Friday, February 21, 2014


Violently awake
I am larger than the room
That contains me.
My pulse rattles
The window panes
Curtains flutter
As I exhale
The thing inside me
That has made me bigger
Is a love
So animating
That for a moment I forget
To bite my nails.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Bite another nail.
A little too deep;
Blood beads at the corner.
I put my finger
In my mouth.
Suck on it.
Life is not subtle
About redirection.
Life is also not clear.
A madman waving
His arms in the air;
A baby being eaten
By a wild pack of dogs.
Life has its own designs,
Boy, better we get
To know them,
Or at least learn to jump
Off the rug when it starts
To furl.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Gentle Type

I'm so goddamned sensitive.
Everything's the crusades with me.
And I don't even drink anymore!
Some guy says something bad
About the president--
I don't even like the president--
You'd think he insulted my mother.
Another guy wants to go in on me
About the welfare state;
You'd think he insulted the president's mother!
It's always a war with me.
I crave it.
Love to feel the meat
Jammed between my teeth.
And Caine slew Abel
And Germany invaded Poland
And there I am in my basement
In my underwear on the computer
Baiting the Internet trolls
Making them wish they had mothers
To cry to.

Another Day In Front Of the Firing Squad

Yesterday they killed me with kindness.
The day before it was an atom bomb.
What will it be today?
AIDS? Bird flu? A slip on the ice?
Each day I am born.
I rise like a baby
And become a man by noon.
Each night I die.
I fold myself into my blankets
And kiss my loved ones goodbye.
Today I am born again.
I will not die for your sins,
But I will wonder how it will end
And who has the bullet
Already in the chamber?

Saturday, February 15, 2014


You're falling apart, you know.
Some hair left behind
In the brush
Some particles of blood
Out with the cough;
Fingernails. Phlegm. Tears.
You're leaving bits of yourself
Everywhere you go,
And that is how we die;
Not in radical explosions
Or eaten by escaped zoo animals,
But with the application
Of a creeping pressure
Gradually splitting one
Small seam
At a time.


Life is a pain.
It's always work, cancer,
Some weasel
Trying to put the moves
On your woman...
Who has time
For butterflies
When you're always
Reaching your hand
Into the fire
To get something back
That you lost.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

People Shouldn't Have To Work To Live

 Co-Written by David Troxell

The other day I tuned into Rush Limbaugh's show and heard him opining--paraphrase--'the liberal attempt to make work unnecessary for the lower classes'.

This complaint arrives at a central disagreement between myself and the modern American right wing.

Places Rush and I agree: Work builds character. We should be proud of the fruits of our labor. Hard work leads to innovation and prosperity.

Places Rush and I disagree: I don't think a person should have to work to live. Rush does. I think a person should be provided with the basic necessities of life, and that the goal of a person's life and work should be to self actualize, and to contribute back to society from that state of self actualization.

I have to rephrase a previous statement. Rush does not actually believe a person should have to work to live. He believes a POOR person should have to work to live. The 1% in this country do not have to work, and he doesn't seem to have a problem with that, nor does he seem to have any doubts about their ability to contribute to society in a meaningful way. It is us ugly proletariat that he feels require the old stick and carrot (the carrot, by the way, never gets unloosed from the stick. It will never actually come into our possession).

Something Rush does not understand: Man craves work. By our very nature, we are restless creatures. We do our best--and are our healthiest--when we are comfortable and productive. When a person suffers from want, they are not focused, and their creativity is taxed. When a person has the freedom to pursue their own creative strengths free from fear or want, they are more inclined to create something instilled with that same freedom. Building from a position of personal strength is the best way to build.

Rush betrays a personal distrust and misunderstanding of the proletariat. He believes that we are lesser beings who must be steered like farm animals.

There is a belief that humanity is driven by greed. Some have a notion of humans being entirely individualistic, their only motivation is for the greater benefit of that individual. The idea is unquestionable to those who believe it, it is human nature. It’s the only way we as a species could survive. This is what drives the belief that humans need to be hard working members of the society in order for them to be entitled their basic needs. If they are fed, housed, healthy, and unconditionally taken care of, they will have no reason to contribute. We’re a product of our evolution and you only survive in nature by putting in minimal work for maximum gain. This idea is a simplistic view of humanity. Humans didn’t survive as individuals. We have a complicated relationship between looking out for our personal best interest and looking out for the welfare of the group. In a society where everyone’s needs are guaranteed to be taken care of, it will never be socially acceptable for those who can contribute in a meaningful way to not do so. We are social animals and we will (as a general rule) comply to the expectations of our social groups. For this reason we, as a caring and capable group of humans, should not ask others to sacrifice their freedom and humanity in order to provide for their basic necessities.

Getting to a place in our society where we are not forced to work to provide ourselves with basic necessities is not a situation to opine; it is a scenario to rejoice. The great American experiment was supposed to be a government of free people for free people; until we are at the point where the least among us no longer have to work for basic needs, this dream will be unrealized. Until we’ve reached this place, we will not live in a free society. The lower and middle class is forced to submit their lives to those who happen to be born into a higher station in life. There is the notion that we can move from our station but there is a vicious cycle in place that prevents this from happening. It is hard to find any money to invest in any kind of venture while you’re struggling to find money to pay for food, medical care, and housing. This is not a question of these people not being hard working, the hardest working people I know are stuck in this situation. This is a question of whether anyone should, by birthright, be taken care of and valued more than anyone else. It seems like the exact opposite of the ideas that this country was founded on.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Show Biz

Life is a series
Of rehearsals for death;
Try out long enough
And eventually
You'll get the part.

It starts off as a cavity--
A little black spot in your eye--
And ends up a cancer;
Yawning, gaping, hungry
In the center of your chest.

Love between try outs
If you can;
Drive your car
Down country roads
In the Fall;
Dare god
To take you with
A magnificent lightening bolt
Over cigarettes,
And dance like you know
What you're doing
When no one is looking--

Because no one is looking.
Not ever.
This life is a one man show
And you
Have got
The part.


Brain buzzes with murder
Right before bed
Have to drug myself
To even sleep
When will it stop
The ceaseless circuitry popping
Who will unhook
The elephants from the treetops?
Time is an enemy
To man.
Time conspires with sleep
To create the illusion
Of escape.
But it is always
These walls.
This pillow.
These pills.
Every night.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


The demons are fearful
Of close scrutiny
Of shambolic light
Of chamomile tea.
The demons dread
A kind word
An hour unmolested
The Blue Mask
By Lou Reed.
The demons poke
They stretch skin
Disfigure memory
Invent tragedy.
The demons harvest
They locate crimes
Instigating trials.
I hate the demons.
I hate their tails.
I hate their eyes.
But they are
The ones
With the typewriter
So I never raise
The rent.

Monday, February 10, 2014

If You Love God, Let Him Go

We can never really know each other. Our views of our friends, neighbors, lovers, enemies, and even ourselves, have to ultimately be mere fragments of what is actually the case.

This is because there is so much hidden from us. So much of our view of others is based not only upon scant evidence, but also is infused so irreparably with our own experiences and biases. Our perceptions of others are only shells--crude mockeries--of their true and dynamic selves.

If this is so when dealing with other human beings, how much more must it be the case when dealing with a potential creator being? What makes approaching a potential deity even harder is that you can ask me about your perception of me. You and I can sit down and talk about you or me and hash out some of our misconceptions about who you and me are--and thus maybe get a little closer to the truth--but there is no sitting down for coffee with Jesus, Mohamed, Zoroaster, or Thor. We can approach these characters from a mytho-historic perspective, but that doesn't bring us into personal contact with said proposed beings. Ultimately our views of possible gods are fated to be projections of our own goals and ideals or the deification of the goals and ideas of other people.

Every God we solidify our mind around is thus bound to be a false idol. Only by giving up belief in gods altogether could we possibly remain open to such a complicated, enormous being...and only then in the smallest and most humble of ways.

By abandoning belief in gods you clear your mind of preconceptions of what that being is made of, motivated by, and desiring of. You allow your brain to appreciate its unpreparedness for the task at hand, and encourage it to embrace humility. The word 'god' is so crowded with preconceptions...there is practically a different god for each believer in the world; each god fashioned after that believer's own image (or desired image). To abandon belief is to admit that any potential god is too large and incomprehensible for the human mind. It is to cease trying to catch the wind in a net.

We are all agnostics. None of us know whether there are gods or not. What I am advocating is not agnosticism, but a practical atheism that says 'I do not believe in god, because that word could not even begin to comprehend what it tries to articulate'. Paradoxically, the atheist may be in a much better place to fully appreciate any possible supreme being because of their lack of belief--they have already busted down the false idols constructed by themselves and others, and stand ready--blank--in the eventuality of contact with such a being as a god.

So not only does reason advocate the acquisition of an atheistic stance, so does humility. So does any desire to fully appreciate the sheer bigness of this life and what it potentially entails. If you already don't believe in god, good. If you do believe in God, reconsider; it is probable that you are investing your energy in self created illusion. If God loves you, let him show you. If you love God, let him go.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Amid the tall walls
Of possible failures,
And the brambles
Of self set traps--
The possibility of a road
Amongst the cobbles
Of ruined cities.
Man has been building
Ships and gods
And skyscrapers
For years now;
Some are still there.
Some aren't.
I see a humble road--
But it is a road--
And imagine tools fit
To build a house
Big enough for me,
Big enough for my family,
And maybe a garden too;
If only I can navigate
These first small steps.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Do My Time

Reading Allen Ginsberg meditations
On death and meaning, thinking
'Easy for you to say, buddy! You're dead!'
I hope you found
Your perfect Buddha peace
But I've still got to huff it--out here,
Down in the quagmire of life
Traversing composite cities
Stitched of the tears of countless people
Gone before, some poets, some not
Envious of Ginsberg, done with this charade
How nice it must be
To yip through that void
And leave behind faulty colon
Bad brain wiring
And receding hairline
From eyebrows
To asshole.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Abandon me to the dirt
To the sweat to the
Aching calves straining
Biceps and pectorals
To the hamstring to the
Cough abandon me
To the worms fucking
In my yard to the birds
Singing in my tree
To the cherries on my salad
To the mighty fork
To the blue cheese
Abandon me to the heart
That never knows what it wants
To the god that refuses
To exist to the dogs asleep
On my lap
To the brutal snow to the burying rain
To the children digging
In the earth
The same earth that pulls me in
The same earth I am destined to be
Swallowed by and made into
Something new my carbon
Eaten away rearranged sold off
To the highest bidder
There are no false notes
In heaven.

Evangelizing Atheism: Good or Bad?

I had a friend confess to me yesterday that he has been trying to believe in God lately.

I am an atheist who is a former evangelical Christian, and that evangelical impulse has never really left me. If I have the truth, goddammit, I want to share it with you.

I didn't find myself sharing my truth with my friend yesterday, however. I found myself empathizing with him. "Believe me, I understand the attraction of believing in God." I said, and left it at that.

Why didn't I follow my old evangelical impulse? Maybe it's because I have softened in my view of the harm a deity-belief can do a person. Religion certainly wasn't good for me, and I certainly don't believe the supernatural claims it makes are true, but that doesn't mean there aren't good things to be found in religion. Religion brings comfort to many. It unites communities. It can carry with it an underlying humanism that is good for all...not that you need religion to obtain these things. Religion is just a convenient package wherein to harvest them.

I am also aware of how difficult it can be to live without religion when one is inclined towards it. It takes a lot of hard work to find your hope outside of a god-belief when you are first leaving religion. It can be done--and it is rewarding--but it is hard.

But I do believe on a fundamental level that mankind will be better off once it finally abandons supernatural beliefs. Belief in God usually leads to belief in the authority of written dogma, and to belief in the hierarchy of a given church. Blindly following authority is dangerous. Handing the well being of yourself and your family over to the authority of a church structure or unquestioned religious belief weakens the spirit. It makes us sheep. I don't want to be  a sheep, personally. Personally I am more sympathetic to wolves.

Maybe some folks are more comfortable as sheep. I don't know.

What I believe a person does when they believe in God is to fashion that God after their own image. Ultimately, a belief in God is either a self deification, or the deification of another's self. If it is a self deification, we invest supernatural authority in our own inclinations, and find scriptural language to back our inclinations up. In the deification of another's self, we accept the god-image created by another person--usually a preacher of some kind--and surrender our own inclination to the fulfillment of that person's ideal. So I guess there are sheep and wolves in the religious realm as well.

What harm does it do me if someone wants to deify themselves or deify the self of another? Well, it makes me sad, although I am more sympathetic to self-deification, although it can be quite insidious too.

On the other hand, I think it is possible to be humble in the pursuit of spiritual truth. The word spiritual, to me, does not require an investment in the supernatural or a church structure. To be spiritual is to be in touch with the emotions of calmness and humility, and acceptance of the passage of time and the occurrence of trials: spirituality is a vehicle in which to  weather the storms of life. It provides a narrative with which to talk to ourselves about the things that cross our path.

Maybe that's all my friend is doing with his god pursuit. I don't know. Is it my business? Probably not.

I am at a turning point in my life. I have just left a job I was very invested in, just began reconnecting with my writing, just began exercising, and am about to start a new job at the end of the month. A lot is up in the air for me. Maybe that makes me more sympathetic to the turning points in other people's lives, and thus less willing to meddle or judge. I hope that when I settle down into my new routine, I am just as introspective about meddling and judging as I feel right now. Right now, I am very much of the 'live and let live' school.

Actually, after writing all of this, I realize that my evangelical urge is leaving me.

I'm glad to see it go.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Waiting for a new skin to slide into
One like the skin of my dreams
Package my meat so tight and correct
Every piece numbered
Every atom spread gloppy over the last bit
Of my toast
Tie me off at both ends
Fill me up with Jesus and Buddha
But not Mohamed with his swords
Fill me up with rabbis and monks
And priests with their robes
And stupid silly hats and beards
Fill me up with science and
Empirical evidence
And fossils and trees and a round testicle
Of an earth
Fill me up with you
Your skin your meat
And all of the gods and devils
That animate your swaying hips
And your dripping wet flower
O god
I want to eat the petals.

Nye vs Ham reflections

"Ham’s brain has been so deeply marinated in his faith that that organ has simply become impermeable to facts. He really does believe in Noah’s Ark, the Fall, and talking snakes, and must reject or rationalize facts that don’t comport with his Sacred Book." - Jerry Coyne

My kids and I watched the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate last night. Nye, clearly in possession of the truth and the right rhetorical skills (as well as a bow tie), was the clear winner. The only thing Ham had going for him was a flashier PowerPoint presentation.

The boys cheered Nye on, and I did too, especially when he was asked by an audience member where  consciousness comes from and Nye replied " I don't know."

The humility in that answer when compared to Ham's assertion that god did it was refreshing. The same humility was displayed again later when Nye was asked what would change his mind, and he rattled off a list of evidence that would change him on the spot. Ham was unable to budge; the evidence couldn't change him; he would have to change the evidence if it countered his worldview (of course he didn't say this explicitly).

Throughout the debate, Nye, the consummate educator, gave us wide eyed evidence and enthusiasm for his subject while Ham stolidly beat on the same old rigid drum skin that he expects us to swallow without reflection. His brain, as the Coyne quotation above states, has gone into intellectual rigor mortis, and his curiosity has sapped away.

In Ken Ham and his testimonial creationists we have one of TS Eliot's hollow men: "leaning together/headpiece filled with straw" In Nye we see what a healthy sense of wonderment can look like. A perfect model for our kids.

I was nervous about this debate. I wasn't sure Nye had the chops necessary to out-talk an experienced demagogue like Ham, but he did a fine job. I'd like to see more debates like this. I'm with John Loftus.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Everything seems dull to me
On days like this.
Days when the sun is white
And there's mud tracked on the carpet;
All the goodbooks have been read,
And I am neither rich
Nor well off.
Days like this I might end it all--
If it weren't for the promise
Of what? What do I live for?
The next high gets lower each time.
My enthusiasm for drugs dwindle.
My enthusiasm for sobriety
Is the skip on a record.
Days like this I long for the night.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Ode to the Dark

We are lost
You tender thing,
Don't be afraid;
There is crystal
In the blackness
There is honey
In the void.
There are no gods
To serenade us,
Just the sound
Of our clinking forks.
Eat! Eat up the night
That becomes us
The distance between us
Isn't so far
Let's make love
In the broom closet
Where life has left us,
Forgotten. Blessed.


The door is unfriendly
My heart knows cancerous things
That open and close.

Valves betray streams
Betray me the way you do so well
My heart is a door.

Blockade the passages
To every opening thing;
Lid every cup.

You open too
Wet with anticipation
But you must be sealed as well.

My heart knows mouths
And forever shuts them
Knowing only ugly things that come out.

Tongues like poison darts
Teeth like a flower's thorn
Spit, vomit, lies.

Forever closing
Forever opening
Forever regretting

Our secret thoughts
With hinges that swing them
From light to dark.


Swore off god
But he came back
Like a bad cough
Like a small dog
Who knows you are good
For a meal.
Why you wanna be alone?
He asks
Because goddammit
You're not real
I can't sit here like this
Talking to myself.
But what does it all mean?
God says
I don't know man
It gets harder and harder
I get harder and harder
And you'd think that
Would protect me but no
The harder I get
The more I crack
Someday I might snap in half
And float away
Down the stream
Away from myself
And away from god
Knocking on the river bank
Like a thief in the night.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Nature Poem

Want to be the kind of guy
Who takes his inspiration
From falling leaves
Who takes long walks
And dogs and squirrels approach
St. Francis--birds land on finger
Creeks ripple gently
Through a contented soul
But I am twitchy--
Dogs keep their distance
Squirrels make me paranoid
The creek bed in my soul
Is full of anxious rocks
Eager to watch me slip
To laugh at my muddy pants.


There are so many ways to die
And so few chances to live
I feel outnumbered by the scythe
Inundated by the fucks I give
Sometimes a man just wants to sleep
Sometimes a man just wants to pray
Betrayed by his own selfish meat
There is a going. Into. Away.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Taking Stock

My meat lies in bed
Wonders how it's gonna die
Its knee is in for a replacement
Twenty or so years from now
Maybe it will need a colostomy?
Don't even think about that!
You're only 33, meat.
You've got years before you're well done.
But the meat likes to think.
It likes to rotate on the spit.
It wonders, will I get hit by a car?
Will I make more meat
Before I get hit by a car
Or struck by a meteor--little baby meat
To put on my shoulders?
I've already got 3 veal patties,
Maybe that's enough.
I don't know, meat. You always seem
To want more--
Always practicing in the shower.
Maybe I'll get mugged.
Murdered in the street. Maybe cancer
Maybe diabeetus--look, meat
You need a hobby.
But this is my hobby.
Oh, meat. What the fuck is wrong with you?


Life rains down on my nomadic skin
Calcifying the death that beats
Beneath drum-stretched time
Making me believe I could forgive
Myself for wanting to know more
About the blooming orange stranger
Alive in my brain.

Forgive the traveler in my heart, life,
He is closer to the bones at home
In their graves;
Burn down the churches I have built
On the back of my own imagination;
They are a heavy cargo
And my feet begin to crumble
From the weight.

Wake me to the stranger's songs,
Forgive his odd unfleshy rhythm
Curve my body to the identical beat
That pulses in my deepest sin.


You can go to heaven
And suck the balls of god;
I will go to hell
Where anyone with any sense
Of self respect will be.
My skin will blister
And that's okay
--i will not be bored
By the incessant chatter
Of incestuous angels.
No, you suck god's balls;
I will take my balls with me.

Sorting Out Abortion

I grew up in a strongly pro-life environment. Our church would sometimes go and hold signs outside of abortion clinics, and 'Abortion is Murder' was the accepted doctrine. Even when I began questioning other aspects of the worldview I was brought up with, I didn't question this one. An abortion was the taking of an innocent life. I was against abortion in all cases, because even if you were raped, the baby did not ask to be born. He was an innocent victim; someone Rick Santorum might--perversely--refer to as 'a broken gift'.

What a weird fuck Rick Santorum is.

As I moved on in my worldview, I stayed away from abortion. Tentatively I was still pro life, but the passion the subject brought up made me uncomfortable to broach it with anyone.

Recently however, I have been thinking about it, and I would say my position has shifted from tentatively pro-life to tentatively pro-choice.

Why pro choice? Because I feel a pro-life stance would require a kind of absolutist outlook on the issue that I can no longer muster. Abortion is complex, and life is complex. Long ago I decided that there were instances in which the taking of life was acceptable, so I can no longer declare 'all murder is evil'. I do believe a fetus is a person. My opinion is not that the fetus is just a mass of meaningless cells. An abortion is not the same as removing a tumor. It is the canceling of a life. That being said, some lives can be canceled. As in war. As in euthanasia. As in self protection, As in suicide, as in the death penalty. There is a time and place where these activities are well reasoned conclusions. I cannot tell someone who has been raped that they should be forced to carry a baby to full term, or to be responsible for raising their rapist's baby. I have seen too much to maintain such a stance. I have seen enough to come to the conclusion that in nearly every area of life, a person needs a choice, and the preservation of all life is not always to the benefit of the greater good, or even the good of the individual (two things which I believe should and can coincide).

It is my opinion that the pro-life stance is one that has no room for conditionals. The pro-choice stance is the one that leaves room for conditionals, and individual variance. A person who is pro life except in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother might want to re-evaluate the label they put on themselves; their stance is more closely aligned with the pro choice argument, which allows that life is not inherently sacred, and that the betterment of the individual--and thus society--can sometimes only be realized at the termination of another life.

So it is pro choice for me.