Friday, January 28, 2011

I Dreamed That Los Angeles was Burning...

I dreamed that Los Angeles was burning, orange fire and black nuclear days having erased it from the cynical heart of California

One hundred miles down the road I was sheltering with the one person I loved and the childhood shades of three people I wouldn’t want to spend a brief, bleak eternity with.  The sky was dark as a winter’s midnight and set a-sparkle with bright yellow atomic rain falling sure and steady.

I didn’t care what happened…the why wasn’t relevant…and I didn’t feel panic…when the world was over there’s no point in losing your head, after all. 

That REM song was playing everywhere, gallows irony set to a jaunty beat, and I kept trying to sing along even as I drifted through the house wondering when the pale horse was going to arrive. 

I thought about confessing my sins.  I thought about laughing at the sheer stupidity of the world and the way it was ending.  I thought about carrying one of the people I didn’t want to spend our brief, bleak eternity with off to bed and having angry, bittersweet sex until the yellow rain put us all out of our misery.  I thought about not ever really being who I always imagined myself to be.

I dreamed that Los Angeles was burning…

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Outside…in the morning moonlight…in the warm winter sunlight…in the flow of humanity making their way in the workaday world that surrounds…standing outside, looking in, wondering how to bridge the gap.  Wondering, in fact, if he wants to bridge the gap (of course he does…everybody wants to be inside the shelter…he tells himself he doesn’t as proof against the feeling that he never really will.)

As a child he knew that he wasn’t the center of the universe…but that didn’t stop him from imagining he was…didn’t stop him from puzzling over what exactly other people had to do when he wasn’t there to see them. 

As a man he knew that he wasn’t the center of the universe…hasn’t ever been the center of anyone’s universe; but that didn’t stop him from longing, however foolishly, that he could be…even if only for a brief season.  It’s a gentler, egocentric madness.

Outside…standing outside the fire…standing outside the world…shielding himself with words and music and an abundance of self-pity and unvoiced doubt…standing outside, looking in, wondering if he really wants to bridge the gap.  It’s a foolish, wholly unoriginal madness.

Monday, January 24, 2011

word association

Cold sweat…coughing…walking through self-indulgent wildernesses…days melting into one another…alone and angry…resigned and isolated…down on friendship…down on romance…down on fate…down on faith…down on the whole dance…can’t find the exit…can’t find the future…can’t find the light…can’t find the way…

Roadblocks…dead ends…no hands to hold…this is life…this is now…not a hero…not a warrior…not a man…not crying out…not being listened to…nothing worthwhile to say…can’t find no peace…can’t find no magic…can’t find no way…

Whiner…slacker…navel gazer…stupid man…want to scream…want to cry…want to laugh…want to fuck somebody who pretends they care…want to remember…want to forget…want to be forgotten…want to fade away…can’t find the sky…can’t find the hilltop…can’t find the way…

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cool Hands

Sometimes I miss cool hands. 

Cool hands warming themselves in the small of my naked back during the deep hours of the night. 

I miss the sleepy cooing declaring that I’m so warm and the snuggling in that inevitably follows. 

I miss arms draped protectively, proprietarily over me. 

I miss pliant nipples pressed against my back…soft slumbering sighs warming my neck…legs insistently entwined with mine. 

Sometimes…just sometimes…I miss cool hands.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

150 Words: The Ghosts Are Quiet

The ghosts are quiet at 5 AM.  They are there to be sure…they are always there…but they respect the sanctity of the predawn stillness and they are quiet. 

The ghosts are quiet but the Universe…the Universe is electric, humming with life and death, light and music, possibility, probability, and regret; disparate threads, everyday wonders, shimmer and sing, muted at 5 AM but there to be sure…they are always there.

The ghosts are quiet…the Universe is alive…and the demons…the demons wait patiently on the sidelines waiting for the night to end and for the morning…with its bright, implacable light…to begin. 

The ghosts are quiet…until a truck engine groans to life, until an angel whispers good morning, until the first shaft of sunlight rouses the first songbird of the day, until the demons stir anticipating another day of mischief, until…until it’s no longer 5 AM and the ghosts begin to speak again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


He fancied himself an artist…a tortured, misunderstood soul crying into a wilderness that had no comfort or acknowledgement for him.  Smugly, he clung to his delusion and imagined that it set him apart…made him special…he imagined that he would, on one glorious day, be discovered and appreciated, lionized and understood at long, long last.

He was wrong, of course.

If he was an artist…if he was…he was an artist without an audience.  He was a dancer on distant, desolate stage.  He was a singer without a song that anyone else wanted to hear.  He was a dullard who fancied himself a visionary.  He was a warrior without real courage, a dreamer without realistic boundaries, a diplomat without portfolio, a lover who didn’t trust love, a demon stalker wrestling with ghosts made only of the gossamer tendrils of life as he imagined it should be.  He was another in the long line of sons of Job…and the long line of sons of Quixote.

He was a fool…a sometimes affable, sometimes angry and mean fool…but a fool nonetheless.

He fancied himself an artist…tilting at windmills and dragons, cursing fickle fate and imaginary gods, blaming everybody except the man in the mirror.

He was wrong, of course.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


He listened to the blues.  People sang him the blues all the time and he listened, out of an open heart and out of a misguided need to be a hero…out of a willingness to give safe harbor and out of a selfish desire to have safe harbor if and when the need arose…and people sang.  People happily sang the blues to him.

People, he found, loved to sing the blues but they were less interested in hearing the blues…at least not his blues.  They told him…your blues are self-indulgent and depressing, they make us uncomfortable, and they are annoying…how can you be a good audience if you’re trying to be onstage?  So stop it.  Just stop it.

And they were right.  He was self-indulgent, trying to sing the blues when he was supposed to be there to listen to the blues.  Not everybody gets to sing the blues.  So he stopped it.  He just stopped it.

He sat up straight.  He gave his full attention.  He closed off unnecessary parts of his heart.  And he listened…he listened to the blues. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Dreams can really mess with your head sometimes. 

I’m standing on a street in the community where I live (just outside the gates of a preschool I’ve walked past, in real life, more times than I could possibly count)…it’s bright, warm and blue, day and I’m talking and laughing with a friend (in the dream I couldn’t really see her face distinctly but we share an easy intimacy that lets me know we are, at very least, good friends…maybe more.)

Another guy comes up (in the sudden way people sometimes appear in dreams) and starts to talk to me.  The woman I was talking with says sometime about him interrupting our conversation.  The newcomer, someone I don’t recognize from my waking life but who I apparently knew in this dreamscape, tells her to shut up…tells her that men are talking.

I tell him to be cool and to apologize to her.

She calls him a rude asshole.

He hauls off and punches her in the face with all of his might and she sprawled to the sidewalk crying.

And I saw red.

I’ve always been a strong, imposing (some might say scary…large black men being constant objects of apprehension for some) guy and as a result I haven’t been drawn into many physical fights in my life…and I didn’t have a problem with that.  I never wanted to lose control.  I never wanted to really hurt anybody no matter how much I thought they might deserve it (my brother…the Universe bless and keep his troubled soul…was the only person who could, when he was of a mind, goad me into blind rage…and I never hit him even on those rare occasions.)

But, in this dream, I saw red.

And I hit the man.  The first punch seemed to startle him…he wasn’t expecting that I would hit him…but I grabbed his shirt with my left hand and held him up before he could fall and I punched him over and over with my right.  He put up no resistance but I didn’t stop until his face was a bloody pulp.  I let go and he slumped to the ground and curled up in a fetal position.

I was still seeing red.  I bent over him.  I screamed…”you don’t hit women!”…I grabbed his limp, cowering body and pulled him out of his fetal position…”you especially don’t hit THIS WOMAN!”

I seemed about to hit him again when my friend, her face bruised and streaked with tears, put her hand on my shoulder and told me to stop.

I didn’t seem to recognize her at first.  But the red went away.  I let the man drop from my grasp and I stood up.  The woman touched my face and told me it was okay. 

My hands were shaking…the woman wiped my face (apparently I was crying) and hugged me.  I didn’t hug her back…my hands were shaking…my hands were bloody…I looked off into the distance while she tried to calm me with words I couldn’t hear.

And then, quite suddenly, I was awake.  I apparently wrenched myself out of the dream world and back into the darkness…it was just before 5 AM…of my bedroom.  My hands were shaking and I had a pounding headache.  “What the hell was that?” I said out loud to the emptiness of my room.

I got up.  I emptied my bladder, put on some tea, fed the cats, took some aspirin.  And then I sat here and wrote the dream down.  I wrote it down while it was still vivid.  I wrote it down because there’s no one here to tell the story to.

Red.  I saw red.  I saw myself out of control and, to be honest, relishing the violence I was indulging in. 

Maybe it was a manifestation of seething, unrecognized anger in me…anger at others, anger over losses and perceived betrayals…maybe it was anger at myself expressing itself in violence I have always stayed away from…maybe it was a way of tapping into the rage inside…or maybe it was tapping into the need to  be somebody’s “hero”… 

Or maybe a dream is just a dream…


But man dreams can really mess with your head sometimes…

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tough Love

He needed “tough love”.  It seemed to be the consensus opinion and so, of course, he had to presume that it was right. 

It was strange, he thought, mildly confused, that none of the people proposing this had ever come to him for this “tough love”…they came to him, make no mistake, he was, he was often told, a good listener and some one who held confidences with fierce loyalty; he was, he was often told, a soft and healing place to fall…but, it seemed, he must have had it all wrong. 

And being so sure, he realized that they must have been getting their “tough love” elsewhere all along.

So it seemed he had failed them.  He had failed himself.  He needed to pull his head out of his ass and shake it off…that consensus opinion again…grow a pair and stop looking for a soft and healing place to fall.

Yeah “tough love”…took him a while…a long while…but maybe he finally understood.  Keep your head up…keep your doubts and fears to yourself…be strong and invulnerable…don’t cry out loud…don’t be surprised when your foolish confidences are turned into weapons against you…be too busy soaring to bother looking for someplace to fall.  Give and, especially, take “tough love”…it’s what’s needed, consensus opinion can’t be wrong after all.  It was, he realized, good information to know.