Sky Diving

The sky and sea run parallel, or so it seems.                    Sky

Contiguous, at least, as free attachment,

committed only to movement and time.

While the sea chuckles in currents

as the day and nighttime shifts

clasp her–as does the sky–

she buoys who lap her up

or swallows them down, 

floating or drowning,

life-giving or taking; 

Yet he hovers his 

companion there–

free-fall suspended–

in shallow-air support.

She who risks his domain

will surely succumb, sink below

surface silhouettes traveling rippled

rivulet toe tips, riding her once-in-a-lifetime.                      Sea


Taco Love: Ten for Today

Another night. Of course, I had to. He tries so hard. And it is taco Tuesday all over the world, right? Okay, all that matters is he wants to feed me to say thanks. He believes I saved his life. But I simply nursed him back to health. He saved his own life. No one can save another’s life, not if he doesn’t want it saved.
His meds have changed him. Some would say for the better. He’s loving, kind and sentimental. Before he was mean, sad, angry and mournful, broken up with biting moments of crass humor or cutting sarcasm. We actually were more amused when he was an awful curmudgeon. I mean awful. The kids laughed at his foulness, how he’d get pissed off and tell his grandchildren to fuck off, or I hate that fucking kid referring to one of the small neighborhood children.
Not that he meant any of it–or not for long. He had no patience. He still doesn’t; he just doesn’t care. He’s Celexa free-bodied now. Numbed to the pain. Some would wonder why all the pain. But I know. I see him suffer in rage and frustration. That life he thought was promised, the kind with growing old with your wife of 63 years, bickering, holding hands and reminiscing.
He was always himself with her, no matter how much that meant the ogre unleashed his ugly all over us, all over the place. But he could apologize and laugh and lie peacefully in spooned sleep, snoring away the reality of another 12 hour day on his feet in the noise, no one treating him right, yet his duty, loyalty and ethics marching on, always.
On time. He had to be on time, always. Not miss any days in the factory go round. Proud of his stamina and responsibility. If anything, he’s been responsible and enduring. Sisyphus and the invisible rock.
And after all those years, those endless hours watching, walking, minding the machines, his retirement a promise of hundreds if not thousands of dealt hands and studied numbers (he’s a card counter and that’s why he’s so good), he finds her gone, only her bodily remains shadowing him like the cool shady relief of memory. But she’s a wound too.
So he feeds me. He thinks it’s love. I take it. My belly begs me not to. Because it’s not enough to love me two tacos large. It’s always four taco love, despite my refusal. Today, I ate. Burp.   

Crowded in Bars

Sit in a crowded bar.

Hear the roar of intelligible volume.

Music bass beats disrupting cardiac rhyme.

Shouts, whispers and laugher, all a boom.

Fist bumps and swaying good cheer.

Love and loneliness conflate, swill in beer glass

Bottoms, oh where can I feel this good again?

And why the price to pay bankrupts me.

Write in a thumping pub.

Stool side bar lined drinkers and snackers,

I buzz along the page, noting the din, 

An elf pit padding by, no a child.

A child? 

Bar strip invisible barriers to the dining room,

No walls, balloons, kids and family, clinking wine

Glasses and frosted mugs, steins, clicks, smiles, shouts

Above the music, lyrics swallowed in the mêlée of 

Motion and shoveled appetizers and gin, hospitality

And bused trays of bitten bits, refuse, waste, prolifligate

Posterity to posh sea and salt surroundings, spirits and

Song and gathering grand mirrored cheer, happiness

In a thin stemmed crystal–and you, out there somewhere

Celebrating your birth, the wonder of survival,

without me, alone with all of your friends

And family, a beer or so inside your belly, thinking of us,

Being with them, and both alone in our own movies.

Food’s here–finally.
And so it is, writing in a bar.
Biting at words.
Sculpin IPA on tap.
Payday a week away.
Summer squash in fall, I had to.
No more, no reason.
Ready to say,
“I’ve been out this Friday night.”
Every day’s sameness.
Writing at my desk,
The confines of my chested blues.
Like a cliché gone staler.
But after just one. More.

Pub: pixabay

On either side of the black hole: Ten for Today

September 23, 2016

She smiled. Big, rangy, opened mouth, showing teeth in disarray, pebbly whites leaning this way and that. She might have passed on the 6 years of braces and a jaw breaking operation to fix her over bite had she known.

It’s been weeks, maybe months since I’ve seen one. Stoic, plaster of Paris’d grimace with etched, rheumy eyes of wandering distant dimensions cast her face in alabaster stillness most days. But this one came with direct eye contact–so rare these days–followed by an electrocution of recognition, and light, light, oh heavenly light in her eyes. 

She was happy to see me. I said, “I love you,” and with doughy mouth, corners tucked upright into flaccid folds as if hung on clothesline wooden clips to her cheekbones, she garbled a few syllables in reply. And then she made a silly face, rolled her eyes, wobbled her head side to side, like a drunken clown, and muttered a mocking kind of bubbubbub with her deliberately deep voice. Sarcastic self-deprecation, her specialty. As if to say, what the fuck can I utter with this face, with this chaotic, misfiring, brittle brain disconnected from its humanity? 

“I miss you, Mom.” I didn’t want her to see the ache. So I smiled even larger. If I could make her know. If I could just…

6 seconds and it was over. We lost ourselves once more to our distant galaxies, each on either side of the black hole.

Black hole:

Coddled College Kiddies: Ten for Today

It’s the gap. I teach from 1 to 3 then 5:30-9:45 on Wednesdays. So, I work in the adjunct faculty room in between classes, lounged on the couch, correcting papers as it so happens today. Last night, I had 8 more to correct for tonight’s class, which is right next door to the faculty room. 

Two other young instructors inhabit the room. A knock at the door, and I let in a muscular, sleeveless t-shirted young man, who could be a very young adjunct (they all look young these days) or a student. He drops his backpack next to one of the room inhabitants as he whisks past me without so much as an acknowledgement of my existence. He is intent.

Beginning with a list of his laudatory behavior loudly proclaimed–I completed this chapter, did this review…Will there be a quiz on this today?–he engages his young, dark, curly haired instructor with the milk chocolate skin and thick, black eyebrows. She has a gentle manner. 

“Yes, good, good. Very good…”

But then he moves on to the speech he made the other day in class, when he came to class dressed up in formal clothing, something not so easy for an out of state student who pays high fees to attend. 

“It’s unfair, you know. You kind of beat me down, took my wind a little, you know. I mean it was a great idea, dressing up, and then, you know, you go make it a requirement that everyone has to dress up. And it’s not fair. You know what I’m saying?”

She’s listening patiently, and so am I, though my thoughts are racing with this kid’s typical college student at this community college by the beach stance: the classroom is a democracy and I get to voice my feelings about what the teacher did, how it’s run. I shake my head motionlessly. 

He would do well to sit in on my class where I make it clear that college is not a right but a privilege. Don’t take my class if it doesn’t suit you. It’s not high school. There are other teachers for this intro course.

“I am trying to understand you. What’s not fair?” She replies to Mr. Whiny pants.

“Well, I thought of the idea of dressing up and then you make it a requirement. You know some people can’t afford to dress up for a class, like lower income people. And you made it a requirement. But you know I thought of it, kind of my advantage, you know, and then you made it for everyone to do. You took away my leg up.”

I groan–audibly. I’m not cut out for teaching any more, maybe. I get my carcass up from the couch and leave the room. 

Decay Doldroms for the Season: Ten for Today

September 19, 2016

I haven’t written in a while, not here on the blog anyhow. Not for ten minutes or any minutes. My time has been taken up with ghost blogging and raising some cash. Writing under deadline drains me. That and mid-night walks with the puppy. Not sure how I’m still standing and working this late hour.

Jump starting the ten minute write is just what I need to get my groove back. I fear the return of the malaise, the block—the doldrums. Don’t want to go back there where I could not write a word as my mind swore there were no more to write. The mind trap viciously snaps shut. Sometimes it feels as if there is nothing to be done about it.

Another September, approaching fall, which has always been my favorite season, full of the color of dying, a ravaging display of decay and splendorous leaf parades (not that we get that much here in Southern California) and summer heat relief. There will be an Indian summer here in a bit—if the weather isn’t totally deranged as it has been (no such thing as global warming). But then the crisp Halloween night will remind me that it’s fall, time to bring the crockpot down from its box atop the refrigerator.

I like cold weather foods—roasted root vegetables and butternut squash soups and pumpkin everything (not latte, please)—and I like cold weather wear: big bulky sweaters, leather boots and wool beanies. No, there’s no snow here, but we can look like we are expecting it at any moment. Pullover sweaters are the reason for the season.

The year winds down. The count down to my most unfavorite time of the year, holidays and forced cheer, overspending and time pressures. This year I may find myself alone for the holidays with my family going overseas, but I think I might welcome that more than dread it. Perhaps not on Christmas Eve, but that’s never been my tradition, except for my kids’ sake, and so I’m always slightly estranged from the spirit and light of it.

I might actually get time off without the hassles of shopping—my least favorite thing to do—and agonizing over selecting, wrapping and presenting gifts. I’m not a Scrooge. Just over it after too many seasons. Ah, who am I kidding? I am Scroogie.

Puppies, Language and Gender: Ten for Today

September 14, 2016
Between classes in the adjunct faculty lounge, I researched a little for those 600-word blog posts due in a couple days and then decided to lie a bit on the couch before my class in an hour. Teaching a two-hour afternoon class and a four-hour night class, Wednesdays are double espresso shots over ice with soy milk days. It’s just too long. And with the sleepless night discovering that 5-week old Husky puppies howl like wolves when they’re small, scared and lonely at night, I almost went for a third shot. That might have made me jump up and down in class, scaring students.
The lounge/work station/office is usually empty when I enter with maybe one or two other adjuncts tapping keys or eating lunch. Today there were two, then just me for a stretch, until five minutes ago when the mom-toned, 50-ish, Spanish teacher came in with the young Vietnamese student. She encourages the young man with the thick Vietnamese accent in her thick Spanish accent. She is gentle. He is intent, trying to understand nuance, detail and idiosyncrasy of the language. He frets over Spanish gender words.
For good reason. Gender confuses me too these days. I agree with Judith Butler and many who followed after her: gender stretches out over the arced spectrum of identity, biology and psyche. Binaries are a relic from a bygone era. But the English language hasn’t caught up to reality, how people live. It lags. Pronouns shift; grammar is slow to follow. The plural “they” is now more apt a singular designation for the individual, neuter, than a plural. 
But aren’t we all a plurality of identities? Ethnicity, nationality, biology, anatomy, culture, class, IQ, ideology, lifestyle, and a myriad of other particulars–including gender? Tracking gender in language, on government forms and in questionnaires is obsolete.