Thursday, November 30, 2006


There is something about crying in the rain that doesn’t seem real. Or rather, it is hyper-real; as if the atmosphere collects in her eyes, then distills, and precipitates down her face.

Lakes form gradually in upturned umbrellas.
under the sad tree dripdripdrip
she tastes of cider and rain dripdripdrip
holding close wet tight dripdripdrip
never let go don’t leave dripdripdrip
don’t do this not yet dripdripdrip
We pick them back up.

It rains inside the umbrellas. We are drenched from head to toe. I grab her amber locks and squeeze, as if to wring them out. Mascara runs like a silt deposit over the arc of her cheeks. The rain is salty and cold.

Soon it stops and the weight of late November lifts from our shoulders and souls.

Two umbrellas—one of a square print; the other paisley—spiral and separate, join again, overlap. They move apart: the squares find higher ground; the paisley departs for the lowlands. But they move indeterminately. There is always stopping, spinning, spiraling, and the diligent search for one another under halogen lamps in the distance.

Our umbrellas have leaks.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

“The first symptom of love in a young man is shyness; the first symptom in a woman, it's boldness.”

--Victor Hugo

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Yesterday began as any normal Saturday, with myself rolling out of bed around 11 and stumbling rather gracelessly into my day. Around 1, after writing in my journal and showering, I decided to head next door and grab a latte, which proved to be a recent development in my life. The warm, spring-like air nearly knocked me over upon walking through the half-agape, busted-ass door to my apartment.

The sun shone brilliantly and the temps approached the high ‘60s. It felt more like late March than late November. I felt my soul set itself ablaze. My feet ached to be put to use. With latte in hand, I went back up to my apartment to map out my day. This proved to be another recent development in my life—the whole planning ahead thing. I budgeted a certain measure of time for a drive to Beckwith’s Orchard for some cider. The previous night, I had depleted my supply. The back of my throat stung a tad, and I pictured a massive slumbering infection about to be awakened. My only hope for survival would be the ameliorative powers of the cider.

With my daily agenda set and my latte expended, I headed out for the ATM machine on Main Street. I only had to deposit a check and withdraw some money, then I would go back to my apartment and drive to the orchard. I opted to walk to Huntington Bank, as it was only over the hill and the day was so beautiful. Upon making the subsequent deposit and withdrawal, I held an unflagging desire to continue walking. I felt the optimism of early spring pulsing through my veins, knowing full well it was really late fall and no time to look on the bright side of anything. Deadlines, projects, and obligations loomed over me, as they had all semester. I decided to go for a walk.

It should have been a short walk, just around the block: North Water-Crain Avenue-Gougler (with a detour into the park)-Main-home. It shouldn’t have taken longer than 20 minutes. I crossed the Crain Avenue Bridge, looked over into the Cuyahoga, and saw a vertical tube sticking out of the ground below. It was wide enough to fit a person, as evidenced by the ladder that dropped into it. I wondered where that ladder led and what lay at the bottom of that tube. I located a way down there—I only had to climb down the rocky sheer wall, cross the railroad tracks, and coerce some thorny vines to let me pass.

The hole was only 15’ deep or so, and I climbed down rather easily. At the bottom ran a horizontal tube in both directions, for draining flood waters from the railroad bed, I assumed. By crouching as low as I could and looking to my right, I could see, as if through a long lens, a small sphere of the Cuyahoga. I could hear its churning and shifting. I glanced up the ladder, saw only sky and clouds.

I climbed back up the ladder, reentered the world. I decided to keep walking. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to walk as it was that I needed to walk. I found myself under the Crain Avenue Bridge, amidst old Samba footprints, an abandoned fire pit, and an empty bottle of gin. I looked into the river, broke a small branch from a bush, threw it in.

Pooh sticks, I thought, though I was under the bridge, not on it, and I was the only one racing.

I kept going, along the railroad tracks, along the river, deviating occasionally to revisit old landmarks. I saw the Standing Rock for the first time. Near the dilapidated cement structure, known by those so privy as the Moon Tower, I found a square hole in the ground, lined with cement. The thing was only 4’ deep, so I jumped down and found myself in the junction of 3 underground tunnels. My breath condensed in the cold of the earth. I decided not to pursue the destination of said tubes as it was very dark and cold.

I climbed atop the 25’ tall Moon Tower, visiting the place for probably the last time. I did a few laps around its circular platform. I recalled being incredibly frightened the first time I climbed the roughshod ladder of wood planks nailed to a dead tree. This time, I performed the task with aplomb. I climbed back down, hitting the ground with a thud. I walked away without looking back.

I had become thirsty in my travels. I remembered the cider—my whole reason for departing in the first place. I glanced at the sun. It was sinking rapidly but I figured I had at least one more hour of daylight. I could easily reach the orchard by foot in that span, with time left over to milk the daylight for the trip back. I hit my stride, with my Asics sneakers plodding against the earth in a steady rhythm.

I wondered if I was lonely. I thought of a number of people who would have enjoyed bits and pieces of the excursion, though I couldn’t really conjure anyone who would be up for the entire walk. There were many times during my walk when I said, That would make a good picture; Dogs, I know someone who loves a good pooch; I remember the time we biked on this path. I thought of my best friend Geoff, how we could have marched at the same pace the entire time, exchanging words maybe three times the whole day, but being able to recount the entire adventure—event for event—years later. Nostalgia aside, I knew that I had to do this alone. I was free.

Upon reaching a rickety railroad bridge, I watched a father and son walking beside some tract housing in the distance. The little boy pointed toward me as gingerly balanced between each railroad tie. I had reached the home stretch of my orchard jaunt. I could see, a quarter mile in the distance, the road that led to Beckwith’s. I took a shortcut on a horse trail behind the orchard and followed it along the rows and rows of cornstalks until I found a wide corridor to pass through. Upon stepping through the cornstalks, I was immediately taken aback by the desolateness of the orchard. The trees had been stripped of their leaves and a few bunches of apples dotted the otherwise barren mass of limbs.

The place was completely deserted and I wondered, amidst the five minute walk through the uncomfortably quiet field, if the orchard was even open. Luckily, it was, though the bustling atmosphere that pervaded the store in October had fled. I got my free apple, bought a gallon of cider, and made for home. I calculated that I could get around 70 miles to the gallon of cider.

My thoughts on the return trip were influenced by the setting sun directly in front of me. I thought about the nature of solstices and equinoxes, the longest and shortest days of the year. I thought about what I was doing for the longest day of the year. I hoped I had appreciated every single second of daylight, as the days continued to wax and wane, with increasing intensity, this entire fall. I figured that I had lost November, though this day hit me as a sort of reprieve, a means to make something worthwhile out of this otherwise disparaging month.

As I neared Kent, I was hit with gusts that were simultaneously warm and cold. I could feel spring and fall battling it out before me. Of course, fall was to win, only to be taken slave by winter. But I digress here. I walked beside a pond that had a thin membrane of ice—of ice! How it could maintain that over this warm day made me wonder. I knew this weather was not to last, but I made sure to milk, as I said before, every last instance of daylight.

I left the railroad tracks at the Crain Avenue Bridge, continued across it as I had intended 3 hours ago, walked along Gougler, detoured into the park, sat near the dam for 10 minutes or so, thought of my leap, as Capt. Brady, last July. The streetlights had stammered to life. The sun had set. Headlights traversed Main Street. It grew cold. The slumbering beast of late November rumbled beneath the earth.

With feet blistered, I made the climb to street level, walked up Main Street to my home.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The opening for my yet-to-be-titled novel

At the end of the first week of our last semester of college, Calvin and I sat on the roof of my apartment on Main Street, smoking victory cigars.

"We won," we said, in between cat-calling the ladies and gentlemen who passed below on the sidewalk. Headlights zipped past all night. Cars without mufflers rattled our beer bottles. We toasted to victory.

We had won.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Snow is dusted lightly over car roofs and tree limbs. The gradual ascension of morning brings light to a new week. The last one was dreadful, and I am glad to bid it adieu. Despite the optimism that accompanied the jump into October, November has become a month riddled with mistakes.

My life, of late, has been defined by the mistakes I've made. Backs are turned, cold shoulders thrust forward, fists raised. Supreme disappointment greets my every turn. I have stepped back into the Postmodern Dystopia.

A week ago, I found myself confronted with the phrase, "Look on the bright side, it can't get any worse." That statement was premature; it got much worse. My life was described as "spiraling out of control" by the only person whose opinion really matters to me. Last week, I wore the bullseye; each day signaled a direct hit.

But I embark on this week of togetherness and goodwill with an agenda and renewed motivation. I will catch up. I will find my bearings. I will relax.

I remain confident that I can once again extract the glowing ember of optimism, fuel it to a blaze. If only I had the bellow.

I am cold. Soon I will be warm.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Today's image

An unwieldy silver cash box is scooped off the ground, carried toward me by its visibly exerted courier.

"Do you need some help with that?" I asked, turning away from her assistant, whom I was hopelessly engaging. "Here, let me help you."

I saw the woman struggling with the heavy metal mass of bills and change and recognized an exit strategy. I used that box as my ticket out of the office, for I knew that if I stuck around, continued on with her assistant, a weight far heavier would descend on my shoulders and on my heart.

She transferred its weight to me. I gripped it by the handles, turned and followed the previous carrier out the door. I glanced back at the assistant still in the office.

I'm sorry, I thought.

The box was my placebo, a sugar pill that masked the pain for a brief instant.

I'm sorry.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

poems--Breaking Up, Breaking Away

Late November Revelations

A shattered fragment of sanity
plummets to the Earth
in a blatant show
of disregard
for what could have been.

The lingering notion of solitude
pervades the frigid air
of early winter,
holding the spirit
of icy isolation.

The specter of commitment
fades to vapor,
taken slave
by the distinct November wind,
a template
for notions of regret.

A falling leaf breaks fractiously
from the pack,
stoically reaffirming
that tumultuous breezes
are best handled

The piquancy of decay
permeates the dusky landscape
of browns and grays
a sinewy cloudscape
juxtaposed by failed beauty
both separating with distinction
by dispersing particles of nightfall.

Inevitability struck harder
than the surprise,
with its constant reminder
that tundra waits
between two paradises,
clutch the gusts of severance
and weather the storm.

Originally published in the Fall 2004 Luna Negra.


Waiting in the Wind

Late Fall wind whips against the window.
We lay against each other on the couch,
listening to tumultuous gusts without.
Within, we shift closer, breath meeting breath,
comfortable to be removed from November,
more to be together, though it is not to last.

I say, ‘Are you sure you must leave?’
between farewells as we step into the night.
Piquantly decayed leaves leap past our brows.
Environment we previously mocked shouts back.
We emphatically embrace and I let her know
I’ll be waiting here in the wind for her
but she drives into darkness anyway.

Morning, bright again, last night’s brilliant antithesis.
I glance out the window and see gossamer web,
silky thread undulating in the breeze, catching the rays.
Shimmering like hope, a tenuous testament to resiliency
through the gusty times, waiting diligently in the wind.

Originally published in the chapbook Palette of Browns and Grays.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

today's image

Ebony tights sit folded in a neat square beside the beveled wooden leg of my blue recliner.


You are beautiful, you know that? Black tights sheath legs that could serve as a delicacy, you know, if people ate other people's legs. Anyways, I'd eat your legs. They are very appetizing to me. Your denim skirt is a neat garnish to be brushed aside, maybe nibbled on for freshness, like parsley.


You're so dolled up tonight. I wonder if it's because of me. Nah, can't be.

Yes, I'm sure it is.


We walk down down Main St., toward South Water. You allow me to know the color of your underwear, flashing me a hot pink bra strap. Raw. Sexual. Carnal. Hot. Pink.

Let's have a drink, my little delicacy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Last Saturday, Charles and I bought bottles of whiskey. He opted for Jim Beam; I, Jameson. I keep the bottle in the freezer, as cold Jameson doesn't quite have the bite. November drives me to drink Jameson on the rocks.

The bottle is now, as of Tuesday afternoon, almost empty. I have drank no highballs of whiskey, only shots. On Saturday, I slung three in a row. This was at the recommendation of my roommate Jess, who said that it would help me sleep. It did, to a point, but I still sobbed a bunch beforehand. They were the dry sort of sobs that are really frustrating. Dry sobs make me feel like I'm cheating myself.

Sunday night provided a two shot night--back-to-back. This was because my friend Justin came over with a bottle of cider (I love cider), and that makes the best chaser. Charlie was over too, and he read me a story he was writing. In the middle of it, I passed out in my brown chair. I woke up at 4:30 with all the lights on. Charlie had let himself out. I slid into bed and melancholy. Slept some more.

Monday night was the radio show. The theme was "Breaking Up, Breaking Away." This was quite the coincidence. Maybe it was fate. I read three poems--the last, "traffic." I nearly broke down at the end of it, live on-air. I could have gotten away with that if the episode was called "breaking down." It wasn't, so we pushed onward.

Dinner at Chipotle. While waiting in the doorway, I picked up a Stater, saw Folk Fest pictures, your name at the top. I deflated a bit more. Just when I thought there was nothing left.

Amy came over. We talked through things. I began to feel better. I attempted to begin a series of writings for Poetry II class. It was supposed to be another set of memoirs like the one I wrote last year. I couldn't do the same thing again, didn't want to, so I pursued the idea of an anthology about a fractured relationship. Just as I was about to start, I asked Amy if she wanted to do a shot.

We leapt toward the kitchen. It was 12:05. We toasted the first to adulthood. Amy toasted the second one to something carnal and raw. I believe the third was Cleveland. The fourth, fifth and sixth shots I don't remember. We were stark raving drunk by 12:30. It was an accident.

We sat in my room, Amy in the brown recliner, me in the blue, and reminisced about high school--laughed and carried on like drunks do. Jess came home and we chatted with her for a bit, Amy mainly. She focused on the future. I felt sick. I excused myself and vomited in the bathroom. As I was leaving, I caught a sight of myself in the mirror. It hit me again, the wave of melancholy. I tilted my head against the glass.

I sat back in the chair and attempted to write, amidst double vision and an undulating cocktail in my gut. Here is an excerpt:

I got drunk tonight. 6 shots of Irish Whiskey. Who does that? On a Monday? This is where I'm at. . .6 shots of whiskey on Monday. I looked at myself in the mirror. I saw myself, the dark circles around the eyes, and I knew, just knew, that you would not approve of me right now. I wonder what you are doing right now. It is 1:32 in the morning. You are probably sleeping right now. I, on the other hand, am drunk. I did not mean for this to happen, I swear. I love you so much. I wish I could express that a bit better. But here I am, drunk off 6 shots of Jameson, wishing I was with you. I wanted to call you today, just to express what I was feeling today. But I couldn't.
A little later, I wept uncontrollably into Amy's arms. I still sat in the chair, she sat in my lap. I cried and I cried and I cried. I couldn't even live with myself. We passed out there.

I awoke from a wonderful dream about you. I can't remember exactly what it was about, but the last image was the two of us together, embracing, laughing. It was a gray morning again. Reality crushed me immediately.

Amy threw up six times that morning. I felt okay, a bit groggy maybe, but okay. I slept through Poetry class. I had nothing to present anyway.

Amy was curled up on the couch as I got ready for the day. I rationalized last night as this: I needed to torment my liver, because for the last few days I'd been tormenting my heart. It drew the pain away from one organ and into another.

Still, it comes and goes. Right now, I'm riding a low swell in the tidal wave. Hopefully it will rise soon. I'm confident that it will; though I know, in my heart of hearts, that it will only be a matter of time before I am pulled back down again.

I love her.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sand is running out of the hourglass.
. . . . .

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Late Fights

LaTonia and I had been having 'late fights,' as I called them, all semester long. She was winning. It was a competition for who could arrive later to poetry class. If you missed class outright, the day was a wash. She was a tough adversary, and quite shameless, I may add. I had, over the last four years, fine tuned my ability to walk into class drastically late, making little more ruckus than the meek opening and shutting of the door. If my lateness would exceed thirty minutes, I would call it a day and just stay in bed. LaTonia, on the other hand, had no qualms arriving up to an hour late to an hour-and-fifteen minute class. It was a challenge, but I scored bonus points by arriving late to the midterm a month ago. Still, I operated at a tremendous deficit in comparison to her.

This morning, I strolled into Satterfield Hall at 9:30, a healthy fifteen minutes late. I tapped the raindrops from my umbrella and lifted my headphones. I took a drink from the fountain, snuck past the classroom door, removed my jacket. I saw a Daily Kent Stater sitting on a table and browsed the photos.

At that moment, Danielle walked into the building. She asked me why the hell I was standing alone in the hallway, reading a paper, jacket draped over one arm, fifteen minutes late. I explained to her that I was already late, and that there was no sense in rushing at that point. I went on to say that by taking off my jacket before entering, I would appear to have been in the building for a while, printing out copies of my poem, possibly. I pulled a folder out of my satchel to complete the illusion.

Danielle laughed, said she hadn't seen me in a while, gave me a hug. I asked her if she was with me. She told me to hold on and took off her jacket. We tiptoed in together, ill prepared, jackets removed, folders in hand, smiling. Upon gingerly sitting down, we realized neither had been to class in a week and laughed silently to each other.

Ten minutes later, LaTonia stepped in, wearing her bright red leather jacket. She produced much commotion with said jacket's removal. The chair clamored clumsily as she pulled it away from the table. She sat down with a tremendous sigh.

I chalked the day up as a loss.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

memoir--the dB building

"What are you thinking?" Sunshine asked, looking down at me.

I was having trouble expressing myself so I continued to stare deep into her eyes, icy ponds in which I often drowned myself. Her face reflected a soft glow and was shimmery around the edges. Her mouth canted toward a coy smile. I shivered a bit.

The world left me in that gaze. Suddenly, everything that had been bothering me--all those little and big insecurities of adulthood--diffused in the air. She waited for an answer.

I smiled wider, shrugged, said, "I'm not thinking of anything."

A lie, obviously. She knew this. I was lost in this seemingly inconsequential moment of laying together on a dorm room futon. Just looking at her, just being with her, was enough to quell the cocktail of confusion that sat before us, certain to be spilled two months down the road.

Then it was back again, the insecurity, accumulating deep within me. The base formed quickly in my lower abdomen, then the structure piled high once more. The peak came to rest somewhere near the back of my throat. I had become used to its dim throb the last few weeks, as if it was some great big statement waiting to be expressed, but I always lacked the means to do so.

"Nothing?" Sunshine asked, not believing it for a second. Her smile beamed brighter.

I thought of it all, the teetering skyscraper of my uncertain future.

college jobs radio career internship potential begin end
loss moving packing leaving paths cities apart december
fast life secret confuse priorities dedication sorry home
wrecker infidelity separation obtuse lonely cause me hand
written miss sadness despair stride life vibrant prospect
park brooklyn hands sunsets drives wksu typewriter
corner visit ride window hot stickers buttons excuse
umbrella columns rain merrill walking estuary bridge
mountain memoir poems slovak abruzzi mix sufjan vinyl
dancing jazz pinot creative laying tears emotion heavy
words sexual charge celebrity party roof gone twenty
four sitting lake hip indie quit letter prayers red jacket in
love whimsy bellow like intense morning moment eyes
wednesday hump bad both someday reason works
out annie coltrane elevator black white flim pentax then
what lips yours best beautiful longing summer more
failure respect stroke cheek feel better lift worry concern
income lexus volvo turnup glasses bright why when see
again pain hurt need want everything nothing importance
orchestra viola opera elixir ypsilanti calculation reprieve
distance week month fourteen year summer fall october
florida sunglass fashion artemis stater boogie hat eyelashes
kisskiss deep curls breeze smile gloves scarf football field
susans E not D wandering phone text waiting station orange
november thanksgiving soon warm cold nose cider fordham
paste jane ira pink sleep neck rasberries tummy giggle grad
school two save see world wishing glad blog new york glance
april twenty three birthday whimsy alley transfer cannot park
slope destination apartment loft studio photos paintings high
art we poem statue pumpkin happy remember palette travel
europe france prague rome london firenze amour distinct
throb seeing horizon lights tunnels vapor balance shutter dorm
comfort relationship amazing wonderful crazy nutso for you
future future future future future future future future future
time time time time time time time time time time time time
love love love love love love love love love love love love love
life life life life life life life life life life life life life life life life life
nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing nothing
everything everything everything everything everything
end end end end end end end end end end end end end end
begin begin begin begin begin begin begin begin begin begin
sunshine sunshine sunshine sunshine sunshine sunshine
future time love life nothing everything end begin sunshine

These were about the first forty stories of my skyscraper, the cumbersome
dB Building. We sold stocks, bonds and insecurity deposits. At the top of this structure was a great big art deco spire, originally designed to tether a bulbous dirigible labeled FUTURE. But this building was huge--well over three thousand feet tall in concept. The wind whipped and pulled up there at the peak. Any balloon would have been tossed about. As such, it was uncertain as to where I'd board the FUTURE, and where it'd even take me.

But this wasn't my strongest concern. It was not my future that scratched at the back of my throat. The Zeppelin was floating around the night sky and would return in due time. It did not worry me much.

It was that someone had occupied--amid whipping winds and a teetering base--the small circular platform atop the spire.

It was you, Sunshine.

So when you asked me what I was thinking when we gazed into each other's eyes that night, I could have said everything. But I said nothing. I had trouble expressing myself. Because at the very top of it all, at the silvery peak of all my bustling thoughts, happy and sad, you stood like a beacon.

So it was nothing.
And it was everything.
But mainly,
it was you.