Unbreakable (a poem)

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

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Cheap Carnival (a poem)

in psych wards, they take your belt, shoelaces

anything you could use to hurt yourself

when I’m there, I fear the world will kill me

so, I give them my belt, tell ’em to take good care of it

& I talk to others there

& I feel damaged & I identify with compatriots –

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God’s Polaroid Camera (a poem)

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 –

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Perseverance (a poem)

stuck in swamplands

it seemed the pain would never end

a cycle of torture, anxieties about futures

that would demolish me

leave me in ashes

in a bombed-out city

during an irrational war –

it took perseverance to pull myself

from rubble, trudge forward

all while asking

is there any meaning

to this constant struggle?

(Photo by Elvis Bekmanis on Unsplash)

Ode to Solitude (a poem)

in solitude I come to know myself –

chatter of others stripped away, me stripped

of creature comforts, a creature without

a haven, thoughts bang & jangle

in a brain that has gone insane –

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Sinking (a poem)

I didn’t realize I was sinking

‘til I ended up in the psych ward –

red stitches on a woman’s neck

she looks like a scarecrow

she sliced her own throat

to make the torment end

I was sinking

(Photo by Mishal Ibrahim on Unsplash)

Nostalgia (a poem)

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)

City of Dogs (a short story)

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.

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Rock Bottom (a poem)

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)