I should have been a pair of ragged claws - Underbelly

In the blue tone of light scattering throughout the club, I stood completely still. Enraptured. I was captured by the spoken words of black voices, passionate and articulate, commanding my full attention from the first harshly uttered sentence. I wish I had had the presence of mind to take pictures but I was too busy trying to absorb every single detail that I could.

I had wandered in alone, but you left our friends to check on me. Your arm snaked around me from my right shoulder to rest your hand on my left, large and masculine and safe; glistening gold. I wanted you to know that you were welcome there, touching me in that way that resonates with love and adoration, a simple gesture vibrating the very air around us. My cheek rested against your skin and my lips brushed against your wrist. I sighed, happy and deep. The very picture of simple bliss in the form of two people, not now or ever in a relationship together, still coming together with love.

I can’t express it quite well enough, the happiness thrumming peacefully through my heart. It could have been the fact that my eyes were artificially dilated and I was feeling very happy about everything surrounding me but I felt it deep down in that second just how sublime I feel to have a friend like you, to have the love and affection of someone like you, a wild man with mountain music flowing from your fingers.

I count myself lucky to have you among the characters I keep. I count myself lucky to know so many characters - intelligent hillbillies, country music singers, and washed up artists; poets in waistcoats and dreadheads with fiddles. Glassblowing professors and tall men in beanies, twinky anime angels with a ghetto flavor.
 I love every single hair on every one of these heads. 


Summer Solstice at Fiveacrespread

I spent an incredible weekend at Fiveacrespread - a farm in Northeast Florida - to celebrate the summer solstice. These are some of my pictures from my overnight stay, and the words that were consequently fueled. 

The sacrifical pyramid - to be burned
Corey and Alex displaying our fabric suns to be added to the bonfire

I dropped the veil again and rose the curtains, stepping into and through the stage.
I sang before the audience and then they sang to me.
Performer and performance and perfect pedestal are one,
presented in packaging of Platonic ideal.

I was mid-swing and mid-song, the words beginning to form with no effort and as elegantly as the easy back and forth of the slatted porch swing, and finally the floating oak limbs began to undulate, gently, in time with my sure and steady voice.

I sang for whomever would listen, not because I wanted to but because I couldn’t have stopped the twirling strains of melody from escaping my helpless throat. Not even if I had wanted to.

I sang not because I had been granted permission (and definitely not because I had asked) but because the rising and falling turns of song were beckoned from me by a friend’s hazily insistent fingers on an acoustic guitar.
“Come, give it to me. Sing to me.”

Each tiny groan of approval was a drop of gasoline finding its way to my combustion chambers.
Sparking me; his nimble fingers finding their places in the assembly line like seasoned factory workers.

When he stopped playing and my voice quieted, there was clapping.
I swelled with the addition of a new emotion; pride.
Oh what it is to switch from watcher to watched – what it is to stand before a calculated bonfire and watch it burn in collective elation only to turn and feel the same smolder growing within my own veins.
To feel the warmth alight on my skin in the gentlest of vibrations.

Fire fans the fire dance

This is what it is to pay attention.

This is what it is to carefully collect each instance of “mundane” and preserve them all in my secret holding place, transforming each and lovingly stripping the title of “trivial” and christening anew.
Nothing is inconsequential, nothing deserves to be overlooked. Not the slight skew of your hat’s flap on the left side of your whiskey-flushed face, nor the regal collar of sweat-darkened fabric ‘round his entire upper chest- shoulders and collarbones drenched from hours on the farmhouse porch.

The devil’s in the details, sure, and that’s why we’re such good friends.

Each mosquito was a minor penance for every hour I’ve wasted in front of a television set;
every speck of dirt on my ankles a reminder of my true coloring, marked by the earth which bore me.
Nothing is insignificant, nothing deserves to be excluded from devoted symbolic analysis.
Not the wide-eyed stare of toes stepping across the line demarking genius from insanity and not the alien landscape of the marsh at low tide under a super moon’s beaming. 

Red and green rays of laser-precise illumination scattered through my hair,
lighting my strands and glittering past, granting a celestial nobility.


"I am a galactic activation portal – enter me."

Lasers illuminating lengths of spider threads

I don’t mind a long trip – I have never been one to grow bored of my own mind. I entertain myself all the time.
I pass the hours with ease and no small amount of whole affection, expecting nothing and appreciating all. 
Every division from the itinerary is a welcome chance for adventure.I fear no new face, I fear no twists nor turns.

I accept the unknown as a new friend – no need for obsessive introspection, 
no need for worry at the dense and ever-shifting night.

I travel armed with flashlights and the thrill of fire in my sight.

Oh what it is to traipse through moonlit brush dewy-wet and cool against my bitten skin.
To sit close on a porch surrounded by the blessings of creative presence and love for art’s expression.
To meet the others who know what it is to sit in awe of “nothing.”

I am so drawn to front doors that remain open through the wee hours of morning, presenting a clear view of guitars all in a line – save for the few plugged into amplifiers at my feet. I am drawn to the simplest feeling of black cord snaked under my legs and dog fur grasped by my hand, laying myself next to the slumbering beast.

“I want to feel what he feels.”

I want to lay flat on the porch and give as much of a shit about it as this giant white dog. 
I want to lay in the dirt and swish bugs with my tail. 
I want each and every person to scratch between my ears.

I want to be a still and silent observer as the guitar reverb hums around me,
not just for a stretch of graveyard hours on a warm June night but every day.

How do I catch this feeling? Do I run after with both hands outstretched and trap it in mason jars?
There aren’t enough jars in the world to contain this open-eyed fervor.


A disguise for every occasion

I’m challenged in the way I can’t stand to say no to a challenge. 
I’m challenged in the way that the thought of someone having a less than superior view of me, encounter with me, decision of me, drives me a little insane.

I’m challenged in the way that this alone is enough to stoke up a new blaze in a handful of charred cinders.

The truth is I’m a bit adrift.
The truth is I’m a bit adrift, which is fine but I recognize I have no real ability to control my direction or even know which way it is that I am going.

I have no real ability to be objective about my status on the planet in regards to fuck-up vs. not-a-fuck-up.
I suppose it depends on who you’d ask, the answer to that one.

The idea that members of my family might view me as a fuck-up (but she had so much potential – she was in gifted for so many years! She read all the time! She could have been a lawyer or a doctor, that one) surficially amuses me. Yet I feel equally, amidst the laughter and the shrugging of my shoulders, these empty caverns resonating that negativity in low rumbles like painfully trapped gas.

Somedays the invisible glue that keeps me in this desk chair weakens, just the slightest bit, and I have a sharp and sudden awareness that I could at any point in time choose to stretch my legs and run from here. It is a restless snap of a second. It is a euphoria of heights like mountainside farms and my figure tending over wooly sheep; it is a sadness like a family that loves but doesn’t like you, forcing you to keep your distance. It is the whole knowledge of what “out there” means and the reaches of risk that I know I can’t fathom. 

The bond restrengthens, a vile nonsentience intent on keeping me, and I begin the cycle of validations once more.


Memorial Park

 As per usual, the themes of youth and aging and all of the gnarly thoughts that go along with them are weighing heavy on my shoulders. I can’t help it though – life seems to swirl me around to the same few historic spots, over and over again, and each time I visit I can put my fingers on the layers of time building up.

“This is where you clasped me close, and where we made our dreams.
This is where you said goodbye that first, hardest time.”

This is where I stood when you came back, present in the moment but also years away – superimposing the ghosts of other Yous and Mes on top of us. This is where I stood when you were here but desperate to leave again, and I am standing here again waiting for you to go back inside.

I have hardened myself against the knowledge that when you turn to go inside, I will not follow like the puppy-dog I was at 16. It’s the same house I slept in alongside your warmth, but we are not the same, and all of the complicated feelings that grow over years of love and leaving are hanging in this sticky summer air.

This time you are slow to go, and I lean against the hood of my car, the scarlet metal hot on my skin. It is late, past midnight, and I am in a limbo of waiting for you to go and be done with it but also soaking in each time you hug me goodbye just to start new conversation. You are spilling over with things to tell me and I want them all. I want your words and I want the implication of your words, that I am still someone your heart wishes to talk with. I am still important, and I am still someone you want to share with. It is a validation I needed.

Each goodbye hug is longer than the last, bringing us closer to the clasping point of so many years ago.
I have hardened myself against the departures of the ones I love, giving them a little of me to take with them for safekeeping... The only problem is each time you come back only to leave again I give you a little more, creating pock marks in my heart to add to the already dimpled and pitted surface, making my heart uneven. 
Exposing the metronomic beating, ticking off the days with rhythmic pounding.
Listen: can you hear it? “Give… Give... Give... Give...”

Growing older means growing more holes, more chunks of my flesh taken by those to whom I happily give.
And give, and give again.

And I don’t mean “give” as in “all I do is give and give and give and everyone just wants to take.” 
No, I do not mean that.

I mean “give” as in:
 “I carefully prepared this delicious meal that I would like to give to you, so you know I love you.”

I mean “give” as in :
“Do you want this? Let me give it to you.”

I mean “give” as in:
“I am giving this piece of my heart to you so that you know that you always have a place here, no matter how long you are gone.”

I mean “give” as in:
“I am giving in to the forces that keep me apart from the many-splendored and disparate owners of Me.”

This is not a bitter giving – bittersweet, yes.
This is not a giving that I would take back, even though it forces drops of saline down my cheeks.
I will give, and give, and give until I bawl over the magnitude of all of the love I have, all of the loves I have.

In fact, even as these cheeks puff up from crying and tears track down my face, I find myself so full. The sadness is just a part of the love, and I’ll pay the price. Even in times when I feel so very hollow because of the people I love that are not close to me, when I find myself thinking of a particular far-away face or a particular far-away memory, I embrace this agony. Agony may seem harsh but it fits when I picture people that have left my daily sphere and entered the land of no communication – how do you speak to someone you can’t see? I am the type to lapse into silence when faced with distance because I can’t allow myself to be ok with giving less than 100%. I want to see you, and your face, and instead of listening now to context clues of how lonely you have been I would choose to cradle you to sleep when you are sad and push my fingers into the tense muscles of your face and shoulders. I want to take care of you. I can’t do that from here, and instead of still reaching out with the limited grasp I have, well… I shut down entirely until the blessed second I see you again.

Until the blessed second I can get my fix of you and give you another piece of me to take home.



Instead of fighting it –
my feet free and spread out
underneath expanses of cold comforter –
I embrace it. I crash on couch cushions
made from the fabric of the dead,
and my shoulder aches for it.
It aches for you.

You find no sleep in normalcy,
no sleep in the strike of midnight.
Sleep instead finds you and drags you
unwilling with mouth agape and limbs curled up –
and then beside you it finds me.

Sleep and I are friends like old lovers leisurely laced together
with knowing glances and plans to meet,
and Sleep understands why I am here tonight.
There is a love of mine flash frozen on the floor,
unnaturally positioned, at my feet,
from where Sleep snuck in to steal him
and I am here because there is no other place for me.

The contortion
of arms and legs all stiff
and unwieldy
from sleeping on our sofa
is a price I’ll pay to have our skin
kept safe in shared slumber.


No Water

It’s the quiet love stories that I am interested in – the loves that never get spoken of, never get any semblance of fulfillment – the loves laden with the kinds of promises that leak from the beginning. 

The loves that hold no water. 

The loves that can be acknowledged only dimly in the back recesses of thought processes, the loves that get tucked away in storage units. Too precious to throw away, not important enough to warrant throwing everything else away.




I’ve never found a way to be angry over misplaced drops of scalding hot coffee - even as it explodes outward into the fabric of my denim shorts and sneaks close to warm my skin - and I don’t know if I am more enlightened or if maybe everyone else has more sensitivity in certain neural matter than I do.

Another incident that points me in the same conclusory direction is the sound of my voice trying to convey the feeling of whole and perfect bliss found in sweeping leaves off a dear friend’s porch and woefully falling short. But how am I supposed to explain the glow of acceptance welling in my heart from performing someone else’s household chores alongside them - what closer access is there to the inside than to help polish the rocks into the gems put on display? To see the start AND the middle, to witness bickerings and making-ups, forehead kisses and shared jokes... to take a baby on a walk around the block, her parents at home taking advantage of the free time.

...and that to stand in the golden hour with broom in hand is to feel the welcomed weight of trust, the realizations of mutual respect and love. To look at growing blisters on my hands with fondness and a feeling of accomplishment, to skip over “dread” at doing chores and relish each moment. To give my full attention to what I am doing and cherish the task, and at the same time allow my brain the freedom to skip the scene entirely to float along and think about anything. Oh, to find joy in work.

It is my goal to let people discover, if they pay attention, the depths of my immediate affection.
That I delight in helping with chores because seeing them happy makes me happy, that my involvement in these domestic team sports means they want me in a jersey with my own spot on their field.

Oh, to have a collection of jerseys in my closet, hanging still and safe for access at any time.
VIP passes into a family for a day.

Oh, to have a pack.

But imagine the disconnect when I try to explain that cleaning up a septic tank’s worth of labrador diarrhea was actually not that bad, just something I had to do, because my brother and sister in law trusted me enough to grant me entry into their home to watch their dog and key to their car to drive while they were gone. Can you understand that thought process? Bent over, trying not to retch, feeling more love for my adopted family and concern for their pet than disgust or anger at the task before me. 

Even if I had the time or off-the-cuff eloquence there is simply no way I can speak an entire essay anytime someone asks me what I did this weekend so I say, smiling proudly, that I swept a porch. That I cleaned up dog shit. 
That I am an invited member, present for day to day minutiae, and that the thought of my membership makes me beam with pride.

I just want it known that the clear Epicurean happiness I feel when I’m working side by side with people I deeply respect is easily the most profound and fulfilling sensation I have ever felt.