You’ll Have To Pry This Keyboard… From My Cold Dead Hands!


Online I am horrible,
downright deplorable,
even the most despicable would agree;

Sarcasm disguised as wit,
alt-facts I misuse or omit,
when I engage in modern online society.

My erudition is execrable,
my trolling is incorrigible,
every retweet authenticates my blatant lies.

Flame wars lit just for kicks,
the gullible fall for my tricks,
as I spin a web of conspiracies you deny.

I scoff at your pathetic principles
Online I am rendered invincible
Even if you block me, ban me, unfollow and unfriend me;

My darkweb avatars untraceable,
my vile comments uneraseable,
I wallow in the perpetuation of shared misery.

Enemy of the deep liberal state,
fueled by self-righteous hate,
my happiness feeds on the grief I fabricate;

I mix sheer malice with my slander,
and please the demagogues who pander
to the barbaric hordes howling at the gate.

If you choose to commence a quarrel,
Regarding my singular lack of morals,
Or my use of gaslighting as a legit debate technique;

Remember that despite my hateful words,
Especially the most specious and absurd,
The echo chamber assures me I’m quite on fleek!

Your arguments are risible,
against my logic indefensible,
protected by the First Amendment you hold dear;

This one truth you are dreading,
my fake news is swiftly spreading,
because I am the reflection of all that you fear.

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Football Jesus and the Atlanta Falcons

I’m taking a brief sabbatical from the thundering type-type-type on this novel (in every sense of the word!) manuscript I’ve been slavishly devoted to for the last few spins of the globe (bite me, Flat Earthers!) to address a Very Important Brain Thinking Moment that occurred while riding around in the Silver Dragon and contemplating the ignoble defeat of the Falcons on Sunday night.

Football Jesus.

Now this has naught to do with players genuflecting or protests or Flags Against Humanity (that’s a thing, right?) so rest easy those pens of spiteful patriotism and righteous indignation. Well, perhaps sharpen them, depending on how you react to the next few scribbly bits.

We are all, thanks to the thick woolen blanket of coverage provided by our Great Lord and Master TELEVISION, familiar with every miniscule and microscopic moment of the game of football. The camera sees all: images are edited on the fly by a priestly caste of technicians ensconced in a control tower worthy of extraterrestrial contact, while every meaningful second (and some incredibly useless ones as well) is parsed and examined and explained to us with exquisite profundity by loquacious  former players and self-styled experts, People In The Know, because our poor little brains can’t possibly comprehend the incredible complexity involved when twenty-two men line up on a field and attempt to move a ball from one end to the other while simultaneously committing assault and battery upon each other.

As such, we have all seen what happens (in slow motion, from multiple angles, replayed many times and then archived, to be resurrected by NFL Films and enhanced with a stirring soundtrack and sonorous voiceover reminding us of exactly how crucial this particular moment was for football history, the track of Western Civilization, and perhaps even the development of human life itself) when one of the men on the field delivers a moment of athletic prowess that rises above the already incredibly high level of skill on display: immediately after the play is concluded, a clenched fist is hammered to the chest plate of the ceremonial armor and then a single finger (index, not middle) is raised up and pointed toward the sky.

The hand motion itself is exquisite in its clarity and instinctively we all (even a faith-challenged bastard bereft of belief like myself) know what he means. I’m going to go close to the edge of a cliff, dangle from the end of a rope, sidle out to the thin part of a limb, maybe even leap to the island of conclusions, and posit that this gesture has something to do with Football Jesus. This positing is based on post-game news conferences where our mighty gladiators are quick to first and foremost give thanks to the Almighty God (of their choice and particular flavor, but usually some version of an Abrahamic persuasion) for the performance we have just witnessed.

It’s a gesture that is a genius of simplicity and communicates meaning with pinpoint precision.

Even I can’t imagine what sort of complicated hand motions one would have to make to say “I’m really quite chuffed that through an almost unfathomable process that included endless hours of rigorous training, body building, and sheer luck that I have the ability to physically perform, for one brief moment in time, better than all the other amazingly talented athletes sharing the field with me tonight!” Besides, only a damned atheist would think something like that. As we are always reminded, just as everyone in battle believes in something, football players believe in Football Jesus.

Football Jesus is different from the version of the Son of God you may already be familiar with from books, movies and television specials, or perhaps the interior of your chosen place of worship. This is a beefed up phenomenon, a singularly powerful specimen: the epitome of strength, power, flexibility, mobility, arm strength, and speed. Every game is held in his honor. What the Most Interesting Man In The World is to cheap and tasteless Mexican beer, Football Jesus is to the Great American Past Time (baseball… seriously, come on, you’re joking, right?). Every NFL Combine that has ever been held is merely a feeble attempt to emulate his greatness. His 40-yard sprint time is unfathomable. His vertical is superhuman. His stiff arm can stop the flow of mighty rivers. Every throw is on target, every kick splits the uprights or comes to rest on the one-inch line, every tackle shatters the soul and crushes the competitive spirit from the hapless body of the enemy.

There is no forgiveness in his heart. Football Jesus doesn’t turn the other cheek or insist the weak are going to inherit anything other than a massive cleat in their backs for being so weak. He delivers the Smack-Talk on the Mount and ends every sermon with the immortal words: “All night long, motherfucker! All night long!”

Football Jesus knows how to WIN. No one who has lost a game has said to the reporters gathered around the stall in the stable (sorry, the locker room), “I just want to thank God and Jesus for this loss and the opportunity to try my best out there.” Hell NO. Because Football Jesus doesn’t lose; Football Jesus is a WINNER. Who do we blame when our mortal emissaries down on the field screw up? We blame THEM. Because every dropped pass, missed field goal, missed tackle or tackle for loss means that they didn’t believe in Football Jesus enough. They didn’t give props properly. They missed the team prayer meeting. Their altar was found lacking in the eyes of Football Jesus.

And because they don’t believe, on any given Sunday, they SUCK and we hate them for not covering the spread, for fucking up our fantasy league, for causing us to endure the humiliation in the lunch room on Monday morning when Todd from Accounting comes in and says, “What happened to your Falcons last night? They looked like crap!”

That’s right they did, Todd. They did look like crap, because they didn’t believe in Football Jesus as much as those god-damned Patriots did. Bill Belichick must have planted his face ears deep in the swamp ass of Football Jesus after last year’s exhilarating Super Bowl victory (or humiliating defeat, if you will) over the hapless, inept, and apparently apostate Atlanta Falcons… and then they did it to them again last night.

Perhaps Matt Ryan just doesn’t have that same hotline to Football Jesus that Tom Brady does. Perhaps Julio Jones committed some sort of unfathomable atrocity against the God of Football. Maybe Robert Kraft is anointed and Arthur Blank spends his nights carving up his sacrifices on the Altar of Fútbol, too dumb to know he’s doing it all wrong. I don’t know. But if I have to watch another game like that, I’m going to hunt down Football Jesus and drop kick him through the proverbial goal posts of Life.

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For Sharon, On Her Birthday

We were children,
banging on the door of grown-up life
with our cars and bottles,
our pills and tabs,
floating on a sea of green
beneath a sky of goodbye blue.

What we didn’t know:
bills and mortgages
and soul sapping jobs,
miserable heartache far beyond
anything we thought we knew
about the affairs of the heart.

We were so desperate
to reach beyond our station,
without consideration to
take it easy, make it a slow ride,
enjoy the rising road as we
pushed hard into the dawn
of this grown-up life.

I remember you
as if in a dream;
the smile that blistered the eye,
your laugh that brought everyone
around you joy,
a beauty without artifice or design,
one that I knew would
be uncorrupted by time.

Here we are,
deep into the weeds of grown-up life,
struggling to make sense
of the senseless and how to have power
when we are told we are powerless.

And there you are,
your voice in my newsfeed,
ever the fighter railing against
the stupid injustices that plague us,
and you fill me with hope that
even if we lose,
we’re going to go down fighting
for what we know is right.

But oh! what I wouldn’t give
to have just a moment of time back
when we were still on the cusp
of childhood and this relentless grown-up world,
when all we cared about was
the next tank of gas and how much
homework we could skip and still
make the grade,
when your smile lit up our little corner
of the school and your laugh made
me think that somehow it was
all going to be OK.

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I thought I saw Tom
walking toward me today;
by the look on his face
I thought he had something
to say.

He walked through a door
I’m not yet allowed to see
and passed into the sea of memory.

I remember listening to
Tom and Bob on stage
at an astro-themed park
long since relegated to
exist only in my memories.

An odd pair, the kid from the
sweaty locus of Florida with
the confident guitar swagger
and the elder icon of my
father’s generation,
wheezing out his protest songs
that fueled the revolution
that wasn’t.

In a box somewhere in a closet
there is a worn out tape of
Damn the Torpedoes,
each song an anthem to an
merica we all wanted to be
but has been relegated to
exist only in our mental collective.

I thought I saw Tom,
walking down the street,
that crooked smile of
undeniable and
flashing in the sun;

I thought I saw him,
but I was wrong…
I wish I’d been right.

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A Fairy Garden I Chanced to Find

The road spools out before me,
Between trees giving way to fall,
A bridge spans across a nameless creek,
Beneath a sky too blue to be real.

A fairy garden hidden among the flowers,
And it seems I have just missed them,
Perhaps they’ve gone into the shadows
For a spot of afternoon tea…
If only they had invited me.

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I went three days without speaking.

In the Cimitero dei Cappuccini, the desiccated lips of four thousand friars curl in laughter.

“Amateur,” wag tongues long since crumbled to dust. “You don’t know what it means to be silent.”

It’s true enough, by any measure of solitude, three days is hardly worthy of mention.

But three days in my data saturated world of media overload was more than enough…

To hear my own thoughts…

To hear the wind stir in the leaves, the chitanous whisper of insects, the bubbly chatter of unseen birds, to harken to the barking of the fox…

To listen as people talked and said nothing and nonsense…

I was silent for three days.

It wasn’t nearly long enough.

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Softball Follies

It happened in an instant, but the pain has lasted for months.

I watched as it went down, the yellow ball flung toward the plate.

Her arm reached out and caught the ball but then the collision.

She went down hard and I panicked as she has a surgically repaired knee.

I rushed in from shortstop and hovered over her: is it your knee?

No, she said. I can’t move my shoulder. Fractured in three places.

Two months later she’s in PT and doing well, mobility coming back.

Last Sunday I was at first and dove after a ball, put myself in the path of the runner and we both went down hard.

As he lay there in the dirt I was paralyzed by fear; was he hurt?

He got up and looked at me; was that necessary, he seemed to ask?

It wasn’t. But in that instant I made a choice and it wasn’t the right one.

No one wants to get injured playing a game. No one wants to be the cause.

I felt terrible the rest of the evening, and when we crossed paths at the end of each inning I couldn’t hide my shame.

I hope he’ll be okay.

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