Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fire Sale at the Misery Factory!

Everything Must Go!

After 46 years
in the same location,
the Misery Factory
is closing its doors
for good
and I’m practically
giving away
my inventory!

This handy book has
every self-deprecating comment
I ever made
to curry favor and
garner sympathy!

How about a life-sized puzzle
so convoluted and challenging
that only the most obsessive,
insane or
codependent person
would dare solve it?
It’s yours for a song!

Do you need
an extra tube of
Fake Smile?
It works great
to cover the all scars-
either accidental
or self-inflicted!

Yes, the Misery Factory
is closing its doors
so let the madness begin!

And, for you collectors,
there’s my Classic Guilt Machine,
guaranteed to keep working
even in your sleep!
It sets up in an instant
and never really folds up neatly
for easy storage.

For that hard-to-shop-for person
on your list,
get the very same whip I used
to flagellate myself
anytime I didn’t reach
my target weight
or got a bad grade in school
or simply misspoke.

And remember,
with each purchase
from The Misery Factory
you’ll get a free mp3 download
of negative self-talk,
perfect for the car,
the gym, or anywhere!

Goodbye letters
in scented envelopes,

rough drafts of painful apologies,

even the restraining orders
for the man
who tried to kill me
after I slept
with his wife.

It's all here
and it all must go!

(Posted for #OpenLinkNight at - come on along and play!)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ernest Becker’s “The Denial of Death”

The lifelong bibliophile,
some of my favorite hours
were spent reading
thousands of books,

As I inhale
their stale paper smell,
and I stack them
on nightstands,
in bookcases,
the trunk of my car,
I know acquiring books
is not an addiction,
but rather,
it’s a superstition:

as long as I have
books yet to read,
I cannot die.
I must persevere.

The collection grows
from theology
to show business memoir
to outlaw poetry.

When I graduated from high school
in 1981
I bought Ernest Becker’s
“The Denial of Death.”
I saw it in a Woody Allen movie
and thought it represented
the intellectual gravitas
that I would need
as cultural currency
when I attended the university.

I have never finished the book,
reaching only page 36
on my latest attempt,
I still have the book.

Perhaps keeping it around
still unread
after all these years
is my own
quiet and persistent
denial of death.

(Submitted for #OpenLinkNight @ )

This is the book I bought in 1981 for $2.95. Presently, it's in the backseat of my car.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Very Inspirational Blogger Award (Amended)

Well, hot diggity dog!  I’ve been nominated for a Very Inspirational Blogger Award!  Thanks to the one and only Amy Jo Sprague, who has the powerful "Difficult Degrees" blog at!

Her writing is strong, powerful, curative and life-affirming, and I am so grateful to have found it.

So now the rules: thank who nominated you/link to them; write seven things about yourself; choose ten to fifteen blogs you feel deserve this award; and comment on their blog to let them know.  Cheers.

Here's my seven:

1. I was born in Glendale, California on the hottest day of the year in 1963.
2. My first ambition was to be a vaudeville comic, until I learned vaudeville didn't exist anymore.
3. My major in college was theatre, but I eventually earned two degrees in sociology.
4. Haven't had an alcoholic drink since February 10, 1990.
5. Can recite the entire movie "Network."
6. My favorite rock and roll band is the New York Dolls.
7. My religious beliefs are best described as Christian-Humanist-Universalist

Here's 9 Inspiring Blogs:

Shay's Word Garden
First Pages
Sharp Little Pencil
The Tashtoo Parlour
Bird's Eye Gemini
Deb's Blog
Daydreamer Too

Monday, July 16, 2012

In Deference to the Chemicals

In deference to the chemicals,
I’m waiting on the pill
that will take
the years from my face,
the rolls from my waist,
restore steam to the engine,
return steel to my thighs.

We need smart chemicals
to access the ganglia of synapses
when everything about us was new,
and we would explore
our unhidden bodies
with complete
trust and surrender.

I’m just longing for
a gentle, incomplete amnesia
that will erase
all my missteps
and all the lovers
of your youth,
so when you sense my presence
you spring
into breathless impatience,
as it was
when my caress was like
a key unlocking everything
that had been denied
for so long,
unsticking the dam,
overflowing with
slick and sweet abandon.

I recognize this behavior,
chasing those ever-elusive
primal moments of
euphoria and climax
because I am an addict,

but since she is what I need
I’ll feed this addiction,
as long as my chemicals
will allow.

(For #OpenLinkNight at - Happy 1 Year Anniversary!)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Polishing My Sestina

Were I a tenured faculty member
in the English Language department
at an unnamed Ivy League college,

I’d sit in my bookcase-lined office
hour upon hour
polishing my sestina.

Poring over my thesauri
and assorted dictionaria,
I’d find the perfect six words
to end each of my perfect six lines
in my perfect six stanzas
and then tie up the final three lines
and I would make all
breathlessly, righteously jealous.

But that’s not me.

I write
on the back of bill envelopes
during extended traffic lights,
in the margins
of board meeting agendas,
in walk-in closets
and in the ignored corners
of garrulous parties.

In a day full of
familial responsibilities
workplace obligations
and personal sacrifices
my writing is my leash
the permission I give myself
to wander without direction
sans wristwatch.

Gently I drift
from anger to peace
memory to dream
here to
not here.

I’ve enough rules
in my life
and I haven’t the time
the inclination
nor the energy

to write a damned

(Republished for Ars Poetica at  - go play!)

Monday, July 09, 2012

No Better Than a Deadbeat Dad

“It’s tragic.”

Because he was following
his beautiful young wife
and kids home
from their weekend camping trip
on his motorcycle?

Because he just had
to do it?

He used to say,
“five minutes on this thing
is more alive
than most people know
in a lifetime.”

He lost his balance
and tried to lay
the bike down
as it slid out
from under him,

but the truck behind him
didn’t see
or couldn’t
react fast enough,

and then he was
just a crumpled
bloody mess.

And I’m supposed
to feel bad
and sorry
for the whole situation?

Could’ve been avoided.

when you become a husband
and then a father,
your life is no longer
your own.

You are the cornerstone
of the family,
the unseen provider
who’s supposed to make
it all look easy.

You don’t get to do
everything you want.

You don’t get
the privilege of racing your bike,
jumping out of airplanes,
or fucking all the women
you want,
because you’re supposed to be past
all that juvenile
macho bullshit.

You put on the ring,
and you make a deal,

and if you’re not going to respect that,
then don’t tell her
you love her.
Don’t impregnate her,
and then leave your kids
with unanswered questions
about the ghost
you’ll become.

You’ll be no better
than a Deadbeat Dad,
and twice as selfish.

And that life insurance policy
will be cold comfort
to your wife’s eternal loneliness,
as your son looks desperately
for your
absent approval

and someone
who is not you
walks your daughter
down the aisle.

(For #OpenLinkNight at - come in and play!)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

That Lonesome Flag

That lonesome flag
flaps in the night
red and white stripes
long faded to
pink and gray.

There were rules,
for its care,
but they’ve been
long forgotten.

Not having served,
I don’t have the
blinding, undying allegiance
to its preservation.

I understand
the political and
emotional reasons why
some reserve the right
burn it.

just because I understand
the motivation
doesn’t mean that I support its
through negligence,
or smug patriotism.

(For #OpenLinkNight at