Elder Feeding Birds on Rock Pond

Doctor says I need to move about more, which has translated into walks to the lake.  I dunno, this all feels a bit much.  An old man feeding ducks.  I’m a hotel painting: Elder Feeding Birds on Rock Pond.

Across the way two young roughs compete.  With each athletic endeavor the show becomes more and more a spectator sport.  The short one takes off his shirt and does some ineffective stretches.

Thick shoulders, defined abs; those forearms take work.  Legs aren’t nothing to write home about but most people wouldn’t notice.  His friend sets a mark of fifteen half hearted dips on the children’s parallel bars they both now survey.  He readies himself and then away he goes.  Elbows flare as he leans forward.  His undisciplined form finds every cheat.  The count comes to rest at seventeen.

After boasting success to his comrade in arms, he checks for onlookers but finds only me.  My gaze steadies unflinching upon him.

“You eyeing me, old man?”

A little more bread crumbs for the walking infectious.

His lip curls.  “You wanna suck my dick?”

He’s flexing, sucking in his abs.  I crack a smile.


“Then you might want to stick to your birds.”

He only manages a half turn before I reply.  “I was recalling when I used to look like you.”

Following a smirk, his hand flicks backward towards his friend in a ‘do you believe this shit’ kind of way.  “You never fucking looked this good.  I put up a 440 deadlift, a 380 squat, and bench 320.  How much you ever push?”

“I don’t know.  When I was your age the gooks never challenged me to any kinda weight lifting competition.”

The boy, since that’s all he really is, quiets down.  Not sure if I would know how to reply myself.

“No, looking at you I remember how confused I was.  After the war my dick ran the show.  Lot of late nights chasing warm beds.  Believe me, those beds belonged to the most beautiful women and they wanted me because I was cut from granite, much like you.  I had no care in the world for the saint that waited for me with my ring on her finger.  Boy did the girls line up.  And I told myself she couldn’t get mad ’cause they were all so much prettier than she was.  But even if she couldn’t get mad I could.  Ran my anger into old boot camp drills until my legs gave out.  If that wasn’t enough to quell it I left the rest in bruises across her face.”  I laugh, a sick, disgusted laugh.  “I swear the only genuine happiness I ever saw in her came with the cancer.”  A hail mary toss releases the last of the feed from my hand.  “I was confused.  But for all my faults my form was perfect.  So pull in your fucking elbows you pussy shit.”


Filed under: Writing

So I push up

I, rising from the water logged carpet, let out an exasperated breath followed by a number.  There’s a strong taste of salt in the sweat that enters my mouth.  There’s a ticking clock I’ve damned to hell more times than I can count.  Everything else is abandoned.

In this place where only anger exists, my muscles function beyond their capacity.  For that is what is needed.  My brain is solely provoked by the urge to push.  For that is what I must do.

But if I wasn’t just a brick of tensing flesh, I might wonder why.  Others surely will when the time comes.  Maybe I know, maybe I don’t, but I’ll lie to anyone that asks.  Tell them I had time to kill.

There are two things you should know.  First off, this won’t work.  Despite my truly best efforts nothing has worked in the past, not with her not with anything.  In fact, the bulk of my life has been spent in preparation for different non-occurring events.  Perhaps I’ve become so accustomed to it that any other outcome is an impossibility.

Secondly, I should tell you about her.  Please do not confuse her with her.  It’s an easy mistake to make but the two are quite different.  She was a bit of inspiration with her legs spread and she is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.

I’ll direct you to a few simple words she spoke.  When she said them I had only been working out for a few weeks, nothing serious.  Doting along like a labored donkey in the hot sun, there was no real reason why I was exercising.  But she changed that.

It was as I lifted my undershirt up over my head while she lay beneath me, half naked and waiting for sex.  In the darkness of those cotton folds I received a gift I don’t believe she knew she was giving.  She lipped the words “fuck, you’re gorgeous.” So delicately and honestly were these words delivered it was as if she needed to say them, as dire to her as breathing.  And God damn if it didn’t sound like “I love you.”

So I push up.

The truth is, when all is said and done I will have worked out for eight months, six days a week, two times a day, while starving myself on less than nineteen hundred calories, so that for one weekend, a mere two days, she’ll think I’m cute.

Maybe she’ll put it into words as well.  Tell me, like her, that I’m gorgeous.  And I’ll reply “you too.”

Filed under: Writing

Defeated Man

I once lay defeated before a now defeated man.  A king of all he beheld.  He was raving mad then.  He had provoked me with a sharp tongue and threatening gestures.  I vowed never again.

My star would rise despite his warning.  The people gathered around me as if attracted by some sort of magnetism.  This angered the crowned king.

And so he murdered my child to provoke me.  The only heir to my name stolen by the few ugly blows of a hammer.  But I stuck to my vow and would not engage him.  This angered the crowned king.

And so he murdered my wife to provoke me.  I found her drowned in the bath, her final expression did not seem to be one of peace.  But I stuck to my vow and would not engage him.  This angered the crowned king.

And so he murdered my parents to provoke me.  Dragged them through the streets naked as the day they were born until the bodies resembled strips of meat.  But I stuck to my vow and would not engage him.  This angered the crowned king.

And so he murdered my friends to provoke me.  Cut them into little pieces and fed them to his dogs while he taunted me from my yard.  But I stuck to my vow and would not engage him.  This angered the crowned king.

When he finally came for me it was too late.  With so much of his attention diverted towards my undoing a rival was able to sack his stronghold.   Frightened and humbled he came to me for quarter.  I informed him none would be given.

Though he survived the change in power, he emerged an old and powerless man.  Religion gripped him and with that a need to repent.  Day after day, year after year, for much longer than his siege against me, he asked for forgiveness.  I informed him none would be given.

It was a late autumn day when the pastor came to retrieve me.  His final wish was to keep my company one last time.  Begging, tears filling the lines in his face, he pleaded for solace.  I told him, in as plainly a manner as I could muster, that I would never absolve him of what he did.  He died with those being the last words he ever heard.

I stood as a man once defeated before a defeated man.

Filed under: Writing

Doorway Promises

This will be the last time.  The final callous swish of your hair.  The death nail in your yes-man postscript.

This will be the last time I believe any of your doorway promises.  And you’d know it too, if you hadn’t walked out on my warning.

Filed under: Writing

The Guest List

Up go the streamers and banners and balloons.  Canned soft drinks peek out through the layers of cubed ice.  Pretzels, chips, and assorted crackers fill wooden serving bowls.

Down dim the lights.  A kiss of sound from the stereo speakers.  With a patter of steps and a shrug of the shoulders I begin to dance.

There’s a party in my head and no one’s invited.

Filed under: Writing

Celebrating Nothing (Because I’m Told That’s What I’ve Accomplished)

This restaurant bothers me.  It always has.  It’s not the food or the decor, not the waitresses or the other patrons.  It’s the fact that you have to seat yourself, and it’s always busy, and there are two entrances.  It’s like dining in stop and go highway traffic.  When someone stands to leave the vultures hover, waiting for the race to replace them.  I’ve never gotten so many dirty stares getting up to go to the bathroom.

But we’ve already passed that part of the evening and are seated in a booth by the window.  I, and my family, wait for our orders.

My parents are discussing something.  Or maybe they’re sipping at their waters.  It doesn’t really matter.

My attention is focused on a gathering outside.  A woman, attractive, early thirties, is conversing with three gentlemen.  They are all exchanging goodbyes, or at least it seems that way, maybe not they’re taking forever.

I’m making bets with myself about who she leaves with.  Mr. Blue (blue shirt to her right) doesn’t seem to be paying much attention to her.  Could be because he sees her all day or that he doesn’t want to ogle his friend’s wife.  The white shirt twins laugh at every joke and keep eye contact.  I’ve named them Mr. Wright (white on the right) and Mr. Wleft (the w is silent).  Mr. Wleft takes the early lead since he keeps touching her elbow.

How magnificently she commands their attention.   Dogs on leashes they are. You don’t mistakenly wear the shirt she’s wearing.  Everything about her screams ‘want me.’  If they haven’t all had sex with her they’ve all thought about it.

The parents are trying to discuss my future.  The only future I’m interested in is one that reveals the mystery of who she’s with.  If it’s not Mr. Wleft he’s going to get his clock cleaned for how much he’s touching her.  Mr. Wright has all but taken himself out of the running by staring at her tits for awkwardly long periods of time.  I don’t care how nice they are, no significant other stares like that.  Mr. Blue has come to life with two successful retorts that made her laugh.

My steaks tips are here but I don’t give a shit.  My celebration kabob can wait.   The horses are hitting the home stretch.  Make your final play boys.  A touch, a smile, a laugh.

And there is the goodbye wave!  They break into two groups… Mr. Blue leaves with the lovely lady!  Guess the white shirts don’t do it for her.  She needs color in her life.

My mother asks if my meal is OK since I’m not eating it.

I reply that it’s fine.  Tell her that I’ve been watching three men court a women across the street.  I had a soft spot for Mr. Wright because of his unabashed gawk.  You like to see a couple that still has that level of attraction for one another.  Mr. Wleft seemed a bit creepy but the kind of creepy that can be explained away when two people are together.  Which makes the outcome a bit uncomfortable.  Because in the end she chose Mr. Blue, who was obviously sick of her shit but proud enough as a man to not let the other two run a metaphorical train on his wife.  Though they kind of did anyway.

She putters out a confused Mr. Wright, Mr. Left (you can tell she’s not pronouncing the silent w), Mr. Blue?

I scream happy birthday, Mom!

The waitress happens to be passing.  She darts over and promises my mother cake.

I smile and say free cake.

Her look is so satisfying.  It says you know its not my birthday and my diet won’t allow for that cake.

I know, Ma.  I know.  Just wanted to show you I was good for something.

Filed under: Writing

Med Pack

My juice container tells me that my soul needs the vitamin B locked inside.  It tastes like watered down citrus but I’ll drink it, because it’s expensive and a gift.

Initial hypothesis verified.  This is not something my soul needs.

The watched clock ticks, the beverage depletes with time.  I may be of an uncommon variety, a kind that doesn’t mind waiting, because everyone always tries to find something for me to do. Doing nothing is perfectly acceptable.

Make a bit of time watching the clouds that threaten rain.  See a car pull up to the neighbors apartment.  A man kisses the driver’s cheek upon entering.  Realize that the chair I’m sitting in is remarkably comfortable.  Watch the clock tick and deplete my beverage.

I may have made a conclusion in error.  My soul does feel better.  It’s either the vitamin B or this unincorporated moment, in which I am able to do nothing.

Filed under: Writing


To see something truly magnificent, wait until dawn creeps over the horizon and then turn around.  Hold witness to the most beautiful blues.

But heed this advice with caution.  Turning away from something spectacular to glimpse the bleak may have devastating consequences.

Filed under: Writing

The Difference Between the River and the Water

I met a girl in a park one day.

You know I honestly don’t remember how we started talking.  I didn’t suddenly find myself gazing upon an angel or become a cog in the grand wheel of fate.  It’s like, it just always was.

It was lazy days; soft grass teaming with nameless bugs you didn’t expect to be there.  It was weeks of maturation over paperbacks and music play lists.  Highly anticipating Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when we could meet for an hour to do absolutely nothing.  A sun-baked time sink; the details of which would probably bore you.

I could tell you about our first kiss.  The feeling of her hand across my chest playing with assorted hairs until I grew bashful.  How her eyes would totally shut when she laughed, really laughed.  How even when we were separated at a party I’d catch her eyes always looking at me.  How the sex was more and more passionate every time until it wasn’t.  How eventually everything was a reason to be irritated.

But none of that matters.  Our connectivity rested not on milestones but on an old sheet laid out over a public works program.  I only have one thing to say, and watch me smile as I say it…

I met a girl in a park one day.

Filed under: Writing

A Trade

A man once stood over an infant’s crib.  A baby girl slept inside.  He bent down and latched a pendant around her neck.

From infancy, through childhood, on into adulthood the girl never took the pendant off.  Many made eyes at the ruby heart that hung from its chain but no matter the offer the girl would not part with it.

When the girl was well into her twenties her mother grew ill.  Having never known her father or extended family, the girl was consumed with worry.  She took up the role of bedside nurse, leaving every other chore unattended, even when her mother begged her to go experience the world.

Finally, on a day with pattern rain, the mother called her daughter close.  An address and a warning: “…he who lives there gave you that ruby heart.”  She passed soon after.

Finding herself in a situation that called for assistance, the girl decided to meet the man who gave her the pendant.  It was a long journey.  He lived many miles away.  But finally she came to a thick wooden door attached to a modest looking home.

Three knocks brought forth a barrel-chested man who demanded to know who she was.  Timidly holding up the pendant was enough to melt his rough exterior.  Inside they shared warm milk and porridge that licked the ceiling with steam.

Eventually, after much awkward starring and muttering, the girl explained why she had come.  She wondered if she could sell him back the pendant to pay for a proper funeral for her mother.  The man agreed and paid what she needed but added that if she ever needed the ruby heart she could come back for it.

Come back she did.  She had met a man and wanted to wear it on her wedding day.  Over cups of warm milk and porridge that licked the ceiling with steam, the man handed the pendant back over.

In only months she was back knocking on the door.  Her new husband had a grand idea for a business.  There is good money in selling emu oil.  They just needed some capital to get off the ground.  The man bought the pendant for what she needed but added that if she ever needed the ruby heart she could come back for it.

Come back she did.  Her husband had left her for one of the saleswomen.  The bulge in her belly was going to keep getting bigger.  Her plan was to tell the town her husband had died at war and left her with the ruby heart.  Over cups of warm milk and porridge that licked the ceiling with steam, the man handed the pendant back over.

In only months she was back knocking on the door.  The baby was costing more than she could ever dream.  Money was scarce and she didn’t know what to do.  The man bought the pendant for what she needed but added that if she ever needed the ruby heart she could come back for it.

Come back she did.  Things were going much better.  Her daughter was going to start school and she wanted to give her the pendant as a present.  Over cups of warm milk and porridge that licked the ceiling with steam, the man handed the pendant back over.

In only months there was a knock on the door.  Instead of the girl there was a small child.  The man demanded to know who she was.  Timidly holding up the pendant was enough to melt his rough exterior.  Inside they shared warm milk and porridge that licked the ceiling with steam.

Eventually, after much awkward starring and muttering, the child explained why she had come.  Her mother had fallen sick and needed a new heart.  She asked if she might trade the ruby heart for his.

Together, the man and the child went back to see the girl.  Together, the man, the girl, and the child went to the hospital and completed all the tests.  He was a match.  The man could donate his heart.

In green gowns they wanted, the man and the girl.  The man piped up to break the silence.  “You can keep the pendant.”

“Thanks.”  The girl played with her fingers.

“It’s lucky, that we’re a match.”

“Not really.  Your my father after all.”

“No, I’m not.”

The girl looked at him, tried to look through him.  “Then who?”

“I suppose I should have told you when we fight met.  I was passing through the town where you grew up.  At that time I was a thief.  I’d steal old antiques and other valuables.  I met your father in a bar.  He was bragging about this ruby heart pendant your mother had inherited from her grandmother.  Said it was so big he could sell it for all the riches in the world.

“So, I followed him home.  Once inside I tried to get the drop on him.  He wasn’t as drunk as I thought and noticed me creep up behind him.  I just barely dodged his swing and picked up the closest thing I saw.  It was an old maul.  One strike and he never got up.  I’d never killed anyone before.

“I panicked and went in search for a back door.  There was your mother.  She must have been awoken by the commotion.  The pendant was around her neck.  By instinct I grabbed it and forced her to the ground.  She lay there crying, asking me why.  I left her, stilling trying to find the back door, but instead I found your room.  There you were.  Sound asleep and peaceful.  I put the pendant around your neck and left through the front door.

“You see.  There’s no blood between us.  It’s just luck…”

“No, it’s more.  Thanks, Dad.”

Filed under: Writing

November 2017
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