"There's not much doubt in any of our minds that no complete idea springs fully formed from our brow,
needing only a handshake and a signature on the contract to send it off into the world to make twenty-five billion dollars.
The germ of the idea grows slowly..." - Walt Kelly

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Well hello there everyone. I apologize for the week-long absence from the world of blogging, but apparently my house was giving off wireless interference and Comcast had to shut down my Internet. Yesterday they finally came and fixed it, so here I am.

This is a poem inspired by the recent passing of a friend of mine whom I knew since the fourth grade. This is the end result of a lot of different (read: unsuccessful) attempts to write something about it.

Dusk, a drive-by
And a salute.
Memorialize where he lived,
Not where he lies,
And the crickets sound.
The epicenter of an insect hurricane.
I tell myself he’s still here,
That this must be his doing,
But I don’t believe me.
I know the truth;
Saw it with my own eyes,
Cold and still.
Expected an image
Burned into my brain.
Isn’t that how it always goes?
But instead
I faced reality,
And emerged unscathed.
No lasting impression,
Just a memory,
Set to fade in time
Until the crickets
Sound off again.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Animals, The House of the Rising Sun

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chatham Station: Welcome Home

The mind plays tricks,
but this of course you knew
after see and saw.
No one won the series,
but a champion was crowned,
This must be destiny,
I thought,
as I was dragged inside.
Sat in the swiveling chair
and stared at the walls,
clean metal statue in hand.
He spoke from behind horns
that curled to infinity.
You're so far
from where you belong.
Welcome home.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Foo Fighters, Monkey Wrench

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chatham Station: Years in the Dark

The gears clicked neatly into place
like they were tied to strings
and swung wildly by some deity
who couldn't care less
what happened after he was done.
They coincide and I feel the rush,
the stupid, bemused emotion
fizzling up my spine,
landing with a horridly satisfying squelch
deep in the frontal lobe.
It's nothing so significant, she said.
A feeling, yes,
but of a smaller caliber.
I couldn't help myself to answer,
not after the chase, the back and forth,
arms fired by the emotion
until the acid burned no longer.
Passion stemmed from one heart or another,
but never both at once.
Some lovely summer flower
lopped off, petals bent in anxiety,
killed in the shade.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Portugal. The Man, Kill Me. The King

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Prospective Homeowner

My house is already built.

I've seen it, inside and out, and it's beautiful. In the early morning of the spring, sunlight bleeds through the soft curtains that are a color of blue I have never seen before. The light gathers in pools on the glamorously red carpet, which, despite being quite lovely, is far too flashy for my tastes. I will probably rip it out and have it replaced by a more sterile gray color.

In the evenings when you sit on the porch, so long as it isn't overcast you can see just about every star in the sky. Oftentimes this results in a stiff neck, but the heating pad in the upstairs medicine cabinet takes care of that in a jiffy every time. Quality stuff, that heating pad.

And if you're a light sleeper? Not even a single worry. In the winter the whole area is deadly silent until people start getting up for work in the morning, and during the summer the crickets and katydids are fantastic at lulling one to sleep. And don't even get me started on the beds. Whatever they are, I'm keeping them, because when I wake up in the morning I always have the loveliest restful feeling.

The yard is full of small gardens along the property lines. In the spring you can watch the buds open day by day, the vibrancy of the environment growing much like the young blossoms that contribute to it. Having viewed their vivid colorings through my high-powered binoculars, I can safely say that the soil mixture here must be exquisite.

In short, this house, this yard, this neighborhood: all perfect. It's pretty much a dream home. Like I said, my house is already built.

If only those people would hurry up and move out already...

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Billy Joel, New York State of Mind

Monday, April 12, 2010

A plan involving steel and mortar and bricks and pie (Part Three)

Today brings the conclusion of what I'm going to call "the Bricks and Pie saga." If you want to read the whole story, you can bring up all three parts by clicking on the "Bricks and Pie" tag in the sidebar to the left. Enjoy!

On Sunday, April 29, Jeff went to his first Catholic mass. Even though he had spent most of his adult life as an atheist, he figured he didn't really have a choice anymore since, as of the start of the weekend, he was now working for God.

Jeff and his cousin Zeke arrived at the church early because Zeke insisted on introducing him to the priest.

"Father Andrew, there's someone who I would finally like you to meet!" Zeke said to the priest as they stood on the church steps. "This is my cousin, Jeff."

Father Andrew reached out a hand to greet Jeff. "I've heard great things of you, Jeff," he said. "It's a pleasure to meet you at last."

"Uh, yeah, you too," Jeff said. "Nice to meet you, too."

"Zeke is always telling me how helpful you always are to his projects," Father Andrew said as he patted Zeke on the shoulder. "So what is the occasion that brings you to our church today?"

"Jeff's had a change of heart, Father," Zeke said as Jeff opened his mouth to answer. "He had...an experience."

Father Andrew's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Really? That's quite interesting. I've heard some amazing stories about such occurrences. What was yours like?"

Jeff glared at Zeke, who responded with an apologetic shrug. Jeff sighed and thought for a moment.

"Well, I guess I just, uh...saw the light," Jeff said uncertainly, hoping the priest would accept his poorly formed explanation.

Father Andrew nodded. "Indeed," he said, pressing his palms together. "And did the Lord speak to you?"

Jeff flashed back to God standing outside his cubicle, changing instantly from a black man to an Asian man.

"You could say that," Jeff replied.

"Fascinating!" Father Andrew exclaimed. He glanced at his watch. "Oh my, almost time for the service to begin." He waved the men inside. "Right this way, gentlemen."

Jeff hadn't been inside a church since his father's funeral eight years ago, and it was exactly the way he remembered it: too quiet, too big, funny smelling and frightening in a kind of overly-somber, goat-sacrificing cult kind of way.

When they got back to Zeke's house after the service was over, the two men found God waiting for them on the front porch.

"Welcome home, my friends," God said, opening his arms wide. "Ezekiel, I have some blueprints in the basement for you to get started on. And Jeffrey..." He snapped his fingers and produced what looked like a scroll in his right hand, which he offered to Jeff. "...this is for you."

Zeke waved goodbye to Jeff and ran inside, and Jeff slowly rolled out the parchment. It unfurled all the way down to the patio, stopping just before it hit the concrete. Jeff scanned the list and looked up at God.

"Supplies?" Jeff asked.

"Correct," God said.

"And where can I find them all? Some of this stuff doesn't look like standard Home Depot fare, you know?"

"Correct again, Jeffrey. Some of these materials will require inquiries to industrial firms. Luckily my design will result in a relatively small construct, so mass quantities will not be needed."

"Oh." Jeff read down the list again. "Well that's a relief, isn't it..."

God smiled. "Good luck," he said, and then he disappeared.

Jeff looked around instinctively, sighed, and walked to his car. He rolled up the list as neatly as he could and threw it onto the passenger seat. He sighed again. This is going to take forever, he thought.

In fact, it did not take forever. With God's blueprints and Jeff's supplies, Zeke was able to complete the project in just over seven months. On December 15, God was back in Zeke's basement, smiling with satisfaction.

He ran his hands over the machine Zeke had constructed for him, which resembled a small car chassis, minus the curvature of the roof, sandwiched between two halves of a smokestack. There was a large hole on the top and bottom, and there were gears and pulleys exposed around the center of the contraption.

"Splendidly done, Ezekiel, simply outstanding work," God said. "It exactly matches every specification I laid out for you."

Zeke shuffled his feet bashfully. "Oh, well thank you very much, Lord, but I couldn't have done it without Jeff."

God looked up from his machine and over to Jeff. "Indeed, we cannot forget Jeffrey's assistance in this project." He walked over and placed a hand on Jeff's shoulder. Jeff felt as though he was being crushed under thousands of pounds of pressure. "My deepest thanks to you as well, Jeffrey."

God walked back to the machine and touched it, and then it was gone.

"Ezekiel," he said, turning back to Zeke and Jeff, "I would like to request your assistance with one more thing, if you would be so kind. I will need your help activating the machine next Friday."

Zeke nodded eagerly. "No problem at all, Lord. Just tell me where to be."

"Thank you, my son." God shifted his gaze to Jeff. "Jeffrey, your part in this is complete. You may return to your home, and I have arranged it so that on Monday, you will find your job waiting for you once again."

Jeff was taken aback. "Well, um, thanks, thanks a lot," he said. "But aren't you going to tell us what it does?"

"All in good time, Jeffrey," God said. He smiled again, and then he was gone.

When he returned to work on Monday, Jeff's boss, Jolene, was waiting for him.

"Good morning Jeff!" she said cheerfully as he swiped into the office. "I just wanted to tell you how glad we are to have you back. We were so worried about you after we heard about your accident."

Jeff expression twisted in confusion. "My wha-?" Then he understood. "Oh. Oh, yeah it was pretty bad, I guess." He smiled awkwardly. "Thanks for your concern." He hurried around her and made a beeline for his desk.

Jeff spent the rest of the work week in a daze, wracking his brains for any clues God might have dropped that could give away the purpose of the machine Zeke had built. He scoured Internet search engines for pictures of machines that resembled the one he had seen in Zeke's basement. It was all to no avail.

By Friday morning he was exhausted, having hardly slept all week. I've gotta figure it out before God gets Zeke, Jeff thought as he spun around aimlessly in his office chair. Wait...what day is today?

He spun back to his computer and looked at the calendar on his desktop, then typed the date into a search engine: "December 21, 2012." The search engine hunted the Internet, then displayed the results on his screen.

Jeff's mouth dropped open in horror. Oh...my...

He ran out of his cubicle and out of the office into the parking lot. He sprinted to his car, fumbling through his pockets to find his keys. He finally heard the familiar clanking sounds and felt the cold metal, and he closed his hands around the keys and yanked them out.

As he bent forward to unlock the driver's side door, he felt a slight tremor shake the ground beneath him. He stopped, almost paralyzed with fear, and looked up and behind him. He saw an intensely bright light on the horizon, and it was growing quickly.

Jeff dropped the keys to the ground and watched the massive explosion approaching. He laughed wryly under his breath and shook his head.

"Oh you have GOT to be kidding me..."

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
A Tribe Called Quest, Award Tour

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Momentum for the sake of momentum

Gaze up at those soft, velvet ribbons,
watch them fall in folds,
pieced together
and hemmed neatly at the bottom.

Listen to hymns spat into microphones,
leaked out in poisonous impulse.
A waterfall of life-canon
drying up instantly on glossed wood.
Venom, bred electric green.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Neko Case, Maybe Sparrow (just a great live performance, ignore Letterman)

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I leave you lovely folks with this 50-word story as I'm about to go cover a Tea Party rally at my county courthouse. Can I tell you how much I'm looking forward to this? Not at all, that's how much.

He dangled over the side, mind noisy with memories he’d spent years laboring to kill. He imagined himself as bait, bowing precipitously over an aluminum boat hull, waiting for something to cascade upward and eat him. He let the planet take hold, and it pulled him in close.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Pink Floyd, Money

Friday, April 9, 2010

A plan involving steel and mortar and bricks and pie (Part Two)

Okay, so remember the other day when I said this was going to be a two-part story? Well apparently I lied. I apologize for my accidental deception. There will be a THIRD part that will probably be up sometime this weekend. As usual, please leave any feedback you have. Thanks!

Jeff awoke on Friday morning to the soft buzzing of his phone vibrating against the carpet in his aunt and uncle’s guest bedroom. He rolled over to the side of the bed and opened his eyes slowly enough that he could almost hear them creaking in protest. The front of his phone lit up with the name, “Jolene.” It was his boss, probably calling for the umpteenth time this morning wondering why he hadn’t shown up to work.

Jeff’s pulse quickened and suddenly he was wide-awake. Frantic thoughts crazied through his mind like a disturbed beehive. Why didn’t I show up to work this morning? Why am I not sleeping in my own bed? Why did Scott Bakula call me yesterday?

Then Jeff remembered the truth:

“I’ve brought you back together to create something for me,” God had said. “I’d like you, Ezekiel, to be my personal architect on this project, with you, Jeffrey, providing him with the materials he needs.”

“So basically,” Jeff postulated, “we’re like Noah 2.0. Right?”

God thought for a moment. “Well, not precisely,” he said. “Your cousin Ezekiel would be the closest comparison to what Noah was, while you would be Noah’s financier, which, if I remember correctly – and I do – he did not actually have.”

Jeff’s gaze dropped to the floor. “Oh,” he said quietly.

“So what do we need to do, Lord?” Zeke asked.

“Well for tonight, all I ask is that you consider my request for your assistance and get some sleep,” God said. “I know this is all very shocking for you Jeffrey, and I want you to be comfortable with it all before we get started.”

Jeff became very nervous. “Yeah, uh, about that…”

God held up a hand to silence him. “I hold no grudges against those who do not believe in me, Jeffrey, so long as they eventually prove able to learn the truth. And despite your original reaction, I do believe you are able.”

“Oh…good,” Jeff said as a sheepish grin grew on his face.

“So,” God said, holding his arms open wide, “relax for the evening, gentlemen, and I will be back in the morning to speak with you further regarding our project.”

A loud, rapid knocking on the bedroom door brought Jeff back to the present. He scrambled out of bed and opened the door.

“Mornin’ Jeff!” Zeke said cheerfully. “Ready to go downstairs and talk to God?”

Jeff’s brain fizzled slightly at Zeke’s last remark, not yet completely adjusted to the fact that his cousin was not insane for saying it. Even though he now knew God was real, he could feel himself repressing an instinctive burst of incredulous laughter.

“Um, I uh…yeah…yeah, sure,” he answered slowly. “Can I have some breakfast, though?”

“Already down there,” Zeke said. “My mom and dad did some shopping this morning before they went out for their book club meeting. They won’t be back for a while now so we have some time.”

They started walking down the two flights of stairs to the basement, but Jeff reached out an arm and stopped Zeke on the first landing.

“Z, you sure we should be doing this?” he said nervously. “I mean, do we even know what he wants us – I mean, you – to make?”

Zeke shrugged his shoulders and resumed his path down the steps. “Not really, but it’s God, Jeff. Who would say no to an opportunity to help The Almighty?”

Jeff stopped him again. “I dunno, but I mean, why us, you know? Why not pick somebody who has a history of making stuff that works? No offense.”

Zeke waved it off. “None taken. And I’m not sure why us, but I’m honored that he did pick us. I think we just have to trust that he knows what he’s doing, which I’m pretty sure he does.”

Jeff sighed and nodded reluctantly, and they turned the corner into the basement, where God was seated in an office chair behind a desk that was neatly stacked with papers and engineering books.

“Good morning, Jeffrey,” God said. “Ready to get started? There’s some food on the table over there graciously provided by Ezekiel’s parents. You may feel free to help yourself.”

Jeff followed God’s pointing finger to the right rear corner of the room, where a plastic party table was stocked with everything you would find at a hotel continental breakfast. He walked over and selected a bagel with cream cheese and made himself a bowl of bran flakes. He walked back to the desk, where Zeke was now poring over one of the engineering books.

“Jeffrey, I have already spoken briefly with Ezekiel about his half of the project, and have provided him with all the blueprints and engineering knowledge he might need to get it done. As for you, I would like to know if you are officially on board with this project."

Jeff thought for a second and glanced over at Zeke, who was now looking up from his book, wide-eyed and nervous that his cousin might say "no." Zeke tried to nod his head at Jeff as discretely as possible.

Jeff saw it, but it didn't help his decision-making process. He ran through the situation in his head. God asks you to do something - YOU, out of all the billions of people in the world - and you say no. What's stopping him from turning you inside out and plastering you to the wall in the Natural History Museum?

"Yes," Jeff blurted before his mind could catch up to his mouth. "Yes, I'm in."

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Motion City Soundtrack, Capital H (watch the video, it's fantastic)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A plan involving steel and mortar and bricks and pie (Part One)

Greetings, my lovely audience. This is a story that began as one sentence I wrote very distractedly while watching the NCAA Championship game with Mr. Andrew Kaspereen. It has developed so nicely that I will be posting it in two parts, because it is too long and would take up the whole page. Here is part one, and part two will follow before the week is out. Enjoy!

Every Thursday afternoon at one-thirty, Jeff goes to the bank. He hops on the bicycle he has been maintaining since he was in college and rides down Chester Road towards Main Street, making sure to swerve at exactly the right moments to avoid the cracks in the sidewalk at Meadow View Road and the giant pothole along the side of West Ave.

Sometimes Jeff visits the bank to manage his own funds. He is paid at lunchtime every Thursday, and he has an arrangement with his boss, Jolene, so that while he is out for lunch he can also stop by the bank so he doesn't have to worry about it after work. Other times, he deposits his check and then wires money to his cousin Zeke, who lives in New Jersey.

Zeke is continually calling Jeff and telling him that he has just invented "the next big thing" in whatever particular industry he takes an interest. Jeff could remember them all: salt mining equipment in 2003, letter openers in 1988, scratch and sniff birthday cards in 1991, lightsabers in 1977. Every invention inexorably failed in one spectacular display of ineptitude or another.

This Thursday morning, Zeke called Jeff at work just after Jeff got out of his daily morning meeting. Zeke called his cousin so often that at this point he had Jeff's schedule memorized.

"Hey Jeffy!"

"Z, I've asked you many times not to call me that. We aren't seven anymore."

"No, I guess not, but we're fifty-seven! There's a seven in there, so that counts, right?"

Zeke laughed. He was a good-natured fellow, but on average only had a good joke once in every one-hundred attempts. His favorite strategy with Jeff was to preface a request for money with a joke, which was almost always terrible.

"What's the plan this time, Z?"

Zeke paused for a moment before replying. Jeff figured he was trying to come up with a good way to word what was surely going to be another disastrous idea.

"Well I'll get to that in a moment, but have I ever told you how grateful I am that you support all of my ideas? I really mean that, you know. I'm just blessed to have a cousin that stands up and volunteers his help, you know? I feel like God, our praised Lord, has put you here-"

"Z, shut the hell up," Jeff interrupted. "You know I'm not a believer."

Zeke coughed nervously on the other end of the line. "Well, yeah, I know, it's just, well..."

"What, Zeke?"

There was a silence on the other end, and Jeff could hear Zeke's whispered voice humming just below his hearing range. A resonating bass voice answered from the background, and Jeff swore that he could hear it echoing through the receiver.

"Um, Jeff? Could you stay on one second? There's someone here who wants to talk to you."

Jeff sighed loudly. "Zeke I REALLY need to be getting back to work. Who is it?"

"Hello, Jeffrey." The bass voice now boomed loudly and inconceivably clearly through the phone. "I've been watching you for a while now, and I have selected you to help your cousin Ezekiel build something for me."

Jeff pulled the phone away from his ear and looked at it suspiciously. He looked warily around the office and then placed the receiver back against his ear.

"Who is this? Is this Scott Bakula? Because if this is about that one time at Applebee's, I did send a letter of apology. A very eloquent one, if I may say so."

"Um...no," the voice replied. "This is the voice of God."

Jeff's eye's widened and he was silent for a moment before bursting into uncontrollable laughter. He dropped the phone and fell from his swivel chair onto the unusually plush office carpeting. Tears of amusement fell from his eyes with breakneck frequency.

There was a brilliant flash of light, and a tall, stately, black gentleman with white hair and a white beard appeared in the walkway between Jeff's cubicle and his neighbor's. Jeff stopped laughing instantly, and he thought he felt a warm moisture growing in the crotch of his pants.

"Wha-?" Jeff stuttered as he tried to form words that weren't curses. He continued blabbering for a few more seconds before the gears in his brain finally meshed and he spit out, "You're really black?"

God shrugged. "Sometimes." His features suddenly shifted, and Jeff found himself face to face with a respectfully elderly Asian man with a silvery Fu Manchu and long goatee. "If I feel like it."

He reached a hand out to Jeff. "Stand up, Jeffrey. I've come to bring you to Ezekiel's home so we may begin our project."

Jeff self-consciously covered his lap with his right hand and reached out his left to take the offered hand of God.

"What exactly are you having us work on, sir?" Jeff asked.

God smiled and pulled Jeff to his feet.

"It's quite simple, Jeffrey. You're finally going to finance an invention that is going to work."

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Radiohead, House of Cards

Chatham Station: Fathoms

Water pushed up sideways,
blurred in the beer haze five deep,
fathoms and otherwise.
When she finally saw I ran,
tumbled as fast as I could on all fours
but turned the wrong way.
It's all I have left to build,
trample it down in layers
to try and cross the sea.
It's a blue I built single-handed,
filled in the lines with crayon
when acrylics were within easy reach.
So here's to another one gone,
when I reached out my arms and grasped air.
What's another six feet?

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Coheed & Cambria, Three Evils (Embodied In Love And Shadow)

Monday, April 5, 2010

My little bird in a cage

It was all posted up in bright colors, red and green and
yellow and orange, because nothing rhymes.
Bottled up until it spilled out, dribbling waterfalls.

Currents carried cables calling captains careless,
burned with laughter until the letter
was meaningless, hard sound from the back of the throat
that felt like choking. Boats were piloted
straight into the docks, splinter showers
weren't forecasted, wrong again Channel 4.
Too bad you clawed out and up, work heel
right through the ventricle, just to be
lied to and killed.
Love it though. Don't we all.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Shins, Red Rabbits

Friday, April 2, 2010

Chatham Station: Past The River

Winds send water in ripples,
movements wonderfully tiny
but more sure of themselves
than I think I've ever been.
I watched the liquid wrinkle
until I saw her face appear,
beautiful, but unhappy, the
only way I can remember it.
Mine once, until it started
to decay, blank check signed
and bounced. Now I hunt for
a remedy, hopelessly, because
she is the only antidote. I
feel as though I'm standing,
blank stare blank mind, before
a hundred outlets at a power
station, and the only way to
come back, feel alive, is to
stick a fork in each one.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Talib Kweli & Hi-Tek
(feat. Jay Electronica, J Cole, Mos Def), Just Begun