Capital City Consequence

More miles than meaning.  And, that must mean something.   Even if it’s just words quivering over asphalt.  Chasing empty roads.  Or another fragile dream stumbling down another broken Boulevard.   Consequence.   The dirty offspring of (in)decision.   I tried loving myself once.  I just never did a very good job of loving myself back.  Because it was confusing.  A foreign concept never properly explained in domestic fashion.   So I learned other lessons instead.   How to fight.  First, with words.  Then later, more deadly intentions.   Soldier mode.   A simple switch of humanity flipped off. Not with the heated gesture vigorously displayed towards an endless parade of shitty Michigan drivers.  But the switch inside my head.  That dark space too ugly to …

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Deer Prints

Broken trees bend in a familiar meadow. A cloudlessly blue Mitten sky hangs bright. Covering unsteady ground. But not taking any notes.   Because nature keeps her secrets. Right along with mine. Not where the crawdads sing. But, down in the holler. Where foxes play.   Fresh deer prints on the trail; vines stripped from all the pines. The ones pulled free and trimmed, to spark warmth in the chill of a star-filled Clinton County night.   Anticipation hangs. Like frozen exhalations in winter. Impatient for growth; hungry for the spring.   Sounds carry strange, caught in the grip of a Capitol City December. Voices echo harder; vibrations, they linger.   The songs of nature rhyme–strange words for a city boy caught out of his elements …

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Smokestacks

A curious brutality is born whenever hearts combine.    It is often accidental. Seldom intentional. And if it is, that’s a type of abuse better captured by other, more competent, writers. My talents aren’t nearly impartial enough to ever capture that peculiar complexity.    It just sort of happens; no one is really at fault. Feelings and expectations combine as the commonality of mutual experience meld into a comforting pattern of disconnect. One that eventually erupts unexpectedly on some random Clinton County Wednesday morning.     It was a long time in coming, that breakdown of communication. There is only so much compassion one can find after only a few hours of sleep stretched out hard on thinly padded living room patio furniture. And before the strength …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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Blueberry Whine

Outside, the face of a sunny Monday has collapsed into darkness.  Inside, blueberry wine is poured into a stained coffee mug.  Because it was her favorite.  But I can’t even do that without somehow soiling it.   It was a long battle.  One she had fought previously on two occasions. And somehow managed to win.  But the third time was not her charm.  Those misguided percentages were just another fucking lie.   Through it all, I cheered for her.  Celebrated her songs.  Learned all the words.  Debated that cross-country trip when I first heard the news.  She helped me to live; I wanted to help her die.  But, I didn’t go.  Because when that idea was proposed, we were still lying to ourselves—everything would be okay. …

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