Friday, December 6, 2013

happy birthday to you

i am awakened
at seven past two
a.m. by a loud
happy birthday
song. apparently
the party
across the yard
is still

i know
i should
use this
to write
down the first
thing that comes
to mind,
but i'm hung over
and it seems like
a bad

they sing, and
when she blows
the candles out
they sing some

i lay in bed
and listen
with a splitting
headache and nothing
to write

Sunday, November 10, 2013

i saw you in a dream that one time, but

i can't quite recall
your face. it's sharp,
but all the features are now
blurry and
i try to recollect
them, but it's

i saw you
at the pier
hiding your eyes
behind the shades.

i looked at you,
i guess i'll never know
if you looked back,
or if it
was you all
along, but for one moment
there i thought
i finally had myself

Saturday, October 5, 2013

morning routine

when I wake up
it's still dark outside
and I hear the
poems flutter.
they fly around
like moths blinded by the light,
bump into walls,
can't find their way out.

I'd let them out, but
if I move,
they will be gone
in an instant,
like a dream worth
dreaming till the end.
they don't like to be
disturbed, and I don't
like disturbing them.

so I lay there
in the dark
and listen to the music
of the words,
try to string them all together,
to make them fit
each other

and I whisper to myself,
eyelids still closed,
with hope
to remember that music
later, when the sun
comes up.

I jump.
I quickly
find something to write with,
something to write on,
and I scribble,
but they are clever.
they hide,
they like to see me struggle,
they like to play my luck.

and luck is just another word.

I hope that
is writing

Sunday, September 1, 2013

a smile at 3 a.m.

they are all asleep,
but not snoring,
resting peacefully.
some hold spots for their
husbands or wives, still awake,
or children, brothers, sisters,
who visit
and bring flowers.

some don't get any visitors
at all.
their names had faded,
their dates don't matter.

they all
used to work,
used to drink,
used to fuck,
used to pray
the crooked shapes
that guard their
but now they sleep.

those who are still awake
don't like to visit at night
so I'm the only one here at 3 a.m.

I smile politely.
I'll just sit here, quietly,
and wait for the sun
to come
as if I'm one of you.

Friday, July 19, 2013

we were never good friends to begin with

in 2004
she wrote
and the phone number
in my yearbook
as if digits last longer.

in 2004
he wrote
“See ya tomorrow, dude!”
in my yearbook
as if that’s really going to happen.

in 2013
at the supermarket
she’s holding the leash,
and he’s pushing the stroller.
they’re shopping for groceries,
expanding family life.
I’m buying a six-pack and some pasta.

“Hey, you!”

“Hey guys!”

“It’s been a while.”

“It surely has. . .”

“How are you?”

“I’m good.”



“Listen! We’re planning a barbecue, a get together. A few people from school. You should come.”

“Maybe, yeah.”

“We’ll send you the info.”

“Alright, keep me posted.”


we part.

weeks pass and I don’t hear from them...

what else is new?

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Back then Jerry lived with his parents and his baby sister in a white two-floor mansion that was too big for the family of four. He invited us over on our way home from school. His mom was busy with the baby when we walked in, but she called us into the kitchen and squeezed us some fresh orange juice.
“How was your last day of school, boys?” she asked us. She didn’t pretend to be curious. No, she actually wanted to know.
“Today was boring, mom!” said Jerry. “It’s our last day! We didn’t actually do anything.”
“Nothing,” Ben agreed.
I told her that the only serious class we had today was English and Jerry threw me a death stare. He forgot to do the last week’s written assignment. Today we got them back. Jerry got his usual F for not turning it in. It was an easy assignment, but a bad theme. The theme was “The Day That Changed My Life Forever.” I had nothing to write about, so I wrote about Chucky. Chucky was my mom’s spaniel. He got really sick and we had to put him to sleep when I was seven years old, so I wrote about that. Teachers like sappy essays. I got a B+.
The baby started to cry in the living room, so Jerry’s mom quickly fixed up her flowery dress and left us alone.
“Let’s go outside, you two,” Jerry said to Ben and I, “I’ll show you something.”
He opened the net door and we stepped outside into their huge backyard. White fence ran around a wide area of neatly trimmed grass. The grass looked pinned down in place by a few tall oak trees that grew in random places. There was a built stainless steel pool in the far right corner of the lawn.
“You live in such a cool house,” Ben admired his surroundings.
“Where is your dad?” I asked.
“He’s in Milwaukee on another business trip. He’ll be back in a week.”
“What did you want to show us here?” asked Ben.
“These trees,” Jerry pointed. “See the upper branches? Bats sleep there. They sink their nails into the wood and hang upside down. The branches are all intertwined in these old trees and bats feel safe in them.”
I looked up into the weaving branches. I couldn’t see any bats but I also couldn’t see that far up.
“I wonder if they dream. . .” I said.
“I said, I wonder if bats dream.”
“What are you talking about, Billy? Who cares whether or not they dream?” Jerry laughed at my question. “Man, they’re so ugly. Ever seen a bat up close?” he asked us.
Ben and I shook our heads.
“Ugly creatures! They come out at night, but maybe we could wake a few of them up now.”
Jerry picked up a rock from the flowerpot and threw it into the foliage of one of the oaks. The rock landed somewhere in the grass with a hollow thump.
“C’mon guys! Let’s see what happens!”
He picked up another rock. Ben followed him.
“Isn’t it dangerous to wake bats up like that?” I asked.
“Nah,” said Jerry, “why are you always scared to do things? It’s still too bright for them. They can’t see in the daylight and they’re disoriented - easy targets.”
They tossed a few rocks randomly and soon Jerry spotted a winged creature diving out of one of the trees.
“There’s the little bastard!” he screamed.
Before we knew it there were two or three of them in the air and game was on! Jerry aimed carefully, but missed all the time and Ben was downright terrible at it. He just liked throwing things. I stood there and watched them getting a kick out of this activity. The bats, disoriented as they may have been, were still pretty good at making sharp turns and avoiding the rocks my two friends attacked them with.
Ben said “Come on, Billy, show us what you got!” and handed me a stone.
“Why do you give him that?” Jerry mocked me. “He gets good grades! His aim is probably terrible.”
They both laughed at me.
“Mister William, could you hit one of those bastards for me, please?” Jerry continued.
To prove him wrong, or to shut both of them up I threw the rock and all it took was one throw. It was luck mostly . . . There was a thump, a squeal, and I swear to God one of the black creatures came spiraling down. Right before it hit the ground it perked up and shot back into the sky.
Like a roller coaster.
A hurt roller coaster.
“Damn, dude, sorry I asked!” Jerry was astonished. “We should call you ‘Bill the Kill’ from now on, jeez. . .”
But now his sense of competition had kicked in! They both continued to throw the rocks at the poor creatures, but they both continued to successfully miss. No one else got hurt that afternoon. Then one of Ben’s rocks accidentally hit the hornet’s nest and a bunch of furious inhabitants drove us out of the yard back inside.
Ben had to go home early. I stuck around for little longer. My house wasn’t as nice as Jerry’s. His parents never argued and I wondered why my family couldn’t be more like his. Jerry and I hung out in the living room, watched TV and ate Cheetos until it began to get dark. Then Jerry’s mom asked him to take the garbage out and offered me a ride home. I politely refused.
“Are you sure, Billy? It’s almost a mile!”
“Thank you,” I said, “but I think I’m just going to walk. I’ll be okay.”
“Your choice, Billy. Always a pleasure to have you here.”
I didn’t want to be a burden and I could tell she was relieved that she didn’t have to drive me. She probably didn’t trust Jerry enough to leave the baby with him alone. I said goodnight and walked home wondering if that poor bat knew what hit him.


     Our furniture was outside scattered all over the front lawn. The dining room table, the chairs, the fridge, the whole living room set and the chandelier from the hallway. A lot of other things too - personal things, books, records, paintings off the walls. . . It looked like a yard sale. I was confused.
     I spotted my father sitting on the couch outside amongst all of our stuff. From far away it looked like he was just resting there, but when I came closer I saw that he was asleep. He had his flannel shirt unbuttoned and an empty bottle of Jim Beam laid out by his feet.
     I touched his knee and he flinched. 
     “William, you’re home?”
     “I’m home, dad.”
“How was school?” he asked me and looked around.
“I got a B+ in English,” I told him.
My dad found the bottle empty on the grass and frowned.
“What’s going on, dad?” I asked, “Why is all our stuff outside?”
     “A little spring cleaning,” he mumbled.
“It’s June, dad. Spring is over.”
A rusty pick-up truck that once used to be red pulled up in front of our house and a middle-aged couple of corn farmers stepped outside.
     “Are all these things for sale?” the lady asked us.
     “Yes, mam” my dad said to her and buttoned his shirt up, “everything you see here is on sale.”
     “We were just driving home, we live in the ranch nearby, but we couldn’t pass by that beautiful couch of yours,” the man said. “How much do you want for it?”
     “Three-fifty,” my father named his price. ”But I can throw this armchair in for four hundred if you’d like.”
     “Oh dear,” the lady gasped, “I think it’s a good deal! Then we would have the whole set!” She asked her husband, “Could we also take this table?”
     “Tell you what,” the man said to my dad, “how about we’ll take the couch, the armchair and the table for four-fifty?”
     “Four-seventy five and you got yourselves a deal.”
They shook on it, the man paid in cash, and my father helped him load the three items into their pick up truck. The couple thanked us and left.
We stood there watching the lights of their vehicle pull away and disappear into the night along with our living room set. It was already pitch dark outside, only a few streetlights illuminated the empty road.
     My dad put his hand on my shoulder and said “Come on, William, let’s go inside.”
     “Are we going to leave all of this stuff here?”
     My dad didn’t answer, just crossed the clustered lawn and walked inside. I followed him in.   The house looked so empty and airy with all the lights on and furniture gone. I brought two chairs from the outside in and we sat in front of the cold furnace in the room that used to be the living room.
     “Do you like traveling, William?” my dad asked me.
     “I don’t know,” I said. “Why?”
     “I need you to pack up tonight, but we don’t have much room in the car. Keep that in mind.”
     “We’re moving?”
     My dad nodded three slow nods full of regret. We sat in silence for a few seconds, then I asked him - “Dad? . . . Where is mom?”
He didn’t say anything for a while. He just cried, and cried, and cried. And I have never seen my father cry before.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

wallmart was out of birthday cards today

i put a teabag into the orange cup.
black tea,
it smells of peach and ginger.
i pour hot water over it,
add sugar -
one spoonful, two spoons, three.
a lot of sugar.
no milk, no lemon,
just the way she likes it.

then i sit at the kitchen table
and while the steam is rising into the 
air i wonder
if she took her vitamins this morning,
if the mittens keep her fingers warm,
and if she’s driving safely.
i wonder if
she still likes
in her Cesar salad
and does she still believe
that over easy is a far
choice than

i wonder if she still pretends she’s not a smoker.

and if her eyes got worse,
or maybe better?

what book is she obsessed with now?

what song?

does she still detail every dream
into that purple, little notebook,

or is that notebook full already?
today is her birthday,

and i wonder
if he bought her flowers.

i sit there
till my tea gets cold
and then,
only then i
that i didn’t even taste it
to see if it was sweet enough.

i pour it out.
brown liquid
down the kitchen