Be Less Critical / 2.15.19 / 6:35-7:05

Lawrence is the boy who lives in my brain and let’s me know when to be ashamed.

He’s kinda fat.

Not clinically, mind you.

The kind of former fat that lingers like a sore.

The fat that looks like it might have once been pluckish but now just looks uncomfortable. Baby fat long overstaying its welcome and growing in steady proportions to give the appearance that, at any moment, Lawrence might literally pop and drown the room in puss and Ovaltine.

It would be easy to say he carries fat the way I used to but that’s not true.

My face was pudgy, sure, my waist rotund and my legs (as mother used to say) resembled tree trunks but this fucker is all round.

Round face. Round trunk. Round hands.

He’s like a miserable cartoon sketch.

And he always looks wet.

Almost greasy.

It looks like it should be sweat but there’s something about his sheen that is entirely more permanent and, besides, he never seems to have stains on his lavender turtlenecks (which is clearly a nod to my fat days) and you’d think that his insistence on corduroy pants would leave ass markings wherever he went but such is not the case.

He wears glasses too. Round, of course. A little SS but infinitely less fashionable.

I never got a good look at his shoes but I can only imagine their Buck’s. Brown but a slightly different shade than his slacks which – somehow – he manages to keep creased which, for corduroys, is just confusing.

What’s the goddamn point, Lawrence?

Your whole fucking leg is lines!

Unless I’m getting confused.

Could be.

It’s a very confusing time for me.

Could be I’m swapping cords with a pair of navy blue slacks – heavily pleated – and almost made of cotton but never, ever quite and whatever blend they do possess is just enough to give me a yeast infection.

So, yeah.

He looks like the embarrassment of old money but he isn’t.

Right down to the weird shade of Anglo-Saxon he parades like a badge of courage. Not quite ashen but distinctly pale with periodic blushes which further emphasize his overall wetness.

I mean, the kid is just…ugh.

And he talks with this bookish affectation, forcing his nut-twisted tenor down to an unconvincing baritone to give the impression that not only is he absurdly well-read but he has definitely, totally, 100% done sex with an absolutely for real lady whose breasts swole to DDs the second his five foot five trotting ass sluiced into the room muttering Dylan Thomas snippets to anyone who would listen.

“We who are young are old,” being his personal favorite.

The prick.


Put in Earplugs / 2.14.19 / 7:52-8:22

She left copious notes.



Some long and carefully constructed, others fractious and vague.

Food lists and phone numbers and domestic equations share space with reactionary narratives and unattributed quotations on post-its and flash cards (God-related, mostly), bills and receipts and sometimes, it seems, she even managed to thread something like a narrative in the first few pages of a notebook.

I haven’t gone through it all yet.

I haven’t really even started.

These things are the last on the list after court and internment and more court and taxes (the bureaucracy of death is immense).

Well, maybe not last.

I think I’ll leave the photographs for that.

But they are definitely down on the list of “dealing with it” because I’m not ready to be an archivist.

Sure, I’m curious what happened.

I want to know where she was, where she went and how I ended up with this neckbeard and deep, embittered sense of anticlimax.

I mean, I think we know why she’s dead but I’m not quite ready to know why she died.

Not that I’m ready for any of this, actually.

You’d think after so many decades of waiting, a lifetime spent wondering which disease would do her in, a childhood punctuated by late nights sneaking into her bedroom to count her breaths to make sure she hadn’t taken a turn for the worst, an adolescence and young adulthood squandered on separation anxiety and aggressive codependence followed by a pretty decent decade (giver or take) and then the recent decision to mark a critical (and long overdue) emotional distance I’d be able to slide right in to the role of the motherless son but that just doesn’t seem to be the case.

Every night I see her body.

Every morning I wake up determined to invest in my self.

Every day I lose the thread.

In the evening, I drink and I smoke and I scribble.

Then it’s her body again.

The snake eats its tail.

And if I don’t find a way out of the loop pretty soon I’ll be desperate and desperation is not a good look on a man my age.

Fill Every Beat with Something / 2.13.19 / 7:25-7:55

I’ve always been an angry man.

I used to be an attractive man.

If there’s not something wrong with my liver today, there sure will be by the time I am fifty.

(that’s when I tell myself I’ll be debt free)

And yet, I never much cared for Dostoyevsky. Don’t like the Russian tomes as a whole.

Not that I’ve read many.

Started a few but never got too deep with the grim literary prowess of the great mother suffer. Grandma Lou didn’t like them either (not that anyone ever called her that). Rumor has it she read War and Peace twice. They second time was just to make sure she didn’t like it the first.

Now that’s some serious dedication to displeasure.

Still a gag’s a gag, right?

And as cheap gags go you can’t do much better than a miserable prick in a chair waxing loathsome.

Not that it’s real funny right now.

It’s kinda tired actually.

The lazy search for meaning.

The muffin top.

The fissure, the cyst, the black scar on my retina.

The blahs and blues and the what the fuck fors and the easy excuses that come choked with a ribbon like so much bloated fruit when someone you love or loved or wish you’d known better for the woman she was before the Don came and took her last glimmering specter of madness and youth and turned it into a callous paranoia, a bent heel reaction to all things patient, progressive or antithetical to the maw of Fox news.

It’s all fodder for reasoning failure.

And woe is he who fails, right?


We know that.

We know failure is a critical step in the progression of man in being better than the sum of his meat and ardor. We know failure is the key to all process. We know that to fail is to try and to try is to live and to live is a gift we reject routinely because it’s easier to not give a shit when the quiet rolls in.

Emphasize Repetitions / 2.11.19 / 6:55-7:25

My mother is dead.

My mother is dead.

My mother is dead.

My mother is dead and she died alone in her home watching television and I know that sounds lonely and sad and it is, I suppose, but that’s just how she lived when she wasn’t putting on holiday airs.

Not sad and lonely, so much, but alone.

My mother is dead and I found her (with Patrick behind me) on the couch in a muumuu hiked up above her depends.

Patrick thought she was naked.

I’m glad that she wasn’t.

My mother is dead and Peg thinks that when she died she looked exactly like my grandfather.

Peg didn’t see her death though.

I did.

And Patrick.

And then Melissa and some firemen, an EMS team, a couple of meddling Hasids, some cops, a detective, more cops and then Duffy’s who wrapped her in burlap and carted her away for the evening.

At least, I think it was burlap.

The rough felt familiar against my cheek.

Before they did that, though, Duffy’s asked if I wanted to keep the clothes that she was wearing. I said “No,” of course because who needs to carry the smell of a corpse but now I wish I had.

I’m not sure why just yet.

Just a hunch.

Something Peg said about her knowing what was coming. Something Peg suggested about her hastening the inevitable. Not suicide. Not negligence. Not dementia. Not any one thing but an amalgamation of inactions that makes the suddenness of her finality a bit of a mess.

Not for me, really.

Not today.

Today, I’m still trying to settle her affairs. Today, I’m still drinking to pass the time. Today, I have boxes and boxes of shit to sort through still and though I’m more than happy to let everyone know these boxes exist there isn’t a single piece of me that wants to start the process of sifting through them.

Not the bills. Not the church stuff. Not the pictures. Not the stories.

I have to though.

Those boxes are choking me out of my home which is funny because as she let her health and finances dissolve into ruin I had to repeatedly emphasize to her that she would not, could not come and live with me and Melissa.

Now here she is.

All over our fucking place.

In my room, the living room, the closets, the dog beds.

All the mountains scavenged from the last 69 years of her life packed and piled just waiting to be considered.

And it pisses me off.

Which pisses me off.

Which pisses me off.

Because the whole thing just feels so ungrateful

Put in Earplugs / 10.10.16 / 8:18-8:38

When I can’t sleep and it’s too late for pills and too early for coffee and the initial financial panic has subsided and I’ve rattled through the sadness of trying to remember my name and SSN, birthday and address, etc. etc. just to prove I’m not lost to the wilderness just yet and convinced myself of my place and time by reminding myself that M. exists and she’s mine and we have dogs and all three of them are in the next room and when I can’t be so sure that my mind is right even though I know – for shit sure – it is mine (or, at least, as sure as I can be without knowing anything to the contrary) I close my eyes tight as I can, so tight the blackness becomes kaleidoscopic and I listen hard past the murmur of the street and the constricting scree in my eardrums (too many shows and too little sense, it seems) and my own heart pounding for reason and breath for the sound of one or more of them breathing or coughing or snoring or rustling or something, anything to settle this moment among the money I’ve built up to be present and I know that I could just get up and look but my eyes are shit in the dark and besides, that would be conceding too much to the disorientation, conceding too willingly to the crazy. No, no. Actions are not allowed when the mind is a rustle of leaves on the creek and so I listen for as long as it takes and when I hear I can shape and remember and be at peace that, at least, I haven’t invented everything.

That I’m not alone in the universe.

That I’m loved or, at least, accompanied.

Not that that sense me to rest. Not that gives me much of anything more than a sense that when I open my eyes, today, I will not find myself in completely unfamiliar surroundings.

So I try and think of words. New words. Good words. Long words. Words of the day. Words of the year. I try and think of sniglets or portmanteaus or onomatopoeias – well, not onomatopoeias but the word onomatopoeia which I tend to forget from years of murmuring crude in the trenches. I try to think of words that would impress college girls back when I could impress college girls at all and mostly without being a middle-aging creep yearning for the kind of sex a young man could have if he could only get over his whole love, love, love bullshit and get on with doe-eyes and palimpsest because he was thin and smart and (literally) scarred.

Mostly, I try to think of polysyllabics but, mostly, I only ever end up seeing the word “salad” over and over much like I did this morning and I know or I think or I hope it’s a sign that I’ve grown too soft for my own good and with a little bit of greens thrown in over Budweisers and fries I might get back to my working stiff frame but it doesn’t read that way in the slightest.

It reads like stupidity and panic and stroke and emptiness raised up from the void to swallow the young hope I still reserve – when no one’s looking – whole.


Look Closely at the Most Embarrassing Details and Amplify / 9.27.16 / 6:45-7:15

My nipples have always been a little weird. A touch too puffy and surprisingly offset from the center of my chest so that when I reach a particularly egregious stretch of physical inactivity (as I have recently) they all but disappear into my armpits.

I used to be able to lick them.

Back when I was at the peak of my fat kid I saw a picture of Trinity Loren sucking her tit and I thought that was sexy as hell and so I tried it thinking – I think – that if I succeeded a. some girl would find that just as sexy as I did and be totally turned on by the fact that I could emulate a doomed pornstar and, I don’t know, do me? or b. I would turn myself on beyond belief thereby equipping my future masturbation sessions with a dissasociative ace in the hole.

But that didn’t happen.

All that happened was some sad fat white kid licked his nipple in the shower on sunny SoCal afternoon and got really stoked and then really sad because a boy with manboobs is gonna be a boy for a very fucking long time and I was, I was even after I discovered bulimia, anorexia and sexual intercourse.

But that’s another shame for another day.

Today I’m talking about my nipples and how much I hate them and will until some displaced tropical malady takes them or I finally go as Pink as I wanna be and then I know I’ll miss them.

Because they are a delight to pinch and flick and wet and feel harden in the winter.

So maybe I don’t hate them.

I just wish they were in a better place.

Assemble Some of the Elements in a Group and Treat the Group / 9.26.16 / 6:55-7:25

It’s been twenty-one years since my time in the hospital and I’m beginning to forget which is a shame because I always thought that was going to be my formative event. My definitive era and maybe it is. I don’t know. Doesn’t really seem like it, though and any reasonable man would take that distance with a great sense of self-satisfaction and congratulate himself on his growth out of the destructive indulgences of youth.

But I have never been a reasonable man and so I’m clamoring with all this unexpected and unwanted time on my hands to piece together the names and faces that populated those seven days.

The only one I can remember, for certain, is Jason.

Jason was a red-headed schizophrenic with a cowlick and a lisp and we hated him. Eh, maybe hate is too strong a term for medicated, adolescent disdain but the kid was a royal pain in the ass from day one. Always getting up in your personal space. Always spitting when he spoke. Always sucking up to the staff as if they gave a flying fuck about his wants or needs.

He was also a savagely sloppy masturbator. I think he might have been compulsive but who am I to judge that now? I’ve been known to lose whole days to porn and humorless erections but at the time there was something about the way he handled his dick that was just downright unsettling.

We only spent one night together. I’d been ousted from my room on account of a new kid needing to utilize the restraints and bunk up with the kid and as soon as it was lights out the motherfucker went to town. Huffing and puffing and hissing spit as he jerked off under his rayon blanket. It was hideous. I could barely keep my own erection for his merciless assault. I don’t think I did but maybe. At that point, I was more than used to jerking off in company. Three years in a dorm will do that. Hell, when I used to live with Josh and Bonk we used to have masturbation contest. Josh always won which was something he was unduly proud of and I always lost which – a few years on when I was finally fucking – would prove to be something of a burden.

Sometimes, you just need a quickie, you know?

Anyway, I remember getting up at some point during his rabid little marathon to go to the bathroom and when I switched the light on, I came find the room was positively drenched in cum.

It was like some German shit. Total bukkake nightmare. Cum on the mirror. Cum on the tiles. Cum on the can. Cum was fucking EVERYWHERE, man and some of it was still dripping and warm like he’d been marking his territory right up until we said goodnight.

Admittedly, I was somewhat impressed. This kid was Peter fucking North. Of course, I wasn’t going to admit that and no quiet nod to ejaculatory prowess was going to keep me from bugging the fuck out and wailing on him in his bed (dick still in hand) growling “What the FUCK, man? What the FUCK?!?” over and over again.

He just laughed and pulled the blanket back daring me to come into firing range.

I didn’t.

I left the room and headed straight to the nurse’s station to demand I be moved somewhere less grotesque.

“There’s cum everywhere. I can’t handle it.”

“Well, it’s that or you can spend the night with a violent psychopath if you’d like.”

“I’ll take my chances.”