to say we were lost boys would be cliché
but clichés have ways
of cementing truths into language
like hard red suns that scorched West Philly & warm beers we guzzled ‘till we couldn’t walk straight & time went missing like a thief
who stole my innocence
& we packed into an old sedan on a road to nowhere &
perhaps, if time is not linear, this had to happen &
if free will is a myth, we had no choice in the matter,
merely swigging, smoking, fighting in adolescent wastelands
For my father
in the dining room, action figures were imprisoned in a green vase, and you returned from prison with my uncle, looking slimmer
from pushups in sunbaked yards
mustache and dazed look gone, down on one knee, arms open wide & smiling with teeth I learned were fakes
I thought you were fake, too
unrecognizable, a stranger from a blurred past we no longer spoke of, only at grandma’s house, when we opened letters decorated by your brother with cut-outs from Marvel comics
& were told you were away on business –
Nostalgia always comes with a bit of bad memory
back in the day, I remember life being calmer
but who’s to say?
My father stumbled in stadium parking lots drunk back in those days
+ I still had depressions that didn’t seem to go away
So what’s so different ’bout back then + the present day?
(Photo by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash)
Cindy parked her work truck in the shade by a McDonald’s and took a big bite out of her Quarter Pounder. Her lunch breaks were always interrupted by phone calls — the endless calls from dispatchers. Today was no different.
When her phone rang, she turned down the Brad Paisely song on her radio.
“Hey, sunshine,” said Marcus, the dispatcher. “Feel like catching any more dogs today?”
It wasn’t the call Cindy wanted to get. But at least it wasn’t the call, the one she constantly feared getting.
Alcoholics like to talk about rock bottom –
the moment they recognized the bottle is filled with lies
the moment when they open their eyes
+ know they don’t have to drink anymore
I hit bottom in a rehab far from home after unkind words
from a social worker who told me
I was running from life – but that’s in the past
I’m still running, I know not why
the sky is falling, fireballs shooting like comets
+ I think this recovery thing is never over –
it’s a life-long process that can’t be defined
by our constant categorizing.
(Photo by Adam Wilson on Unsplash)
The woman asks me for ten dollars – she demands it
I’m reluctant, standing in a pock-marked city,
but feeling pity for her, as she frantically talks
her eyes yellow like harvest moons
her voice shrieks like an urban banshee –
the realities of poverty and addiction,
the rich getting fatter off broken backs.
I reach into my wallet, hand her a ten-dollar bill
she hugs me + hurries away, vanishing into the night,
and as I walk home, I wonder if I’ll ever need to
ask for my ten dollars back
(Photo by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash)
We are damnifacados: homeless, junkies,
people deem us less than human.
When you pass us on a hectic street, we’re resting with
backs to the wall asking for mercy, spare change –
you look away from our weathered faces,
we feel disgrace, in our soiled clothes, our tired eyes.
A teacher told my mother I’d join a cult –
that was in the ‘90s + twenty years later,
I was a recovery zealot, driving through
snowstorms to share my sorrows with
strangers, always thinking I was in danger,
fighting my impulses + a mind that
seemed to want me dead.
(Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash)
Okay, so I’ve become a bit of a Jason Isbell fanatic. Rachel can tell you that I listen to this Americana songwriter constantly, especially the song “Outfit.” I wanted to highlight one of Isbell’s songs off his new album that I connected with from the first time I heard it.