Winter Poetry

The Menzingers – The Bars

This list (which may repeat some poems I posted on here) is a compilation of 10 semi-edited poems I submitted during my winter term intro to poetry course. I hope you enjoy some of them.

 

Shade Is His Enemy:

I watched a lizard for about an hour;

He didn’t move.

I watched the same lizard for another hour;

He didn’t move

I looked at the weeds next to him growing;

Casting shad to the side of him.

Soon he’d have to move.

The shad is his enemy.

Move damn you.

Move!

He didn’t move.

The sun set.

He didn’t move.

 

We’ll Make Sure of That:

A couple lovable leeches

Jealous of Jeff because he reaches the best leaves–

And it’s only after adulthood that we stop believing violets are blue

And start saying like, “fuck,”

And “I’m the one that’s blue.”

What a waste of talent;

Like Planet of The Apes,

But with no apes.

 

Poison Abalone:

That’s how this radiation story begins

With the Illuminati and a tiger religion.

All handing out lion infusions

Like nobody would notice the minerals of emotion in North Korea’s water.

It’s a devil evaluation by unknown politicians.

Where Hollywood dragons travel block to block, shielding prostitutes.

And God cursed these devils with evil rickets and lonely hearts.

Daisy and I danced to the shitty music,

At the moment it was rather magnetic, I agreed.

And my poor, fragile, deltoid felt like jigsaw fangs under my dress coat.

The tip of fragile slug looked like panties slopped with placenta.

We ignored the prayers emanating from paper cars

And shoveled Haas avocados down the throats of sharks.

That was the year the sun shut off its glow.

 

Crabs:

The figure rose from somewhere unseen

Dimming moonlight from on the precipice

Climbed and clawed its way to me

Eating,

Stuffing its mouth with dead fish

I knew it wasn’t,

But it had to be.

And the gangrenous tendrils wrapped

Its shredded loose-leaf material around

The grasped claws with dead fish trapped

Buried it within the confines

Deeper and deeper into the ground.

The garbage, by such a creep, given grief

On which the same has grown

And the melted wall’s dissolved mush

Flooded the lung, as the creep crawled on.

 

13 Ways of Looking at Life:

  1. A rooster illusion
    On the horned back thorns of a dinosaur
  2. That boys got the devil in him
    Lobotomy
  3. Commercialism at its finest
    Socio-economic trends
  4. Coordinated furs make for perfect animal pairs
  5. Go ahead and substitute me
    With your newfound abundance of grief
  6. Steered ships with arthritic hands!
    Powered a lighthouse for the blind
  7. Gentlemen dressed in rags
    Spent all our free time at the wishing wells
    Muttered well wishes to wish everybody well
  8. She smiled at me, but her teeth were black
    I gritted mine and managed a smile back
  9. Laid in the dirt with the bodies and the worms
  10. Placed my hands on the hide
    Felt the trembling in my chest
  11. The fighting pit was no longer fun
  12. Continue burning the candles
    At both ends
  13. Keep cutting your teeth
    C’est La Vie

 

A Bond as Strong as Steal:

A gathering of pork skins

and a murder of crows,

where heroes go to die young.

Sheep wool strangling a child,

a bond as strong as steel

the likes of which might steal your heart.

Or steal a steely look at your bride,

yours, the one you love,

the one you’d die for.

The one you got high and left

because she slept with your best friend

your most well-dressed friend.

The friend you protected

in the car crash that took you,

the car crash that separated you and your wife.

 

A Hero’s Welcome:

a dog destined for destruction

well-equipped and armed

dressed to the nines with nails and narcotics

ready to riddle the enemy

tagged to the wall and medicated

strong enough to be forgotten

but weak enough to never forget.

 

River of Life:

River of life, run through me

Unhindered, teach me to breathe

Dear river, I feel it.

Finally free

To find a field to fester in

Forgiven, never forgotten

For, given the freedom, families fall apart

And friendships ferment,

In foil frozen.

Forest of fire, give life freely

Because it is I that stands at the end

I alone and soon I’ll find it.

A place to hand my hat and my skin

For I saved my money, but it won’t save

Me

Sleeping with serpents,

Sacrificing suffrage for sustenance,

Suffering in similar pitches but softer sounds

Suffering sweetly to save face.

 

Hear Me Out:

Lend me your ear!

Or at least give me a hand.

I don’t have a leg of my own to stand on.

I’m more willing to speak about things in public

Than I am to partake in public speaking.

You’d think as my metaphorical ship sinks,

That I’d try to find land. Nope.

Here I go, down with it.

I am the captain now.

And you haven’t lived until you’ve sat through class

Or work still stoned from the edible you had the

Night before AND on a microdose that you thought

Would ease you out of the marijuana high but just

Intensified the lingering effects and drew it out

Over about nine hours or so.

A banana hammock is just a relaxed monkey.

 

Whiter Shade of Pale:

Stare at the corner table.

Notice all the books on its surface.

Did you really notice ALL the books?

Look at the vibrancy of the ones on the top of the stacks,

The ones that, by deduction, you know get picked up

More often than the others.

The ones that are drab and white and grey.

They like attention, too.

Go over, grab one of those drab looking fellas.

Like that book, I imagine, you often feel drab and white and grey.

You wait for that one brief fleeting moment to feel vibrant like

All the other books on the stacks on that table in the corner.

You feel as important.

At some point, you lost your color, though.

Somebody got ahold of you and showed you things.

Like where to cut and edit and develop.

Handed you a brush, sent you to the printer,

And glossed over the vibrancy.

And now here you are.

Half-finished.

Drab and white and grey.

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13 Ways Of Looking At Life (A Poem)

The Chariot – David de la Hoz (this song is not for the faint of heart)

1. A rooster illusion
On the horned back thorns of a dinosaur

2. That boys got the devil in him
Lobotomy

3. Commercialism at its finest
Socio-economic trends

4. Coordinated furs make for perfect animal pairs

5. Go ahead and substitute me
With your new found abundance of grief

6. Steered ships with arthritic hands!
Powered a lighthouse for the blind

7. Gentlemen dressed in rags
Spent all our free time at the wishing wells
Muttered well wishes to wish everybody well

8. She smiled at me but her teeth were black
I gritted mine and managed a smile back

9. Laid in the dirt with the bodies and the worms

10. Placed my hands on the hide
Felt the trembling in my chest

11. The fighting pit was no longer fun

12. Continue burning the candles
At both ends

13. Keep cutting your teeth
C’est La Vie

I Am… (A Poem)

I am the outgroup. The snake oil peddler. The different, the derogatory, the non-conformist. The Impersonator. “Psycho Jack,” the schizoid, the anxious, the believably split personalities.

The one that can’t fit into your skin.

The dissociated, the chastised, the rubber ducky, bath time, bedtime, dinner time.

The dream sequence. Inception. Leonardo DiCaprio and da Vinci.

The Illuminati. The world leaders. The strange. The unknown, off his rocker, the gentleman.

The Alaskan Bull Worm, Bikini Bottoms. The starfish and the sponge.

Your neighbor, Bob. I am Robert; I am Richard; I am Dick if you see it that way.

The douchebag at the gym. The gym bag full of douches. The girl with the guns. The gun show.

The debate over gun control, the controlled repetition.

I am the rapper, the rock star, the rapist. The big red.

The FDA, the DEA, LSD, PCP, the USA, the UK, the A-K.

The bullets, the caskets, And Everything In Between.

 

Dropped The Ball

The Menzingers – Lookers

I done goofed. I missed a week. Funny how things workout.

It was midterm, though, hopefully that’s justifiable.

I’m handling school well though. Got myself a puppy (chihuahua/pit bull mix—weird, right?). Working on a bunch of poetry and a couple short stories right now. Slow chugging against the constant current of a full course load at university. I’ll post a couple poems here in a second.

As I’ve mentioned, I am a veteran. I go to school off of the GI Bill, which covers up to 36 months worth of school. A professor of mine recently told me I should look into a double major. Currently, I’m a creative writing major and a psychology minor, but this professor, the same one pushing me to apply for graduate programs, believes that, to maximize the use of my GI Bill, I should pursue a double major.

I crunched the numbers today and realized I need 118 credits total to finish both degrees and the university’s general ed requirements. Roughly that equates to 18 credits per term for 6 terms and a 7th term with about 10 credits (2 years and 1 term worth of quarters). I have already been in school for 2 terms and amassed 75 credits through military training and my work at the university. So, basically, in 3 years I’ll be able to finish a BS and a BFA… let’s do it.

Anyway, here’s some poetry while I continue working on my damn short stories.

 

Forest of Fire:

River of life, run through me
Unhindered, teach me to breathe
Dear river, I feel it.

Finally free
to find a field to fester in
Forgiven, never forgotten
For, given the freedom, families fall apart
And friendships ferment,
In foil frozen.

Forest of fire give life freely
Because it is I that stands at the end
I alone and soon I’ll find it.

A place to hang my hat and my skin
For I saved my money, but it won’t save me

Sleeping with serpents,
Sacrificing suffrage for sustenance,
Suffering in similar pitches but softer sounds
Suffering sweetly to save face.

 

An Edible & A Microdose of LSD:

Lend me your ear! Or at least give me a hand. I don’t have a leg of my own to stand on.

I’m more than willing to speak about things in public but god forbid I have to partake in public speaking.

You’d think as my metaphorical ship sinks that I’d try to find land. Nope. Here I go, down with it. I am the captain now.

And you haven’t lived until you’ve sat through class or work stoned from an edible AND on a microdose of LSD.

And a banana hammock is just a relaxed monkey.

 

Reactions To Steve Running Naked Through Town:

People staring, jaws agape, eyes bulging. Kids pointing, laughing, hiding. Animals cower, shake, howl. Twins with matching facial expressions. Lizards scurry back under cold rocks. Elvis left the building. Ricky ticky tocked out of sight. And Steve ran naked through town.

Spur Of The Moment Poetry

The Heavy – Short Change Hero

School is back in session and I certainly hope I don’t drop the ball with these weekly posts. I’m trying, folks. Here, enjoy a couple short, strange poems!

A Bond As Strong As Steal (intentional spelling):

A gathering of pork skins

and a murder of crows,

where heroes go to die young.

Sheep wool strangling a child,

a bond as strong as steel

the likes of which might steal your heart.

Or steal a steely look at your bride,

yours, the one you love,

the one you’d die for.

The one you got high and left

because she slept with your best friend

your most well dressed friend.

The friend you protected

in the car crash that took you,

the car crash that separated you and your wife.

A Hero’s Welcome:

a dog destined for destruction

well equipped and armed

dressed to the nines with nails and narcotics

ready to riddle the enemy

tagged to the wall and medicated

strong enough to be forgotten

but weak enough to never forget.

 

The Ocean and Me

Cage The Elephant – Cold Cold Cold

If you read Fake Fan: A Short Story, you would have noticed that the main character was afraid of the ocean. It was an important part of the story development, but it was true of its author as well.

That’s right, folks. I am deathly afraid of the ocean, and really any water I cannot see through to the bottom. It sort of makes me laugh, though; if you were to ask me what I was afraid of the ONLY thing I would claim is water.

I’ve stood outside gazing up at funnel clouds wondering where the tornado was going to hit; I’ve experienced deep earthquakes; I’ve seen lightning cut through a giant tree not 100 feet away; I’ve dealt with all sorts of weaponry during my time in the military; rattlesnakes; giant spiders; scorpions; bulls; nothing compares to the amount of fear that wells up inside my chest when I think of deep, dark, murky waters, whether lake, river, or ocean.

I’m currently working on a short story titled Where The Sea Separates, and I began to notice this underlying theme of aquatic settings. This new short story deals with a child-like (the main character is a child) fear of the unknown. In a lot of ways, I think this is my subconscious way of dealing with my fears on a shallow level.

I recently saw a post on Facebook, it was about 6 minutes long or so. Normally, I don’t sit through such long videos. But it was all about a personal idol–you may know him, Jim Carrey.

This video, Jim Carrey: I Needed Color, spoke heavy words to me. It made me sit back and analyze what it is to be an artist (of any type, not just painting as he is in the video). The highs and lows of getting something right or wrong with

images-2.jpegyour work. Trying new techniques to get people to focus on the subject matter, to make them think and feel and understand what the artist feels, it is all so heavy. He talks about facing his loneliness and using his art as an outlet but that even bright vibrant colors become dull to his eyes. Just as in my work, if I use a word I like too often it becomes mundane. Played out.

He goes on to describe how paintings of Jesus are some of his favorite. He speaks of his relationship with a higher being almost nonchalant. A friend of Unknown.jpegmine described it as a modernist’s view on religion. He speaks much about allowing people to peer into the eyes of Jesus through his paintings and recognize they aren’t alone but even he never claims a religion, just that he feels very passionately about the idea of Jesus.

I myself am agnostic but the main focus for me was that painting, or in my case writing, about what you feel your psyche NEEDS to express is important. I’ve always been told to “write what you know,” as I’m sure any serious writer (and some not so serious writers) have also been told. So, if I am so terrified of the water then I must be incredible at describing the feeling of this fear.

I’ve come to the conclusion that writing about water is most likely going to be an underlying theme to many of my works. I am excited to think of dealing with my fear through my favorite activity and I hope I deliver the way I know the subject matter can. Maybe someday I’ll get in a shark cage and submerge myself deep out at sea… art is a dangerous thing.

 

 

Re-Think (A Poem)

Culture Abuse – Dream On (two posts in one day…scary.)

the record player spins and spins

skipping across the etching in the vinyl

like a rock skipping across a lake or pond

or like my mind skipping lines in my head

then drawing on thoughts like

slitting one’s throat on the tips of a white elephant tusk

or crossing a border to hear new sounds

like trumpets or strings

like the knights blow and fools strum

when the king rides

so too does the moon in the night

and the wolves hiding in the trees

attack the birds climbing out of holes

burrowed to hide from the rabbits that run through the prairies

howling at the sun

and as it rises so too does the needle off the vinyl

the rock off the pond

the white off the elephant

the border off the land

the trumpet from the lips

the fingers from the strings

the knights from their title

the fools from their reputation

the king from his horse

the moon from the night

the wolves from the trees

the dirt from the birds

the rabbits from their lucky feet and

the sun from the prairies.

Fake Fan: A Short Story

The Avett Brothers – True Sadness

Somewhere along the way, I stopped lying to myself about the beach.

How on Earth do you tell someone you don’t like the beach?

I never go in the water; it’s cold and unknown depths freak me out to no end. Because of this, I never fulfilled the whole experience, but still always claimed to love the beach.

I just like the feel of sand under my toes when I throw a frisbee around. Fuck the water.

Believe it or not, my mom is full-blooded Cherokee; just ask the Englishman that married her.

He was a Raiders fan and drove a Ford truck. Raiders fans drive Chevys.

I remember when we were leaving the beach, back when I was 6 or 7ish, the big one-ton truck had a tire removed and “Fake Fan” sprayed across the side, the Fathead sticker scraped off leaving behind a bit of facemask and the ironic letters “aid,” – by some twist of fate we would receive none – and in big block letters “FAG” across the windshield.

That was before I understood that word or grew to take offense to it. Though I had been made fun of for seeming different in elementary school, nobody really learned that word until middle school; I learned to protect myself against it.

I started taking Kickboxing classes at 8 and the first time somebody called me that name I beat her ass from one end of the playground to the other. Took about 4 “security guards” (they’re yard duties, don’t let them fool you) to pull me off of her.

My mom was pissed. My dad was proud of me for sticking up for myself, and when the time came, I told him how I felt long before my mother.

She probably could’ve guessed but her fathers would tell her to wait for me to come to her on my own terms. Denial is a slippery slope.

Much later in life, I visited Dad to see how he was holding up. Mom was gone now and the funeral wasn’t far off. I brought home my boyfriend and laughed hysterically when they got in a fight over the old Ford sitting in the driveway, a new Raiders sticker on the tailgate. He started placing a new one on top of the old one every couple of years so that now it’s raised enough that there’s a noticeable edge.

About five years later Dan and I went to cremate Dad. We had married a year prior to that, Dad was the best man and had seemed the same old geezer I had grown to love, no health issues at all it seemed.

He was lonely. Turns out a broken heart is a real thing.

Mom I could handle, but Dad…

Dan unhooked his boat and drove me all the way out to sea where no ports and no piers were visible. When I opened the Urn there was a note at the top. I tossed handfuls of the ash on each end of the boat and then slowly dumped the rest in a circle around the boat as best I could. Dad was only 57 when he passed, and mom even younger…

I opened the note after crying on Dan’s arm for a while, the sea air slapping at our faces.

“Thanks for facing your fears.”

Bubble: A Short Story

Every Time I Die – It Remembers

 

We covered the trash cans in plastic wrap.

Necessary precautions for any party Bubble came to.

My brother and I had one night with an empty house, and neither of us wanted to lose that.

Meredith took the kids to the in-law’s and Keith and I baby-proofed what we could and taped all the knives to the roof of the coat closet. Last week we pulled three drowned squirrels out of the tub and Bubble was passed out with the kitchen cutlery duct taped to his hands, fucking alcoholic bastard, like prison wasn’t enough for him, now he has to come fuck up our lives. Keith was keeping those squirrels for an experiment at work, and his three sons were training them to chase cat toys like house pets; Bubble just thought they were pests. Keith and I put up traps outside and caught a couple wild ones so that Keith might be able to keep his job–Meredith already has divorce papers drawn up.

Bubble got out of prison about a month ago and spent two weeks hitchhiking across the country, I always told him he couldn’t outrun his problems but I moved from the east to the west coast so what’s my excuse?

“Does Bubble drive?” Keith had the curtain drawn back a bit.

“Not as long as I’ve known him. Why?”

“I dunno, somebody’s pullin’ up.”

“Shit, I guess we’ll find out, maybe he got a ride? How long does this pizza need to bake for?”

Bubble came busting through the front door, following him was a man we had never met. But he wore a cowboy hat and some worn out boots; not surprising for this hole in the wall Keith calls a town.

“Hey, Hey! What’s up, fuckers?”

Oh, Bubble.

“This big bitch here is Tex. Don’t stare at his ugly ass too long, he’ll make you blind.”

Tex tipped his hat to us and took a seat by himself in the living room.

“Who’s comin’? Anybody I know?”

“Bubble, who the fuck do you know round here?”

“Shit, they’re all in the house already. Last week was pretty crazy, though, no repeat customers?”

“You scared ’em all away.” Keith set the timer for the pizza and turned the game on for Tex.

“Bullshit, that was nothin’ last week.”

“Nobody wants to play Edward Scissor Hands with you anymore, Bubble. And you leave those squirrels alone tonight, alright? Tex, man, whatchu drinkin’?” I grabbed a few beers.

“Tex don’t drink. I’ll drink his for him, though. And I’ll be happy, too.” Bubble chuckled, grabbing the drinks from me.

“Does Tex even talk?”

“Enough to get by. Shit, the guys right there, go ask him your-damn-self?”

The guy kind of freaked me out a bit. He didn’t stink but looked like he should and he had a twitch, hardly noticeable but when somebody jerks their face around a couple times every few minutes it starts to be.

“Tex, where ya from?” I brought him some water and sat down.

“Jersey.”

“Small world! I’m from good ol’ NJ, too! Keith, too.”

“Jersey Island.”

“Oh. Where’s…”

“Oakley, California.”

“Is that close to anything?”

“Depends on where you’re talkin’ about.”

“Okay… What do you do?”

“Ain’t much work for an ex-con. Work so hard to change, hardly the energy to actually work.”

“Ex-con? Is that how you know Bubble?” I sipped from my IPA.

“Told me his name was Bartholomew. Just met the guy last night at the bar. Kept talkin’ about pullin’ a job and Lord knows I need the money.” Tex still hadn’t touched the water.

“You’ve got some forehead sweat goin’ on, man. I’m gonna turn down the heat. I’ll be back in a bit.”

Truth was I had to talk to Keith. How the hell is Bubble going to bring this guy in here having barely known him. Kids live here goddamnit.

“Keith. PSSSSSST. Keith come here!”

“And that’s about the time I woke up with my pants on my head and shoes on my hands… Hold on to that for a minute, Bubs. I’ll be right back… what’s your issue now, Jason?”

“Well, isn’t it obvious? Tex, man. Dude freaks me the fuck out.”

“Why? He hasn’t done anything but hold a conversation with you this whole time. He seems alright from where I’m standing.”

“He thinks Bubble’s name is Bartholomew, they only met last night–at a bar nonetheless, he’s an ex-con, he knows where we live now, and he and Bubble have already talked about doing a ‘job’ whatever that means.”

“Woah, Woah, slow down, dude, just breathe. Let’s just talk to Bubs, I’m sure it’s all just a misunderstanding.”

And around the corner we had pistols shoved in our faces. Bubble didn’t say a word as he tied the two of us up, back to back like the movies. I realized now how well we’d been played. Bubble wasn’t here to rekindle a friendship.

Keith’s safe was upstairs in the crawl space, no way they’d find it.

“Found it! Hoist me up, Tex, I’m too short for this shit.”

Splintering sounds lofted down the stairs.

“Bubble must’ve dropped the safe. So much for your DIY bamboo strips.”

“Shut the fuck up for a second, Jason. You talk too much. Can you get loose?”

“Really? If I could get loose I’d’ve done it already.”

“I think I can undo your ties, push up against my back more, try to get a good grip on this shit.”

“OH, BOYS! I know you heard us comin’! We dropped the safe down the stairs for ya fucks!” Bubble bounded towards us, Tex in tow with the safe. “Now, Keith, Jason, tell us the code.”

“Fuck you, Bubs. We invited you to my family’s house. You’re a real piece of shit, ya know that? You drowned all my squirrels, terrorize people with knives, and steal from the only people that ever placed any value on your life. You deserve to be back in the Pen, man, this is bullshit.” Keith spit at his feet. “You remember when we were kids and you were trying to catch lizards and accidentally grabbed a piece of cactus? Jason and I spent hours getting all the little spines out of your hand before you went home because you weren’t supposed to chase lizards at our house and we didn’t want you in trouble so that we could still play together. And the time you had your birthday at our place. We played Red Rover and one of the neighbor kids yelled to pick your sister again because she tripped last time and we all laughed. Or the time we jumped in the frozen lake together and Jason almost drowned because of hypothermia, but we couldn’t pronounce the name back then so we said hippo-ferma instead.”

“That’s the past, Keith.” Bubble lowered his gun and pushed it against Keith’s head. “That was before I discovered how desperate this world makes people. Now, I could beat you, or put a bullet in your brain, but instead, Tex and I are going to skip the bullshit middleman and use some power tools. So, take care now.”

Keith and I watched the door shut and the car headlights moved out of sight.

Human Encounters

The Jungle Giants – No One Needs To Know

Short and sweet tonight, folks. Next week I plan on writing out a short story I’ve been working on. Who knows how long that’ll take, though. I wanted to talk tonight about how people, no matter where they are in life, are adamant and quick to share information about themselves.

I mentioned in my last post, The Sacrificial Lamb, that I drive for FedEx when I’m not in school (which would be now…thank the universe for holiday breaks)–I also brought up the methadone clinic and that whole scenario I experienced. Another thing I’ve picked up on, in brief, fleeting moments–people will share just about anything with somebody they don’t see on a regular basis (or have any reason to trust).

I find this to be more humorous than anything. For instance, I delivered a box of wine that required a signature from the recipient. I rang the doorbell and they signed. However, the elderly woman insisted on explaining how I had perfect timing because she had just returned from a vacation to Hawaii. I didn’t need to know any of that, I just needed a damn signature…

I’m not talking about anything new here either; every single day somebody starts a conversation with a drawn-out monologue about how their right foot feels heavier than their left when they climb stairs–meanwhile, we all just want to live our own selfish lives and talk about how our feet feel fine when we climb stairs, but that we are worried about how our son is dealing with his first sexual experience or drug overdose. It’s all relative.

Honestly, it’s not something that bothers me–in fact, it’s more intriguing than anything that people would share their personal life so easily with strangers.

Oh! Another great example–I was standing in my truck prior to delivering my packages for the day, and the fella in the truck next to me starts blurting out how he used to live in Wisconsin and how people here in Southern Oregon don’t know how to drive when it’s cold outside.

Stay with me for a second… it was 7:30 in the morning and I hadn’t even officially met this guy… and he was yelling from inside his truck with the windows closed… I smiled, laughed when he laughed and nodded to him… then I began my strange spiral into the idea that people are incredibly open about themselves.

Pay attention to your next couple conversations and see how quick some people are to share about what’s going on in their lives at the moment. You’ll see that you do it, too. I know I certainly do, and it’s a funny little thing to be self-aware of.

Enjoy your next human encounters!

The Sacrificial Lamb

Desaparecidos – The Left Is Right

I wanted to bring this up because sometimes I believe we as humans take for granted the common struggle of being alive. We are our own sacrificial lambs. Our own judge, jury, and executioner. Our own UFOs. And our own Boogiemen. We are the reason we fail or succeed at anything we do, not just life.

When I’m not in school full-time I drive and deliver for FedEx. A couple days ago, Tuesday I think it was, I had a delivery to the methadone clinic in the city I live in. It was hands down the most intimidating delivery I’ve had up to this point. The place itself wasn’t overly seedy, but the people that were there stared me down the ENTIRE time I was inside. Like I did something wrong. If I was wrong for doing my job then so be it–it got me thinking, though.

I tried to put myself in their shoes. If I had been a struggling addict mother, one baby on my hip and another by my side, standing in line at the methadone clinic at 10 something in the morning on a Tuesday, how would I look at a clean, well shaven, FedEx delivery driver? Honestly, if I had the same personality I do now, I wouldn’t look at all. I’d more than likely be too ashamed of myself to look. Not because I’m a bad person or anything, but because I’d know I was in a much worse position. I could be the happiest mofo in town, but as soon as I’m reminded of how better off some others are (not that I’m all that well off necessarily) I would immediately shut down. The rest of my day would probably be ruined.

The only point I’m trying to make here is that none of us truly understand the sacrifices anybody has had to make in their lifetime.

You can sit me down, look me in the eyes, and tell me you understand it and always will. But say it to me next time you’re in line at the methadone clinic awaiting your legal dosage.

And then say it to me again when you’re spending time at your summer home in Cabo.

Yeah, you’ll be lying both times. I’d do the same thing. We like to think that because we’ve had experiences that we can automatically speak on the struggles of another, but the reality is that we only reflect on the struggles of others when those struggles are forced in front of our faces.

Exhibit A: Me at the methadone clinic… I didn’t even know that clinic existed until I delivered there.

I started thinking about how when I die nobody will know what I went through. My close friends and family will be aware of the things that I did but not necessarily of the life that I lived. Not as a whole at least. It stands to reason, the only person you’re out to please is yourself, and even those people that carry on and on about their life hold some things back. Extra special secrets only shared between lovers or perhaps a dark thought that need not be voiced–even now I’m withholding information from all of you (not about my thoughts on the clinic and the subject at hand, though).

If your life was played on a projection in the sky for the whole world to see, what parts would you be embarrassed about? What parts didn’t you share with people? How much of our life goes unseen? A handout to the homeless? A donation to Toys for Tots? Chances are you told somebody about those, though. The unfortunate part of life is that we are all destined to share only the things we deem worthy. We pick apart our life until it’s neat portions and then we divvy what we want and keep the leftovers in the freezer for some drunken occasion in the future… or it rots in our graves with us.

As morbid as that sounds, all I’m hoping anybody takes from this post is that our lives are continually taken for granted. We go around flaunting all of our nice things and forget about our neighbors on the other side of the fence that are starving (or standing in line at the methadone clinic). We sacrifice and give up things right and left until we have a “successful” life and then we forget about that struggle, we forget about when WE were standing in line at the methadone clinic (or whatever hypothetical situation), we forget when WE were homeless or when we received a donation FROM Toys for Tots so that we could have a Christmas like our neighbors had and refused to share with us.

We forget sometimes what it’s like to be human.

Dealing With Family and Christmas Greed

Maybe “Dealing” isn’t the right word for it. But Greed certainly is.

If you hop over to psychologytoday.com you can read about how to help your child avoid Christmas Greed Syndrome. I’m certainly not qualified to help anybody with it (and that won’t be the last time I’m not qualified to help).

Christmas Greed Syndrome is characterized by material gluttony and lack of appreciation.

Now, I understand this seems a rather obscure topic to start a blog with. But we’re here to navigate the human condition and what better way than to look at greed and family (everybody can relate in some way).

And away we go.

So, when I was younger, we’re talking like, real young–only stories to go off of, it was a running joke with my 4 older siblings that I would love absolutely anything I got for Xmas.

“This is exactly what I wanted!” is what I’m told was my line for every gift I unwrapped.

I had an inflatable ball pit (like those found at McDonald’s back in the day (minus the inflatable aspect)). I called it my arm-pit, it was shaped like a bear and it was the best thing in my life, I never wanted anything more. I loved Xmas with my whole heart.

Idk what happened between then and now, maybe just growing up and seeing how adults/peers acted around Xmas, but it’s one of my least favorite holidays. Honestly, I’ve grown to dislike almost all of the “Hallmark” holidays. I’ve found that it boils down to a plain dislike for greed.

Right? Who doesn’t hate greedy bastards?

Yeah, but if you’re the one saying that then you’re part of the problem.

I’m part of the problem.

I’m not going to chastise anybody here (on my blog I mean) more than myself. It’s just an observation I’ve made, primarily during my time in the military. Not that those in the military are greedy, don’t put words in my mouth (or on my page), but that I’ve had the “privilege” to encounter SO MANY different types of people.

Anywhere from dirt poor to obscenely wealthy (including a guy that CLAIMED to be the son (or grandson?) of the inventors of “Life Alert”).

And it was in the military that I began to realize that sometimes the most greedy people are those that grew up poor–their paychecks disappeared the fastest.

Sometimes this was because they were sending money home to help out their family and I’m all for that, but I’m referencing those that went out and bought things they didn’t need, and oh baby you’d better believe I’m part of that group.

I’m still part of that group.

I live beyond my means and I stress about money, but I pay my bills, too, so I like to think I’ve found a happy medium.

I’ll get on with it.

Greed has become the single most aggravating abstraction to witness. I’d just like to see less of it, really–I know, how could I have been so long winded to end that subject with such a blatant and boring statement. Well, I guess we’ll just have to deal with it, kinda like greed in a way.

Alright, family, here we go, strap in.

This time I visited WebMD–and I actually didn’t read symptoms for anything, so I don’t have a sneaking suspicion that I’m dying any quicker than I already am. HOWEVER!, I did check out this intriguing article by R. Morgan Griffin aptly titled “Home for the Holidays.”

I absolutely adore my siblings now that we all can function on similar brain waves (I’m the youngest by a minimum of 6 years, so all I’m implying is that I had a lot of living to do before that could happen). This isn’t about my relationship with my siblings, though.

If you’re struggling with the “Take. Take. Take.” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) of this time of year, and that includes toxic holiday gatherings, then do yourself a favor and head over to read that article. Like I said, I’m no professional on any of these subjects, but I can speak to you as one human to another (don’t be afraid to leave a comment for me).

I’m no “newb” when it comes to feeling upset during the holidays. I haven’t spent a single Xmas with my family since leaving for the military–going on 5 years now. I also think that my Scrooge mentality has developed from not being with my family when I’ve always felt that it mattered most. It’s all just theory, really. I might seek out some therapy at some point because I’m such a curious son-of-a-saint.

Anyway, thanks for going on this strange journey with me. I love to write (Creative Writing major) and being able to do it and share it with everybody, even if it isn’t something I’d attempt to publish in a book, really means a lot to me, folks. Take care this coming Christmas, be safe, and may the universe deliver the necessities unto you.

And don’t forget to remember, we are all just as confused about humanity as the generation before us. Let’s navigate the human condition together.

 

Weeds & Wildflowers

Alien Ant Farm – Happy Death Day

(This is a completely fictional story.)

 

What I’ve come to learn is that it’s in our nature to kill.
Fight-or-flight.
Survival of the fittest.
If it’s between me and him, I’m coming out on top.
They put us on our own Chinook. Me and my squad. All 6 of us. Wheels up at 0300.
As fire team leader, I was first out. The squad leader was last.
We were early.
My 249 felt light. The fresh morning was penetrating, far colder than anticipated.
I took point.

Hand signals and silence were all we had.

The village wasn’t far off and we had clear instructions: assault through the village, take out the hostiles, and escort the inbound politicians through the safe streets later this evening. We were tasked to hold down the village until then.

We were lying in our bunks the night before, me and my team, sharing stories about the ones that got away, as many did when they were trying to pass the time as well as possible. We had shared this tent for three weeks now, 21 days exactly. We had been on 12 missions in that time span.

We were tired. Late nights and early mornings were our forte as Night Stalkers, the army’s most elite transportation regiment. We flew in, did our missions and were out in about a month with minimal casualties. In my squad you either slept hard or not at all, cards and dominos were always on deck in our tent and the folks that had computers were pirating movies that were never in English.
These were the soldiers you made bonds with because accepting they might not make it home was harder to swallow.
The enemy grew to fear the night worse than the day. How do you kill an enemy you can’t see? You don’t–you’re forced to wait until they’re on you, until it’s too late. And that’s how we operated, quiet.
We marched through the fields until we were on the edge of the village, quieter than the surrounding darkness. Our designated scout came forward to my position, a few meters ahead of the wedge formation.
Thermal binoculars, that’s how we got our eyes on the enemy.
“What are we workin’ with, Richardson?”
“I’ve got nothing. There’s nobody in any of the windows or doorways.”
“Can you see the northern end?” I spit my tobacco at the ground.
“I’ve gotta peak the corner. You got me?”
Richardson laid his chest to the ground, removed his kevlar helmet, and peered around the corner. I had my hand on his belt loop and my 249 was propped up on its bipod ready to return fire.
“Nothing. Wait, there’s two running around the rooftop to the northeast of here, about half a click away. Not holding anything, just moving from one end to the other.”
I pulled him back behind the building we set our perimeter at and hit the radio hotkey twice. Our squad leader, SGT Vera, came jogging forward to me.
“Two on the roof to the northeast, half a click.”
“Take these first couple of buildings and see what they do.”
“Roger.”
We stacked up on the first door. Valdez came forward and cleared the doorway and threshold, searching for ambush traps.
I grabbed the knob, twisting quietly, and the door swung gently open.

With our night optics on we swept; me from left corner to back left, Valdez from right corner to back right, and the rest followed behind searching hallways and connecting rooms. From the other room there was a rustling and soon after a single radio hotkey.
First floor clear.
The two assault gunners moved up the stairs. They fired six shots through silenced M9s.
Single radio hotkey.
The squad moved upstairs and set their gear on the wall.
SGT Vera gave us our commands from there.
“Sandoval, take your two, clear the east side buildings. We’re lucky this village is small and it’s the only one between here and the embassy. Nobody sets foot in any religious buildings.”
“Roger.” I replied and spit again.
“When your team is done with those three buildings, return here. Richardson, go up to the roof and keep eyes on those people moving around on the northeast side. Let Sandoval’s team know if they do anything you think is suspicious. That’s the last building on that side so just be careful with that one, Sandy.”
“Roger, SGT.”
“Copeland, and I will be here watching for any movement on the roads. Hot mike once after each clearance then get your asses back here. We’ve got about an hour before the convoy comes through, and the sun’s peakin’, so let’s fuckin’ move boys.”
Valdez, and Lavictoire turned to me.
“Leave your rucks here, put your gear on, let me see your first aid kits and camelbacks.”
We moved downstairs, green on water and ammo, peered out the doorway and stacked up on the door to the next hut. Valdez swept the threshold again, and in we went.
We gunned down two men in the first room, reaching for their weapons. The other two cleared the rooms in the rest of the house. Five minutes and another cleared building.
I hit the hotkey.
“Sandy, those two moved down into the building and I don’t have eyes on anymore.”
“Thanks, Rich homie, let me know if anything else transpires.”
“Roger.”
In similar fashion we entered the second building. A group of women and children were huddled together in the first room, and a man bolted around the corner.

Valdez marched upstairs slowly, Lavictoire kneeled down in the doorway, away from windows, and I whipped around the corner in pursuit. At the end of the hallway was one room with an open door, no movement.
Step by step I closed the distance to the room, I could hear nothing. I pushed my back against the wall next to the opening, my heart was in my throat.
My eyes fixed to the part of the room I could see from my position, there was a faint rustling, somebody was searching the rotted wood floor for something. I moved my shoulders forward a bit and began to scan the corners of the room. Before I could raise my weapon completely, the man lurched forward with a knife into my chest.
It takes far more than a shit knife to pierce armor plates.
I grabbed his wrist with one hand, fingers with the other, allowing my sling to bare the weight of my weapon across my shoulder, ripped the knife from his hand, breaking his wrist, and plunged it into his throat with force. He slumped against the wall.
I turned the corner to the room and buried a 9mm round in the head of another. I hit the hotkey before his rifle even touched the ground.
Two down. One to go.
We were inside the next building quick, no limitations. There wasn’t a soul to be found. From behind us we heard the sound of a canister hitting and bouncing off the ground. Two men ran inside from the back door and up a set of stairs. Smoke filled the room.
Valdez took off up the stairs, his weapon ready. Two shots sounded, and his weapon fell to the ground. Lavictoire and I moved up the stairs, pulling Valdez to the wall.
A fire fight seems more intense when there’s only a few people involved.
I pushed a needle between Valdez’s 2nd and 3rd intercostal ribs to relieve his lungs from the mounting pressure, but he was already gone.
Lavictoire caught a bullet to the arm but managed to take out a hostile.
“It’s just a graze, I can still fight.”
“Sit your ass down.”
I moved up past the landing and into a room on the right. Slapping down the bipod, I set up the 249 and held the trigger down, riddling the upstairs with holes, pulled out a flash grenade and tossed it into the room across the hall.
Without hesitation, I rose up, and moved into the room.
Buried another 10 rounds or so into the last enemy. I radioed SGT Vera.
“Valdez is gone, those two were setting up an ambush. Lavictoire has a wound but he can still fight. East side clear.”
“Grab Valdez and get back here. We’ll handle the rest. And hey, good work.”
“Roger.”
I shouldered Valdez in a fireman’s carry, and with Lavictoire at point, we made it back in one piece.
Minus one.
“That was the last time I saw you. You fuckin’ bastard. You know, you could’ve just stayed alive. I could’ve told you that story face to face and we could laugh about it. It would’ve been the war story we tell the junior enlisted to put the fear back in them. And they would’ve looked up to us, the same way we looked up to our superiors who told their crazy war stories. The squad goes back overseas in a week or so. Lavictoire misses you. I miss you. SGT Vera and Richardson got shot down on their chopper back to the FOB (Forward Operating Base). Rich lost a leg, he’s back home now, refuses to use a wheelchair so he’s been crutching around for the last couple months. SGT Vera got treated for a TBI but he’s shipping back out with us anyway. Copeland went on orders to South Korea, he sends his regards. The ground looks cold. I’m going to plant these flowers here for you, so you have something beautiful to look at. This place really needs a better groundskeeper. I’ll be back tomorrow to pull these weeds. Love you buddy.”