Falling in a Still Room

Only when you are falling

in a still room

and the air releases from your lungs

and the mind stares into nothing

like an invisible picture

do you escape

into something

not previously known

Somewhere between now and infinity

Stories unite

Offering

Scratchings in the Dust

Naked reality

collecting

to fall

in a still room.

Their Acting Becomes Them

The office was plain,

even with the awards on the walls,

maybe especially with the awards on the walls.

“I was a principal once,” she said.

I looked at her.

She was a sweet lady.

The job had scarred her and rubbed its ugliness into her wounds.

“You have to be tough to do this job,” she said.

I knew she was saying I was sensitive,

but I accepted that about myself years ago.

I could tell someone had hurt her that morning.

She was sad and wanted to be comforted,

But she couldn’t ask.

The job had worked its poison into her brain.

“Why don’t you become a teacher? I was a teacher before I did this job.”

She was saying one thing and meaning another.

“It’s true; I’m not sure I am ready for administration; I don’t know if I want to attend all those meetings.”

She gave me a smirk of superiority. “You get used to it,” she said.

“That’s what I’m afraid of. You can get used to anything.”

I was making her uncomfortable.

She listened and later spun care into her words with bad intentions.

Nobody can be real here.

They act fake, so they don’t get hurt

and their acting becomes who they are.

We Keep Looking in a Maze of Our Own Wandering

The library was old,

but they had made it new.

It didn’t look better,

but it was bigger.

It was wide open,

and see-through.

Patrons mostly sat at computers.

They looked for jobs,

or played video games.

Attractive 20 somethings sat by the windows on the south end, overlooking the road.

The old and infirmed and unwanted spent time in the north.

They talked about scotch and the news.

The whole place was segregated by something I couldn’t understand.

Society.

I had time to kill;

the days were too long.

I was so desperate for something I couldn’t define or escape from.

Mostly, I worked the job and wished to be somewhere else,

but when the job ended, I didn’t want to go anywhere.

I walked the rows of books and opened them.

Nothing was new.

I looked at the people.

Most of them wanted something.

I wanted something.

Later,

I went to a party where they were trying to have fun.

They drank,

but the whole experience was very sobering.

The answers are just not there

and we keep looking in a maze of our own wandering.

The Psychiatrist and the Story Teller

“Where’s my 3 PM appointment?” Dr. Johnson asked.

“He must’ve slipped out again,” the receptionist said.

“Who’s in charge here? You can’t just let patients leave.”

“That would be Gloria from upstairs, but it would be a whole lot easier to walk to the corner pub to meet Andrew. He’s having a drink and telling stories. It seems good for him and it’s only a block away.”

“I know what’s good for him,” Dr. Johnson said. “This cuts into my schedule.”

“Well, I can’t help you sir.”

Dr. Johnson walked out of the nursing home and down the graffitied street. The pub was covered with bars and neon signs. Johnson walked in. An old man was surrounded by bald bikers. He was telling stories and drinking from a pitcher of black beer.

“Oh, the leprechauns are devilishly tricky creatures. They’ll pretend to be your friend, but the forces of darkness are no ally.”

“Uh, hum…” Johnson coughed.

Andrew looked up from his story. “I’d like to introduce you to my psychiatrist.” The gang looked at the doctor dressed in a suit and tie. “We didn’t know he was crazy doc. He’s really a good story teller.”

“The best story tellers are crazy,” Johnson said. “Or should I say, chemically imbalanced. And he shouldn’t be drinking alcohol with his drugs.”

“I don’t take them,” Andrew said.

“You don’t take them?” Johnson asked.

“It makes my brain foggy and the stories don’t come out.”

“You’re late. We have a therapy session.”

“Can I buy you a drink?”

Johnson checked his watch. “What the hell. This day can’t get any worse.”

Andrew looked at the doctor. He was in his mid-forties and tired.

“You should take a break; too much stress isn’t good for you.”

“I’m the psychiatrist; I’m supposed to be giving you advice and say, you know your son’s ex-wife is trying to steal your estate?”

“I know that, but when she gets it, she won’t want it.”

“Why?”

“Because the leprechauns live there. They won’t share their land with anybody. She’ll be mad in two weeks.”

“But you lived there most of your life.”

“I know, and I have a psychiatrist.”

“Good point.”

Warm in the Winter Today

When birds sing in the winter

The Woodpecker pokes for worms

Crows cover bare trees

like black leaves

and Hummingbirds fly by

I’m sitting alone

by an open window

as the heat leaves my room

I hear their wings

and the male bird sings

“Let’s have sex.”

“But it’s winter and not spring,” she decries.

“It sure feels like spring,” he says.

Eagles balance their nests

above the river

and Herons squawk their reproach

Pigeons circulate

the highway

and Robins bare their breasts

Crotchety Ravens

do a double take

It must be…

warm in the winter today.

Chapter 4 A Different Kind of Style

The reef, and the white sand, and the sparkling water, and the Caribbean trees were almost enough to forget death. Horse racing and polo punctured the air. It was a big island. Gregson knew he wouldn’t be murdered in the sunshine.

“Care for a picnic?” He asked Tiffany.

“Yes,” she smiled.

They walked down the dock to the arena.

“Horses,” Gregson said. “Two.”

“Dos Caballos,” a boy yelled.

“Your fittest, if you have ’em.”

“Si, Senior.”

Gregson looked half cowboy, maybe Hawaiian cowboy. His hula shirt and tan shorts didn’t go well with his sombrero, but the benefits of being a life-time bachelor were that he could be whomever he wanted to be.

“You don’t wear clothes well,” Tiffany said.

“Uh, hu,” Gregson grunted.

“A hallmark of a man’s style is his watch and his shirt. You can tell a lot by how a man dresses.”

Gregson looked at her.

She was a young woman and he was much older. He admired her hooks and screws. Younger men were probably tortured by her advice and they changed. She turned them into ideal men.

Gregson smiled a deep smile that penetrated his insides. He had style; a different kind of style.

“I know you,” Tiffany said, “but what are you smiling about?”

“The trail is long and the adventure is near,” Gregson said. He kneed his horse and the galloping began. His shirt blew in the breeze and Tiffany spotted a silver six-shooter fastened to his hip. Their horses followed island trails, churning up dust, and breathing volcanic fire.

Chapter 3 Die and Find Out

In death, a man knows who he is, or maybe not; the only way is to die and find out.

“I won’t talk,” Gregson said.

“Then out the window,” the skeleton sneered. A silver Derringer pointed at Gregson’s chest.

Gravity or the gun? Gregson had to choose. He dove, hoping to see blue.

POP. POP. He felt red.

When he hit the water, he used up one of his nine lives. Cats don’t like water and Gregson shook himself off. There would be no cat naps this evening. Midnight turned into morning.

Voodoo Sands was advertised as a pleasure cruise full of comfort and mind-expanding serenity, but Gregson felt half dead. He staggered past pot smoking halls where fogged up windows looked like confused brains. His crimson blood dripped on the white carpet when an arm grabbed him from behind. It was slender and strong. Tiffany led him to her bed and he flopped on it like a beached whale.

“You’re lucky,” she said. Scissors cut his suit and alcohol sterilized his wound. “It went straight through. You’re lucky.”

“You keep saying that,” Gregson said.

She closed the hole.

“Now, how are you mixed up with that skeleton?”

“You’re better off if you don’t know.”

“Really? I was just thrown out of a five-story window.”

Gregson felt a hypodermic on his neck. “Tell me the truth.”

“Drugs and death don’t influence me and what I know is only a smoke screen.”

“Tell me.” He felt the prick of the needle.

“I’m hired for security on this diamond cruise, but I don’t think the skeleton is planning a jewel heist. He’s far more subtle, in an unsubtle way, if you catch my drift.”

“Possibly; so, what’s your next move?”

“Play it cool; we’ll let death deal the next hand.”

Chapter 2 The Game Begins

Gregson dried himself.

“Poker is a game best played at night,” he said. He toweled up and went to the locker room. “I’ve got to lose weight. I can’t even see my junk.” Gregson walked to the deck. A runner ran past. “Why do people obsess about health on vacation?” He smelled fresh onion rings and stopped.

Gregson was in communist waters, the house picked his pocket, money couldn’t buy happiness, but none of that mattered. The food was good and he longed for the roll of the dice. Risk. The battle of wits. Life can’t be won, but he could win before he lost. He walked to the casino. The game was just getting started. Gregson eyed the players. They looked like the typical sort, crabs without shells, wearing gold chains, with beady eyes, and cocaine courage. One man stood out. He had Caribbean skin, but his dark pallor had a pale quality. His eyes were red, not blood shot, but laser like; they could see past your face and into your hand. Uncommonly tall, he was like a skeleton wrapped in flesh.

“Does poker amuse you,” he asked in a baritone voice.

Gregson glanced at his top hat. “We’ll see,” he said. “Deal me in.”

The game went slow. Flop. Turn. River.

“Fold. Fold. Fold,” Gregson said.

“You are not a risk taker. You must take risks to win.”

“Poker is about players,” Gregson said. “I think you know that.”

The skeleton smirked and the game continued.

“Raise,” Gregson said. The skeleton’s laser eyes looked across the room.

“Re-raise,” it said, grinning. The skeleton puffed smoke like hell was letting off steam.

Tiffany walked by the table in a poisonous green dress. Her tanned skin popped. Most women can’t wear clothes like that, Gregson thought.

“Excuse me sir, the bet is 50,000; do you want to call?”

Gregson’s mind returned to the game.

“Call,” he said.

“Cards,” demanded the dealer.

“A full house from the man with the top hat. And you sir?”

“A strait flush, Jack high,” Gregson said.

“The pot goes to you.”

“Another game?” Asked the skeleton.

“The trick is to quit while you’re ahead,” Gregson said. He walked out of the room with a smile on his face.

He ventured under the Caribbean stars that had seen pirates and lonely PIs.

Gregson strolled to his room. There was Tiffany, half-dressed in black panties. But he wasn’t looking at her skin. It was her eyes. They were terrified.

CRACK. He got hit from behind. BLACK OUT.

When Gregson came to, a thick beast was preparing to push Tiffany out the window.

“What brought you here?” The skeleton demanded. It walked out of the closet.

“Booze, women, and dice; what else?” Gregson asked.

The skeleton nodded and the beast pushed Tiffany out the window.

Her screams pierced the night. SPLASH.

“Nice shot,” Gregson said.

“I wasn’t aiming for the swimming pool.”

“Now tell me what I want to hear,” the skeleton demanded.

A Forgetful Library Turtle

I walked into the library and never walked out.

Moms chase their children.

Bums come in from the cold.

Dregs plug in.

Some have opiate stares and tired alcoholic eyes.

Anonymous philosophers pick books off the shelves.

It’s humanity brought down to size.

“I believe I have a book back there.”

“Let me check… Yes, you have Bukowski back here,” the librarian said.

“Well… bring ‘im out.”

“I’ll need to see your card.”

I hand it to her.

“Oh, you’ve had this since you were a baby. 00 is on the account.”

I carry places with me,

like a library on my back.

It gets heavier,

until I have to let books go.

My library gets bigger,

but I shrug off the weight

and keep hauling words;

they’re precious to me.

I’ve had this personality,

that doesn’t believe in finality;

it lingers on people and places.

One day, I’ll shrug off my shell.

And amnesia will take me…

somewhere else.

The "Something" in Writing

There is something in writing.

You can tell when someone does it to entertain

or does it not to be bored,

or does it for love.

There is emotion there.

Maybe there is emotion in paint too.

It’s a joy to read someone’s joy

or sadness,

something real.

It’s a frightful bore

to read anything else.

The greats know this and learn to love their craft.

A writer must learn to love themselves

if they want to do it

for a career.

Sure,

there are pretenders,

some even make it big,

but the greats

who become legends

find a quiet room

and type.

God… they love it!

If you’ve met one,

that’s all you need.

Ambition gets in the way

of everything else.