Tag Archives: writing

“Holding out the long note”

I awoke to Paris on fire, at gunpoint, held hostage,
from a mid-afternoon sleepwalking slumber of menial tasks
as a wage war zombie soldier on the other side of the world.

This unholy terror stretching far and wide
in my lifetime, as far back as I can remember,
and since the beginning of time.

We come from chaos in the cosmos or between the lines
of ancient text, scattered, smothered, and covered
in the blood of our ancestors
and those they’ve crucified.

And the eagles set their watches, buy their yachts,
twiddle their thumbs,
pop corks and pills and incarcerate entire generations
for slapping their turned cheeks,
or shoot them in the back out of instinct,
forgetting there are cameras in everything.

We’ve armed the world, though our gods
play us like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots,
bringing time bomb knives to gunfights with the wires crossed.
Too stubborn to admit when we’re wrong
or how the west was really won,
with promises laced with smallpox.

We are machines inside a machine building machines with blinders on,
dashing through the desert on a warhorse broken sleigh
with the pilot in the back of a limo thousands of miles away
with tinted windows,
lying all the way.

And yet, beneath the uniforms, behind the skin,
our insides all look the same.
You see it when we blow up
or rot in unmarked graves.

But we’ve outgrown the core and let our flags define us,
borders isolate us, and become islands in a sea of fear.
Our captains have capsized our lifeboats and assured us
we’re surrounded by sharks,
that it doesn’t matter if we can’t see two inches below the surface,
we need to hurl spears and torpedoes
and give it all we’ve got,
and worry about forgiveness if the time comes.

And soon the oceans, like our holidays, will be cloudy with red smoke.
Seagulls will soar through hours of silence,
lifeguards will mope home.

We are why we can’t have anything nice.
Building the future like a Jenga tower
with kerchiefs over our eyes and booze in our veins.
Toddlers with vocabularies and something to say.
Armchair evangelists confusing satire for news and the rumble of passing
trains for record-setting earthquakes.
Convinced we can’t change the world with our words
until those words move boulders, knock down walls, build bombs.

Rock ‘n’ roll won’t save the soulless.
Protest songs won’t lie down on live grenades for us.
They’re warm blankets on cold nights, but not long enough
to reach our feet and crawling with lice.

So what do we do? We pray. And they pray.
A choir of beggars turning the sky black for answers
’til we’re all blue in the face.

A beautiful bruised world,
eyes tight,
exhausting its last breath holding out the long note,
limping on its last leg into the unknown.


“It’s all part of my rock ‘n’ roll fantasy”

tired drives through thunderstorms on slick
and narrow roads.
van spinning out on wet leaves, rolling backwards
down a mountain driveway at 4 AM,
heavy with gear, guilt, dreams, fear,
and lack of sleep.

from temporary home to temporary home,
couch to couch,
floor to floor,
doing everything at convenience stores
from sea to shining sea.

pining for things you shouldn’t miss,
don’t deserve to miss,
while people age around you and
bright-eyed hope turns to bleary-eyed desperation.

hundreds of miles away,
she’s too drunk to text me back.

sitting in a chair I’ll sleep on
in a house that isn’t mine,
quiet enough to hear myself from fifteen years ago
tell my mom things like,
“If I never try, how will I ever know?”

now we call our kids to say goodnight
from other kids’ empty beds
in the homes of two-weekends-a-month fathers we call friends.

and you don’t want to be the last to fall asleep
’cause that’s when the silence sneaks in,
broken by the sound of you fifteen years from now
screaming in your head,
“What the fuck are you thinking?
Who lives like that?
By the time you hear this, you’ll be dead.”

Perfect Sleeping Weather, coming April 2015

Before I started trying my hand at screenplays and jokes, not too long after I started playing the drums, I wrote poems and lyrics. I hung around a lot of artsy kids in high school — writers, painters, musicians — and was particularly inspired by my friend Jonathan Baity, who, to this day, I’m convinced is one of the best poets I’ve ever read.

Anyway, releasing a collection of poetry has always been a bucket list sort of thing of mine, and I actually tried to do it back in the day, printing books at Kinkos, and it was an abomination. So, in 2014, I decided to finally try to do it right.

Perfect Sleeping Weather is a collection of poems written from around 1998 to 2014. Some are about those high school friends, some are about growing up restless in a small town, some are the mad late-night ramblings of a drunk who thinks too much.

A friend of mine, years ago, once told me, “All of your writing sounds like a sigh.”

I’ll take it.

I wanted to release the book in the fall or winter, ’cause it feels like a fall or winter book. But that didn’t happen, so I’ll release it in April, in conjunction with National Poetry Month.

From now until April 1st, I’ll be taking pre-orders, which include:
1. an autographed copy of Perfect Sleeping Weather.
2. handwritten and signed lyrics to “A Better November,” a song I wrote for Holidaysburg, a former band I was in and the title track of our one and only record.

Pre-orders will be slightly more expensive ($30), but include shipping to anywhere in the world and you get the little bonus lyrics. Click the link below to pre-order.


Thanks for taking the time to read all this and for supporting anything I’ve ever been a part of.


Stephen King scared the shit out of me to make room for imagination

Today is Stephen King’s birthday. He’s turning 67. He’s been scaring the living shit out of me for the better part of my life. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

I was born and raised in Florida, primarily the small town (at least at the time) of St. Cloud. It wasn’t unlike most southern small towns I’ve been to in my travels as an adult; proud of its high school football team, predominately white, single-screen movie theater, pickup trucks, military families, farm families, and a sort of overwhelming feeling that, unless something miraculous or magical happened, you would live and die there.

My mother worked at the elementary school and my father was a cowboy. And, when I grew up, I wanted to be a cowboy too.

We ate supper, we said “Grace,” we even went to church on occasion.

Somewhere along the way, I became enamored with movies and, when I was 9 years-old, my career goal shifted from, “I want to be a cowboy” to “I want to be a cowboy or Jack Nicholson,” after seeing him knock it out of the park as The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman.

Likely due to my near-idol-worship of Nicholson, I was still a kid when I saw Kubrick’s The Shining. It was on network TV, probably around Halloween. There was a big, off-putting, purple, blurry blob over the naked lady when she stepped out of the shower. But it would take more than a big, off-putting, purple, blurry blob over the naked lady to keep that film from changing my life forever.

In hindsight, I think the first King-related film I ever saw was Cujo, a few years prior. But Cujo didn’t change the way I walked down our (to me, long-as-fuck) hallway at night; with the at-first cautious then hurried steps of a prisoner tiptoeing past the guard and scurrying towards freedom.

No, Cujo was about a dog with rabies. Scary, no doubt, especially considering I spent the first eight years of my life on a ranch in the middle of nowhere. But I could wrap my head around a dog, even one with rabies. You can see it, you can touch it, you can shoot it.

The terror of The Shining was psychological. It was in Danny’s head, got in Jack’s head, then got in your head. Were the ghosts even there? What was real? How the fuck should I know? I was like 9 years-old. I couldn’t even spell “psychological.”

All I knew was there was a light switch at either end of our hallway and my days of using only one of them every time I walked that hall after dark were long gone.

In junior high, a family friend close enough at the time to justify me calling him “Uncle” shipped me a huge box of Stephen King books he’d read and no longer needed. I never read them all. Admittedly, for someone who fancies himself a writer, I don’t read enough. But I don’t mention this shipment to wonder aloud why I don’t read more, or talk about the books from the box that I did read — The Eyes of the Dragon, Pet Sematary, The Dark Half, Night Shift, Four Past Midnight, Needful Things, some of Cujo — I only mention it as an illustration that the lid had come off. I was hooked. It was like Pringles: once I popped, I couldn’t stop.

King had managed to do something no one, or thing, had been able to do for me up to that point: crack open the part of my brain that held my imagination and show me there’s far more there than meets the eye.

It wasn’t just about fear, although being scared is great fun, it was about having the ability to manipulate someone’s mind over and over again, using only words, and build worlds, birth characters, tangle them all together, and destroy whatever you had to for it to all make sense. It was about hearing myself ask myself, “Where does he come up with it?” and never finding an answer.

Most importantly, it was a break from the routine. From high school football games, Sunday school because it’s Sunday, and kids with rat tails who didn’t know any better calling kids in punk rock t-shirts, “Faggot.” It was a glimpse into a universe where you had to expect the unexpected, or you might literally get sucked into a gutter or machine with a mind of its own.

It’s impossible to say whether or not I would have ended up the way I am today without reading Stephen King or being exposed to movies based on his books. Maybe I’d have found my own way. Maybe something would’ve happened to where I’d need to build my own hammer and smash into my own brain to escape or make sense of it. Fortunately, I don’t have to wonder.

See, the thing is, like imagination, there’s more to life than meets the eye if you just know how to look. We’re more than automatons, punching in and out day after day at jobs that pay just enough to keep us alive, kicking our feet up to watch TV, and falling asleep only to wake up and do it all again; with little regard for the fleeting years or how we’re spending them.

We’ve accepted that because it’s the norm and, in doing so, lost our sense of wonder, our sense of being, our ability to realize we’re dreams inside dreams inside the mind of a sleeping giant who, whether we like it or not, is going to wake up one day and destroy us all.

Now, to be fair, I don’t know if that last bit about the dreams and the giant is 100% accurate, but, the beauty is, that idea, that belief, is mine. And if it frightens you, it’s only because you can’t see it, can’t touch it, can’t shoot it.