Ashes

Cold ashes swirl in the hearth
Animated by a frigid gust
ghosting through an unlatched door
from the moon-haunted night without
Feeble, they spiral uselessly in a pantomime
of living energy
as if recalling their burning dance
in an ecstasy of warmth and light
Again they fall
to gather on the concrete slab
still—-
and silent
as the heart within the grave

Why I Hang Out with Hippies but Still Can’t Seem to Get Laid

It’s graduation time: students from preschool to high school are transitioning to something new, exciting, worrisome, just to name some of the host of emotions. I remember feeling both relieved and benumbed by the surreality of no longer having to contend with the complex and, to me at least, socially terrifying juggernaut that was public school.

            I watched my youngest son graduate from middle school. I noticed there were a group of students who received wild cheers, like they were returning victorious heroes or some shit, and mostly this behavior irritated me. My irritation soon gave way to thoughts of how proud my mom would’ve been of her grandsons, but she’s dead instead. It was one hell of a sucker punch. I kept the sobbing back just long enough to get out of there.

            A good friend of mine also noticed this phenomenon of greater applause for some, but the experience triggered an epiphany for him. The thought occurred that the withholding of applause (or love, resources, protection, food, whatever) for “me and mine” is one of the reasons our culture is so diseased (if you don’t think it is, I doubt you’ve been paying much attention.) He then made it a point to clap and yell as much for every student as he did for his own. Perhaps this changes nothing, right? We’re talking about applause after all, but if we apply the same principle to things other than just applause and treat all people as we would our beloved (and this is where it starts getting difficult for me), then perhaps we could help more than hinder.

            I have a gnawing misanthropy, which seems to be growing more savage as I age. I try to give people basic respect, at least until they piss me off. When my friend spoke of his experience, it resonated so strongly with me, I actually felt my total disgust with most humans receding.

            Yet, as I sit here writing what I hoped would be an optimistic and possibly even lightweight inspirational piece, I can’t shake 47 years (fuck I’m getting old) of experience. That’s why “Shoot, Knife, Strangle, Beat, and Crucify” is in my liked songs list and “Age of Aquarius” or whatever the fuck is not.

            Try, I guess, and so will I, to be brotherly or sisterly. Believe me, I know not everyone deserves it. But, then again, who are we to judge anyway?


To My Sons

My heart feels like a bomb from the pressure of my devotion.
As if it would burst from intensity of emotion.
When I see a game or book that in your childhood you knew,
tears stream down my face, thinking how fast you grew.
You’ve watched my every move, learning more than what I’ve taught.
I pray you don’t inherit the demons I have fought.
I wish I could give you everything, and spare you both every sorrow.
Instead I must trust from seeds planted today,
you’ll reap abundance and joy tomorrow.

If A(ddict)=L(eper), then T(ough Love)=H(orse shit)

I have something I want to say to the majority of people I’ve interacted with of late: fuck you. I am weary to the bone of being treated like a fucking diseased pariah for the heinous crime of being a recovering heroin addict. I’ve been in medication-assisted treatment for over two years. The clinic I go to provides counseling and other services, and my attendance there has reduced harm from my addiction and brought increasing stability to my life. I’m a fairly honest person–I’ve been open about both my drug use and my recovery–but I’m quickly learning not to be. I was stopped about two weeks ago for not having plates on my car (and my moving permit was expired by one day), and then I was arrested for DUI because I told the highway patrol dick that I was coming from the methadone clinic. I am at a stable dose, meaning the methadone I take causes zero intoxication, but apparently driving dead sober on methadone is illegal in Nevada. I told a family member about this when she asked how I was doing and she responded, “I hate to hear that you still have to use synthetic drugs after all this time (sad emoji). Wish you well (kissy emoji).” What an arrogant, ignorant, and falsely righteous fucking statement. I get it; you can’t help how you feel, but you can help what you say. Keep your fucking dip-shit beliefs to yourself, please. Imagine I told someone, “Sorry to hear you still have to use synthetic drugs after all this time” to a diabetic or someone with MS. People would come unglued. If you’re thinking, “Well they didn’t choose to be diabetic” then fuck you too. I didn’t choose to be bi-polar and prone to addiction. Why does one person draw compassion and the other abhorrence?

Okay. I’m sorry for all the “fuck you’s” and such, but I find it very frustrating to be constantly treated like a second-class citizen by strangers, by the law, by family members. The most intelligent people I know are almost exclusively drug addicts and alcoholics or recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. Addicts don’t fuck up their lives because we don’t understand consequences. It’s not a lack of will power–I’d bet dollars to donuts me and the addicts I know can tough out far harder situations than most squares. If I could explain the mechanics of the problem, I probably wouldn’t still have the problem. Please, if you know an addict or an alcoholic, try to dial back the judgement and criticism. You could never be as hard on us as we are on ourselves, and frankly, your tough love is judgmental horseshit. If that’s all you can provide, then please just be quiet, and leave us alone.


My Muse is the Sun

My muse is the sun
And the stars from which I was born
My muse is my breath
Through which I am awake
My muse is my mother, my sons, my family and friends
Whom I deeply love
My muse is my father
Trembling in prison for life
My muse is my pain
My muse is sorrow
Tears shed in years of silence
My muse is this pen—-
scratching on the page
whispering solace
My muse is the Way—-
planted in me with martial love
by compassionate Masters
My muse is the sun

Succumbing to Serpents

I reached for you—-
panicked
like a man sinking beneath quicksand

I lashed out in pain
no better than a wounded animal
yet trusting by virtue of
your steadfast compassion
you’d see my anger for the sorrow it was

Instead, like a viper you struck
fangs pierced my mind
venom snuffed out my tiny flame of hope
for human connection in
this reeking, mental miasma

I’d been there for you so many times
you’d needed a friend

Yet you left me to sink
Alone
into myself
clutching my snake bite
in utter disbelief
and despair

I survived—-
my belief in your love did not

Thinking Aloud

Let the Divine
move through the body
move through the mind

Let Love encompass all
banish darkness

Everlasting love
earned by living hard

Am I losing my fucking mind?
or is everyone else around me?

A Dream

Write one
right now
unbowed, unclean, unclouded
desire
like
Hellfire

Know I will find peace
in spite of
a life of
violent
emotions

The First Union Carpenter I Ever Met

Rebar skeleton
sinews more like high-tension 
  cord: tiny, steel strands
flowing together into a juggernaut of 
  leanest strength
Hard hat spun
like backwards ballcap
young rebels maintain the
heart
Whiskey-soaked Copenhagen
   fat dips that would
give pharaohs 
  the Spins
Daytime, hung-over, weekday
 clever builder
ingenious tricks make his
trade magic
Nighttime, weekday, side work, I'm invited
He pounds beer and
I with him
He's had more practice
  We're both crazy
 and we drunkenly 
         relate

He tells me about cocaine paranoia--
hiding rubber bands choked
with cash and eightballs in the walls
       I imagine his mind deafened with the ringing 
    of those cocaine chimes
       and the slumping jungle bass
        of his heart eradicating the
location of the caches from his mind
See, he'd become maybe too good at cutting out sheetrock,
 mudding, taping, and matching the texture.

Goodbye


Knowing your love of artists,
I’d draw you pictures
of demons, smack, and flowers
Foolish, love-struck
Crazy just like you

I fell in love with you
when you promised to stab a man
in a street fight,
and he took three steps back

A bigger, more broken spirit
I’ve never known
A warrior to the bone
But I won’t chase you anymore—
I’m better off alone.