Saturday, July 30, 2005

The thinness of skateboarders
disappearing into their own silhouettes.

Seagulls on a wooden merry-go-round
that keeps capsizing.

Parents chasing children from running off
the curb of the ocean.

Water steaming sparkle.
Pelicans leap-frogging.

A mandala of pony-tails
tied together with string.

A water bottle of music
with wings.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

No. 14
Money. The bane of my existence. The constant worry of my days, the ultimate sticking point to which I'm stuck -- how to pay bills and become an upstanding member of society with a significant credit debt that will make me one with my brothers and sisters who've been taught, like myself, to be consummate consumers, to owe my soul to the company store, to shop for the best deals, clip coupons, compare notes at the mall, dealer warehouses, showrooms, place items into online shopping carts that I build during the day to replicate the world in a virtual environment where members of the global society can continue to shop, to spend money, to pay for things, because more attention is literally and figuratively paid to being a good consumer than to ever being a good citizen. Do we even know what being a good citizen means anymore? Do we teach these things in our schools? And why do I care so much, why am I hounded by these questions, doubts, by money, the awful and critical decision of what to buy, when, and how much is enough? Some days I want to be like everyone else, just go out and blow a wad of money and not think about the consequences, not wonder about the violence I am doing by consuming more of the world's limited resources simply because I can. What's stopping me? Who's stopping me? What are the limits?

"You've got a far-away look in your eyes," said Lulu, waving her hand in front of my face. "Are you seeing the light again?"

"Far from it."

"So who's got money?" said the woman, "or are you both bums?"

"What's your name?" I asked her, drifting out of my personal fog. Sometimes, I can sit in place for hours and hours and allow my mind to travel without a passport. But that was before I'd discovered my purpose in life and met Lulu.

"Graneviere," she said. "It's a French name. But you can call me Granny. So I still want to know," she said. "Whose got the money and are we eating in or out tonight?"

"I'll see you tomorrow," said Lulu. "I'm going home."

"Meet me in front of the theater at noon," I called to her, and she waved, hitching her bag over her shoulder and disappearing into the bus exhaust at the curb.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

No. 13
We walked outside the coffee shop. The sun was bright. I tripped and had to regain catch myself from falling. "Watch it."

There was this woman sitting huddled outside the door with a stack of newspapers, wearing two pairs of overlapping shorts of different lengths and colors, lime-green and purple, and a hat with a black veil pulled over her face. She shook a stack of newspapers at me like a rattle. The masthead read, "Homeless Security."

"Make a contribution."

"I almost fall and you want me to buy something?"

"Why not? It's the American way. Besides, it was just an accident."

"Then how come you're sitting right there by the door? You deliberately tripped me."

"Get a grip. If you buy a newspaper, I'll show you something amazing."

"Give her a dollar," said Lulu. Some one else came out of the coffee shop and quickly walked away from us.

"Here's your paper," said the woman. Then she showed us something I've never seen anyone do. She tied her tongue into a knot. "It's in the genes," she said, after she'd shown us several times. "They tell me my father could do it, too." She got up from her feet and lifted the black netting from her face. Her face had some nasty-looking pimples that I didn't think was about teenage acne. She looked like she was in her forties.

"You just sit here all day tripping people?" asked Lulu.

"Selling newspapers," she added. "But I don't go tongue-tied for everyone. That was special."

Lulu reached for her video camera. "I can take your picture and show it to you."

Right then, I wished I could've tied Lulu's tongue into a knot, and left it that way.

"Where are you going after you leave here?" the woman asked Lulu.

"We're going to build a mass movement. Why don't you come with us?"

The woman picked up her bundle of newspapers and zipped the fly of one of her shorts. "Sure. I've got nothing better to do. But what're you guys going to use for money?"

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

No. 12
"Not a huge plan," I told her. "More like an outline."

"Outlines are good."

"We've got to find Osama bin Laden and convince him to call for peace because he's the only one who can stop this."

"That's some outline," she said.

"It's the only way."

"Like asking Ariel Sharon to be nice to the Palestinians because he'll feel better in the morning."

"For sure three aspirin and lots of liquids won't help."

"Now you sound like my mother."

"What did she ask you to take when you were sick?"

"Toad's blood and dog drool."


"I'm only how do you expect to find Osama bin Laden?"

"That's why we have to build a mass movement. Convince enough people everywhere to say that they want an end to the war, that they want to go back home and do things with their friends and family on the weekend, eat a lot of good food, go to the movies, and play music."

She held her forehead with her red fingernails. "That sounds silly."

"What's silly about it?

"First of all, it'll never happen."

"But it can happen," I said, surprising even myself. "Why do we have to accept this crock policians have cooked up?" I said. "I know all about the vail of tears thing, but don't people have a right to live some kind of life that isn't held hostage by policians, greed, and the deals they make?"

"I have to admit, it's a good question."

"So you'll help me?"

"I'll see what I can do. But whatever I do, it's all footage." She hugged her video recorder.

"Deal. By the way, my name is Mike. Mike Powers. "

"I knew that," she said.

Monday, July 18, 2005

No. 11
Just as I was about to answer, I was side-swiped. Deliberately. It was the kind of move I'd seen linebackers make on TV at football games.

"It's you again." It was the ticket taker in the lobby who'd stopped me before on my way in.

"Why'd you do that?"

"You want to talk about it?"

"Yeah." I bulked up my chest with a few quick breaths.

"Hey, man. I don't know about you, but I'm working this morning." He dismissed me and Lulu to the area outside the theater.

"You know that guy?" she asked.

"Not really," I said. "Maybe he needs to do stuff like that to keep his job interesting."

"I wouldn't want to be a ticket-taker," she agreed, and ransacked her purse. She pulled out a tube of chapstick, and ran it over a nasty red bump on her arm. I must've looked puzzled because she said, "It's got lot of vitamin E oil."

"So where do you want to go?" I sized up my partner in the daylight.

"Coffee?" she ventured.

"Sure." We walked down the street where I knew the whereabouts of a cafe that had decent coffee and sold day-old croissants for half the price. Heated up in a microwave, you couldn't tell the difference. In fact, I thought it was pretty decent of the owners to be up front about the freshness of their merchandise. These days, it was hard to know when someone was running a line or a stale roll your way. Except I'd prided myself in knowing the difference.

"You live around here?"

"Yeah," I said, and refrained from any further details. I couldn't be too sure about Lulu. I mean she seemed like an okay girl, but how was I supposed to know she wasn't some plant with runners that would somehow choke me? Let's face it. I've always had problems with personal relationships particularly with women. I can admire them from a distance. But it's the up close and personal that gets me every time. On the other hand, I make a point of taking help where I find it. It's not like I didn't want a social life. Everyone was so busy doing stuff all the time that didn't have any connection to my life. Really, I'm just a family kind of guy who's afraid of commitment.

"So d'you always carry a video camera around with you?" I asked Lulu once we were seated at the table, each set up with our own cup of coffee and croissant.

"I'm thinking of going back to school. Film school," she said. "There's no more money in tech."

She had a point there, but I'd had my fill of studying and writing papers, and couldn't imagine anything less I wanted to do than to go back to school. Right now, it was tech or nothing.

"I'm thinking working with you around this mass movement thing, I can shoot good footage. I need to get a scholarship and the competition is tough."

I took a gulp of coffee and looked at the glass coffee mugs lined up in a row above the espresso machine, and the light reflected on the wall.

"So tell me about this mass movement thing."

"It has something to do with Prowlie."


"Someone you wouldn't know."

She tore end end of her croissant and washed it down with coffee. "You know I think that was pretty gutsy what you did today."

"You did?"

"Sure, most guys I know would never take that kind of risk."

I reassured her, "I've never done anything like that before."

"Just what I thought. I figured you needed a partner in crime."

"I'm not about anything illegal."

"Hey man, it's just a figure of speech." She folded her arms on the table. "So what's the plan?"

I took a deep breath. "I don't really have one."

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Still Life
Skin along my arms is starting to curdle
into waves that cannot be hidden
by exercise class or body lotion.

Maybe I'll melt into moisture
between my two pressed thighs,
or offer a kiss of peppermint,

green and fragile, to a new love.
My books stand upright. Their spines face me
in shelves, some are scattered on a table.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Data Hublet
It was one of those relaxing Saturday mornings where I had a chance to look at my loveable geek sitting behind something other than his souped-up laptop computer. Actually, he was slumped behind the kitchen table and was sipping tea, not his usual double-strength French roast.

"What's wrong?" I asked the geek.

He placed the porcelain cup that I'd bought at a local garage sale on the bridge table. Despite all stereotypes, not all geeks make a lot of money,at least not this one.

"What do you mean?" he crinkled his one brow at me that the boys on "Gay Eye for the Straight Guy" would've just loved to wax.

I stepped up to the plate. "Well, I said, two things," having learned to enumerate things clearly enough so that my geek could go right to the source with a minimum of distraction. "Number one, you're sitting here instead of your office. And number two," I said, stirring the half-and-half into my own coffee cup, you're drinking tea. Tea!"

Behind his hazel eyes, I recognized slight hurt. "Today I've decided I like tea. Besides, I'm designing a data hub," he said softly. "And I need something different."

And was I chopped liver? Last night he'd had a glass a wine with me, but had disappeared for the rest of the evening to "think about things." I should've known better than to even ask, but then again, I'm a glutton for punishment. "A data what?"

"It has to do with business objects."

I hated when he did that, rolling something out there to tease me, and then leaving it alone again. He knew I'd bite. "Okay. I'm listening."

"A data hub guarantees a master identity for a given business object, such as a customer, or a product."

There was nowhere to run or hide. "Say again."

"Say you're in the supermarket and you have a bunch of stuff in your shopping cart." I'd heard enough about shopping carts to last a lifetime. "I mean a real shopping cart," he interjected, recognizing my blank stare. "Say that each item in your shopping cart has a memory about the exact place it had come from on each aisle, and from any section of the shelf."

I nodded appropriately. "Well," he brightened, "your shopping cart would be a data hub with the ability to unify and reconcile common data across a collection of information systems."

I could see that something had clicked for him. Today it wasn't me. But there was always tomorrow. He put down his tea cup, and went to his desk.

Monday, July 11, 2005

At the Summit of Mt. Madonna
Green and purple throated, a hummingbird grazes my arm
en route to Penstemons where it lunges into red,
every thrust a bounce.

Soon hummingbird will parry Gilias open, first me

who laid on a wooden deck, slats against my back,
moved my hand once to shield my eyes,
but then to the garden

with thoughts of my son's refusal
to find comfort anywhere.
Suddenly, the bird hang-glides

three inches from my nose while I watch its wings vibrate
sizing me up, deciding if I'm another Penstemon,

and I forget about tracing meaning from events
on the back of my eyes.

Now the bird whips my new red hair at high-speed.
I dyed it last night. I could be a flower,
open my mouth to speak, but stop.

The hummingbird flies to the Gilias.