Shot Glass

Shot Glass

 

They are like little bullets

lined in brown lead

that burns the liver

with every drop consumed.

 

When the copper taste

rolls over the tongue,

remember the six-caliber shells

you told your kids were not a toy.

——

 

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Some Kind of Superman

Sometimes I wish I was the superhero

that my family thinks I am:

draped in a divine red cape

with the symbol of hope embroidered on my chest.

 

I would wake up with a cup of coffee

that I heated with my own two eyes

ready to take on the next towering villain

that planned to topple everything that was good.

 

And when I redonned the black-framed glasses

of the mild mannered, bulletproof man

I wouldn’t be worrying about the mortgage

any more than I worried about the moon rising at night.

——

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CLAREMONT, CA

I’m feeling quite sick today, so I’m posting a poem that I wrote initially a while back, and am still working on.

Claremont, CA

Most thoughts of days outdoors start at Memorial Park,

where the plains of grass span between the seas of trees

waiting for picnickers to unpack their plates of cheese

in the evergreen sunlight of a perpetual spring day.

 

But this day seems better meant for a stroll

down the way to the village, where the bustle

of busy people breaks through the monotony

of an otherwise boring afternoon.

 

If you’re in a rush, you might take a short cut down Yale

where the light mess of greenery dodges around cozy homes,

or take a run along Harvard, if you’re feeling competitive.

Still, I prefer to take Indian Hill, the main road,

 

where you can peer down a corridor of ancient arbors

and see history unfold between the leaves,

like dancers telling the stories of each incumbent

through the wordless steps of wind-riddled branches.

——

 

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CANDY SHOP – 50 WORD STORY

The sweet, powdery smell of sugar filled the room. We watched children bounce along the counter as they stared down the workers. Spin, knead, cut, repeat. The red-and-white dough they worked shined like plastic as it hardened. Then suddenly, they were done, and the children cheered for hot, sticky samples.

——

 

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THE JOKER

You can’t laugh your way out of this one.

The walls are closing in on all sides

at the family dinner table

that treats you like a hospital patient.

 

You’re shackled to that fork and knife,

the silver gauntlets that force-feed you

under the pretense of a household bonding;

yet one bad joke and it’s off to your room.

 

The Arkham Asylum, as you’ve named it,

where your solitary confinement

hides the hurt with a jacket of hugs

and your parents get to be the Batman

who locked you there for treatment.

——

 

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RETURN HOME

I really enjoyed writing my fifty-word story last week, so I thought I’d try another this week:

 

The walk home from the winter train station always feels like a Debussy song. Each step through the snowscape is like strolling on a cloud in the summer sky, despite the cold. When I cross the bridge, I can faintly hear them. In the reflection below I see myself smile.

——

 

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RUNNING ON FUMES

Out alone on the desert road

in the humid summer sunset,

my car sputtered along,

seeking respite from the seething air.

 

Which is how I felt walking

through the bleak parking structure

between shifts at my second job,

on the way to Baron’s for lunch at 4:30.

 

Yet when I turned the key

and the car crawled back to life

I felt a rush of energy

knowing Willow would be there too.

——

 

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PEOPLE WATCHING IN PARIS

I spent the afternoon at a small café in Paris, which could hardly fit the family two tables down from me. They had a string of three children toppling off the edges of the red backed booth—two girls and a boy. The girls were older, in matching pink dresses, and the word that ran through my mind was “starbright” when I saw their smiles. The boy, on the other hand, was more stoic than a Buddhist meditating, as if had been shot with 20 CC’s of chill-the-fuck-out by his parents. He wore a red t-shirt and navy blue shorts, and had donned a matching navy blue baseball cap.

Their mother was a tall, lanky woman, with thin arms, thin legs, and a thin waist—one she clearly paid careful attention to maintain. Her daughters were the spitting image of her: tall for their age, strikingly blonde, and beautiful. But where their smiles were bright and full of happiness, their mother’s was full of anguish, as if nothing could have annoyed her more than going out with her family that day. To contrast, their father was the height of personable. He had kept the waiter around for minutes, prying the youth out of his shell until they were both cracking jokes, and before long the manager had to pull her employee back to work.

They came and went, and I sat, drinking my coffee in the sunlight. It was a cool day, where a few minute indoors could leave you chilled, but a minute outside would melt the ice right off your backside. A good day to be people watching. The beautiful maids in sundresses walked around less in a step and more in a dance, and their partners never seemed to have the same sense of rhythm about them. They looked a bit too porcelain for my taste, but lovely nonetheless. I was particularly struck by the elderly couple that passed by when I took the last few sips of my drink.

I had never seen a couple with more swagger make their way down la rue. They were both in exceedingly white clothing, bleached to the point of blindness, save for matching pairs of Aviator sunglasses, which covered their eyes entirely. Unlike most elderly couples, there was nothing feeble about how they moved—they might as well have been going to the gym to beat up on some college athletes. Their grim expression was fitting a pair that had survived a world war, and didn’t hope to survive into another. But they too came and went, and my mug was finally empty. I left a couple notes on the table, beneath my cup, grabbed my bag, and started walking home.

——

 

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A DAY AT THE FAIR

Emerging from under the shadowy tunnel

into the blinding sunlight of the September fair

builds more child-like suspense in me

than any movie soundtrack could.

 

Suddenly, all those twenty-two years

melt back into the sevens and eights

where oceans of cotton candy and

rivers of soda pop were mine to sail through.

 

The loud hums of the stereotyped amusements,

from Mexican dancers to redneck farmers

whistle through the air like a swarm of bees,

and I hadn’t a care in the world.

 

I roamed about like that, in half a daze,

so filled with the happiness of the afternoon

that I nearly forgot the Ferris Wheel,

and anyone who knows me knows

that I’d never forget the Ferris Wheel.

 

There’s something beautiful

looking out over the plane of the world

at a point that no human was meant to see

where the air tastes fresher than spring

and the Earth seems perfectly still.

 

Even if it is just for a moment,

before the basket of humans makes another spin

and we all have to step off the ride

to go home again.

——

 

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A PAIN IN THE NECK

Waking up with a kink in your neck

is a lot like waking up with a stick up your ass,

especially when you can’t quite get it out

because you can’t position yourself right.

 

Which is how I felt when I awoke this morning

to the gleeful cries of my children

as they clambered onto the bedsheets

with the sun-filled eyes that children have.

 

On mornings like those, the words of my father

echo through my head like church bells

“if you stay up that late, it’ll be a wonder

if you get anything done at all.”

 

Of course, I am an atheist,

and I managed to have a couple kids,

so it seems to me that a short night’s sleep

is probably worth the pains in the neck.

——

 

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