Between the Devil and the Last Exit Home

Somewhere along the highway—between the devil and the last exit home—midnight cracks open her bloodstained deck of cards to read fortunes. She says the lost are like pawn tickets in tragedy’s tattered pocket—those who are found only by suicidal angels leaving this world before singing their miracles. The moon also says those who know love are far more powerful than herself because they bear their own light. They do not reside between the wolf howl and the hangman’s tree. They are guided by the charged frequencies of mercy’s being. They travel the lost highway to that town named Grace.

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Noun Me Nicely

Cathedral my chaos. Butterfly my gravity. Hurdy-gurdy my worries. Pop-Tart my sad guitar. Elegy my knobby knees. Coyote my mundanities. Funny bone my tombstones. Microphone my blue unknown. Matlock my padlock. Keyhole my blind spots. Emily Dickinson my dickens. French kiss my Freudian slip. Mistletoe my Roman nose. Candy cane my syntax dagger. Lucky penny all my fears. Dog park my wayward heart. Noah’s ark my introversion. Cheetah my entropy. Maserati my jalopy. Mozart my ash cart. Cardamom my atomic smog. Tulip my two lips.

Beyond the Strains of a Wounded Music

We are not perfect creatures. At birth, we are cut from the chaotically patterned fabric of humankind—the edges of our lives, ragged and mismatched. Our brains, Cro-Magnon magnets often attracted to that which is more brutal than pure. Still, offer no words from the Dictionary of Panic when speaking of these days. Time will play beautiful music for us once its bandages are removed.

Of Oblivion and Passing Trains

Put your ear to the ground and hear death barreling towards you. Hear it humming songs of war through the coffin nails in its mouth. Feel it storming your heart with countless booms of unbloom. Now recall the sounds of those passing trains from youth. So magical and mournful their thunderous dirges whose angels of smoke & motion danced with you beneath night’s cathedral ceiling of stars. Tie a string around your finger to remember to never mistake those two intonations. Do not confuse oblivion’s funeral march for the rough-hewn music of freedom always straining for perfect pitch.

In the Here and Now, or the Now and Then

Whether you’re in the here and now, or the now and then, suffering the awkwardness of adolescence, or in the deep meditation of old age; whether you’re anguished by the disunity of a missed opportunity, or pondering the possibilities of being able to have your cake and eat it; whether you were raised by wolves, or abandoned by luck, born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or a plastic spork in your ear; whether you’re on your deathbed, or in a newborn cradle, hounded by yowling cats or cat-called by dirty dogs; whether you’re caught up in a Kansas tornado or a California earthquake— make sure you’ve tamed the tigers of night before going to sleep.

When Digging in Dark Gardens

The bullet or bottle offer no reprieve from pain. Pain is a stone offering nothing to slake one’s thirst or to lighten their load. Return, then, to the dream garden and clear away the rocks and weeds, all the dead efflorescence and nightmares that inhibit joy from flowing freely to its source. Dig down deep—beyond the stones, beyond the broken bottles and bullet casings—to discover what it is you cherish so deeply that its essence has compelled you to tend such dark gardens.

In the Kingdom of Roses and Crosses

To those who’ve served in wars, to those swept up in death’s parade while fighting at the battlefront of victory or loss, rest easy in your kingdom of roses and crosses. Rest easy in the knowledge that your selfless service is celebrated. Even the once voiceless tombstones—tongues in the mute mouths of extinction—sing your names. The blood you spilled is a blood pact with loyalty and integrity. Your bodies nurture the soil, give rise to more honorable and courageous flowers.

fatherly advice #17

it’s not wise to nuzzle the muzzle of a gun. it’s best not to practice electric guitar while standing in the bath. sometimes silence is golden, other times a ruckus makes for big bucks. wherever the compass of compassion tells you to go, follow. if you cook up a heaping helping of hogwash, you’ll have a mumbo jumbo jambalaya. don’t mistake the colors of the homeland security advisory system for skies after a rain, otherwise you’ll consider every rainbow to be a terrorist threat. if you eat your dinner with a tuning fork you’ll have a pitch perfect meal. if you speak only money, you’ll miss all the good things in life that are free.

Children Playing Chicken With Destiny

These daily White House insanities singing love songs to oblivion. All their cryptic sound-bites that are really dog whistles to racists. Bullets smuggled under their tongues when talking about how to make America great again. Hear the night wind howl. It’s the ghosts of our forefathers moaning how the Constitution has become a doormat at the front of Trump Tower. Truth & justice should trump that corrupt power. Compassion & promise should trump that disruptive power. I don’t want a world where our children, or our children’s children, are playing chicken with their lives, speeding towards some tragic destiny, wondering which one is gonna swerve first.

Optimism’s Abattoir

When fire becomes too hungry; when the dreamer’s eyes roll snake eyes; when evil cogs and faulty wiring transform Mother Teresa blessings into Torquemada stressings; when nouns no longer nurture and every person, place, thing, and idea we’ve ever cherished is stripped of its significance—this is when we revolt. This is when we refuse to become beasts of extinction. Things wither and die too soon when they never had a chance to be young at heart. Our optimism’s abattoir slaughters all savageries and sorrows, saves their bones for better wishes.