how do you do

I don’t know what to say. I sat down Friday afternoon after work and I had been thinking about my friend because it had been about a year since he called me on the phone, asked me what I was doing that weekend, then said it didn’t matter, he was coming to kidnap me for an impromptu trip.

I think, for the rest of my life, I will fight for positive thinking and optimism not because I believe in the instant magic of it, but because I know how hard it is to find every day. And if we don’t keep searching for it we will never find it. I don’t know if my friend found it, but if you ask the people who knew him, he certainly brought it. 

To happiness, to every short burst of it we can milk out of this short life. To friendships, to those who climb down into the darkness of the well with us and lead us back. To my friend, who continues to make me laugh in the vacuum of my car and continues to inspire me to not be too serious or too depressing, to suck it up, to be a man about it, to be shameless and to not apologize, at least so often.

I don’t know if I’m well, but I know I am better because of you. To knowing what you have to hold on to is worth holding on to, sir. We’ve drank to that so many times in the past, like when we first started playing guitar together, or when we lost our grandfathers, or when you turned thirty. This beer and every one I will ever have is to you.

I’m always thinking of you.


How do you do

If I was an honest man, all you would find here
is silence. But I have a tongue, and a tongue must
taste, must make sense, must draw from the empty
coarse, palette, the best of atmospheric intent -tions,
and stand to attention. To send the gentle smile,
the reminder to not stare off into the distance
where the ships have sailed unmanned,
no wind, no sail, no remote control
of the tide, no consciousness willing to bear the weight
of the cargo, the flotsam we recovered and rebuilt
as wide-eyed perilous navigators charting our journeys
by the light of the stars, by the light of our young hearts,
by the light of some distant beacon on a shore,
a harbor of comfort, of stories from the past
we were still sailing for. Did you make it.
It seemed like you did. Even if you could not
believe in it. You made it, and here and there I hear
the trumpets blare, confidants and associates,
acquaintances from beyond that port they have photographs
and logs that have kept track
of your kindness, your fortitude, your gratitude,
your courage to defy the administration, Bobby Knight,
and that chair you threw across the basketball court.
They wear your name on their T-shirts and they swing away,
stitched leather balls spinning into a future you knew
they could find with an educated mind.

I have ran out of words, good sir.
Out of good time and good
excuses and out of
making good, and so, I regress
because this fist fight, this bare knuckle brawl,
against the inertia of falling forward,
it might mean that some thing I cannot see
may catch me.

Because it seems all the things that do ever catch me
are the things I cannot see.

The things that jerk,
that hook, the pulley and the harness
that bind me, that lift me from time to time,
that lift Peter Pan up from his slumber in Never Land,
and how long have you been asleep Peter,
how long have you not been paying attention.

And so, I regress, scouring the ledger
through the glass that blurs the past.
Finger prints and palm prints and nose prints.
The grease of human diligence
attempting to grasp, to clasp, again
those moments in the back of my mind
in between our shared, adolescent dreams
of pretty girls we confused into loving us, somehow, somehow…
the ones we’d like to find again,
the ones we should have never let go of,
the ones we assured each other we were going to still find.
Those moments somewhere in between the concrete and the abstract
pavement of the path that we argued
would defy every eloquent epitaph.

We were going to set this world on fire, perhaps if only
we knew it better then, to keep the other warm;
with company, with brotherhood, with handshakes
we could never decide on how hard to embrace,
with truths and dares, we could never decide on
how hard to embrace, with embraces we could
never decide on how hard to embrace.

We were both storytellers, prone to exaggerate, to inflate
our simple lives, to escape
how natural it was to love
everyone we loved, and to love each other
at a distance or by bonfire light, neon light,
or by Miller’s High Life Lite. It was not, my friend,
it was extra ordinary.

They come now, all dressed
intending their Sunday best.
I stand now. I smile. I shake hands.
I offer my deepest gratitude for their presence,
their arrival, their condolences, and for once,
because I have never been much of an honest man,
I don’t want them to give any of it back to me.
Take it with you, please. Is this the currency
that it takes. The rare minted coins, molten in the furnace
of an education, the price of time.

Take it. Please, take it. Give me more time.

I sat on my knees a few days ago and I prayed.
The phone rang and rang and I did not answer
because I did not have the answers
because I have never been much
of an honest man. And because I have never been much
of an honest man, I prayed to every God I knew
and I offered them myself. I offered them years
that I may never have. Take half,
take it all. Take what you must
to give my friend a chance. I am not
an honest man and I do not
deserve the fortune or the happenstance
of fortune. But my friend.
But my friend…

I revile silently now
through smile and through handshake. Not because
the many faced Gods have failed me
but because I have failed myself
for not loving you enough.

Because I have not been
an honest man. And I wonder now
if that is the true currency
of time. Honesty. Presence. Loving in spite of.
Have I saved all these coins for too long?
Hoarding them in the secret shoe box
among the other shoe boxes inside the closet,
depositing them into a safe deposit box,
a rainy day fund that will sit until the floods come
and pass.

I’m sorry, my friend. I do not know how to do, today.
I sit. I stand. I crawl. I drink. I smoke.
But this is not living, not like you did.
How did you do.
How do you do.

I am sorry, my friend, because, I love you.
Present tense. Eternal tense.
I love you.

Take this with you.

We are rebuilding here, the flotsam, the cargo
that has grown so heavy, but we are learning again,
all of us, how to carry you with us.
And we are slowly raising our sails again
led by your beacon, your journeys, the tales
that are still being told beside the mug, the comfort of
fermented youth
you helped brew.

And we still laugh some times, at the things
that you have done. And we still say sometimes,
if you were here, oh what you would have done.
Oh how you did what you did, my friend.
And I think of you, sir, all of the god damned time.
How do you do, my friend.

How do you do.
How do you do.



It seems we are always in the middle of thingsThis is a part of me I am not proud of, but it is a part of me. I wrote this a long long time ago and along the journey since then I have grown to learn that questions are not destinations. They are signs along the path that will lead you. 



My mind is not clear. There is dust.
Eyes blink, shoulders shirk off the waste
of many, many years and I sit down
because the weight is still there.
The dust is still there. The waste is
still there, settling like ash, like snow,
like teeth unconditioned in spite of mother’s taunt,
like white walls lived in, jaundicing,
like dimpled cheeks where there ought not to be
dimpled cheeks. Like time, lost
with an audible tock, a gentleman and his axe
swinging through the block…

Paul dragged his axe and left a canyon.
How did I leave a mountain.

Hey Hank

Charles Bukowski is one of literature’s most notorious assholes. He lived a demented, alcoholic, tragic life and his poetry reflects semi-autobiographically, as all writers attempt to live and survive, this lifestyle. He is on my short list of heroes. I’m not sure that would mean much to him, maybe it would, but it does to me. He taught me to be blunt. He taught me to not rest in flowery disillusion but to take a jab, to start by twisting your hips and bending your knee, trust your guts, react, and finish. It doesn’t matter if you win. Someone has to lose. All that matters is that it looked damn fine in the photographs. Worth a story to tell. That is poetry in motion. He taught me to not fear myself. He also taught me restraint. Not everything I have to say is worth mentioning but it may be worth some further deliberation. I hope you see that as a compliment, Chuck.

Here’s to you.


Hey, Hank…

“What are you afraid of?”
he asked.
and I shuddered, because that’s not
something you ask
just anyone
and I’m not sure if I really thought
about it, or if what I had to say was true,
or if I should have said anything
at all, but
the beer was there.

“I suppose,”
I replied,

“being alone.”

“Well,” a smirk appeared, and I could tell
he was starting to fade,
“to two of the loneliest fellows on earth.” He
chunked the breast of our rabid mugs
and drank himself into
the lady’s back beside him
who pushed him
as he pointed at the ceiling;
the artificial bulb,
the wings of the drowsy,
dust-alctite fan
and he laid beside my feet
hand over chest now
his mug, empty
but upright
on the counter

He said, “it’s good
to be alone.”

In Utero

There are some inalienable truths in life. There will always be something to worry about. There will always be something you should be doing. There will always be something to fix. There will always be room to grow. To learn. You can be better. You will be better. But that does not mean you are not all right, right now.

You are simply on your way. You’re in the car. The radio is on. You’re adjusting the dial or scrolling through your mp3 collection. 

You are simply on your way.


In Utero

I met an old friend for drinks.
He was good, aged, but good.
We spoke of older friends and trends,
mistakes we made in assuming we were men
some time ago, some time ago… and he grinned.
Are we men? Have we reached some monumental end?
Have we deciphered anything more
than the consequences of experience?
No paths unfold, only retrospective tracks, the traffic
of the past, the mathematics of subtraction.
And multiplicity, he offers, was just an auction room floor
for us to feel like we were more
than the miracle of a beating heart
consuming one gasp and expelling another;
like a steamboat, audible and uproarious,
urgent but arduous. It has taken many coals
to entertain the delusion of a fitter frame,
but is this the path? Whittling away at a branch
with an auteur’s pretense, a willful negligence
of the exterior sentence;
I will grow.

I will grow.

A Second Wind

Artists, in reference to singers/musicians who achieve some noteworthy success, release compilation albums of their greatest hits. This poem is a compilation of my Greatest Misses with the ladies. It’s nothing I’m shy about, these days anyway.

We always like to think we’re trying our best, but for most of our lives we are just not ready. And then someday, we are, by luck, we think. But it’s not luck. It took an education. It took making mistakes. It took making the wrong decisions. It took losing people.

Don’t bank on Luck. Bank on Growth. Bank on the next time being better than the last because you’ll be wiser then. You know what you’ve got to lose now.


A Second Wind

I met a girl last Friday. She had big ears, a big smile,
and she talked real slow like no one should miss out
on what she had to say. “I just don’t believe
in love,” she said. “I don’t believe in how proper
it can be when our minds are untamed
and hormones pull all the strings. Love is a
joke, but,” she laughed,” we all enjoy laughing. So much.
Too much.” And as she kept laughing something inside of me
awoke. Like a Titan, like a runner and their second
wind and I wanted to say something… to win her– but
that was stupid. The idea that you could win someone…
I nodded, “That’s real cool,” and mentioned I was running out
of beer and I walked away. I watched her
through the cut out crowd as I considered
buying her a drink too, but no, that was
too forward. I had to play it cool.
I paid for my beer and after I felt like I had gathered
enough of the right things to tell her, I walked back
but she was gone by then. The bar crowd loud
with unfiltered chatter, like a swarm of locusts devouring
a season of growth.
I said goodbye to a few friends and walked out and
lit a cigarette the way some people scratch their heads
and I kept walking looking up at the night sky,
a pixelated bolt the city let survive
in between her concrete thighs.
Breathing deep or sighing or both,
I couldn’t tell you honestly
between the fits of coughing
and smoke, I wondered about the places
she had been, the faces she had trusted,
the faces and places she still trusted.
Who did I have. Who did I overlook
when I needed something new.
Before long I found myself down the sidewalk of another
barfly trap and there she was at the end
of the street laughing with a girlfriend and my
eyes must have lingered
too long, my feet and my
breath too because she
saw me and smiled
and waved, briefly, like swatting a fly,
and went back to the wave
of conversation that I imagine sometimes often
carries on in well-lit corridors or rooms
where ceiling fans whir
away the suspense of strangers and you
talk about things like great music and traveling,
how stars aligned at the right time, once or twice before,
the end of the world, and the last Breaking Bad.
I thought about waving but she had
already turned away, and so I left,
turning around, misfortune starting to nestle into its place
deep inside my cowardly vase, a pool of courage
stagnant and muddied from standing still.
But as I walked away, something
beyond my shortcomings leapt
forward. The memory of her smile a short
while ago. And I felt small, but in a good way,
like standing on top of a precipice
where the past is small and foreign,
triangle stamps on a topographic map.
She was kind to me, and the only crime
of kindness is that it
ends someday, or grows
silent like a horizon, like an embrace,
like a wave of a hand, like a boy
who’s learned enough to know
nothing has to be said.

poetry is for SHIT

Insomnia is usually a good sign for me that I am avoiding confrontation. That I am far more asleep at the wheel spiritually than I am physically. That I need to write, or pick up the guitar, or find some song, movie, or good friend who will shake me awake. Something akin to a mental spring cleaning. But it’s never that easy. Unless you are an asshole. In which case, everything you think is the honest to goodness truth and you sabotage your illusion of control by lifting your arms in victory revealing the chinks in your armor, the bare armpit, and the arrow pierces you from the side where there is no rib cage, and all of a sudden you remember you do have a heart.

Despite its spiteful title, this is my love song to Poetry.


poetry is for SHIT
Poetry is for shit. We climb under the covers.
Hardback, paperback, cyberback, audio
back because it’s all for shit. No one can stand
up. No one can preach from the lectern without
words to follow on the page, on the mind, so deadly
derivative, so deadly diminutive, so deadly
distilled. It must be. It must
intoxicate. It must have been fermented or how else
can we let it soak in and take us. There can be no
other reason we submit. But I, too, I have been
taken in. Bath salts and all. Cloud
billowing inside the mind and I lie here
because truth is a relative mood we pander
to soothe. To remove. It is not
absolute. It is not precognitive. It is not written
in a book or yawped by the lectern brandisher.
It is a choice.
Like the meatball sub you had for lunch or the mp3
you just scrolled down to. Today
I am just not in the mood. I cannot choose and I cannot
lose to my fucking mood. So I dig
and I dig and I dig
and why haven’t any of you said anything yet?
To unlock this searing
itch? Because, of course, it is every one’s fault
but my own
and I see now, the fault
of my logic, of my saftey net, of the cyclical things
I choose to forget. I am sick. They say.
Unwell. Unnourished. Not enough
coins dispensed to grant a wish. Just algae here. Age. Too old
now to hope for recompense but old
enough to observe, to dispense.
Like toilet paper. Like a break-time snack.
Like protection. And that is why poetry is for shit.
Because I really need it. I really, really need it.
Sugar high. A caffeinated grasp on the mechanics of
functioning, savoring, dispelling the muck of survival.
A dog ear, a photograph, a shoebox underneath your bed.
But they are not your words. They are not mine.
They are ours.


I wrote this many years ago late at night/early in the morning, deep in depression, lost and frustrated about what could make me happy. I don’t believe it was anytime around Halloween. Maybe it was a summer in between college semesters. I can’t remember.

I am fortunate. My family doesn’t agree with everything I’ve accomplished with my life but they have always found a way to love me.

It’s a hard thing to remember. To love. Sometimes we believe loving someone already bound to us by blood or years of friendship or romantic commitment is to remind them how they can be better, because our intentions are the best and we see so much “potential” in them. But sometimes, disregard that, all of the time, the best way to love someone is to love them. Believe in them. Reconcile. Let them learn. And if they don’t, they know who to come back to for that good advice, that love that will guide them. That gentle, “I told you so.” I’m half kidding. Just half. I’m still learning how to love too.

This is about my family.



I remember holding hands
and hating it. My mother would
point to the next house, and my older sister
would slide the van door, and we would dart out
like some vast battalion, shedding our shields,
hand at the helm of our swords, sometimes
literally, and we had already conquered our greatest fears,
the gauntlet had been vanquished, before our toes bent the blades
of evening dew, and our arms wide open
treasure bestowed upon the valiant, the courageous, the socially adept, and death defying, and we were good, she would say
to her friends later on the phone, opposed
to the advertised mischief, and we would pour out all our candy
on the table, she made us, and split it seven ways, even though it always
came out the same way it began, because
who holds prejudice toward seven kids in
family dollar facepaint? and we’d count it afterwards,
and wonder, “Why was this
only once a year?” we would murmur
through chocolate teeth or double bubble bubbles, candy corn fangs,
caramel smacks, stuck to the empty caps,
and the independent spaces wisdom and age had yet to fill.
It would never tire, we decided those nights.
candy for a king, candy for a queen. Anyone could live forever, like this. what Gods allowed only once a year for gluttony, should we
not enjoy everyday, bathe and baske in saccharine glory; did you know
if you cook sugar for long enough, it turns gold?

We’d sit on the back porch, the moon was
always nearly full, and discuss
our trite superstitions, and
future predictions, that i cannot
recall now, and make fun of
each other, in that
circumventing sibling
fashion, that never failed, and never
our hidden joys
of our household
company. and we’d be okay, we’d do well, if just
for a couple of days before it was back
to drawing turkeys, and homework
and awaiting the next
holiday break.

I remember once there were so many of us
walking up on to this tiny, concrete
front porch one Halloween, and my sister, Julie, was on the far left
side, she was one of the first to step up, and after the last
of us squeezed in for a treat, i can’t remember who now,
she fell off
the side into a bush, and we all laughed, but she cried
a little, and i felt bad, and
so did the lady who’s house we were at
and so she handed Julie another
handful and a half of candy, and said it was the
last she had, blew us a kiss, and at the end of the night
after we had split our bags
we each gave Julie back a bit of whatever she
wished to have. A candy coated apology, we knew, but
we were happy; all of us.
And afterwards we went to the back porch; because
when we were young
the falls
were warmer.

And I do miss being young.