Saturday, December 31, 2011


When the earth’s eye shuts into darkness I fight to keep mine open.
Every night I hang around
like some schlup
standing on the side of the tracks
while the rest of the world – riding coach – sleeps soundly in their seats.

From the platform I watch them take-off
and stare idly at my un-punched ticket
trying not to think about
what it all means
to let oneself
be carried

But I can’t help it.

They must be going places.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Of all the punctuation marks the colon is the best. It is the most hopeful. It says to you, “Wait—wait, we are not done yet: we can still build upon the past”

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let It Snow

I wanted to stay with her too but Mama said I should head off to bed since I had to go to work in the morning. Mama stayed with her the whole night though she didn’t deliver until morning. She waited to give birth with the sun. Mama and I don’t normally help with the lambing, but then again we’ve never done it in the wintertime before. Not since I've been born at least. We’d never had to. But this way Mama said we’d have lambs ready by Easter and then again in the fall. Normally I wouldn’t mind. Winter’s not too busy after all and I like to help with the lambing, but ever since summer I been working a job off the farm too. It makes for less time to help around here. So this morning while I been in the house bringing oatmeal to a boil, Mama and Louisey been out in the shed bringing baby lambs into the world.
When I finished breakfast I put on my coat and headed out to the shed. Mama wasn’t with her though. She was sitting on a stool, face in her hands.
She looked up and forced a smile. “Hey Sug!”
“What’s wrong Mama?”
“Poor Louisey, she had dystocia. Real bad. By the time I could deliver they were stillborn.”
“Oh Mama, I’m sorry!”
“Two precious little lambs.”
“Oh Mama,” I kneeled down and wrapped my arms around her. “I’m sorry Mama. Where's Louisey?”
“The dystocia, it was real bad.”
“Oh, Mama!” I squeezed her tighter. “Why didn’t you call me to help?”
“Wasn’t nothing another set of hands could do anything about.” Her smile was brave, “You better go to work.”

            I crawled into our truck and rolled out onto the road. I followed it over the river, through the woods, and started my ascent up out of the valley. I breached the crest towards the county road when the truck stuttered and stalled. I turned the key. Not a sound. I tried again. The engine didn’t turn. It was still. I sunk a little further into my seat. There was a gas station up on the county road but it wasn’t for another couple miles. If I stayed with our truck on the back roads it could be hours before someone came along. Maybe longer. I zipped up my coat, knotted my scarf, and headed towards the county road on foot. I knew what this meant for Mama and I. Where else would I be able to work? I walked to the gas station in shame. What will we do now?

The lights are turned way down low, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

*          *          *

            “Hello, Allison? It’s Sophie.”
            “Sophie, where are you?”
            “Allison, I’m so, so sorry. I know my shift started over an hour ago but our truck stalled and I couldn’t get it to start again.”
            “Where are you calling from?”
            “I’m using the pay phone at the gas station.”
            “Your truck’s at the gas station?”
            “Erm, no. A few miles from the gas station.”
            “Oh, Sophie dear! You walked for over an hour in this weather!”
            “I’m so sorry Allison, It just died!”
            “Sophie, don’t you worry about that. These things happen. I’m going to send Danny over and he can pick you up. Are you okay?”
            “Yes, I’m fine.”
            “Just sit tight, Soph. Danny will be right over.” She hung the receiver on the hook.
“God bless you Allison.”

            I was so relieved to see Danny. I could tell he was happy to be running this special errand for me too. I ran out to his truck and popped up into the front seat.
            “I hear you went for a morning stroll.”
            “Oh, Danny.”
            “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t kid. Are you okay?”
            “I dunno," I slipped him another smile, "I guess I’m okay now.”
            He beamed back. “What are we gunna do about that ‘ol truck of yours?”
            “Gosh, we woulda been better off if Dad just left us one of his horses instead of that rusted clunker!”

            After work Danny drove me back to our truck.
            “Alright, try starting it now.” The flywheel engaged, the crankshaft rotated, the engine turned over, rolled, groaned, and coughed to life. “Don’t be afraid to push heavy on the gas when you’re coming up on the clutch. It’ll help keep it from stalling.”
            “Thanks Danny! I’ll see you tomorrow.”
            “If you ever have any trouble again, give me a call. Anytime.”
            “Okay! Thanks again!” I shifted into gear.
            Danny jumped down from his truck, motioning for me to roll down my window. I craned the side of my head out the window to hear over the rumbling engines. He bounded over and kissed me on the cheek.
            After chores I helped Mama put Louisey’s body with her lambs in the compost windrow. We covered their bodies with sawdust and snow and walked back to the house.
“I started some stew in the crock-pot during breakfast Mama. It should be nice and melded by now.”
“Thanks Sug.”
I paused and turned to face her. “I’m sorry about Louisey, I—”
She stopped me with her hand on my shoulder. “All that hope and anticipation that builds in us with their growing bellies—it’s so hard when we lose the first one. But it’s alright Sug. These things happen. Tulip, Emma-Lee, and Georgette will have their turn. Then Valentine, Miss Havisham, and Wanda-Jack soon after. Can you imagine by Easter? We'll have so many sweet little lambs bounding about! Oooh, that stew smells so good!”

But as long as you love me so, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Some nights I still can’t sleep
after waking in the middle
from dreams of being there
everything still the way it was.
                          To lay here
                          recollecting the past
                          the way it was is gone:
                                                                 an impossible pill to swallow
                                                                 another early start to the day

What A Peculiar Thing

Having walked the earth devoid and empty for so long he now finds himself in the peculiar position of fearing for his life. How different it was: that freshly filled-up feeling of life. He had been a wrung-out sponge for so long. Then all of a sudden life flowed by. It rushed through him and as simply as it came he soaked it up. Oversaturated with life he stumbled and tripped and now he was about to spill it all out again.
So here he is: a set of bare living arms standing with springy living legs upon the shoulder of a frozen dead road, dandruff falling from the sky, and he’s so close to the seething, steaming, giant mound of meat and muscle that he can feel the heat of its fury radiating from its big angry body. He has stumbled into this fight. Life made him do it. He is squared up against a giant of a man but he feels so much life swirling through him he can sweep away mountains. And that right there is the type of feeling that can turn a newly living man back into a dead one.
“I’ma fucking kill you!”
“I've been waiting so long for this!”
“I’ll fucking kill you!” The beasts words are nothing to him. He waits for his foe to give him a reason. He is alive and he wants more reasons to live. “I’ma fucking kill you!”
"I'm ready! I'm ready!"
“I’ma fucking kill you!”
'Make the move already' He thinks, 'I'm ready for anything now.' A regrettable thought. A flick of the giants wrist. A glint of light. The shine of the knife pierces through him, illuminating another unfamiliar feeling, for fear only comes when something’s worth losing, and before tonight he held nothing to lose. Now he is afraid of being spilt. As reckless as picking this fight was he was looking forward to the beating: the beating that comes with a purposeful pounding heart—not the stabbing that ends one.
“It seems you fail to grasp the notion of a fist fight.”
“I’ma fucking kill you!” This time he knows the brute means it. He knows he is about to be spilled onto the frozen blacktop.
What a peculiar thing, to be alive.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It Only Happens When You Don't Want It Too

“Excuse me,” She looked down at her list, gesturing with her fingers. “I’m looking for two things. Do you think you could help me find them?”
“Of course, what are you looking for?”
“First thing on the list: I’m looking for candles with light bulbs. Large ones.”
“Oh, you mean artificial candles?”
“Yeah, the light bulb kind that use electricity or batteries.”
“Well, normally we carry them in aisle B8, and you can find the small ones there – the ones the size of tea lights – but we just had a guest looking for them earlier this morning and it turns out we don't have any of the bigger ones left in stock."
“Oh, wow! You don’t even have them in stock anymore!”
“No, but we should have more available later this week.”
“Oh? Oh! You still carry them, you’re just out!”
“Yes, we should have more later this week.”
“Okay, well that’s good to know. Secondly,” she announced holding her list resolutely, “I am looking for sand, you know, to put a Christmas tree in, to keep it up.” Not the strangest inquiry of the day, but certainly pushing the bounds of normal.
“Sand?” I repeated.
“Yes, sand, for Christmas trees.” Yes, certainly pushing the bounds of normal.
“Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve run across sand before, let me ask a team member.” I pulled out my walkie. “Hey sales team, does anyone know if we carry saaan-duh?”
“Sorry Ma’am, we don’t have sand.”
A look of genuine surprise, “But they were right there in your ad.”
They? “Ah! Stands! I thought you said saaand!” I whirled around and pointed to the Christmas tree stands. “Our Christmas tree stands are right over there!”
“Oh I see them now! You thought I was looking for sand?” she smiled as she patted me on the side of the shoulder, “That’s so cute!”

I don’t get it. This is quickly and horribly becoming a recurring trend. That’s the third time today a guest has called me cute. I haven’t even taken lunch! People always have a way of ruining a bad thing. The first time it happened in the candles aisle – B8 – the same place the light bulb kind that use electricity or batteries are. I was cutting open boxes to stock shelves. I cut into the corner of a box and it spewed glitter like a slit unicorn’s throat. The dazzling red unicorn blood spilled onto my front and sprinkled down my legs. I had cut into a box of “seasonal glitter candles/red”. I would then go on to slaughter a box of “seasonal glitter candles/gold” and then “seasonal glitter candles/silver”. By the time the spewing, sparkling, holiday flame sticks were stood up on their shelves like fabulous gravestones, I was a shimmering showcase of mono-equestricide (that's Latin for unicorn murder apparently). Eagerly pushing my cart of glitter-stained boxes back to the compactor – to dispose of the evidence – I was stopped by a guest. But when she started to ask me her question she became dumbstruck, evidently caught-up in my murderous malaise. That or momentary blindness. Her wide eyes looked me up and down.
A Glitter Candle Horse
“Glitter candles,” I said, “A lot of glitter candles.”
“That’s adorable!” She glowed. My walk back to the compactor was less than iridescent.

The last time it happened I was in the toys department. I can't even begin to comprehend the exchange. I was facing the merchandise and making things look neat. The aisles were crowded as it was the second day of our 2-day Black Friday Sale. People were squeezed in tightly. The woman was standing next to me, almost touching me. She was with a friend who was on my other side, right next to me too. The woman was fondling some item. Reserving her gaze for the toy she dictated her speech at me.
“It looks like you’re keeping busy today.” It wasn’t quite a question.
“Oh yes, very busy!”
            She smiled, “And you probably had to work late last night, huh?"
            "Uh, yeah I guess so."
"And then get up early and work this morning, huh?”
"Poor thing."
“Huh, that’s cute.” Her friend laughed a little, or maybe giggled. She put the item down, walked over to her friend, and they strode away.

I don’t get it. Why do people always end up lifting your goddamn spirits? Can’t they see? Is my pale, rugged and bearded face not weary and haggard? I'm not trying to look gruff or mean, but I'm certainly no fair-haired boy. It’s not fair: These days I’ve been trying so hard to feel ugly. What is it they see? Or do they see right through me?

"Light bulbs are in A39, unless you want them on candles, then B8. Yes, you're welcome."



It's okay

It was all right

Look. Look out over there. Do you see that? Would you call it beautiful? We have come such a long way haven’t we? And for as far as we have come no one would know, for not even our footprints remain. By now they have all washed-out with rain and grown-in with grass. But do we need footprints to remember, to know? I remember the pieces: the steps that were toughest, the steps that were lightest, and some steps that fell in between. No, I do not remember them all, but enough to know: together they brought us here. Do you remember?


It’s okay

It’s all right

No, I can not see what lay ahead of us either, but was there ever a time that we could? And look how far we have come! Yes, on our way we may stumble upon what remains of the footprints of others, but does it matter? Can we ever know them like we remember ours? It's okay, there is so much more to go, we can rest a while longer. There is so much more left to go. It's all right. Shhhhhh, rest now. Let go of my hand now.


It's okay

It will be all right