Monday, November 27, 2017

either way


I wonder if
I will be able to look back at this friendship

or whatever it was

as able to be defined by something other than 
our power to absolutely and utterly destroy one another

though maybe I flatter myself
and even that wasn’t
something you’d call

In which case
Either Way
I’d still have to call it


Thursday, August 3, 2017

maybe Bryan wakes up

“Not good news…” says Satch
Bryan may have had his last seizure
collapsed in the shower this morning
he’s in ICU
no brain activity
his family has been advised and is advising
the plug may be pulled tomorrow

Bryan, of course
brought me into the fold
and set into motion for me
the change upon which all others rest in high school

There was Satch, the skateboarding irritant of the suburb elite,who would be my hetero-lifemate into adulthood
There was Jason, the contrarian, who would be my begrudged mentor in the ways of punk rock,with whom Bryan had been elementary school best friends
There was the other John, the papist Civil War re-enactor and all-around caster of doubts and mirth
And then Stefanie, hot pedestrian and great friend, whom both Bryan and I brought in

There were other allies and confederates
But those were the players no other circle would claim
Also the ones that can all agree
Though we all became great friends with one another in our respective rights
We would likely not know each other
But not for that guy who
   took me along with him that one day with no embarrassment

And Bryan’s family
took us in each weekend
(his undeniably attractive step-sisters making the worthwhile of it every other weekend)
Bryan walked the railroad out of old central with me every Friday afternoon
Where we took the grandeur of a defunct Flour Mill for granted
like we took most things

And Bryan sold me my first guitar
was the first to suggest to me that I should practice the arpeggio figure of Hotel California one measure at a time
even though he didn’t know to call it that
(still working on it, friend)
And Bryan got me my first job
with him
cleaning the goddamned middle school everyday

And Bryan convinced me that AMT model cars were an education in the waiting
I taught Bryan not to be careless with his verbal challenges in front of me
I had no compunction of smashing the finished '36 Ford Coupe he “didn’t care about” into his bedroom wall if only to impress Satch sitting idly by

I think
I saved his ass that time
our canoe broadsided into a rapid in the Illinois

And I had forgotten most of this until just now.


Satch texts
“Jason is not taking it well.”
And again
“I may see him in a bit.”

But I am at a loss here in Colorado
With our base and roots in Oklahoma 
While Bryan hangs on in Arizona

Do I call his ex-girlfriend in Michigan
Who was as much sister to me long after?
Am I the one to break that to her?
OR had she the thoughtfulness to keep with him all these years
And not take him for granted as I have?

But until I hear from Satch
Maybe Bryan wakes up

“He’s not coming back…Is that what I’m to understand?”
I ask Satch before we ended that first call

But until I get the second call
Maybe Bryan wakes up

He won’t
But from where I sit right now
The ravages of only 20 years post-high school
Still have yet to crack the shallow privileged veneer
-no net loss heretofore-
  that I’ve so far
of random mofo chance
been able to encase myself
But it is cracking
and even if it weren’t
 it will not last

But maybe Bryan wakes up
He won’t
But until the phone call comes, and it will
But until

Monday, April 24, 2017

Landmarks, Timestamps

It is said that
And I trust that
By the shit we traipsed through
This is how the path was made

you in your Airwalks, I in my Chuck Taylors
when both used to cost $25 per pair
or I in my sandals, you in your bare feet
when we were taking our Jesus phase quite seriously
before you settled on some comfortable work boots
and I in something I felt I could be taken seriously 
at my various graduate school internships

So we pave the way by going it
you with the built-in compass in your limbic system
I with the built-in clock in mine

With whatever we’re equipped
We track through the same mud
Generally keeping each other laughing for most of the journey
But intermittently despairing
I to ask you which landmarks we’ve already passed
You to confirm the accuracy of the timestamps we placed upon them

It’s been told to me that we may expect the trails to be treacherous
that we won’t always get the benefit of a star chart
and we may not even think it’s all that practical to have a timepiece
but that we may each expect a navigator
if we but make the space
and we may throw in a timekeeper
if we have that luxury
You and I got both
You to mock me for my fascination with a tattered road atlas, compulsively highlighting the routes already taken
I to chide you for still not wearing a watch 

I count on it
Like my subconscious automatically counts the seconds
That the missteps 
That the switchbacks yielded
Every gash from every tumble
Every mesquite thorn or sea urchin spine dug out
Every shot of the mezcal thrown back to treat said mesquite thorn puncture
Brought with it the needed context
-Uva Uvam Vivendo Varia Fit-*
                    *(which is super Latiny for what I'm trying to get across here)

In our delirious states
You to point southward the placement of the sun
I to interpret the when of the where its shadow does fall

Now then it could be
to say the least
Once we arrive at the destination
Received by our respective familiars seeing your boots caked
While an even distribution of the crusting covers me up to my torso

Which is what happens
every time
I get despondent, nigh catatonic
And it becomes necessary for you to pull me along

Because I know better than to selflessly tell you
“Oh, just go on without me”
How exactly then would I keep from getting lost?
How exactly then would you arrive on time?

It hasn’t failed us yet

immediacy - part 2

So we processed how awesome that was
what trappings and fixings were our preferred treatment for the nachos
(and we can both agree: Colby Jack—so much)

then I felt I should ask him 
about some…
This boy
who understands facts and figures
as a second language
finds it helpful to break down all of his concerns—
academic stress, middle school social dynamics, how much sibling annoys him, and
parents’ impending separation
into pieces of a pie, and respective percentages to be rated in each week’s session

Academic concerns this week?
He explained clearly that he’d take the math portion of the state standardized testing
with its reliable 1:1 ratio of solution to problem
any day, any year
over the open-ended requirements of the writing tests
(You and Me, kid)

Middle School Social stuff?
Meh. Made a new friend this week.

Absolutely obnoxious.

Leaving only…

I do the math really quick
“That’s about sixty-something percent left, my friend”
Am I doing the math right?
I ask him
His eye contact had broken off when we started on the pie
and transfixed to the safety of nothing in front of him
His face wears all of the assuredness of a deer caught in a bath of ball stadium lighting
the look with which I’ve been familiar since my first job in foster care

I wear, for dramatic effect
my best gritted teeth
my best clenched jaw
and the rest of my face to match
I ask questions
just how okay does it feel to break down over this?

I just wish they’d feel comfortable enough to say
as softly and matter of fact as they can
“Well, asshole, it doesn’t”

(And when did I ever? 
I get it)

I ask the feeling words—
“I don’t know” is all he can manage
I have to assume that I ask another forgettable, inane, space filler
“I don’t know” is all he can manage

“How about I back off for tonight?”
I ask softly
I seem to have hit on the safe phrase to break him from that trance

You know
It’s okay
To make up your own short-answer question to a writing test
And to speak about how much you want nachos
And why
Because if it seems like
some people can’t agree on anything else
They certainly seem to love you enough to agree that you deserve
some goddamned nachos every once in a while

“Colby Jack, right?”
Smile and enthusiastic nod
(He actually tried to suggest American at one point, so I had a very quick talk with him because his socialization is important to me)
“Black beans or refried?”
Pssh, black
“Beef or chicken?”
Leaning toward chicken tonight
Fair enough
He hesitates
“There may be some heartburn at first. They made me cry the first couple of times, but now I really REALLY need them. Give it a shot?”

He nods