Kissing the Kankakee Goodbye

We pushed west burning out on crushed ephedrine energy, ignoring reflected cautions and riding the empty overnight hard.  Blackness yawned in fields of dead corn—just empty space where headlights punctured conversation.  And that blankness gave our demons more room to play.   Chain-smoking prepackaged intentions.  And drinking preconceived confessions.  Allowing angry bluegrass to help keep the time.  Leaving a window cracked to let the smoke merge with the first hits of an indignant dawn rising behind in a blurry Indiana rear-view mirror.    She sat quietly—a detached passenger, as Starke County disappeared.  I did my best to give chase—in-patient freedom waited, impatiently, just across state lines.  But only if I pushed hard enough.  Because I knew we had to gain the ground before those damn demons …

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The Green Eyes Have It

She took me by surprise.   It was shaping up to be just another cookie-cutter Tuesday night, here in the wintery flyover fields.   After having sent out another series of resumes in an attempt to keep looming homelessness at bay, I had settled in to put the final touches on a ridiculous poetry project I recently completed.  Outside the windows of a little blue house, the January winds blew in heavy heaves and sighs- there wouldn’t be any aimless wandering the city streets with weather like that threatening.  So I just hunkered here in a rented bunker to chew up the empty overnight hours with more literary shenanigans.   Then my phone bleeped.   At first, I figured it was just another rejection for a job …

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Corn Stalks

Early on a Tuesday– they think it must have been after midnight– a good friend followed through on a promise.  A promise I had unfortunately heard often, and with shifting levels of conviction, over the last several years as personal challenges mounted.  But somehow, I always managed to talk her back from that ledge.   This year, though, it was different.     Instead of picking up the fucking phone, she first picked up the bottle– I wonder if she suspected I’d just use clever words to change her mind.  All I know for certain is that she wrote a note filled with regret on cheap motel stationery.  A brief synopsis of a life she felt she lived…wrong.  Nothing but naked regret and echoing apologies ringed in …

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Scars

Born into an abundance of melancholy, I somehow survived with a stubborn gratitude for the unpredictability of biology.   I was born a broken child in a broken world; mine was a throwaway first breath.  I grew, terrified.  And then I was loved.  Which confused me.  And taught me to never trust.   I was the wrong kind of sick to sustain empathy.  So I became a destroyer of fragile connection.  An unrepentant killer of ego.  My words the brutally efficient weapon of choice.  Strike first; hit hard.  Be clever; be unclean.  Be willing to cross boundaries designating safe zones to leave no potential left standing.  Just blowing it all the fuck up– before it could ever let me down.   Because the catastrophic hurt of abandonment …

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Fuck You, Karen

A significant co-conspirator sits rigidly on the desk in front of me. To most, it is probably viewed as just a cast-off anachronism left lingering from a by-gone era.  Or maybe a solid footprint of trendy, hipster typewriter nonsense.  But to me, it is the only tool that ever helped me truly unlock the stories of me. It forces me to focus while simultaneously allowing me the freedom to explore, free from electric distractions.  I can break rules without angry suggestions interfering with my flow– because my mind is wired to fix immediate problems.  And the evil red squiggles found glowing on other machines always win the battle for my attentions. It’s a much-abused Sterling– an absolute brute of a writing machine.  Not as pretty as …

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War

There is no right.  There is usually only the wrong.  There is only the pungent, durable odors of hot metallic blood, burnt cordite, smeared shit, and sweaty bodies unbathed for weeks- because somebody had to hold the line.  Fragile temperament struggling against inhospitable, improvised environments.  Soft flesh against rigid alloys.  Malleable bone against tracked vehicles and hovering drones.   Just meat against metal.  And metal always wins.  Glory holds little meaning when a friend claws at the twitching stump where a healthy limb used to be.  There is nothing glorious in hearing a 22 year old whimper and cry out for the loving embrace of his mama.  Because he knows for certain that he’s about to die, while a chorus of words from friends ringing round him …

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Truck Wash Blues

I accidentally stumbled into a bit of money. It wasn’t a lot– a fraction of what I actually need. And it came to me not for the quality of work performed, but more from a place of pity. Not that the origin mattered. Bruised pride did not keep me from cashing the check. It was enough to stock the pantry of poverty- cheap, processed, convenient portions of sadness to later be microwaved in solitude. But even that was a stretch, given the skyrocketing costs of living. So I cancelled future meals for the sake of more immediate beers. Because it was just that kind of day. It was inevitable that I would find myself drawn to that familiar little hill. The odometer of existence was on …

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Thoughts on a Cancelling Culture

It is impossible to write a captivating fairytale when forever cast as the scurrilous villain.     From the constriction of that perspective, the script inevitably shifts into blandness.  The story gets muddied beyond what could ever be considered reasonable.  Or inspiring.  And that fatal miscalculation breeds a lasting contempt for not being free to tell an honest story.    Mediocrity reigns supreme on a stage built to never offend.  Sterility has somehow become the baseline for accepted artistic integrity and the swing of that cultural pendulum causes a cookie-cutter motion sickness of repetition, leaving us grasping for an elusive artistic anchorage.   Always pandering to the lowest denominator.  Always dumbing down the sharp edges of controversy because uncomfortable voices are no longer welcome in a society …

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