A Prayer Before Sleep

Jack searched the neighborhood as if he’d lost something.

Looking up and down the street, crossing sidewalks, he meandered auspiciously as if he’d forgotten where he was going.

Jack found himself in a state of neither here nor there.

The chill of February hung round his shoulders like a thin shawl.

It was his morning walk but to what ends—to what means?

Tires squealed in the distance.

Birds began their daily routine.

Automatic lights turned themselves off.

And what emerged from the tree line? Sure enough, as it had so many times before, the sun.

Jack knew that it would be long before the sun warmed his chapped fingers but at least it shed some light on his path.

Nothing was right or wrong, indeed, it was too early for such nonsense.

But still Jack did all he could to remember what he was looking for and why he’d been so eager to rise this morning before his alarm clock could shout obscenities to his ear.

It was the reflection of the sun off an old car window which caused him to touch his brow, where when removed, his hand revealed a thin layer of blood.

He couldn’t remember how or when he’d received such a gash, which the window now showed, laughingly.

Realizing where he was, he’d found what he’d been looking for, though it was as fragmented, cracked, and littered as the sidewalk that led him home.

Before entering the thought of knocking crossed his mind, but why? He lived here. This was his home.

The house was silent except for Jack.

He laid in bed as if it were the evening and since he wasn’t a praying man, he sang softly to himself.

It was more or less what praying had done for any other man before him, and would do for anyone else who’d find him thereafter.

It was then he turned off his alarm clock and shut his eyes.

THE END.

Insomnia: A Short Story

The television’s on.

It’s freezing in here.

I should probably be asleep, but I’m not.

It’s 4:53. It’s always 4:53, when, click, the heat turns on.

Now the draft from the window’s competing with the dull heat, which smells like last years dust, pouring through the vent, above the door, which leads to the living room where the TV’s still on.

In about an hour the sun will be up and it will be another morning.

I can’t tell yet whether or not I’ll be excited or scared, but either way, I have to write my grandmother—thanking her for the letter she sent a couple days prior—she used to fill the cards with glitter but doesn’t anymore…

Perhaps there’s a glitter shortage, I don’t know.

I’ve been pulling my beard out again, which I don’t like, but still do. Why? A doctor would probably claim it’s nerves but by this point in life I know better than that.

It’s funny really, thoughts, how they come and go as easily as a hair can be plucked from your chin.

If I had eggs in the fridge I’d probably boil some for breakfast but I don’t have any because yesterday while shopping I’d debated prices in my head for what seemed like too long to be debating prices of eggs, causing an uncomfortable feeling I just couldn’t shake, making me anxious and aware that I’d been standing in the isle for what seemed like eons though was probably only a couple minutes, still, too long to be debating whether or not I wanted to pay 2.39 or 2.99 for a dozen of eggs.

The heat feels good now, while the right side of my face warms up, the left side is still dealing with the draft from the window.

Common sense tells me to close the window though my better judgement says to just let it be. What’s the point, really?

It’s 5:06 now. It’s always 5:06.

The repetitive nature of this statement keeps recurring in my mind as if the idea isn’t fully mine, though I use it anyway.

Perhaps it’s my conscious mind coming back to me? Perhaps it’s programming I just don’t have the strength to deny, either way…whatever.

It’s 8:08 on the East Coast. My mother’s probably pouring coffee, reading the morning news. My brother’s probably already dragged himself from bed and into work. My nephew’s to school. My sister-in-law to her studio where she makes jewelry from metal and her imagination.

Their routine gives me comfort because right now I don’t have one.

This pandemic has us all in a pretty weird state of affairs, though, my affairs have always been pretty weird now that I think about it.

At least I’m writing again. That’s good.

Everything is pretty all right right now—knock on wood.

And what if this is as good as it gets? Hog wash.

At least it’s warm in here, closing the window, watching the sun rise.

My nail beds are long. I’ve always been told that. “You’ve got piano hands,” they said once, go figure, I don’t play—if I did this would probably make for a better story though, well, you know.

Turning off the TV seems irrational as it’ll just get turned on again tonight, unless, unplugging the TV—Ah! That’s better.

Insomnia, it’s the breakfast of champions.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, the letter.

When I was a kid—after bedtime—as quietly as I could, I would crawl from my bed, onto the floor, then elbow and knee my way down the hallway to lay in the doorway of my brothers room…

When I was a kid—after bedtime—as quietly as I could, I would crawl from my bed, onto the floor, then elbow and knee my way down the hallway to lay in the doorway of my brothers room to watch his television.

He’s four years older than I am and, well, I thought he was really cool.

One, for having a TV in his bedroom. And two, for probably knowing I was there but not saying anything.

Whatever he was watching didn’t really make a difference but it was comfortable there, on the carpet, with the blue light flashing.

A dark bedroom can be pretty scary to a child, especially during a thunderstorm.

Now that we’re older, we speak when it is necessary, but not all the time.

Probably less than either of us cares to admit.

He’s a busy working husband and parent while I’m pretty much all over the map.

Though when we do talk, it’s a meaningful talk of mutual reflection. He provides me with information from four years down the line and I remind him that I’m listening by offering whatever small insights are on my mind.

I thought he was great then and I still do now. No matter the distance the bond between two brothers is strong and unwavering.

Basically what I am saying is I look forward to the next time we’re able to watch a little TV, crack a couple jokes, and just hang out—without any pressure—even if it means the carpet or floor, that’ll be enough.

The Sweatpants King And His Little Brother

The slammed door and the silence

The slammed door said I’m hurting.

The silence said I’m scared.

The walls between us listened

when no one seemed to care.

The portraits on the wall,

oh how they seemed stare,

where deep within night

the stars poured ever clear.

The door knob turned eventually

as silence did it’s head,

the sea between us parted and

the portraits went to bed.

While all the world was sleeping

with all their monsters fed,

the boy and girl slept soundly

no sooner had they met.

Topanga Canyon sunlight

Topanga Canyon sunlight

falls gently on my head

The moon hangs in the distance

her eyes blue sky in bed

A squirrel’s picking berries

the tree of life is fed

It’s summer in the valley

there’s no more to be said

I will remain.

The grass is green getting longer

in the summer

there’s a barbecue and I’ve

got this rice paper journal

it’s eternal

like the sun over Nepal.

Now there’s these two little blue birds

singing softly, shadow dancers

on the lawn

I’ve got this quaint little feeling

there’s a reason

for the bull skull on the wall.

A plane flies overhead

a sky of blue, a sea of red

mountaintops and forest bed

remain…

The grass is covered with snowfall

in October

frosted snow caps on the lawn

yet still those two little blue birds

nesting softly

they sing their joyful song.

I lace my boots fill my canteen

need some relief

from the city full of drums

rucksack and trail unwinding

I’m reminded

of my love for everyone.

The rocks and sandstone bend

leaves fall from tree, I comprehend

there is no time still consequence

remains,

I will remain.

that old dog bark

A sweet chorus of birds

lingers in the air, as

the morning wains on

expectantly

that old dog bark

rings heavy on my mind.

Pulling the covers overhead, thinking

the day can—and most certainly will—wait for me today.

My feet are sore

and my heart is silent.

I’ll stand when I’m ready, till then

I’ll snore along till noon.

footnotes in nursery rhyme

Got up this morning ahead of my time

shook fear from my hair and tears from my eyes

took to the mirror and spoke to this guy

who said he knew me from before —

it’s there that he unlocked the door.

He gave me a sunrise he gave me his hand

he told me a secret I could understand

life isn’t a journey or destination

it’s your choice to choose to buy in —

for me it’s better not to win.

So I sharpened my memory and tore out his tongue

recycled the organ from which I’d dislodged

filled it with the secret and sealed it shut

if X marks the spot then I’m fine —

love’s just footnotes in nursery rhyme.

Connecting the dots which soon filled my head

aligned with ideas I spoke with each step

life ain’t no cake walk or deal with respect

it’s your throat or mine well of course —

I’d take mine to spare you the course.

It’s kill or be killed so I’m on my knees

no fear any longer just tranquility

it’s obvious ain’t it half hearted pity

runs deep like the roots of despair —

no one’s got the cure or should dare.

So with that in mind one swift hit should do

a hole in the head hell it ain’t nothing new

I was head over heals now I’m sinking through

the clouds which look soft from afar —

at the end of this there’s only dark.

With all things considered it’s lovely I guess

like spilled paint confetti this hole in my chest

I’ve dug it before since third grade I guess

my actions speak louder than words —

it’s all been a blessing and curse.

die a King in your fantasy.

I don’t want to be a burden

I just wanna sit here and read.

So if that’s ok

then the band can play

I’ll look up a couple times to see.

Everyone who’s silently cursing

checking out the latest feed.

There’s someone I knew

from another life

I look away so they don’t notice me.

It’s a living, a hard living

the barista says while pouring cream

a couple swirls and a twist

now there’s a swan swimming in my drink.

Guess I never really felt like drowning

I just swam in this misery.

I guess I can’t complain

I made my bed

skipped my prayers

now I’m counting sheep.

Guess I never really felt like dying

just romanticized how life could be

it’s like a game of chess

you protect the Queen

and die a King in your fantasy.

Cause it’s a living, a hard living

it could be worse is a common phrase

a couple riffs then applause

now the band packs their noise and leaves.

If I have to take a vow of silence

plead the fifth in double time.

With all due respect

I think I must confess

I cracked up like a nursery rhyme.

Still I can’t sing that song without crying

so whatever shall be shall be.

I guess the world’s the same

rinse repeat complain

the punch line never hit with me.

So if you’re living, a hard living

here’s raising this glass to you

and if you’re worried, don’t worry

there’s bound to be an answer soon.

Cause baby I don’t wanna be a burden

I just want to write my poetry.

Because I’m not a rock

or an island but

ain’t that the only way to be free.

I’ll make it perhaps

The light in here is bad

The shadows hang their heads

I’m tired of this playlist

I’m tired of this bed

In sheets that are not mine

Busted strings don’t pass the time

The shadows hang their heads

In light of what they find

Am I really headed backwards?

Static fills my head

Am I really headed back there

Like I’m the walking dead

So I light the wick

And turn the page

Familiar is this pain

The light in here is fine

The shadows are just that

Perhaps I’m feeling better

Perhaps I’m coming back

Always and forever

Never fine

But

I’ll make it perhaps