Gateway Drug

“Too Much Is Never Enough” was a tagline in the ’80’s that MTV used and a ridiculous philosophy that has done me wrong for a good 20 years barring a few choice yarns here and there.

Moderation comes with wisdom or watching those close to you engulf themselves until they’re unrecognizable. Maintaining is a skill, a knack for approaching the line of degradation and destruction without losing footing, temptations are like fruit from city trees and when ripe and ready to eat, our flesh and teeth gnash for its sweet reward.

Like a steaming pie on a window sill or pan of fresh brownies from the oven, like a pair of silk thighs or a frothing mug of black ale. Sometimes what seems like sanctuary becomes a sanitarium and the only thing that divides a few whiskies on the way home from work  from an all night bender with folks you’ll barely remember is that fourth glass of hooch.

Anyone who says that marijuana is “the gateway drug” should have a bottle of Old Crow crammed in places crows don’t go because I’ve wound up in far worse conditions because of drinkin’ than anything else because booze dresses up other vices in perfume and summer dresses so they look delicious and act carefree.

Then the regrets arrive in droves by daylight.

I used to teeter, not quite a teetotaler but I used to wander that fine line between sheer loneliness and a strange story in the morning. Nowadays my ability to moderate has kept me from drunk tanks and the clutches of angry husbands, honing my urban samurai’s skill of perpetual composure has saved me money, scars and god knows how many cars.

Though regardless of how slick I like to think I am, I knock on the wood of the bar because I know that some day that 4th drink with its devil horns and trident of beautiful misery might march down my gullet and give me a warm, wonderful throttling that involves much more glass tipping and less brain thinking which will inevitably lead to actions and reactions unconcerned with culpability or consequence.


Insolvent, Indolent and Insolent

The sun is coming up and I’m barely coming down from a night of work. Work where my personality isn’t utilized and my back-breaking breakneck speed and energy is used poorly planned asinine ways, not to mention the pay isn’t far from bottle deposits or plasma donations.

I’m in love with the fantastic past while the present is desperate to perform. Quagmire of corporate failings, stifled interest and inspiration, I’ve planned for the future only to realize that a theory mapped and developed eventually leads to routine and insufferable banality.

So onward!

Better to write of what spikes my serotonin than what drains my dopamine.

Money begets money. A pile of cash does one of two things but it never just sits there. Either it grows into a healthy stack of paper or it shrivels up and disappears like cold river genitalia. The trick is to stuff enough of it until it fills a mattress because hard-earned freedom is often measured in legal tender. And unless you’re exceptionally smart or painfully good looking, such tender provides the means to rebel.

Can’t curb the lust for travel. To witness millions of other people living lives in beautiful polarity with mine, to smell the air of mountains and cities and devour streets and seasons, starved for culture and foreign perspective. The bug is in my blood and as much as I love this land I need to make my way across others.

Conversations deep in bad sazeracs and twisted with painful philosophy shed new eyes on old friends and make good love from great time.

Road Journal 13 January 2009


It was like a giant hammer had been plunged into the endless black clouds that swept over this little beach town. The rain fell warm and swift and by the time we returned to the neighborhood the streets had filled with so much water that retailers and restauranteurs frantically fought for higher ground.

My father and I had been riding bicycles in the late afternoon, taking Nha Trang’s main roads out towards the rich green hills that surround the city, enjoying the street food (banh xeo with wonderful little squid) and commenting on the beautiful colors and splendor of the houses we rode past. The lightning of the past week had been spectacular despite being hidden behind buildings but today the thunder buried inside the clouds had brought more than just a light show.

I’ve never used the word “torrential” with as much verve as I am now. Once the wind fell from the dark sky the rain soon followed with some strange vengeance, I suppose it was since I’d been seeing lightning all week but asking everyone when it might actually rain. Awnings bulged and sagged, chairs and tables were rushed inside, motorbikes sat with their seats up as motorists fished out their parkas and everyone else just sat and watched. Storm drains backed up in about 15 minutes as the streets teemed with water, an onslaught that saw the roads disappear and become level with the sidewalks and eventually stairs as everything that wasn’t welded, bolted, or buried down began to float away.

Ankle deep along the sidewalk cruelly makes one forget that it’s actually shin deep when crossing the street and we gushed our bicycles, heavy clothes soaked to the bone through the downpour towards home. Once it was agreed that we couldn’t avoid being soaked, we zipped down hills that still had asphalt and plowed through drowned streets while wiping water from our faces. Laughing and shivering in the tropics. We eventually found a juice stand where we stood and watched as commuters raged through the currents, hooded and hunkered, cloaked in plastic alongside slow and meticulous bicycles, their wheels half hidden like cutting saw blades. Pedestrians lifting pants and some even carrying their shoes, resigned to just making it across the street, and children playing games, laughing and screaming in the warm floodwaters. Two hours later the streets drained as the rain let up and it was just another wet day along the coast of Vietnam.

Simultaneously across the globe, my hometown was being stomped on by god with an unheard of 2 feet of snow for 2 weeks straight.

You Can’t Spell “Hard” Without H, R, and D.


Nope. Not going to take strange shots whose names have the word “whip” in it. Not going to split and slam a full porter we found sitting on a poker machine. Not going to heave up a perfectly good eggplant parmesan onto the trunk of a tree in the park after getting up from the bar and walking a block out the door to do the deed in the dark. Not going to use leaves to wipe my mouth or a fallen apple to freshen my breath. Not going to tool down to the Garden to catch the arriving circus elephants being walked from the train yards to the arena. Not going to wake up with my splattered shoes on backward, without my bike or any money left in my pocket.

Not ever.


Concubine’s Sonnet

Always his lordship, never my lover,
pronounce his name in whispers on my lips.
Scent of his leather now warm from summer
hang like my body like blades on his hips.
Upon his return my meals will now taste
sweet with soft secrets, though I’m not alone
in this desp’rate palace where nobles chase
unburdened flesh among statues of stone.
Await his renewal from dark campaigns
across dreadful wilds, as my belly fills
with the heir of his malice in my veins.
Perfumed valleys which he’s captured and thrilled
will never touch the fervor I have found
or his legacy to which I am bound.

Never To Nullify

Maquiladoras, malevolent monstrosities of miserable moneymaking

Invites insanity and incumbent inequities involving

Stoical societies succumbing to shameful sacrifice.

Corporate cohorts connive and construct conglomerates

Operating ostensibly, overseers of the oppressed,

Nimbly navigating numbers of new natives,

Churning Chihuahua’s childern into cheap chattel.

Enterprising, exploiting, envenoming environments en masse,

Privatizing, procuring, parceling people for production,

This thievery from threadbare third-world throngs

Is insidious, implementing irreverence with investment

Of our country’s ornate opulence, overbearing

Neighbors with NAFTA’s nightmare, todavia no anular.