Because I Went for a Walk in the Woods…

I’m a lover of being alone

and I have come to be continuously disappointed

in the company of others.

It wasn’t always this way

but as we get molded into things

that cease to be alive

and we escape on a mattress full of grapefruit peals

and Chinese food containers

and movies with the same ending

getting away

gets old

Escaping

used to be easy

but now it takes so much more

to forget.

I don’t want to be known.

I don’t want to be understood.

I don’t wish for a better time.

Amnesia

is preferable

and I think of escaping, life

Sleep

is what I look forward to

a little death

every night

when I cease to exist

when there is nothing

and what beautiful nothingness.

It’s 6 in the afternoon

when I go for a walk

in the woods.

I feel like a zombie

numb and awkward

entering the wrong habitat.

There is no one there

and the trees are making sounds

sharp, groaning, cracking, sounds

the leaves are moist, yellow, and brown

falling to the ground, to the sound of silent music

the air is damp

when I start walking

and the red backed beetle

looks up at me

spiders weave their webs

and the falling sunlight flickers through the trees

in a different world

Suddenly…

I want to see family

and I leave the woods and visit home

and home is happy to see me

the dog pees on the rug

my parents ask me how I’m doing

and I’m doing very well

because I went for a walk in the woods.

Luck

Luck

is a funny feeling

it doesn’t seem like we should have it

and we suspect

to lose it

but

it shows up

again

unasked

for no apparent reason.

There is no better feeling

than being lucky

it is one of those rare commodities

that no one can find

until it is stumbled upon

like gold

few can hold

like the mother load

where currents run thick with streaks

that can’t be beat.

You can improve your odds

and fix the game

but when you are beaten

by someone with luck

you know you never had it.

Luck is a wonderful ally

when the world is trying to get at you

it is a force that cannot be controlled

like chance

where the odds don’t matter

Luck is making the right moves

when you were too ignorant

to know what to do

If you have reoccurring luck

there is nothing better

it won’t stick around forever

but if it keeps visiting

count yourself lucky

Luck in life

gives you opportunities

that you would never have taken

You get fired or your world collapses

and you ask Why?

Because Luck is working

it won’t tolerate things

you would tolerate

and I’ve been lucky

many times, in my life

Most of it has been the ideas

I’ve stumbled across

or the few friends I’ve had

when the opportunity presented itself

I’ve always grabbed it

because luck

moves in cycles

like waves

that push you to dry land

or pull you out to sea

Luck requires acceptance

it’s knowing when to exert force

and when to allow it

Luck is letting go

and watching how bad the situation can get

You are being moved by a force

you don’t fully understand

circling

down the drain

to someplace else

where nothing is stable

no matter how stable

it seems.

Our luck is changing

as we change

and there are higher levels

of understanding.

I like to observe it

and wonder

where it will go

What will it do

next?

An Ugly Sweater

this professor

who taught astronomy

was overweight and wore a knitted sweater

He had a PhD in astrophysics

and I could tell that he loved his subject

by how he said Andromeda

the girl sitting next to me

made fun of his sweater

“He wears it every single day

look at the stains

look at the holes.”

it was her way of making small talk

when the lights went out

I liked him

immediately

and she didn’t look half-bad in the dark

but I kept hearing what she said

and her criticisms were so far away from any conversation I wanted to have

I think the professor drank beer at night

maybe it was how he spoke

with a delayed voice

that went too high

He poured over his star maps

and graded papers

in his small office

and some would say he was a lonely man

but he had the stars.

We all Serve a Master

We are minus a thousand things

when we are feeling low

and we are positive a thousand things

when we are feeling high

We are zero

When we feel… just so so

quantifying ourselves from day to day

is worse than watching the stock market

rise and fall

like bipolar emotions

dopamine

rocketing towards the atmosphere

or

Oxy

bonding with rocket fuel

and burning on impact.

a kind word

or

insidious sarcasm

shakes my stability

like a lucky 8 ball

will I win, will I win, will I win

Maybe

We are stuck with maybe

far too often

and this roller coaster rush

isn’t real

positions of things and positions of people

make us look up

and make us look down

on ourselves

and others

What’s real?

I suspect we’ll figure that out

when we realize we’re alone

and our timeline of meaning

was filled with who we thought we were

we don’t know ourselves

pride is rarely the partner of self-awareness

and everyone reading books on the ego

wants to have a spiritual experience

it’s competitive

we have become weak

and we all serve a master

Most can’t see it.

Foolish Genius on the Golf Course

In ordinary life, there are routines and roles we fit into. In the grocery store I grabbed two beers before my round, watching the people push their carts like a zig-zagging line. None of them had anywhere to go, except work and the vegetable aisle.

At the golf course, I was on deck, at the number 1 tee, waiting to be paired up with someone.

There was a sheen on the grass that spoke of where I would go and there was no better feeling than to ingest the personalities I would find there.

“The Johnson single and the Mackenzie two-some,” the megaphone shouted. Mackenzie was a man, whom most in civilized society would not consider a man. His beard was at least five days old. He hadn’t cleaned himself. He stank of alcohol, but there was poetry about ‘im, a spring in his step and a cynical style that made me wonder where he came from. He wore wrinkled kakis with suspicious streaks on them. Equally surprising was his golfing buddy, tall, and otherworldly. This duke belonged in a different century. His clothes were classic and his hair was something I saw in a racing magazine.

“How yah doin? I’m Mackenzie.”

I shook his hand. “I’m Andy.”

“This is Lux.” Lux shook my hand.

“Have you played here before?” Lux asked.

“Too many times.”

“Why?”

“The rates are cheap.”

Lux teed off and his ball disappeared. “I’m mailing that to god,” he said.

Mackenzie teed up. He swung his club over the ball like it was a magic wand and kept adjusting his stance until he nearly did the splits. Mackenzie chopped at the ball and missed. “Damn.”

“That was a practice swing,” Lux said. Mackenzie smiled and swung again. This time, it went straight down the fairway. I teed off and hit a draw.

“Are you an instructor?” Mackenzie asked.

“That was only the first shot; if I’m still playing this well after 18, I’ll give you a lesson.”

“What line of work are you in, Andy?” Lux asked.

“I work in public ed.”

“Oh, one of those.”

“Yes; the standards are low and the work is easy; plus, we get to make a difference.”

“I see. Is that what you want to be doing?”

“That’s a difficult question and it might take a few more holes to answer.”

Mackenzie was like a slug that zig-zagged from one missed shot to another, leaving a trail of divots, and empty beer cans. It was getting hot, so hot, that the dew on the grass was evaporating into steam. Lux walked through it and hit another shot, right next to the pin. He didn’t sweat. He didn’t drink any water. He hit another perfect shot and I started to wonder if he might not be human.

“Were you a pro?” I asked.

“Oh no, this is a game I play to recover from the other games I play.”

“And what are those?”

“Like you said, it might take a few more holes to answer.”

We kept playing and Mackenzie went out of his mind, and started striking the ball better.

“FORE!” He yelled at the group ahead of us.

“That was a 300-yard drive, Mackenzie.”

“I think beer makes me better,” he said.

“I want to be a poet,” I told Lux.

“You can’t make a lot of money doing that,” he said.

“I know, but I have this idea I got in college when I felt like the world was foolish. I’ll do the foolish things and be successful at them. It won’t make sense because life doesn’t make sense.”

“You know… there’s a way things are supposed to be and people aren’t happy until they get there and when they arrive, they still aren’t happy. It’s the foolish man who becomes the happy man. To succeed at that is genius.”

I looked at Lux. He wasn’t human. “Maybe Mackenzie achieved that?” I said.

“No; he’s just a drunk.”

We finished our round and I wondered whom I had played golf with. There was always a chance of seeing them again, but I didn’t think so; they were never the ones who played the same golf course twice.

Visiting Family During Armageddon

I’m attracted to air, in all its forms, rain, deadly smoke, horror movie fog, darkness, and blue skies. The stars twinkle at night, but they don’t offer answers. In the city, I can’t tell how life is doing. The asphalt and concrete cover everything up, and the little plants that do grow are watered by sprinklers. I suspect that we encounter made-up surroundings in the same way that we encounter made up people. When I visited my parents’ house, their lawn was dead. It was refreshing to see something real. Socrates was the wisest man in Athens, but when he found out, he didn’t believe it, so he walked throughout the city asking people philosophical questions, and when they answered, their responses were only things they had heard—not things they had thought about. I walked into my parents’ house.

“Would you like to go for a walk, mom?”

“The news said it was dangerous.”

“You can’t believe everything they say.”

“Your sister said the air quality is at a dangerous level.”

“Appealing to authority?”

“Would you like something to drink, Andy?”

“Yes.”

My dad was squeezed on the couch, watching a news program suggesting the end of the world would happen in 2020. “This guy has had three accurate predictions in the last 30 years; he doesn’t prophesy willy-nilly.”

“Has he made any false predictions?”

“Well… yes.”

“Speaking of the end of the world, I recently watched a documentary on aliens. The military has radar and video footage of spacecraft defying gravity.”

“That stuff is made up,” my dad said.

“I think Vic Beattie is right.”

“That man is a lout—no education, believes everything he reads in a book. Every time I go to church, he has a new video he shoves in my chest.” My parents keep watching, glued to the TV. I wonder about the meaning of it all. My dad lives for his morning coffee and so do I. He grunts when he eats things and he likes to tell bathroom jokes.

You Can Be Happy

When the world is crashing down

and it’s a sin to smile

and all the people are hysterical

with chemicals shooting through their brains

like love, like hate, like fear, like loneliness

and you have been wondering why you read philosophy

Suddenly, the dawn breaks…

You eat hope like dessert

with a big cherry on top

Your pleasure is circulating

it’s yours

and it won’t be donated to the blood bank

it’s life force

sending feel-good thoughts to your brain

power in the stream

your current keeps circulating

like electricity

How you think

changes things.

Lifting weights

in the dark

I transform…

those holding onto power

can’t get enough

they are powerless inside

the function of what we need

is a function of what we don’t have

if you possess power

magnetism manifests

attraction is not possession

doors will open

the world is outside

and it wants to come in

it wants to feel good

but when the world wants something

it doesn’t have it

getting it, is not the way to get it

Have you ever gotten something when you didn’t try?

this is the secret

smoke

sickness

sadness

or a smile

if you smile and mean it

you can be happy.

Ramblings While Lying in Bed

We can’t hold onto anything, and yet, we hold onto everything

the time is gone before we know it

and our lives are over

nobody cares, long-term

and the pursuit of pleasure is totally meaningless

yet, it consumes all the in-between moments

in-between what? Because life is so much more than peak experiences

We’ve been told to just be ourselves, but who are we, really?

We are different, everywhere we go

So, how should we live?

We can live for an ideal

We can live for a belief in God

We can live according to our values

We can live for others

We can live for ourselves

or perhaps… we can live according to our fantasies.

I’ve always wanted to be James Bond or perhaps Ian Fleming, because he was a writer.

I wouldn’t kill people, but adventure is something I’ve always wanted

It would probably shorten my life

but life is short, anyway.

I would need to try scuba diving, traveling, sky diving, shooting, womanizing, golfing (which I do), motoring, and writing (which I do)

Why is this life more glamorous than my own?

The world is a tricky place, especially when we ask ourselves Why? Why do I want to be a writer?

I can answer that. I was disillusioned. I was lost. I didn’t fit in, and it wasn’t god who saved me, but Bukowski—a drunk, a nobody, someone who believed in putting down the word, one line at a time. People with true belief are rare and it doesn’t have to be a belief in God. Cynics will try to nibble away at belief, and when it proves inedible, it becomes powerful. It only feeds you and nobody else.

So, why do beliefs exist? It may be self-deception, even seeking the truth may be a deception.

But it does offer us something beyond our day to day existence.

We have the satisfaction of knowing things different from the crowd. It is like having a secret, that you want to tell, but while you hold onto it, it’s intensely pleasurable, right before you give it up. This is akin to bodily functions. Before any purge, and I won’t go into details, we feel delight. This is similar to the evangelical who discovers God for the first time. The spirit stays in his heart until he can’t wait to share it. Once the secret is out, there is satisfaction, but after he tells someone about his secret, it ceases to be secret, and it loses its specialness.

Being unknown is a great desire of mine and being understood is just as great. I cannot have both, but they are both intensely pleasurable. The worst is in the middle, where people don’t care, they don’t listen, they control, and they misunderstand. Most of the world does this, and I’m not sure why. It lacks any real curiosity outside of what it wants, and it doesn’t even know why it wants what it wants.

Sea People

An old man drives a yellow sportscar much older than me

He nods and I nod back

I can spot men like this

a mile away

a golfer who loves his car.

When I was in high school, I made fun of guys who had clubs from the 70s

now I understand.

I gaze into the sea of humanity

because I’m just like them

caught in the same storm.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind

when I give a guy with his family a few bucks

He speaks love to me

in Spanish

and I say, “No problem man.”

I can see people when I’m all alone

and when I’m with them

they’re all covered up with conversation.

When the flowers don’t bloom…

When the flowers don’t bloom

and the beauty isn’t there

life is always lost

trying to get somewhere

Why do people put themselves in fight or flight?

the bills have to be paid

“You forgot the insurance last month!”

“I know.”

“We could’ve died, what then?”

“Our lives would be sorted out.”

“Who does that?”

“the dirt, the rain, the wind, and the trees

maybe even an animal will chew on my skull.”

“That’s not acceptable!”

Nature has a plan

it’s not mine

it’s not yours

the most interesting men

are the ones nobody knows

until they’re dead

50 years or more

with profound evidence

of living

not bones,

but their insides

are there.