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Month the Thirteenth

3.20.24 Wrestling with the Blank Page

You can’t fight it. You must allow the devils their due. Here is where the magic happens, where the cycle begins anew. I wish that you could see the sun rising over the hills east of here. Could feel the cold that bites at my fingers when I smoke my rolled cigarette. Hear the wind shaking the back door as it whips and curls around the eaves of this house. That would make you here with me in a way that this substitute never could.

But alas time and space…they keep us from each other and also give us the space to be individuals. The distance to develop uniqueness, or relative uniqueness, I suppose, as they say everything has been done. Sometimes they even say The Simpsons did it.

And as the floor falls away, as the dizzy spell comes over me I lament the times when I failed to act, and the times when I acted too outrageously. But people care. People show me all the time that they care, and this is enough to continue even on the days when it gets dark in spite of the sunshine. When I contemplate an end that would be premature. But that is not today. Today is for cold coffee and warm guitar tones. For peanut butter toast and half a pack of cigarettes. Tomorrow is for the dentist and another strike at the irons of love.

For we cannot give up on that, no matter what we do, no matter how lonely we get. And loneliness is not the same as being alone, no matter which way you skin the cat. It can haunt us for years as we share a bed with one we love. It can pin us down beneath the weight of our indecision and hold us, helpless, in stasis as the world and its party favors dance like skeletons around us. And death always comes for all of us, the miser and the spendthrift both. The slave and the empress both return to the tomb I guess, right?

But I am of neither of those classes, but a middling middle of the road bore most of the time. Or maybe that is to sell myself short. Maybe I do provide value. Though this is not a DENNIS system scenario. I am not much for seduction. Though sex is important, what I really seek–as every girl’s dream–is to be understood. To be seen, to be known, to be happy. Is that too much for a man to ask? Is it more than I can dare expect in this small town with its few available persons? But you know, I have been being more social, been getting out more. Trying to find a way through the doldrums of midwinter that come for us in the North in the early spring. The wind whipping and snarling, the trees creaking and cracking. If I hadn’t just gone South I would say I am ready for that.

Here in the place where I was born, in the house I grew up in, I wonder. Wonder if there is an outcome that will ever seem satisfactory to me. Wonder why so often I feel that none of this is worth it. Though maybe those times are the balance swinging low from when I feel so high I want to live forever. Clinically mad. Clinically treated. Stable, but bored, sort of. I find solace in the sounds pouring from the speakers. In ignoring the news. I don’t feel I can change the world in that way. That’s a laugh if you ask me.

No, if I am to change the world it will be by liberating a small cadre of volk from something like quiet desperation. The tedium of a life in the workplace. That is I want to launch artists. Not to be Gertrude Stein so much as Lawrence Ferlinghetti for the digital age. There are good ones all around, and I won’t try to save them all–Bodhisattva, Bodhisattva–or really save any of them truly. All of them will die, eventually. As will I, as will you. Science has its limits for all our pretending that we are the universe’s supreme engineers.

Or maybe we are, maybe my vision of space force engagements in the outer rim was accurate futurism. I hope I’m dead by then. I don’t want to play Ender’s game. I don’t want to live to see what’s going to happen if aliens show up. I don’t want to play cosmic pinball anymore.

Writing is enough. Breathing is enough. Maybe I will even find love again one of these years. Find and not squander. Find fulfillment, as so many dream. We are born into this alone, we exit it alone. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, as may be my favorite biblical intonation. And my ashy fingers, my tarred lungs. My need for something to fill up the days. There are only so many hours you can spend at the typer.

Some hit the bottle. I tend to err on the side of smoke. On the side of the cancer sticks. Though wine is perhaps the finest of all the poisons. No tengo nada mas. Tengo miedo, para la muerta. Para la infierma. No sé si los palabras son correctos. Conozco muchas personas bonitas. Quiero un amor. Un amor fabulosa. Quiero vivir en la ciudad. Quiero practicar español más. But that is enough of that for now. Enough of this. Enough. Enough.

How can you know what is enough unless you know what is too much? William Blake said the devils told him that. The devils told me that only I had the key to be a writer. And this the proof. The evidence. The strata of my mind laid out as if you had taken a sample from my brain.

I hope this season of fire treats you well. Water behind us, all around us, within us, through us. And blood, fast blood. Always pounding, like a hammer on an anvil. Or a nail. Or a headache after too many glasses of vin rouge. A ruined morning is something with which many of us are familiar. And this not that. This not much of anything. Quiet, peace. Piercing peace. And no piercings, no tattoos. We smile, we laugh, we sing. That is the world I want, even if it extends no farther than the other nightstand.

Goodnight, ladies, goodnight.

3.21.24 A Breath of New Day

I believe I had a breakthrough yesterday. I will spare you the details but it came in conversation with my mother. Maybe now I can remember that I am not the center of the world. That my greatest fears will not come to pass. That I have some autonomy even if it is not absolute. That the words I write are mine and not generated elsewhere, that I am not some plagiary poet, some charlatan fooling everyone but myself.

It was a long stretch that I felt at times like words I had written were addressed to me from some outside force. Some of that time I was just stoned, but others the waves came crashing over me when I was stone sober. It’s unsettling to be getting messages from God when those messages come in the form of lines you can remember typing. And I don’t even believe in God, not really anymore, anyways. I can’t afford to, because of the perception of messages. It is too powerful a force. If there is a God He is on board with me not believing I think, and this is consolation even if also contradiction.

You see there is a need to live for the present, for the moment, for this life and only this life. I don’t want to be murdered and get twelve more tries. I don’t want to be murdered, don’t want to die until it is my time. Don’t want to live in fear until then. Don’t want a lot of things. People have told me over the years that you can’t frame a prayer to the universe in the negative or it will deliver you the thing you don’t want. I always thought that nonsense, that if an entity was powerful enough to answer a prayer that it certainly could parse out a negative. I don’t know, the whole thing seems silly, childish.

And I become as a child. Easy, lucky, free. Able to see the stars in the night sky. Able to see the sunrise, and hope that I will see it tomorrow too. That is the dream, to make it one more day for years and years and years to come. That is my wish, universe (GOD), if you are listening. Let not the evil in my past–not my own–preempt my future. Help me to put down the death sticks and move on into relative sobriety and relative ease.

For I have had a few drinks since I said I was going to quit drinking. A little wine. A couple beers. But not to cope. Not for anything other than the pleasure inherent in the taste. In the pairing with food, the palate cleansing. And now these fingers that get ahead of my brain, this coffee that burns my tongue even if it has little taste. Maybe I have COVID, maybe I will be typhoid mary at the dentist’s office today. Figure everyone has either had it or the vaccine. Or both. It ain’t what it used to be, in short.

I guess I’ll keep this brief, keep my ramblings to a minimum this morning. It is good to be me sometimes, and this is one of those times.


3.22.24 What to say, what to say?

I can’t say that I know, can’t say that I’m sure what it is needs to come out of me this morning. There is some churning, more ocean waves than butter, going on within me. Not in a bad way, though I do seem to have a nasty cold. It is one of those mornings where there is not enough coffee in the world to awaken me from my fog. I went yesterday and made a friend, talked heavy past shit with a virtual stranger with whom for whatever reason those topics came to the forefront with ease. It is refreshing, to be able to air the darkness that breeds within me on a Thursday in a bright, well lit room with the sun shining outside and the lake the color of somebody special’s eyes.

Of course there is no one in particular I’m referencing. I am quite alone in the world at the moment, in that sense. Which is good for me, I think. Though certainly it would be nice to have someone to kiss, to touch. Whose hand I could hold as the moon rises over the hills inland. She was large last night, Celine was, that big white face that looks down on me and holds me in her gaze daring me to flinch or to blink. I usually do both, afraid to be seen.

But yesterday I was seen and did neither. Yesterday I was free to be myself, was free to express the memory of the pain that for so long has haunted me, the one that still rears its head often enough that I am quite sure I will never totally shake it. But why would I want to, pain has been a familiar friend of mine for years and years and years and without it I feel somewhat lost. Emotional pain, that is, physical pain is unwelcome. Especially of the chronic variety. That sounds like an upper circle of hell. I don’t wish it on anyone.

But that is a digression I suppose. I suppose I am happy today. That I have things to look forward to. I suppose I felt that way yesterday too, didn’t I. Though the dentist was no picnic. Unless a picnic is supposed to be painful. Unless a picnic is all surprise olive pits and fire ants. That sounds terrible.

I am here today, I am free. In my mind, still wrestling with the prophecy that I would steal his wife and he might kill me. From that lady in St. Lawrence all those years ago. So you’re saying there’s a chance. And that there’s a chance. I don’t want to steal anyone’s wife, but what does that mean to be a wife. Is it having signed the marriage document or is it more a situational thing. And who can help what we feel? Who can help to do anything but follow the heart. The head has no province here. This is no thinking conundrum, even for self-preservation. When the heart says yes we must listen, or not. Those are the options, and to deny the heart is to deny something essential. To deny something that could be great.

And who would I be to do that? Asking for a friend.

3.23.22 Time continues its march to the sea taking us with it and changing us along the way

Ah the guilt trip. About the cigarettes. About the nicotine, which, to hear my mother tell me, I am “eating.” But I am fine. I am enjoying myself. Am enjoying the poisons that will take me from this world. And if my clothes smell so be it. It happens, it happens. I will continue to be, until I no longer do, and that is enough.

But enough of that, enough of love, enough of politics, enough of everything. I don’t know what I want to say. How many times have I said that and still found the nerve to say something. How many times have I written of loves that exist nowhere but in my imagination. In my mind, in the recesses of the sheets that hold me tighter and tighter each night I spend alone.

It is good to spend some nights alone. To not bounce from lover to lover as a pinball batted by the flippers off the bumpers and the bells. It is better than always seeking to find yourself in another. For we must make ourselves whole, or rather realize ourselves to be. And I feel whole, feel something like stable too. That is not always the case, not always my reality, but if you’ve read very much of this you should have realized that by now.

I prefer these times, these peaceful, dull times to the storms that toss me on their waves when things start to get and then do get out of hand. When I rave and ramble and believe things that no sane person would ever believe. For that, sometimes, is a reality. A nightmare, truly, if I’m being honest. The comedown from those heights being acute and feverish paranoia. The fear of complete surveillance states. The fear of cosmic surveillance, of alien engagements. I do not wish such things on anyone, though I hope that I do not have too many enemies. I hope also that I can manage not to make new ones, that I can squeeze through the tube of life and onto the brush and onto the canvas in a way that ruffles few feathers.

Why is it always flowers, birds? Why can’t it be something else? Aren’t there better images or are we only obsessed with plant sex and flight? We have mastered flight in those steel behemoths. We don’t breed plants by their flowers. And yet, and yet. Still they are as common in the arts as air is on the surface of the earth. As pans are in kitchens. As grass is on a golf course. It is all so ordinary isn’t it, and so beautiful. Or ugly, for what are contraries but inversions of the same essential truth? Or isn’t it either, and some secret third thing?

That is my question for the day. Is it beautiful, or ugly, or else? Asking for myself this time.


3.25.24 Stopped up

Sometimes the only thing to do is move forward. Some would say always, but I contest that there is something to be said for looking back, for attempting to learn from past mistakes. Otherwise it may be hard to make it out alive. Out of madness, out of strife. Out of pain and suffering, as if one could sue God for damages. Though truly if I want to find the source of the damages I need look no further than my bathroom mirror, where today my hair is doing wild things, going every which way as I seem to be, too scattered to focus even on this, which normally comes readily to my fingertips. It is a Monday, after all.

And I with no work week to speak of at the moment, just these vast empty days to fill with whatever I can manage. With coffee and smoke and conversations over the telephone. With music and meals and attempts to create. I have been doing alright with that, the creation. Even if the cost is high, even if I find myself killing myself to live. I don’t know if any of you have read that book, but I am not so rock and roll as his version. I can’t even remember his name. That is the way it goes.

The sun is out, shining on the few patches of snow that remind us that winter comes with the whims of the lake. That it isn’t over until it’s over. And we just passengers on this planet, victims of the weather, of time. Along for the ride, wherever it might take us. I am happy for that. I don’t want too much control. Just want to smile a little more and have some friends with whom to share my increasing joy. For someone asked me yesterday why I preferred pain to joy and I was a little confused. That doesn’t seem like me. I hope it is not the me I present in here. I must admit I have not revisited much of the last year. Past is past, as someone once told me, and that particular past was a trainwreck in progress, in processing all that I had been bottling for far too long.

Now that I’ve let it off I feel much better. The silence in my mind is resounding. It is not enlightenment, as I surmised near the outset of this thing; I do not believe in enlightenment. I do not believe there is an endpoint other than death. Nothing to achieve, nothing to win, except in worldly terms and those dictated by men and women, by human beings. And circumstances too, I suppose. Even those in control do not have absolute control. And if they do they are more evil even than I give them credit for. Let us hope that that is not the case.

Let us hope that our time is coming, us long suffering people who feel on the outside of the party. Those of us who see the happiness of those around us and wonder what it is that we are missing. Our numbers are greater than we estimate, you can never tell what someone is going through within their own mind. The man in the suit may have taken every ounce of his will not to drown himself in the tub last night. The angry woman at the lunch counter may be dealing with the loss of her mother. There is no way to know, there is nothing to do but be kind to those around us, to be soft where we could let the world harden us.

That is a lesson I struggled with for quite a while. It always seemed too easy to dwell on the surface in some circumstances, while in others I had to peel back layer after after layer, compelled to get to the bottom of the mystery. I suppose that is a fault in my stars, or in my upbringing, the curiosity that will certainly be the death of me. Or maybe it is cigarettes that will be that, if I can’t manage to quit. I only hope that I don’t go down in a hail of gunfire in the midst of a manic episode, loose on reality, away from the plate, swinging at a curveball that in my high energy state I managed also to throw. I hope you can follow that, for I am having some difficulty.

What I was trying to say is that I hope I don’t go when I’m mad in a violent turn. I would like, at least, to be sober when I meet the grave. I don’t think that is an unreasonable ask. I don’t think anyone who cares about me at all would have it any other way.

That is enough for this morning, that is enough for a while. This entry is getting too long, I’m going to give myself some time, going to see what changes. For it is always changing, it is always evolving, and for that gift I am eternally grateful. Not dead, grateful. That is plenty for now.

3.28.34 Holy Holy everything is Holy!

Thursday, another day of the week with little to occupy my mind. Soon enough I will be working, I hope, but that is another story. There are many other stories, I suppose. One is of me as a poet. One is of me as a writer. Sometimes it is A, sometimes B. Can not one be two things, especially two so similar things? One should not limit themselves to their passions. They should also do things that bore them from time to time in order to keep the other things fresh. How’s that for sage advice? I’m sorry, this morning I am tired.

I was just watching the sun rise. It is too occluded by trees, truly to view it properly, but so is the nature of this particular vantage. So it shall be, as it was in the beginning. That sounds biblical, doesn’t it? I guess we can’t escape the BOOK, le Biblios. We can only persist in these modern times, can only make our way through the world with the sum guidance of six thousand years. Of course I forgive them who cling to the doctrines of Jesus, who by now is in Jerusalem by the ecumenical calendar. And will be risen in four short days.

Without pot hopefully I will be spared the grotesqueries of last year’s Good Friday visions. Hopefully. But one can never be sure. Religious rapture strikes when it wants and takes no prisoners. See Kaveh Akhbar for that. Though I have yet to open the book, Horselover Fats sent me an excerpt, and I must say I anticipate it fondly. Is that a thing? Is that a common phrase? Or a perversion of several other ones?

I read poetry last night, to an accordion accompaniment. What in the world is my life? What could come of such a thing other than joy? Could not misery and sorrow come too? They are always possible, no? And yet we cannot dwell, cannot allow the skirmishes of fate to rule us. We must live triumphantly, must sound our horns as we round the point and let them know we have arrived. We must dance naked on mountaintops beneath the stars and the waning crescent moon. We must, we must.

And yet there are few constraints when you really get down to it. Few things that are truly required. Death, taxes, as the saying goes. Benjamin Franklin had syphilis. That is a relatively dark thought to have as the sun rises. No need to go all Big Al on us here. Anybody see the stand up of Lana Kane? No, just me? Alright.

This is devolving so I’m going to cut it short. I know my limits, and the term of their undying love stretches from here to the grave. I want to scream out in joy, which is better than screaming out in agony but attracts still a lot of unwanted attention. So I will be quiet, have another cigarette. It is peace here this morning, let’s hope we can make it that way to tomorrow as well. That is my prayer for here, for now. To the gods of circumstance, to the powers that be. 


4.1.24 Fool me twice…well you can’t fool me twice

And yet I a perfect fool, an impressive specimen of foolishness. Looking always for things that it seems will bring me trouble. Not the good trouble of our bygone congressman either, but trouble that brings botheration on our minds. Trouble that brings me back to the statement by that young lady in that hospital hall that I would steal his wife and he might kill me. For that kind of trouble I wish to avoid at all costs. Was she talking about herself? That certainly seems the straightforward, logical conclusion. But such times were anything but straightforward, logical. Such times were haywire, confounded, batshit, manic. Psychotic, pinwheeling, purgatorial. The life of a madman is not the life I want to live. I was not cut out to be Dalí.

I was neither cut out to be Picasso, Rembrandt, Manet. Cezanne, Monet, Rothko. I cannot paint very well L&G; poetry is my calling, prose my outlet. Here in these pages I could tell you that I got drunk and sad on Champagne and aged, fine Cabernet or I could tell you that Christ is Risen, or was yesterday anyways. The unbridled Joy of having conquered death or the feeling that I am tired of this and just want to end it quick and easy. All on the same day, all within a few hours though I did not even make it to mass I was so tired from the night before, trying to stay up to take a phone call to talk nonsense with a friend.

Because what really is enough? In a relationship, in life? Is a purpose enough, because I have a calling that often seems purposeless. For Poetry will not save the world, there is no doubt of that. There seem to be more poets than ever, seem to be more writers than ever. Or is the internet just throwing it in our faces so that it seems that way. More than ever. More drivel, more sad hopeless pining. And I guilty of it too. How many of my poems written to an indistinct unavailable woman. Who am I, Petrarch? Laura baby, Laura. That is my mother’s name, I have known few others to wear it.

You see in this game (the writing) we often have to assume ourselves to be the best in order to get the courage to face the blank page. I know I am not the best, know that I am just another pipsqueak footnote on the graves of Dante, of Neruda, of Frank O’Hara (who would have rather been a painter too). Of Ferlinghetti, of Nemerov. And those mostly Americans. What of the rest of the world, what of the many many who plied these waters before me, hoping to reach the other shore with a faculty intact? And I hopefully a long way from there. With any luck I won’t be run over by a dune buggy on Fire Island.

No it is more likely that the smoking is taking years off my life. And I without real motivation to quit. Especially on those days I feel like dying. The days I feel like I could shave off a year and be none the worse for wear. Or cut the whole thing short. No epilogue, just blood in the water and the sharks circling.

When I went to bed last night I slept for twelve hours without a dream I could remember. And woke up tired. I went to bed because I was tired. I slept on the couch before that because I was tired. Is it the weather? The phase of the moon? The alcohol? Some combination surely. And I going to write some poems this morning about something other than love. About something other than depression, or suicide, if I can find the inspiration, the welcoming theme. That’s enough about this for now. Fool me again, you surely will, I won’t be ready.


4.2.24 I’m okay I promise

I realize looking at that last entry that there may be some question as to whether I’m really doing alright. I am, I assure you. Depression is an old familiar friend that comes and goes, marring fewer days than I escape it. Suicide is a distant dream, a thought that comes forcelessly and then dissolves before my will to live. For I have a tremendous will to live. I probably have more will to live than anyone. Tremendous, tremendous will to live, ask anyone. Sorry I couldn’t resist a little Donnie impression there. If the state of the world is terrifying at least we can find a little laughter in the dubious elocution of the figureheads.

And my dubious elocution here, if it can be called that in written form. Probably not, truly. I think it must be spoken to earn that term. I am out of coffee. I shall have to brew more. But here we are, back in the realm of the sinners, those of us that Jesus came to save. Those of us he is saving as we speak on his reunion tour of Judea. I wonder what tickets for that went for if modern Rock and Roll is any indication. Probably a lot, probably the second sermon on the mount was a sold out affair, with scalpers at the base saying that loaves and fishes would be included.

Only it seems to me that he only asked his friends to bring food. Just like it seems to me that his grave was robbed. I don’t know, I’m a biblical realist, at least when it comes to the gospels. “Turning water into wine” seems like decanting in the Greek method. I tire to speak of the bible, of the suicide pact that we stymie our lives here so that we may reap rewards in the afterlife. I’m fairly certain there is nothing beyond the grave. That when we die, we just die and it’s a lot like life but lasts a little bit longer. As I read someone said, somewhat tongue in cheek I’m imagining, just yesterday. Only as Tom Robbins put it, none of us really knows. None of us has died. Even the folks who almost die never really cross the threshold. Never really die die. And even when they do for a minute how do we know it doesn’t take some time for life to leave the body. If you can be brought back then it seems to me your life didn’t really leave. Maybe that is just me.

Where am I going with this? What has this devolved into? In the beginning I was grappling with emotions that seemed to overwhelm me. And then I was grappling with madness. And now…well now is much quieter, is much simpler. I am sitting with a sad song in my parents’ kitchen with a mug of coffee with a Cheshire Puss on it. Trying to recapture my sense of wonder, trying to find something to fill up this space that is not repetitive. Only I don’t know that I am succeeding. I fear that I have lost the thread of this diary, that we have reached the end of the line and I only persist out of want for something to do.

For in these days of bad news on the television set in the morning and sports to distract you from that in the evenings I find that music and my friends are my only solace. The only thing that keeps me from slipping into absolute boredom and despair. For boredom is my oldest enemy, the thing that inevitably drives me nearer and nearer to madness until I cross the line and then race downhill towards the barriers of mental hospitals and the resulting traumatic stress response. For being locked away with a group of other mad people is not therapeutic, let me tell you.

The last time I was listening to screams all the time. From a young lady in the back of the ward who was really going through it. Whom they had to hold down and shoot up with tranqs almost every hour when on cue she would start screeching and wailing. I think of the Jay-Z lyric, “I still hear fiends scream, in my dreams.” And yes I still have dreams about those places. The places where because of my sensitive mental state everything takes on the enormous proportions of a dream. Where everything you hear, each conversation you have becomes stretched from being a conversation into being a prophecy. Where the pain of others reminds you of, and reinforces, your own pain.

And in those times I need little sleep, need little food. And yet they require that you eat every scrap. And then the meds make you hungry. So you eat. And get bigger. Pretend to be sane so you can get out. When in reality the madness just needs time to level out. You can’t force a square peg into a round hole. Everyone knows that and yet with the mad they try. For we are not exactly sick and not exactly well. It is easy to categorize as the former because that is the prevailing narrative, and indeed we are different from our normal selves. And not, as I said, exactly well. We are transformed by an electrifying force within the brain. It ionizes us, we become radical. Reactive, reactionary. Some people even get violent. Thank God I do not.

Now as I settle in to my books and my poems, the words that make it seem okay for a few minutes, I can smile. I can smile because I am something like stable. The three pills a day do well to keep me within my lane. And certainly I was veering this fall. Those entries are hard, concrete evidence of that. And then month the tenth on the outskirts of cop town. When I was worried about being framed for sex crimes by a shapeshifter. For murder by way of the same. What a trip, what a terrible terrible pattern of thought. And now, it is Don Delillo, whiskey neat, and a ticking analog clock. I am gutted and still not free, but something like well. Convalesced, you might say, recovered completely, as the story goes.

So take this entry for what you will. Know that sometimes a hopeless mood overtakes me. Usually writing it out makes me feel better, but not always. Sometimes there is no cure for the blues, and they hold you down beneath their hitchhiker’s thumb no matter how much you beg. Today is not one of those days. Well not yet, anyways. There is always time for mid-afternoon malaise, but for now I am well rested and ready to embark on a journey with a girl with a snake tattoo on her arm. A fictional girl, I should mention. But that is another story, somewhat literally. I hope anyone reading this (if there are even any of you anymore) can see something more of what makes me me. That is the point of these pieces I suppose. To unveil the real Richard. For the real Richard is a shifting equation. The sand falls through the aperture of the hourglass and the hour of death grows ever nearer.

I just dance my dance and smile when I can. That is enough for me, for now. Maybe something greater will come later, but for now, for me, I am happy just to be. This morning I woke up and made it to the coffee pot. With any luck tomorrow will proceed similarly. And the day after, etc. For today I want only peace, want only creation. Want only to write something that I can later throw away as the piece of shit that it is. Or maybe it will be immortal someday. There is not a way to know, and as Alan Moore put it the best work you will ever do is the work you do without thought of reception. So I forget my audience, as I have done here, and proceed into the work. Elbows deep in grease, or the relative greasing of plot mechanics. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going anyways.


4.3.24 A tightness in the chest

I may have overdone it yesterday, but today I am no worse for wear, mostly. There is this feeling like I have phlegm in my lungs, and maybe I do. It was cold last night and I smoked quite a few cigarettes. Such things happen, I will survive. Will come back stronger when I quit the damned things once and for all. Assuming there is a once and for all moment for me and not a here and there situation of relapses until they take me prematurely. A great fear, but not enough of one to keep me from going to the well at the moment. Great too is my love of smoke, and as I can’t stomach pot anymore I am left with the death sticks.

But enough of my health. Enough too of all of this, this capitulating to the demons that push me into the embrace of the blank page. This calling that requires that I spend time here alone in the morning warming up to do the real work. In truth there are not better ways to spend my time I don’t think. This is a worthy enterprise if only for me, to see myself here in letters most every day is a joy that reminds me of all the other little joys. If I am a little late to the game this morning it is only because I was up late yesterday, and of course you would have known neither of those things if I had not admitted them here.

I tire of this exercise today, this beating my head against the telephone pole so a signal might be transmitted. This shouting in the dark so I might be found. As if there was a seeker, someone looking for me and only me. Alas, it is a world of people drifting, from place to place, from idling to idling or task to task. I am among them, sometimes of them. Last night I heard the trees creaking and cracking with the blowing wind. It made me happy, made me feel that if the ancients could be threatened by the weather then why should I be made ashamed to be threatened by the weather of my mind. No depression today. No mania either. Just level headed Richard. Waiting to do the chore he has this afternoon. Waiting for the morning with its deliberate slowness to pass.

I am here. I am alive. This feeling in my chest will pass. All things go, no? And I will go with them eventually, as will everyone I know. Everyone I love and everyone about whom I don’t have strong feelings. There is no room for hate in my heart. It is overstuffed with affections, like a teddy bear splitting at the seams. There, that is an image, that is a truth. For you, this morning, may your coffee be bitter and your candy be sweet. May your lemons be sour and in fact all the quantities be as their expected value. Let it come down out there. I will sit and watch, happy for a roof and running water.


4.4.24 Hot Coffee, Cold Air

Who would think to look outside that it is April? It appears to be early March at the latest, with the snow dusting the grass and still falling. Though I suppose that is April in these northern climes, is it not? Enough about the weather, my coffee is steaming on the table beside me and my dear friend had a swimmingly successful first date yesterday. I shall toast him later, I shall make no mention of my own misfortune (mild illness, well maybe one mention) that came on yesterday. I sneeze and a peanut dislodges itself from behind my molar. Strange morning in strange times if the news cycle is to be believed.

But I refuse to watch the play by play, refuse to be sucked into the idea that there is more than a minimal impact I can have on the whole situation. It is out of my control, and oh what a relief. Instead I can control this keyboard, these strings of letters, these passing ideas that flit through my brain like the robins that have returned to our neighborhood. And the persistent one: the desire for love.

For what is a man? What does he need to be happy? Is it universal? Does not one thing work for one and not for another? I need a friend, preferably of the fairer sex. I have yet to meet the cis-man who draws me in. Though in the trans community there have been a number of humans of various genders that have been attractive. Who knows? This is what it means to me to be pan-sexual, in that there is no reliable gender indicator as to whether or not someone will be attractive to me. By and large my encounters have been with women. Some would argue that makes me straight. Who are they, the queer police?

Some of them fancy themselves to be that, certainly. But sexuality, as gender, is a non contiguous spectrum. What turns one on today might not turn one on tomorrow. And dating such a crapshoot. What seems an alluring minx today may turn out to be a whack-job tomorrow. Crazy is everywhere, and I have more than enough for two on my side of the mirror. That said, someone was telling me that seeking out ‘normal’ people is hard because they can’t relate to the struggle. I think of so many I know who have never borne the dead weight of depression. How could such a person understand me?

It is one thing to not know psychosis, to not know mania. Those are things I would not wish upon anyone. And depression neither would I wish, I suppose, but it is considerably more common. Here I am, sketching out a partner for you, audience of just a few. But I said I would be honest in here. Would tell the truth to power (myself, the audience) so that I might be relieved the burden of carrying it silently. It could go all the way to the grave with me if I let it. Only here I am letting it off, letting off the happiness, as Conor put it.

Enough about me. How are you? Checking in to see if you are enjoying yourself. If this seems worth your while. I must admit I fear it is not, that I have lost the thread and am just rambling here to fill up a block of time and to fill space on the page in lieu of something better to do. That in the beginning there was more substance. Certainly there were more feels. Now it is cold quiet, cold comfort; gone are the hair raising anxieties of those first few months, the raving manic highs of the second few. I think though, that that latter is where I lost many of you I may have had. Nobody likes a madness thrown in their face.

With any luck I will be working again soon. Will be back on track to solvency. And with it maybe I will be able to take a girl out on a date. Who knows, I am not so courageous when it comes to the asking. In fact I am cowardly in most things, if I am strong. And I am out of coffee. We will have to rectify that, have to brew more if necessary. There are some things you can’t do without: love, coffee, wine. Well maybe you could do without any of those, but why would you want to? Asking you, for you.


4.5.24 On Impudent Artists

It seems, after reading of Carson McCullers in the New Yorker, of thinking of so many great artists behaving badly, that it is almost a requirement for the job. Assuming that one can make it into a job I suppose. It seems a near impossibility from where I sit, with rejection slips piling up and my laziness preempting sending out more things…but maybe I will find the nerve, will hit upon the stories that will make their mark upon the landscape of American Letters. Or maybe not, maybe I will self-publish and languish forever in obscurity. Certainly that is possible, or maybe I am just not trying hard enough.

But I digress. It is the bad behavior that I was seeking to comment on. Alcoholism, drug abuse, cigarettes, and the resultant suffering of personal relationships, and, of course of the art. Does one thing lead to another, the personal relationships and the art, or is it the underlying cause of substance abuse that cuts the art to the quick? I am not, after some review of my drinking habits, an alcoholic, nor a drug abuser at this point in time. Cigarettes may lead to health decline if I can’t cut them out. But with any luck I have some years before that catches up to me.

Regardless there is a through line of artists whose personal lives are clusterfucks, whose marriages are peppered with infidelities, whose politics are problematic for one reason or another; or outright misogyny or bigotry of another shade. In the modern climate it seems there is less tolerance for such things, but things are not always as they seem. To me it feels likely that there is just as much malfeasance as there has always been, if people are more diligent about keeping it quiet.

Maybe I am in no position to comment. Certainly I am not in with the literati, nor either with the music, television, or film elite. I am just a speculating spectator. And with #MeToo and its corollaries it seems that the dream of the lothario writer is dead, but for the many people of all genders who would like to fuck a famous person. While there are certainly many people with self-respect and standards, an equal number probably would like to wrap themselves around their favorite author, provided he or she met their standards of beauty, and quite possibly even if they do not. For fame is an allure all of its own, and I heard just the other day of a rather famous rockstar type willing to step out on his marriage at the drop of a hat.

But that is neither here nor there, truly. What of the addictions that drive people to always be seeking satisfaction where there is only trouble to be found. For that seems to me the core of the issue, the driving force in the ruination of our heroes of the past. It is, almost certainly, the root of artists behaving badly. Though maybe some are just compelled to do so. To seek pleasure at any cost, unfettered hedonism that ends with them in bed with countless adoring fans who come away with a story and little else. Maybe a moment’s satisfaction.

I have lost the thread of this. I was not seeking to write a full-blown essay. Merely to share a passing fancy. Which is that I hope I never fall into the trap of taking advantage of any fame that might come, or rather taking advantage of anyone enamored with that fame. That I can keep my substance use under control and fall into the category of the well-adjusted despite my persistent inability to find meaning in our consumerist and war-obsessed society. At least decent. That is my goal, should fame tip its hat to me and the art get any recognition at all. We write to be read, no? And to be read is to be known, truly and erroneously by all who read. 

 4.9.24 Eclipsed, Employed

I saw it! The great gig in the sky! The thing the sun and moon do every once in a while that was so lauded by the internet pundits that I had to lobby for a ride down to Toledo in order that I might see the totality of the thing. And let me tell you: worth it. It was a fine day at the zoo with the ostriches giving all their juices to the experience, a fine and worthy spectacle to spend an afternoon waiting for, even if it did only last a couple of minutes.

And now we are back to normal skies, and I am back among the working folk, or will be soon! Exciting days L&G, exciting days! And Usher on the Juke, what an afternoon, what an almighty righteous afternoon! And I just a silly little passenger on this journey, driving here these sentences toward what will certainly be an abbreviated entry here. Good God, what a joy to have only a few words to say, to not need 5,6,700, a thousand words to spell out my delusions of ineptitude. Or delusions of aptitude perhaps.

Because what I have proven here if not ineptitude. That I can string together sentences and even thoughts but not much in the way of coherence for months at a time. Working towards that this year, towards having an entire year of lucidity. We shall see how that takes to the stress of employment, but I think I can manage. Can manage to be a functioning human for at least a year in a row. And hopefully string together a few years at that. Time will tell. That’s all for the moment, catch you maybe tomorrow.


4.10.24 Against all Authority but my Mom

Yesterday was her birthday, but my dad had to work so we’re celebrating today. I look forward to it with relish, with pizazz, with gusto! We shall have a grand time wherever we decide to dine. For mothers, for all of our griping about them and the ways they make us who we are, are an integral part of this life. I feel for people with bad relationships, for people who have had to cut them out entirely. Fortunately that is not my lot.

You see, I have had a lot of issues in my life, and certainly some of them have come from my mom. But I forgive her, she has always been doing the best she can with that Aries fire lit inside her. If you believe in all that stuff, which I don’t much but there is certainly a bit of fieriness to those born in the spring. If that’s even how you spell that word. Those Aries babies can teach us a lot about impulse. Allow me to say that I think any validity to astrology has to do with seasonal developmental milestones more than it does with the location of the planets and whatnot. Like Isaac said, a thing in time has validity for being in time, that is that being a calendar it keeps track of our rhythms. Therein lies the magic, so says I.

But enough of that, today is a bright sunshiny day even if elsewhere I have friends who are struggling. I can’t save them all every day, or even in general. I can only be supportive as they are supportive of me. Good lord above and Bad lord below both have mercy. Left and Right powers align to help us find balance. I need more balance and less impulsivity in my life. That is what I wish for myself, and for my mother I wish great and sustained happiness. God knows I have caused her a lot of stress over the years. But such is the price of procreation I suppose. Trying to string together at least a few good years, as I said in the last entry. That is all I can ask for, all I can hope for from here.

As the rejection slips pile up and I find myself farther and farther from my dream of being published, I must persist in sending things out though it is something I enjoy far less than the writing itself, which is the point of all of this. To write, not to be a writer, though certainly I would take a little column A, little column B. The world is swollen with words. I only hope that I do not contribute to the vacuous, vapid howling that goes on in so many of them. Or maybe they are excellent and I am just lacking a connection. Or maybe one of the pandering stories will land. Or maybe they are not pandering, maybe that is my true voice.

I have made this about me, but I suppose it was always about me, that there is nothing on this weblog that does not pertain to me in some way. Even the despairing slide into madness was about me, was about my hidden hopes and fears. Was about the things inside that live so deep that they haunt me in my raging darkest hours. JJJJ. Typos, typos, and that letter so persistent. The index finger of the right hand. The pointer, as Jesus is in the dark. Or something. I don’t know about all that govn’ah, don’t know about light in darkness or candles to sunshine. Maybe I just need to settle down and write, to create something that someone will think of as worthy.

It is hard to make it in the world of art. It requires a good stroke of luck that I haven’t stumbled upon yet. Though locally my poetry seems to be respected. Let’s see if the judges of the Levis prize think so too. And maybe I’ll make my mark on fiction as well. Who knows. The whims of the publishing community are beyond me as the whims of my mom. So Happy birthday to her, a day late and many many dollars short.

May all of you find what you are looking for on the day that you read this, and may despair not overtake you too often, as it often does many of us. May sunshine fall warm upon your face and not burn your skin too badly. It is not too much to ask I don’t think, of whomever such things are asked. Circumstance, as I was calling God almost a year ago. Enough deliberation on the divine. The divine does not require our participation, even if gods must be remembered to continue to exist. These things are beyond me, beyond me.

That is all for now.

4.14.24 Dog Daze Afternoon

I don’t know what that title means, but my computer is cold and it hurts my hands a little bit to rest them on the metal. That is a place to start, a place like wherever that motorcycle down the street is roaring off to. I don’t know what to say, I’m feeling fairly empty today, but not in a bad way. A touch tired, I suppose. Last night we were up late, burning the midnight oil and solving all the world’s problems.

Today is quiet, a lovely day for nine holes of golf and a late afternoon coffee. For reaching a plateau and not stumbling off the edge of the mesa. I am happy, I think. One can never be too sure. Sadness is a creeping feeling, coming to find us and then getting under our skin and sticking around. I often wonder whether I’m happy or sad. I guess it is okay to be neither.

I have started working again, so that is refreshing. I always get self-conscious, feeling like a failure. Friends say I put too much pressure on myself. I just really want to excel. I think that is reasonable. If it isn’t I don’t want to hear it from you. You can fuck right off. Better and better and better and better, making connections, working hard, and diligently. I can always be more diligent. I struggle sometimes to feel that I am any good. Is that a normal thing or is it just my temperament?

What do we do when we feel this way? The hypothetical therapist asks. I take another sip of coffee and type another sentence. That way, brick by brick, we can build a temple worthy of our love. For this life, for each other, for the world even though it is a pretty terrible place on the verge of war right now. In some ways, in some corners, it is a good place. A well lit room, right?

If myself and the people I care about are isolated that is just the way it is right now. Maybe that is the way it will always be. That we drift along waiting for our people to come and they never do. That would be sad, but would not be surprising in a world of 8 billion souls. It is enough to have friends to have fun with, to talk things out with, to reassure you that your best is good enough and that nobody is harder on you than you. I need to be reminded often, as I have a really mixed bag of self-esteem. Sometimes I have felt like the king of the world and others it is as if I am the lowliest, most unworthy person. It is very strange to swing like that, but I suppose it could be considered a symptom of bipolar disorder to be oscillating between markedly different realities.

And yet I am here in the material world. Where real life happens. I don’t want to be tripping the live fantastic anymore. It has been a long road to get back to being something like normal and I don’t want to forfeit that feeling again. Don’t want to be grappling with what is real. I am safe, there is no one coming to get me. That is enough for today. And hopefully tomorrow too. And the next day. You get the picture.

I’m painting it as we speak, with each of these words a brushstroke. It is a portrait of self, and of world, and of love and life. The big ones, the big themes. I have company so I’m gonna run. I hope you’ve enjoyed my TED talk.


4.18.24 This month coming to a close

Arbitrary delineations are still lines in the sand, I would reckon. And this set of days is closing fast. I could post today but I would like to make an entry tomorrow as well, as this has somewhat gotten away from me in the new climate of having mental space taken up by a J-O-B. It is strange too that I have been so productive in this free time. Written hundreds of poems, a couple stories, and started a longer project too. Is any of it any good? Time will tell, not I. Though I think I am doing my best on these first drafts, to string words together in a way that keeps the story rolling down the page, onwards into the fields of unknown promise, of unpredictability that a story can hold. Where are we going to? What comes next?

Here it is simple things, like lukewarm coffee and a nice song on the juke. It is hours of free time, a day with few if any hard and fast commitments. And now the coffee is gone and I’m left with my familiar friend the blank page. A possibility, a reckoning, a judgment. And I the judge of what goes here rather than the other way around as I so often fear.

You see I had the realization recently that in my cosmology God exists to judge good and evil, and is merciless in His judgments. It is a scary world to inhabit at times, no matter how many times I remind myself that the big guy in the sky is most probably a figment of my imagination. A facet of my fractured psyche born out of that shattering, a voice in the back of my head that tells me that I don’t deserve good things. Merciful, as I said early on in this, means only that They have dictated that we are born to die. That we don’t have to live forever and deal with the compounding effects of our karma. The blessed innocent that fall like leaves from the tree of life and decompose with a little help from the worms.

Always worms below and ravens above, the sky alive with clouds and lightning or with the scathing orb of the Sun. Only on those nights when the moon sheds her blessed light do I feel truly at peace. Beneath that soft halo of reflected sunlight I let fall my worries and let the night roll forward to its terminus at the sunrise. And yet we see so much beauty by day, the sun, for all its distant fury, is the giver of our lives. The big guy in the sky for all intents and purposes. And a sun disk the first documented monotheism if I recall correctly. Strange days, stranger nights.

You see I have been getting loaded sometimes. Whiskey neat, which tastes good, and does the trick in a hurry. And all hours of the night. Getting high again too, the sploofs that send me into a self-important spiral where I am the pinnacle of man while there are gods all around who look down on me. That is not where I want to reside, those fantasies do not serve me. When does a fantasy serve anyone, really? Shouldn’t we deal with that which cannot be refuted instead of that which is transiently perceived? Is not that the proper working definition of reality in the age of science?

For we must test our theories, and that which is asserted with no evidence requires no evidence to refute it. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens by way of Keith McNally. McNulty vibes, though I’m not sure exactly what I mean by that. Still, the first holds true, the evidence for an afterlife being only dogma. Shouldn’t we live for this life as if we have no tomorrow? And that is not the imminent tomorrow that is coming with the sunrise, but the infinite tomorrow of heaven or hell. ‘Cause there’s no hell when you die, so don’t look so worried. That one always stuck out to me. From Bright Eyes’ “Light Pollution”. Good song, good album, sad times.

For these are certainly sad times in the world. I read yesterday that congress passed a resolution to declare “From the river to the sea” antisemitic. What in the world are our tax dollars going to? Surely there must be more important things than decrying the Palestinian cause. And what of the lives lost in Gaza and beyond. The spectre of war is a horrific plague upon this earth, and it will never pass. Always someone will be vying for dominance. Never will we see that taciturn peace of Brave New World. No one is that good at engineering happy populations. Or at least not that interested. They would rather have us suffer as wage slaves while the few elites get richer and more bloated. And so protected that eating the rich is impossible in this police state. Not that you can’t earn a living, though some certainly can’t, but it is into a stiff wind that we sail towards comfortable retirement, us young folks.

I was talking to my buddy and we were talking about comparing ourselves to our fathers at our respective ages. We are hopelessly behind. And probably not catching up. We are living different lives in a different time. The economy is different, the politics are different, the world is more connected and more isolated all at once. There’s no such thing as disappearing into a city any more, not that that was what they were doing, but once upon a time you could get lost out there in the urban maze. Now your cell phone tracks your every step.

I don’t mean to complain. Just to comment that the world is not what it once was. The opportunities are fewer and farther between. We must simply work hard and be diligent, must ply our trades where our fathers had professions. And yet the words may someday be my ticket, be it in film, be it in novels, or, much less likely, in poems. To grapple the blank page requires sometimes courage and sometimes stupidity. To beat your head against the table until you get a result that you can live with. That is all this is today, not a great and shining example, but one I can live with. And that is enough. Always enough, if you can live with it. So let us raise a glass to our fathers before us, to the children that god-willing we will not sire.

Let us be free, let us be easy. Let us not get sick and die young, but survive to see what terror lurks as the century progresses towards its inevitable conclusion in 75 years or so. It will be a ride and I will not live to see it all. I will fall dead at some point and then my pen will fall silent with only the monument of what I have created left to stand against the sands of time.


4.19.24 Morning after reading

It is a quiet morning, just the sound of the windchimes on the porch. I am tired, not sick, but tired, stuffed up and ready for a new day. Yesterday I read from the long poem again. It’s striking how strong it seems to me. As if I will never reach again that pinnacle of composition that struck like a wildfire in my mid-twenties and raged through me for weeks. Compulsion, driven by the wheel of time, the wheel of God, the wheel, the wheel. Is still round, still goes round, still drives me forward. And in the morning the thought of wheels driving me home seems a distant memory, a mistake maybe but not a costly one.

So we continue, another day, another sunrise, another night to come. Strange ones, I must admit, and feeling fine in spite of it all. There is light in the sky and I’m sure the birds are doing their thing out there, eating and chirping and burping (do birds burp?) and doing bird things in the yard. In here it is coffee and water and the slightest trace of guilt. But it is manageable, it will not ruin my day, I am happy–contento, for the moment.

Where am I going on this Friday morning? It is chilly outside, you must wear a jacket to smoke. But I am safe in the kitchen, safe from all my worst imaginings. They inch me ever towards madness I have noticed, towards instability and the grappling with the grandiose. The feeling of being more important than I am. Which is not very, all told at this point. I am just a wee fish fry trying to dodge the cormorants and the gulls. Trying not to get snatched and taken off to be eaten alive down the gullet of a bird.

There, birds again. Can’t I ever escape them, or is it like Buddy Glass said and every reader wishes themself to be a bird? And I a reader too, even as I compose. Even as the letters stack up into words into sentences into paragraphs into pages I am reading every word. Every writer reads as he goes, I would reckon, making sure that there is sense in the stream. And this stream relatively unconscious this morning, just a tired young man trying to make sense of all that has ever transpired in his life. I will leave it alone for now. There is no need to solve everything in one go. Things will fall into place in their own time, at their own pace.

And that is how it is. There is no need to continue, and yet I persist. It is the sound of oatmeal and the taste of hot coffee. The scent of azaleas and the mixed bag of birthday flowers left over from my mom’s. There’s a lot to take in, all the time, even in the dull, slow moments. We are fortunate to have a life at all. I know I am grateful. For friends, for life, for work, for this morning waking up in my own bed. Sometimes that is all you can do, all you can ask for. I’m happy, happier than I was when I started this, so something has been accomplished. Some progress has been made though towards what I cannot say. Maybe sleep tonight, when it is time. Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, quickly go the days. Except when they go slow. I’m not sure which I prefer, the quick ones or the slow ones. I guess we need a good mix. Steady progress upward regardless of our perception of the passage of time.

So raise a glass tonight, to the health of Picasso, if you are the type of person who drinks. And have coffee at midnight, dramamine at daylight, a cup of tea in the afternoon if you are not. There are no hard and fast rules to this life, only take care of yourself and those you care about. Don’t hurt people, don’t hurt yourself. Maybe those are rules. Of course I contradict myself, I contain multitudes. That is all I’ve got, need more coffee, need a smoke. See you next month y’all.


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