Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 30: Pobject's stuffed animal

The teddy bear I didn’t win
by tossing rings
or throwing darts
is absurdly tall.

It’s taller than you.

It’s purple and plush
and has ears whose insides
are white velvet.

I didn’t take it home for you,
I never made it to the carnival.
If I told you why,
you wouldn’t believe me.

See, there was
this Iranian guy at school,
a scholar as old as Zoroaster,
and when I tried... doesn’t matter.

In any case.
It can’t sit straight,
a slouching victim of gravity.
It beams with a trefoil smile and seems to say
that everything will be all right,
and eventually it will.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Day 29: Lobject’s Hometown

Monica didn’t care what time we left, even if my gin and tonic hangover put us behind schedule. The last few bucks we had were taking us home for the weekend where laundry would be cleaned and the empty cooler in the backseat would get packed with meats, veggies, and chicken salad that 50% of the time we finished on the drive back to college.

I never slept in the passenger seat, but I wanted to as soon as the sun disappeared. I picked songs. We talked and smoked and rarely stopped. We made it in four hours once. That silver Altima took us to the Charlotte skyline more time than I could count. It was the best part of the trip. We knew we’d see the lights curving onto 485. They always glowed and waved welcome home.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 30: Gas Station

If we had a meter, would we stop
more often? For a good meal or 
check up?  Replace coffee with
green tea?  Spend an hour in
the sun rather than in front of
a screen?

You'll have to remind me to pay attention 
to myself.  If not, my tank may run until
it just runs dry.

Day 29: That guy

“Milk and cookies!... You would think there would be more debauchery going on back stage at a rock show, right?!”

Chris Scruggs smiled with ease but a hint of folk legend swagger.  We were caught off balance, just leaving one heaven of M. Ward’s show.  Chris entered the silver-door bused threshold and quickly returned with a milk carton on hand.  “We even have brownies.” 

The words he spoke seemed as if they belong to an apple-cheeked schoolboy, and while his cheeks were appled, he had just played bass for one of the most amazing, seated events I could have ever witnessed. 

There wasn’t an opening act, and one wasn’t needed.  The heartbeat bass opened, begging to be broken by M.’s rumpled voice and salt and pepper hair:  

Don’t they love you in mysterious ways?

Chris’s haircut could have passed for a Beatle but seemed off pitch next to today’s, high fi, FM sound.   His smile was almost off-putting as his gleamed so sweetly; my more cynical side almost wished it cavities.  But I wouldn’t bother, assuming there were as many multi-colored toothbrushes, toothpastes and floss cases on that tour bus as there were band members.  I imagined them, lined up at the mirror checking their gums lines and

Yea, you say that was then and this is now.  Put a dollar in the machine and you’ll remember how…”

His mention of milk and cookies wasn’t but felt inviting.  His image seemed to echo a cleansed self – one who put all of his faith in the lifted, but suffered all of his faith when they failed.  His heart still beating - stronger than a heavy metal bullet…  He started to evolve into a cartoon character.

“I know when everything feels wrong.  I got some hard, hard proof in this song.  Although when everything feels right…  Some lucky night. 

We had happened to exit through the right door.  A happy accident.  How often does this actually happen?  I don’t remember whose idea it was, but I know it wasn’t mine.  I want to contribute it to both Steph and Will.  As we walked out through this odd exit – positioned close to the stage and away from the crowd – we were greeted by a grand, mammoth tour bus.  The only time this could be a good sign is in a “hold me closer tiny dancer,” Almost Famous kind of situation. 

You say the money just aint what it used to be… and, man how we use to tear apart this town.  Put a dollar into the machine, and we’ll remember how. 

Chris led us to a small group and the venue’s back door.  As there were a few people gathered around, there was enough time for us to observe how M. reacted to different approaches.  Rules or guideline began to take shape in my mind:  No pictures.  He is friendly but painfully introverted, not in an obnoxious ‘I feel like I am famous’ obnoxious kind of way.  Approach him with a smile but let him initiate the interaction.

By that point, he had put on his thick-framed glasses.  They may have passed as a ‘hipster accessory’ except he didn’t wear them on stage or with such bravado.  He seemed less like the a-dork-able black-rimmed caricature and more like Buddy Holly. 

I know when everything feels wrong… I got some hard, hard proof in this song.  I’ll know when everything feels right… some lonesome night. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 28: Lobject’s Imaginary Friend

Thanks to Dr. Suess for my inspiration. :-)
You’ve got it all
I’m not Doc

I’m not Doc
Doc I’m not

That Doc I’m not
That Doc I’m not!
I’m not him
that Doc I’m not

Do you like
to build with blocks?
I do not like to
Doc I’m not.
I do not like
to build with blocks.

Would you like them
on the floor?
Would you like them
in a store?

I would not like them
on the floor
I would not like them
in a store.
I do not like
to build with blocks
I do not like them,
Doc I’m not

Would you like to build
a house?
Would you like to build
with a mouse?

I do not want to build
a house.
I do not want to build
with a mouse.
I do not like blocks
on the floor
I do not like them
in the store.
I do not like to build with blocks
I do not like them, Doc I’m not.

Would you play with them
in a box?
Would you play with them
with a fox?

Not in a box.
Not with a fox.
Not to build a house.
Not to build with a mouse.
I would not play with them on the floor.
I would not play with them in a store.
I would not like to play with blocks.
I do not like them, Doc I’m not.

Would you? Could you?
build on a dock?
Come now! Play!
Here, have some blocks.

I would not,
could not,
on a dock.

You may like to throw blocks.
You will see.
You may like to throw blocks
from a tree?
I would not, could not throw from tree.
Nor play on the dock! You let me be.

I do not like blocks on the floor
I do not like blocks in a store
I do not want to build a house
I do not want to build with a mouse
I do not like to build with blocks
I do not like them, Doc I’m not.

The park! The park!
The park! The park!
Could you, would you
in the park?

Not in the park! Not in a tree!
Not on the floor! Doc! Let me be!
I would not, could not, on the floor.
I could not, would not, in the store.
I will not build with a mouse
I will not build blocks into a house.
I do not like blocks, Doc I’m not.

You do not like
to build with blocks?

I do not
like them,
Doc I’m not.

Could you, would you,
build with a goat?

I would not,
could not.
with a goat!

Would you, could you,
build on a boat?

I could not, would not, on a boat.
I would not, will not, with a goat.
Not on a dock! Not in a tree!
Not in a park! You let me be!
I do not play with blocks in a box
I do not play with blocks with a fox
I will not build blocks into a house.
I do not build blocks with a mouse.

I do not like
to build
with blocks!

I do not like them,
Doc I’m not.

You do not like blocks
SO you say.
Have some! Build! Play!
And you may.
Try to build and you may sway.

If you will let me be,
I will try them.
You will see.

I am not your friend Doc.
We must wear the name socks.

Doc likes to play with blocks!
I’m sure! He likes to build on the floor!
And he would play with them in a store!
And he would build a house ...
And he would build it with a mouse
And in the park. And on the dock.
And in a tree.
Doc loves to build I’m sure I see.

So please go find Doc.
Doc will play with blocks in a box.
And he will play with them with a fox.
And he will build them into a house.
And he will build with a mouse.

That Doc I’m not
That Doc I’m not!
I’s sorry but
that Doc I’m not

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 29: Pobject's Hole-in-the-Wall

outside the city sits in the sun
in an uncanny valley a mile away
in not-quite-clever imitation
of a good time

when we break cover
it won’t be a block
from our off-strip bar
to the 7-11
and the tattoo parlor
by its side

you can get your snowstorm
and I can get my dice
from burly boys
with cenophobic canvases
for skin

[Confession: old habits die hard; I worked on this poem for significantly more than half an hour.]

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 27: Lobject’s Stuffed Animal

 Squinted eyes is never a good sign
with tears puddling on either side
of the pulled sheet
Hard to say what’s so horrible
probably me—I was downstairs
when it slipped through the small
slots and you were asleep
What could you have done?
The crinkly teal elephant is face
down on the floor now
“It’s ok” won’t cut it
in the doorway only
a moment to realize laundry
isn’t getting done today

Day 26: Lobject’s Hole-in-the-Wall

Ladies shot free on Wednesdays. Still do. Amy said it wouldn’t be that bad. Since I knew no one in this town, I really had nothing to lose but $1 for each draft beer I could drink.

I’d played pool before underage where no one cared or carded. I was good at watching and guessing the angles. I was never good at math, which was the only excuse I needed when I missed a ball. Alcohol had more to do with it, though.

Amy and I passed cigarettes back and forth between shots and drank red bull and vodkas and hands covered in blue chalk. We punched numbers of country songs into the juke box and sang obnoxiously loud—the kind of thing you can’t do at a bar in the city without getting yelled at or kicked out.

You could buy coke and other things from Tina according to the bathroom stall. I have a feeling her prices would be slightly higher than the $1/free signs that got me through the door.    

Day 25: Lobject’s Picture of a Person on My Desk

I can’t print the pictures
as quickly as
you reach for me
cut two bottom teeth
roll over and scoot
to the next toy
next month
of meat eating
rocking back and forth
spitting green
beans on my white shirt

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 28: Pobject's Driving Instructor

I didn’t drive for nearly seven years.

I didn’t need to. I grew up in a small town, a city by my state’s standards, but a semirural dot on the map by most measures. Half the kids I knew had parents like my dad: state employees, government drones. The other half were kids of honest-working folk who farmed, ranched, used their hands.

These last kids had been driving since they’d turned twelve, their daddies taking them deep into the valley where the roads were straight and empty. I’d never once sat behind the wheel.

A week or two into driver’s ed I found myself out behind my high school, staring at the late-model ford sedan I’d soon be pushing around the parking lot. “Who’s first?” asked the cross-town middle school phys ed teacher who’d be chaperoning me and the mousy young girl whose first time it was, too.

But she’d driven before. She went first, I was too shy. She was rough, but not horrible. Once we’d taken a few turns around the parking lot we hit the side streets and then, more cautiously, an artery or two. Our instructor was curt but encouraging. We made it back alive.

It was my turn. The wheel felt enormous. The pedals were lead. The windshield was a vacancy of slate-gray cloud. I was terrified.

“Put it in gear, then go and head and give it some gas.” I fumbled with the lever on the steering column. All the cars I’d ever seen my parents drive were sticks, with the shift on the floor. “The other way,” I was told, gruffly. I managed to find reverse and tapped the gas pedal. We lurched backward and I hit the brakes, panicked.

“Not so much!” He sighed.


“Try it again.”

I did. We lurched again, just as violently.

“Jesus! You’ve got to do it smoothly. Smoothly!”

“I’m sorry, I’m trying.”

“Have you ever driven before?”




He sighed. “All right, we’re just gonna take it around the parking lot a bit. Try it again, smoothly.”
I tried, and managed to get us out of the parking space.

“Okay, now take us around the lot.” I began, starting a slow orbit. “Turn here.” I turned where I thought he’d meant me to, into the roundabout at the school’s rear entrance. “No, no, NO! Didn’t you see the sign? One way!”

“Sorry!” I stopped and made as though to turn us about.

“No, you can’t turn around now, just keep going. Jesus!” My face burned. I took us through the roundabout, glacially slow. We made it out.

“Okay, let’s get away from the building a little bit.”

For the next twenty minutes we made slow circles around the parking lot, practicing simple turns, practicing signals and mirrorwork, practicing the brakes. I said nothing the whole time.

I never rode with him again, but the damage had been done. After I finally got my license several months later (I’d failed my first attempt at the road test after backing into a small tree while trying to parallel park) I didn’t drive for nearly seven years, too traumatized to try it out.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 28: The Shade

I've been paying attention recently, 
looking for inspiration, searching
for meaning, trying to find
shade from the ___

The other night, slightly south 
of DC, I listened as my husband's
friend Matt spoke of the shade
in Vietnam.

Not the war. 
The country.

As he and his family - 
wife, daughter, son - 
visited family - 
aunts, uncles, so many
cousins. They took a break
in the shallow-mountain country-
side, each filled with alters
to a greater god.

"On the way there," he recounted, 
"We stopped in a small village just south
of the foothills."  He paused, considering
his travels, recalling in his mind the polaroid
he carefully crafted for us.

"It was February, but hotter than any summer 
I have known.  So we were in shorts. T-shirts.
But, because it is an indication of class - 
whether or not you have a tan - 
everyone we passed wore long sleeves.
Pants. Hats. Even in the unbelievably hot

"Max was 4 then and he ran to play
in the shade with the other kids, all carefully

I guess we all adapt.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day 27: Pobject's Baseball Hat

My whiskey drinking days are over.

That’s what I told Johnnie, but she wouldn’t listen. Not when the heavy lidded Cherokee girl kept hittin on me, not when that scrawny white guy with the backwards baseball cap came swingin at us with a pool cue, shirt soaked with sweat in awkward places, nipples lookin like he was giving milk.

Not when we were out in the parking lot, when I said it again. Johnnie’d got slipped something I think, us out behind the lanes with her pukin her guts out and me pattin her back and saying I’m sorry over and over.

I told her, but she wouldn’t listen.

We got her cleaned up and we went back inside. She broke the pool cue over the white guy’s head, and I made out with the Cherokee girl. She had a big warm tongue and I tasted hand-rolled cigarettes.

Come closing time we headed home. Davey was still good to drive, and I let my head roll over onto Johnnie’s shoulder.

My whiskey drinking days are over, I said. There, there, she said.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 27: Blanket

Last Saturday, I stood in that entryway -
you and I use to wait for cars to carry us away.  
Before drivers licenses, our parents acting 
as unwilling chauffeurs - the backseat 
a curtainless confessional holding
whispered secrets.  

I think I like him more than he likes me.  
I think he likes me more than I like him. 
I’m afraid to be alone.  
I’m afraid to die.  

You guided me back to the warm sunlight -
the world very much alive, even when 
I closed my eyes.

Last Saturday, I found us in your first car – 
the great white Oldsmobile, a whale of a car! 
We spent summers between pools, autumn 
weekends at Waffle House - questions 
hung in the air. 

Should I admit that my promise is counterfeit?  
Am I careless and childish? Is that all 
I can hope to be?

You showed me back to the warm sunlight -
the world very much alive, even when 
I closed my eyes.

Last Saturday, I wanted to say thank you but 
was uncertain…  I can start by saying your voice is
the first I’ve known to be on the phone, calming
my conscious and constantly
reassuring me.  

Remember the days that we remember?
We don't just speak because someone 
else is listening. 

These days I hear the cynic 
I've become, notice the hard lines 
carved in my face.

The sunshine's so cliche!  So is love. 
So is pain. I've looked at those inkblot 
tests; there's just nothing there 
to see.

You have shown and saved this life 
for me, sewn it into beauty – a handmade quilt 
panels of echoed laughter, 
love, and pain.  

Echoes give life! As they are rooted 
in but not fixed by the past, returning 
to their speaker the same 
but different -

in warm sunlight 
with the world very much alive, 
even when we close our eyes.

Day 26: Bathrobe

My dad's was big - 
triple X, perhaps - navy
blue but worn, tired with wash
although I never actually
saw it on him.  This towel
tent hung like a decoration
from a brass hook on the back
of their bathroom door. It
was a single stand-up
shower, a simple pot, white 
pedestal sink.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Day 26: Pobject's Thrift Store

Items most recently purchased at the Goodwill on Smoky Park Highway:


1 standard series video cable and 1 set of standard series AV cables including left/right audio and video. Last week I got a free TV from a colleague who was giving it away. "My partner asked if I knew of a museum I could donate it to." It's an old 27" Sony with a brick of a picture tube. It weighs about 80 pounds. I neither have nor want cable, dish, or a signal converter box. I do, however, have an ancient DVD/VHS player and a handful of movies and shows in both formats, including a VHS copy of the original Star Wars trilogy, as yet un-fucked-up by George Lucas's misadventures in CGI. Of course, to hook this player up I needed the right cables, and just a month or two back I'd donated a box full of electronic accessories, including several such cables, to that very same Goodwill.

1 Joan Osborne CD (Relish). Just a few days previous I'd been talking with my friend about Joan Osborne. We were listening to her wail along with the Holmes Brothers. "Some of her bluesy stuff is beautiful," my friend said. I always love how she uses the word "beautiful". She uses it as a catchall positive word, always strongly accented: "That sunset is beautiful." "This pad thai is beautiful." "The smell of wisteria is beautiful."

14 pieces of solid Hamilton flatware. In the separation my wife claimed the good silver, and rightly so: she'd had it since before we'd been together. It was plain but solid and pleasant. Well-balanced. I was left with a mismatched assortment of flatware, a few from this set, a few more from that. Most painfully I felt the absence of any good-sized spoons. I like a good scoop of soup. What I've got is functional, but not particularly flashy, and I've taken to scrounging in the silver every time I make it to Goodwill. A few trips back I found 6 forks and 8 spoons, all from the same set. They've got heavy knobby handles and good heft. The spoons are generous. I like them a lot. Each time I've gone back since this find I've looked for matching knives, but no luck yet.

1 men's shirt, button-down. It's got a close cross-hatched print in green and brown and goes well with the khaki shorts I like to wear. I didn't notice until I first put it on in the changing room that a bright orange band runs all along the bottom hem, an incongruous gaud adding flair and ostentation. A good pick for bowling nights.

1 baseball-style cap with camo print. We were going tubing on the river that afternoon, and I wanted to get something to keep the sun off my scalp. It's an ad for a local outdoors store. "Spud and Deb's Dog Hunting Supplies" it reads, I think, as little sense as that makes. Maybe it's "Spud and Deb's Hunting Dog Supplies"? Hard to say: the text is broken up by a clip-art quality rendering of a hunting dog, some sort of tricolor hound, making the syntax hard to follow, like the acrostic crosses you'll sometimes find outside of rural churches. In any case, it's not the sort of thing you'd think I'd wear in public. With its ironic donning I took one step closer to true hipsterdom.