Number three, two years into high school
Sharing the couch with number five,
A loving pit bull who’s curled into a tight ball.

Outside, the golden hour has arrived,
A bright sun, the emerging green bathing in its warmth,
For the first time today, a blue sky.

Yet, the open air still preaches caution,
Unseen germs lurking in every breath,
Every cough, every sneeze.

In recovery,
Not that I know anything about that,
But I know what it’s like to be mad,
Scared, full of discontent,
And I’m sure that I’ve found direction
To steer clear of all that,

Most of the time,

Which puts me in the life-jacket of
Recovery.
Since it’s still easy for me to find a red line,
To blame others when I’m scared,
To fail to appreciate all that is beautiful around me.

Recovery feels good, though,
Peeling at the scars of hurt,
Confronting the scary shit that is fostered within,
Accepting the moment as a temporary piece of me,
A time that helps me grow and has whatever
Filter
I choose to put on it.

Learning to laugh,
Being less judgmental,
Living my truth
Not putting it on others,

Uh-oh,

Sounding a little angry,
Afraid of something,
Unhappy with a moment.

Awareness.
Baby steps.
“Out of my head,” they sang…

A friend said of The Doors,
“The most arrogant and pompous band ever,”
I didn’t have a counter
Even though I didn’t disagree
But
I couldn’t agree, either
Since my musical palette includes The Doors,
At least the well-known songs,
Which is like saying,
I kind of like Chinese food,
At least it felt like it sounded like that
Until I started typing the sentence,
Then it sounded like something a lesser Jim Morrison
Would write,
Absent the arrogance and pomposity,
The leather pants,
The heavy drinking,
And all that mystique that fueled The Doors.

I’ve been banging away at the keys all day,
Looking to tighten up a story
Several years in the writing.
It’s lost its way
But
Is right on track
Somewhere between Fitzgerald and Kerouac
Which is pretty arrogant and pompous, I think,
To put my writing up there with those guys
Or to judge one as most excellent and the other shit
So that I could conveniently fall between them.
I suppose an argument could be made
That the literary fortune of all authors
Is made on the edges of upturned noses,
Perhaps the same is true of other creatives,
The more arrogant, the more commercial,
The more bankable
Like my friend, I don’t think I care enough to get there.

So moved,
How does it happen?

One telling the story of abuse,
Racism,
The other waxing poetic,
Of life with a story teller’s magic.

Both,
Moving me to tears.

It’s honesty or authenticity,
No, both,
Reaching in with surgical precision
And cutting the emotional scars I’ve carefully engineered.

These guys,
Bringing their pain to the surface,

Raw brilliance,
Their pain, a wisdom massaging a lack of confidence
That oozes from me in tears and sniffles,
Hushed by manliness and thoughts so deeply ingrained.

Yet, they have let go,
Finding freedom in expression forged in understanding their truth,

A truth, mine, the one
I want to understand,
One that has been elusive,
One that resides under layers of doubt and uncertainty.

They bring the waste out
Leaving me wasted in my own rubbish

For it’s their ability to be men
That has me wondering what I’ve always been,
Who I’ve been playing,
Why so many roles of pretending.

It’s as if they found out
Being themselves is greatness, easier

So moved,
A way of living,
Unfettered by the trappings of shoulds,
Untethered to the ropes of limitations.

So moved,
How does it happen?

“And once you cease to be a real person, you stop being a real person.” Scott Speedman

Who hides behind the mask?
The one unsure of who she is.
What need does a mask play?
Serving to advertise a fading image.
Where does the mask come from?
A catalog, chain store, or Amazon.
When does the mask come off?
In private.
Why mask your true personality?
To hide the pain of insecurity.

Call upon confidence to be true
Real is better than fake
For the trappings of the imaginary you
Makes for pits filled with snakes
Or at least the unintended interpretations
Of the false advertising
So blatantly hocked by your ever-changing masks,
Denial, and unavoidable journey through the ages.
Let yourself be real,
Authentic.

“Remember to play after every storm.” Mattie Stepanek

“There’s redemption in this chair,” I said
After inhaling a syrup-less Monte Cristo,
Tots, several cups of coffee, and an overly tall beer.

Saturday started with a wet nose to my face
Because my dog does not know how to sleep in,
So I went Mel Robbins and counted, “5-4-3-2-1,”
Rose from the pallet, and pulled my physically rested body
From the mental heap that flattened pillows absorbed.

The way to the chair proved to be inspirational
When I heard a movie clip on the radio
That might have come from Easy Rider and said something like,
“If is the middle of life,”
Which left me talking to the steering wheel and Siri
As I attempted to capture an idea for a writing project.

After picking up my non-dog owning son,
Which meant he had sleep past the time of
Our agreed upon arrival,
We headed to a diner for the awesome,
Dare I say, “ecstatic,” inducing brunch?

Too full to drive, we waddled around the mall,
It’s design conjuring visions of a wheel
With its open center area and shopping halls leading like spokes.
We talked of over-consumption and the idea
That malls are relics of waste and greed
All the while laughing at the zombies wandering around
Without a smile on their faces.
Then a Trump guy sat down and we changed our conversation
To the impotency of the current administration
With respect to morals and a broad interpretation of the Constitution
When my son said,
“Anybody who says Kaepernick is not American is un-American.”
I added, “Yeah, I wonder how far up the President’s butt Jerry Jones is.”
That’s when the guy with the boots, jeans, tucked in Polo from 8th grade, and
The mesh baseball cap with an American flag sewn on it got up and left.
He forgot to take the snicker he threw our way along with his baited anger.

We sat there for a moment, taking in the patriotic machismo and
I said, “I was totally f#@&ing with that guy.”
My son, being me said, “Me, too.”
We laughed and headed to Friday’s for a beer.
The consumption was not to be enjoyable,
Both of us were still too full,
So the trip was extended in BAM, Books-a-Million.

My thoughts on gifting books are shallow,
I don’t really do it, too risky,
Today, though, I felt like it was in the cards, so
I bought a copy of Christopher Moore’s, Lamb,
A humorous and possibly plausible explanation of what happened
To the childhood of Jesus Christ.
My gift of spiritual on the edge of blasphemous sarcasm was a knee-jerk reaction
Bordering on fatherly advice for a conversation about life with my son
In the same restaurant where we used to share occasional Tuesdays and Thursdays
Under quite different and less reflective times, far more angry back then…

Then, he and I talked of middle school and the stresses of blended families,
Now we talked about the ramifications of a friend’s offering and the importance
Of friendships where the forbidden fruit is concerned.
We shared thoughts of the compression of time, the interference of technology
In the truest parts of our human existence, and then we shared stories
Telling of the mundane parts of our lives that somehow brought

Joy

To who we are.

The funny thing, if you like the kind of gallows humor that makes my meter move
Beyond a poker face to a beaming smile, sometimes called a smirk,
Is that this was the best conversation I had been a part of in weeks.
It covered the cosmos, ranging between metaphysics,
Existentialism, and horniness.
I was in heaven enjoying every minute of my time today,
Serious, sarcastic, and ensconced in “If,” that middle part of life.

When I sat in the red roadside rescue chair, the one I swore to never sit in,
I got the same feeling I have when I pick up the copper ball on my desk,
Or when I touch the weeping Buddha that is next to it,
Or when I pick up the crucifix or St. Christopher’s medal that rests there as well.

“Or,” it’s the middle of “word,”
That must mean something because Dennis Hopper planted a seed,
Now I’m thinking differently or maybe I’m not.
I just said, “Word,” like an old guy trying to be cool.”

With joy, really, because the ideas bring solace to the ifs that I live
Where I don’t know what the heck I’m doing,
Even at this age, unsure of what it means to be me,
Unable to accept that an aura can be hard to shake.
Not sure how to be what others need,
And positively sure that don’t like the way I am.

So there I was, feeling the constriction of anxiety being pulled from my body,
Wondering if this chair had a power to suck whatever it was in my constitution
That need to be pulled out and
I began to feel the energy of the room, noticing the old school construction,
Solid doors, antique door handles, and simple 1×4 trim.
The rustic architecture was accented by cheap college kid carpet,
Old attempts at cubist painting, and pages of books taped to pitched walls.
Simple, inviting, comfortable…
The chair, the room, my son.

No judgment, peaceful. No authority, equals.

Maybe we harbor the same confusion of “what,”
“Ha” is in the middle there (funny…),
And the absolute respect for the messed up works that drive each of us.

Love.

The time came to leave and while driving, I got lost in the Grateful Dead,
So happy to have them in my life,
Something my son gave to me.

Getting home brought the pressure of trying to explain
How these insignificant moments make me so happy,
Even though my face and body language fail to convey the beauty I felt today
In grubbing, nerding out, talking about the creative process,
Exploring the unknown, hypothesizing about the meaning of things,
And then just sitting in a chair and going Puddy while staring at a room
Full of positive energy, one bereft of expectations, emotions, and egos.

To find out how great this day was,
To be able to share exactly what it was that made me warm,
Happened because of as my son said, “I’ve got to capitalize on this anger.”
He was talking about writing songs.
He meant finding the stuff that troubles him and putting notes to it.
He is not out there ready to destroy the world.

I knew what he meant,
The confusion raking at my soul
Makes me angry, mostly at myself,
For allowing the lightlessness to reside.

In the middle of a documentary about the making of The Dark Side of the Moon,
I realized it was go-time,
Time to “capitalize on the anger,” by writing.
With Spotify tuned to Pink Floyd’s, Time, the repeat button activated
And nearly an hour later…

Here I am
Happily banging on the keys of my computer
With a desperation that is less the English way and more a me ranting monologue,
But it feels so good.
I’m home, tired, fired up, and using it to move myself along.

Alas, though, anger is fleeting,
Creativity is fickle, and proofreading is a killer.
A quick change of songs,
Her voice, her soulfulness, her utter release of pain,
The acceptance of loss, or some orgasmic moan for a lucky dude,
Has taken the last of my Saturday along with the full moon and winter winds.

I liked today.

There are times when I am at a loss
For my mind can get a grasp
On something that happened
Or an idea that might be bigger
Than I’m used to accepting.

I’m never quite sure
The best way to accept these moments.
Sometimes they are threats,
Other times I deflect with humility.
It just depends on the moment.

The reaction, though, is emotional
Whether I’m defending my ego against
Some perceived foe or hiding my pleasure
Behind a disbelieving confidence,
Both I wish were better than they often are.

Less defensive.
More appreciative.
Easier on the soul, they are, when
Both toe the line and
Let me be that simple guy I want to be.