Ship of Theseus in a Man

I was astonished to see him testing out his new guitar knowledge.

My son squeezing tears from his guitar, sonorous, weeping, and simple.

But he has always hummed and sang while he was playing with his Legos.

He takes after his great-grandfather, I am told. I must take their word.

But my mother says he loved to hum while he worked, the same as my son.

My grandfather was frail and lost in dementia when I was a young child.

I heard him speak once, hadn’t thought he still could, and never heard him hum.

One memory replaced by the last like boards in the Ship of Theseus.

Could my grandfather even be the hero from the family myths?

Wasn’t the man who rode a Harley through Germany during the war.

Wasn’t the man who shut off headlights on moonless nights and used chewing gum

To cover instrument lights every time he heard aircraft approaching,

So they couldn’t report his position to nearby enemy troops.

Wasn’t the man who escaped the Nazis, Harley flat out in blind fog

Ducking the wreckage of a covered bridge lying back watching the splintered

Rafters whiz past his face or would’ve had he not shut his eyes and prayed.

Wasn’t that man who suffered silently and died old and diminished.

But there he was, the grandfather I never knew behind my son’s eyes

Teaching my boy lessons about music that I never knew to teach.

He Liked to Call Himself Raul

Once more, staring into the darkness. A cup of coffee and a smile.

A portal to the afterworld, the beforeworld, or any world, really.

Who could start their day without a hot cup of coffee? Not real people.

Even the fake people in her hot cup of coffee. They started their day.

Steam drifting and shoulders bare but sweaters ready for the cold to come.

She never took coffee with sugar or cream or anything like that.

Black coffee for her gift and for real psychics and charlatans alike.

For real psychics, it sharpened their mind, body, and spirit connection.

It sped up readings like a highspeed internet connection to hell,

Or wherever the holding area was, heaven or purgatory…

And her mother had always had a cup of coffee in front of her.

For charlatans, black coffee was a way of cheating. Of seeing things

In reflection like card numbers or people’s names. She knew all the tricks.

Her father was a magician when he was working before he left.

Her mother was a psychic. That is what eventually drove them apart.

And her mother had always had a cup of coffee in front of her.

Mrs. Carla the seer. Mrs. Carla the cheat. Mrs. Carla the liar.

And she didn’t go by his name. The Great Branzino sounded too fake.

But he was wise to the necessities of women’s lives and money,

And he could see his daughter’s future just as clear as her mother had.

And he taught her how to ‘see’ things and why she shouldn’t which confused her.

The whole thing confused her. Her parents. Her gift. Their divorce. Their distrust.

They both thought she was crazy for things she would see in her coffee cup.

Her father taught her lies. Her mother taught her truths. She learned to watch

To look at her coffee and not touch it and not disturb the visions.

She’d only just watched, but she always had her coffee in front of her.

And when she drank it, her visions were everywhere on every surface.

Every reflection held a world that she had trouble distinguishing from real.

Because she could change them and move them and bring them to life, to her life.

And they were real. Her father couldn’t see, and her mother only half.

And neither wanted to believe the things that she saw. Or what they saw.

Her visions were not always nice and seldom from that side of the void.

And she had pulled some through. Confused and sometimes scared and lashing out.

One was Judy from Kentucky. and the cops called her a runaway.

But she only wanted to get home and didn’t know how she got there.

She ran into the bathroom and locked the door and cried for someone’s help.

She was only seven then and couldn’t help that girl despite all her pleading.

An older girl begging a seven year old for help no one understood.

And that was the thing, when they came through, they wanted things. Always something.

Always strange and out of reach but, she’d always watch when she saw them.

And she was always regretful about what she’d seen happen to Judy.

She wouldn’t bring them through. She had grown to love them and wouldn’t hurt them.

Not Elmer. He was funny. She had only ever seen through his eyes.

Not the dead man with one leg. She thought she may never see him, in life.

Not the necromancer’s child that controlled powers of Hell and heart strings.

Not the avenger in the darkness with a lust for fresh criminal’s blood.

They were her family in every invigorating hot coffee cup.

But now, she was older and living in ‘The City’ on her own dime.

She wrote horoscopes for the paper and gave readings when she booked them.

She used her mother’s name because ‘Mrs. Linda’ didn’t have the right ring.

It was hard to make rent and her room was smaller with a man in her bed.

Naked, bloody, and liked to call himself Raul, but that wasn’t his name.

And all he wanted was a little toy boat with a red racing stripe.

She knew not to pull him from her coffee, but she thought that he might die.

She told him about the coffee after she’d cleaned up his wounds.

He said he had to believe her. Although, she didn’t believe he did.

Flowers for the Dryer

Don’t mention the dryer grinding out its slow descent into dryness.

It resents you at the mention of the word and gets revenge.

Have you ever had a sock disappear or your jeans just won’t get dry?

It’s passive aggressive. It sure is. Really, what have you done for it?

Have you brought it flowers or rubbed its back or even said I love you?

No wonder it’s angry. I would be, too. In fact, I think that I am.

Where are my flowers, my back rub, my love? What have you done for me, Sam?

Yeah… You don’t notice. I mean Jesus can’t you even onload the dryer?

OK, yeah… Bull! I’m not even going to acknowledge you said that.

Midnight in Nowhere

In moonlight he preaches, not a vampire or monster or anything dumb.

Just a man with a penchant for midnight mass out in the open air.

The cool night air brings the people close together not spread out in pews.

Midnight religious have something in common in the fact that they don’t.

And they need the comfort of the closeness of others as strange, and warmth.

They don’t come here with jackets. This is always their first time to this town.

Finding their own Jesus. Midnight in nowhere in a church you don’t know.

What Would You Say?

What you say if someone was staring at your balls?

And you didn’t like it.

And you were taking a shit.

And this shit was in a busy public restroom.

At a rest area in Louisiana.

Somewhere in a swamp off I 10

At about eleven thirty at night

And there was no where else to stop.

And you had to take that shit so bad

That you stopped and waited in line

To sit down on a warm toilet seat

Some other fool just took a shit on.

And the toilet stall doors were so low

That even a short man

Could look over and see your balls.

And he did it for a second

And then walked off.

And somehow

In this busy restroom

Full of people,

He was allowed to stop and look again.

And now you got that first shit halfway in and halfway out of your asshole

And it doesn’t want to move any further when someone keeps looking at your balls.

And you can’t kick the door open with your pants around your ancles

And fight him with half a dangling turd.

And who knows why the people in line to shit

Are allowing him to stop and stare at your balls

A third time.

And this time he is getting a good long look.

What would you say?

What would you say?

God damn it,

What would you say?

A Hot Cup of Whatever the Hell That Is

I like my coffee with cream and a little murderous mushroom powder.

It helps drive out the impurities of modern life. Take a sip, would you?

The gagging and spitting is just your bodies way to tell you it’s working.

There. Take another drink you gotta get it while it’s good and hot. You like?

Just wait until you finish vomiting blood. You will be right as rain.

Don’t worry. I’m making me one. I’ll join you. Just give me a quick sec.

There you go. Finish it up. I’m giving myself a double. You wouldn’t believe

The day I had at work. I’m gonna relax with a couple big cups.

Dog Food for People

There is a can of Dinty More Stew I have been eyeballing.

I don’t know how it got there because I didn’t buy it.

I wouldn’t say I like the stuff, but I got a hankerin.

Its not good, and I probably won’t like it.

But them’s the price we pay for a good time.

It’s so close to real but just not quite right.

Like dog food for people. No fork and no plate.

Just stick your face in the bowl. Here I go.

All the Animals of Faith

Crow in grass canted in prayer black feathers burning with spiritual fire.

Cow in the field rises after three days, Lazarus of the grassland.

Mooing, he preaches of love and forgiveness and of life after steaks.

Herd upon herd followers amass with lazily swatting tails.

Grass stubble and muddy cow pond and with miracles feeds the masses.

He moos out his message bring unto me all the animals of faith.

The Family Type

You and your best girl, on and off, and she’s asking where are we going?

And then you tell her, on and off, or she calls and you hang up the phone.

And then she’s hinting, on and off, about the kids and the life she wants.

And then your fighting, on and off, and she says you don’t love her that way.

And then she is screaming, on and off, and watches you walk out the door.

You and your parents, on and off, ask when will you bring her to meet us?

You say next time. On and off. You might like her. Then you let things trail off.

Dinner and drinking, on and off, and late hotel rooms. Not news they’d hear.

On and off she is fun. On and off she is not. Not the family type.

You Just Leave Mine Alone

I seen you at the store t’other day an you walked on like ‘twasn’t nothin.’

I caught ya’ on t’other aisle when ya’ thought you was hidin.’ An ya’ wasn’t.

I said how is you? An ya’ stopped ‘cause I’s in da way. An ya said hi.

And ya’ looked away like I’s some stranger. Who’da’ thunk it? No, not me.

And ya’ pushed past. If’n ya thought it was right neighborly of ya.’ ‘Twasn’t.

Now, ya know me. Don’t ya, Earl. Now, I got this shiv under your chin, right?

Now, what you do between you an your goats… Well, you just let mine alone.

I know’d ‘twas you in the pasture last night. Could tell ‘twas you by your stank.

Couldn’t shoot straight last night ‘cause I’s in ma whiskey. Now, I hadn’t a drank.

Could ya’ tell me why your belt buckle’s missin’ an your hat’s laid in my field.

I promise, Earl. I’ll certainly listen before your happy ass’s killt.