the seeds, the trees

"But once in a while there's a great dynamite-burst of flying glass and brick and splinters through the front wall and somebody stalks over the rubble, seizes me by the throat and gently says, 'I will not let you go until you set me, in words, on paper.'" – Richard Bach


“It’s time to fall,” whispered one mountain to the next.

“But I am not ready,” said the other. “It is too soon. Let’s wait. Let’s wait and see and then vanish in the night like we came.”

“I cannot wait a second more. They have drilled holes in my stomach and taken everything. They’ve shaved the trees from my back. I am naked. Look at me! Every minute, pieces of me fall and they don’t care. Yes, they’ll miss the birds that sing in my hair but soon the birds will be gone. I’ve heard them talking. The coyotes are gone and now the deer pound my head worse than the drills. Every day there is a war up here and they don’t care.”

“I think it will get better. And don’t you like listening to them sing around their fires at night? Watching their faces when they reach and see what we are?”

“Hah! You’ve gotten soft in your age. They will never see what we are because we have always been what they have wanted us to be. Do you remember how it was when we first came? How you could feel everything being born? Now it smells like everything has been overcooked.”

The other mountain sighed and did not speak.

“Fine, stay. You’ll see. In dust, my friend.”

“In dust.”

A family screamed, the windows shattered, atop a mountain, determined to fall.

All of You

She asked me if I think of you when I lay in bed, and I said I think of all of you.

Everyone I have touched and all the touches back.

The sleeved bartender from Germany who made strudels and told himself he did just enough coke, who tried to be a good dad to his baby girl who died too soon.

You taught me that it was OK to kiss someone again.

And the long-haired, bearded, oblivious boy who, when he told me he loved me, made sure I understood he didn’t love me as much as his guinea pig that died from thirst a few months later.

You taught me how to come and love my body. You taught me there are still things I want and can have.

And the intelligent and passionate being I never felt I deserved and didn’t really want. He stuck around for longer than I could understand, but he couldn’t wait forever. It – you – has its limits, he said.

You taught me that I am still far away from loving this whole self.

And then the arrogant boy from the trailer park whose mom overdosed on heroin. They told him she was dead weeks after she was buried. I’ll marry this princess one day, he said.

You taught me that working hard and kissing girls on their foreheads, making sure they’re never cold, is what it means to be a man. You taught me that I like to be a big fish in a little pond. You hurt me quickly and easily and I’m not sure why.

And of course there is you. There will always be you. I save you for last because you are the beginning of everything. I thank you for my genesis. You, I cannot describe because you are feelings and pictures and pieces of shrapnel in my head; you exist all over my body.

You taught me that I am built like everyone else – that I, too, can love and be loved, endlessly.

Everything we built was brought down. I thank you. I pray for you to keep me in your heart, where I keep my heart. Then I beg for you to give me back. I beg to forget.

I steal because

I steal because people have taken things from me since I can remember, and no one will give any of them back.

Like when I was 10 and asked my father to watch as I sung “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and – in a detached bluntness I can only compare to that of a college advisor who suggests for you to stop setting your sights on Harvard or whatever “dream school” you’ve chosen – told me to stick to what I was good at.

All the times they said they were there for me. I could read their messages but where were their faces and hands?

Like when my mother – who told me she loved me so many times I stopped listening – left but was returned to us, not wanting to be returned, and took away everything I knew about her.

And when you, you clever man, found my heart where I had hidden it and carried it away in your hands, blood dripping down your wrists, leaving a blackened pink patch, a phantom feeling of being whole that screamed, How had you not seen this coming?

I steal because I can.

Because I float powerless through the avenues of my days, shuttled along roads and over bridges I don’t understand how are built, always looking at a screen that tells me what to think, down or straight ahead or sometimes up when I sit too close in the movie theaters.

I don’t know where anything I say or do goes. Into those black holes past the sky? Into the Internet? Into an ear and out of a head?

I steal because I think too little in this world is given.

When I tell the story, I am Robin Hood. Instead of taking gold from a rich man’s pocket, I take lip balm and underwear from all those who have forgotten the lesser part of the world and I give all the spoils to myself.

I deserve them. I deserve all of these things.

Oh, and it’s free. Free. That may be the beating heart of my sticky palms. Nothing, I promise you, feels as good as something that is free. Stealing is like spitting in the faces of everyone who told me and tells themselves that money can buy everything.

It is like leaving a tiny bruise.

If you can’t relate to this, I’m sorry for you, really. You have played by the rules while everyone else was cheating. You have never had the pleasure of saying fuck you to everyone who said you couldn’t.

“I can’t wait to meet my children,” she said, “and tell them they don’t have to be anybody.”

Rocking Bird

“Rocking bird, I’m tired.”

“Why?” you ask.

“Because,” I say, “this world is too big and too small, and I need to choose if I will be Big or Small, and I can’t decide which one would be best. Sometimes I’m not sure I can be either, and then I’ll just be In Between, and what’s left in the world for In Between? Nothing to be bothered with.”

“Give it time.”

“No. Now. Big or Small? Big or Small? A lifetime of choices, and I can’t make just one?”

“If you want to be Big, be Big, but don’t be loud. And if you want to be Small, be Small, but don’t be so quiet you get crushed. That is all I know. I’m Small, you see.”

“But not quiet?”

“No. Listen. Not quiet.”

“I will decide tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow. There is always tomorrow until there isn’t.”

“Be quiet.”

“I can’t. I’m Small, remember?”

“Maybe In Between isn’t so bad. I’m tired, remember?”

“If you’re tired, you may as well be Dead. You want to sleep, sleep always, and you are Dead. No difference.”

“I don’t know how to be alive then.”

“Wake up. You must decide.”

“I’m tired. Maybe Dead isn’t so bad.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

The afternoon I stop loving you

I don’t feel as much as I thought I would in all the places my heart is.

I wake with a headache. The 50-dollar nut. We lay and laugh at each other. Your friend sends you a picture of her face. I feel vaguely jealous. I shower. You dump a handful of cold water on my head while you stand by the sink. Fuck, what the fuck, I wasn’t even gonna get my hair wet. What the fuck, I say. You scoff at me, blowing air from your nose and mouth, look at me like I’m the lamest, saddest thing, tell me to grow the fuck up.

I dress, come downstairs. You’re sitting in the green armchair rolling a joint, your roommate on the couch next to you, texting. I make you coffee to go. I let your dog out. Sit on the arm of the couch, check my phone charging out of the wall, time 10:03.

You’re late. You better hurry, I say. You call me a bastard. Shut the fuck up, you fucking bastard. God, you’re a bastard. You think I don’t know that? Seriously, shut, the, fuck, up. Fucking bastard.

Your roommate laughs. I feel very small and ashamed and as soon as you’re done, the tears come, but I don’t let them go, like I’m 10 years old and my dad is letting me know exactly how stupid I am.

Then something fades. Quickly, like clouds dissipating. Like everything between us is weather, a season passed.

I haven’t told you I’ve stopped loving you. You’re on your way to New York for some bachelor party and although I do not love you anymore, I do not hate you. I do not dislike you, at all. So I will wait until you get back, after you have a good time inside the dark and glittering bars.

I imagine you taking it well. I imagine you agreeing with me when I say, We cannot dwell on what is not. You’ll say something stupid like, Go kick some dick without me. It will be then that I’ll want to touch you, that I’ll feel like the stupidest thing in the world.

All the different ends

I’m walking on this path, the first path I found when I woke up that day.

As I’m walking I pass many other paths, some I can peer down and see to the end and their ends are beautiful, blue gold in a breezy light.

Others are twisted and dark and I can’t make out their ends.

So I walk my path, the one I found when I woke up, too afraid and hopeful to veer off.

Eventually my path ends, and I stand in the desert.

There is this

There are cloves of garlic, peeled, on the cutting board next to an onion and a cabbage. Ready to be transformed. They have waited all day as I smoke outside and sip whiskey from the bottle on the window ledge in the kitchen. I am working from home. I put them back.

It’s time to stop now, says the small, sensible part of my brain. The only part that cares about me.

I can’t, says the oversized brute who thinks only of itself.

I like this, it says. This feels good for now.

Drunks and drug addicts don’t get enough credit, you know. Do you want to know what it feels like to live in the moment? Every moment.

What I need right now is this. Not for tomorrow and not for yesterday.

It is what my brain needs to stop existing in the past and in the future and to be here, with me.

It is the only way to stop seeing black holes.


Monsters are simply beings that are unknown and large. We grow obsessions with them. We don’t mind small things we don’t understand. We can live with those. The mysterious virus that laid us in our beds for a day. The thousands of species of insects we will never find. The tiny community of people far up the mountains of Switzerland who speak a language no one else understands.

But the great, gaping chasms of the Earth – we will not rest until we have measured the depth of every ocean; we will not sleep until we have named every star in the sky; we will not stop until we have caught every monster in the sea and cut them into pieces; we will not say enough until we have hung the heads of every great beast on our walls and ground their bones into powder; we will not dream peacefully until we know what dreams are; we will not die until we know why we came; we will not leave until we know what is next.

We will illuminate every darkness and predict every storm and we fear it all. We will not cry out success! until everything has been proven. We intrepidly and blindly seek so many answers we forget to ask questions and become angry when no one replies. We refuse to believe our flesh and our bones are that of animals but we believe in gods we have never seen or heard or touched. We deny ourselves the joy found in the inevitability of death but believe in the joys of a tomorrow that might not come.

Only in death do we feel the emptiness we have carried with us all of our lives. Only then – between our very last single breath and a complete stillness we have never known – do we realize our mistake. Amidst everything we have discovered and gathered and kept, we stand undeniably alone in our cold homes. And in this tiny moment, we awaken before the deepest sleep. By then, it is too late to tell the others. They will find out in their own time. The curse beneath the blessing of a self-aware life.


I am better than them and not good enough for you

I have made boys love me

taken their insides out, put them back in wrong again and again.

I will not eat food in packages or with more than five ingredients

but I inhale cigarettes like air.

I practice yoga and

the light in me recognizes and honors the light in you when I fall down drunk.

My mother cut the veins along her arms

destroying them like enemies

while her blood still runs through them

I miss her when she’s around.

I took the bus for two hours alone in a state thousands of miles away

to get rid of another baby

and to stand

holding the hands of a man with a tiny Bible

who promised me because of Jesus everything would be OK.

I smoked meth and ate molly and dropped acid until

all the trees grew diamonds

and still I could not find beauty.

I am all of these things.

They multiply on the surface of my skin

and wait for me with mouths open

but they cannot have me yet.