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 …

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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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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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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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Perfume

I stole my first real breath in the whisper of that perfume.  A scent powerful enough to loiter for decades.  A fragrance capable of surviving cold bottles.  And of sparking heated battles inside the furnace of old sin.   I catch hints of it in my blackout dreams. Or during my sobering nightmares.  It lingers there, hard and unapologetic.  No matter what I smoke.  Or drink.  Or fuck.  It reaches out across the memory of wasted years to remind and rekindle as I struggle to breathe free.   Instead, I am left alone to suffocate in the crush of stubborn recollection.   In desperation, I take to the low company of high-proof co-conspirators.  I hide inside polished words.  And scribbled prescriptions.   Anything to mask the sting …

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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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