The Man in Port

I’m in port, dry dock, fixing the ship,
cleaning barnacles off my monocle
so I can see the glinting horizon,
calling like sixteen vixen sirens,
and steer away from Poseidon.

Once it’s fixed, I’m leaving this
sea town behind. The masts go up
and I sail out. Bleed with the breezes,
plead to Jesus, take me to the foreign
shore that is more like home than home.

Haul this anchor on board and
join me in the thin salt air, with your
scarf hanging between your legs and
my jokes landing at your feet,
do you think we will make it to
Santorini?

Every crest and every valley, we’ll
stay planted on the wheel, spinning
it toward our destiny and the open sea.
I’m a sailor and you’re a mermaid,
and we’re both make-believe.

Let’s shipwreck together.
Make love to the rocks.
Drown in the bliss of uncertainty.

The S.S. Happy Bones

Wild and Foolish

A grown man should never wear a backpack, they say. But how can a grown man climb a mountain without a backpack? I’m at base camp, tying my boots. Looking up at the alpenglow, transformed by the eternal beauty of uplift and storm, I feel like I’ve just been born.

I write notes in the margins of my thoughts in the wild frontier of my fantasies in the dark crevasse of my mind. Chop off my footnotes and I’ll fall to the Earth like a snow angel.

If I could love you — comma coma — then everything would be different. Upload your secrets so everybody can see you’re just like them — period pause — and we can transcend these bodies, this past, this mask.

Don’t plant your feet in cement. And don’t put your heart in a pocket it don’t belong. And don’t count to ten thousand if you only have to walk a couple of feet.

The sun is solace that the night subsides. Golden sheets that chase away the dark. You are the first and last page in the novel of my heart. My hands are so full of intention they ache. Desire coats my palms. Longing keeps me awake. These dreams wild and foolish lay beside me like a fawn.

There is a voice that commands me in different directions. I’m just its brainless marionette. Helpless to the mind’s bayonet. Open up. Close up. Turn left. Turn right. Buy that. Try that. Shout now. Yell. Scream. Punch. Hit. Bow out. Run away. Drink it. Smoke it. Fuck it. Fuck them.

Destroy your ego.

Burn it.

Watch the beautiful campfire glow.

Take me to the edge, where the continent plummets into the sea. Let me sit in the sand and run it through my fingers. As the ocean waxes on the shore, and the gulls dive into the water, give me strength to remain sitting; as the world rotates around like a gas station sign and people come and go, let me stay open, wild and foolish, exposed.

When the time is right, come and pick me up, take me home and make me yours.

There is a horse behind the barn that has never been ridden. There is a clanging of bells from the abandoned church down the lane. There is a woman in lace, somewhere amid rolling green hills, with flaming red hair and wild blue eyes, clutching a bouquet of wildflowers, waiting for me on creaking floorboards.

I walked out into the dark with a lantern, looking for salvation mountain, only moths came to me. I dove to the bottom of the sea with a scuba mask, looking for Atlantis, only eels came to me. I sat cross-legged with a loving heart, looking for peace, it came to me.

You’re scared. I’m frightened. The world is a tornado we’re inside of. Only together can we weigh enough not to fly away. Grab my hand. It’s open. Let’s sit for awhile.

Like wild and foolish children in the grass.

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Don’t Tell Me You Love Me

It had been a year.

We celebrated with a romantic dinner and were now back at her place, sitting on her bed. It was nearly midnight. The single rose I brought her was sticking out of an empty wine bottle.

She was becoming melancholy. She gets that way sometimes when she drinks. I recognized that look she acquires when her thoughts grow wild like kudzu and drift off to a faraway place. The look that tends to dampen the evening. I swept her chestnut hair out of her face and gazed into her eyes. I followed it up with a smile, tender and sweet, trying to warm the room and bring her back.

She held firm in her gloom. Time crawled along the floor like a silent caterpillar. Finally she raised her voice. “If you tell me you love me, I’m going to slap you!”

I mouthed the words and ducked out of the way, but instead of her hand flying at me, I saw a shadow fall over her face. The room turned still like the woods after a snowfall. Like an empty museum. She swallowed a lump in her throat and then began to softly cry.

I knew I had done a very wrong thing.

Across the room, in a dirty aquarium, her turtle poked its head above the waterline. Teddy the turtle. I could barely make out Teddy’s egg-shaped, yellow eyes. It looked at both of us, but couldn’t understand, knew nothing, of course, about the thoughts and emotions swirling around in our cluttered human minds.

And neither did we.

Teddy gulped another round of oxygen then darted back underwater. I watched him drift down to the bottom of the tank before pulling its head back into its shell. When I looked back at her I was surprised she had been staring at me. Her eyes were big and full of trouble.

She pouted. “You’re just going to leave me, or I’m going to leave you, or we’ll both get sick of each other, eventually; anyway, it’s doomed. Love doesn’t work.”

“Fine. If it makes you feel better, I’m just sorta fond of you,” I explained.

She looked up and her mouth opened to form a slit no bigger than where you put your card at an ATM. Then she laughed. And I did too. Foolishness is contagious, I suppose. And although neither of us said it, I could tell we both decided not to think about the future.

With a start, she grabbed a pillow and smothered my face with it, pretending to suffocate me, and then I pretended to be dead.

Anything to make her happy.

W O O L S E Y W O O D

You’ve never seen shine like mine.

I’m wearing a $2,500 camel pea coat and a $900 grey long knit sweater. Kanye himself sent me my shoes. My jeans have holes in the knees made by supermodels tearing them with their teeth. I bathe in water shipped from Iceland. Even Mother Mary didn’t have skin this immaculate.

I’m one of a kind and a God among men.

The music I listen to is made by famous musicians just for me. My cat has his own agent and fan club. I’m the guy who first gave Popeye spinach. When my parents took a sonogram of me I was giving the thumbs-up.

There are plaster molds of my genitalia in Hong Kong gift shops.

The Pope waves when I drive by. I’m not from Los Angeles. I’m not from America. Every step I take is its own country. Women have tattoos of my face on their breasts. I’m 13 feet tall and made of oak. People are afraid to say my name when I’m in the room. I teach waves how to break. I’m the man whose hand you’re afraid to shake.

There is a sign in the hills that says:

W O O L S E Y W O O D

I have a leather hangar for my leather belts. A sealed room for all the keys to all the cities I’ve ever been to. I don’t eat vegetables. I’m a raw beta carotene masterpiece. I tell the sun when to come out.

There is a special set of stars reserved just for me. A constellation with my name on it. When I die they’re going to send my corpse into orbit so everybody can look toward heaven and remember me for eternity.

Late at night I swim in an indoor pool the size of a football field. Tropical rainbow fish swim in the walls. I sleep in 3,000 thread count sheets. Each year in New Zealand there is festival to choose the lucky sheep whose fleece will become my wool blanket. There is a shrine of me in Papua New Guinea.

When I walk down the street, people part like I’m Moses in the Red Sea. Flowers scribe poetry to my beauty. I am the sparrow king. The wind is afraid to touch my hair.

I’m so big I push everybody else off the planet.

My bed is the size of a parking lot. I can roll over and travel thirty feet. I moan softly and the room echoes, sending it back to me. In the dark, it’s the only voice I hear. The papers say it’s softly gilded and mellifluous. To me it’s like grit in my ears. My thoughts are like a broken video game. Mona Lisa smirks at me. Gold bracelets chafe my wrists. My loneliness is exquisite.

My tears are liquid diamonds.

You’ve never seen black clouds like mine.

Run Over Mountains, Swim Under Stars (Live Courageously)

Tear open your chest. Embrace that vulnerability. You are hurt. You are joy. Do not seek either. You cannot walk ten feet in front of yourself, nor even one.  Feel each step as if for the first time. Wet grass. Rough cement. Soft dirt. Spongy asphalt. The Earth is your home.

Run over mountains. Swim under stars.

We’re perpetually changing, anatomically speaking. Spiritually speaking. Each second is a completely new one. Can you feel each one? As if experiencing a birth 60 times a minute… wouldn’t that be incredible?

Wouldn’t that change your life?

Own every thought, but don’t keep them in your pocket. When they arrive, don’t run — you won’t escape — just greet them like a stranger or a cousin or a co-worker or a lover. Or a ghost.

It all depends.

Don’t fight yourself. Did you clumsily drop and break a dish? That’s okay. Just be more careful. Did you say the wrong thing? Then make amends. Are you not strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough?

Yes you are.

Love wildly, like trying to set a new world record for love. Love your family and love your friends. Love the barista making your coffee. Love the man with his cup held out, asking for change. Unleash love across the world like an atom bomb. Love that travels sky high.

Start with yourself.

Watch good films. Read. Say hello to your neighbor in the hall. Write poetry. Run in the park. Cut down on sugar. Try different haircuts. Learn a new language. Ride a bike. Be better. Live righteous. Meditate. Accept. Forgive.

Drink apple juice.

Go into the future bravely. Everything will change, but if you’re on the righteous path, you will continue arriving at your true self. Don’t be afraid of the unknown. It hides as much beauty as it does despair. Do not grasp at either. You’ll only end up falling.

When you grasp you leave yourself behind.

There is no perfection, except in honesty. Your scars are a record of triumph as much as failure. Keep exploring. There was a time we thought we could sail off the face of the Earth.

We won’t.

There is so much wonderment in the world it’s overflowing. Shut down Instagram. Delete Facebook. All you need is right in front of you. That whispering wind. Those skinny palm trees. That mural in the alley. The sound of a child giggling. Your hand wrapped in mine.

The feeling of being loved.

To be whole, you have to let go of the holes. They are not who you are. When you try to plug them with distraction and attachment, you only make them larger. Keep working on the parts of you that are solid, until those parts of you fill the holes: like kindness, intelligence, curiosity, and love. Those are the only things that can plug the holes.

Your sense of self is your greatest weapon. Do not dull it on the trappings of vice.

We are all headed to the same place. Life lends us our bones until death calls them back. Use this time to paint the world. Smile. Leave your door open. Meet somebody whose energy turns you on. Turn the volume up on your heart.

It’s the finest musical instrument known to man.

Throw away the remote control. Sit with your breath till your soul is still. Embrace your deformed inner child. Find that thing that makes you nervous, makes you scared, but you can’t live without. Live courageously, pure.

Stop writing cheesy inspirational bullshit.

Go and be.

Monkee and Buddha

I step out into the sun and there is decay. It attaches itself to our skin. There is decay when we sleep, in our dreams. There is decay when we eat. And when we talk, and our words slip past each other, decay.

I can’t escape the feeling that something is missing. What happened to my novel? What happened to my parents? What happened to my hands? They’re scratched and I don’t know from what.

What happened to me?

Or there’s the sense I should be doing something else. I should be writing. I should be doing the dishes. I should be doing thirty pull-ups. I should be making love. I should be apologizing.

Instead, I’m running, but getting nowhere.

This insatiable, indefatigable thirst overtakes me. I pivot and head to 7-11. I run into the Buddha and he catches me buying a bottle of shit wine. I tell him a lie, say it’s for a birthday party I’m going to and not for me, definitely not for me. He smiles the most gentle smile, aware of whom I am really deceiving.

My mind is a werewolf, a half-time beast, waiting for a full moon, but also a scarecrow, made of straw, waiting to burn. And sometimes my mind is a waterwheel, constantly turning, but going nowhere, just being pushed by an ever-constant flow. And other times my mind is a player piano, just going by itself in the corner of some cobweb bar.

I bring the bottle back to the apartment, but when I open it I see that damn smile, the creasing of lips and the soft eyes, and the understanding-all expression of the Buddha. I can’t do it anymore. I take the bottle and empty it into the sink. It fills up all blood-red. It looks like I’m washing out a murder rag. I take the empty out to the trash. There is a stray kitten mewling at me. His eyes lit in the dark. The moon is a saucepan in an indifferent sky. I take the kitten inside, consider giving it a name. We both sit on the couch, contemplating each other.

My heart is a stone on the bottom of the sea, but also a rose blooming on the vine. My heart is an accordion being pulled open, then shut, open then shut. My heart is just an organ, no different from an intestine or a gallbladder. Yet, it’s everything.

I decide to name him Monkee. He sits in my lap purring. I can hear it and I can feel it, a sweetness you can’t duplicate. I promise to practice love and compassion and to take care of him. Buddha appears and tells me that’s just step one. I say I know. He tells me to open up and to stay open; like, fearlessly and also brutally and even if it hurts. I say I know. I tell him my father died. His eyes say he knows, and also… it’s okay.

He then tells me to stop running.

I say I’ll try.

Monkee wakes up and gets angry, his back arches and his hair spikes. He doesn’t recognize the bald head or the brown robes. He hisses meanly at the Buddha. Fear and anger are derived from the same place; for kittens as much as for us. Buddha walks over to him and lays his hand on his head, strokes his neck. Monkee closes his eyes and rolls over in ecstasy.¬†Buddha laughs. I laugh.

Right now there is nothing missing, and it feels so goddamn strange.

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Planet 9

There is something in our solar system; they say it’s a big hidden planet. We only know it’s there because other planets react like it is. If only it were that simple.

They’re calling it Planet 9. I’m thinking: what the fuck is Pluto thinking?

Earth is rotating while spinning while tilting and every other celestial body is doing the same… we should bounce into each other more, but gravity keeps us in place; we’re all just rotating, spinning, and tilting uncontrollably, apart.

Inside, we’re doing the same. Windmills and wheels and wild women.

There was a homeless man on the street who asked for my change. I wanted to give him all my credit cards and the keys to my apartment and my friends and lovers. I didn’t have any change.

San Fransisco is changing. Los Angeles is changing. Deep space is changing. I have a kitten that is learning French. I have six tadpoles in a Dixie cup. I have the hands of a man made of oil.

The planets will continue their endless travels. We will continue to grow cats and frogs. Everything returns to the same place again. It’s our time around the sun, and our time around each other. Until it’s another’s.

The crushed sand in the glass of my watch lets me see the slow/quick slapping of time. That unseen current. Pulsing like the blood in my beating wrist where time is wrapped around.

Time and space and life and death. Pleasure and pain. It’s our gravity. It’s the detritus and flotsam of our existence.

Every moment you open up, though, you release its power. Every thought you let go of you become free. Every detachment leads to acceptance. Open up your heart and soul and you become a drop of water in that gentle river that carries us along, indefinitely.

See that star shooting against the mauve midnight sky? It’s a satellite. Watching us watch it. Let go of the words…