I have a question, so I raise my hand. Because there is no one else around, I put my hand down before I can receive an answer. But, I did have time to ask the question. So, from where will the answer to this question come?
I look left and see a field. To the right is a forest, but I can’t see very far in, because the trees are in the way. The road that stretches before my tires is gravel, but I don’t have time to slow. Top down, warm wind blowing through my hair—yeah, whatever… All the freedom of the open road sandwiched between two backgrounds.
Of course screaming does no good, but it feels invigorating to empty the lungs, refill them and press them out again. Medulla-oblongata parallel with the roof of my mouth. At least the annoying echo of the noise streaming into my ears and rattling around before piercing the drum lets me know that I can still feel something. And that thought alone is at least a constellation.
When I finally get there, everyone is there. Not just everyone, but everyone and there mother. Let me tell you she is one big mother. She has to be in order to have birthed all of them, and me besides. Her belly is very round. She notices me looking at it. “Everything is circular,” she says.
They thanked me, which took a long time, because though they would have liked to speak all at once, I know they secretly didn’t think I could handle it—maybe rightfully so.
As I walk towards the podium my heart starts pounding. My forehead perspires. My face reddens. The lights on the stage pour all around me, culminating on my red sweat drenched face.
To lighten the mood, someone yells from the crowd, “Show us your tits.” But I decline. It would be delightful, although there are much more important things at hand.
Many times there is a point in a dream when I realize, that I am, in fact, dreaming.
I ask the audience to close their eyes. “But only if you feel comfortable about it,” I add. Most of them do. I ask them to, “imagine that it is them who are dreaming.” “Relax,” I say, wondering whether my nervousness will project out and hinder their ability to effectively relax. Luckily, at least some of them are trusting. “Imagine that every time I say, me, it is you that is me.” Whenever I say I, it is you that is I. Completely forget about fact that I am a twelve year old black girl, and that you are you, who you are.”
Now this one is just for practice… Close your eyes. Take a deep breath of enlivening air. Keep those eyes closed now, no cheating. Stand up. Raise your left hand above your head. Pause. Now look around. Pause. Ok now sit. And open your eyes.
Now we will begin. Close your eyes, take a deep breath of enlivening air…let it out….stand up…..
I have a question, so I raise my hand. Because there is no one else around, I put my hand down before I can receive an answer.
One of the most uncomfortable parts of owning a dog is cleaning up after it. I think he shits out more than his body takes in. I fill his food dish twice a day and it seems like he could fill it three or four times with what comes out of him.
My landlord, Mark, came over to mow the lawn and didn’t like what he saw. I seriously clean up after Kip every couple of days, but he shits everywhere. Mark thinks I should clean up after Kip every time he goes out. I just don’t have that kind of time. Besides that, the stuff is pretty soft when it is still steaming—it’s better to let it cool off for a little while before picking it up, if you have the option.
Mark told me that if this continues to be a problem I will have to get rid of the dog. That’s fucked up, I’m twenty-eight years old and I’ve got a guy telling me he’s going to take my dog away if I don’t pick up after it. Seriously, am I doing something wrong in my life? Shouldn’t I be past that point? Having somebody make me get rid of my dog because it shit in my yard would be one of the most embarrassing things I could ever imagine.
The stuff stinks. In order to pick it up you’ve got to get close to it. I bought this picker-upper, with an extended handle, but it broke the second time I used it.
Walks are the worst. I usually shove a plastic bag in my back pocket before I head out. The plastic bags you get at the grocery store seem to work pretty well.
“Why in the world are you touching that?” Kip’s eyes seem to say, as I place the inside-out bag over top of the steaming, squishy pile. It’s almost inevitable that just as I start to pick up the mess, a squirrel will cross the sidewalk ahead, and Kip will jerk at the end of his chain, knocking me off balance.
Driving by, people stare with morbid curiosity. I want to flip them off. I feel vulnerable—like it was me that nestled into a squatting position and shit in the grass strip that divides the sidewalk from the road.
When he’s done I have to carry the bag. I’ve found that in my neighborhood, alleyways are the best places to find garbage cans. Along our daily walking routs I have found a variety of trusty trash cans—cans I can always count on to be out. In my head I have a mental map of these cans, so I can quickly and easily dispose of each incident in a timely and efficient manner.
It just feels so unnatural. Sometimes I will glance around to see if anyone is looking, and if Kip finishes before I see anybody I’ll start walking as fast as I can, turning at thenext streetcorner, or ducking into the next alley. I ease my guilty conscience by telling myself that everyone who owns a dog must do this every now and again.
Kip is acting like he has to go, so I let him take his time and sniff out the perfect spot. While he’s sniffing I realize that I have forgotten to bring a bag. Bag or no, he finds a prime location and settles in for the drop—right next to a support beam holding up a car port—about ten feet from the sidewalk, just inside an alleyway. Just as he gets that, “oh yeah, here it comes,” look on his face, a car turns the corner onto the side street we happen to be on. Great, I think now we have an audience. Kip finishes up just as the car comes along side of us.
I don’t have a bag, so my first reaction is to just walk away and hope the driver of the car doesn’t notice. As we start walking, the car pulls into the alley, then into the car port. A man steps out of the PT Cruiser, and immediately walks to the post to inspect the steaming pile.
“Hey! Hey you,” he yells.
I pretend not to notice at first. Kip tries to turn around to bark at the inflamed man.
“Hey asshole. Are you planning on cleaning this mess up?”
Wow, this guy is seriously pissed. But, what am I going to do, scoop it into my hat?
“Get back here,” he barks.
I decide that it would be bad enough dealing with this guy by himself, but I’ve got a dog to worry about too. In a more normal situation I would confront the guy and try to reason with him.
“I’ll be back to clean it up later,” I shout over my shoulder, from a block away.
“You irresponsible asshole,” he shouts, as I hurry my dog down the sidewalk.
I pulled a small handful of change
From my pocket
A penny said; 1968
It brought back memories
Memories of hippies
I pictured in my mind—dancing people
With colorful clothes
Those are my memories of that year
I was nine years from birth that year
Memories are funny like that
They’re like a collection
Movies, thoughts, things remembered and made up
All that sort of thing
So I played a little game
A quarter; 1978
Laying on his back
Cut off jean shorts
Under the pits of my chubby arms
Wonder in his eyes
Wonder in mine
A penny; 1984
Kangaroo tennis shoes with a zipper pocket in the side
But I didn’t know how to play tennis
And I could actually use them for sneaking
So I called them sneakers
I guess I was starting to get clever
Mom was gone
A whole family of girls moved in
Dad’s new girlfriend
Her three daughters
Lots of things were changing
I had my own room
My own toys
My own mom
Middle of high school
The smell of the locker room
I lost my virginity that year
First real broken heart
Several beater cars
I beat the shit out of those cars
Fell in love again
Leaped from cliffs
Had to clear the bank
Slapped by small branches
On the way down
Didn’t really believe I could die then
Lived in a great house
Going to school
Snowed the first day of Oktoberfest
That was a legendary party
Broke a lot of hearts
No debt—except student loans, let them sit
If you say it wrong, they know you’re new
Brew Pub #2
Wrote a lot
Long walks down snowy mountain roads
Here I am
Graduated to a writer
Lots of memories
Debt to my ears
It’s hard sometimes to tell where you’re standing when you look straight down at your feet
In the jungle
Is that from a dream
Am I making that up
Maybe I saw it in a movie once
Memories are funny like that
Used yet undeveloped
35 mm film rolls
I longed to carry
To pull from my pocket in just the right
And most opportune moment
Saying “here, let me get that, I have a pocket knife.”
A harmonica that
I would occasionally pull out
And hum a few bars
Batteries that I would never
Put in my walkman
An old walkman
The wooden letter opener
That I made for Christmas
All of these things and more
—such as the belt—
Are the reasons I will never have a top dresser drawer
Like my father did
He had A box of condoms
Unlubricated and plain
They were in there for a long time
In high school
In the dresser drawer
Of a girl friends father
Aided by the girl friend (of course)
I found some pot
Actually, she had found the pot
And wanted to show me
With the girlfriends permission (not her fathers, of course)
I took some
It was the first pot I ever smoked
Another reason I will never have a top dresser drawer
If I do
Happen to have pot
When I am old
I do not want my children to take it
That would be a waste of good pot
They can get there own
And much easier than I, I’m sure
We also found a picture that day
Actually she had found it
And wanted to show me
Her father’s new bride
Brand new breasts
Stepping out of the hot tub
Sunken into the bedroom floor
Directly behind us
I was impressed
I think Heather was too
She has new ones of her own now
Which, is yet another reason
I will never have a top dresser drawer
I would not want my daughter
Of her new young step mothers
Or her boyfriend
High as a kite
Thinking of how perfect
Young breasts are
Every time he looks at her
So I will never have
A top dresser drawer
To be pawed through
I will hide my secret things in my bottom drawer
Standing looking out
A light shimmering and glistening
off of the slightly moving lake
The light is directed exactly
It’s not just aiming right at me
but to the little Mexican kid on my right
and the expecting mother sitting alone on my left
It is also directed only at them
In fact everyone on the beach has
their own light
Sparkling off the lake
making an arrow
between the sun and themselves
I hope they look up and see it
to notice that it is theirs
What an honor it would be
When someone said
“Are you a Poet?”
I could say “Yes”
Such a great and wonderful existence
it would be
To ponder the days
and travel the world
writing in whim
No more no less
Barefoot if the need arises
or my favor desires
People could ask me “Who are you, what do you do?”
I could say “I am Doug, I live”
Days and nights would pass
maybe with a loving woman
and maybe a child or two
to love and teach
They could go barefoot
I could share the world with them
And if someone asked me “Who are you, what do you do?”
I could say “I am Doug, I am a father”
But ah… If someone were to ask me
“Are you a poet?”
I could smile
and mean it
and say “Yes”
Dweller by the dark river
God’s greatest gift
Virtuous, honorable, true
Others call me
I call myself
Who am I
Is this name me
Is my name a representation of what I should be
It is a tall order
Even a conflict of interests
Would God’s greatest gift
Dwell by the dark river
Maybe I should look at the gift as a net
Thrust this net into the
Strain the water
Virtue, honor and truth
God gift me the power to
Strain virtue form darkness
I will try to show the truth
If I achieve this
I will do honor to
Its jaws were enormous
To describe the killing ability
The springs alone were
As tall as I
Little children cower
In it’s shadow
Gazing at the large tasty looking
Piece of cheese
“I almost can’t believe
I’m standing here”
A very large
I picture him in my mind
Big red spot
Mound of fat on either side
Of the giant wire
But he was slight
In the shadow
Of the worlds largest
Cocked and ready
The trap stands
In the middle ofNebraska
For the worlds largest mouse
Good, Evil and Innocence
God: “Dougy don’t touch the stove, it is very hot it will burn you.”
Not knowing what a burn is, the pain it will cause or the mark it will leave on my soft flesh. I stare mesmerized at the warm orange glow of the stovetop burner, to me it looks soft, and the orange is brilliant. I feel an urge to try and put it in my mouth, but see no means of acquiring the height to facilitate this feat.
Devil: I can however in my best judgment from the added height afforded by my
tippy toes reach up and touch the luminescent orange glowing wonder. By this time (probably no longer than 30 to 45 seconds after I was warned) I had completely dismissed the cautions I had received advising against my new unwitting endeavor. A quick look over my shoulder reveals that my mom is still laboring over the rolling pin. Mental note; after this see what she’s up to, after all she did seem to raise some objection to this earlier, though I can’t seem to remember at the moment what it was.
Tiptoes, reach. Very, Very hard bite. Flash realization. I now know what hot feels like. The burner does not apologize, it is not forgiving.
Presently, the scream of pain shooting into my tiny fingers is quickly translated into the vocal equivalent of two passenger planes colliding in mid air.
Thoughts are now of terrifying intenseness. With no clue of what can be done or how long this will last. I am firmly fastened in this moment, frozen in this state of shock, with no personal knowledge of how to deal with it. So the screaming continues.
Loud shrieking screams. No mournful contemplative wail. More of a high pitched emptying of the lungs in an attempt to drown the pain with noise.
God: “Oh Dougy, what did you do? Shh.., shhh…”
Instinct kicks in and without missing a beat I am swept up in my mom’s arms and under the faucet.
“Oh, my baby you’ll be ok,” my mother, coos softly under my loud screams.
Somehow this soft textured voice seems to over power my own.
“You’ll be ok my baby,” my mother says.
The screaming starts to change from a loud shrill shriek to a heavy breathing blubber.
Her face is almost ready to explode with a deep guilt and soon starts to cry wishing she could absorb the pain.
Devil: But it is my pain. It is an unforgiving pain and the still brightly luminescent
burner offers no apologies.
God: The soothing does work. After a span of time lasting several minutes, a time
as far as I am concerned may have lasted for a large majority of my thus far short life, I am finally starting to believe that this pain may not last forever.
Devil: This feeling of comfort is a feeling I will again suddenly forget next week, when
I finally acquire the peak of the couch, and misjudge my dismount.
I have an early memory of myself as a child. I’m playing in the sand box behind my house. I may have been four years old at this time, but no older.
I had no religious teaching this early in my life and had never been to church. I remember thinking of God and wondering what this was. This heavenly idea, more than likely was not an original thought. What I mean to say is that I had probably been told something about god, so the idea of God was probably handed to me from someone.
The part that I remember is that I think I can recall the feeling I had about the concept of god, a feeling that I may have understood more then than I could hope to grasp now. I remember thinking about it and being somewhat indifferent to it. It was kind of a matter of fact feeling, something I just kind of knew and it wasn’t a big deal.
It seems almost a little strange to me that now in my twenty-sixth year I still remember this experience. Because I still remember this feeling, I guess I still have it, but it has been covered in thought, religion and in teachings meant to make me good and not bad.
I’m not sure why exactly it is that this thought unburied itself today, out of all the memories and thoughts I have collected over the years. Maybe there is no reason. Maybe it’s just a matter of fact type of thing. Maybe I should be indifferent to it and just know it.
I also seem to remember trying to eat sand that afternoon.