Wednesday, January 1

lost my marbles
down the mountain I roll
downhill to the sea
under the waves
to the abyss

volcanic vent
sink in the magma
to the center
a giant metal marble
where I laugh


Tuesday, September 17

social services

I wait in the corner
barefoot woman walks in
her hands shake
she sits down next to me
arms crossed
she says, "don't be embarassed
I didn't feel like shoes"
I say, "I'm not,
are you alright?"

"I need to go to the hospital," she mumbles
"do you need any help?" I say
her face startles
like she's not used to people hearing her
"this is fucking bullshit
I hate this place
what number are they on?"
"they skip around
I think they forgot me"
"you should go up to a window and tell them"
"I'm patient"
"I'm not"

tattoo man stomps in
knuckles drag on tile
he sees me
I see him
he kisses her
he says, "I love you"
she says, "I love you too"
like she's convincing someone
he leaves

"why are you here?" she asks
the weight of society in her tone
I say "I watch my two kids
ex-wife wanted a career
then she left because I wasn't successful"
"why aren't you successful?"
"because I watch kids"
our eyes meet
barefoot woman says
"I'll never understand women"
we smile

they call my number
I fill out forms
as I drive away
tattoo man
rides his bicycle around
he sees me
I see him
I wonder if he thinks
that when he's mounted her tonight
she'll think of me


Monday, September 16

living in a treehouse journal

day #1
built a treehouse
seems sensible
since they're the only ones
who seem to get it

day #2
figured out the whole
going to the bathroom thing
that's not pleasant

day #3
snickers running low
what to do

day #4
someone walked underneath
I hid
like I needed to
how often do people look at trees

day #5
woke up with a squirrel on my toe
showed me how to gather acorns
I'm glad
pinecones unappetizing

day #6
think people starting to wonder
where I went

day #7 part 1
yup, they are
they have search dogs
damn dogs
they should be on my side

day #7 part 2
"sir step away from the tree"

day #7 part 3
ex wife says
"what are you doing up there"
I say
"I think this tree cares for me
more than you ever did"

day #7 part 4
kids say
"daddy, come down from there"
I say
you can live up here with me
I don't mind
the more monkeys the merrier"

day #7 part 5
the police have grappling hooks
guess this is the end
of tree houses


Wednesday, September 4

everyone has infinite value

a piece of bread
with the potential energy
of 100 calories
has the value of a few cents

your mind
has the potential energy
of infinite ideas
of infinite words
of infinite power
of infinite value

why do you allow others
to treat you as less than infinite
why do you allow yourself
to treat you as less than infinite

I see your infinite value
it blinds me
this world of billions
of supernova

how different the world looks
when you see everyone’s value
like stars in daytime
as no one is worthless

do not let anyone give you
nothing for you
you are worth infinite value
you are worth living

you say, “how can we be
worth infinite value
we are common
like sand”

I say, “water is infinite value
in a desert
your mind has infinite value
in this universe”

you say, “what of the ones
who treat me as less
than infinite
what of them”

I say, “why believe them
they believe you are worthless
believe my infinity
as I believe in yours”


Thursday, August 29

Thursday Morning

5YO: "You know what, I want a dog that's rainbow."
7YO: "They don't come like that. You'd have to paint it."
"I know but dogs don't like to be painted."
"Then it would be wet."
"I know, dogs don't like to be wet."
"Dogs and cats don't like to be wet. They shake it all off like this."
"You know what? A cat likes to be wet in the bathtub if you put fish in it."
"There's no fish in the bathtub."
"There is at a pet store."
"There's no fish at a pet store."
"Yes, there is, that's where we got Puddles."
"Puddles was a good cat."
"Puddles was a good cat, except he peed on everything."


Wednesday, August 28

Beliefs are Monkey Bars

beliefs are monkey bars
you hang on
everyone hangs on
you look up at the sky
you think
“if I hang on long enough I’ll go there”
you look down
you think
“if I let go I’ll land in the tanbark”
(no one likes tanbark)
(it’s pokey)
you look around
everyone hangs on
you hang on
your hands hurt

you hear a voice
that voice is me
I say
“let go of the monkey bars”
you say
“what an idiot”
I say
“hey, I’m not an idiot, let go of the monkey bars”
you say
“I’ll fall in the tanbark”
(no one likes tanbark)
(it’s pokey)
I say
“no you won’t”
you say
“yes I will”
I say
“no you won’t”
you say
“what about gravity”
I say
“there’s no gravity in your mind”
you think
you look around
everyone hangs on
your hands hurt
you decide

a) you hang on
until you die
and you let go anyway

b) you let go
you let go of the past
you let go of the future
you let go of prejudice
you let go of preconceptions
you let go of power
you let go of control
you let go of words
you let go of identity
you let go of hate
you fall
and fall
and fall
and fall
and never hit the ground
because there’s no tanbark
(no one likes tanbark)
(it’s pokey)
you float around
with me
and the rest of the dreamers
and imagine a world without monkey bars
and falling

Tuesday, August 27

Four Ways to Edit like a Chef

Last time I used the equation:

Thought + Write + Edit =
Ingredients + Cook + Garnish

Since I’m backasswards, I want to talk about editing first.  We have the most control over the last part of the creative process, which is why we fuck it up.  We let our insecurities, frustrations, and expectations get involved, and then throw everything away.

You have a disassembled word cake that just came out of the oven.  Now what?  Here are the pitfalls to editing, and strategies on how to avoid them, all by thinking like a chef:

1) Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen.  Cooking is not a democracy.  There is a definite hierarchy.  Someone is in charge, and anyone who gets in the way is kicked out (sometimes nicely, sometimes not).

In your brain, who’s in charge of your word kitchen?  How many parts of your personality are offering “advice” and telling you how to stir your macaroni and cheese?  Do you let the images of your family and friends and teachers and critics into your kitchen?  Are they hovering over your stove?

If so, politely tell them to get the fuck out of your writing and go wait in the dining room.  Especially your critic needs to get out of the kitchen, and wait until you are done cooking.

I know this doesn’t make any sense, and goes contrary to everything you’ve ever been told about writing, but your critic doesn’t edit.  You edit.  Your critic waits until you are done, then eats your words, then writes a review.  They might send the dish back because it’s cold or needs salt or whatever, but never let your critic into your writing space.

Be your own word dictator.

2)  Leave the Drama in Your Writing.  You are not a five-star restaurant.  You don’t eat on gold plates.  You aren’t bedecked in diamonds.  When a chef cooks a steak, they know it’s just a steak.  

So why do writers act all high and mighty about what they do?  Your words are just words.  Do you freak out about making a sandwich?  No you don’t, so don’t freak out about writing a sentence.  Don’t act like writing is life and death.  Put the melodrama in the story, not in the process of writing the story.

3)  Presentation is Everything.  Here’s an ugly truth: everyone judges books by their cover.  What?  No way!  That’s not fair.  Yup, it isn’t fair, and life is not fair.

If you wrap a sandwich in paper, people will pay less for it than if a dude in a suit brings it on fine china to their table.  That’s life.  Hardback books cost triple what a paperback costs.

So when you edit, think about how you present your words.  It should match the intended audience.  For example, I can be edgy and swear on a tumblr blog, but in a college paper or a job, I would clean up my language.

Accentuate befittingly.  If you bake a chocolate cake, you might not want to decorate it with mushrooms.  Make sure the language you’ve chosen highlights your core idea (or most likely ideas). 

When I write haiku, I format them like haiku, and I frame them with hashtags so everyone knows it’s a haiku.  In a larger philosophical sense, art is anything in a frame, and as an artist, you need to make a conscious decision about your frame.

4)  Know When to Let Go of the Plate.  Imagine that a cook takes forever to bring your food, then as they’re about to drop the plate on your table they stick their finger in your mashed potatoes and say, “Oops, sorry, need to add more salt.  Be right back.”

You would leave that restaurant and never come back.

When you edit, your goal is to finish, then move on.  As I tell my kids, “Stop farting around.”  Fix your writing, and send it to the table.   Chefs are never like, “Oh no, I’ll never bake a cookie like that one again!” 

Here’s your zen moment: you can only grab something new if you’ve let something else go.   So let your old writing go.  Then you can write something new.

Happy writing!