Thursday, November 20, 2008



I drove over to the DMV off Flamingo this past Monday, hoping to quickly and easily swap my New Hampshire driver’s license for a Nevada one. Of course there was a line out the fucking door. I waited for an hour and when I got to the front I got motioned over to a counter. The woman there took a quick look at my application, pushed a button and gave me a ticket.

“go wait over there until your number is called.”

Over there was this massive room with a hundred rows of plastic chairs. In the chairs or standing up were hordes of people waiting. Blacks, whites, latinos. Men and women and crying children. Acne covered teens and professionals doing business on their cell phones. Couples wearing spandex shorts or goth kids with their pale skin and the chains hanging from their faces. Americans, all waiting around in a place they didn’t want to be.

After two hours a pre-recorded voice called out “H 299, counter 7.” I went up to the woman at counter 7. She took my ticket and looked over my application and keyed some things into her computer. She told me that to get my Nevada driver’s license I’d have to pass a written test and a driving test. She pushed another button and gave me another ticket and pointed with her finger.

“go wait over there until your number is called.”

I walked back across the room with hundreds of people waiting in lines or on plastic chairs to a somewhat smaller room with only fifty people waiting. I sat down on a chair and said, “this is fucking unbelievable.”

Half an hour passed and the voice called out, “G 437, counter 42.”

I went to counter 42 and the woman there looked at my application and said, “you’ll need to take a written test. Take this ticket and when you’re called up, go into that room over there and go up to the desk.”

I sat back down and waited. Nearly an hour later the voice finally announced “B 543 counter 28.” I went into the room and up to the desk marked 28. I handed the man my application and my ticket.

“okay,” he said, “go to computer number 9, take the test and come back here when you’re done.”

I took the test and passed and went back up to the counter. The man scribbled something onto my application, punched a button and pulled out another ticket. He gave it to me and nodded.

“go over there to Driver Testing and give them this ticket.”

I snatched the ticket from his hand and took my application over to Driver Testing, muttering curses along the way.

When they called me up the kid at the booth looked at my application and said, “okay, the earliest I can get you in is December 18th, at two pm. That’s four weeks from tomorrow.”

“what?!” I shouted.

“yeah, we’re pretty busy, as you can see.”

I gazed over my shoulder at all the waiting areas, the hundreds of people milling about in lines that just crawled along. My heart sunk and I felt sick. But before I turned back to him he said, “wait a minute.”

I expected him to hand me another ticket but he didn’t.

“it looks like they spelled your name wrong here.”

I leaned in and murmured, “uh oh. What does that mean?”

He played around with his keyboard and glanced between my application, my passport and his computer screen.

“because of this, I have to input you in here which means I can schedule you for an appointment tomorrow at two pm. You’re very lucky.”

“well, shit,” I said. “this is what lucky feels like?”

I walked out the door hungry and exhausted. I thought about trying to bring my luck to a casino but decided against it. The single bag of chips I’d eaten that day couldn’t push me along any further. All the waiting had nearly killed me. So I went home and ate.

The next day I returned to the DMV. I got in line at Driver Testing. A man approached me coolly and said, “you look like you’ve got an appointment.”

I knew exactly what he wanted.

“man,” he said, clasping his hands together and bending at the knees, almost in prayer. “man, I will pay you to let me have your appointment. I swear, I’ll pay you!”

I thought back to the day before. The tickets and the hours of waiting. The prospect of not getting an appointment for a month. I thought about how I needed a job and would have a hard time getting one without that Nevada driver’s license. I thought about all of this in two seconds and said to him, “go wait over there. I’ve got to think about it.”


seemed like everywhere I went
everybody was talking about love
looking for it
hoping for it
that special someone
the soul mate
the one
that they were meant to be with
the rest of their life
lucky for me
I’d given up on that shit
long before
and while other people sometimes
told me that was sad
like I was losing out
it made me feel like I was winning
without even getting into the ring


Nielson, yeah
you’ve probably heard about him
in some of my other writings
he’d returned to Wilmington
from some martial arts training seminar
in Kansas City
he’d moved out of this old apartment
we used to share
moved all his stuff into storage before he left
but when he got back
he had no place to sleep at night
told me he figured he’d try the key in the lock
the key worked
and nobody had moved in yet
the beers he’d stashed
in the drawer of the fridge
were still there
the fool bastard called me up one night
went on about how he’d snuck into the apartment
was drinking the beers
and throwing the cans at the walls
just like we used to do
then when he had to throw up
he’d go to a corner and let it rip
poor Nielson
he called our old landlord today
to ask about his security deposit
turns out he never ended the lease
before he left to go to Kansas City
so there he was
paying $800 a month
to sneak into his empty apartment
with his vomit in the corners
beer cans on the floor
sleeping in the bathtub with a dirty sheet
all the while paying
to store his furniture and belongings
a few blocks away
for another hundred bucks a month
I burst out laughing when he told me this
didn’t stop for seven minutes straight
and that was only to ask him,
“well, well, well. Who’s the jackass now?”


on Sunday mornings
she’d go to church
and I’d lie in my bed
with a can of cheap beer
it only took a couple
for me to get rip roaring drunk again
I’d call up my friends
all around the country
tell ‘em I was still a jobless man
but that I was having
a hell of a time with it
I had the economy on my side
in those days
the great, big scape goat
“well,” I’d say,
“with this economy and all,
no use even bothering
with the job hunt.
I’ll just sit tight and wait it out
just play around with the keys
and if things get too bad, I can always
just go out to the canyon
and lay down to die.”


I found my place, again
I’d known it for a few days
but was keeping it a secret
trying to play it cool
like it was nothing special
but one night she came home
laughed and said to me,
“so this is what I should expect, huh?
That every time I come through the door
I’ll see you sitting there
at the kitchen table,
pounding a huge bottle of beer?”
what could I do but grin
and write a little poem about it?


one of the more surprising things
a man can experience
during the humdrum of his day
is when he accidentally
lifts up both seats
before sitting on the toilet
holy Christ
what a shock
when his ass cheeks hit
the cold, piss covered porcelain
I’ll bet for a moment
he wishes he was back
in mother’s arms,
sucking at a warm tit
and knowing nothing about life
or what’s in store for him


she called me up one night
I knew she was drunk
“what’s up?” I asked.
“nothing,” she said.
“well, where are you?”
she’d been having some trouble
with the asshole that had replaced me
and I hoped it was something good
like he’d stolen her car
or beat up her sister
“I’m over at Winston’s.”
“Winston?!” I shouted.
“who the fuck is Winston?!”
“he’s a dog, Jack. I’m dog sitting.”
“oh, jesus fucking christ! I thought
it might be over
with you and that other guy.
You had me excited for a minute there.”
“hey, stop it.”
“well, what do you want, drunky pants?”
“I’m not drunk.”
“yes you are. I can smell it.”
“you can’t smell it. You’re
thousands of miles away.”
“I’ve told you about my sense of smell.”
“all right, maybe a little.”
“well, good. But what do you want? Hell,
it’s three in the morning there.”
“I just called to tell you,” she sniggered,
“that I don’t drunk dial.”
“what!? What the hell?”
she was trying to hold it in
but I could hear her laughing
she caught her breath and said,
“I don’t call you up when I’m drunk.”
“you’re drunk right now
and you just called me. We’re talking
on the phone, you know.”
“I know,” she said,
beginning to laugh hysterically.
I started laughing too
and had to give it to her,
she was playing a good game.


maybe I was seven or eight
when I discovered what it felt like
to slam a cat’s tail in the door
I’d gotten back from a sledding session
tired and content
I was taking off my jacket
and snow pants in the back hall.
“hey,” somebody called out
“shut the door!”
I reached behind me
grasped the handle and slammed it hard
to let them know how I felt
about being told what to do
but the door didn’t close
it came close
within an inch or two
but it didn’t close
there was this terrible cry
I looked down
saw a black tail
I pulled the door back and our cat
I don’t recall his name now
bolted into the garage
I screamed and said,
“I just slammed cat’s tail
in the door! What do I do?”
“shut the door!”


just like they all said it would
it happened
28 years old
and here comes the gut
I never had much meat on my bones
but now I have even less
the gut has begun to take it all
no padding on my ass
these pencil thin legs
I didn’t look that strange before
but now I’ve got this gut
that grows an inch with each bottle of beer
I stand in front of the mirror
get a side view
it sticks out over my pants
like there’s a fetus in there
that thought disgusts me
I go outside in the desert wind
light a cigarette
I’ll make it though this night


on television
there were all these shows
about fabulous Las Vegas
the 21 most sinful clubs
or the hotel suites that cost
over twenty grand a night
where to go to see the celebs
or blow a few thousand on craps
under a crystal chandelier
those shows were a good reminder to me
to get up and pound the keys
I’d never be like those people
didn’t care about two hundred thousand dollar cars
but I knew I’d always be able to make it anyway
a quart of cheap beer
costs less than two dollars
and I know plenty of people
with spare bedrooms
or empty couches


each day I sent out my resume
to ten or twenty prospective employers
I never heard a damn thing back
I’d apply to be an assistant foreman
or a dune buggy tour guide
sign holder or carpet cleaner
I never heard a word back
I’d write these people emails on a daily basis,
“I noticed that you’re still hiring
for pizza delivery drivers. Can I come in
for an interview?”
I never heard a single thing back
after some time
I began to wonder about the internet
if it wasn’t just some big scam
some electronic black hole
where hopes were sent to be buried
with monkeys
dead and frozen in space
like maybe, just maybe
there wasn’t any such thing
as the world wide web
I was just another asshole who’d gotten duped


there were many nights
at the dinner table of my youth
silent and hopeless
I sat in my chair
chewed my food
wondered what the hell it was all about
life, living, I mean
but if it ever got too quiet
like there wasn’t a spare word
my father would clear his throat and say,
“I used to have a great aunt,
her name was Beatrice.
She would cut her peas in half
with a knife and a fork.”
we’d all look at him
chew our food
and wonder what the hell it was all about


I had this poem
I was about to write
I fuckin’ mean it
it was all thought out
everything like that
and that’s a big deal to me
because writing or not
I don’t think things out before
I do them
but when I put my fingers
to the keys
the little bastard
just warped
to a different planet
maybe into
another writer’s mind
that could be it
some asshole out there
telepathically ganked my little poem
well, what can you do
but move on with your life
and try to dodge traffic


there’s a certain feeling you get
after speaking with an attractive girl
when you go into a bathroom
and see a crusty, bloody snot
crawling out of your nostril
let me tell you
it’s not a good one
but if you’re like me
and you have a sense of humor
when it comes to interactions
with that other sex
you get over it pretty quick


there were times when
you really just had to tap the keys
in a nervous way
hope to hell that something came out
because in the bottom right corner
of your laptop screen
the battery would go from full
to half full
to half empty
to empty
then when you saw the red X pop up
you raced to hit SAVE
let out a sigh
and took a hit from your wine
knowing you were still without a job
living on pity
and a friend’s couch


across the ravine
the kids run and play
they must be playing hooky
from school
cars slide by along Town Center Ave
and a pair of sirens
head east out of Summerlin
after a banshee scream
the kids are silent
one two three
four seconds
then a young girl’s voice
shrieks out through the desert air,
“ow, you fucking asshole!
that really hurt my head!”


out there on that patio
the ravine right over the fence
dry, jagged mountains
at the edge of town
it was always too hot in the sun
too cold in the shade
made me think of life
how for many
it’s either too much or too little

Sunday, November 9, 2008



I’d scheduled a job interview with this total fuckin’ asshole. I knew he was a total fuckin’ asshole because he was an old friend of mine. Around the time he turned eleven is when he started to go bad, and from that point on our encounters were unpleasant but luckily infrequent.

He ran this fancy dress shoe company. He was sleazy and uptight and he was the kind of person that made you nauseas to be around, like you had to take a shit. But, as we had a few mutual acquaintances and I desperately needed work, I thought I’d give it a try.

When I went into his office he reached out and shook my hand and said, “Jack, after all these years, you’re finally crawling to my door on your hands and knees…”

I wanted to sock him in the face but I reminded myself of my empty fridge in my empty apartment and my mailbox full of bills.

“Rick,” I replied, “how’ve you been?”

He winked at me and said, “Jack, I’ve been wonderful.”

We bullshitted for a while, what we’d been up to over the years, the women we’d slept with, that sort of thing.

But after enough time enduring his presence, I got this overwhelming urge to put my feet up on his desk. I had these dress shoes I’d gotten at a thrift store for $2.50. On the sole, in black magic marker was written, ‘$5.00,’ but on the day I’d bought them they were half off.

It became very obvious to me that I’d never be able to work for that jerkoff. His whole being just turned me off. That grin, his shiny white teeth, and the ever present knowledge that he had been and always would be a total fuckin’ asshole.

It didn’t take him too long to notice the writing on the soul of my shoe and he said, “Jack, those are nice shoes. What kind are they?”

I raised my hands in the air because I didn’t have a clue.

“Rick, I really don’t know. I’m not very interested in brands of dress shoes. In all truth, Rick, I really couldn’t give a damn.”

It was then that he got the impression I wasn’t too serious about the job.

“well, Jack, that’s no good. A man should really know what brand of shoes he’s got on his feet.”

I set my feet back on the floor and stood up, leaning over his desk.

“you know what, Rick? You know what a man should also know? A man should also know if he’s a TOTAL FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!”

Rick frowned, utterly confused. I burst out laughing, right in his face, and kept hollering things like, “a total fuckin’ asshole!” and “that’s what you are, Ricky boy! A total fuckin’ asshole!”

I kept laughing and screaming all the way out to the street. When I’d had enough I removed one of my shoes and hucked it at one of his office windows. It shattered the lower pane. After a few moments I saw Rick’s face looking out at me through the broken glass. His sleazy grin was gone.

“so, Rick,” I shouted. “are you gonna give me the job, or are you gonna be a TOTAL FUCKIN’ ASSHOLE!?”

Saturday, November 8, 2008


everybody was always partying down
hittin’ the clubs and the casinos
blowin’ all sorts of cash
they probably didn’t have
lookin’ for celebrities
that were supposed to be in town
for the night
it all quickly became
very boring to me
when you live in a town that rolls 24/7
you can either do everything
or do very little
I hadn’t lived there
more than a couple weeks
before I found myself
polishing the bathroom mirror
on a Saturday night or
digging up a pair of tweezers
to go after a few rogue back hairs


every evening
if I hadn’t already
I’d feel the need to get up
pour myself a glass of wine
or go outside on the patio
to smoke a cigarette
there was no chemical desire
and I didn’t do those things
to escape from
anything in particular
I just felt like doing something
that everybody
was always telling me not to do


I was in this thrift store
off Charleston blvd
sorting through the dress shirts
to find something I could wear
to a job interview
if one ever came my way
the prices weren’t half bad
because that day
everything was fifty percent off
so there I was trying on shirts
when this old timer came up to me
and began to yammer away
something about the tremendous bargains
on that particular special day
after he pushed his cart up between us
he yelled, “if you need to move my cart,
go right ahead. I can’t hear good, see?
so if you say something to me
and I don’t respond don’t take offense.
I just don’t hear good.”
I nodded through my hangover
and slowly edged away from him
he was one of those people
you just didn’t enjoy being around
one of those people
who just brought you down
you could tell
he had a lot to say
and nobody to say it to
another minute passed
and without looking my way
he yelled out again
“now, I’m not trying to tell you what to do,
understand me,
but there are some real deals here
in this store today.
Now, like I said,
I’m not trying to tell you what to do,
you’re a grown man,
but there are some real deals here today
that you should take advantage of.”
I kinda nodded
tried to tune him out
but then he walked over
and nudged me in the ribs
winked and said,
“I’m not trying to tell you what to do.
I’d never do that.”
he stood there grinning this stupid grin
I didn’t know what to say so I said,
“well, thanks, I guess,
for not trying to tell me what to do.”
he coughed and moved back
to where he’d been sifting through the shirts
after a few more minutes passed
he pulled a shirt off the rack and said,
“now, I’m not trying to tell you what to do
or anything like that, but I think this shirt
would look great on you.”
he let his standard pause go by before he said,
“…not that I’m trying to tell you
what to do or what to buy or how to dress.”
the shirt he held up was clearly
two or three sizes too big.
“no, thanks,” I told him, turning back to the rack.
but the crazy fuck just stood there
with a shaky grin
holding up the shirt
pushing it out to me every couple seconds.
I realized he must not have heard me
so I turned again and was about to shout,
“no thanks” a second time
but he came towards me
and shoved the shirt into my hands
going on about how he wasn’t trying
to tell me what to do
or what to buy
or how to dress
finally I just slammed the hanger hook
onto the rack and barked,
“listen you old bastard,
stop telling me that you’re not trying
to tell me what to do! Because you clearly are!
Christ, this is ridiculous!”
a few people in the store looked over
I rang my hands at the ceiling
stormed out to my car
back to my room
where I could shut the door
pull the sheets over my head
and keep the world at bay.


Palmer was this friend of mine
who never had much money growing up
I had quite a few friends like that
until we went our separate ways
then I had new friends
that didn’t have much money
but anyway
Palmer was living in Maui and
I went to visit him
if anybody has a place
anywhere I want to go
most likely I’ll end up there at some point
at least for a week or two
crashing on their couch
or their floor
or in their van
parked out in front of their house
I just hate to pay for hotels.
so Palmer said to me,
“yeah, come and visit,
it’s not much of a place,
but you’re welcome to stay a little while.”
it sure as hell wasn’t much of a place
it was this cinder block cell
filled with junk
crawling with ants and roaches.
“just about what I expected,”
I said to Palmer when I arrived.
But what I didn’t expect
was that strewn in
with the rotting food and garbage
were little piles of money
on the coffee table
the counter
the bathroom sink
and all over his bed.
“what the fuck is this?” I asked him,
pointing to the piles of bills
some folded neatly
some just crumpled up.
“oh, those,” he said quietly
“well, I’ve got this job
where I make some decent money now.”
I looked around the place
amazed at the number of piles
“so this is what you do
with it, huh?”
“well, I never had any before
so now that I do,
I like to keep it around in plain view.
I like to be able to see it
and lie around in it,
just be reminded that it’s there”
a few moments passed
then he became very serious
pointed his finger at me and said,
“but I know exactly how much
is in each pile, so don’t you fuckin’ dare
try and steal any of it”


the economy had shit the bed
and quite a few people were
pissed off and upset about their losses
a friend from back east
called late one night
told me he’d lost more than half
his holdings in the stock market
another couple friends
had lost their jobs
joined the growing ranks
of the unemployed
one night when
playing a dollar a spin
on a Super Six wheel
in the New York New York
the old dealer man
whispered to me,
“last year my house was worth $865,000.
Now I’d be lucky to get $280,000 for it.”
I was only twenty eight
but I knew I could retire comfortably
for the rest of my life
on 280 fuckin’ grand.
but all these poor bastards
they had these tremendous losses
to pine over
to keep them up at night
eyes wide open in the dark
fear beating in their hearts
me, I lost nothing
I didn’t have any investments
to get wiped out,
no job to get laid off from,
no house whose value might plummet
I was in the clear, baby, because,
to paraphrase Dylan
when you ain’t got shit,
you ain’t go shit to lose.