Posts Tagged ‘ Canada ’

After the War: Sample Chapter

I probably shouldn’t even pretend I’m ever going to get around to anything else for this blog besides orphan short stories and poetry.

I know there aren’t going to be any movie reviews on here anytime soon.

All kinds of wild promises have been made, mostly to myself (it just happens to be that I also write and share them with people, because I’m fucking stupid like that), and none of them have been realized.

That’s okay. Writing random pieces about social or political events, random anecdotes picked up and fleshed out from the day to day madness of everyday life, these are fairly small promises in the long run. The only person who really cares about them in the end is me.

I guess it’s not so bad. I disappoint myself all the time, and I seem to handle those punches just fine. There’s no reason in the world to believe I’ll never get around to writing some of the things I’d like to write for this blog. Drunk Monkeys, as I’m sure I’ve said before, gets a lot of that original material now. I’m okay with that. It’s one of the best websites or literary journals I’ve ever worked for, and I’m grateful to have an Editor who is game for just about weird, potentially stupid idea that pops into my head.

There really isn’t a reason to even have this blog anymore. I started it as an excuse to write more non-fiction, and as an excuse to write about movies again. I work for a few sites now that handle both of those things pretty well. I still have ideas and pieces I’ve love to write for this blog, stuff that I don’t think would work anywhere but here, but I still have to get through the work I do as a freelance writer (and it’s rich, fulfilling stuff, I swear to God), poetry, short stories, my third novel (which is repeatedly reminding me that I should have chosen calculus over Percocet in high school), work for Drunk Monkeys or The Modest Proposal, or work I can find just about anywhere else.

I get through all of that, and I’m just fucking tired.

And I don’t have things like acting work to strike a good, healthy creative balance, so I tend to get bored or tired after four or five thousand words worth of work in a given day.

I didn’t want to do a short story this time (I have several ready to go, but my heart really is more on selling them somewhere). I didn’t want to do poetry. That doesn’t leave me with a ton of material that isn’t either somewhere else, in my mind head, or so goddamn wretched an exercise in attempted creativity that keeping it around almost qualifies as self-injury.

It leaves me with the second novel I’m still trying to sell.

I’m not going to run the whole thing here. I’d still like to see it travel the world, find a few people who dig it, and bring me back a few dollars when it’s all over. What I don’t think is any great crime is running the first chapter here. I don’t believe I’ve shown it to anyone. People have seen the first novel, but no one seemed to care for it, so I don’t image it’s ever going to go anywhere.

The second novel, After the War?

I like it. I like it a lot. And I sincerely hope that other people like it, too.

Trying to get the book published is rapidly reaching the point where I may have to go the self-publishing route. I hope I don’t have to, but I will if the times call for it. There are a couple of other places I’m hoping will consider the manuscript, such as Tarpaulin Sky (they want a 20$ reading fee that I don’t have at this moment), before I finally start looking at things like Kickstarter and all the self-publishing options that are available to me.

Not much of a set-up is needed here. It’s about a dumb kid, and what he does when he finally gets a sense of what’s out there in the world. I spent close to a year and a half writing and editing it three times. More could probably be done with it, but I don’t know what that might entail. For now, until further notice, it’s as perfect as it’s ever going to be.

Selling this book is a considerably larger, more important dream than writing something specifically for this blog.

It’s a dream right up there with being somewhere like Central Park on a cool, steady fall day like this.

It’s even up there with getting out of Virginia, and seeing some of the people I don’t get to see as much as I would like to.

I need to make that happen pretty soon, obstacles such as living in the middle of nowhere, and not being able to drive, be dammed.

I live for being in constant motion, and I think I would probably feel a lot better than I have been these past several months. There have been a few trips, but nothing substantial, and that’s what sucks so much about being addicted to something like travel.

It’s rarely enough. It hasn’t been enough in years.

But I need to make it happen soon. I need things to move past me so quickly that I can barely keep up with them. I need to see some of those people I miss. Some of whom I miss more than I can ever describe in writing. Or whatever I think sounds very worldly and compelling after another shot of paint-thinner at four-thirty in the morning.

Because I’m not a clever man. I just think I play one when I think someone’s paying attention.

**********
December 28th, 1997

“Missouri.” Warren said the name again and waited to see if it might develop real meaning. He still wasn’t having much luck with that, so he gave up and hoped his mom would step in.

“Yeah,” Barbara said. Her entire body was turned away from the computer. Her small hands were in her lap, and her attention was entirely on the conversation at hand. That was kind of impressive these days.  “Missouri.” She smiled and pushed some of her long auburn hair back behind her ear. She looked weirdly pleased with herself.

Warren kept going back to the historical implications of this all this. In twelve years, they had gone on exactly one vacation. That had been to Alberta to see family followed by a brief stop into the extraordinary powerhouse of activity and day-to-day life that had been and still was Vancouver.  That had been six years ago. It had also been about that long since even the discussion of going somewhere of interest had come up. Warren had never thought about it much. Some families saw the world, took a thousand pictures and then put them away in a closet for fifty years. Some families didn’t go anywhere more emotionally taxing than McDonalds on a busy Saturday afternoon. His family was in the second category, and he had never really seen a problem with that.

This didn’t include his mom’s recent trip to Vancouver to visit one of her childhood friends. That had been a purely solo, two-day venture.

“I was thinking,” she went on, smiling, “That we might even try to work in a trip to New York, depending on time and money.” She shrugged. “We’ll be in the states for about a week.”

He nodded, not listening to her as closely as he wanted. Missouri. America. That wasn’t just a sudden family vacation to somewhere like Victoria. That was kicking the third dimension in the balls and flying down the road with the fourth and fifth in tow at a couple thousand miles per hour. It was the kind of thing that worked its way into a TV cliffhanger.  Make the announcement, and then back off to let the several dozen possibilities jostle for position.

It was staggering, entirely too confusing for the middle of the afternoon. The more he tried to process it, dumb everything down to a couple of easy sentences, the more it kept crashing and burning in the middle of what was becoming the ugliest traffic of thought disaster in recent history. “When would we be leaving?” he asked.

“New Year’s Eve,” she said. “We’d have to drive down to Victoria, and then take the ferry to Seattle.”

“And why are we doing this?”

She shrugged. For just a moment, she looked like she didn’t know what she was going to say. “Well, some of my friends from the Pet Talk Forum are getting together in Missouri, and I just thought it’d be nice to go and even make a family trip out of it.” She shrugged again, reaching for her cigarettes. “We haven’t had one in years, after all.”

Warren nodded and tried not to make a face when she fired up on of her smokes. There was something in the way she was being so casual about this. Relaxed was not something Barbara was known for by the few people who had managed to work their way into her life. Everything revolved around the concept that the world only had about fifteen minutes of life left in the tank. It was everything or nothing and nothing less than that. She was also obsessively dedicated to making sure every possibility could be seen from a thousand miles away. Anything outside of the routine was to be shot down on sight.

He looked at her. The one great contradiction to all of that were her children. Even at twelve years old, he could see that. Five minutes for a microwave dinner would have her tapping the kitchen counter in mild frustration. But when it came to him or any of the kids, she could stand still for hours and put up with just about anything. Now, she would wait as long as it was going to take for him to answer.

She was remarkable, infuriating and extraordinary. Usually, all at once.

“Who’s going?”

She took a drag from her cigarette, absent-mindedly brushing aside a bit of ash when it fell on the knee of her pants. “You, me, Daniel, Morgan and Kelci.”

He raised his eyes. “Dad’s not going?”

The cigarette took to resting in the ashtray. It would probably burn down to the filter. She turned back to him, shaking her head and smiling. “He doesn’t want to go,” she said. “He’d rather stay behind and try to catch up on work.”

Well, that was just one more thing to wonder about. The idea of Dad not going along for something like this struck him as weird.

“So,” she said, “Count you in?”

He needed to put this conversation to bed. He needed to get outside where things stood to remain perfectly still long enough for some form to come together in all this. Everything really needed to slow the hell down and start making even a little sense. “Sure,” he said. “I mean, I can’t imagine just me and Dad here for a week or whatever.” He tried to smile but couldn’t get everything behind that gesture to come together. “We’d probably murder each other and burn the house down.”

“Probably,” she agreed. And right on cue, she was reaching for another cigarette.

“I’m going to go outside for a bit,” Warren said, seeing the chance to get away and going after it with arms open. “I guess we can talk about this some more later?”

“Of course,” she said, “But try not to change your mind at the last minute.”

He smirked without meaning to. “When have I ever done that?” He was close to the front door now. He was almost out.

“Never,” she said, smiling as well. The last cigarette was dead. The new one was lit. “Forgive either my stupidity or insanity.”

“A little bit of both, I’d suspect.”

She smiled, and let a long moment of silence suddenly appear and build up into something conscious. “I think this is going to be a lot of fun,” she said. “Really exciting.”

“I know.” And he meant that. When there was another long moment of silence between them, this one feeling even stranger than the last, he took the opportunity to open the door and finally make it outside. That same awkward silence disappeared the moment the shockingly kind, cool air smacked him in the face. It had to be at least fifty, which was just extraordinary for a Vancouver Island winter. It was quiet outside, too, but it was a different kind of silence. The stillness out here seemed to move with everything from the trees to the occasional car to the distant sounds of someone yelling from the beach. Warren sighed, took a few steps into his backyard and then stopped. He didn’t feel any smarter for being out here. The sudden and honestly quite brutal changes that were suddenly in place didn’t magically dumb themselves down to a sitcom solution.

All the same, it was already a lot easier to think. He didn’t have to look at anyone, and there was more room to move around. Everything here was familiar. Every direction could be anticipated. Every moment was right in front of him. He started up the long drive way to get to the street. Familiar was good. This was one of those times when familiar was absolutely necessary.

He made it to the street in one piece. There were several directions he could take from here. Enough possibilities existed that he stopped again just a few steps away from the front of his driveway and looked across the street at the house in front of him. The lights were on in one of the upstairs bedrooms, and he could see a figure moving around. The ocean was off to the left, just down the street, past the house where the Vietnam draft dodger lived and often went mad on an almost daily basis, past the house with that horrible dog that was very likely going to kill someone someday. He would have to walk past all of those houses and then through a small trail that would take him to a part of the beach where a lot of the aging surfers and unending line of tourists liked to visit. Warren had never been sure why. He hated the tourists and had never been able to understand the appeal of standing on a piece of cardboard and trying to make the ocean listen to reason.

It was beautiful though. Sometimes.

But he didn’t want the ocean just then. The moment seemed to be calling for a long street that would end eventually and offer no other choice but to turn around go back in the other direction. The ocean would be there if he wanted it. This was a night for wandering around, staring at silent houses and glancing in the windows of the occasional car going by.  Nothing was really going to be solved between now and whenever he managed to go to bed, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t worth trying.

He finally settled on turning left at his driveway, putting some automatic distance between himself and the ocean. It was a walk like this that always made him briefly understand the whole thing behind smoking. It sure as hell would give him something to do with his hands. He stuffed them in his pockets and wondered if anyone was out and about this evening. It wasn’t uncommon for everyone in the neighborhood to get together and kill as many hours as possible with whatever was possible. But it was winter, and no one really liked to go outside unless there was a chance of snow.

And it didn’t really snow in Ucluelet. Not often enough to look forward to it, anyway.

The biggest problem he had with a family vacation was the idea that Dad wasn’t going. Not that he wanted him there, but he knew his father enough to know that he wasn’t one to just let his family disappear into a different country for a couple of weeks. He wanted to ask Dad about it, but his work schedule made that fairly impossible. Besides Christmas Eve and Morning he could count on one hand the number of hours he had seen him.

He wanted to talk to him about it a little, but that just wasn’t going to be in the cards.

Oh well, he thought, kicking at nothing but the air. It wouldn’t really solve. He could see where all of this was going, and he couldn’t see himself doing anything but just going with the goddamn flow. That was usually the case. All of this thinking, walking around and watching the world hit replay and start the brief away message all over again was just a lot in the way of distraction. He knew what was going to happen. He knew what he was going to do.

He took the next left and could see a car coming down the road. The actual town of Ucluelet was actually a good five or more miles away. This was just a collection of houses, weird portions of forest and a couple of school bus stops. They called it Millstream, which never really made sense to him. If you didn’t go out onto the main road, down the freeway towards town, you could probably spend the rest of your life assuming that the world had finally come to a complete and comfortable stop.

The car went by quickly. Disappearing around the corner he had just passed. He purposely missed a chance to look in the window and see who it might be. He wasn’t up for that tonight.  Whoever it was, they were probably going somewhere more a hell of a lot more interesting than Millstream.

Another left or right option came at him. He went with right, even though it was a short street and would have him turning back soon. His mind went to the Pet Talk Forum and how it had come from seemingly out of nowhere to stand as the bulk of his mom’s social calendar. Not that she had ever gone out a whole lot anyway, but most of her internet time was spent kicking around that one particular corner. She talked about the members all the time, especially that snake guy. His name was Leonard. There was also Harold, the old man in Denver, Colorado who raised pit bulls and wondered if his daughter would ever call him again. Then there was Ted and Kara, that couple in Missouri. He imagined their house would be the site of this completely random get-together.  Those four were the ones she talked about the most. At different points over the last few months, she had even shown him various pictures of them. Anyone else was mentioned only occasionally. He wondered which of them would be at this thing.

He could definitely imagine writing a story or two about this. He didn’t write very often, but it was one of the few things in his childhood that seemed to get a positive reaction out of other people, so he turned to it when everything else was looking dire. Walking slowly, he felt desperate to stretch things out and take his time. He put aside small thoughts like what would happen when they got there. He tried to focus again on some of the larger ideas. When that didn’t work he just let everything swirl around until he looked up from the ground to see the short road already coming to an end.

Three Poems

I’m still a lousy liar.

And I also suspect this will be a fairly short (well, for me) introduction. The truth of the matter is that I’m frustrated, extremely exhausted and completely lacking in the necessary faith and creativity needed to do this shit day after day.

It doesn’t help things that I was without a computer for several days this month. And then running into issues with my internet connection after I got a cheap, refurbished laptop (I’m not complaining about this). Those things seriously screwed around with my schedule, plans and assignments, but those things are still fairly new to the scene. I was feeling pretty miserable, depleted and shockingly indifferent about that long before I ran into trouble. The only thing that’s different now is that I’m feeling even worse since I started trying to get a routine dancing in good formal wear again.

When have I not started off a post this way?

Good question.

I think the two good things I got out of today was hearing a really fantastic song by Maximo Park, “The National Health” (it’s a catchy fuckin’ tune, man), and getting a nice reminder that I have someone in my life who loves me an awful lot. Love will not save the world. I don’t think so anyway. What it will do is give me a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. She’s about five and a half hours away, and it would be quite nice to be with her right now. She’s a great motivation, not the only one, but an awfully great one, to keep working, keep trying to find ways to make a few bucks.

The fact that I went back on my promise to never indulge a long-distance relationship ever again should speak at least a volume or two.

But I’m still tired, still sick of a lot of things in life, still feeling guilty for letting myself fret and mumble over those little things, still wondering where all my good ideas went, if they’ll come back, even for a visit.

And, yes, I’m still wondering if I’m ever going to write about the fact that things are going better than I ever dreamed.

So, I’ll count my blessings, tell myself I’m just not trying at things hard enough, not thinking creatively enough at ways to make those things happen, and I’ll definitely tell myself that I’m not courageous enough to try something different.

The part of me that believes all of that is nonsense is a very, very small voice these days.

We’re going to settle in for some more poetry. Anything outside the box I’ve designed on this blog has either fizzled out for the time being, or just doesn’t strike me as being worth the energy or time.

I know, I know. That’s my problem.

I’d like to quit this stupid whining, but it’s one of the few things in my life that’s guaranteed to give me exactly what I put into it.

Something tells me the three poems (I haven’t picked them yet, but I have some ideas) will reflect the mood I’ve been expressing here.

Anybody want to place their bets?

**********
My Psychological Arithmetic
By Gabriel Ricard

I’m not working on new ways
for people to leave me,
believe me,
but I am meeting more and more people
who consider the funeral fringes of town
to be just too noisy for their tastes.

You have to manage your own ride
if you want to meet with those types.

Drink everything in their dining room cabinet,
get a tattoo by the light over the stove
or faint when the art-school models
remember your first name.

You have to lose absolutely everything
if you want to get to the place
where you can throw away your life in 48 hours.

That was a piece of advice
I picked up from a massage therapist,
with a police record that could travel around
Madison Square Garden forty-six times.

She was mean. She wanted friends like me
to pay with their lives. It’s just that she wasn’t very cunning.
Cops were always banging on her front door
with handcuffs and a dozen gin-soaked roses.

Even in her dreams,
she only ever cared about herself.

But I followed her everywhere.
I thought I was going to write forever in those days.
Play the junkyard game show on the weekend,
and win twenty-thousand dollars I would never make otherwise.

Way back whenever,
I thought at least half of my success story
would consist of things I didn’t deserve.

I thought I would always be brave enough
to steal a car from a museum in broad daylight.

When I went from age twenty-one to twenty-seven
the other day
I found that my slight touch of madness
was suddenly feeling the pressure
of knowing that it could breathe without machines.

It could spread its wings,
and bowl over a room full of laughing,
hard-working sociopaths.

Turn Manhattan into an elevator that trembles slightly.

My psychological arithmetic
ain’t what I hoped
it would eventually be.

What I’ve got are spirit guides made of steam and glass,
mistakes who wear long tongues and brilliant business attire
and not a single shred of hope
that I can tell you in ten words or less why life is worth living.

I can’t throw a basketball into an open window
of a burning building,
so don’t even bother asking me to get my life together.

What I can do is get so frustrated
that I go to bed early,
and run head-first
into a good fighting chance.

**********
Mainstream Medicine
By Gabriel Ricard

Back to the start of a Wild West show
that hires itself out to a birthday party.
With a cast of thousands and a lot more fear
than the euphoria you might expect.

Back to the basics of a very complicated matter,
yeah,
oh yeah,
but don’t worry, sweet baby,
because nothing’s going to change for a little while.

We can still be struck dumb and held for ransom
by the same old broken bridge that used to take us
out of this same old broken town and into the same old—

Yeah,
oh yeah,
you get it.

You’re an airplane full of philosophers.
All in agreement that the plane is going to crash
when puffy clouds shred the wings right off.

This isn’t an effort to work over your hard-earned feelings.
I’d never jump out of an airplane ninety feet above the ground,
with a dozen roses taped to my back if I didn’t absolutely love you.

I’m teasing.
My sense of humor doesn’t believe in mainstream medicine.

You forgive me in the time it takes for us to believe
we have every right to run those four red lights in a row.

Broadway isn’t going to wait for us,
and neither will a future that promises
to make sense of this no man’s land.

Some pairings are discussed
and then created amongst the bumper-car stars.
Some of them can’t handle
what that Tom Petty cat called “The hardest part.”

Honeymooners figure out what they’re made of
when the sun comes around to clear out the band,
and leave the lovebirds with smug, gently caffeinated silence.

That ain’t going to be us.
We will not become a couple that throws
bags of empty wine bottles at each other
the way clowns throw pies,
they wish were bags of empty wine bottles.

Old men are not going to barely make it
to their favorite local bar, sit down,
drink their fill
and write an opera about the way we lived
ten years completely out of control.

We’re not going to die in each other’s arms,
and I’m not going to drown in what I think
your eyes are really saying.

My instincts love spirits
even more than those old men.

They can rest their weary, clicking tongues a while.

I don’t want anything running off at the frozen mouth.
When I’m trying to kiss you like they do when war is over.

Nothing’s going to change for a while,
yeah,
and then it’s just going to get better.

No one gets rich on that kind of ending,
but we’ll make do with cynicism about other things.

**********
The Logger’s Hut
By Gabriel Ricard

In 1989 my mother and I went to the nicest restaurant
in our small town. It was the big reopening
after it had been closed due to a bad fire the month before.

We used to eat there all the time. It was always just the two
of us. Even after two brothers and a sister came along.
I suppose in the grand scheme of small things,
it wasn’t that nice a restaurant. But children are easy to please
and small towns can make a lot of something Victoria
would have swallowed up in the first week.

My mother and I always had fun. It didn’t take much
in them days to make me feel like an adult. I ordered on my own,
drank good Earl Grey tea and complained bitterly about my classmates.

We always had fun. It was still fun when we went for that big reopening.
You couldn’t even tell that half the place had gone up in flames.
No one talked about it. The body count was never able to rise
above zero. I was five and didn’t think much of the whole thing at all.

Back then I was pretty committed to The Lord. I prayed for my family,
prayed for myself and assumed I was building up a line of credit
that would make me invincible for most of my teenage and even adult years.

I was even committed to straight lines
and the personal opinion that all a person ever needed
to make everything okay was sincerity.

On Friday afternoons I would wipe the blood from my nose
and laugh with them as best I could.

So I wasn’t surprised that the restaurant
was the same as it had ever been. My mother and I ordered tea,
talked about school and didn’t say a word about my father
or any of the siblings. I guess I always wanted to be an only child.

In my old age I’m not quite that selfish,
but you will see that in me from time to time.

I think I was just happy to have someone’s undivided attention. So much
that I didn’t really think much of the way it always smelled like
the smoke from the kitchen had just become a threat. I didn’t say a word
about the fork that moved across the table when my mother wasn’t looking.

I didn’t even bring up the sudden anxiety attack that had me convinced
by the time our cheque came that we were too far
in the back of the restaurant to get out safely. Assuming someone
came out of the kitchen and asked as politely as a person
on fire could for a glass of water and a first-rate burn ward.

It was a new thing not being able to tell my imagination
to calm down and enjoy the weather. I wasn’t used to
bad dreams that could talk back, hide their faces
under comical fists
and didn’t need that messy business of sleep after a long time
of laying very, very still and trying not think very much.

Nothing happened. There was no fire,
and I felt better as we paid for the meal and left.

Outside I noticed a face pass through the middle
of the glass in the window, but it was gone before
I could tell my mother. It was as startling as the figure I then noticed
in the clouds overhead. The shape was all clumps of rain and lightning,
but that sword was pretty easy to figure out.

I held my mother’s hand
and tried to assume the best of everything
that was bigger than what I could think to say
at eight p.m. every night.

Over the years I’ve become increasingly frustrated
with things that are greater than the best a child
can think of when it comes to hope and brazen common sense.

Two Poems

I don’t update this nearly as often as I’d like or should, and I hold all of you completely responsible for that.

No, not really, but it’s fun to pretend, I always say.

These two poems strike me as being very different. That makes sense, considering one was written yesterday, and the other was written some four years ago. I was pleased to read the older one (“Garden of Quiet”) for the first time in as many years, and not be completely horrified by it. I think it’s a decent little bit of writing (and I think it came from a line in a Bob Dylan song, but I honestly can’t be sure), and I’d like my poetry to get back to that kind of simplicity. I think I tend to lean a little on the verbose side these days. There’s still some good writing within that, but I’m not as good at “Murdering my darlings” as I ought to be.

Restlessness may well be the spiritual death of me before the end of 2011. I’d like to be on the road, and I find myself dreaming more and more of New York. I suppose that’s because I haven’t been there since Halloween 2009.

Enjoy the poems, and be patient as I work at another movie review for that damn challenge, and as I also try to think of something different to do with this blog. I’m still working out ideas, and nothing has really grabbed me so far (I’m also incredibly lazy—It’s a miracle I accomplish anything at all)

I remain open to suggestions as always. That probably doesn’t need to be repeated over and over again. I’m just grateful people are reading this confounded thing.

**********
Canadian Films about Airports
By Gabriel Ricard

Let’s just say I cut myself shaving,
and that I fell down the stairs,
because I’m clumsy for exactly fifteen minutes
every afternoon.

She put a hand on my arm,
and that was the act of trading youth for perspective
as she asked me if I wanted to hit the last party in town.

I had cabdrivers gunning for the bones in my fingers,
so I was eager to disappear for a while,
and I didn’t give two or even three damns
for what I knew of this young lady’s reputation.

The all-star variety show
goes on a laughingstock summer hiatus.
It’s at the exact moment I realize,
that someone who came very close to being my ex-wife
slept with the three other cats in the getaway car.

Where do I meet these broads?

Don’t answer that.

Don’t answer any questions,
I might ask while looking for the city of Asian angels
through the cracks in the sidewalk.

Don’t ask any questions,
when I’m busy getting half the words right
to a song, that’s not necessarily my favorite,
but will have to do in a pinch.

I’m just stressed out.
It’s been do-or-sort-of-die,
since the day she wore that dress
to the dancehall disaster,
of what I think was either 1958 or 2009.

That doesn’t make sense,
I know,
so let’s just say smokers fear time
differently from the well-adjusted.

Give me the rest of my life
to sort everything out,
and make millions
turning in my old friends
and classic haunts.

Wait for me to come back
from that last party.
Or the kind of police station
where people like me sit quietly,
smoke noisily and read comic books
until the end of time’s version of an Elvis impersonator.

Keep me in your heart,
or just keep me from calling up old girlfriends.

I can’t drive,
and I’ll never be a handsome hero,
so I may need you to drive me to the airport.

I’ll definitely need you to hold my hand,
because I can’t handle the stress and save my money
at the same time.

**********
Garden of Quiet
By Gabriel Ricard

Some of the people
in this garden have been here
longer than the years I’ve spent,
getting old and coming back to youth,
over a hundred thousand days
of nothing but borrowed time.

I pass by them constantly.

Walking on clean grass
past the trees that bend skyward
and keep the world together
on their wisdom alone.

Fresh fruit
with nothing to do
but fall gently to the ground.

Overjoyed flowers in an eternal state
of a spring that goes on forever.

The clouds rarely complain.

They only find the need to weep
when the view can keep up.

I spend most of my time here,
looking for people I might know.

But all I’ve seen so far
are close friends and other strangers.

There are couples everywhere here.

People who know they can hold
for everything but dear life.

Some of them make love
by one of the clear-sky rivers.

Some of them in the presence
of the afternoon frozen in warm sunlight.

But there are also people,
who don’t seem to have anyone.

I see a lot of them, too.

Heartless and shapeless
Spirits stuck with waking eyes
and flesh that looks clean and content
at every hour of the only day.

Listening to whatever
or whoever is crushing the silence
of the trees with their memories.

They never talk.

They just sit there,
and wait for something to change
or someone to keep their appointment.

Destroyed
and knowing it the same way
they know no one’s listening.

I walk past them,
trying to remember
what I was doing when I came here.

Grateful and terrified
in the time it takes me to swear
there’s someone here who knows me.

And that it’s just a matter
of finding them before I get tired.