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june readings w/harrison

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

I’m giving a few mini-readings (10 minutes or so) to introduce the hot middle-aged novelist Harrison Scott Key, whose new memoir the NY Times calls “Funny as well as tender.” My goal is to mix things up by being serious as well as abrasive. Here are the venues and dates:

Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill, NC)
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Purple Crow Books (Hillsborough, NC)
Thursday, June 9, 2016

McIntyre’s Books (Pittsboro, NC)
Saturday, June 11, 2016

If you’d like to see Harrison read but can’t make any of these readings, he’s also reading at the Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC, on Wednesday, June 8, at 5:30pm.

Please plan to attend one if not two of these. You will come home with several signed books and memories to last a lifetime.

• • •



the all-new buick enclave

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Your songs are interesting,
but you are not. Your face is like

a pot—and manners? I don’t know
where you got them, but it was not

from people who know about manners.
Your favorite fruit, you say,

is “bananners.” Your hair descends
all over, like the hours of a boring day,

around shoulders which are like
boulders some farmer decided, perhaps

unwisely, merely to plough around.
And your voice makes almost no sound

as you whisper, “Help me, help, I’m
trapped in here,” as a joke, clearly,

as though your spirit were bound.
Yet I love you dearly, because

you show up when you say you will,
and your eyes emit no death rays,

nor are worms panicking as they crawl
from your earholes. Nor do you work

at Kentucky Fried Chicken. In fact,
you are like some odd goddess,

coming and going as though floating,
as though you’re making a point

of such gracefulness. As though you’re
the protagonist in a Spike Lee Joint.

• • •


what is our love

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

AH, WHAT is our love
if not an ever-evolving

thing? I’m sorry, I meant
ever-revolving thing

and meant “what is your
cylinder but an—?”

Depending on how
you spin its carefully

cleaned and oiled
chambers; SO LET US

not talk softly of love
or of your Dixie Derringer

or even of the silk pillow
under which I know

you’ve tucked it—you,
with all your amour fou,

as though that act
still works with me.

• • •


our bike shop

Friday, May 6, 2016

Three years ago, my son and I started a bicycle repair shop in Hillsborough, NC. It was the riskiest enterprise I’ve ever undertaken—but also the best, hugely helpful for not only my son and me, but also for his sisters, as it gave all of us a central gathering point in town. A place to work, a place to hang out. A place to walk back to after doing other stuff.

Right now we’re at a crossroads. Do we keep doing backalley repairs, or do we grow? We want to grow! I’ve done my best to tell the story –

Our customers have been AMAZING over the years. More than 500 people have brought almost a thousand bikes through our door, some for a new inner tube, most for a basic or mid-level tuneup. Sometimes we rebuild an entire bike.  Once we even restored a 19th-century penny farthing.

Would you please consider supporting our fundraiser?  We started the shop on the strength of an Indiegogo fundraiser, and we currently have NO DEBT.  We want to keep it that way, and we want to expand.



Thursday, May 5, 2016

I would not be the man I am—
this gentle, recurring presence—
had I not grown up among brothers
who looked out for me always,
who called my BS and laughed
as they walked away punching

each other’s shoulders. No,
I wouldn’t be this strong-stalked
sunflower, firmly rooted yet
facing skyward had I not been
planted among similar sunflowers,
whiskery, brave to the breeze,

at ease with themselves:
But I would not be telling these
lies had I not been an only son,
his own shadow, always leaning
forward into something I
didn’t understand or want.

• • •


so many poems

Saturday, April 30, 2016

How I tire of poems
with line-endings
and important messages
conveyed via imagery
and other literary devices.

How I long for you, instead,
your two eyes gazing
into mine—like miners
falling headlong
into mine shafts.

• • •


the difficult history of rabbits

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Coneys, they were once called—
and kittens were their young.
Rodents they were believed to be,
though herbivorous, cute,

and gregarious burrowers,
they actually were lagomorphs.
Are they pets? To say a coney
is gregarious is to note

it roves in vaguely defined herds,
not that it shows up in top hat
and waistcoat twirling its pocket
watch like an overzealous

New Orleans antiques dealer.
To declare such a beast a bunny
is to denigrate, at the least;
to encage and kill and then to skin

its fur leaving a long-eared
husk of what it was is worse.
And yet, how irritating
to encounter a rabbit knowing

it will merely steal or make
mischief: “A butcher was opening
his market one morning and as
he did a rabbit popped his head

through the door: Got cabbage?”
No wonder French monks
once believed them to be fish
and therefore fair for Lenten fare,

as squirrelly as they are
and quick: unfair game, perhaps.
No wonder Darwin inquired
into their tendency to tumble

into holes full of magic and rhapsody
and horror: Are they genetically
disposed to such transport?
Is therefore a stew or casserole

a mythic hole into which some hapless
trippers have fallen as into
as dream—only to be eaten,
and, if so, will they awaken?

• • •


why i crowdfund

Monday, April 25, 2016

In early 2013 my three kids and I were in a bad spot—emotionally, financially, maybe even spiritually. We had been in North Carolina for almost two years, having moved here to accommodate mom and dad’s divorce and separation into two households.  Awful for all of us.

When i got here, I didn’t have a job. By early 2013 I had been close on several jobs, to employment contract level, even. The latest job prospect (with a company called Divorce Care in Wake Forest) had been several months in the works, had reached employment contract review, etc., and finally, one April day, ended in a phone call: “We’ve decided to hold off on hiring this position.”

I was SO MAD.  Mad at Divorce Care, the universe, life, God, and mostly myself for apparently being so  incompetent that even as a divorcé with 20 years of marketing experience I couldn’t get a job as a marketer at a divorce company.

That evening, as so many evenings in 2012-13, the kids and i ended up at the Wooden Nickel Pub for a burger. They were more philosophical about it and just a tad caustic: “Dad, it’s OK.  Just don’t have a job.  Keep living in your crappy apartment. You’re a hipster poet, you can wander the streets.”

I was not so philosophical.  I raised my fist to heaven, right there on the sidewalk in front of Wooden Nickel, and screamed, “BUT I NEED A FUCKING JOB!!”

In front of my kids and the whole town.  Wow, i lost it. My son Elijah was so heartbroken by this display he said he would walk home (four miles).  The girls cowered, ready to be taken back to their mom’s house.

After the darkest night of the soul in years, i woke up realizing, “This can’t continue. We must make progress, however incremental.”  The only point of light I could think of was Eli’s volunteering at the Durham Bike Co-Op, which he had been doing for a year and had recently been assigned “mechanic on duty” during one of the open workshops.  He was only 14 but was handy with a wrench.

I proposed to Eli that we start a bike shop.  He was so cynical, even at 14, that he thought I was kidding—or worse, being cruel. He kept saying it wasn’t possible. I said, “Watch this,” in a typical dad moment.  We sat down and created an Indiegogo fundraiser.  I set it for $2500, since he said that’s how much tools would cost; I wrote it, and he reviewed it and clicked “launch this fundraiser.”  He had increased the ask to $3500. “We’ll probably need more, Dad,” he said.  This was now Eli’s thing.

As fate would have it, that fundraiser surpassed its goal.  So we did, actually, start a bike shop. Here’s what it looked like the day we opened:

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.20.01 AM

And soon there were newspaper articles written about us, lots of word of mouth, even a very cool video made by a film student at UNC, all of which you can see at  We’ve served over 500 customers, worked on almost a thousand bikes, and in our small way made the Hillsborough community a better place.

So yesterday we started a new fundraiser, and people have already given over $400:

Help Hillsborough Bicycle GROW on its 3rd Birthday

The first reason I embrace crowdfunding is that it lets us know that people care.  Starting a project or business can be a very lonely task.  Looking over a list of 60 people who have put their money behind your effort is encouraging in a way a bank loan—or even a singular personal gift—could never be. You get to meet the angels who actually do care about life, things going well, problems being solved. There’s no blessing like it.

The second reason is it keeps us out of debt. Debt, for a small business, should be a last resort option.  When you’re in a low-cash-flow type business like a bike shop, ideally you can pay your bills.  Bike shops (and similar businesses) are too small and risky to carry bank loans.  I’ve heard of bike shops in particular going out of business because they’d borrowed too much.

The third reason is it gives friends and community people a chance to underwrite something they care about—something that makes their community a better place. So, years later, when the project is still thriving (as Hillsborough Bicycle is), they can point to it and say, “I helped start that.”

With all that said, I want you to know THINGS ARE LOOKING UP for the Belzes in Hillsborough. I invite you to email Eli or me (, and to thrown $10 or $20 into the new fundraiser to help us meet our next goal.


Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 11.19.05 AM

Dad, Natalie, Eli – Fall 2013


poem in six parts

Monday, March 28, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 5.31.41 PM


Thursday, March 17, 2016

What junger Mann leaves Law,
in violation of his inheritance’s terms,
to indulge in Music? What mortal flaw

pushes a 19th C. Saxon that way,
from order to billowing desire,
or say, what ethereal fire

found young Robert that day
in Frankfurt when he first
heard Niccolò Paganini play?

“Butterflies,” he would later say.
“And the memory of butterflies
carried me away to piano, to Clara.”

“The ocean,” Clara would correct.
“The ocean and poetry turned
Robert’s neck toward the impossible.”

“And he ended up in hospital.”

• • •



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