Monday, February 25, 2013

an early rut

With time running out like this, it’s silly—fucking ridiculous really—to worry about anything besides the gut. And instincts. This early rut. That’s got me thinking, writing, and drinking. Stevens martinis on a Monday night. And for some reason, I want to fight. For my kids tomorrow. My wife today. And I want to wake without sleeping. To blood in my mouth. Shredded knuckles. Another bout. The rounds cut short because always, I lasted longer than the other guy. But time has brought me here. Home. To S.B. Oogie. And Little Man. Our 100-year-old house. Cozy and quiet. Grandparents close. Northern Michigan. Where—without lessons—I teach my kids to be fearless. Thoughtful. Kind. To recognize much. Want little. Protect the roots. Do more. And to know that it is okay to fight. For things you believe in. People you love. For ideas that are greater than what’s offered behind these walls. In this small town. But I am only a man. Whirling through space. On a big ball of dirt. Living a safer life than I deserve. And with time running out like this, it’s silly—ridiculous really—to worry about anything at all. Because my instincts are stronger than ever. This rut has got me by the balls. And all of this thinking, the writing, the drinking—is exactly what’s been eating at every man in this town. ~ K.J.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

stories for the world

Need the MFA. A clock without time. Or a million dollar grant and unlimited wine, so I can write stories for the world. Or maybe, just you. I’ve always sensed your listening. But every hack with a keyboard and an idea is a writer these days. And all of them have something important to say. Gun control. Gay marriage. North Korea and nukes. And all I want is to write about Dad and his boots and the metal shavings they brought home. To me, little flecks of gold. Bits of the mystery that took Dad away. Day after day. Year after year. And somehow, got me here. Entering writing contests. Submitting to agents and magazines. Going unseen. But doing what I can to keep at this keepin’ on while I collect silence and rejection letters. Just a man. A husband. The Dad. Knowing he’s gone too far to ever turn back. It’s been thirty-five years since I picked metal shavings from the linoleum. The short green carpet. Dad’s boots. And it’s been twenty years of writing and not publishing— or self publishing, which is useless. And it has been late nights. Early mornings. Four-hours-a-day during my single years. Stitches of sleepless nights during my married years. And even though there’s never been any great compensation for pulling words from my guts and slapping them to the page, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m not Hemingway. Nicholas Sparks. Or E.L. James. Not John Grisham. Danielle Steel. Or Sylvia Day. I am my Dad. In the machine shop. My mom at the bus stop. The kid in hard-earned hand-me-downs trying to hide his reduced lunch ticket. Confused about why anyone would tease him at all. Aren’t we all just kids? Trying to get along? Not worrying about degrees or time or guns. Love, money, or hate. Don’t we just want to be heard? Make stories for the world. Or maybe, just you. So our kids can sleep. Soundly, in this hundred-year old house. With our metal shavings tucked away under their pillows. Like gold. Or seeds of dreams to come. ~ K.J.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

warmer things

February in Michigan. And cold white light fights to brighten the room. It’s no wonder so many of us turn. To warmer things. Blankets on the couch. Heavy food. Sweet drink. Warm bodies at night. So that at least, for a while, things are right. Snow out there. Moisture so heavy in the air it’s like breathing water. And maybe that’s what I need today. To take a deep breath. Let the lungs fill up. With liquid. Like it used to be. So long ago. Nothing demanded. Nothing to do, but simply be. But this is only a writer. Bursting at the creative seams. Needing so much to get out. And find you. In a dark, cozy bar. At the bottom of a bottle. The rim of a glass. You. Everywhere I look. So that I’m reminded of what it is we have. At home. In our little house. In the town that always sleeps. With my books. Your paintings. And this…the coming together. In these small keys. The most beautiful thing. Us, with our broken feathers. Weathered wings. Perched together in the soul. Bigger than Hope. More profound than Truth. Beyond the red hearts, dark chocolate, and diamonds that some mistake for Love. We have risen from the dark. Together this cold February day. Into the cold white light. And it is you, my sweet. That brightens this old boy’s room. It’s no wonder I’ve turned to such warmer things. ~ K.J.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

giving way

The small, slow flakes falling. Steady outside the window. The world - this small town - bright and white under the dark, gray sky. A pane of glass separating me from where I am and where I wish to be. Outside. In it. Pushing through knee-deep snow. Feeling the cold. Hearing the crow. Smelling the frozen February air. The still evergreens. Me - just wanting to be - everything. All of these days. Spent. Earned. Gifted. And yet we lock ourselves up. Live these roles. Maintain these images. So that somewhere someone is pleased. Not you. Not me. But somebody else. Driven by things we don’t want or need, but that we end up working for. Day in and day out. Every day of this life. All I have are these words. Letters strung together. Like flakes in the sky. It is not enough. I know. It is not enough proof. Not enough truth. Not enough love. But it is all I have and it is all I can give. I don’t know how this ends up. How long we’ll keep going. How many days we’ll sit inside, on the wrong side of the glass, aching. But I feel - deep down - that our time is coming. That tonight we’ll sleep. Dream. Find the rest we need, so that tomorrow we can wake and try again. More breaths. Another chance. At last, we’ll reach - touch the glass - and it will give way.