Saturday, December 3, 2011

    A reader of this body of work recently asked me, "Where have you been?"  They were wondering why my posts were becoming more and more infrequent?  They asked, "Are you losing interest?"

I have not lost interest.
I still stand by this body of work.
But something has changed.

I have changed.

    The initial purpose of the Hit and Miss Engine Papers was to take a walk down shitty memory lane.  It was my intention to expose every raw nerve, and exposed vein, that was the result of the dissolution of my twelve year relationship.  I used my own teeth to chew my skull open, and then freely and wantonly dug my hands deep into the viscera of my silly brain.  I wasn't searching for anything really.  I was just getting all the shit out.  It's akin to personal therapy; only there is no couch, no smug doctor, and no bill at the end of every session.  My little experiment may not work for everyone, but I must report that it worked quite nicely for me. 
    By getting all the shit out, committing it to this metaphorical paper, I was able to find some peace.  I would examine why I was hurting, write it all down no matter how verbose or trite it may have seemed; and I was able to go to bed and sleep.  I was able to get up in the morning and go to work.  I was able to exist.  I may not have been living most days, but I was getting through each day, and that counts for something, doesn't it?  And as the days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months, and the months finally became a year, I found that I was starting to live...again.
    And so, I have learned to live all over again.  I am still learning.  I will never be the man I was before all this, and I am glad.  I am a better man now. 
    There are people, places, and things that I will miss, but they can all be replaced.  Just as I have been replaced in her life.  Four days after my 45th birthday in October, she placed the home that I built for her, on the market.  The greatest expression of my love and talents is now for sale.  When I was told of this development, I didn't get angry or cry.  It is just a house, and I will build another.  I actually smiled when I looked up the listing.  It's a good house and I am proud of my work.  I know it will make the new owners very happy.
    And then in November I was informed that she is now engaged.  I actually laughed when this news was passed along to me.  I had a smidgen of hurt, but truthfully, the news wasn't the blow you might have expected it to be.  The only thing that bothered me was the understanding that she had been cheating on me during our last year together.  In one of our last conversations together, I asked her if there was someone else.  "There isn't anyone.  I just want to find myself.  I think I'm going to be alone for quite awhile."  And she lied to me as easy as a child when caught with their hand in the cookie jar.  And I knew she was lying.  I even wrote a story for her, describing her new lover almost perfectly.  I changed one small detail, in fairness to her.  I didn't want to tell her that I knew everything.  She read the story and cried deeply.  But she was committed to her actions and her promise of a new and better life.  And to this I say, "Good luck."  And I am not being smug or condescending or snarky when I say these words.  I wish her nothing but luck in her new life.  Everyone, no matter how shitty and messed up they may be, deserves at least this much.
    Here are the last words I ever spoke to her, just before I climbed into my truck and drove off,  "I don't understand any of this, but I do.  I hope you find whatever it is that I couldn't give you." 

She reached out to hug me,
heavy tears were starting to fall.

I stepped back.
I left her with her arms open,
awaiting a last embrace.

    And now here we are.  One year later, and so much has happened and changed.  I have happened and changed.  It's funny to think that so much can be so different in such a short time.  The Universe is a silly thing.
    Chapter One, of the Hit and Miss Engine Papers is now done.  I hope it has touched you, (both good and bad) and forced you to think.  I hope that these words have given you pause, and inspired some of you to take a closer look at your lives and relationships.  I hope that we can all find our smiles; even when confronted with the heavy task, of learning to live all over again.

    Chapter Two of the Hit and Miss Papers has already begun.  It is about finding love again, across an ocean, just through the sharing of words.  It is a truly romantic story, one that is developing as you are reading this, and one I think you will enjoy.  So, readers and friends, thank you for sticking by me this past year.  Thank you for reading my thoughts and musings, and not passing judgement and just riding along.  Thank you.
    And to my muse, my siren, my oracle and love across the black water, "Hello, Beautiful.  It was a good day."


Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Fucking Year.

One year.

I cannot fathom,
this ridiculously quick,
passage of time.

When I was a child,
a year was an eternity.
And now a year,
seems like the blink,
of a jaundiced eye.

What was yesterday,
is so far away;
and still I  can feel it all,

I want to go home.
I want to go back.

I ache so deep
that trees shudder as I pass
and concrete cracks and heaves under foot.
The weight of my broken soul,
could crush stars into dust
and melt diamonds.

I have spent a year,
pretending and hiding.
I have spent a year,
trying to bury my broken heart.
I have spent a year,
digging a hole
in the water out back.

I have spent a year,
one full year,
precariously perched
out here on the edge
of being,
and not being.
I have lived a year,
a complete full year,
in exile.

And yesterday,
I signed the lease
for one more;
another year.

I have so much to say,
so much to express,
so much to share.

And here I am,
at a loss;
on the edge between love and life.

One year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Waiting For Life To Begin.

I am falling apart.
Or so it seems.

The one year anniversary
of my exile
is rapidly approaching.
And truth be told,
I don’t feel any better.
In fact,
I feel worse.

God damn,
I am.
God damned me,
And so I will be.

Nothing has gotten any better.
The ache inside of me
seems to grow exponentially,
with each passing day.
What hurt yesterday,
will hurt tomorrow,
only just a little bit more.
Nothing gives me comfort,

I am riding home from a hard days work
The physical toll on my body,
has caught up with my mental fatigue,
and I am separating at the seams,
as we pull up to the shop to off load
all the tools and trash
from our days labor.

My partner in the crime of hard work,
is humming a song.
It is a familiar tune.
It is a song that moves with the cadence
of a steady moving freight train
through the heartland.
It is the kind of song
that becomes instantly popular
amongst smart and arty people
and then quickly becomes a cliché.
It is enjoyed,
but then reviled because of its popularity.
It is Pete Yorn,  Life On A Chain.
And Tommy
just won’t stop humming it.
He eventually starts singing it
as he bops along,
stowing away the tools from our days trade.

I can feel myself just drowning in mid air.

When all the implements
of our physical destruction
and reconstruction
are tucked away,
on dusty and greasy shelves,
we shut the heavy old wood
and steel doors,
second test the locks,
and climb into the truck,
and head back down my old familiar streets,
back to his home,
just blocks away
from my old home.

Before we turn from the alley,
Tommy pulls out his I-pod,
and dials up Pete Yorn, Life On A Chain.
He turns it way up,
and begins to sing along,
with the freedom and happiness
that I am no longer capable of.
He’s tapping out the beat on the steering wheel
As we cross over onto Fleet Street.

I am dying inside.
I don’t know why.
And I know why.

“I live on a chain.”

And we glide down the hill
from the top of Highlandtown,
across Clinton, Elwood, and East Avenues.
And at each intersection,
at each stop sign,
and pause,
the hell inside of me starts to rise up.
As we get closer,
I realize I can’t hold back the ache.
We come to a stop,
at the intersection of Fleet and Linwood,
and I am completely engulfed in tears.
A right hand turn,
and I would be on my way,
back home,
back to my old home.

“I was alone, and you were just around the corner from me.”

I place my head against the window,
and it feels as if the weight
of my tears could shatter the glass,
as I look down
Linwood Avenue,
and desperately imagine going home.

Tommy turned the music down,
“I’m sorry Murdoc.”
Me to Tommy.
Me too.

I learned towards the radio,
and turned the stupid song up to full volume,
and we sang our hearts out
the next couple of blocks to his home.
We beat the dashboard silly
like a couple of lunatics,
to the cadence of a song
that sounded like a steady moving freight train
through the heartland.

An hour later,
I was sitting alone
with a heart full of lead, broken glass, and choked back tears,
out back of my new home,
by the water,
watching the sunset,
tapping out the beat to a song,
on the arms of an old Adirondack chair.
And the sound it made,
was like a steady moving freight train,
fueled by sorrow,
through the heart land.

Nothing has gotten much better.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Let The Sea, Lift Me Up.

Over the last two days,
I have lost myself in the exercise of fishing.
I have lived on the water now for almost ten months;
and I have had yet to drop a line,
into the water,
that is my backyard.

I have studied
this vast blue and black vista at great length.
I have acquired nautical maps.
I have tracked the ebb and flow of the tide,
in relation to the passing stars above.
I have spent hours photographing
it's never ending change and flux.
I have endured and revelled
in storms of unimaginable strength.
I have watched as ice crept in,
and turned the all of Old Road Bay
into a sheet of mottled glass.
I have seen much change,
while I have just stayed
the sad same me.

I have embraced this new world,
as my own.
Here, in a place so far removed form my old life,
I have found a home;
where I can place my sadness
into a boat made of folded love letters and photographs;
and set it all adrift on the easy tide that takes all things,
back out to the sea and away.

I imagine,
all the ache and uncertainty
inside me,
as a gray and heavy weight;
like the driftwood that washes up on my beachhead,
or the pier pilings that break free from their duty
and sometimes float free after a storm.
As immense as these things are,
the current always takes them away
over time.

Where all this heavy substance goes,
is a mystery?
there is a beach,
just like mine,
on the other side of the world;
where another unhappy soul,
studies the immense garbage
that has washed ashore
into his unhappy life?
He looks at the crazy
gnarled driftwood,
discovers a name carved in it's side;
carves his own name on another branch
of this broken, buoyant tree of life,
and then drags it all off the shoreline
and sets it adrift once again.

Even the heaviest of weights,
can rise up
and float away
on the sea.

for the last two days,
I have sat out on the pier,
and dropped a line into the water.
And tonight,
as the sun made it's way home across the water,
a thin line of incandescent filament
with a hook and a bloodworm,
and a lead weight wasn't enough.
With my usual purpose and dedication,
I began to remove my clothes.
As each piece of my outer layer
was peeled off,
it was folded neatly
and placed upon the rusty crab trap.
When there was nothing left,
but my boxer shorts,
I took a deep breath,
removed these too,
and then,
dove into the water.

Dropping a line into the water
just wasn't enough anymore.

I needed
to baptise me.

Something inside me,
just needed to float.
Perhaps I needed the sea,
to ease and lift,
the weight
of all this ache and uncertainty
inside of me?
I worried.
Had I become so heavy,
that even the strength of water couldn't lift me up?

And like the driftwood,
I floated.
And it was awe inspiring to be so weightless once again.
It was like being in love.
It was like Christmas morning.
It was like the embrace of a lover,
after waking from a horrible dream.
It was.
I was.

And I floated and bobbed about
as the sun set.
And for a moment,
I imagined that I was
just driftwood,
with a lonely strangers name carved in my side,
waiting for the tide and current
to carry me away.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Since my last post,
I have written with dedication
and purpose.
And nothing seems good enough to me.
I write,
and commit words
to this body of work,
and it all just seems so
out of place
and foreign.
For every day that has passed since my last post,
I have composed at least two new entries.
And each of these
labors of love,
are aborted and cast aside.

Is my focus,
or waxing?
I am left to wonder.

This whole simple thing
was nothing more than experiment.
A experiment of words and images
dedicated to the discovery of self-awareness
during a time of great duress and ache.
This was a living,
self-enacted autopsy.
It was through great strength,
and stupidity,
that I was able to cut and tear these words
out from beneath the viscera and sinew
of me.

And tonight,
as a cool wind blows in from the east,
across the subtle shattered blue glass surface
of Old Road Bay,
I wonder;
what have I gained?

I don't feel any better.
Truth be told,
I feel worse.
My sense of aloneness
and solitude
has only been heightened and reinforced.

I am only at peace,
as the sun falls,
and the night climbs over the water.

My days,
are just moments spent
Until night falls
when I can walk free
and unencumbered,
about the beach
and down the pier;
spot-lighting glistening leopard-print gooey slugs,
and the intricate and fleeting architecture of spiders on the hunt.

Last night
whilst dreaming or awake,
I am not sure,
I was visited by what seemed like a thousand restless souls.
They filed passed my bed
and were compelled to touch me.
A thousand unfamiliar hands
softly reached out
and grazed my being
as they passed,
by my bed and through my room.
One small soul,
climbed over me
as it made it's way out the window next to my bed.
Such a small thing was so heavy
that it felt as if I would be crushed
deep into the mantle of this earth
as it made its way home.

And I lay,
without a scream of terror
or a shout of joy.
I just let them all pass
over and through me.
And then there was just me.

This morning,
I watered my basil plant,
smoked my cigarette,
and drank my coffee.
It was no different from any other morning
here in my exile.
I have a ledger
in which I make note of the first words I utter
each morning.
I began this exercise
because I was puzzled
and worried
by my lack of vocalization.
I realized,
that without anyone to converse with,
I was beginning to lose my familiarity with my own voice.
I began writing down,
my first words,
each and every day.

my morning routine,
I entered the bathroom
and looked upon myself in the mirror.
I was shocked to find,
my side burns and a decent portion of the hair
on the side of my head
had gone gray.
Perhaps I have neglected to check up on me?
Perhaps I am just in need of a haircut,
and the gray was growing out unnoticed?
Perhaps I have lost touch with the physical me?

Whatever the case may be,
here are the first words I spoke this morning,
"Dear Lord man, where have you been?"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Won't Ever be The Same.

           Tonight on the ride home, I followed a big Dodge Ram dually diesel pick-up.  It was lifted and had two big smoke stacks rising up from behind the cab.  This truck screamed redneck at full volume.  The only thing missing was the fake nut-sack dangling from the trailer hitch. 
            It was around Lodge Farm Road
that he spotted my running lights and started playing.  It should be noted that I drive a Ford F350 diesel pick-up.  Sure it’s big (four doors) and has a leveler on the frontend so it looks lifted; but my truck is understated and almost classy, if that is possible?  It skirts the redneck line only because of its size and noise.  Most times, the boy’s running stacks will nod as we pass, but I know that in the back of their minds they’re thinking to themselves, “Pussy, big truck, mostly stock; that boy needs to stretch his legs a little.”  It’s a queer bunch that drives big diesel trucks.  It’s an unspoken club.  I am a member, but don’t attend the meetings and have never grasped the intricacies of the secret handshake.
            So Trucky-boy in front of me starts speeding up and slowing down as we get closer to the straight-away that runs through Todds Farm.  It is here where these good old boys wind it up and let it out in impromptu drag races; diesel vs. diesel on a mile long stretch of straight road that dumps you into Fort Howard, my home.
            And Trucky-boy is really pushing my buttons.  I’m coming off of a twenty hour day in Philly.  I’m beat.  The crane operator crushed my hand twice; and the second hit broke one finger and fractured another.  Everything that could go wrong with a sky-job did, and we still managed to complete our task and limp home back to Baltimore, broken but intact; and comforted by the realization that we might have made a difference in a world that seems so determined to prove us wrong.  I have a twenty-four ounce cup of cold black coffee in the center console, and there’s only grounds and mud left in the bottom of the crappy cup; and I’ve rationed these out and have been munching on the remains for the last fifty miles.  I am beaten and delirious, and now some asshole wants me to drag race the last mile home?
            Fuck him.  Seriously, fuck him.  Right about now I want to slam on the brakes and let the fucker ride up my rear end.   But he’s looking for a race and swerves out into the left hand lane.  We’re running side by side now, at a cool fifty.  The window of the Dodge rolls down and this is what I am greeted by…
            “Com’on muther-fucker, let’s see whatcha got!”
            It was that simple, the race was about to begin.  I said nothing.  I just looked over at the fat fuck in the passenger side and sneered.  Fuck you, asshole, I just tempted fate for the last twenty hours.  Your little test of manhood is piss in a bucket.
            So we dance.  Punch it, pull back, punch it; until we hit the main straightaway.
            And then I see her.
            Fuck me.
            There’s a rabbit sitting in the road just six clicks ahead.
            “Come on sweetness, get a move on.  You can hear and feel us coming.  It is two freight trains coming your way.  Get off of the center line and go.”
            But she doesn’t.  She just straddles the line.
            I mash my brakes and start to drift.
            The asshole with something to prove just hammers down and winds it out.
            And he clips her.
            It is so silly and unwarranted.
            He never slows down.
            It’s like he never saw her.
            I watch her careen across the tarmac.
            She tumbles
            And rolls,
            Like a projectile
            Fired from a cannon,
            That looses speed over distance,
            And gives in to inertias unpredictability.

            It’s like watching a wet rag,
            In a mini tornado.

            Fuck me.
            I’m now grinding to a sideway’s halt.
            I can feel the suspension and frame of my truck twisting and bending under the strain of a controlled and sudden stop.  Behind me there is a black patch of rubber that looks like a licorice stick in the hands of an infant.
            And I stop.
            Just like that.
            Aching metal finds peace.
            I look in the rear view mirror.
            And in the twilight and mix of the amber glow of my brake lights,
            I see her stir.
            She is broken,
            There is no doubt,
            Broken beyond repair,
            Of this I am certain.
            But I just can’t leave her there.
            Nothing should go out,
            And away,
            So suddenly
            If someone was there to notice.

            So I pull into the hay field before Avenue C, and park.  I grab the flashlight and start walking back to where she laid. 

            When I get there she is still moving.
            Her tiny body is still trying to run away from the chaos that crushed it.
            Timing is everything, and her timing was way off.

            I kneel down and touch her side.
            I can feel everything broken inside her.
            It is like running your hand along a thin velvet balloon filled with broken glass.
            I slide my hands beneath her and cradle carry her to the side of the road.
            In my hands, I imagine I am carrying the Hope Diamond shattered into manageable pieces.  “If I can hold it all together, maybe I can salvage its worth?”  In my heart I know, that I am carrying a 1000 piece Springbock puzzle that is about to unravel and fall apart at great speed; and I will never be able to put it back to right, put it back together again.
            There is a wooded glen just off the road.
            I carry her there.
            I hike in just enough, so that passing cars and people won’t know we are there.
            I sit down upon the bed of leaves, and look upon the life in my hands.
            It is fading.
            It is fading fast,
            I can feel the heart beats,
            Speeding up, and slowing down;
            In an uneasy cadence.

            And then she was gone.
            Just like that.
            It is amazing to hold life in your hands,
            No matter how small and frail;
            And then to feel it just quietly disappear.
            But it never goes quietly,
            If you really care and believe.

            If you are connected,
            The loss,
            Of even the tiniest of things
            Is like the echo of great thunder in your heart.
            And if you happen to really care,
            There is a flash of light
            That blinds your soul.

            So I sat in the woods,
            Just off of Avenue C,
            Blinded and deaf.
            A twisted and broken rabbit
            In my hands.

            When I gathered my senses,
            I went back to my truck,
            Grabbed a shovel,
            And began to dig.
            A hole, just off Avenue C,
            In the woods, far enough,
            Where small simple things could find peace.

            And I dug.
            And I kept digging.
            Until I realized,
            That I hadn’t just dug a hole for a small, broken rabbit;
            I had dug a hole big enough for me.
            So I laid her down;
            This small, frail, broken creature.
            And I filled the empty space around her
            With night flowers and green
            That I gathered from the woods.
            And then I rolled the earth back over.
            And just like that it was done.

            And I sat in the cloak,
            Of the woods,
            Just off of Avenue C,
            Sobbing at first,
            Then keening,
            And then just sleep.
            The morning sun awoke me
            Where I was.
            I was different.
            And I won’t ever be the same.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Gravity's gone, and I'm just floating."

And I quote the Drive By Truckers (look em up), "I've been falling so long it's like gravity is gone, and I'm just floating."

And I am just floating.
I float out of bed.
I float though work.
I float through my ride home,
and then float through dinner;
and promptly float into bed.
Lather, rinse, and repeat.

Most days,
these days,
it all just melts together
into a delicious grilled cheese
of boredom, lonliness, and bone breaking ache.
Imagine getting lost walking from your kitchen to your bathroom?
Now imagine the space between these two rooms,
is as big as a baby pool?
Even a child can navigate
this blue plastic and shallow wonderland.
And yet I somehow find myself
lost and drowning between the brittle curved edges.
My guess is I could somehow
find a way to drown right now,
in a five gallon bucket full
of piss and vinegar.

But I wouldn't drown.
I'd just float;
Right back to the top.

Everything has changed
around me.
I have watched
the big oak out back,
go from green, to amber, to barren, and back to green.
I have sat beneath her
and watched the stars climb across the sky with predictable precision.
Some stars fell.
We prayed for them.
I have stood next to her
and waited for the fury of the gray storm veil,
that moved across the inlet towards us.
And as the gale overtook us,
before the rain really fell,
We watched as the lightning cracked
upon the onyx surface that divides liquid from air.
The big oak holds steady through the storm.
And I pray for her.
Because I have little else to pray for anymore.
I have little left to trust and believe in.
I am afloat;
And I am adrift.

Right after college,
when we all seemed to be drifting,
when we all seemed to be floating;
we stole my friends father's boat after a night of drinking.
He was allowed to take it out,
just not at night after the bars had closed,
and without permission.
We parked on the side road outside the marina,
climbed the fence,
snuck past the sleeping watchman,
and with quiet determination,
pushed the big boat away from the dock and into the river's current.
Once enough distance was between us
and the pier,
we fired the big engines up and headed out into the black.

My friend,
who was now in a world of shit,
for stealing his father's boat,
manned the helm and brought us to a spot on a river somewhere;
where we dropped anchor and settled in.
We were pirates,
if only for one drunk night.

Another pirate on our journey
issued a challenge.
Who would dare to swim under the boat
from port to starboard?
Who would dare to dive into the black?
So he and I did.
Even with eye's wide open,
there was nothing to see.
The only way to make it to the other side
was by feel;
A hand stretched out above you,
running along the slick bottom of the boat.
And it felt
like I would never reach the other side.
Breaking the plane of black water above,
was like a rebirth.

But this wasn't enough.
My friend, my fellow pirate,
challenged me to contest of wills and strength.
"How far do you think we can swim away from the boat?"
So back into the black water we went.
At first it was a contest of speed.
Then it became a contest of will.
Just how far are you willing to go?
The light off the bow keeps getting smaller.
Are you giving up yet?
The sounds of those left behind are gone.
All I can here is my body moving through the soft waves.
Am I giving up yet?

And then it happened...
I just laid back,
looked up to the stars,
and floated.
I let the current just take me.
I could make it back to the boat,
if I just rested,
I also knew
that just floating
on the current
could take me further away.
But as long as I floated,
and stayed awake,
I could find my way back to shore.
I could be miles from home
when I touched land again,
but I would never drown.

So I paused,
and stretched out,
upon the uneasy engine of the black water,
and watched the stars.

And when I had enough of floating,
I fought my way against the current,
back to the boat.

I am floating.
I know this.
And when I have enough of floating,
I will fight my way against the current
back into the land of the living.

But for now,
please let me be.
I need this.
I need to feel weightless and free.
I need the infinite heaven of stars above me;
and the black uncertainty embracing me,
and holding me up.

I am floating.
There are better ways to be.
But as long as you float,
you can't drown.
And the tide will always take you someplace,
that just might end up home.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Twenty Questions Going Nowhere.

    Recently, I was interviewed by an on-line publication about my work, the Hit and Miss Engine Papers.  A video conference was set up inside a generic looking office building.  The group "conferencing" before me were a professional looking bunch.  They carried "man satchels", and dressed smartly in nice suits sans ties.  They were business casual. Even the sole female in their group looked important.
    I was coming from work.  I wore my very dusty and dirty Carhartts and workboots.  If you are unfamiliar with Carhartts, they are basically Garanimals for men in construction related fields.  If you are unfarmilliar with Garanimals, then this witty observation will be lost on you.
    After the important group before me had moved and shaked enough, I was ushered into the large room, that resembled a grey, empty swimming pool.  It had all the character of a wet roll of toilet paper.  I felt silly for expecting more.  My mahogany and stainless steel dream conference room was reduced to a large, crudely built Formica and press board table.  Upon closer inspection, the word "dick" was carved into the rough plastic top, right where I sat down.  Before the interview had even begun, I felt as though someone had seen right thru me.
    So some fiddling about with technical things occurred, and then it began.  I was face, to computer screen face, with my interviewer.  She seemed pleasant enough to look at.  She had on expensive designer glasses and a cowl neck sweater.  This was all that I could make out.  I wondered what I must have looked like, to her.  She looked like a writer; and I imagine, I resembled a hobo.
    We exchanged some formalities, I set some ground rules, and we began.
    The following is a transcript (edited due to length) of our discourse.

Interviewer:  So (deleted) tell me about...
Murdoc:  Stop.  What did we just talk about?
Interviewer:  Oh, my bad.
Murdoc:  Did you just say "my bad"?
Interviewer:  Sorry.  Sorry on both accounts.
Murdoc:  Look, I'm not trying to bust your chops here, but let's not use my real name.  Agreed? I'm writing some very personal stuff and I want to keep me separate from my work.  Christ, I sound like a dick already!  You can't see this, but someone before me, carved the word "dick" right here (points to conference table) in front of me.
Interviewer:  (laughs)  That's rather ironic, don't you think? (adjusts glasses)
Murdoc:  Um yeah, thanks Alanis.
Interviewer:  (nervous laugh)  Okay, let's get back on track, Murdoc.  Tell me about the Hit and Miss Engine Papers?
Murdoc:  It is an experiment in word and images.
Interviewer:  Yes, it says so on every page and entry, but could you give me something more?
Murdoc:  Sure. (pause, he looks down and rubs a dirty finger across the word dick, carved into the table)  The work is basically an exploration of grief, and an early coming to terms with the solitude that awaits us all.  It's a personal journey into the broken human heart.  It is an unwanted, but necessary trip down shitty memory lane.  It's a binging and purging of emotions best kept hidden.  It's...It's therapy but without some asshole, a couch, and a bill after every session.  How's that?
Interviewer:  Nice.  So it's about lost love and your need to come to terms?
Murdoc:  Sure, if you put it into it's simplest terms.  It's funny, but I recently shared the HME Papers with a writer friend.  He jokingly, I hope he was joking, called it "break-up" poetry.  If this is how it is perceived by the reader, than I think I will be shutting it down.  It's not like I'm performing this shit with bongos at open mic night at the local coffee shop.  I hope to Christ no one confuses this with break-up poetry.  It's prose for shit's sake!  (pause)  But fuck, I can see where the lines could be blurred.
Interviewer:  If it was just break-up poetry, we wouldn't be talking.  There is something about your work that has touched a nerve with readers, women in particular.  Have you noticed this?  And why do you think that women are drawn to your piece?
Murdoc:  Women are drawn to my piece?  I haven't noticed this.  What about my piece intrigues you?  It's length or girth?
Interviewer:  (smiling coyly)  Alright, I chose the wrong words.  Thanks for making me look stupid.
Murdoc:  Sorry (smiling slyly), you chose your words perfectly, I just happen to be embracing my new moniker.  See, (points to table) it says so right here, I'm a dick.
Interviewer:  You don't seem like a dick; and dick's don't write such beautiful words.
Murdoc:  (pause and blush)  Thank you.  (pause)  Here's the thing... I think women come back to the HME Papers because it's a guy, a real guy, finally being honest.  And I think this is also why many men come back to it, and are scared off.  So, I guess, what it is, is just honest human thought and emotion being expressed in a relatable and palpable way?  You can lie to me all you want, but tell me honestly, you've never felt this way?  I'm just putting my balls on the table and handing you the hammer.
Interviewer:  I must admit, your work has made me cry a couple of times.
Murdoc:  Really?  Which ones?
Interviewer:  Mouthful of Bees and the Geometry of Grief and Coffee.
Murdoc:  Thank you.
Interviewer:  I said your work made me cry.  Is that a compliment?
Murdoc:  Absolutely.  Truth be told, I cried while writing those posts.  It's my intention to touch the reader.  I crave eliciting and forcing emotion on the reader.  I want and need to feel that my stupid words are touching a nerve, pressing a button, flipping a switch.  My subject matter is nothing new or different.  So yes, as you said earlier, it's about lost love and coming to terms, but it is also something more.  It is self-actualization and the epiphany of understanding.  I think this is something we can, and want, and desire, to relate to.  And as a bonus and prize, there are mopy images at the bottom of the box of my not so Honey-Combs.
Interviewer:  So from what I have gathered, most of the images are from your backyard and home?
Murdoc:  Yup.  I live in shack down by the river.  It's a nice shack, with a lovely view of the water, and the industrial plant across the inlet.  It's a weird place that time has forgot.  I'm twenty minutes from downtown Baltimore, but it might as well be twenty light years away.  There is no mail delivery.  You have to set up a P.O. box at the little post office around the corner form my house.  When I went in, the old ladies stopped chatting and just looked me over.  The Post Master, a lovely looking silver haired woman, said, "Can I help you?"  And I replied, "Yes, I need to set up a P.O. box," and she said "Why?"  And I replied, "Because I've just moved here."  And she replied, "Where?"  And then I told her where I was living and she said, "Oh, you're the new guy in Susan's old place.  Welcome to Fort Howard."  That's fucking weird and wonderful.  It's a very protective, waterfront community on a tiny peninsula.  It's Mayberry on the water.  And it is such a place that time has forgot, that it makes taking photographs easy.  I just worry that I'm going to be the guy that fucks it all up.  I think after this interview I'm going to go back and delete any reference to my quaint, adopted, redneck town.  I also think I'm going to get real drunk and regret doing this interview.
Interviewer:  I think you're doing fine.  It seems like you're starting to get comfortable and loosen up.
Murdoc:  That's because the Xanax I took while waiting in the lobby is starting to kick in.
Interviewer:  You are surprisingly funny.
Murdoc:  And your sweater has a really big collar.  You could carry groceries around your neck and no one would ever know.
Interviewer:  It's a cowl neck.
Murdoc:  A cow neck?
Interviewer:  Cowl, cowl, like towel.  It's a type of...(she stops and just smiles while giving Murdoc the finger)
Murdoc:  Sorry.  I'm a dick.  It says so right here (points again to etching in table).  So, how many of these video interview thingys do you do?
Interviewer:  Too many.  It would be so much nicer to actually talk to you writers face to face.  I mean, be honest, this is weird, right?
Murdoc:  Yupper.  I feel like at some point I am going to ask you for a credit card number and then I will commence disrobing and self-manipulation.
Interviewer:  (laughing)  Oh God yes, that's it exactly.  (more laughing)  Hey baby, (attempts husky guy voice)  I'll show you mine if you show me yours?"
Murdoc:  That will be twenty dollars please, Visa or Master Card?
(they both laugh)
Interviewer:  (composes)  You know (deleted), I mean Murdoc, sorry, really sorry...
Murdoc:  It's okay.
Interviewer:  What I was going to say is, you're not a dick.  It may say so in front of you, but you're not a dick.  In fact, you are exactly the guy that I had hoped you would be.  You are a man.  You have airs and old world sensibilities.
Murdoc:  Would that make me provincial?
Interviewer:  Shut up for a second.  You are strong and sensitive.  You seem to be that guy that eludes most women.  So who fucked up?
Murdoc:  Wow, you reeled me in and then the gloves came off.  This is getting good.
Interviewer:  No really, who fucked up?  Did you do something stupid and guy like?  Did you drive her away, and is this work, the HME Papers, a feeble attempt to make yourself look good?  What happened?
Murdoc:  Shit, where were you thirty minutes ago?  If you had started this interview this way, we'd be into some really good discourse now.
Interviewer:  Answer the question!
Murdoc:  Do you want the truth, or a well fabricated lie?
Interviewer:  Surprise me.
Murdoc:  We both fucked up.  It's easy to fall into routine and just exist without living.  As much as I may have loved her, I should have showed and not told.  There should have been more flowers and less, "I love you's".  She needed physical affirmations of my love.  I built her a house.  It wasn't enough.  She has the house and I'll be damned if I don't understand how she can live there.  Everything in it was designed and built by me.  I still don't understand how she can walk the floors from room to room and separate me from the damn thing.  I guess we are all built differently.  Where I live now would barely fit into our old master bathroom, and yet it is filled to the ceiling with memories of her.  There is nothing physical here to remind me of her...
Interviewer:  You packed it all away, Photographs and Misery.
Murdoc:  Yes, but it's the mental cleaning and purging that I need to work on.  This will sound silly, but I don't want to forget and shove all those great moments from our past into the wood chipper.  I respect them.  They, the memories, are a part of me now.  For good or bad.  They got me to where I am today and I think it is a sad and foolish soul that grinds them all up and hauls them away to the dump.  She is an expert at this.  She had and has, the uncanny ability to just erase her past, never look back, and start all over again.  She warned me of this when we first started dating.  Her parents warned me too.  I should have listened.
Interviewer:  Have you spoken?
Murdoc:  I speak most days, usually at work.
Interviewer:  Have you spoken to her?
Murdoc:  Not a word since the day I moved out.
Interviewer:  Really?  No contact of any kind?  No texts?  E-mail?  Drunk dialing?
Murdoc:  No.
Interviewer:  But what if...
Murdoc:  Stop.  There is no banking on "what if's".  Dreams are for sleeping.  If you are dreaming with you eyes open, you are probably the idiot on the corner with the accumulation of a life misspent in a rusty shopping cart.
(interruption from moderator)
Interviewer:  Shit, we've only got a few more minutes.
Murdoc:  So make your last question a good one.
Interviewer:  Fuck, this was just getting good.  Can we continue this over the phone?
Murdoc:  I hate phones.  How's about e-mail?
Interviewer:  Argh, it's so impersonal.  Fuck, fuck, wait (pause, she takes off her glasses and leans into the camera); what is a hit and miss engine?
Murdoc:  (big smile)  A hit and miss engine is a beautiful feat of old engineering.  They were reliable beasts forged of cast iron.  They were known and revered for their simplicity and ever-true nature.  They ran at an uneven pace compared to most combustion engines, but it is steady that wins the race.  The may not have been fast, but their speciality was torque.  And when you see or hear one, you will never forget it.  Look them up.
(interruption from moderator)
Interviewer:  Shit, we're out of time.
Murdoc:  Do you kiss your mom with that mouth?
Interviewer:  (smiling)  Yes, we're very close.  Hey, seriously, can we do this again?
Murdoc:  What more do you need to know?  As far as interviews go, I think we totally fucked this one up and accomplished nothing.  Greatness made!
Interviewer:  I'm gonna be in Baltimore next month, wanna grab a coffee?
Murdoc:  I prefer cheap beer.
Interviewer:  Hey (deleted), you're alright.
Murdoc:  Fuck, have we learned nothing today?
Interviewer:  (sarcastically) Sooorrry, Murdoc.  Hey listen...(end video conference link)    

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Another lost weekend.

Friday, I attended "choir practice"
at the motorcycle shop.
We drank beer;
and fabricated on the Bridgeport,
a sleeve to carve the grooves into columns
for JK's cabinet shop.
We are artisans
hiding our skills
beneath flannel shirts
and foul mouths.

We went down to the VFW,
drank beer,
and watched a bluegrass band.
We appreciate
American roots music,
but are not past listening
to Puccini's Turandot.

I was back at the motrocycle shop,
for the swap meet;
where we drank beer
all morning,
and bought and resold
each others shit
until it found it's way back to where it all started.
After the exchanges,
we rode down to the marina,
and drank the afternoon away
watching the rain
come and go,
like our parts and treasures
that we bought and sold
all morning long.

I split away from the group,
during the break in the rain,
to photograph the boats,
stacked like toys in the yard.

It seemed like one good kick,
or shove,
of one support,
and they would all come crashing down.

One good kick,
or shove,
and it could all come crashing down.

And it would, too.
I know this,
because I am living
the effect of such
a callous and uncaring action.

As the rain
can back across the inlet
like a grey veil,
I snuck around the backside of the bar
and watched my friends,
form the other side
of the dirty windows.
They laughed,
and smiled,
and gestured,
with the abandon
of happy souls
drinking a rainy Sunday away.

And I stood
on the outside,
with just abandon.
The feeling,
of being a part of something
that wasn't enough to fill
the hole inside of me.
I'm glad it was raining;
the rain,
hid my tears.
I am good,
at being a part of something,
of everything,
and yet still being alone.

I am good
at being out there,
on the outside.
I am good
at being happy sad.
These are not traits
to be proud of.

But these traits,
have again,
become mine.

Before packing the weekend away,
I sat out back
by the water
listening to Nessun dorma.

"Dilegua, o notte! Tramontate, stelle! Tramontate, stelle! All'alba vincerò! Vincerò! Vincerò!"

And I'll be damned,
if it didn't start raining again.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Upside Down On The Ceiling.

I awoke
this morning,
in the blackest of blue.

The grey numbers
projected onto the ceiling
read 3:17 AM.

I laid still,
unable to move.
A cold so deep
had filled my room,
that as I exhaled,
I could see my breath
rising from my lips
like the smoke
from my last cigarette
before I laid my head down
to rest.

The cold
that filled the room
crept in like a sick child;
finding it's way
under the comforter
and next to me.

And I stayed frozen.
I did not move.
I just laid there,
watching the grey numbers on the ceiling;
waiting for them to change.

I watched my breath
rise slowly
into the deep black blue
above my bed.
I watched
as the frozen vapor
danced its way up
to where the grey numbers
on the ceiling
for the change.

But it stayed
3:17 AM,
until I found the courage
to shut my eyes.

With the strength
of a 100 ton
sheet metal press,
I crushed my eyes
closed tight.

I stayed that way
eyes clenched,
body taut,
in the cold.

And I counted the ways,
that I was alone.

I counted the seconds.

I counted the things,
That I missed.

I counted the minutes.

I counted the moments of joy,
that where now destined to be erased.

I counted the hours.

I counted all those
that I had lost.

I counted the days.

I counted all the parts of me
that had been taken away.

I imagined,
that if I kept on counting;
when I opened my eyes again
the morning's sun
would have risen.

I imagined,
that if I found the way,
to make a complete
and comprehensive list
of all that aches me so;
it would all be erased
if I kept my eyes
closed tight,
until the warms sun embrace
of a new day.

I imagined,
and wanted to believe.

When I opened my eyes again,
stamped metal tears
were stacked up in rows
down my face,
like rusty, unpolished
on a vacant assembly line
in Detroit.

The grey numbers
projected onto the ceiling
read 3:18 AM.

And in the corner
of my room,
a faceless figure,
dressed in my work clothes
and distressed and beaten boots,
sat in my father's chair,
legs crossed,
hands placed neatly in his lap,
upside down
on the ceiling.

pinned my limbs
to the bed,
and squelched the scream
that ached to ring out,
like a lonely church bell's call.

and love,
kept my eye's wide open;
even as the burn of rust,
seared and scratched
the antique, ripple glass lenses
that took the unsettling image in.

as I fight my way
back to sleep,
a storm is raging
over the Fort.
licks the surface
of the black water
out back.
And thunder rumbles
across the barren acres
of Todd's Fields.

of my elderly neighbors
have commented to me
about the heavy weather
of the last six months.

"In all my years,
I have never seen winds such as this."

"The storm's of late
seem to have more fury."

I have been here,
out on the Fort,
for six months.
I have brought the storm with me?

uneasy sleep,

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Black Mornings Kiss.

So I took the weekend off.

to pass the time
and fill the gaping hole in my bank account,
and heart;
I have taken up a second job.
Monday through Friday
I am a carpenter.
I build homes.
I am the only college educated carpenter,
in all of East Baltimore.

on the weekends,
I have taken to the great blue and grey above.
I have signed on
with a traveling crew of Sky Cowboys.
Derelicts, degenerates,
adrenaline junkies,
every one to the man.
But the odd thing,
is the nature of the work.
We install "green roofs"
on the top of office buildings.
For all intents and purposes,
we are gardeners in the sky.
It's the getting of the garden up to the clouds
where the danger,
and fun begins.
And this is how I spend my weekends.

We live in nice hotels
rise well before the sun,
manage 90 ton cranes,
multiple tractor trailers of material;
negotiate gale force winds,
and dance out on the edge
high above terra firma,
with only the embrace
of a safety harness
and a steel tether cable
to lessen the drop
back down to reality.

I handle the safety rigging.
Which requires me
to go out on the ledge first,
free from the steel umbilical cord
that keeps us all safe.
I get to dance free,
in the clouds.

I get to lean hard into the wind,
free from the ties that bind.
I get to test the winds heavy hand on my chest,
and find a mutual trust
between myself,
and the fickle mood of mother nature.
I have the insane pleasure
of climbing the sides
of concrete and steel;
looking for the places
where lines can be tied off
so that the crew can work safe.
Their lives
are in my broken hands,
and my innate ability
to ascertain,
just the right place
that won't let go,
if they were to make the mistake
of going over the edge.

Most of this motley band
have gone over the edge
a long time ago;
and I am now a rank and file member.
We are all
as our leader reminds us,
"fucked in the head."
You earn your way into the club,
via dissolution with life
or a need to feel your heart pound
and synapses fire
with the urgency
of top fuel dragster.
And the only way out of the club,
is the quick way down;
and the rough kiss
of Mother Earth
or the roof of a parked car.

are bestowed
with monikers
based on conditions.
There has been
Solar Alley,
Spanish Sahara,
and the Widow Maker.
Much like mountain climbers of old,
the first man to the top
gets to give the place its name.
I have named
every job that I have worked.
I find ways,
to ensure
that I am the first man
out of the hatch.
I want
and need
that first kiss
of the cold morning wind.
It is usually
in the dark and quiet.

Think back,
to your very first kiss.
Your eye's were closed;
you didn't say a word.
You just leaned in,
and found your way.
You never forget your first kiss;
and spend a lifetime
comparing every other,
to it.
They are all different,
first kisses.
You will have a number
of first kisses,
until you finally find the right one.
But their will always be that one.
You know it
deep to the core of your being.
And it is special,
a event,
a mile marker,
a talisman.

I suppose,
that my need,
and desire,
for that first
breath of the morning wind;
is nothing more
than my need
to recapture
that first kiss
that has sent me here into this exile.

I stand there
out on the edge,
precariously balanced
all that I am
and all that I am not;
and I can taste her lips again,
for one brief
with my eyes closed
and my soul,
full and free.

So I took the weekend off.
I turned down a job,
close to home;
and left the crew hanging.
And I find myself
left wanting,
and needing,
that sweet first kiss
of the cold, dark, morning air.

It is all I have
these trying days.
It is the one thing,
that makes me feel human,
and alive.

I think
taking a weekend off
was a good thing.
I am getting to comfortable
dancing in the clouds.

On top of Spanish Sahara,
a load broke free.
The man in charge of the tack line
(not one of us, not one of our crew)
felt the heavy pull of the load
taking flight in the wind.
He let the line go free.
And a weight
heavier than my heart
was loose above the deck.
Men scattered in all directions.
The need for self preservation
took over.
They ran for cover and safety.

The closest members of my crew,
two stupid souls,
put themselves
between the building and the edge.
They ran to the conflict,
and put their own safety aside,
to ensure
that others might make it home safe.

I was one of the two stupid souls
between the building and the edge,
wrestling the heavy
uncontrolled weight
back into submission.

I am not afraid
of anything up there
in the clouds.
But I am terrified
of living
down here.

So I took this weekend off.
I think
taking a weekend off
was a good thing.
I was getting to comfortable
dancing in the clouds.

I cannot replace
a lost kiss,
with the dark wind of the morning.

I cannot replace
a life lost,
by putting myself
the heavy weight
that swings freely about me;
and the concrete and steel reality,
that what I had is gone,
and never coming back.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's All The Same To Me.

I am
by the sheer
brute force
of life.

I find myself,
just how much more
can be taken from me?

there isn't much left.
Most of what I am,
can be packed neatly
into a weathered Whitman's Sampler box;
or if compressed
with precision,
into a twelve gauge
shotgun shell.

Just what is,
the breaking point,
of a good man?
A good soul?

Fuck me,
more bad news.
But I turn into the wind,
and weather the storm.

"And when it rains here,
it rains so hard."

And then,
on top of all else,
A friend, I cherish and love,
sent me this message this morning...

"This has been VERY hard for us too.
You are not the only one affected by this.
Sucks the way things have turned out.
That is all."

That is all.
We have not spoken
or seen one another
in five months. 
And this is the message she sends me.

I wanted to get in my truck
and drive to her house,
and hook a chain to my trailer hitch,
and tear her home away from it's foundation.
I wanted to pull
all that was safe and secure,
out from under her,
and see just how she would cope
with the upheaval and disintegration
of all that she knew and loved?

That is all.

Her words,
are similar to the words
of her other half.
he to,
seemed bothered
and put out,
and inconvenienced,
by the dissolution of my love
and life.

"This has been VERY hard for us too."

I don't know what to make of this
I guess,
I should say,
I am sorry.
I am sorry,
that my life
and pain, and sorrow,
has upset you so.

"You are not the only one affected by this."

What a selfish,
and foolish statement.
I was awed,
by these words.
Am I,
should I,
feel guilty,
or worse than I already do,
my life
and it's awful turn,
has somehow
caused her discomfort?
The ripple effect,
of the dissolution
of my love,
has upset a great many souls.
I put myself at the top of this list.
I am the one
who wakes each morning alone.
I am the one
who paces the floor
and counts the hours.
I am the one,
out here adrift
on the black sea of tears,
How selfish of me.

"Sucks the way things have turned out."

She got this part right.
It sucks;
to use her simple
and easy way
of defining my pain and sorrow.
It sucks.
The black hole
inside of me...
The heart removed
while awake...
The soul untethered
and set adrift...
The ache of crushed bone
and spirit...
It sucks the way things have turned out.

"That is all."

That is all.
If I didn't love
and understand
my friend,
who wrote such silly words,
I would hate her.
like all things
sent my way
these new days,
I just take it in,
embrace it for what it is,
and keep moving forward.
I know,
and understand,
that she didn't mean to hurt me with these words.
I know,
and understand,
that these are trying times for all involved.
But goddamn,
if you're having a hard time with all this mess,
imagine what I must be going through?
My guess is
she hasn't really given it much thought.
Because if she did
really sit down
with a glass of red wine,
next to the fire,
and imagine herself
as me,
it would
freeze her in place;
like a child
who makes it to the top
of an old steel jungle gym,
and realises
that while the view from the top is awe inspiring,
all it takes
is one not-love tap,
for a pig tailed ingenue,
and it's a rusty
and cold
pachinko trip
back down
to the blue dusty gravel below.

This is a first,
please listen...

The band is Lucero.
The message
is that
of a good
broken man,
keeping the faith
and trying desperately
to just hold on.
"It's all the same to me."

It's a beautiful night
out here on the Fort.
The water is like a pane
of antique glass
framed by an obtuse
and asymmetrical frame.
And no matter
how many rocks
I throw through it's bleary visage;
it always returns back,

That is all.