CAT NAP

I dug my claws into the side of the rocking chair, shifting my weight as I ascended its backside to keep from being thrown off. The cushion at the top was softer than the hard-pressed seat, and my personal favorite place to take a nap. I curled up, carefully balanced so that I wouldn’t fall back over the side, like some long dead camper falling over a cliff. When I finally was comfortable, I could feel my eyes begin to glaze over as the familiar feeling of sleep began to take hold.

Of course, naps are never that simple nowadays. Before my eyes had closed for more than a moment, the whole chair jostled. The big one had taken his seat in the middle—I didn’t understand how he could endure such a hard seat. The whole chair rocked hard, and I had to dig my nails in to keep from being flung over the side. It was clear this resting place wouldn’t do today.

So, like many days, I hopped back down onto the floor. The light thuds of my feet were beginning to sound a lot like those of my older brothers’. The wood planks below me were cool and smooth, and made for great walking. No unexpected catches, like in the shag carpet I was on my way over to. The couch over there was much softer than the remaining chairs, however, and was well worth the trek when the rocking chair was taken.

Two quick jumps and I was up on the arm rest. They put the best padding in the arm rest—it was firm, but not pillowy like the cushions, although it could be more precarious. I could feel the weight of fatigue hit me like a brick, and my eyes closed once again—but not a moment later I heard the terrifying sound of the back door opening, followed swiftly by the eager approach of beasts. They were like titans—they ran on four legs, panting heavily wherever they ran. Luckily the gold one missed me, instead running down the hall to my left after who knows what.

Unfortunately, the darker one was more attentive, and stopped hard in his tracks, then turning to look directly in my eyes. His eyes were a cold, dead black, like a silent murderer out slaughtering in the middle of the night. We shared that brief moment while he realized that I was not another piece of the furniture, where the whole world seems to grow quiet. The big one’s rising became so slow, it was as if he was covered in glue.

But that moment broke quickly, and he and I went from stone still to bolting in a heart beat. There was an open window behind me, just a few feet away, with a high screen. The beast was much faster than me, and it was all I could do to launch myself from the head of the couch to the screen. As I flew through the air, I heard his jaws clamp shut just behind me, just a few inches from my tail. The hairs on my back shivered and stood high. It felt like an eternity while I soared through the air, then dug my claws in to the little holes for support. I scrambled to get myself secured quickly; my feet sliding down before eventually they too were locked. Then I quickly ascended so that I was out of reach. I turned to look down, and saw the beast, sitting with tongue flopping over the side of his teeth. His mouth was open wide, waiting for my strength to run out, and his breaths were deep with excitement.

I thought myself a goner for a moment, as my body began to shake with fatigue, but then came the pounding footsteps of the big one. He grabbed the beast roughly by the neck, and lifted him with such vigor I thought he might tear its head clean off, but the body held tight and pretty soon the beast had turned tail back from where he came, along with the gold one. When I was certain it was safe, I tried to climb down slowly. Halfway down, my leg slipped again, and I went crashing to the floor. I managed to get my feet beneath me at the last moment, and landed on my feet. I looked back at the couch, and felt the disdain for the potential resting place. I felt too much like a meal on a platter there now, so instead I made my way down the hall, to the third door on the right. There was a large space there, where the big one rested at night. I didn’t much care for it—to many different layers of material scattered haphazardly about—but it was soft. I found an empty corner by the window, and laid down. My eyes shut, and I finally got to drift off to sleep.

——

 

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DREAMING ABOUT DREAMS

I recently was reading through some of the dreams that my late grandfather wrote down in his lifetime, and was struck by how bizarre they were. People trapped in houses, sexual symbolism, unknown entities hunting him down…really just the works. Yet in spite of this, they were completely enthralling. Maybe that’s why they were so interesting. Regardless, dreams are cool.

When you think about it, dreams really are something that we should value higher in our lives. So many people get up quickly just to rush their way back into reality—myself included. I think that’s probably the default state of being for people, perhaps because dreams are often forgotten quickly, and like to hide in the back of our consciousness. There’s a short list of dreams I can remember. But considering how historically important dreams have been to us, I would think we would care about them a little more.

Einstein is a famous example, who dreamed about sledding down a mountainside so fast that he began approaching light speed, which, when he awoke, he used to help form his theory of relativity. The idea that he could use a dream to inspire and create the work that made him famous is incredible. Yet it wasn’t because he just happened to be struck by this dream—it was also because he sat and thought about it.

If I haven’t sold you on dreams yet, think about famous speeches. The “I Have a Dream” speech plays on the mythic qualities of dreams. If we thought dreams couldn’t be reality, it would be a stupid idea to try to use them to persuade others—which, in truth, is part of what that speech was about. Maybe it’s just because dreams are outside reality, which makes them seem better than they are, maybe not.

Outside reality is an interesting side topic for dreams, as it relates to drugs. I mean drugs are usually used as another route to escape—in many cases, people use them to have hallucinations that are very vivid that they can interact with (sound anything like a lucid dream to you?). I’m not sure this is as bad a thing as many people make it out to be. Certainly, some of them can be addicting, and THAT can be dangerous, but simply experiencing the imagery and immersing yourself in the wiles of imagination (because where do hallucinations come from if not imagination) does not seem like it should be entirely feared. Many people produce important work while in a “dream-like state” from drugs—just look at the Beatles!

Ok, anyways, dreams are something super valuable that most people take for granted, which is a sad concept. What do you think? Do you have any special dreams that have changed your life? Let me know in the comments!

 

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LOVE POEM #51 – LOOSE CHANGE

They told me the girl on the street corner

was a dime a dozen. Which is why,

when we stopped at the red light,

they threw coins at her

before speeding off, laughing

like little pigs, all the way home.

They didn’t see in the rear-view mirror

how she fell to her knees, crying,

scrounging to pick up the loose change.

 

Perhaps that’s why when I saw her

marching down the aisle

at the dirty supermarket

I couldn’t help but ask her

why such a dame would scamper

after a few dozen nickels.

 

And she told me that in life

we all just scrounge for enough change

to make our empty selves feel whole,

even if, in the end, we are just half dollars.

 

It was then I felt a prick,

and I told her, if she wanted,

that I would buy her a drink,

pay a penny for her thoughts,

and we could chat the night away.

 

She agreed with a smile, on the condition

that I wouldn’t be charging any hidden fees

or sticking her backside with my taxes.

 

It was a pro bono night, indeed.

 

The next morning I walked her home,

and we stopped at the same street corner.

She found a penny, heads up.

It’s your lucky day she told me,

handing Abe over to me.

I cupped it in her palm and told her

luck be you, m’lady.

——

 

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VISIONS IN THE DESERT

I felt like an ant, crossing that wasteland of a desert. There was nothing in site as far as the eye could see, and the sun was beating down on me, heavy, as though Apollo had set his chariot of fire on my shoulders. In my mind, the pulsing of my headache felt like the hooves of his mighty horses pounding me to death. My shirt had been soaked through with sweat hours before, and I could feel the sun burn taking shape on the uncovered parts of my body.

The desert air filled my lungs—drying my mouth and leaving my throat ragged and parched. Each breath felt like a cement block was being dragged across my insides. My legs had grown wobbly as I ascended the dune. As I neared the top, my vision began to grow blurry, and my legs buckled for a moment. I came down hard on the sand; my knees crashed, followed swiftly by my outstretched arms. I sucked a deep breath of air, attempting to gather the strength to get back up again, then coughed and spit as sand slid in between my teeth. My forehead rested on my arm, as I enjoyed the blackness behind my shut eyes. My arm was sticky when I finally pulled it away and, shaking, clambered to my feet again. I looked out across the mass of emptiness before me.

I was struck by the beauty of it. It was so empty, even time seemed to have melted away. Each moment seemed to take hours, and suddenly I felt like many decades of time had passed me by. And, as I looked down at myself, I realized they had. I watched as my deep black beard faded to peppered gray, and then finally to white. The skin in my hands wrinkled, and the whites of my knuckles pressed for freedom. I felt my body grown weaker; drier; sicker—as though I had been possessed. My legs began to shake, no longer in fatigue, but with the brittleness of an old man, too long for this world.

My mind flooded with visions of my youth: An awkward game of catch with my father, my first dance with a girl, the late night writings of a dedicated lover, the early morning rises of budding father; and then soon came the memories that I had never known. Seeing my son become a father, and holding my granddaughter for the first time, watching from the sun-chairs as they played in the waves, holding my wife’s hand as she passed away—that same shy smile she had given me when I had asked her to the dance. All these memories I had never known flooded through my mind, as though the floodgates of “could have been” had been thrust open by some unnatural force.

Then shut, once again, as I saw the last vision of myself, from outside my body. I was there, eyes shut lightly, with my mouth hung slightly open. My beard looked scraggly and short. My skin was pale—so pale I nearly missed it flaking away. Bit by bit, the wind pulled fragments of me away with it. It looked like I was peeling. Then, as the gusts grew stronger, I watched myself crumble away into dust and float away, with the desert, forever.

——

 

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DOWNPOUR (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Unending

Tick-tock, ‘round the clock.

Do you ever wonder when

the world will stop?

 

Enjoy

There’s not enough time

in this short life that we live

to not eat good food.

 

Fantasies

While your mind wanders,

night sets in; but you can still

picture the sunset.

 

Yard Work

With dust in my pores

and dirt soaking in my hair,

I feel at home.

 

Downpour

Consume the hatred,

let it flow through you like rain,

but don’t drown yourself.

——

 

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WHERE LIFE MEETS DEATH

I often judge a tree branch

on whether it can support my weight

as I hang there suspended, swinging

in the breeze on a nice, thick rope

 

like back in Florida, above the water,

while my father roared with laughter

just before crashing beneath the surface.

That brief moment of suspense

 

at the peak of upward momentum,

where the whole world goes quiet, and

all you can feel is your life

stretching out into eternity.

 

That must be what Icarus felt

as his feathers melted away

and his fingers grasped to cross

the last few inches to the sun.

 

I wonder if in that moment

he felt the bridge between Zeus

and Hades. Where life meets death

with long forgotten fraternity.

——

 

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FEELING LOST ON THE BEACH

“When did I start walking? I don’t really remember…” my voice trailed off as I looked into the distance. The old man had pulled up along side me just as I noticed the sun was setting. He was a short fellow, but had a certain youthful spring to his step.

“Well, if you don’t remember when you started walking, do you remember why?” The smile hidden inside his beard broke into a laugh. He reminded me of my childhood house cat in that way. He was scruffy, in a well-worn Hawaiian shirt and loose cargo pants, with a deep tan.

“I don’t really remember that either,” I said. I turned my attention to where I was. We were along the beachside, at sunset, walking at the edge of the sand and the sidewalk. The last thing I remembered was tying my shoes in the morning—yet when I looked down to see them, I saw only my bare feet. And had it been this morning?

“Well, you don’t know why you’re here, or how long you’ve been going where you’re going, but you’re still going somewhere. Ain’t that something else? Next thing you’ll tell me, you don’t even remember your name.”

“My name is Adam,” I said.

“Adam is it?” the old man replied. He pulled his beard between his thumb and index finger thoughtfully. “Adam has always been a favorite name of mine. Good strong name.”

“I’m not sure I’d describe myself as a strong man,” the words fell out of my mouth before I had even thought of them.

“Oh,” the man looked at me curiously, “and why is that?” I stared off into the distance again, unsure how to proceed. The relatively flat surface of the beach had turned into an uphill climb as we approached the dunes.

“I’m not sure,” I said finally, “perhaps that’s why I’m walking?” I smiled at him. A look of hesitant concern crossed his face.

“Could be, Adam. It’s no old geezer like me’s business, but I think maybe you’re feeling lost.”

“What gave you that impress—” his tone turned stern, in the way a grandparent’s does when they need to teach a lesson, but without making their grandchildren cry.

“Now don’t go interrupting me, Adam,” he wagged a meaty finger in my face, “I’ve seen boys like you before. Look over their,” he gestured out to the many small silhouettes along the shoreline, watching the sun sinking beneath the ocean. “All those people? They’re going through something just like you. Might be they just got through it; might be that they’re about to run into it.

“But it’s too easy to just walk away from your problems like you’re doing here. Leaving the whole world behind, as if the world did something to you that you didn’t deserve. You’ll keep walking till your feet are blistered, your legs are cramped, your stomach is knotted, and your hair is in tatters. And you’ll still feel lost, because that’s not how we overcome our problems. It’s good to know when and why to walk away, like from some hothead in a bar, but it ain’t no good to just be walking empty headed—letting them bad thoughts cloud your mind and eat away at your soul. You need to stand up, and figure out where you’ve been and, more importantly, where you’re going.”

His hands closed into fists with these last remarks. Then, he put a hand on my shoulder and stopped. I paused and looked up. We were at the top of the sand dunes. The ocean could be seen for miles, and the sun was just a fleeting sliver, before it would wink out for the night entirely. His eyes were full of determination, yet also so full of sadness. Like he knew what I was feeling even better than I did.

“I—” the words wouldn’t come to me. I could feel a tear slipping down my cheek, though I wasn’t sure when it had gotten there.

“That’s alright Adam,” he took his hand off of me, “you’ll figure it out. Just stay here till you do.” And like that, he spun on his heels, and marched off down the hill, while I sat and watched the clouds turn from orange, to pink, to purple, and finally to a deep, empty gray.

——

 

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IN CLASS (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

To Class

The crisscrossed brick walk

Is coated in shade, lightly

Spattered by sunbeams.

 

In Class

Quiet, happy cheers

Of the children running by

Seep through the windows

 

From Class

Oh, look at that sky!

Bluer than clear Po’ipu.

Now I miss the sand.

 

Walk Home

Two boys sit in cuffs

With bloodied lips and black eyes.

Look the other way.

 

Getting Inside

There’s a black widow

Tying a web on the key

I need to get in.

——

 

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ACTIVE YOUTH

It struck me in the back of the cafeteria,

between the meat pie and the chicken,

that I am not an active youth. Sure

I hike, and I run, and occasionally

I will take a trip out to the sea,

 

But that isn’t the active youth anymore,

that’s the active old man. That’s my dad.

A wonderful, respected man, but

certainly one “of his time.” A time,

 

nowadays, that is long past. Overtaken

like the Wright brothers were

by the juggernaut of American Airlines.

Oh, we’ll always remember those boys

 

in our comfortable window seats,

viewing the clouds like Zeus on Olympus,

munching down complimentary pretzels

on our cheap, plastic, fold-out trays

 

not unlike how I remembered my father

from that lonely table on that Saturday night,

who was revolutionizing the world

long before I was ever born.

——

 

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ESCAPING THE LAUNDROMAT

I was told that everything could be interesting if you tried hard enough. My father would tell me that, out in the garage in the summer heat, with a fan running on high, blowing hot air in my face. I was something I never really understood until I was older; when the world started to become something that I could make choices in, rather than follow blindly.

Those are exactly the words that floated through my head as the elevator ticked from floor two to floor three. The white light, which had faded to a dusty yellow over the years, flashed “3” on arrival, and the quick accompanying Ding-ding noted that I should prepare to depart. The doors slid open, slowly, like sludge through a pipe. It was early on the weekend—before most people get up. That’s the best time to go; you’ll be able to find an open washer.

That morning I had gotten up extra early. Work had called me late the night before to ask me to cover a shift, and my uniform was still dirty. Ruined my Saturday, but work was money, and money was tight. So early, that the sun was still coming up when I walked in the door. I loaded my cloths into the washer, put the detergent in, set the water temperature, and hit “start.” Suddenly I had forty minutes to burn. And I had forgotten my book.

So what was I to do, dad? What to do what to do what to do what to—Ding-ding. The elevator clicked open again, and a little old women came out. She hunched over was pushing a square cart full of cloths. She was so ancient, it looked like she was sinking into the ground in front of me. But she shuffled by, wheels squeaking loudly.

And I wondered about her. When was she born? What did she do as a child? The little spiral of a story unwound in my head like an old toy from my childhood. The little girl, walking down an empty street, that slowly filled with the buzz of cars. Her mother was dead, and her father was still out from a night of gambling and drinking, but she—she was fine. Every few steps she broke into a happy skip. Then the scene morphed away, and suddenly I saw a beautiful young woman. Her black hair twisted lightly down her backside. She was walking again, this time with a man at her arm. They were dressed in elaborate outfits that denoted the importance of them, yet for all they had, her eyes held a sense of fear in them.

Again, I watched as her hair was peppered with streaks of grey, and her warm eyes glazed over. A barrel of caramel colored children ran around her ankles, with the same glee she had been filled with not five minutes before. Almost as if they had sucked the life out of her. Of course, it must have been the fifties then. So it would have been just her. Men of such “importance” didn’t stick with black women at that time.

And as my mind found her in the elevator, struggling to push that cart of clothes, I realized my own clothes had finished washing and she was staring back at me, as if to tell me it was my turn to tell my own story. And suddenly, even the Laundromat didn’t seem quite such a boring place.

——

 

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