Monday, December 29, 2014

The Pond

Most times

This pond

This spillway

Is filled with water

But today the water is gone

Men work

On the edge of its muddy bottom

Clearing brush from the runoff canals

When it does rain

The nearby oily streets of the city

With their multicolored surfaces 

Catch all of heavens teardrops

Then send them rushing for the storm drains

Filling the underground culverts

Swollen cement canals spew dirty water

Like outstretched tongues

From gapping mouths

These flumes will flow with fury

Gush into the pond 

At unbelievable speed

But for today

The pond is dry

The sun is up

And the men keep working

Pulling tires and trash from its bottom  

Two bald eagles

Stand in the flats

Far from the workers

They watch ducks swim in circles

Circles they swim

In what little water is left

Pooling in the middle 

In 1992

I worked on the opposite side of the pond

From where I sit now

At a grocery store

Back then paychecks were nothing

4.25 An hour to be precise

You got an extra quarter

For running the meat slicer

Gutting fish


Guiding cow carcasses through a band-saw 

So, I took the quarter

And the pink sawdust that came with it

2 Dollars more a day was a lot

When you had a baby at home

Wrapping Christmas turkeys

On Christmas Eve

For Christmas shoppers

To fight, fondle, and run over each other for

Was all part of the gig

10 years later

I was washing cars on

This side of the pond

Pushing them through a tunnel

To be scrubbed by machines

Spinning rags and drip lines of suds

Water jets blasting off

The filth of the city

Conveyer chains constantly cranking

Moving through gears beneath my feet 

In time I would leave the wash

For time is all we’re ever really in

I would leave

The dark waters of the pond

To drift in the workforce

Christopher McCandless must have been

Whispering in the wind back then

For I had the strongest urge to drift

So I became a Mechanic

A Pipefitter

A Ditch digger

A Groundskeeper

Anything to pay the bills and keep writing

Keep doing art 

10 years later

I find myself back at the pond

Washing cars with folks half my age          

After 3 months of looking for work

And being told

With the friendliest smile

“Oh Hun, we’re not going to hire you”

“We like to hire younger folks”

“You understand?”

“Don’t you?”

I was happy to be back

At this place

I’ve spent so much of my life

And here I sit

Eating lunch and looking out

On the muddy flats of

The pond

Monday, December 1, 2014

River Phoenix Back Then

I ran into River a few times

On the streets of Gainesville

In the crowds we both moved around in

In a scene stitched together

By threads of music, art, and skating 

I also crossed paths

With his little brother once

Back then

His brother went by a different name

Name change or not

Weren’t we all different?

Back then

When River was being born into this world

I was being conceived

Nine months and seven states separated us

Until his family made their way to Florida 

The times I was around him

And he around me

River seemed

Locked into something

Most never know exist

But we all know

Existing means very little without knowing

Back then

He would come and go

From the city of angels


To some faraway movie set

Act out another role for the watchers

Become another side of

What the world would perceive him as

Cut away at the rough

Like the facet of a diamond 

The last time I saw him

He seemed closer than ever to the knowing

He was raising hell at a hemp festival

In downtown Gainesville 

Trying to swing from the ropes

Of the courthouse flagpole

Like a modern day Tarzan

At least this looked like what he was trying to do

Until two cops walked over and ID’d him

Back then

You could be jailed for a joint

Cars were confiscated for containing a seed

So, I’m sure the cops were looking for any reason

For Tarzan to take a ride with them

But River was let go

I watched him disappear

Into the street shadows of night 

Someone standing close by said

He was pissed because his band 

Was booked to play a few blocks away

The crowd had gathered

To see several bands for free and fly high at the festival

They weren’t going to pay to see his

But we know

Some say a lot about what happens a few blocks away

River was passionate about his music

Hell, he was passionate about many things

Back then

The next time I heard River’s name

Was over a small box radio

While stocking shelves in a hardware store

They said he died on a sidewalk in Hollywood

River was gone forever

He had gotten as close to the knowing

As one could get

That decade started out with Alice singing

“We Die Young”

Many of us never thought we would grow old

But all of us agreed

River left much too soon

Back then