These are a few excerpts from my books of poems Torghatten and Hard Polish, my fictional graduate thesis 4wheelin' which consists of novellas and poems, and my book of memoirs and poems titled Spawning Gray.  All these books are avalable in e-book format and in hardcopy in the 'Buy' section of this website or on Amazon.com.  If you don't like these excerpts or skip some, don't worry, I won't know.

Golden Eagle Terrain

A surrealist Sestina


On Skittish Sunday, wheels rolled on an unraveling hijab,

Traversed a sliver of silver bridge into a screen—

Heard gunfire and applause, saw an electronic dawn.

The director choreographed blue and white titans,

Took video of the crime scene, put the camera on a treadmill.

 Wind-up mice scurried below eighteenth century portraits.


Sulfur boils bubble on souls; who will paint their portraits?

The soot-soaked puppet-man in a tie is in need of a hijab.

His toxic paper is still craved by the nymph on a treadmill.

He’s your neighbor pouring benzene through a screen

Onto skyscraper stalks producing a pride of jelly-rolled titans.

A mail tube sends fireworks underground—it’s a new dawn! 


This business grid mines mystics for capital in the dawn

While glasses with limestone lenses look at their portraits,

But all the viewers’ senses are tirelessly assaulted by titans 

So rabid-eyed groves stammer to frosting factories in hijabs.

If you get on your knees and leer through limestone screens

You’ll see the titans are just ants marching on a treadmill. 


Lies float on a twisty wind and run on a corroding treadmill.

They pass through PCV, and proliferate in our midnight dawn.

Clog the gramophone, burn all the ‘roided seeds and screens.

Let the Sun fuck you, be the painter of landscapes and portraits.

Forget fire trucks and Twitter, ‘made in the U.S.A.’, and hijabs.

We’re living in 1984 so I’ll be swimming with Galileo on Titan.


Leather-skinned boy scouts castigate their fellow titans

And cast them off to travel on a highway that is a two-hour treadmill

While they obfuscate their fear of cooties like they do their fear of hijabs.

Knuckles and flying skeletons imprint warnings: a jackknife dawn

Where citizens fertilize rolling hill cognition—the world’s new portrait—

Instead of airbrushing Yosemite, watching life’s aureole through a screen.


Bloodline forms cover the floor; the choir is protected by a screen.

On a fiendish construction, there are no shadows among skeevy titans.

Those who committed cerebral, cathedral hacks are given portraits

While paper sweat is heaved in a wood-chipper that rains on a treadmill.

Let ink melt into the ether, and hemp burn in this rare Earth dawn

Where a brown-skinned woman on a crucifix wears nothing but a hijab.


Flocks foam for four-inch screens, to be seen, to rampage on treadmills

And emulate the coin-lined titans they decry in this millennial dawn

While the portraits of camouflaged kings look out on piled hijabs.





We Are Not What We Were


World, don’t wait for us

To stop fighting civil wars.


World, don’t wait for us

To create an industry.


World, don’t wait for us

To purify your tears.


World, don’t wait for us

To close the hole in the sky.


World, don’t wait for us

To cultivate galaxies.


World, don’t wait for us

To cure you.  We can’t cure ourselves.


 This Road I Roll


They told me

‘Your texts should say nothing’.

Texts don’t speak,

And mine mean something.

Or else why are we here?

What is our value?

If you erase my words

You erase me, too.

 

I’m blazing a trail

For all to share.

I’m just one man

In my wheelchair.

Wheels turn forth

And I’ll just be.

I’m going to type these words

And set me free.

 



      The Heralds of Spring


Let young, beating hearts be known

Not just for cell phones or Facebook pages,

Or the ‘me’ mentality and iPod phases,

But as those who healed the Eagle’s broken wing.

Let papers penned by fifty-four men

Be rewritten as their ideals rise in smoke

And saunter into pores where they roam and soak.

We have a chance to disappear holes, let trees sway,

To show black liquid does not gush through our veins.

This land’s fuel: visions seen when eyelids close.


Let this wall between us dissolve so that

Swindling words and conniving voices will have

An acidic puddle to burn in

Where our thoughts can slice through their vapors.

Let desire be realized, though achieved differently.

For we are all cooled by the same weak wind

On this blue-green ball that gracefully spins.

We have a chance

To be the candle swirling with milky red and blue wax

With a white flame on top that guides. 


Let sickly skin suffer no more as

The Aryan order is brought to its knees,

And let those crippled by gray-cloudy blessings

No longer be forgotten.  Now is an opportunity

To demonstrate that Daisy-Cutters and AKs

Are not the tools needed to grow a garden.

Outstretch your arms, show the moon your palms,

And raise the silk light towers from their dusty graves

So that they can shine on our native land once again.

For after 237 winters, we must herald spring.



 

From'The Architects':


Unholy Rollers



    Light streamed through a ceiling window into the airport terminal, bounced off Malcolm’s shaved head and metallic glasses, wound around the rim on the wheel of his wheelchair, and gilded it like a crown.  Bustling passers-by peered through glass walls surrounding Malcolm while they placed their shoes and belongings in plastic gray containers.  Because Malcolm couldn’t go through the metal detector like everyone else, he waited for a security officer in the holding area between the two conveyer belts lined with people.  Malcolm stroked his wide goatee and stared back at the onlookers with the ferocity of a cheetah.

    Families with children, a drifter with one bag, a teenager on her cell phone, a business man who seemed full of himself—Malcolm was all too familiar with their stares.  They looked at him as though he were a sick young man or someone who had some kind of dire accident and who was really a nice boy who shouldn’t be gawked at or have to go through such a public display—in essence, Malcolm could see them pitying him.  But they didn’t know that the inner tubing of Malcolm’s wheels was packed with Oxycontin.

    Malcolm saw the black pants and white shirt of a security officer heading in his direction; he leaned his head on his hand to block his lips and whispered into a tiny microphone under his shirt collar.  The microphone transmitted Malcolm’s words into Bear and Jesús’s earpieces.  They were watching Malcolm from about twenty-five yards behind.

    “Okay, I see the guy coming—white, older guy with glasses.  Once you see me get through with no problems, you two follow.  Meet me at the bar around the corner.  If anything goes wrong, roll away—just roll away—and get the fuck out of the airport as fast you can—if they take me in, security’s gonna’ be plucking gimps like nobody’s fucking business.”

    Jesús and Bear listened intently: Jesús sat in his wheelchair pretending to wait for someone in the men’s room.  His wheels were also loaded with Oxycontin; his giant smile revealed his teeth and the veins in his neck, and he waved like a clown to a toddler squeezing his mother’s hand, walking by in slow motion.  Bear casually leaned on his armrest and watched Malcolm from behind a giant pillar; Percocet filled both his wheels.  Because the trio claimed to be part of a rugby team, they could send three rugby wheelchairs in luggage; two of the rugby chairs were filled with more Percocet, one with more Oxycontin.

    The pudgy security officer stuffed the last piece of a powdered donut into his mouth, brushed off his hands, and then cleaned them with hand sanitizer.  The officer opened the clear, scuffed, waist-high door and addressed Malcolm: “Hello, sir, how are you today?”

    Malcolm smiled and said he was just fine, but there was a flutter in his voice.  “Sorry, I have a bit of a ticklish throat.”  Goddamnit, Malcolm, he thought to himself.  Man up.  You have to set the example.

    “That’s all right,” the officer said with jolly sentiment.  “Have you ever flown before, sir?”

    “This is my first time.”  Technically this was true, but Malcolm had spent so much time preparing this scheme that he felt as though he had flown a thousand times before.  Since this was the first time attempting this scheme, only Malcolm, Jesús, and Bear were giving it a test-run; if everything went smoothly, there would soon be more participants.  Malcolm had thought about letting someone else take his spot, in case something went wrong and they got caught, but this was his brainchild and he wanted to see it through. 

    “Okay, then.  Today I’m going to give you a pat down using my hands.”  The officer held his hands up and flipped them from palm-side to topside; he put on light blue latex gloves, like hospital gloves.  “Now, tell me if you have any sensitive areas.  Can you spread your arms for me?”

    The officer’s condescending tone irked Malcolm, but he just nodded and grinned.  “Sure can.  And don’t worry, I only have a few sensitive areas, but you don’t have to worry about them.”  Malcolm laughed, trying to ease his tension blanketing the interaction, but his comment made things more awkward and increased his anxiety. 

The officer leaned forward, put his hands around Malcolm’s biceps, and felt down his arm to the wrist.  After doing the same to Malcolm’s right arm, the officer grazed the tops of his hands down the striped shirt covering Malcolm’s bony rib cage and torso.  Then the officer squatted and cupped Malcolm’s scrawny legs.  “Where are you flying to today?”

    Malcolm’s eyes were closed; he took deep breaths and tried not to think about the tire and its inner tubing being the only barriers between the drugs and the security officer.  “Las Vegas.  Got a rugby tournament out there. “  Malcolm nodded his head as though remembering something.  “By the way, a couple of my teammates are gonna’ be coming through here soon.  They got held up waiting for a handicapped stall.”  Besides the rugby tournament excuse, Malcolm figured Las Vegas was a place three guys in their twenties would go to.  The trio was really going to Phoenix.  A friend of Malcolm’s went to school in Phoenix, at Arizona State.  He’d told Malcolm about the huge student population, the numerous raucous parties, and the wealthy community in the next town over.  So, Malcolm figured Phoenix was an ideal location to distribute the product: they could certainly find buyers at parties on a university campus, and they could jack up prices and sell any leftovers to the rich high school kids in Scottsdale.  And drugs available from any pharmacy wouldn’t be traced back to some people in wheelchairs on the other side of the country.

    The officer’s latex gloves crawled up to Malcolm’s kneecap, tugging the hairs on his legs.  The officer stood; Malcolm had closed his eyes and was breathing heavily.  “Are you okay, sir?”

    “Yeah,” Malcolm answered.  “Just something my doctor said to do if I get worried about flying.  It’s an anxiety thing.”

    “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be fine,” the officer tried to reassure, and then went back to work.  “Okay, I’m going to feel around your thighs with the tops of my hands, then under your thighs, if you can lift them up.”

    “No problem,” Malcolm said, his mind wandering, his vacant eyes gazing into ringlets of sunlight floating in the air.

    The officer’s hands patted up Malcolm’s thighs; beads of sweat formed on his forehead—Malcolm would rather have been anywhere else on the globe than where he was at that moment.  His stomach turned over and over again like the inside of a washing machine, but he didn’t wince in pain, as he wanted to.  He didn’t want to draw any more suspicion to himself.

    “Can you lean forward for me, buddy?” the officer asked.

    “Yup.”  Malcolm congenially forced the word out of his mouth.  He bent at the waist and dropped his head towards his knees so the officer could feel his back.  Straining to look up from the awkward position, Malcolm wanted to see if anyone in the crowd was watching him.  A drop of perspiration started to descend his forehead.  The tops of the officer’s hands began feeling Malcolm’s lower back, and the drop of sweat plunged down his forehead and along the bridge of his nose.  The officer’s hands made their way to Malcolm’s shoulder blades, and at the last second, in a natural reaction, Malcolm caught the bead of sweat like a hand catching a raindrop—he wiped his brow and sat upright.

    “Okay, I’m just going to get something to swab your seat—I’ll be right back.”  The officer opened the gate to leave and retrieve a plastic stick holding a piece of cloth at the end.  The officer made his way towards Malcolm who took another deep breath; the officer explained, “What I’m going to do, buddy, is slide this piece of cloth on your seat cushion and the wheelchair’s back pad and then run it through a machine up front to test for chemicals.  Lift your legs for me.”

    “Sure, no problem.”  Malcolm grabbed his hamstrings and pulled them up one by one while the officer went to work.  When he was through, Malcolm leaned thirty degrees forward and the officer ran the plastic wand along the top of the wheelchair’s back.  Malcolm looked around: he knew this was it.  Everything he could do had been done, although it may have been dicey at times.  If Oxy or Percocet had somehow gotten onto the wheelchair’s seat or back, this machine would detect it.  Malcolm had done his research: he had someone scout and find out what kind of machine the airport used.  Then he read up on the machine’s capabilities—there was no fooling this thing.  All Malcolm could do now was wait.  He didn’t realize it, but he had stopped breathing during the suspenseful moments: he looked down at his seat in between his legs and saw a white grain.  The pupils of Malcolm’s eyes widened like a full moon, and his mind raced, trying to think of what the mysterious substance could be.  He had no idea what the grain was or where it came from; could it be the remnants of one of the drugs? 

    Images started flashing through his mind: a lanky brunette with her back turned, a man being shot on the side of a road, a hand affectionately holding his, cars speeding on a bridge above—Malcolm thought about wheeling away and getting out of there, but someone would surely capture him before he could leave the airport, and then he wouldn’t even have a chance to lie, explain, or defend himself.  All he could do was hopelessly wait with dread for the officer’s return.

    “Okay, buddy, you’re all set to go,” the officer said.  “Are you sure you’re all right?  You look pretty pale.”

    “No, no, no, I’m fine.”  Malcolm asked with shock, “Excuse me, I didn’t hear you, what did you say?”

    “I said you’re free to go.  Would you like me to give you a push?”

    “Sure.”  Malcolm grinned and furrowed his brow.  He didn’t think of it at first, but now remembered: the officer and his powdered donut.  Some powdered sugar must have fallen off when he’d swabbed Malcolm’s seat cushion.  Malcolm laughed to himself while the officer pushed his wheelchair—his wheels full of Oxycontin rolling right through security.

    “Have a good day, sir, and good luck at your tournament.”  The officer left Malcolm in front of a large window.  The window looked out on the cerulean sky and the Atlantic Ocean—a glorious, lucid mixture.  Sunlight glinted in Malcolm’s eyes.

Jesús heard the crackle of static in his ear; it was the voice of Malcolm.  “I’m through,” he whispered, his voice sounding as full of pride as of relief.  “Remember, we’ve got nerves of steel, and they’re all required.  So don’t fuck it up,” Malcolm whispered into the collar of his shirt. 

    Malcolm watched Jesús and Bear while he put his shoes back on and tied their laces in front of the large window.  Blending with the terminal’s pace, Jesús and Bear wheeled themselves to security.  Jesús sat up straight with excellent posture, taking deep breaths in preparation for what he was about to do.  He had bushy hair down to his shoulders; he was five and a half feet tall when sitting, and his baggy chinos and red and blue plaid buttoned-up shirt made their way through the middle of the terminal, causing people to part like the like-charged poles of magnets that wouldn’t touch.  Following from behind, Bear grabbed the rims around his wheels, and every once in a while, his long arms gave one powerful pump and he coasted like a fishing boat down the terminal.   His black sweat pants complemented his wristband of Caribbean beads, and his white tank top showed off his bulging muscles.

    The two waited in the holding area for the security officer.  Malcolm was about to move to the bar around the corner where the trio had agreed to meet when he saw Jesús’s hand slightly jittering; the sporadic movement evidently caught Bear’s eyes also, and he held down Jesús’s hand.  Bear glared at Jesús as if to say: ‘I love ya’, brotha’, but if your chicken-shit ass fucks us over, I’ll kill you.'

    Malcolm was worried Jesús was going to crack, and that there would be a big scene—everything would be over before it even started.

    With perspiration percolating on their foreheads and on Bear’s arms, their skin reflected the natural light even more than it already had.  But the two smiled and kept their cool, at least enough to fool the officer again.  Once through security, the two looked out the giant window at the vast canvas of blue pastels: they felt as Malcolm did—free.  The two turned left around the corner to find Malcolm waiting at a table with three shot glasses of whiskey.


Cripple Blues?


Chris Columbus sits in the lobby

Among rubble inside.

Dusty ghosts haunt still, frantic streets,

Fireballs fill the sky.

Chris’s crew numbers near three thousand.

They saw land but were confused:

The devil was speeding at them—

Each beginning has an end too.

Don’t you wish you could be me, friend?

It’s not my fault you’re stuck in Mobile

Singing cripple blues again.


Jackie gracefully falls out of planes

With a parachute on her back.

She plays tennis, moves fluidly—

Her lipstick and mints are in her pack.

Jess slowly wakes up at eleven:

She drank firewater last night.

She met a guy, took her in his room

And they did what you do ‘til five.

Don’t you wish you could be her, friend?

I’m sorry you’re wallowing in Mobile

With cripple blues and no courage.


Erik, Mike, and Brendan play B-ball.

Tonight, they’re at a youth farm

With some sweet swimsuit calendar girls

Who cannot resist their charm.

Scotty needs no part of that life.

He’s happy and has a girl.

He wants to keep playing rugby

While he strolls through the world.

They’ll steal your girlfriend’s attention

Because they’re not citizens of Mobile,

Can offer new experiences.


Steve, he’s a borderline genius.

I’m not sure where he went to school.

Teaching us about the dark of night

Makes him anything but a fool.

Travis is an individual

Who is a talented painter.

He paints red and white dogs on ice—

He used to be one earlier.

Aren’t you sick of normal, friend?

You’re feet move in Mobile,

But your head’s a cripple blues lament.


For what it’s worth, Frank was best.

He helped those poor Tennessee boys

And everyone else who was in need

By keeping them all employed.

Superman once was a hero,

He stayed on TV, though.

They dressed Superman in a wardrobe

For a whole different type of show.

It’s not all front row seats, friend. 

Careful, they’ll exploit you in Mobile

If you sing your cripple blues to them.


John Smith and profits are on the mind

Of senators on the hill.

They do whatever they want

And take away your living will.

Lady Liberty sits in the back:

Looks like she’s staring at a wall.

She was colored green like money,

But has corroded into fall.


Are you sure you could be me, friend?

You can barely survive in Mobile—

Watch me keep rolling.



From 'The Process of Simplicity':

7:46 AM



    Another day, another run.  What the hell was up with Jack last night?  I mean, a girl puts herself out there like a soufflé on a platter, she expects to have a good time.  Really, Jack, really? Goodness, it’s a gorgeous morning out.  I can’t stop thinking about him.  What did I do wrong?  He’s like that Palo Verde over there—rooted in my head.  Yes.  Look at it, all tall and strong.  He might not be physically tall and strong, but he’s the strongest person I know.  Like his tattoo, I am the flower and his force drives through me.  Why wouldn’t he accept me?  Is my thinking flawed?  The campus is such a lovely place for a run.   There is nothing quite as beautiful as nature.  The clear blue sky, the mountains surrounding the landscape: it makes me think of that line ‘purple mountains majesty’.  I would call him majesty.  Whatever.  I don’t care.  I just want to be with him.  He has this ethos, this charisma thing that no one else I know has.  Yes, he is my force, but he hasn’t realized it.

    It’s like my tattoo—‘Electra on the Azalea Path’.  There’s that flower thing again.  I wonder if he has read that Plath poem?  Probably not, it’s one of her lesser-known ones.  Does he know azaleas are commonly used at funerals and represent death?  He might.  I just want someone to ride that path through life with.  I’m not morbid; I’m just saying we’re all going to die.  It’s not a chance or percentage thing, right?  So, you might as well be happy while you’re on the path.  Why doesn’t he want to be happy?  Did he think I wouldn’t satisfy him?  I could make him happy.  We could be happy.  

    I can’t believe I found a guy who likes poetry.  We have so much in common—two artistic souls.  It’s too good to be true.  Those people who deny that the best things in life are free are morons.

    I’m glad I took my earphones out.  It’s so euphonic when the birds sing in the morning.  People should forget their technology—not every now and then—but a lot.  Stop and smell the roses, that type of thing.  Or in this case, hear the roses.  That makes no sense.  You can’t hear roses.  You could say the birds’ coos are like the brush strokes of sound.  Oh, that’s good.  Maybe I’ll tell it to Jack.  But people shouldn’t just smell and hear the world, they should see the country in which they live, feel the Sonora’s sun warm their skin, the cool Colorado slide over their body. 

Look at this phony, running right at me—straight from the Abercrombie catalogue.  He’s probably never felt anything in his life, unlike my Jack.  Look at him all plugged into his iPod, wearing his black spandex shorts and the muscle shirt he bought at Dick’s Sporting Goods.  He probably is a dick.  With his sunglasses and gelled hair—it’s like eight o’ clock in the morning—come on, man, who are you trying to impress? 

    Oh, he just smiled as he passed me.  I bet he was looking at my boobs behind those shades.  Juvenile.  Yes, I know I have a pair of glorious breasts—they’re fruit from Eden.  Ha.  I know they jiggle and bounce when I run. Big deal.  That’s part of the female form.  Men have dicks, women have vaginas—we’re different.  Get over it.  It doesn’t mean that we aren’t as important, or can’t manage a business.  Although, who would want to?  And it doesn’t mean our arts or sports aren’t entertaining, they’re just different.  And for the love of God, women should be paid the same amount as men for doing the same job. 

    Damn men! 

    Except Jack, of course.  No, I’ll admit it; we need men.  They are as vital to us as we are to them.

    Jesus, Jack, why were you such a wimp last night?  I put myself right out there for you.

    I love the grass on the mall at this time of year, it’s so fertile, so green—like a strip of lush carpet.  Grass in the desert—who would have thought?  I wonder what that pretty boy would have thought if he saw Jack and me out here?  Jack wouldn’t be running, but if some day he could, that would be amazing.  No.  Like Jack said, I have to come to grips with his being in a wheelchair.  ‘Life isn’t a Disney film’.  No kidding, you’re preaching to the choir.  But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be wheeling next to me.  Yes, that’s it—‘just different’. 

    Most people think they do, but they don’t understand ‘just different’.  That’s why if that goon saw Jack and me out in public, he would immediately think I’m being nice, sympathetic—merely Jack’s hot friend.  Fuck him!  Is it so unfathomable that someone like me and someone like Jack could be together?

    He would think so and would start hitting on me right in front of Jack, totally disregarding him—as I said, dick. 

    Or if he actually thought we were going out, I would be the hot, dumb doll and Jack would be the cerebral one who straightened me out.  Couldn’t we have helped each other?  A symbiotic thing, you know, like the Suguaro Cactus and the White-Winged dove? There’s a Suguaro over there.  We really are lucky to have such beauty around us.  We should stop destroying it. 

    I hope Jack and I can work this out.  I know we can.  This stuff is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.  He should know that.  I have faith in him; he’ll figure it out.  But I’m not changing who I am or the way I earn money.  Is it wrong of me to work out every day, to care about my body, to be attractive?  Oh, Jack, you have a lot thinking to do. 

    Yes, now is a good time to take a break.  Stop running.  Hands on waist.  Breathe.  God, look at that horizon: a golden medallion against the hue of the purple-red sky, ascending over rustic mountains.  How simple the best things are.        


Apocalyptic Lullaby


Lava will ooze,

Melt cities;

Armageddon visions,

Prophecies

Will come to fruition.

Curl on me.

Close your eyes

As molten creeps towards us

Like the melon sunrise

And wait with me.


Winds will whip,

Swirl, and tilt

Gravity on its side,

Then throw

A knife like it's a paper bag.

Frost will crackle,

Seep to bones

That fracture and explode.

Awaiting fate, snowflakes cascade

And I will watch with you.


Seas will rise,

Flood the land,

Swallow every tree, man,

And building—

Water will roam through streets.

Let us lock

Lips and share

The last soft breath we have.

Let me clutch your warm hips 

And drown with you.


Yes,

The day will come:

Glass will rain.

Bright, jagged bolts will strike,

Spark flames

That plume into fire-clouds.

Hold my hand

Or

Shall I hold yours?

Look into my eyes

And sit with me.

Gas Station Conversation


     “How’s it going?”  I asked the giant figure next to me.

    “The same as yesterday.”  His gray ratty hair shimmered in the lights of the gas station.  “What are you doing up?  You college kids don’t wake up till the midday news is on.” 

    “I’m catching the van to Phoenix—going home.”

    “Going to the airport?”

    “Yeah, got a 7AM flight ” 

    “Where’s home?”  He tapped his cigarette and its smoke rose.

    “Boston.”

    “Oh, really?  I got a brother-in-law out there in Gloucester—been out there a few times.”

    “Yeah, I live near there.”  I forced a smile and nodded.

    A short period of silence broke when the man turned to me and said, “So, you just going home for the break?”

    I pushed my glasses further up on my nose, “How did you know I was a college kid?  And that it’s the start of winter break?” 

    He solemnly grinned: “I work here, been here my whole life.  All the out-of-town college students come here to catch the van.”

    “I bet you sold some classmates of mine some 30-packs once or twice, huh?”  I chuckled.

    “Probably.”  Half of the tattoo on his bicep hid under his shirtsleeve.  “So, what you at school for?”

    “Creative writing, English.”  I said clutching to the black luggage bag on my lap.

    “You going to stick with it?”

    “I’ve come too far to turn away now.”

    “Stick with it, kid.”  His shoulders sank and he let out a stream of smoke from his mouth and nose, “and don’t fuck up like I did, or you’ll end up working in a gas station your whole life.”  He looked down at his feet and chuckled.

    “Don’t worry, people like me are bred to go to college and get good jobs.  If we don’t, the humiliation will keep us going.  My problem is that I want to be a poet.”  I ran my worn down hand over my buzz cut.

    “Ah, so you’re an idealist; there ain’t a whole lot of money in that.”

    “Exactly.  So, I just hope everything works out at home, you know?”

    “Yeah,” he said, “Me and the Mrs., we been together twenty-six years—just keep everybody on the home front happy.  They’re the only things that matter.”  He looked down the road covered with shifting streams of sand, “looks like the van’s running late.”

    “Looks that way,” I said admiring the surrounding mountains silhouetted by the early morning's purple sky.

    Leaning against a white pole sprouting from cracked concrete, he said, “So, you’ve probably been on the ride up to Phoenix before then?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Ugly ride, ain’t it?”

    “I think it’s kind of pretty.”

    “Huh?”  He looked at me with raised eyebrows.  “I’ve worked at this gas station and lived in this town my whole life, and I’ve never heard anyone describe Highway 10 as ‘pretty’.”

    “There’s a first time for everything,” I said. “The desolation, the sadness, something beautiful can be found in it.”

    “I don’ t know, kid.  All I see is a bunch of sand and a strip of pavement.  You want to talk about a Road to Perdition…” 

    “Every grain of sand, every crack in that pavement has its own story, we just need to take some time to understand it.  I won’t lie, I can definitely see what you’re saying, though.” I laughed.  “Where is the van?”

    “I don’t know, bud.  Don’t worry, though, it will be here.  I’ll hang till it comes.”

     “Don’t you have to work inside?” I asked.

    “You trying to get rid of me?”

    “No, it’s just that you’ve been out here a while, and…”

He laughed, “And what?  It’s a little after 5AM at a college on a Saturday: you see any customers?” 

    I smiled.  “Yeah, you got a point.”

    “Don’t worry about it,” he assured me; I thought our conversation had reached its end point.  Then he blurted, “Any plans for over the break?”

    “Actually, yeah.  I’m looking at colleges to transfer to back home.”

    “You don’t like it out here?”

    “No, I love it out here—the weather, the town, the girls.”

    “Then why you going?” he asked.

    “Well, I told my family and friends it was because the school was too big or that it was too different from the private school setting I’m used to, but that isn’t it—I just don’t know anyone.  I mean, I went through the shitter and came out clean on the other side.  There ain’t much I can’t handle, and if I had anyone out here, I wouldn’t be going back to Boston.”

    “Besides family, what’s in Boston?”

    “A familiar feeling.”

    “Sounds like you’re just scared and fleeing the scene, bud.”

I laughed, “You think I haven’t heard that from all the shrink-types?  Yeah, I took a class on Freud too.”

    “It’s the truth.” 

    “Funny thing, I thought I was going to find the truth out here," I said with a seething bitterness.  "Something that would give me a purpose, you know?  ‘Go west, young man’.  Thought I’d be like some literary character and start my life over.” 

    “Can I give you some advice?”

    “You already called me a pussy.”  I joked.

    “Sorry about that.”  He flicked his cigarette and put it out with his shoe. “See, that bottle of Coke in the store?  If it wasn’t for the label it could easily be a Cherry Coke or Dr. Pepper or some other brown shit—who knows, right?  You could spend your whole life searching for a bottle of Coke, and when you finally found it, you could be gulping down a Pepsi and not even realize the difference.  That’s what truth is, one of those things—what’s it called—a mirage: invisible as the heat, deceiving as a bottle of Coke.”  His eyes glared at me: “Don’t let the mirage fool you, kid.”

    “Van’s here,” I said.

    For the entire ride I leaned against a headrest and peered through the van’s windshield at the rising Sun.



The Magnificent Artist


A bead of sweat descends a forehead,

The sound of waves ripple, transcend, and blend

With vapors that stretch, curve, and rise

Towards that magnificent artist painting in the sky.

Lead clouds brood and clamor

Warning those below with a boom of thunder;

A camera flashes, a shockwave crashes,

And a phoenix dawns from fire-wind ashes.


Bright gold blotches in the fox's season

Provide eye-watering, earth-quaking reasons,

And a splatter-dabbed silhouette ebbs

Into a rustic landscape of crimson spider webs.

Gravity pulls crisp orange down to congregate

Plopping a pumpkin pillow that placates;

The ancient wind, in bone-hue moonlight, 

Dances with brown leaves under six streetlights.


White tears slice through chilled air breathed;

A chrysalis wraps around exhaled energy.

The meek Sun will delay until fading day

Hardens forlorn tears, paralyzing Earth's fleshy clay.

The accumulation of nature's textured detergent

Bends birches into a tunnel over pavement:

Before man rummages and creates gray villages

It is important to remember this pristine image.


When fields and gardens burst with flowers

Sparked by yellow silk after gentle showers,

Let it be known that their aroma flows

Like rivers through veins into pastorals unknown.

Magenta and purple pastels will flutter

Under a cerulean canvas where red roses saunter;

On spry blades of grass, whose sight is well worthwhile,

Spring dew will ferment and arch an eternal smile.