Walking Velvet, our eight-pound black Maltipoo, through the neighborhood—with my speaker blasting and some neighbors looking upon me with approval and some shaking their heads in annoyance. Velvet barks too much but, like a baby, she just wants to be held. She always has to be in the middle of me and Michelle when we cuddle in bed. Makes it hard to be intimate with each other when she is always nudging her head in to be a part of it. We push her to the end of the bed but she is so sweet that it would seem gritty and shameful to do it while her curious, loving eyes fall upon us like they always do. Sometimes she falls asleep, but other times she gets lonely and restless and decides to pounce. It’s really a mood-killer, so we relocate her to the floor. Last week we came downstairs to find a Christmas ornament chewed up, with the broken pieces all scattered around the living room. Another time, Michelle went downstairs for a glass of water and I heard her scream: “OH NO! WHAT THE FUUUCK!” I said: “What’s going on?” “Velvet ate a DO NOT EAT packet!” “Where did she get one of those?” I said, running down the stairs to make sure Velvet was okay. Velvet was sitting in her favorite spot in the house—in front of the fireplace. She had a grin on her face that said: Serves you right for kicking me off the bed. She’s a crazy dog. She used to lick electrical outlets when she was just a pup. One time she was standing by the door with something brown and mushy in her mouth. She was so tiny, we’d only had her for a couple weeks. She eats everything, so I went to take it from her. I grabbed it, then dropped it, and shouted: “That was poop! She was eating her own fuckin poop.” We had to sprinkle a probiotic in her food, which would make the smell of her poop unappealing to her. I’m pretty sure if it smelled at all, like anything good or bad, she was thrilled to eat it. On walks Michelle would hold a dandelion up to her face and Velvet would sniff it, like she was marveling at this magnificent specimen, then she would lean in and chomp it down. Walking her is the worst on days I just want to be a mute. Most days I don’t want people to talk to me. Nor do I want to talk to them. But trying to say no to her when she wants to say hi to someone is impossible. She pulls and pulls and cries and cries, and I try to direct her away but then the person in her sight looks up and says: “Oh, Velvet. You’re such a good girl.” Velvet pulls me toward them, and jumps and yaps and scurries around their feet. I just stay quiet, and then when Velvet tires out I nudge her in the way of the walk and she goes, and the person standing there says: “Thanks a bunch. She’s so sweet.” I nod my head and hurry off, until someone else leaves their house. She stops and pulls so much on walks that at one point in the summer I was trying to lose weight and I would walk without her and everyone came up to me and said: “Where’s Velvet? Is she okay?” and then I’d have to explain that I’m just trying to lose weight and Velvet is okay but she slows me down and I need to do this on my own. Then they would say: “Well, I’m glad she’s okay.” One time Michelle took Velvet to New Hampshire without me and I was so lonely without the two of them here and I’d have to take the bus to do errands, and people would be like: “Where’s Velvet?” and I’d say: “Not today, she’s not here today.” I’m such a messy eater that Michelle would be up in bed with Velvet while I’m in the kitchen eating something and then I’d go upstairs and Velvet would smell the food on my breath and she’d go right to the end of the bed and cry because she wants to see what crumbs I left on the floor for her to eat. If I eat anything poisonous to her, like chocolate for example, I eat it over the sink so I don’t drop any pieces on the floor. When we watch TV in the living room she barks at the screen the whole time and it’s so annoying so now we can only watch TV on our computers in bed, and Velvet loves to sit there and watch it with us. She has this intrigued, upright look that makes it obvious that she is watching, now that the screen is closer to her size and therefore much safer to be around. Her bark is the most annoying bark. Saying no to her is incredibly hard because she barks so loud in the middle of the night that we’re afraid it’ll wake up the neighbors, and when she does it right next to me, my ears actually sting. When she was a puppy she would scream when she got hurt because she didn’t understand this strange land and she was scared. Once, my stepdaughter Annmarie dropped her and she howled; it sounded almost human but as loud as a sasquatch, and it just rang on until Michelle picked her up and held her so she would calm down. Now she is four years old. She runs when we go to pick her up; it’s just a game to her. In the last year, I started saying: “Stop running,” and she’d immediately stop so I could pick her up. This one time she got out in New Hampshire when I wasn’t nearby, and I heard Michelle screaming VELVET, and I ran to the door and Michelle was out there trying to catch her and she saw me coming through the door and ran straight toward me and leapt into my arms. That’s why it’s my job to catch her if she gets away. She got out the back door once and ran around to the front of the house and then I came out the front door and she ran straight to me. When she was a little puppy I had to chase her around the parking lot for 20 to 30 minutes when she got out. I only caught her because one of the neighbors was walking to her car and she ran to greet the woman and I asked her to pick up Velvet, and she did, and she handed her to me. She doesn’t run because she wants to get away, but it’s just how she plays. She didn’t leave the parking lot that day, she circled around the grass, and the garages, and the lot, while I would dive in the mud to try and catch her but she’d always slip away from me. I’m glad those days are over. When I come home she gets so excited to see me. She barks her loud nasty bark, accusing me of abandoning her. I get it, I have abandonment issues too, so I understand; and that is why this dog, she is the second love of my life.
I threw the bottle in the air and swirling and spiraling it came straight down crashing on the train tracks and this guy at the scene scolded me for it, saying I can’t do that, and I said: But who? me? He threatened to call the police and me and DP took off to his house, to store the butterfly knife I had just gone and bought him since he was too young to buy one himself. I wore a black hoody with the hood pulled over my head and as we came back out and hit the streets I saw Harry over there standing by the corner next to some other kid a foot taller and I picked up my pace, straight running to meet him but in front of him was a parked cruiser. I stopped just short like a hockey stop if I were on skates and saw him talking to the black cop who I remembered hearing had opened-fire on some young kid’s car, for reasons I don’t know/—or can’t remember———or had forced myself to forget. I stayed in hearing range and ducked off to the side and listened as the cop said: “And Harry, keep your friend out of trouble, will ya?” The cruiser pulled away from the corner and I emerged from the shadows and dropped my hood and for once I knew I could do it again.
It seems so real these shadows they find me in the dark
I’m just a figment of a troll’s deepest, darkest secrets haunting me so terribly I hide from the amount of stress caused by this terrible troll’s nefarious state of mind
It’s a sinners state a backwards reality where humans and monkeys coexist and we’re walking up walls and pogoing on the ceiling
Line up to come down, be carried on the back of a vulture, fly high in the sky as you wonder, oh how you wonder, why the day is so bewildered
The night is dark and the day is dim I lost my mind when my first friend died; I became complacent and fearful and I hid from the sharks
Sometimes we know we know everything, other times we think we have a lot to think about, and finally I ponder about my ponderings it’s such a wonderous world when you actually have the ability to wonder
Oh goddamn, I’m lost in a daydream again all the time I’m lost in a whirlpool of thoughts I’m convulsing in the torrential buzz of this thing and that thing so sometimes I smoke weed so I can focus on something else, worry about nonsensical worries and, so focused I delve into a tremor
I’m not sure about anything anymore, like who invented boredom apathy & depression, who dreamt up a magical state of being jaded, feeling lost and alone and the only way out might come from a conscious prick
I lose my faith when people gain too high of a faith that they must conquer my own faith with their gospel
I surrender my face more times than not I’ve fallen into a pit of quicksand and they tell me that this is no way to fuckin live but I’m stuck here and I can’t pull myself out of it
Beating my brain in a productive manner is my means to surviving I’ve unhinged a theological tantrum from the top shelf otherwise chained to a toothless grunt
Why can’t I get better because I’m trying to surrender, I want to become one with the universe but I’ve fallen too far astray and the only way out comes from a prick of self-confidence
Pick me up to knock me down I’ve lost control of the pen and all my thoughts have spilled out; what’s there left to do when you have nothing to do but scream at a wall that doesn’t listen and pound your fist at a sky that doesn’t care
Because I’m better than this, my emotional state whirls to another, whips around my noggin so ugly and rotten I scorn those that have made a choice because for me this is a lifestyle this is my saving grace life is just a dream and at times I feel so bitter this is the spirit that has carries me through the darkest of dungeons and for better or worse I’m okay and I guess I’ll always be okay
Last week I got a mohawk. I think the gay gothic boy who cut my hair was flirting with me. He was in his early 20s. I’m not gay, I’m just vain—I liked the attention.
My high school best friend is texting me every 10 minutes for the past couple months and eventually I had to stop responding so he would stop texting.
I’m 35. I figure that with all the damage I’ve done, I’m about halfway through my life.
A year younger than me, my old best best friend died of what I believe to be a drug overdose this past Christmas.
I have another old friend telling me to come to Mass and visit him. He misses me. Last time I saw him he tried to sell me his own medication. I declined.
I got another old friend sending me pictures of the good ol’ days. Everyone’s talking about the good ol’ days, like it means something. Like I wish to relive that horrible, horrible past of mine. In the good ol’ days, yeah I had fun, but that’s only because I hated myself and I wanted to die all the time and I did everything I could to escape this fact.
People thought I was fun. Now, I’m boring, they’re boring, we’re all so fuckin boring. There’s no fun anymore, no adventures to be had. Some of us still drink, but at least we’re not destroying other people’s lives and making ourselves feel like shit. At least I’m happy—er.
Sometimes I have breakdowns. I have fits. Sometimes I don’t trust the people I should be trusting the most. I’m a sensitive boy who wishes harm on no one, but sometimes I feel like I’m being tested. Like my patience is being put on the testing block.
Sometimes I still hate myself. Sometimes I still do want to die.
Sometimes I wish to relive my glory days too. Sometimes I wish I had a time machine and I could do it all over again and I wouldn’t change a thing. Just rewind and I’m back in the shitter.
Then I look in the mirror and I’m like fuck, I’m an adult now. Better start acting like one. But what does that even mean? Can someone tell me, please? There used to be, like in the 50s and 60s and 70s and 80s and 90s, a standard for adulthood and I assume when they hit the age of 18, they were forced to grow up. Every adult when I was a kid knew what they were doing. Me and all the other millennials are openly clueless.
We live in an age where all standards of living are being challenged. Including adulthood. It’s like we’ve been having a midlife crisis since our 20s and we’re still deep in it, 10 years later.
How does an adult act? I think they’re supposed to be serious all the time and take care of business. The problem with that is I’m physically incapable of taking anything seriously and I don’t seem to have any business that needs to be taken care of. So how do I grow up if I have no purpose? I don’t think I’m alone here. Everyone my age, or younger, feels like they have no purpose.
This fake brand of ethics that got the past generations through, has now been challenged and without it we are lost.
Everyone my age seems to agree with this when I talk to them. In the movies, the adults are just as openly clueless as me, because these movies were written by people who’d grown up in my generation.
I’m home now I’m sitting on the couch I’m thinking too much
Today I shared that I am struggling at an AA meting I am struggling with depression
I’m in a deep dark nothingness I don’t know why I write maybe it’s to numb the voices or make them louder
or to capture the tension I feel when everything around me breaks
with words I struggle to relate to be a human being in such an insidious world
There’s never a point to the things we do I want to say it’s all her fault but when I do I feel sad because I’m not taking full responsibility
but you can’t blame me for being a little jaded I run from my problems rather than face them
I’m unworthy to be here I’m unfit to be there
I’m so bad at being a person
Everyone gets it they understand the way things work but me I sit on this couch trying to digest the past and face the future
Together they thrive maybe I was meant to struggle everything happens for a reason right
So my purpose is to suffer that doesn’t seem very fair
Last night I went to class and nobody got what my piece was trying to say I didn’t understand theirs so it’s okay
Maybe no one understands anyone and yet I feel so left out all the time
I have no morals I have no class I’m broken inside
These situations make me feel stupid I feel so cold I don’t know why I keep taking steps toward reparation when I keep getting knocked back two times the amount I put forth
I’m just so cold the fireplace is on and yet I feel so cold and hollow like if you saw me now you could see through me like I don’t exist or maybe I really don’t
I’m an enigma poison purposeless I try to find reasons but nothing seems satisfactory enough to keep me going
But still I keep trying I keep trying I keep trying and I’m bound to fly one day they say but the sky is black tonight and tonight I will fall
It was a New England winter. We were hunkered down in the Copley train station in Boston. It was me, Russel, and Lacey. When the night ended, I would have a new girlfriend. Russel was the youngest; I thought he was at least 18, but looking back on it I realize he was probly more like 17. He really liked Lacey--a lot. He lived on the North Shore, which is a long way from the city. Lacey was from LA. She went to college near Fenway. I was the oldest. I was 21. When the whiskey bottle ran dry, as it usually does, I braced myself for the cold and trekked out of the semi-warm train station and crossed the street and bought another bottle. I’d known Russel for a while. He and I went way back. I met Lacey, however, the same night Samantha and I had broken up. In the morning I had Lacey’s cellphone and she had mine. No one remembered how or when the swap took place. In fact, the night before I exchanged only one or two words with her, before Andrew led her off in the night with his arm wrapped around her shoulder. We were so cold. The brick-walled station didn’t offer too much protection. But we didn’t want to pay to get in the station proper because then if we left we’d have to pay to get back in. So we huddled together on the steps leading up to the street and down to the station. It was not as cold down here, but still it was brittle. We could feel the excruciatingly cold wind breeze past us whenever the doors opened : : : we all shuddered. Our teeth tremored. We were shaking. The whiskey made everything better. We laughed a lot. We taunted the people that walked past us. We had our fun, albeit fueled by the whiskey. When the bottle ran dry, I’d leave and go buy another bottle, until I was too drunk and the clerk refused to sell me anymore. It was almost like the liquor store was the bar and the station was our stool. They had to cut me off. I really wished they hadn’t. It was so cold and we had nowhere else to go. Nothing else to do. Of course, we could have just gone home. Sleep it off, so to speak. Fuck that, we were granted a gift. A gift of self-destruction. The point of life is to defy physics and see how far we can push it. Test our limits. Presently I’m sitting in an AA meeting and I recognize why the clerk had cut me off, but in the moment I looked at it like he was ruining our good time. Maybe he saved our lives, now that I think about it. I hated everyone who had ever saved my life. Those who didn’t want me to die—fuck them! They were not doing me any favors. Life is a state of mind. If you’re not living, then you must be dying. I was on my way there. I was living only to die. Once I was in Connecticut and these two young boys asked me to buy them liquor but when I showed the clerk my ID he didn’t believe it was me. He and his wife were Indian and they spoke poor English. They said they didn’t believe I was the guy in the photo. In the photo I had black spikey hair but the guy trying to buy liquor at their store had half-green, half-red spikey hair. They didn’t understand that I had dyed my hair. Eventually we did get going. Russel hopped on the train to North Station where he would in turn catch a commuter rail back to his hometown. Lacey and I were going the same way so we hopped on the train together. We were both going outbound. Her stop was Fenway and mine was Newton Highlands. On the train we met an older guy with a black mohawk and a leather jacket covered in spikes studs patches paint & chains and he invited us back to his place.
I wish I wasn’t such a big guy. I don’t see myself as a big guy. Mostly I feel small, and frail. Scared all the time. It’s kind of a paradox: this big, scary dude, afraid of the world and everyone and everything it encompasses. My dreams are small, my nightmares immense. My world is mini and my mind is being compressed by the thoughtless reruns I got going on all the time. It’s a waste thinking about all this nonsense. There’s no way to escape my human body, and I’m racking my human brain with daydreams and wishes. Maybe I’m a leprechaun in another world. A court jester. A pixie. A half-witted decomposition. Maybe the consensus is correct; there is every reason to fear me. I’m just a sad sophomoric poet who likes to rant a lot about his problems, and fears and stuff like that. I guess I can dream about what it would be like to be smaller—would I fear someone like me? Maybe I’d try to fight me, because it’d be a win-win, don’t you think. Because if small me wins then he would seem as though he were a hero. And you know, if big me wins, he would come across as an asshole. Well, at least I’m somewhat skinny, but not as skinny as I used to be, remember?
This morning I woke up feeling awful. It could have been allergies, it could have been caffein withdrawals, or it could have been something so much worse. My head pounded like there was someone in there, someone small and mean, knocking nail after nail into my brain. My nose was jammed up, and the postnasal drip was itching my throat. Oh, and my eyelids were dangling from a noose called exhaustion. First thing, I took some Allegra D to rule out allergies, and after showering and walking the dog I promised Michelle I’d drop something off at the Post Office for her. On the way there I stopped at the gas station and bought myself one of those carbonated raspberry-flavored Yerba Mate drinks. I’d say I could use it, all things considered. In the car I popped the tab and the passageways in my nose burst open as a hint of raspberry wafted through. It smelled delicious and the stuffiness was dwindling. I took my first sip and felt the bubbles dance on my tongue and the smell of raspberries reminded me that it was summer now even though outside the car it was gray and drab and possibly would rain later. But inside the car it smelt like summer, like when you’re younger and you pick berries with your parents at a nearby farm. I started to feel a little bit more awake now and I realized the nastiness I felt earlier was from a lack of caffeine. So I drove the rest of the way to the Post Office, and, with the windows down, the air outside licked my skin and swirled and hopped through my hair. I didn’t care that it was colder than it should be for this time of year and the air had that nasty mildew smell before a storm. The music playing released just enough endorphins to keep me going and the wind itself continued to waltz and wave in a brisk cataclysmic buzzing array and the Yerba Mate kept the car smelling sweet and delicious.
On the way back from the Post Office it was the same scene: Wind, Rhythm, and Sweetness, until I stopped at that red light and the first putrid wave hit my nostrils. It smelled of shit, dirty feet, and the blackest of mold. I looked ahead of me and before the car was a dump truck sweating an odor so revolting it made me gag. The windows were down at the time so I rolled them up but I think it was too late, for the smell was stuck inside my car. The Yerba Mate didn’t taste the same, the music didn’t sound the same, my mood plummeted drastically. I was so distraught. I shifted to the left lane and, when I could, darted past the dump truck and when it was far enough behind me, I rolled the windows back down to air out the nasty stench that only comes from rotting carcasses or dumpsters sweating beneath an epic sun.