Right now, he wasn’t concerned about anything. He didn’t care that he didn’t have any friends. Mandy envied him. He would slowly gain self-awareness and use his intelligence to solve his problems, problems that he didn’t even know he had.

She didn’t like what she saw in her future, lonely nights with ice cream, after an anonymous job. She looked around for the kind students. They would be friends with anyone for a period of time because it made them feel virtuous, and they had to check off that box, but spending time with them never filled her cup; it’s different when a person actually likes spending time with you, rather than when they just feel sorry for you.

Mandy followed Lenard up the trail. Maybe she would try talking to him. He had a strange book under his arm. It was old. Mandy didn’t put it past Lenard to read strange fiction, but it looked more like a diary than a novel. “Hey Lenard, where did you get that book?” Mandy asked.

“I found it in the store.”

“What’s it about?” But Lenard wouldn’t say anything. He just held it tighter and walked a bit faster. There was a nervous quickness in his step, that gave him away. He had something to hide and Mandy knew it; the boys who usually left him alone, also knew it.

“Hey Lenard, what do you have there?” The bicycle boys asked.

Lenard tried to stuff the book down his pants like a playboy, but that only encouraged them to grab it.

“Hey, that’s mine!” Lenard screamed.

“My love affair with a mermaid?”

“The fisherman who started this camp fell in love with a mermaid, and she pulled him under. The old lady at the store told me. There’s a lighthouse just beyond the lake, no longer in use. And at night, you can see the fisherman’s ghost, lost at sea.”

“That’s nonsense. You’re going to grow up to be a conspiracy theorist wacko.”

“What’s wrong with that?” Lenard asked. “It’s better than a suburban dad with a house payment.”

“We ought to teach you a lesson.”

“That would be hard, seeing that you don’t know anything.”

To be continued…

Growing Pains

Mandy dreaded going to camp before the summer was over. It was an orientation to the school year, where kids sized each other up, and she was the biggest size; she had always been bigger, but that summer she was even heavier. No matter how healthy she ate, she just couldn’t seem to lose weight, and she would be a ninth grader soon. Camp was a big blue lake with cabins on the shore. The bikini girls always showed off to the boys, while Mandy tried to stay hidden, but the swim competition always forced her into the open.

The bus ride sat three students to a seat, but nobody fit next to her, except Lenard, who had thick goggle glasses, a skinny frame, BO, and who the other kids called greasy toothpick. What made matters worse was that Mandy was getting horrible cramps, all over her body. She told her dad about it, but he didn’t know anything. Her mom drowned years ago, trying to save someone, or at least that’s what her dad said.

“Darleen swam like a fish, and I guess, I just drink like a fish.”

Mandy felt the pain, like lightning in her bones. It felt like they were splintering off, into all different directions. The PE Teacher sat three seats in front of her.

“Excuse me, Mr. Galgano, I think I have shin splints.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that; just walk it off.”

“But I’m having cramps, all over.”

“Oh.” Mr. Galgano turned red. “That’s not my department. Why don’t you ask Ms. Thompson?

When Mandy got off the bus, she spotted her. Ms. Thompson looked like she had had her period over 70 years ago; her face reminded her of the emperor in the Emperor Strikes Back. “Excuse me, Ms. Thompson?”

“What is it?”

“I’m not feeling well, I have cramps all over.”

“Oh, it always happens at least once at camp. You can stay in the counselors’ cabin, Cabin C.”

“Thanks Ms. Thompson.” It was hot that day and Mandy kept waiting for the counselors to show up, but they never did. It was so hot, that Mandy couldn’t stop thinking about the lake. When she got out of bed, her legs were numb. She wobbled around, like she was walking on the sea. And soon she was dipping her toes in the water. Mandy didn’t feel anything. The moon was out, enormous, so that she could see the entire camp, as bright as day.

She sunk into liquid delight and then began to backstroke. Mandy dove deep, deeper than she ever had before. Her body felt like a fish, moving with the whims of her mind. It was wonderful, so much so, that she found herself on the other side of the lake, and then back again. It was hours in the water, until the red sun rose. And when she got out, she was covered in lake weed from head to toe.

To be continued…

the puzzle of ourselves

we puzzle over

our missing pieces

our frayed edges

that no longer fit

we puzzle over

our perfect picture

we never put together

do we understand ourselves

why we lie in pieces

scattered

and

upside-down?

We are a thousand desires

with one love

a perfect picture

our pieces

finally put together.

The Four Houses of Death

“Behold, the pale horse, and the man who sat on him was death…”

The men of Mammon walked out of the dungeons with an iron-clad retirement plan. It was still raining, but softly. Louis was standing at the ferry with a sour look on his face.

“Boy, take us across and wipe that expression off your face. Do you know how lucky you are to have this job?” Anton asked.

“Very lucky, sir,” Louis said with falsity. When they got to the shore, Anton slid into his black Jaguar; Sonny, his Ford Bronco; Jim, his Cadillac Escalade; and Ron, his Hummer H3. Louis tried to cover up a sneer, as he got into his Honda Civic. The sun came out for a brief moment when they were gone.

Jim immediately got into the shower. His beach house was see-through, designed by someone who didn’t believe in condemning others. “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” Jim was fond of saying. He didn’t use soap or shampoo, believing that his natural scent attracted people to him. It was blue skies and sunlight, an endless horizon, where his dreams were limitless, until he noticed a shadow in his shower that wasn’t his own; a knife, the blood, his screaming, no sound. His vocal cords were slashed; and the phone rang…

“Why doesn’t he pick up?” Ron asked. He was walking around in his bathrobe, smoking an unusually long cigar. There were coats of arms hanging on the walls, suits of armor near every doorway, Doberman pincers, alert, on the castle grounds. Clinking… strange clinking. “What’s that sound?” Ron asked. Arms were rising, sheathed in metal, holding a crossbow. WHISTLING… a bolt found its mark, right through Ron’s heart.

While this was happening, Sonny was riding around his ranch without a care in the world. He stroked his six-shooter and smiled. The sun was going down, beneath the lonely hills. Suddenly, they weren’t so lonely. A pale rider stood at the zenith of time, pulling a Winchester rifle from a scabbard, narrowing the peep-sight on the charismatic preacher with a smile; it was the smile of death and Sonny smiled back; what else could he do? And a sonic boom ripped through the atmosphere and into his lungs, gasping for air. “Hallelujah…Hallelujah…”

Amidst the Godly chorus of Death, Anton sat in his black house with the lights off, preparing to journey where he would never be found. His black key was a weight of worry around his neck as he tried not to think about killing his friends. The HMS Messiah was docked at the island, where Louis could help him unload the loot. When he got there, he gave two keys to the boy.

“Turn them on my command.”

“Yes sir.” They entered the treasure trove and loaded the ship. It took all night, into the wee hours of the morning. And Anton handed the kid another key. “I know you’re tired of driving that Civic. Here’s your reward.”

“For me?” Louis asked.

“A master always repays his servant.”

The boy got into the Cobra and Anton shut the vault doors. “With death…”

THE END

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

There was cash from several countries, jewelry swindled from old ladies, gold bars melted down from wedding rings, and deeds to properties and land. In the center of the room, a cobra mustang.

“Now tell me again, Anton, how did you get that car here?” Ron asked.

“It’s not a car, but an automobile, an artwork of craftsmanship.” Anton climbed into the race car and smelled the leather interior. “Oh, look, someone left cocaine on the seat.” He rolled a hundred-dollar bill with his spindly fingers and snorted the coke. “Now that’s heaven on earth.”

“I guess it’s all here,” Jim said. “Now tell me what you want to do. Our churches are crumbling.”

“Part our separate ways, I guess,” Ron said.

“But Jesus, don’t you guys want to preach the gospel?” Sonny asked.

“People are harder to deceive these days,” Anton said. “There’s the internet and the anti-God culture.”

“I guess you’re right, but the love for the Word ignites my bones like napalm!”

“Sonny, if you really want to preach the gospel, just go to the third world. You can live like a King and the people will treat you like a God. Now, we part our separate ways, like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, riding out to the four corners of the earth, to rise up congregants for Jesus Christ!” Ron preached.

“Couldn’t have said it better myself!” Sonny cheered.

“Now, return to your homes and put your affairs in order. We leave for a new life, tomorrow.”

To be continued…