Writing

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 …

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Broken Angel

Hell’s Kitchen lost its very best broken angel today.    Outside the window of a little blue Midwestern house, a gentle summer rain pattered.  It made it feel like the whole world was mourning for her tonight, too.  Suffering the blow collectively.  Taking the hit.  Because sometimes, the universe decides that it’s just going to keep fucking swinging.  And it doesn’t seem to matter just how far down you’ve already been kicked–more blows are coming.    So I poured myself a drink.    Then I broke an earlier promise to not sit stupidly in the rain.    And I put on her favorite song.     The song I used to endlessly tease her about.  Because on that impromptu Big Apple road trip, ill-fated and ridiculous, I …

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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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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. …

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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 …

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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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1989 Was Yesterday

32 years ago, we sat beside a river.     Adolescent love; hand in hand.  Snow fell.  Conversation froze; breath caught, suspended.   She spoke of tests; a brutal admission triggering thirteen months of unwinnable battles.   I lived my lifetime stuck in that conversation.  And drank my coward’s death in her results.    Her reality taught me to always raise a toast.  To send that letter.  Answer any call.  To go running after love, even in the rain.   Constantly embracing the ridiculous– and never fucking letting go.  Anything to make time matter.    So we chased the stars together.   We crashed; we fell.  We flew back up together.   We burned back down.    We danced across the belly of an Indiana skyline.  Believed in naked …

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