First Drafts: Craig’s List Ride Share

We drive from Maryland-to-California in four days.
There was no stopping, only blacktop humming under
Four mismatched tires. I felt embarrassed as I packed
My six over stuffed boxes of sweaters that I’ll probably never
Wear and crusty blue jeans that don’t fit anymore
into your car. All your belongings seemed to be
stuffed into a black hefty bag behind the driver’s seat.

We barreled through the flatlands of swaying yellow corn
And loneliness. We made up stories about the lives of the
People who live in this humid nowhere—the stories
Always ended up with the farmer husband going bugshit
And slicing up his perfect prairie family and then boiling
Their skulls to make headcheese. It was only funny for
a couple of states and then got kind of creepy.

You flipped in Colorado, your body going stiff and
Trembling, your jaw locked and grinding. You tell
Me about your time living here, traveling from motel-to-
Motel with your “uncle”. I start thinking I maybe
Should have brought a gun along, or at least a knife.
In the desert, we burned under the naked sun

And the radiator bubbled over. We stood over the
steaming engine screaming our throats dry, and then
falling to the boiling dirt laughing. We finally broke down in
Santa Monica, right where we needed to be. My
Girlfriend’s there to meet me. We drive away, I stare
Back at you through the rearview mirror.

You’re laid out across the hood of your useless wheels,
Shades blocking the smoggy sun, a smoke between your
Lips.

Thanks for the ride.


Evening Soundtrack: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

First Drafts: Children Of God

The room is flooded with smoke, the walls stained
Nicotine and water spots. No one who lives here
Gives a fuck. The ashtrays overflow and the
Rayon orange shag

Occasionally catches fire. There’s two girls knitting
And passing a burnt lightbulb between the two of
Them in the living room. No one knows their names
And are too scared

To ask. Everyone else is a too skinny
Of a guy and on the verge of passing out, because
After two days, the beer’s all gone and they’re
All broke, not

That any of them had any money to begin with.
We’re here because somewhere there’s an old
Pal from college you used to sell pot to and a
Refrigerator full of

Food that no one’s interested in eating but us.
We try to stay quiet while we cook. There’s this
Wild-eyed motherfucker who lives in his car
In the driveway,

But he’s always inside because it’s thirty degrees
and he’s scared to fall asleep with the heater on
with the way the snow’s been felling lately, in
big fat choking

flakes. The second he sees us, he makes a beeline,
standing too close, asking if we’re missionaries?
If we’re taking the Good Word to people of this
Shithole, hellfire and

Brimstone Sodom of a town? No matter how
Many times we tell him: “Naw, we’re just in
Town looking for jobs.” He’s always disappointed
With what we

Have to say. As he walks away, head shaking,
he’ll look back and say through a mouthful
Of brown, broken teeth:

“You look like the children of god.”


Evening Soundtrack: Guided By Voices

First Drafts: Web MD

that cough, the one you wake up with (sometimes)
at 3 AM when you have to piss so hard your guts are
floating. That’s cancer.

same goes for your back ache. No, it’s not because
you passed out hard at 2 in the morning
On the couch,

a spring digging into the tight caffeinated muscles,
cancer, too. It’s a black glob of decaying cells
eating you alive.

and the heartburn—why is your left arm numb?
what’s the smell, burnt toast? No doubt you’re
having a heart

attack. But why are you smelling toast? Isn’t
that a stroke thing? So I guess you’re having
a stroke, congrats!

bye-bye motor and speech functions. And how
about that fart? Something’s not right there,
was that blood

or scat? I don’t blame you for not wanting to
check your underwear. Either/or you’re
a fucking mess,

streaked with blood or shit, or your colon
prolapsing. Hard to believe you’re falling apart
so quickly, because

it only gets better.

 


Evening Soundtrack: Carseat Headrest

First Drafts: Life Without Youth

I’ve never pictured myself with a young face.
Even when I was a boy and see myself in the

Mirror as I occasionally brushed my teeth and
Washed with my father’s strong yellow soap.

I didn’t see a smooth, feckless innocence’s. No
Porcelain white skin, no straw-colored curls,

No smile only a child can smile. What I saw
Was sun-browned, clusters of dark wrinkles

Shadowing the eyes, bald, $10,000 worth of
The dental equivalent of fake tits in my mouth,

Gray ear and nose hair growing out thick and
Wiry. And always, a beard made of steel wool.

It’s a strange face for a six-year-old to become
Accustomed to. It was the same at fifteen, at

Twenty-six, at thirty-two. At forty-three, it’s now
Just the face I’ve always lived with. It makes

Me wonder if my reflection will grow younger
As I age? Will I start to shrink and re-grow

My hair? Will the tobacco bags and crow’s feet
Beneath my eyes begin to disappear? Will my

Missing teeth sprout through my gums, pushing
Out the crowns? Will I regain all my adolescent

Baby fat? I think it’s possible, so I’m preparing
Myself, getting ready to revert to crawling,

Sub-vocal babbling, and my daughters having
To wipe my ass, or maybe have some faceless

Eastern European nurse do it instead, if they can afford it.


Morning Soundtrack: Curtis By Curtis Mayfield

First Drafts: Coffee

…I picture it as a burnt
coffee smell. The grounds

smoldering in the pot, the
water evaporated and all

that’s left is the heat of the stove,
smoke, and the stink of

melting copper wire. It isn’t
an unpleasant smell, something

foreign and overpowering. As
I pad sockless across the cold

tile, I try remembering when
I put the coffee on? And I

wonder if maybe my wife has
decided to make herself a cup?

Which would be strange because
she usually just waits for me

to make it. Then I finally notice
there’s nothing burning in the

kitchen. There’s nothing but a
lightness, a dull ache in my

left arm, and a tingle in my belly.
There will be no noise, no

final words or pronouncements.
There will only be the smell

of coffee… 


Evening Soundtrack: The Blue Notebooks By Max Richter

First Drafts: Last Morning in L.A.

A gun shot at 5:30 AM is like
A distant thunder clap near
The shore of a fog muffled
Ocean. The squeal of tires
Is louder than the blast.
There are no screams, no
Pleading for a life, or big
Shallow tears washing down
Cheeks, smudging mascara.
At least not before the
Television cameras show up.
Everyone in L.A. likes getting
On the TV, even if they’re
Full of nothing but pain.


Evening Soundtrack: Damn By Kendrick Lamar

Frist Drafts: Scum

The green scum of the pool
Is at least an inch thick. Crisp
Brown Fall leaves and rotting
Grass clippings cling to the
Brine, becoming a part of the
Filth. But for some reason, the
Water still stinks of chorine. All
Stoners are the same, they keep
You trapped and waiting in their
Drifting flat circle of time. But
You suck it up because you know
The fat motherfucker is lonely as
Hell and not so secretly has a
Hard-on for your girlfriend. You’re
On the opposite end of stoner.
You’re a doper. The difference
Between the two is that a doper
Has a job and just wants to light
Up while watching Bottle Rocket.
But you get it, you’ve been a stoner
And you know you’re twice as boring
As this tubby piece of shit. At
Least he has this scummy little
Echo-system in his backyard to
Toss your butts into like flaming
Missiles into a miniature Vietnamese
Village to keep yourself occupied with
While you’re high and waiting.


Evening Soundtrack: Moonshine Freeze By This is The Kit