Tuesday, September 23, 2008


driving westward through kansas
with the sun as it kisses identical fields
greeted by myriads of frilly gold-rimmed faces
along this endless asphalt conveyor
power lines converge into a single point


pretty soon you know what happens
horizon modulates from blue to charcoal
something about the sweetness of the air
blowing into the car playing a new tune
must be really letting loose


storms on the plains
change a life in the blink of an eye
they don't ask permission
static on the radio
still i must find out what's there


these times are for reflection
on the whys and whos that matter most
funny how risk scratches an itch
and that fragrance beckons a grin
i roll up the windows and venture on


(note that, as of now, I've never been west of Topeka in my entire life...)

Saturday, September 20, 2008


evening gets chilly
was it already that?
the moment she left
it all falls flat
air is heavier now
i don't want to admit
there's something about her
we're just some kids here
playing outdoor games
but after she leaves us
it's not quite the same
she's annoying at times
her jokes make no sense
and i don't wanna deal
with those subtle hints
still its such a downer
just down to us three
there's two younger boys
and then poor old me
how barely i notice
her blond locks dance about
what her presence adds
is what it's about

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Preacher and the Old Lady

Preacher goin' to see that old lady
Said he goin' get her saved this time
Preacher gonna call that ol' lady
She sho' gon get Jesus this time
He say, All she need is love sweet love
Hope to get her 'fore them cancer sticks do

Preacher went to see that old lady
Says he wanna talk about her soul
Preacher went to call that old lady
He sho' wan see about her soul
But she start praisin' her insurance man
'Fore he even got past tha' howdy-do

Preacher says to that ol' lady
You need th' Lord to help you through
Preacher done told that ol' lady
You best trust the Lord to hep' you through
She says my husbands they took care of me
'At's all I ever need to get me by

Preacher starts to leave he says now
When you ever gon make up yo' mind?
Preacher gets up to go and he say
Sister, when you gon change yo' mind?
She says Rev'rend wee'l surely talk again,
An' coughs, but I gots to live before I die

(With very special thanks to a very astute observer...)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Welcome To The Jungle

...it gets worse here every day

It was the middle of July of the year that formed the sandwich-meat of our Golden Age. A new band out of LA called Guns N' Roses had just unleashed their Appetite for Destruction, and as a metal purist of sorts I initially dismissed their sleazy names and greasy hooks as but a blip on the radar soon to fade back off the edge. Who knew.

I arrive and set my gift on the table on the rear portico. Mom had procured some smellgood shower splash from Avon and neatly donned it in paper featuring Garfield as he thought, You're Gifted, which Dana read aloud as she opened it. I hope you like it. I also hope Mom had me sign the card.

Perfect summer weather called for yard games, including jarts, and I watched in horror as Trent carelessly lobbed one only to land a few feet behind Brandon as he walked on, none the wiser. I suppose Steve was there if Trent was, but Steve had a way of matching the furniture at parties.

Dana had invited most of the church youth group along with others guilty by association. A couple of red-headed sisters were in a pageant it seems, and Dana only got along with the pastor's daughter Tina when it was convenient, which it evidently was not at the moment, despite the behest of Dana's dad.

There was also Stacy, the tall, silently strong Honduran, longtime neighbor of Char, who in turn was Dana's best friend, at least they said so. Even in the prior weeks Char had been trying to steal Kenneth. You should have seen her and Dana cling to him like flies on a turd until he made the choice.

Chuck rode with me, my best pal, for another year anyway. He was the one who convinced me which of the girls we knew were hot, at least as he saw it, except for Dana, whose charm you couldn't miss from the moon.

Her parents were present but invisible. I'm sure we ate so let's make it hot dogs or pizza and Doritos and melon slices, maybe some baked beans. Oh, and birthday cake. Sweet Sixteen, as Billy Idol sings. Dana sets up a boombox with the local hits radio since we're not at the church were you have to play Petra. We were our own.

honey we know the names we are the people that can find whatever you may need

The actual authority that evening seemed vested beneath the porch canopy, seated there Dana and Kenneth and Mario and Sally. Kenneth was your classic black sheep who Dana was on a mission to save. Rumors were already swirling about the other couple, and tonight he guarded her like prize money. We'd hear whispered R-rated accounts of their torrid times in her '83 Escort, usually parked near a reservoir, into nearly fall of the next year despite her parents, a pastor and wife, grounding her at every turn.

Stacy would eventually become one of the most successful among us, double-majoring in college and and going on to a good solid marriage.

During volleyball with everyone standing around, Char and her unavoidable glare responded to one of my barbs by shouting suck my left tit!

Still not sure what to think of that. Except, we were our own.

Besides, I could sometimes get Z-Rock radio out of Cleveland, in FM stereo, and would tape it, so who needs chicks? I wouldn't even want the right one. It would be weeks before she and I had an earnest conversation at a revival service. In the mean time, she tried to shorten my hair on the way back from Cedar Point. On my birthday.

Dana, that petite blond who added her own brand of substance to any mix, for her part, was the de-facto nerve center for our group during the rare times when we functioned. She would call you once in a while just to talk and pretty much kept up with everyone. Once she organized a party at church that dwindled down to herself and 2 others within the first ten minutes. Wasn't till years later I realized the prize was not to capture but to enjoy her, to share laughs and stories and be a friend for once.

The radio played Whitesnake's single version of Here I Go Again that they'd cut in a hasty studio set during their tour in Texas, this being the first time I'd heard it. More keyboards, less guitar, pppptttt.

Sally's brother Matt joined us, always jovial and animated, you tend to think he has no guile whatsoever. During v-ball we got to whining Guyyyys....c'mon, Guyyyyyys over and over purely for the sake of saying it. For whatever reason, as we all smacked the leathery white sphere over the net and chased it out of bounds the song in my head, Show Me The Night by a little-known band, was not the greatest ever but they sho nuff got the infectious groove down on that track.

learn to live like an animal the jungle where we play

We were all somewhat apprehensive of the unpredictable Kenneth with his sneaking out, the dope, the alleged fights, and his dad would often just drop him off at her house, a rebel with no clue why he's stuck on this girl who keeps her world in a tidy lil box, and, for all we know, gift-wrapped.

After a while we drift across the road to the grounds of the church-school Dana attends, no one knowing why, as if it matters. Stacy was trying to ride the handle bars of a 20" bike that Kenneth had commandeered. What was it about him and anyone nearby that held your attention? We were afraid of what he might do, and he's afraid he can never become one of us. His original plan, Dana tells me later, was to drop off his gift and leave.

In the youth room seated next to a previous beau, Sally sang I'm on my way I'mmm makin' it, that familiar chorus from the radio, several times one day, the sparkle in those brown eyes desperate for us to crack the code. Ironically she didn't get pregnant until a year after she and Mario split, and not by him.

Mario was not a hood like Kenneth. By now he had shed his attitude and was pretty cool, but make no mistake, he was no less than superhuman with the ladies. Seems our other don juan Jimmy may have moved to Florida by then, either way, you just didn't see him often.

watch it bring ya to your shananananananana knees knees

By the next Spring there were beach parties at the local man-made lakes that I never went to and I mostly talked to Tina, until her family moved away. GN'R by then was giving the pristine Def Leppard Hysteria sound a run for its money. I didn't have cable at home but my new girlfriend's TV perpetually featured Axl and Slash smoking their way through low-key interviews on MTV. Critics and rockers and even new converts were blown away by their seminal debut, the devil-may-care depiction of a depraved urban hell, a sonic conflagration of sin and despair complete with a scull-laden Crucifix on the cover and Sweet Child O' Mine for a gospel.

Our innate insecurities and mutual animosities seemed near a boiling point, as those feeling strong tore into those we perceived weak and flawed, juvenile savage amusement at its finest.

Char asked me if my gal pal and I were behaving properly, out of concern, she assured me.

We were our own.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Got a call the other day from my folks, they're great, but I guess one of the older guys from church is mostly bedridden these days. Grady liked to look out for us young dudes. Once, at Easter, he asked us to not stand around the front door as people were coming in since it “didn't look good”. I never really understood what that meant since we were all wearing suits, like he was. And then there were the days, or weeks at least, as some of us were shooting hoops in the gym before the evening service he would time quarters with that old conductor's watch he carried, the same one used to determine when it was time for us to settle down in the sanctuary. Once I was sitting near the back pew and came out to get a drink, and sure enough, as I wet my whistle there was Grady standing there with a grave look asking whether this was necessary so early in the service. I suppose I had no business disrupting the order of things with my frivolous biological impulses.

At any rate I hear his wife Freda is holding up well. She's the one who taught children for 150 years and used to look around as we prayed to make sure we were being revern't. You've got to be revern't. she'd grunt, shaking that seemingly ten-jointed finger as she justifies all she'd been taught and reared, all with the ardor of a seventh-grade cheerleader. After all, if it was good enough for the Apostle Paul then it's good enough for Freda and more than enough for these supple-souled young'uns. Other teachers didn't share Freda's attention to detail and she often challenged them, which is probably why she was often chosen for leadership. Who knows, maybe some people express their love in the form of tireless devotion to duty.

Lately, seeing them withered, becoming less and less relevant to the thrust of life in that little church, I can't help but yearn for perspective. I mean, who's gonna show us the righteous path once the faithfuls are gone?

Monday, September 1, 2008


what if I don't have enough in common with you to really hit it off?
what if a tree falls on the car of a coworker's aunt as she drives through a storm?
what if it were a bird that nabbed that huge spider from its web beneath the gutter out back?

why are legal pads so expensive?

what if I take a girl to a movie and she slurps the last bit of my pop just as I reach for a drink?
what if I see something horrible happen to someone right outside my window?
what if I don't make it to the bathroom some day?

why get so worked up about stuff?

what if I am asked to do something differently than how I'd planned right in the middle of an awful mood?

why is it we always seem to have mixed motives?