Friday, February 29, 2008

born again

a hot june night
windows wrenched open,
box fans thrumming from opposite ends of our duplex side
forming a sticky wind tunnel
lights out except for the dim glow of streetlamp and oven bulb
not sleeping

i did not want to spend eternity in hell

kneeling in front of the stereophonic, late of:
      ellington
      parker
      dejohnette
      coltrane
      miles (father: "before the sellout")
ready to be saved

revival had closed that late spring saturday
three hours in a giant (to eight-year old eyes) round tent
white as Christ’s raiment
a glowing canvas citadel on a loaned hayfield

i had not heeded the altar call
a half-hour of fire and brimstone poured out of God’s messenger
in sweat and tears
yet i had not heeded the call
fellow congregants making their way towards God’s forgiveness
kneeling in supplication
embraced in fellowship by Christian brethren
but i had not heeded the call

i did not want to spend eternity in hell

preacher had gotten to me
had seduced my fears out of the
places fears hide
“all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”
but my legs would not move my soul full of transgressions
towards the altar
towards blessed eternal life
fear of exposure momentarily overriding
my chance at redemption

i did not want to spend eternity in hell

i had awakened my parents
standing behind me while i knelt in front of the stereophonic console-altar
“to god be the glory” spinning on the turntable softly
so as not to wake my sisters
the air full of midwestern mysticism

i did not want to spend eternity in hell

i prayed
i recognized Christ as my lord and savior
i confessed my sins to God and pleaded forgiveness
i begged to be saved from fiery damnation
i was born again

parents clutching me in an embrace made damp
by june and mother’s tears
      we’ll talk more in the morning
      we love you
      we’re so proud of you
      jesus loves you
      go to sleep
whispered as we wandered back to bed

still not sleeping

i do not want to spend eternity in hell

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

monday 25 feb (morning)

second compartment
upper deck, towards the back
overhead fluorescent burned out

light from a sun still enjoying too much its winter vacation
struggling to push through the green-tinted windows
washing my corner with a glow akin to
acts of god or industrial negligence

higher brain functions still scattered
skittering around like a child’s bag of marbles
shaken onto the floor of the second compartment

i stretch to flip the switch on the (remarkably) functional
reading light, bringing focus to today’s leftovers
sports, business, weather go quickly in the second compartment,
leaving only the news

Iraqi suicide bomber kills 40 on religious pilgrimage
Meatpacker in cow-abuse scandal may shut down
Young Serb killed in embassy riot shared his nation’s rage of U.S.

nausea rolls in, marbles coalescing in a back corner of the second compartment
lost in the shadow of a passenger bench
as i struggle to absorb, to comprehend, to forge meaning
out of the random non-randomness

i catch myself tracking the green snow-encrusted forest
silently whooshing by
outside the second compartment

look into the distance
mom used to say
for heaven’s sake, if you’re feeling motion sick
look into the distance

i wish i could
believe me, i've tried
it doesn’t help the nausea

right now, what i really need
is for the Ritalin to kick in
and put my mind back
into the second compartment

Friday, February 22, 2008

iteration 4

we’ve been thru this
three times already
looping
scripting
gating
compiling
pushing unwilling bits and bytes
onto intransigent silicon
collective hope for the best
collective angst when hopes are dashed
error traces cryptically mocking our digital gallantry

we seem stuck in an infinite loop
which is doubleplusbad whether referencing
self-destructive behavior OR
application servers
the cycle is repeated until one of the wares
(soft or hard)
raises the flag of surrender
and a tenuous peace is arranged

we straggle on
half asleep/awake
somnambulant in the soft grey glow
of the code editor
finesse a distant
ritalin-hazed memory

there are deadlines to be met
amorphous users clamoring for the latest fix
additional delays unacceptable
reduction in scope impossible
saintworthy miracles improbable

of course we’ll meet the dates

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

red truck

my dad didn’t own a red truck
until we moved to Mississippi
(the ranchero not qualifying on account of being too sissy)
after the exodus, they came and went
like the latest trends in women’s lipstick shades

we were riding in the latest incarnation
a toasted scarlet super cab
built for hauling men and their gear
from construction site to
wilderness
and back

dad driving of course
me riding shotgun

some rather ill-humored brain function
churning up memories of
prior rides
tossing them into my consciousness
like chunks of raw meat to a pack of
hunting dogs

a voice (gnarled by age, still imposing)
breaks the drone of wheels on pavement
Dad speaking

you know, your mom and i
talked
and while we know that
we may not have been the best parents
you kids turned out allright

the road hums on
physical distance from here to there
knowable, measurable
emotional distance confined within the super cab
more adequately described in terms
of the calculus

i should have a response
twenty-plus years of nomading myself
journeying far and wide
seeking what hadn’t been given
had been taken
i should have a response

the road hums on
me and my dad
riding in the red truck
again

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

tired

let me just say upfront

that i GET capitalism
i have a robust appreciation for the
power and economic efficiency of
free markets of
the invisible hand

but something happened on the way to
my four bedroom marble tiled weekly cleaning service suburban
utopia
not that i’ve gone Marxist or anything
(Dad himself would drive a sharpened American flagpole
straight thru my heart)
i have to ask
why am i so tired

i mean i can’t even complain about
working with my hands
shagging bags of
rice
cement
shit

no
i'm in the advance force
the leading echelons
the post boom computer friendly out of the box thinking
knowledge workers
(cringing at the use of such a
shopworn oxymoron)

let me say something else

i'm not feeling the knowledge
i don’t know
what to do
where to go
how to go
who to do

and i really don’t understand why
it’s come to this
i used to have ideas
spewing out of me like
halon gas from a fire extinguisher
now the only idea (more of a compulsion really)
is survival
getting back to the bunker
with my job
my dignity
my mind
intact

that’s all i have to say really

i know
i understand
i'm just
tired

Thursday, February 07, 2008

wednesday 06 feb (morning)

the station disgorges its huddled masses
into the predawn unpleasantness
of course it's frigid
(i wonder whether eskimos have
23 different words for cold)

these strivers are strangers to me
my usual chugging by
at a much more humane time
weary, still undercaffienated
they trudge toward the approaching light
our early morning foreshadowing
the end of days

“they’re calling for eight to twelve inches today”
rumbles the baritone, a man
genetically and jovially predisposed
to latitudes much further north

the announcement shakes
my new associates and i
from our lumbering slumber
a groan of discomfort mutually expected
emanating from our midst
all for one
and one for all

we’re awake now (or less asleep)
as the screeching smell of asbestos
escalates sensory input
beyond the background noise of a tired mind
and we realize
the train is here

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

tuesday 05 feb (morning)

sidewalks as fjords
sheer cliffs of snow that has known better days
grey-brown bergs shearing from the face
into the dreary muck of concrete and ice soup
as i place each footstep
gingerly
into the slushy depths of this transient watershed
i offer prayers to the patron saint of
vulcanized rubber
that my faithful galoshes
remain so

Monday, February 04, 2008

Go Sled

towering monster
is not an apt description
for our officially sanctioned sled hill
city fathers merely quivering
in the risk and liability nightmares
of making a mountain out of a molehill

and yet
21st century young Kenevils
on mass-produced polyurethane/polypropylene disposasleds
(waxed steel and wood rails apparently class actioned out of existence)
find new/old ways to feel newly alive
improvising danger like Snowpants Miles Davis

“let’s play cards going down”
says my son
wielding his imagination like an emergent superpower
but we don’t have a deck
says his father
suffering the long term effects of kryptonite exposure

the looks he gets from his mother do
occasionally
have their desired effect
cutting through the haze, igniting comprehension
oooohhhhh… … …
right, let’s play cards

“you sit on front facing back and
i'll sit on back facing you”
you’re sure about this
“dad”
mmmmk, here’s seven cards for you and 7 for me
“great, lets go!”

wait! how do i hold my cards and the sled at the same time
“dad (three letters transfigured into 2 syllables), gravity is our friend”
strains of some long-forgotten truth echo within
so i shrug my shoulders
ok, let’s go

i contemplate the fickle nature of gravity’s acquaintance
as i tumble
head over heels
the world a cacophony of dead grass and live snow
as i lie
in my final resting place
pondering the infinite grey above
my son
simply vibrating with laughter
tackles me shouting
“i won! i won!”

which, i guess, is true
he’d laid down aces
and i hadn’t even had time to play
before my cards and i went flying

as we grin together
the playing cards softly fluttering to the ground around us
i think to myself
this time, i’m asking for nines