things my son said over the weekend


Things my son said to me over the weekend:

You’re my best friend dad.

What was your favorite part of day?

Dad, you’re a bear!

I know that song.

What next?

Sing a spooky George.
To which I said, no, how about a different spooky song.
What one?
How about, awoooooo, werewolves of London. Awooooooo!
What that one called?
Werewolves of London. Do you want to hear it?
I looked for it on my phone and then played it. We sang the awooooo parts together. When it was over he said, that cool.

may 2015

May 5, 2015

The afternoon spent walking with him. Holding hands. Looking at cactuses in the greenhouses. Asking me what the plants are called. Laughing at the one called, “baby toes.” Carrying him on my shoulders looking at lilies and lettuce. The large fish in the lagoon circling slow beneath and then rising face first to break the surface with open slow mouths searching for human food handouts. He leans down close to the water to look. Waves. Leans against me. Balancing on rocks and platforms. Puzzles in the library. Sadness that the outdoor model train garden isn’t open yet.

June 2015

June 15, 2015

Morning train as I read with wet shoes and pant legs soaked. A young woman watches with intent eyes the man drawing in a sketchbook across from her. He in black jeans and hiking sneakers. Gray hair frizzled mess in all directions. White earphone buds in his ears. Feet tapping in fast tempo and hands swirling colored pencils in circles across the pages rapidly. Fast slash blurs. She watches and he angles the sketchbook down to an angle she can see better. Her eyes calm and intent. Her hand holding the hand of the young man next to her. His shiny black boots. Scraggle beard across face. Straw hat. They with baggage coming from O’Hare. His eyes glance at the blur sketch pad. Then look up at train maps. Advertisements. Sometimes at the young woman. Sometimes at the man drawing furiously. Oranges, yellows, reds. The semblance of faces forming out of the arcs and circles. The young woman with eyes fixed on the page, her hair tucked behind ears. Sometimes her mouth opens. Sometimes she moves her feet in green Converse low tops. Coffee in the air. Wet pants. Rain cascades down train windows as we slow to stops at each station.

June 17, 2015

Reading on the train after work. We come out of the tunnel. Surface at Damen. The sky black with rain and clouds. Wind. My phone buzzes an alarm. Then everyone else’s phones buzz and beep in alarm. A weather alert. Funnel cloud, it says. Everyone looking at their phones and then up to the windows. To the sky and blowing trees. Lights smeared through water trails. Wondering. Then the tornado siren outside. Our train makes all the stops. The siren sounds. People sit waiting for their train on the opposite side of the platform. People get off at their stops. Lakes forming in yards. Rivers running through streets. Watching the sky where the funnel cloud was sighted.

March – April, 2016

March 3, 2016

He can’t sleep. His ear hurts. His body rages. He kicks and jerks. Punches and rolls. Eleven at night. I lay on my side. His feet press into my back. He cries. He shouts. Refuses to calm down. At first she is strict. Her voice stern. Go to sleep. I repeat. You need to relax your body. Just try to sleep.
No. He yells.

We doze. We must. We drift off. My stomach knots. A fist of anxiety wedged. Thick. This is when I normally lose control. The wave of panic washing over me. Covering my shoulders. Fogging my head in despair. Loosening my bowels. But it doesn’t come. I breathe into my nervous stomach. Slow breaths. Allow myself to feel this nervous fist. This anxious twisting. Allow myself to feel it and be tired. To feel it. To be tired. To drift. To be prodded and kicked by my raging son.

Our frustration turns to sympathy. She tries to soothe him. Rubs his back. Still he cries. Three hours pass. Breathing. The words I am awesome appear in my brain unbidden. My stomach and anxiety don’t worsen. It doesn’t let up, but the balance never tips. Never lose control. She says I should just go downstairs to sleep. One of us should sleep. He wails, no. But I go and lay down. The guest bed. Dark. Quiet outside. The street light through these gauze curtains. A drink of water. A lecture in one headphoned ear. Recomfort myself. Allow myself that anxiety. That nervous bundle. Breathe into it and fall asleep.

April 4, 2016

A dream in which the big toe on my right foot was coming apart. A large open wound, viewing the bone. No blood. Just aged flesh. A dull ache. Hopping on my left foot trying to keep the right toe from disintegrating. In my mind, heading towards a doctor.

April 4, 2016

We blew bubbles outside in the wind. Warm and wind. He chased them through the yard. Climbing onto the chain link fence. Trying to catch them. Climbing onto the air conditioner and jumping off. We played soccer tag. If we got hit by the ball we were frozen. Trapped in jail. Only to be set free if we were hit again by the ball. This time the ball was electric of fireball powers unleashed by Lego ninjas. He ran from me. From the back yard. In a long circle around the front of the house and back. Climbing the small tree by the garage.

We did cartwheels. Me remembering, then trying to teach him how. Putting his hands in position on the ground and then trying to help him kick his legs up and over him and back down to the ground. I did it, he yelled. Now I can do cartwheels!

This morning he zipped his jacket by himself for the first time. Smiling.

April 4, 2016

Over the weekend.
Are monster trucks real?
What? Who drives them?
I don’t know. People.
People like Erich?
Yeah. Cuz Erich is a cool dude.

april 2015

April 6, 2015

Sadness this morning. Sad eyes without thoughts to back them up. Just there. Physical. No tears. Just the feeling behind the eyes. The opening and closing of ducts. Close the eyes. Shut my eyes to feel it. Accept it. Take it in. This is me right now. What does me feel like? What collection of stories am I right now? What is the sound of my voice right now? Who speaks and who talks. Coffee mouth. Register that. Focus only on that coffee. That liquid. Where does me end and coffee begin and back again. One to the other. Breathe into my eyes. This is now, this morning.

On my back in the yard of my parents house. Late afternoon. Sun falling behind the pine tree. Branches taper towards top. Patterns against blue sky. My sister next to me laying also on her back. My partner standing, drink in hand. Blonde with curls. Flower dress. She smiles. Our son plays with a giant blue ball. Our niece, his cousin, chases after. My sister’s husband is there, and our parents. Their voices. Smoke from a fireplace.

April 7, 2015

Dreamt I was a ghost. Waiting for people to open doors so that I could pass through. Can’t go through a closed door.

We wake early. Too early. Dark out still. Awoken by her alarm clock mistakenly set to the radio. She unplugs it in a hurry to shut it off. Too late. He wakes. Too early. Dad, can we get up? He whispers next to me.

No. I groan sigh mumble. It’s too early. Doze on and off for another ten minutes while he whispers unrecognizable sounds.

Dad, he whispers. Can we get up? Yes. But I can’t play yet, I can only watch something on the couch, okay?

Then he says, Today, after school, I will come home and have a snack and I will eat dinner and we will play and then I will go to bed and it’s mom’s turn and then i will sleep and when I come in to this bed I will sleep good and you can sleep more.

I am overcome with emotions once I realize what he is saying. Sympathy and wanting to help. Empathy. I am happy. You are a good boy. I say and kiss him on his head. Let’s go. Listo?

April 8, 2015

Laying in bed, listening to my family breathe. Her occasional snores without rhythm. His breath through his mouth. The cat between my legs, I am pinned. Snot running down the back of my throat. Every breath I have to swallow. Every swallow clogs my throat. Viscous breath. An itch in my throat. Snot coat and raw throat. Listening and periodically turning my head. One side. the other side. Pull the blanket over my mouth. My nose. To warm the air before I breathe it. Listen. Fall asleep.

April 21, 2015

We rake the dead stems and stalks of last years flowers and plants. Now dry husks. Pull them out by hand. Cracking them at the base. Heaping a pile of them in the yard. My son trampling them, then saying they are snakes. He and my dad are on a safari around the corner along the side of the garage. my son finds treasures. Metal wire, frames for landscaping, now without context. A glass decorative bulb buried in the ground. These are treasures. We are looking for treasure, he says.

It had been sunny and mild earlier in the day, but afternoon brought heavy clouds and a cold breeze. Drops of rain.

Cleaning the yard. My dad shows me how to get rid of weeds, creeping charlie, he calls it. With a spade.

We pile the dried stalks and stems in our metal fire pit adn I drop three lit matches in. Smoke gouts in three spots then flame. Instant ash and embers. Some carried in the wind with clouds. My son and my dad adding sticks from the yard. My dad shows him how to break the sticks up. Using both hand sto push one end into the ground until it snaps.

I add a few more bundles of dried stems. Each time the flame erupts around the bundles my son says, whoa, and stands at a safe distance throwing twigs over, around and sometimes into the flames.

The smoke and rain and cold clouds transform the evening from spring to fall as we sit on our couch looking out our windows.

essay shit

I am in the process of cleaning out old hard drives and old physical file folders. I came across this. I wrote it for a Critical Reading and Writing class at Columbia College when I was a fiction writing major. Way back in 1998. I was twenty. I think I was supposed to compare and contrast William S. Burroughs, who I loved at the time and Vladimir Nabokov, who I hated at the time. When I turned it in, it really was titled Essay Shit. Although I was really into Burroughs at the time and I was aping him as hard as my twenty year old self could manage, I was actually trying to channel this battle royal jam comic that Jay Stephens and Paul Pope did in Buzz Buzz Comics Magazine. In the comic their various characters and likenesses rumbled. It was the spirit of that comic that I was going for. And all things Paul Pope in general. At the time I really wanted to write how Paul Pope drew.

And, no, I don’t really expect you to read this entire thing.

Essay Shit

Ladies and gentleman. Boys and girls children of all ages. Fanfare! Lightning! Thunder! Gods! Earth shattering ribbons and lights. Circus sounds and big fat lines. The invocation of the beast is at hand. Before you today lies the future spread out on an empty canvas. The whole world is watching the events transpire. All eyes are on this piece of paper today. The process of constructing a creative essay is the task. Are you up to the challenge? I know you are! Creation is the fundamental element here. Creation above all is important, but don’t stray far from the path today children. The bears and zombies are out today. Today is the one day of the year when the bears and zombies fear nothing. They fear no light. They fear no time. They fear nothing. And they are not afraid to come and eat your guts if you fail your mission or stray too far and ramble beyond salvation. Are you up to the challenge? I know you are!

Tonight only. One on one. In a brutal no holds barred cage match. Fightin’ Bill Burroughs and Vladimir the Bolshevik Bear Nabakov FIGHT!!! To the DEATH!!! See Fightin’ Bill cut up Vladimir’s precious texts!!! See the Bolshevik Bear knock the pretentiousness from the bowels of Fightin’ Bill!!! Hear the sounds of bloody conquest. TOTAL CARNAGE!!! For your eyes only. This is a one night event as the contestants will be DEAD tomorrow!!! Parents are cautioned – this is not for the squeamish.

Tonight at eight, don’t miss Ramblin’ Rory Rockenbury, as he tackles the untackleable, imagines the unimaginable, explains the unexplainable, offers insight into the uninsightable unfathomable world of the author’s head. Hear Ramblin’ Rory’s neverbeforetonight heard opinions of Fightin’ Bill Burroughs and Vladimir, the Bolshevik Bear, Nabakov before they beat each other dead at nine.

Continue reading “essay shit”

june 27

spending the day with my son
walking to the hardware store
what’s this?
what’s this?
up and down the aisles
are you ready to go?
no, what’s this?

heavy clouds open
it rains
he splashes in puddles
squats, puts his finger in a small puddle
tastes the water
he laughs when the drops hit him

alternates between walking
and me carrying him

he leans into me on the couch
my head rests against him
holding him close

mexico diary

Dreamt – Basic intergalactic space war scenario. Save the universe from evil. Star Wars style. Ships. Space chase. Explosions. Left behind when it was all over.

On ground. Night of the living dead. Zombie holocaust dream. Flesh eating. Intestines. Blood. Cannibal. No one left. Body parts holed up in my old apartment in Chicago. Not Chicago. A mattress in the dining room. Papers strewn about. A few bookshelves. Everything in disarray.

Burning a plastic bag filled with plastic army men in a tin can out on the porch. The source of the zombie plague. Overpowering stench.

The guy at the internet café. The kid. Saying something about do you want open time. Something like that. I’m still learning Spanish.

Bueno. Todavía estoy aprendiendo español.

What do you speak? Qué hablas?

English. Inglés.

Oh so do I. California. How much time do you need?

I just have to check a few messages.

So open time?


His shaggy dark hair. Dark skin. Baggy jeans and high tops. Talking to his friend about video games. Smack Down. Gran Turismo. Sitting behind his main computer. Sun bright in the street.

Dream. On stage with PAL without my guitar singing songs. Jumping around. Freaking out. Screaming. Rocking the mic. My turn to play guitar. I put it on. The strap around my shoulder. Tuning it between songs behind my amp. White t shirt. S looking at me. I’m happy. Excited. Walk up to the mic. Wake up.
A movie event. Hollywood types everywhere. A big house. Swimming pool. People want things to go smoothly. Sitting at a table for dinner. Formal dinner. Eating food. I’m chewing on some food. Then a feeling of panic. Terror. Horror. Revulsion. It’s meat. I’m eating meat. Spit it out onto the plate. Chewed up sausage or ground beef. People looking at me. Eyes wide. Take that Hollywood, I think.

So weird to be back at feast. My first Baha’i thing in eight years. Scared. Panicked. Thinking what am I doing here? Looking face to face as they discuss Baha’i affairs in Spanish. Nervous. I know what they’re talking about. They want me to talk about the Baha’i community in Chicago. Join study groups. Play guitar. Sing. What do I know of the Baha’i community in Chicago? I stopped going to things when I was 17. I feel like crying. Conflicted. Feeling like I’m using them. Their kind older faces. The younger ones, eager, ready. What the fuck am I even doing here? I don’t even know what I believe anymore. I’m just trying to be a good person. I don’t know about god. About religion. About spirituality. I don’t know. Sitting in a circle. All eyes on me. Do I tell them the truth? That I’ve got issues with religion. With Baha’i rules. About my crisis of faith. Will they want to help get me back in? I don’t want that. What the fuck am I doing here? Getting out of the house. I’m fronting. I’m an imposter.

On the way to the Baha’i center. The Baha’i man in his 50’s who picked me up at the KFC. Talking to me in pidgin Spanish and sign language. I’m having a hard time understanding what he’s saying without all those articles he’s leaving out. Verbs and nouns and gestures. Immense storm clouds. Dark purple swallowing the sky. The horizon. Dense. Moving slow. Glacial. Scraping the ground. Lightning. Rain on the windshield.

Organized religion. Right now I’m too cynical. I can’t help it. Agendas. Goals. Conversion. I have a problem with this. Trust. What makes one more right than another?

Bus terminal. Northbound. Chihuahua. Sonora. Late afternoon. Kids running around. A two year old chasing a rubber ball. He catches it. Throws it again. Runs after it in his awkward run. Weaving towards the ball not really a straight line. His young dad watching after him.
Group of guys sitting at a table. Smoking. Drinking cans of Modelo. Close to the two fast food stands.

Young mom walking to the phone to one of the ticket sellers. To the tables. She’s pretty. So many seem to have kids. So young. Low cut jeans, tight shirt.

People with their luggage walking to the buses. 90 dollars to Ciudad Juarez. Cool breeze. Sipping coke from a cup. Waiting with Ignacio and Rufina. Watching the clock. 5.50pm.

On the bus back home. Thinking only of the young mom. Looking at her in my minds’ eye so hard. Someone boards the bus up front and startles me. Interrupts my daydreaming. I’m looking at a person where the girl just was. Looking out the window. Rush hour. 7pm. Downtown Guadalajara. The bus stops are packed. The sun slowly going down. The old Spanish buildings. The government centers. The cathedral. The young mom back at the terminal.

mexico diary 10/3-10/13 2003


Mexico Diary (colonia el vigía, zapopan, jalisco)

4.15pm. Went to el centro. Té de manzanilla con azucar y limón. Walked around with Ignacio. Bought bread from the vegetarian/integral panadería. Got soy burgers. Heard jazz from what he said was a municipal academy. It gave me hope. Trumpet flurries drums from upstairs. The second floor windows. Us underneath walking in the shade. Living life like the retired. Nothing going on. Music. Sitting around in the middle of the afternoon. The kids outside playing in the street. The donut kid. Donas! Donas! Llegaron las donas! The other kids chanting the same thing after him. He carries them on a tray resting on his shoulder. Sunny. Dry. Low 80s.

No good dreams. All of them terrible. So far. Waking up in the middle of the night. People killing themselves. Shooting themselves. Gun at head. A jolt. Half their face off. Neck hanging open. Sitting on the ground wondering what happened. Breathing. Chase anxiety dreams. Unknown terror dreams. Lonely dreams. Wake up from all of them at 2am. 3am. 4am. Calm down. Calm down. Try to sleep again.
The ipod died today. Two weeks and it’s dead. Fucking technology.

The ipod came back today.
Listening to Lungfish.

Filled with doubt. Questioning everything I’m doing here. Not knowing what to do. Doubting everything. Insecurities in isolation. Wondering what’s true. What’s not. What will last. What will not. Feeling alone. Cut off. Unsure of everything. My future. My right now. My feelings. Unsure. Feeling unsure. My chest and stomach. Empty. Drained.

The Pupils. 10am.

TV on in living room. 4.21pm.
TV on in living room. 5pm.

5.15pm. Storm. So much rain. Thunder. The street at the corner a river. Water flowing fast. Cars plowing through it. Against the current. Paper, garbage carried along. Lone stragglers caught in it are soaked. Walking uncaring. Too beyond wet to care.

The boys at the tlapalería clap and cheer when the rain gets furious comes down in sheets. They stand in the entryway and watch.

The water pummeling the sky light by the bathroom. Intensifies the situation. Wind.

Wind blows the rain through my window. Into my face. Smell it. Taste it. Lower the window a little.
It comes down straight. Direct. Now. So constant.


Trees still except for the rain hitting the leaves.
Heads peering out windows in the houses. Every so often curtains brushed aside.
A few people on bikes. Water filling the backs of pickups. More debris in the temporary river.
Rapids form at the speed bump in the river. Rain pummels the clay roofs. The splashing creates a thick mist haze.

Thunder. The boys at the tlapalería improvise a tiny boat and set it on the river in front of their store. Watch it float down the street and it’s carried away. Its little white sail.

7pm at KFC. Plaza Patría. In his 50’s.
Avenida Mariano Otero. South West.

rhys chatham, bill orcutt, mca, 9/9/10

photo by Wajimacallit Orcutt –
Black t-shirt. Jeans. Barefoot. Right leg crossed over the left. His right big toe crossed over the toe next to it. Twitching the foot rapidly throughout his performance. A graying beard. Messy brown hair thinning at his crown. He says few words. Hello. Thanks. Goodnight. Sitting on a chair. A lone spot light on him from directly above. Dust particles illuminated in the light. Ascending. Pulling him up. Isolating him. Removing him from this world. He glares at the light. At the audience. Like a belligerent drunk. “Yeah,” he seems to say, “I did just fucking play that.” Continue reading “rhys chatham, bill orcutt, mca, 9/9/10”