beginning of a much longer work

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The world is a garbage heap, of course—
an exotic, labyrinthine garbage heap replete
with nudist beaches and crystal cathedrals.
Light reflects around it like a racquetball
narrowly missing the earlobe of a person
who feels athletic despite evidence
to the contrary. Light and rain, alternately,
plus good, old-fashioned, human insistence
on things being a certain way make
the garbage heap what it is: A nest
of complicated joy, etc.
                           Last night I dreamed
about lions and wolves congregating
along the edges of my driveway. The former
Minister of Mines and Mine Workers (miners)
had left her tiara on a box in the mud room,
and I desperately tried to text her, but I tell you,
thumb-swiping on my mobile device
felt like stirring green tea with an omelet!

Yet the beautiful, squirming creatures
lining my gravel drive, sleeping in the brush,
the bush, drooping in the hemlock, the lions
and wolves coiled under crepe myrtle,
snoozing under willow, near propane tank,
etc., made the whole place dreary
and feeling abandoned, like my heart did
when the men came and took the boxes
of books accompanied by an uninvented aroma.

But I had tricked the butler into charging
everything to Mom’s Amex. . . (drumroll)

• • •


other people

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I love it when other people succeed.
That’s all I really want in life:
Other people to succeed, do well,
succeed, enjoy themselves.

The reason is that I consider
other people more important than I.
And when I’m done hanging out
with them I tell them “goodbye.”

• • • 


Monday, August 15, 2016

I have a friend who knows
a little something about everything
and is, thankfully, willing to add
his two cents to every conversation.

“My narwhal’s misbehaving,” I
mutter one day. “Ah,” he chimes in,
“Have you tried jiggling its tusk?”
He has owned several narwhals

and been to a number of shows.
His familiarity with book titles
is unmatched: “Have you read
Escape from Jeff the Killer yet?”

When I suggest it is a Minecraft
map he tilts his head and smiles:
“It’s also a book by Will Schofield,
limited edition from Leaf Storm Press.”

I have a friend who loves food
so much there’s nothing he hasn’t
prepared for every type of eater.
“Borscht for toddlers? Add beetroot,”

he says, “Strange as that may sound.”
What about for Peruvian toddlers,
I ask. Try wheat germ, he suggests,
and hops in a small blue Honda

from which blue smoke belches
as he drives off toward JC Penney
to return a 12” classic satchel
assembled from royal claret leather.

• • •



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Life is so complex it seems to need
many millions of years to evolve.
Yet you and I met online and got married
last month. We bought a house.

Now, with the advantage of experience,
you claim I am an organism that lives
in conditions found in deep sea vents—
those gassy, metal-laden plumes

caused by seawater interacting with
magma erupting through the ocean floor.
I counterclaim that I’m a living man
and, of equal importance, your spouse.

I also claim that you, an exotic life form,
must have been forged in the heat
of some fairly extreme chemistry
yourself. Maybe Montebello, California.

In any case, I thought I’d warn ya,
I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.
I’m stuck in the middle with you.
You and I are destined to do this forever.

• • •


the mayers debacle

Monday, July 25, 2016

Mike Mayers faced a perfect storm. As a reclamation project from thoracic outlet syndrome, he’d been struggling uphill for years. As mid-season call-up for one spot-start, he likely felt he had one chance to impress. Add to that, he would be pitching for a team on the bubble, gaining ground in their division and facing their wild-card opponent—more pressure. Also add that he would be pitching in 100-degree swamp heat he wasn’t used to, on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, with his mom and dad in the stands. I imagine Mayers felt as much pressure as anyone ever has in a major league debut.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 12.09.44 PM

Yet his first pitch was a strike and a beauty—he tossed it back to Yadi to be put aside as a souvenir. He then threw fastballs at 93-95mph, marking the edges of the strike zone. The first hit against him was a soft liner up the middle. The second hit was a fought-off fastball that somehow made its way over the third base bag. Second and third, nobody out. Mayers threw harder, and his changeups began to float up or outside the zone. Third guy walked. Way more pressure now, and he started missing even with his fastball.

So this is where the situation gets really sucky for Mayers. All the pressure above, trouble getting his changeup to work, plus the loaded bases and no outs, and he’s even more rattled. His pinpoint fastball control meant little without an alternate pitch, and Gonzo sat on a changup up, got one, and crushed it. Post-grand-slam, I’m surprised Mayers was able to throw a strike at all, yet he did.

The reason it was beautiful, though, from a Cardinals point of view (and a human point of view, same thing) is that after he was pulled the Cardinals battled back for 6 of those nine runs; Wainwright talked to him and settled him down; and the best moment from our team captain, Yadi doubled and jokingly sped around second as though he might stretch to a triple. He trotted back to second and smiled broadly back to the dugout where a shellshocked Mayers stood waiting for some grace. Yadi gestured as if to say, “I was trying to do too much, lol” or “relax.” Open palms pumping down toward the ground like, “I know my limit.”

This big smile and bit of horseplay from the 11 year veteran who had been behind the plate when Mayers gave up 9 runs means everything not only to Mayers but to the team as they slog through a hot, grinding midsummer. But mostly to Mayers. Yadi’s big smile was the embodiment of leadership. It’s just a game, and truthfully, moments like these mean more to me than big championship wins. They say, “dude, you blew it spectacularly, and the game goes on.” I think we’ll see Mayers again.


Monday, July 25, 2016

The more I watch new action movies
with their cars, their explosions and subplots,
the more I am reminded of the place where
I work: frenzied hairdressers toting

enormous boomboxes, enormous children
visiting with “Hello” stickers on their chests,
and work, lots of good old fashioned American
ergon, deployed not without forethought.

I have a pen-pal in Mozambique—or
Tanzania, rather—who apparently refuses
to write with anything but a horse-quill.
And in broad daylight. Sleeps with the light on.

“I can pencil you in,” ends her latest missive.
This one was two sentences, total. The more
I go to work, go home, check the PO Box,
the more I feel bad about losing you,

Diane—or Dianne, rather—woman of many
friends—or mini-friends, rather (slug farm)—
and over what? I’d left an iron on somewhere?
A window open? Had you disappointed me?

• • •


the ride

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The brain changes as it grows older.
It becomes more robotic and loving.
It repeats “I care about you” as it winks
unintentionally at passing traffic.

I wouldn’t trade a man’s brain for a
robot brain, though. Too many wires
or, in my own case, tendrils,
and no more newspaper subscriptions.

The brain charges as it growls louder,
“It’s five bucks to pet the lion!”
Children back away as they would
from an out-of-control blender.

I once returned from an all-night
bender more existentially awake
than I’d been in centurions; I dropped
the motorcycle key in tall grass,

in tall sedges and Queen Anne’s lace
and stumbled among black-eyed Susan
until I found the original sidewalk
leading back to the black lab

where I’d had my brain redone
the first time. This would have been
the second attempt, another go-round
had my body not dropped to the ground

and looked for the world like a contractor
bag of toxic human body parts,
such that no lab worker dared
touch it, though I don’t doubt they cared.

Who wouldn’t remove his laptop duffel
to attend a prone humanoid shape?
I mean, you’d have to be a shadow
not to sympathize with one who’d

ridden hard all night and come home
languid, reflective, and nearly bionic.
But one did stoop, thank God,
and administered a spoonful of tonic.

And I wouldn’t trade that memory
of waking up on an operating table
for all the sane, vivid daydreams
of the very young—ultrabright can lights

lighting me up, lighting my shape,
as my soul rose unvictorious
over a team of well-intentioned
older men. “Who was this?” they mused.

• • •


scenic byway

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

If you’re in Grissom, NC, say, and want
to head home to Hillsborough
you can pass through Creedmoor

(likely retracing your steps)
and hop on 85, which takes you
west-southwest to Exit 164; or,

if you’re like me, a wild fool,
you can travel a more northerly
route that begins by circumnavigating

Falls Lake through Butner, where
the Federal Correctional Complex
devoted to healing sex offenders lies

long and low among cedars and pines,
and head west on Old Oxford
to Stagville Rd. and, after the Loblolly

turnoff, hang a left on Orange Factory—
or, honestly, continue on Stagville
into Bahama, then double back

on Quail Roost—either way
you’ll cross Flat River at the Waterfowl
Impoundment and end up on Mason,

which eventually becomes St. Marys
and takes you through a series
of 250-year-old farms and homesteads,

wending as you go and, if you’re
like me, with the windows down,
finding centuries of agricultural sweetness

mingled with the sharp arrogance
of chicken shit to be something
akin to a drug, Leo Kottke’s 12-string

ramblings rolling on the car radio,
just getting to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”
as you rumble across gravel and pull

the parking brake you’ll find yourself alive
and having lost no time you couldn’t have
done without had you hopped on 85.

• • • 



Thursday, June 2, 2016

When I think of you, Pauline, unbound,
standing up there of your own free will
while I leap obstacles, some of them burning,
and climb short ladders just to reach you
in the hope that you still feel the same
as you did when we promised our love
forever, I wonder why you don’t jump down,
flee that cask-flinging hominid;
has he threatened you? Do you love him?
Do you love (forgive me) whichever primate
happens to have put you on a pedestal
no matter how furry, fanged, or feral?
Also, where does he get all those barrels?

• • •



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Whenever someone says, oh Hillsborough,
that’s one backwards river town,
I say yeah, it’s an Eno River town
and Eno is “one” backwards, bro.

• • •


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