Harvest Moon

Michigan hardens tonight, leaving me to starve under a harvest moon.    The corn is ripe and ready for the reaping.  Bounty fills these flyover fields still strange to me, though at first glance, they were eerily familiar.  The new land of plenty and promise; opportunity and advancement.  Flourishing and thriving in the nurturing warmth of sharp Spartan sunshine.    But things are always different at night.    When the streets are deserted.  Save for the pinball shuffling of urban zombies caught juggling their burdens.  Be it addiction.  Or homelessness.  Or even mental illness.    I hand out smokes like a malignant Johnny Rotten Appleseed.  And I’m happy to help keep the cravings of strangers away.  Because I know what it is to do without.  Or …

Read More

Fish Ladders

A sliver of a Michigan moon hooked low in a Tuesday night sky.  It anchored the darkness over the backdrop of less flown over fields still strange to me––I have only been in this city for 75 hours.  And haven’t yet mastered the streets.    It felt oddly like autumn.    And has the potential to be home.    Beside me, a strange river flowed north before bending itself sharply west to reach the eastern edge of Lake Michigan.  I could hear the water rolling off the dam. And couldn’t help but to wonder if any fish were actually using the ladder to navigate the transition.    There was no ladder provided for safety or convenience when shifting my own latitude––a move necessary to adjust my …

Read More

Black Pack Nights

Out walking whiskey drunk through the hood on a stale Indiana night.  On the hunt for a tobacco strong enough to see me through until the dawn.  Because I know that the sleep just isn’t going to come.    And that makes me nervous.    The air is heavy like an uncomfortable blanket.     Everything feels like it moves in slower motion.    The claustrophobia of humidity covers the darker realms of an ineffectual American Dream.  The part where everything is bought on credit and financial viability remains stubbornly dependent on the next payday that’s always too many fucking days away.    Various smells hang suspended–the unhealthy perfume of poverty.  Greasy foods cooked for greasy patrons at the corner bar.  Unmistakable whiffs of marijuana.  The baked …

Read More

It’s Okay

It’s okay.  Go on.  Cry as hard as you can.  No one will see.  Drink a cold beer in a hot shower.  Make a silly face in the mirror.  Eat something.  Let your favorite playlist flow.  Even if you’ve heard the songs a million times.  Breathe.  Remember that chapters are supposed to end.  Stories evolve.  Hearts make mistakes.  It’s okay to be broken.  Forgive yourself.  Learn.  Fill the canvas.  Experiment with color.  Break the rules.  But don’t be a dick about it.  Boundaries are more fun from the other side.  Love fiercely.  Live unapologetically.  Surrender to the ridiculous.  Let experience run wild.  Challenge expectations.  Read everything you get your hands on.  Explore.   Answer every call.  Say yes more than you say no.  Laugh at yourself before …

Read More

Asphalt Dreams and Other Strange Things

It always comes back to roads.  In almost five decades of summers, I’ve run down a lot of roads.  Sprawling interstates.  Back country lanes scratched out of the holler.  Familiar flyover county lines strapped on a grid of rigid Midwestern flatness.  Asphalt and Michigan gravel; concrete and Georgia clay.  Ocean views and cement tunnels that felt like coffins.  Even foreign motorways with their strange signs and nonsensical flow.  Always pushing the posted limits.  Ignoring responsible rest areas for the promises hiding just up ahead, behind that next mile marker.  Stopping only long enough to tank up on gas station chemicals; burning tobacco on an endless loop.  Mashing a path through muddled playlists, struggling to find the most significant copilot to help fill the space between miles. …

Read More

Post Box Blues

I sent her letters.   Maybe I sent too many; maybe I didn’t send enough. I have never been a reliable judge of the post.  In fact, I live in fear of that terrifying black box nailed to the front of a little blue house.   Because it generally contains bad news.  Or other angry reminders that I lack proper adulting skills when left unsupervised.  So it is impossible for me to confirm with any certainty.   She sent only skeletons in return.  And that’s probably fair.  We were never anything but ghosts anyway.   Two inconsistent creatures stalking the night  across two different time zones.  Coming at life from very different stations.  Her view of these flyover fields from the mountains was obscured by the allure of affluence.  The …

Read More

Living the American Nightmare

It was in the between years when I functioned best.     Those chunks of sticky time that aren’t really story worthy.  Yet still somehow remain stubborn enough to fester in these later years.  They were an unstable foundation of mortgaged mediocrity that I knew was poisoning me.  Killing me slowly in measured servings of bland suburban nothingness.  Because the American dream only really works if you are sleeping.  And everyone surrounding me was dutifully tucked in, on the clock, and snuggled deep in their 401(k)s.    But I almost never sleep.  So I saw it all.  Like a map inside my head.  The pitfalls and overlapping social implications.  The selling out when certain lines intersected.  The consequences of betting bad on desperate odds– it was worth …

Read More

Cliff Notes

She’s not anything at all like the others.    I endured sleepless nights walking the face of this city trying to figure her out.  But all I discovered was vacant streets.  Empty bottles under bridges over a river that isn’t the Kankakee. Blinking WALK signs meant for other, more mindful pedestrians.  And a worn out pair of boots that squeaked from all the rain.    My first instinct was to run after those walks.  Because that is what previous circumstances taught me to do.  History dictates that complications frequently get ugly.  Emotions get roguishly invested.  Words are written—or said—that can never be taken back.  And then it all breaks down when exposed.   I learned to always have an exit strategy after tasting the first swindle …

Read More