Mom’s Not Going To Be Around Forever

She sounded good today
strong
vibrant in spirit
not like last time when she was weak
distant
sick.

Sometimes you don’t think that she’s going to
get any better

You called her from work
because you had so many things to do and
places to go after just like
every damn day
so you wanted to make sure that at least
you called
you made the effort.

But you’re miles behind on work.
You can’t stay on the phone
for too long you have a meeting and
a list of lists to accomplish.

You just wanted to say high but once you
have her on
she sounds so happy
she’ll talk about everything in her day
-the doctors, the medicine, the treatment, the cats.

You start to feel rushed because you have to go
and she can go on and on about everything.

But what else is she going to do?
Who else can she talk to and how often do you really speak to her?
She just wanted to hear from her son.
She just wanted to fucking talk to you
because for most of her day
she just sits around; is too weak to walk anywhere
and has nobody but dad to talk to when he’s not at work.

So when she says ‘I love you, son.’
you realize that one day
you will have done anything
just to hear her say that
just to hear her voice again
just to have her there
for just a little bit longer.

So when she starts talking about the flowers
or the birds in the yard
you don’t say that you have to go
you don’t rush to goodbye
you don’t hang up.

Instead
you find a chair
sit down
and you listen.

Dead Girl Writing On A Blackboard (Don’t Turn Her Around)

I lifted my head and looked around me. Mist breathed out from beneath every door down the hallway as though on cue, lapping up against my feet, slowly reaching out for my face. I scrambled back and stood up with a start as it violently swarmed around my legs like bees upon a honey-covered child. Seeing that no harm came from it, I wandered through toward the light coming from a classroom at the end of the hall –unease building with each step. A flickering fluorescent strobe greeted me when I came to the doorway.

Looking into the classroom, I saw the back of an unfamiliar little blonde girl writing ‘I won’t let go’ over and over again on the dull surface of the blackboard. Her hair was tossed over her face like an old mat and she wore a white dress dashed with streaks of long-dried blood. Despite everything screaming for me not to and not knowing what I was hoping to find, I walked up to her between desks far too small for me, placed my hand upon her shoulder, and turned her around.

Her face was gone. It might have seemed like she once had one, but it was covered over by a sickly growth -a veiny veil of taut skin that wrapped like a suffocating shroud around her features. I could almost make out socketless eyes and maybe a hole where her nose had been. But her small mouth I could definitely see beneath as it was opening and closing, working to form the words that she was still writing out into the empty air now that I had pulled her away from the board. Seeing that this situation would be of no use to me whatsoever, I turned her little fragile body back to the board where she continued to scribble away in pretty handwriting – as girls always seemed to have– the same words, over and over and over again:

‘I won’t let go’.

Disappointed, I left the classroom and the sound of her relentless scribbling behind me as I made my way to a field behind the school where yet another phantasmagoric entity awaited to molest my conception of reality.

(excerpt from ‘The Dweller’ – coming out soon)

Why You Had To Kill A Man

He put your sister in the hospital
again
so now you’ve got to do something about it,
don’t you?
Fuck if he’s your friend.

You pull over by the shed.
There he is,
fold-out chair on gravel half in the shade
looking like a dead man.

“I’m sorry, Man.” He keeps saying.
“I’ll get help. Things will be different
from here on in, I swear.”

And you could hear the same thing
so many times from every
addict, rapist and murderer out there
that it almost seems comical
once you stop believing them.

“You’re my friend, right?” He continues.
His hands groping all over yours
eager for some sort of forgiveness
to what he considers is a flash
in the Goddamn pan that’s how
fucked up he is.

“See,” you hear yourself say.
Words seething out through gritted teeth.
“what the did I do last time but
just stand there and smile?
Just fucking smile?

The truth is that you’re a child.
Just a big, overgrown stupid kid
that swings at whatever
abuses your ego
and you can’t be fixed
because you’re not smart enough.”

You don’t give time to respond.
You can’t hesitate for a second
because he’s bigger than you
stronger
meaner.

Instead you hit him across the face
hard with the tire iron
again and again
because your sister was on life support
so he obviously didn’t deserve his.

You’re my friend, right?

When he stops moving
for good
you throw the iron
on his unbreathing chest
prints and all
because you want everybody to know
that you had done this.

That was the whole Goddamn point.

You didn’t bring a shovel
because you had no intention of burying him
so you leave him there.
You leave that place
but you’ll take it with you
wherever you go
from here on in.

It’s easier to do what you need to get done
at night cause when it’s over
you can toss it in a ditch or
kill the lights and not have to
look at it anymore
but when the morning comes
the sun will uncover your sins
as it burns a hard glare
across everything
and what you’ve done
will follow you
deep into the next night
and every night thereafter
and they’ll follow you
until they catch you
because no good deed goes unpunished
-years behind bars
just scratches on the wall
and hours in the yard
while she replaces this asshole with an
even bigger one
next time she’s crooked for a fix
and it’s just the way it is.

So you just keep fucking driving
as long as there’s road
that leads to somewhere else
though it all seems to lead
to the same place
in the end.

But right now
feels good,
doesn’t it?

20 Years Later & Still The Fuck-up Deadbeat Alcoholic Father Of The Year

I knew that I fucked up
as soon as the money was gone
and I finally came crawling back to the motel
hours later
wasted

There she was standing
outside of the door -my baby
my little girl my
sweet strong sentinel.

She was crying she was so
furious that it made me want to
cry
and take everything back
all of it
ever.

“You said you were going to change…”
She shoved me and I
stumbled back and over a parking curb.
It might have been slapstick funny if it
wasn’t so damn pathetic.

“But look at you, same as always. The funny thing is
that I wanted so badly to believe in you. It’s all that
I ever wanted and you couldn’t even give me that and I
can’t do this anymore.

I just simply can’t
so if you want to keep drinking and killing yourself,
well here.”

She lifted the half-empty bottle of vodka I had stashed under the bed
and threw it at the ground.
It smashed so close that I felt shards of the
broken glass
sting my face.

“There you fucking go.” She said
and then her back was turned and she was walking off
toward the night highway-
my baby girl,
my sweet strong angel.

I tried to get up but the gravity of everything
was all off and I had to crawl over to the wall
and once I was finally up I started hoofing
the door to my room.

“FUUUUCK!” I screamed, kicked it harder.
“FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!”

Some asshole opened the door beside me
spit out his cigarette and said,
“Christ, Old Timer, keep it down.
She was too young for you anyway.”

“Oh, go to fuck.” I replied.
“That’s my daughter.”

I stumbled into the room
slammed the door
and started looking through my bag
hoping that she didn’t find those little
airplane mini bottles of booze I had
wrapped in my underwear.

There might also be some left
in the baggie I shoved
behind the toilet.

I hoped to God there was some.

I wasn’t anywhere near
sober enough
to handle this.

And I wasn’t sober at all.

The Ghost of the Bottle Lingering Around Like a Bad Spirit in an Empty House

Right now my tongue
is an insufferable monstrosity
fattened
and trapped
inside of a dry cave.

The shooting pain between
my ears
doesn’t know where to go
so it just expands
outward
into a Godless oblivion.

I can feel every inch of my slow death
like a man clawing
at the door to Hell
to escape the cold.

I didn’t realize
that bottle of wine
was this much
my enemy.

So I must spend some time
lying face down
upon the ground
to let the Earth
continue to mercilessly
roll over my petulant body
as my foot hits the leg
of a rickety table that
creaks skeletal laughter
echoing with
surprising acoustic
across the cement walls
of this endless garage.

Facing Yourself Before The Fight (Dweller Chapter 15)

As though on cue, the mechanism beneath the platform I stood upon creaked and whined as it began the ascent into the heart of the World Stadium completely indifferent to whom it carried. It must remember well the emotions of all the past fighters that had stood upon it throughout decades of victories and disappointments. Up and up it went, slow enough to build the moment up appropriately. The far-away lights of the massive arena were starting to fall on me now. Soon I would be bathed in it.
Concentrate. This is it.
I could not. I was as far away from the stadium as an airplane flying above it as all of the things rattling around in my head began to viciously flash through my mind like a stormy window as though I were preparing for my own death. I felt my mother’s arms around me, singing that lovely song as I clung to her neck and played with her hair, having no conception of ever being separated from the warm security of her arms. I felt Bethany’s breath hot against my neck as she cried out with delight and told me that we would always be together. I felt the strain of tired legs as Sophina relentlessly chased me around the house, as I laughed and escaped beneath the couch.
I saw the summer skies drifting like a red desert throughout my mind. I felt the grass beneath me where I lay down as clouds languidly crossed my chest. I smelled the wet, rainy leaves on the days of walking to school late for class. And I could see myself, just a little kid whose hair was messed, jeans too short and shoes too big. All of these visions were chased away by the reality that stood before me like a horizon where nothing was behind. Everything, good or bad, led to this. This was my time. Regardless of the outcome, there was no going back, ever.
I looked up as the edges of the ring were coming down and I could just picture Syrus the Hellman sitting on a ledge, smiling.
“There’s no way you can beat him.” He would taunt. “He’s just too good and I’ve seen him put down a lot better fighters than you, Kid. Trust me, tonight your heart is going to be the last thing to break.”
The roar of the crowd was deafening. I was in full view now and could see little specks of spectator movement all across the stadium that walled my vision. In my mind Hellman still laughed away. He didn’t seem to have a face because he was everyone that I knew, everyone that I had ever met. He was every opponent, every wall -every open pit that I had ever come across. In every place he breathed indifference and pain. He was all of them -the harrowing bullies, the shiny plastic demons, the things that lurked in the night forest, the shadows –and he was here at my final moment before it all came to fists and blood to let me know that he was watching and waiting for me to fall.
I would not be sorry to disappoint him. I bet it happened rarely enough that he might even consider it a pleasure.
I searched the front rows looking for Sophina but I could not find her. My heart began to race at the prospect of her not being here but the idea of it was rather ludicrous considering that she had attended all of my fights and this was the largest and by far most important. Sophina was here. I could feel her if I opened my heart and listened for hers.

“Hey Little Birdy, come and make an old man happy.” (Dweller Chapter 14)

“Hey little birdy, come and make an old man happy. Remember that? I’ll bet you do.” I was glad that finally I could unleash that saying so that maybe, just maybe, it’ll finally stop playing back like a broken record inside of a broken person. It wasn’t going to go away on its own. I had realized that by now. I needed to stop hearing it. I would do anything to stop hearing it.
Father chuckled dryly. “I didn’t think that you would remember. It was just the one time, well, that you saw anyways. How the Hell…”
“I didn’t have to remember. I still hear it. At first it drove me nuts because I didn’t know what it was or what it meant. I tried to shut it out but it just wouldn’t leave me alone and now I know why. It took me a long time to piece it together amidst everything else that was happening around me but I finally came around and understood what it was and you know what that is?”
“What?” Father was studying his fingernails, feigning disinterest.
“The final straw. That’s when everything inside of me decided to shut down because of what I saw that one day. I didn’t know it then. Fuck, I didn’t know it until now but yeah, that’s what did it. It wasn’t enough to lose my mother and to have a father that beat me senselessly when he wasn’t playing with the shadows in the cellar. It wasn’t enough that everyone in the fucking world despised me. But that did it. I felt that you should know that.”
Father looked at me nervously then went back to tending his nails. “Hmph.”
“Funny thing,” I continued, stepping closer to him, “that now that I can remember her back then it didn’t seem like she had any pain, that she suffered in any way. She hid it well, she didn’t want me to know what was really going on but you should see her now. And what just fucking kills me is that she could have been an angel, you know…right? You may not think about it or even remember but she could have been, oh yeah, just like mother. But no…not now…not after you had trashed her fucking soul. She was a flower of a girl and you peeled all of her away, pedal by pedal. And now she sleeps with the fucking devil.”
“What the fuck do you want from me, huh?” Father asked, arms spread. “I gave you answers. I gave you everything. What’s done is done. It’s gone. Forget about it.”
I stepped even closer, enough to make him start to step back. “She still follows me, comes to me. You probably already knew that always hiding in the bushes watching me maybe watching her too. But she is not the same girl and I am not the same guy and I don’t need to think about it to know that it was all because of you and it was that part of me that knew this day would come that haunted me by replaying that one time again and again.”
Father sighed. “The day that….that…”
“AND AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN!” I shouted as I moved forward, forcing my father back again down the walkway. He looked behind him to make sure that he still had space to move back. “Yes, that must have been the final straw. That’s when the wall came up, just like in the cellar, the black wall in my mind. And now there is only one thing that will make it go away.”
“You already know everything.”
“I need to hear it from you, from your voice, face to face, right now. You owe it to her. You owe it to me. For all the things that you have done, I don’t think that it’s asking for much at all. I need you to tell me that you’re fucking sorry.”

The Dust Of Long Dead Sheep

It’s always time for the rodeo
when I’ve accepted the fetal position
as a way of life for fear
of putting on the clown suit.

Doubt comes barging in
like a mad cocaine pirate
that I welcome on-board
with streamers, ribbons and balloons
as my dreams vacuously congeal
into dried husks so often that I pray
for monsters under my bed
with dollars in my teeth.

It’s all relative to whatever
disaster I touch and mold into shape
using the clay that mother gave me.

I almost feel like begging
for the knife in these alleyways
filled with uncertain strangers with
cartoon lives
but all they do is
kill me with conversation until
I trip on slumber wondering
why the pen is so heavy
when everything seems so much like air
on which floats the dust
of long dead sheep.