Don’t Text and Hike-u

Like, what was I thinking this morning on my clear out of the blue get with it hike. One cliffhanging thought before the other on the side of a mountain no less. One smartie word wising up the other. A look mom no hands no helmet moment, stepping back so the trail bikes coming downhill don’t hit me. My knees shaking a finger at me at this brand new ‘new start day,’ saying, “let’s start tomorrow, let’s sit and have a listen up to the birds.” So I listen, sitting on a niche carved with the perfect shape of my imperfect, I’m thinking, this is perfect, time to wonder, time to enjoy. All the time in the world wondering, wondering deep and wide, wondering how’s it gonna turn out. Wondering God, are you out there, are we gonna be okay? No one answering me, me talking all the talking just the same, wondering should I maybe take some extra underwear in the great beyond? Will there be somewhere to wash out a few things? Maybe an electric outlet no one’s using, so I can keep up with Mad Men, tabs on my kids, up with my was-tow-head one, Mr. precious all 18 all grown up already, my second chance at pretty good, Mr. I’m not so sure about, he not so sure either, Mr. Between bi-moodals, Mr. So so, so afraid of being six.

Like who’s gonna put up with this set of petunia kids I got going on if and when I check out? This kid racket double sink full life, who gonna teach them to call home, separate the shouldas from the couldas, the whites from darks? From the do it now’s cuz I said so. Like who’s gonna remind them these are the good old days? So welcome home, shut up and eat your organic kale before it gets all commingled, cold, alpha omega 3s don’t grow on trees, and pass me the milk while you’re at it, and, thank God while your at it, thank God us being so lucky, us being us, thank God us being so well shod standing on gods green warming, us standing on someone else’s dime being so alive on the peeling back I’ve wanted to change all my granite years, thank God and bless Him, bless my own mom and dad while He’s at it, me, myself and I while He’s at it, and bless the mister, the mister kids, bless this head, this heart, these hands, until forever, until the 10th of forever, until the 10th of forever wondering.

Are the kids brushing right? Are they flossing and whining between meals?
Today, like all the rest, I quit it. Quit it about being lost in the lost in found, say ‘I love you,’ first and tell my kids there’s no more, no more better than this, no more there there, never was anyway, all smoke mirrors, no thing as lost, no thing as found, unless you decide, (no Oz, no Auntie Em, no clicking heels, TV for you.) I tell my kids, this would be a good time to write something down so I can remember I had half a brain once, somebody got a pen? I’m telling you what I knew too late to save you the google of it later. Mom, Dad, if you can see my face I love you, if you got one, I’m ready for it, I’ll take one, give one, I’ll take a hug for the road. 🙂

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Moon Wolf

The color of the midnight fell into my lap just now,
filling my fear places,
my irises with the color of fire,
a moon wolf racing ahead,
my bloodline remembered in a moment’s flare,
the color of reckoning,
a redux later at the make up counter,
the color on my lips,
a torch secret,
of here and there,
staining your cheek, collar,
a neon wretch letting loose on your flannel cheek,
flaying,
knifing,
the color of spent,
spent,
spent,
the color of cherished,
the color of sup, the color of nocturnal,
eternal enough for me.

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Kid Blur

Some days I fake rigor mortis hearing my son race down the hall at a clip…five, four, three, two, one…BANG!…Six years of age, new to earth, he does not yet know a good life can be had in sip doses, how to walk the earth instead of run it, how to quiet himself.  A 10x box of sugar in a blender kind of kid, for who, standing still, is a challenge.  A blur hollerer, his  lemon Jell-o screams seep under the doors, find my sponge cake mind, cornered.  The quiet slammed to pieces.  Some days, I roll over.  Some days, I take a stand and say, lets eat cake.

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Bonsai Love

One grand room is all I need. 

One part possibility, one part stage.  90, 10.  80, 20.  60, 40.  50, 50 days.  A day’s worth of downy air, downy quiet in downy light. A Bic lighter fuse to straw. 

An ebb whimper blend whirl of summation conflagration of you, me.  I, thou baby. When we pull the cage drapes, strike the tent, stow the chicken wire meant to keep critters out, tame our critter tempers, no stopping a rat’s lust for berries, give the day its take in filler flowers, every good arrangement mixed with precious, cherry blossoms and rhubarb and music. I will save the scene for a science reduction sauce to study the brain neurotransmissions, micro density weights trying to understand the importance of frozen rodents brains in a sausage slicer per the Sunday’s Times. Of mice, of men, of women. 

An idea I (and science) cannot get close enough. to see why weirdo rats pulse like we do.  Why we all ebb, flow, dance, weigh our thoughts, chemical feelings swabbed under glass, one column of unmarked territory connecting to another, the usual suspect constellations. Scientists in lab coats figuring formulas for the resurrection of sex, cashing in on a longer pharma forever, a Vegas flush, short, long, of temporary ecstasies, a better than sex sex with strangers substitute, some kind of bamboo bridge between species, as far as China from here.  Bottom line is: absence and fondness figure in on love, on desire.  An absence of fondness with too much togetherness. 

I wonder about my fondness for absence.  Ones requiring my being more absent with criticism, absent of self, my being less of me is more, more kind to you, my fullness of fondness sometimes absent, my being so full of my angry dad and mom. They, not so much liking your’s.  My tit for tat not fitting your tat for tit tattooed on our forever DNA codes.

to times like that I say, let’s break the fast fast baby, break the love fast and redefine love without borders like doctors do.  Let’s offer love to each other, others on the street, in the park, in the dark, on a train just the same, overseas, in the air, birds and bees.  Let’s see what happens if we let light tickle us awake as we learn the Swahili secret ways to tango in rediscovered love caves. Us spelunking, caving in, reading caveman/cavewomen graffiti paintings on the wall, learning the best way to float a kite in high winds under cerulean skies, staying away from the high blame wires, the high up trees.  The sooner we get okay with getting older, not so much wiser, tossing judgment, quitting that old habit, and feel the wind the better. Yes that. I want to learn to be like the wind more.  Smell the gold in air caressing fragrant hills, not worry about owning so much anymore.  I just want to get chill enough, quit the fence talking kind of thinking, quit the looking over greener hypothese scenarios, my flowchart on the neighbor yards.  I know, ditto.  Ditto.  Ditto.  Ditto for you too. 

Let’s quit the merry fairy go round running round the house outside.   Part of love the little lies we tell ourselves when we get quiet enough, reframing things when we see we’ve got love enough for the both of us and then some, enough for for all the world.Enough for the invisible people, the gasman, the grocery clerk, the teachers, nurses, cleaning lady.  Love the bonsai of love. Love the gaba gaba tea leave love, ignore the uptick regulators screaming something’s wrong all the time. 
Call the doctor, the medics. The technopyroannoyances between us, AC DC folks, leave the sex pantomines for others. Whatever.  Let’s forget the approach to the familiar, maybe do some porch sitting for a change.  Not use the bait hooks so much, look where its gotten us so far, instead let’s drag the fishing pole behind us in the stream from the boat until the trout says, “Enough.  I’ve had enough of seed, small fish, and algae.  I’m going to take that hook and jump in.”  Then we’ll eat well for the night.  We all got choices.  Fish too.

Fergus, the Dog

Maybe it’s worth the extra fifty. Extra sixty, eighty, ninety bucks. One-hundred sixty. Six hundred sixty bucks.

For three months of sitters, I mean.

For one month of therapy, I mean.

For the paint and play class of mixsters kidsters glue-sters, pressing discard plastic Easter eggs into corrugated and clay in a class of parachute dance and art, the tot mountaineers with Miss Sandy, I mean.

Worth it for someone to run new figure eights on my old kitchen tarmac. The 60s pebble limey linoleum floor or outside, on the black top line going round our house, up the neighborhood drive. the money it takes for fresh horses, a sitter, to run with someone unseatable, our five-year-old, S..

Someone magic enough, with bubbling energy, enough day and night to follow ’round my little guy, stem my “I wonder if he’s feral (insert here. Help me reroute panic about his acronym diagnosis menu kind of thinking). Someone to follow Mr. Nonstop to the trampoline out back, jump their hundred plus along his forty-three prone flat on the mat. Someone to jar his noodle preschool body enough so my kid feels alive enough, enough to stop, pause, wait, calm himself back to quiet hands. Back to regular alive.

Parents in the know, know what I mean, know what I mean. Someone alive enough, to keep up with the alives. A Buddha Knievel type of helper. Buddha Knievel — Christ — “hey, what the Hell is he doing up on the roof of my car? — Yeah, someone so alive to take care of that kind of alive. Someone above humanity alive, but, but, but someone realler than that.

Even if this someone is a dog.

Someone dog enough — so dog un-tired running out the front door round back, out to the mailbox, out to the vegetable garden out by our foothill road where we live off the main line of Los Angeles.
Someone nice enough too. Willing to go the distance. There and back. There and back. There and back. Again. Again. Again. Just takes practice. A lot. And a village. Thank you very much.

Thirty times seven times three hundred and fifty two times infinity times.

That’s how much practice, how many times it takes to get it right, seconds to count to cool, to get chill enough to deal.

I need someone who can hang on. With clamped teeth hang on. Hang on a Frisbee. Hang in with the yelling, banging, tumbling, head butt leaping and transition switch-ups. Okay with playing too hard scrabble through dry grass, thickets, mulched oak to slick parquet. Someone like — Fergus — our neighbor’s dog. Fergus, the dog. I need someone like Fergus the neighbor’s dog, a Wheaton terrier.

A dog so good at being a being, that my afraid-of-dogs-little man now calls him his dog that we keep at her place, and my dear neighbor does not mind.

So good a dog that Fergus is I call him Sir.

Sir Fergus the Dog, thank you, very much.

This, the dog I want to be when I grow up someday. This the dog I want to be when I wake from the nightmare gnarl of autism tooling, paring our old parenting ways. The ups, downs of autism. Even high-functionaries like S. leave no room for rest. Fergus doesn’t need the rest. Fergus says, “Bring it on.” This pup wants action. I want to be as good as this dog, I mean.

So good is Ferg, that if he pushed a grocery cart, slid pot pie in the microwave by six each night, maybe, could type this when not ‘sitting freeway shevasana’ in daily traffic, could take over my daily meditations of ‘ohm building,’ run my son to his special behavior camp, us stuck in the 405 traffic school twice a day, stuck in the carpool lane, two to four hours a day — I’d be out of a job. Quite the pair.

So good at being a better me that Sir F. pup is that he gets the better of me. I have to laugh and thank heaven.

F. and S. on loops around our place, in and out of our falling down early 1910s farmhouse and barn, kicking gravel into piles, making train tracks, tug o’warring, F.’s rope knot in the dog’s mouth, the two begging favors for treats that I beg too, sit too, sit up too, sit back, take notes, watch the all day puppy fun.

Fergus and S..

“Fergus’s my brother,” my son said two days ago running past into camp kitchen.

His seventeen-year-old brother knows, laughs it off, knows S. is right. The dog is magic, transforms the day. Brother love flows rivers between our first born and the two ‘pups’ by different Dads. With F., S.’s so easy to have around, his fun side flips onto sweet, manageable, he even acts his age.

I pray the sweet days stick.

Give me that cuddle boy we adopted five years ago at birth, give me the kid who asks without grabbing, without impulsing heedless vibes into streets. Days, I pray someday he’ ll come back when I call, will be safe from his too-forward hellos to strangers, safe from his tippy-tip toes to his head, gain the tools for a future, not dip so much into sad.

Days on end I want to run away too. Or, take a clue, go outside and run with friends, be the third silly pup in the picture to the right, maybe be Fergus the dog for a day or two, hang loose, and be Ferg, be like him.

Me, as Ferg. Me as F. with S.

My son’s small hands running through my Wheaten dog dreads, my Wheaton hair (not-fur) messy shag, my ‘I-see-the-big-picture’ now clear, unteary,now, unshaken, me as pup. Tail wagging, my ‘don’t stop now boy’ springing, ‘we’re almost there c’mon kid, keep trying, keep going, going, gotta keep going, up, up, up, and away. Cool water just ahead. Days, I can see the long run from here. And, it’s good, real good, puppy-boy.’

Days on end I want to feel my dogface joyface in my son’s, my dogface joy licking my son happy. Hands, arms, legs. For my son to see me. My regular Mom lady face like he sees Fergus’ face. See my ‘I’m too tired,’ but I’m still a lover, still a giver face, you can count on me, your Dad, your big bro. All of us next to S. and friend F.

That day, I’ll declare a holiday, say, “Somebody play me something with trombones, trumpets, something Aaron Copland.”

Each day it’s triumph.

The days, I watch and learn from F..

This, I’m told our best chance. Learn to play. And, so I observe the two and I start again. I play, we play.

Ferg’s temperament not undone like ours, mine. The dog, not undone by S.’s close-range screaming. Days, I reach for my Bose headset and go toss a ball. Fergus,’ not frayed in the least, by the five, six door slams — nothing emergency — unlike myself. S’s dysregs., stims, almost-Tourettables, his “I hate you, Mama, hate you, hate you, hate you. You’re not my friend.” Blade turn every time.

Fergus, the dog saint, doesn’t mind the yucks.

“Tell me about that again puppy-boy,” I can almost hear him saying, “I don’t believe you mean that puppy-boy. Get ready to roll puppy-boy. I am going to nip you, frisk you, bite you back to happy puppy-boy. If you go too far, I’m coming back anyway, puppy boy, you unshepherdable, unshepherded friend, my Snaggletooth will test your Little Debbie Snickerdoodle arms and legs. I’m a lyin’ dyin,’ open invitation eatin’ Wheaten greetin.’ Nothing matters when I’m with you friend, nothin’ but your puppy-boy sunshine. Play me friend, neighbor, eternal friend of the special sunshine kind, let’s teach your parents it takes lots of practice to be special, to be the parent of a kid with special stuff. I see you’re in there kid. Come out and play.

Rain or shine someone puppy, someone people, loves you, kid. Someone is loving you, me, the kid. Someone knows you need a shepherd kid, maybe a fluff-ball shepherd who needs the work, works for cheese wages, someone who knows It’s just the work we shepherds do.

The Middle

My middle aged middle, getting too big to ignore.   A black hole in space on my sofa now, taking my body over, surrounded by asteroid blinkers.  You know, stars.  Like constellations gone Broadway pointing at my marquis middle, my thighs, like some melting pot junkyard in the Pacific, or creeping on earth fingery thing like the junkyard twenty minutes from here taking over the good earth, like the crazed duplication of found-agains, so many God-soaped faces in one place, so lost, so found, so lost again in so little time, like pom-pom pinks in rock gardens, stuffy straw hat garden parties way out of my league.  Showhouse gals, sipping tea, some flying high on morning cocktails without a net, no pain, no gain, pains in the arse, to be or not to be a somebody, to do so or not do so, to not die all pummel meat done in the end.  To do the day’s exercise or not.  Aw, the heck with it.  I roll over, roll the die again, then get up and go.  I just do it, walk first, then write my first line.

Afraid to Live, Afraid to Die

Afraid to live, afraid to die.

Afraid to live, afraid, afraid, afraid.

A too close fog horn sound fogging my ears,

a thunder drumming war drums drumming me,

get up, get out, go get getting, live, live, live,

begging, springing me to action, away from the itch to fear, gripping the news,

killing me mort, like a done for, afraid, a done for, in these rooms.

Yet, all of us now, still alive, a-murmur-mur-mur-murring,

a-purpurring, still alive, are still alive I say, still a-living.  But not like a-living living like still life fruit in a bowl, flowers spent already, all lived out.  A living it up kind of living, over here, over there, a life lived out to fullness, I’m just a-beginning everyday, halfway or not.  Not, not and not afraid to die.

Hold On World

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Hold on, don’t jump, slow down world, let me brush your wild hair, let me brush your teeth, let me gag you so I can skid the house, the world quiet.

A knot of candy hair hit, and off he soars, reeling.

What was between hands now all run away.

The whole world foaming at the mouth, unkempt, unclean, half-dressed, half-naked, in knots.

My own tiny world too dammed up, too damned behind thin skin, thin heart membranes, too thin protections.

Ahhhh, I sigh, I weep, for him, for her, for Boston, for the ache within, for the lost souls, for our innocence ebbing,

Ahhhh, I breath, ohmming for the unfeeling, ohmming for the feeling too much, ohmming for the breaking inside, for the too much that got’s a hold of the world at the minute, a hold on me.

Wait for me world, wait one minute more,

hold me world, hold on lover world, hold on lover boy, lover world, hold on and wait, wait, wait, hold on with me,

and I will hold you too.

It gets better, got to get better, wait with me world, and let’s just breathe.

Breathe an I’m-not-done-yet-breath, a-neither-are-you-breath, neither of us licked,

holding on together breathing, each of us warming the air between us,

holding on, lighting candles, breathing, holding, waiting.

Saturday Morning Alarm

Saturday morning I tell my seventeen year old, “Might as well take your meds, since you’re awake.”

The alarm clock, his five-year-old brother, just run past me, past my was-sleeping teen’s door, down the hall, slamming noise.

Back, forth, back, forth.  Four times four.

Boy, is that kid ever revved, working some old battery he’s found, some old faithful in his never gonna break down five year old car.

Used, Big

Mom and Dad believe in big.  God, family, houses.  In that order.   In big conversations Mom has with God.  By morning God takes his leave.  Before He does He leaves lists.  Chores, tests.  Lists God tucks into our house’s eaves, garage, shed, basement, backyard.  Crypt places where we prove our potential for heaven.  The reason we’re on God’s planet, not born in Africa, not Biafra babies, not yet called ‘Home.’  

“Work separates the wheat from the chafe,” Mom tells us. 

I wonder if the others in our house will be sorry come Judgment Day.  I, for one, am taking no chances.  I am determined to be 100% wheat. 

All I know by thirteen is not to utter two unholy words.“I’m bored.” Words of the fallen.  Those, God has extra business with.  He will keep them busy for years and God and Mom will talk some more.

“Not in my backyard,” Mom says hearing the phrase.  Mom doesn’t care who said it.  She says, “May 1st, go get your brothers.  Go and clean the pool.”  

“Not the pool,” I groan.

My brothers Pat, 16 and Andrew 12, myself, 13, the stricken elect, suffer most because we are slow, easy to catch. 

“Anything but the pool,” we beg.

Mom weighs the now against the later, flicks no-see-ums in the air.  Then she points, we scatter.  Mom heads upstairs with her New American Bible.  The good book with hip slant between denim covers.  An un unchartered republic we know as Mom, like the one God opens on Sundays on my lap.  Always a page to turn, re-psalm, for our one true Boss, Him.

Outside, we sigh at the winter wreck that is our pool.  The up close smell of baked twigs, leaves, sludge and sediment warming under death glow blueness, the tarp.  Pat lips the hose, a siphon starts.  He flings the hose over the fence, drags it down the drive as far as it will go.  Past three hundred years of European copper beech, over our yellow rutted lawn to where our brother Matthew, 8 drops pebbles into the gutter for a dam.

“Forget this mess,” someone on the deck yells, “Let’s come back tomorrow.”

Always a better day to begin a project. 

Next day, Saturday, it is chilly and overcast.   Someone drops the ladder over the side.  Pat orders us to get in.  Ten minutes in, the job ahead is too much miracle.  Around white pole legs, Comet tides surge mosquito larvae.  Pat pulls the ladder away. 

“Make it like new swabbies,” he sneers through clenched teeth. 

We call for Mom to come but our pitch must not be emergency enough.

“Wait until we get out of here.  You are going to die.” we call to him fumbling to climb over the pool walls.

We do not know yet we have seen into the future.  Put a curse on our brother.  That an irrevocable horror waits.   For twenty-one summers we treat him like one of us, an ignorant comrade, a fool kid, then Pat goes out like a light.  Another slime strikes him dead.  AIDS.  One, bleach cannot reach.  Through tears we console each other he was a good worker.  He’s the right hand man.  Not today.  Today is not that day.

To stay with the pool job, Andrew and I walk around the oval, Pat jumps in, we speed to a chop chase, and a whirlpool begins.  We spin, slide, and throw foulness at each other.  First water.  Then words.  Forever curses of winter puke lay on our skin.

“Heads up,” Andrew calls.  He hurls a bucket of slime.  Pat ducks.  Drenched I am pulled into the abyss.  All I can think of are the ads from the back of Marvel Comic Books.  Books in the attic under the boys’ beds.  Ads for ‘Live Sea Monsters’ and my body swimming in a feces petri.  All I want to do is die. 

“Get him not me,” I scream.

Pail by pail, we empty the bilge, until we get to the bottom.  There, we scoop with our bare hands.

Mom out, we go inside for long breaks, get lunches we cannot bring to school.  Lunches that smell bad look like bruised skin, lunches we love. Liverwurst on rye, cream cheese, jelly on white.  The one good tomato we eat. 

Andrew knows something Pat and I do not.  In life you must choose.  You cannot have it both ways, pick mustard or mayo.  Fire or water.  Andrew is a mayonnaise man.

Not me.  Not Pat.  We’ll never learn, we like fire and oil in our taste.  We pick the mustard mix it with mayo. 

We then go back to hell.

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