Gigi

Dogs love grass.
Friends until the end.

Crazy dog on a leash nipping the beak of an Alpaca,
a little bundle of terror–so damn happy.
She’s out on four paws in the noonday shade,
fucking with a goat-kid we saved from the grave.
Throws herself carefree in the still biting grass,
rolls until she can finally hit that perfect spot in need of a scratch.
No shame in her game as those jowls go flapping,
smiling like the devil inside,
bounds off into the hills,
roaming free now,
ignoring all but her truest calling.
Glinting light off one scarred eye,
covers up the mysteries of whats come to pass,
it’s always in the past,
and we’ll know not why.

Regrets on Repeat During a Rabid Quarantine Contemplation

1000th Album from Out of Line Records
Album cover from German band Signal Aout 42

Give me back the good ole’ days,
when I didn’t know I had been a dick,
before my eyes got opened wide
when I didn’t know I was supposed to think that I was slick.
’cause now there’s nowhere left to run,
the drugs aren’t making new connections,
copper wire all stripped bare and caked in black,
who knew that feeling guilty wouldn’t be so fun.
When disassociation was best friend,
wide-eyed ignorance was true enough
shame comes boiling on
like napalm from
the surface of a once forgiving sun.
So self-important in critique
that I’m burying the good parts inside the shit
convinced that its still black and white
and regardless of the truth,
I deserve to be punished.
for the right, the wrong, the sick,
that stupid mindless babble
even my well-intentioned songs.
Keep it all so serious now,
that panic seems always at the door,
instead of basking in the freedom from
that monster inside that damaged so much the world.
Enjoy the chance to roll again,
spin through ridiculously insane normalcy,
let feet hit a brand new road and leave behind insecurities, all fallacies–

—start the insurrection.

Institutionalized Child Abuse – an outline and a solution.

I’m terrible at formatting on WordPress, but here is a very succinct set of slides on the issue of the Troubled Teen Industry and my proposed 5-step process to mitigate the damage being done to thousands of children annually, prevent further abuse, and compensate the victims and families of those who have subjected to this type of malicious programming.

All thoughts and feedback are welcome, this is a very personal issue, but with movements like #breakingcodesilence, podcasts like #TalkTroubled and the involvement of the Survivors of Institutionalized Abuse – there is a real opportunity to shut down a deceptive, profiteering, and vicious industry that has taken a toll on so many.

Thank you.

-S

Fragile Bully

Tongue twisting
word misted
lofty ethics
suddenly shifted.
Verbiage awry
crooked context,
sand quickens
sickens the truth
with maddening lies.
Bullheaded bully
vacuum packed
morals gone dead
done right
presented cleanly
above suspicion
heartless lips
soulless head.
Accusations flutter
steer recklessly
fly rashly
land poorly
eventually die.
Miserable life
distorted denial
avoids change
ever always en garde
tromping a perilously pointless
and petulant hike.
Existence’s trials
trails marching for miles
dust caked grins always grimy
shiver obscenely
spit softly back at ’em
–shake the fear off and smile.

I’ve been on both ends of the stick I suppose at different points, something that I’m not proud of, but can admit readily enough. Whether it was spawned from fear, trauma, etc, doesn’t quite qualify as an excuse for how I behaved at points during my life, it was my responsibility to “not be an asshole”. Feeling someone play out their own internal sickness in the same way towards me is an eye opener.

Tattered, tired, and angry though someone may be, it has to be an echo of some truly painful and unresolved issues to advise an individual dealing with a mental illness that they are despised and everyone is in the eaves waiting for them to die. Shitty and deeply manipulative behavior, knowing that the recipient can literally do nothing other than just sit with themselves, absent means to defend themselves without seeming more culpable as a perpetrator of something justifying such vicious and cutthroat suggestions. There is no power in the words themselves other than what the recipient gives them.

Maybe though, in some ways, it might just be how a person deals with their particular brand of sadness and pain–the only way they know how, lash out. Go for the throat. God knows I’ve done it before more times than I care to think if not totally in that literal context. A whipcord reaction to hurt those that hurt you, even if it is based on incorrect judgement calls and assumptions.

Everyone heals in their own way, and while that doesn’t make it right, finally, I can put myself in the other pair of shoes and understand the feelings behind the words. Temper my own frustration and resentment at the unnecessary cruelty with patience and accept that it is what it is, and life will continue to move on. It’s not worth giving though or dwelling on someone’s words when they are bent on hating or hurting you, let ’em go by the side and don’t look back.

Someone once told me, if someone’s an asshole and lies or treats you poorly, at the end of the day, they’re the asshole, not you. I’ve been an asshole plenty across my life, and that makes a lot of sense.

We have only ourselves and our actions to control–for better or for worse.


10 Grams of Meth in a Toilet

I know a man who threw away 10g of meth. Down a toilet. Intentionally, during a moment of lucidity. He woke up from his dream. He didn’t do it for the posturing or the bragging, he did it because he had a fucking moment and things added up.

He saw his future was his past and all that was going to come again. The regrets. The broken relationships. The self-hatred. The loneliness and the pain. The body count and the desperation. The stagnation. The missed joy and thrill of life. The empty smile and the personal failings. The prayer for death unanswered.

It hit that water in the toilet and didn’t even stain the water with some indication of all the soil and grime that its brand had left over the years. All the marks on his morals. His appreciation of life. His awareness and understanding of the world and himself. His inability to connect and always be “other” – not in a way he was proud of, but in a way that left him sullied and greasy where it would always be felt most.

He wasn’t going to revisit and replay what had come before. He was learning gratitude for all the experiences, painful or pleasant, and that meant realizing that the pain had only needed to happen once. He didn’t need to put his hand back into the fire like always. it was still fucking hot and he was worth more than scorched flesh. He wanted to, could, and will become more. He’ll evolve, be seen in the mirror as true to himself, a good friend, an honest and genuine man, and as a survivor not an unchanging Peter Pan chemical fiend. Wreckage for decades as his only gift to the world, a Lost Boy playing pirate to his own loot.

He had learned, was learning, would continue to learn. He would grow.

I know a man that threw away 10g of meth. Finally took a dive and emptied a bag, got back on the horse, and welcomed in a change for once.

Stay that road fucker, I miss you.

I Was a Stigma to Myself

All credit to Emotive Brand for the image.
So often I would sit and wail about "why"?
The frustration unending,
the obsession ongoing,
a gut wrenching demand to understand
that in itself
kept me from the knowledge,
the peace I sought.

Sick in the head druggie,
psychopath,
crazy as a shit house rat,
lunatic,
insane,
addict,
"something's wrong with that kid" -

Drug user stigma phrases shown on an image with a haloed syringe from the words.
All credit to Stonetree Harm Reduction for the image.

I tried to own those labels
make them something to be proud of.
I tried doing that,
by doing all the things
I imagined people with those labels would do.
I followed that up,
by demanding that I not be persecuted,
not be judged,
not be looked at differently,
though I had just behaved in a way that demanded all those things happen.

Now I come to terms,
sit with the idea of peace,
find pride not in my actions
but in the understanding
that awareness and acceptance bring.
To know that I am not an actor playing out roles,
that I lost myself,
but I am a survivor,
no longer needing to play the role
of victim or perpetrator anymore.

It's a small thing,
Which means so much to me.
To be able to introduce myself,
engage in a conversation,
with confidence.
Know that I accept who I am as a being,
that I no longer let labels
define who I choose to see myself as,
act as a script for my identity,
or be my scapegoats when I screw up.

That like so many others,
I am the hero
and the villain,
of my own story.
That my abnormal mental states,
my addictions,
all the resulting experiences,
are gifts to allow me opportunities,
to shine my brightest
against the backdrop of adversity,
and decide just how much of it there would be.

To know that there are others out there gleaming,
and if we encounter each other
it could be in the form of respect and love,
admiration for the battles fought,
no matter whether they were felt won or lost,
an opportunity to compare notes and grow.

I'm not ashamed of who I am,
or where I am today,
I am disappointed in many of my choices
but they have been mine to make,
and they were made.
I used to have a vision of the perfect person,
someone that I would measure myself to
and inevitably fall short.

Today I am me,
released on the world
perfectly defective,
beautifully abnormal,
gifted with challenge and capacity for growth.

All of it,
so that I have a chance to become
an oh so slowly evolving,
human being.




Hey there Teacher

Fuck-ing bull-shit.

Hey there Teacher,
with the faltering step and the windblown hair.
What’s the story all about,
the one you told from the side of your mouth.
Where honesty met a curve,
tongue lolled to one side and spilled out some verbs.
I know it’s tough to turn the glass,
that shining mirror which overwhelms the past.
Where bullshit shines greasy like sludge,
and all the distortions are gone,
back to the mud.

Hey there Teacher,
with the drugs in your system and cheap sex on your brain,
Do you remember when you stopped learning and just sought out pain?
Stopped spitting out wisdom and bought your own lies?
I know you know the system and how it all spins,
I didn’t think you one who would cheat to win.
Thieving and twisting until your charm is clear,
problems abound but you never paused to hear.
Words and actions meant to help and soothe all your fears
but you were too deaf and I was too near.
Fucked up actions that caused all the pain,
hell you admitted the abuse from your side but then changed the game.
Cut out the bullshit and tell it all true,
I’ll try the straight route and see what you do.

I cheated – when I thought things were open,
so you fucked three more guys and used sex as a weapon.
I hurt you with words – called you freeloader and more,
you called me a psycho, a piece of shit, pathetic, and evened the score.
I didn’t make changes in the ways that I should have,
didn’t take the time to address my behavior in the ways that I could have.
Stopped taking my meds to test out a theory,
that I wasn’t so crazy just misinterpreting the scenery.
I didn’t have the courage to stand by my gut,
so I broke like a loser and washed myself free of blood in the cut.
I didn’t trust you completely and thought it was trash,
an actress putting on skins and a falsified past.
I actively ignored you and left you to your own devices,
was bitter and hateful and often times spiteful.
All the while I bent the world to help you realize your dreams,
pulled out the stops, went into debt without question,
begged on street corners when shit went south even though I wanted to scream.
Started school, accepted disabilities, got a job, begged my family,
all to put food in our mouths.
I changed my approach a thousand and one ways,
became more patient, understanding, sought to attain empathy,
sympathized, recognized, and upended my reality,
all so that I could spend time with you for some much needed days.
When I asked for time and some space to calm down,
you pushed, poked, and prodded – gaslit me all over town.
You had me fooled for so long that I lost who I was,
abused me emotionally, mentally, and then called it love.
When push came to shove at the end, long past due,
asked to be friends then found something to fuck with again, even if it’s true.
So I snapped and said I was done and that it was all dead as could be ever
blocked you like I’m supposed to and wished this would all blow over.
I’d forgiven you for everything,
moved past it into the future where I saw smiling people and less lies.
Then you guinea pigged me and question why I lashed back,
you robbed me digitally for the last of my stack –
the money I sent you strings free the week before when I still had nothing,
might as well have been burned.
The cops could have put you in jail,
they have your license plate number now–watch out for that tail.
I asked them to drop charges and they said they would,
my comment was, “she’s in a horrible situation and deep down she’s all good.
But then I find you spewing hate all over my safe place,
the one outlet I find online.
Evidence says your besmirching me everywhere at this point,
reaching out to other exes and raising unnecessary hell all over this joint,
trying to get my goat got – and I understand that’s just fine.
So realize that while you’re smoking that next bowl,
hooked on the shit and getting tagged for it on the down low,
I’m happier now for a month then I have been since I met you,
not intended as a stab, just honesty, since I look back on our time with regret and much rue.
I regret and apologize for all of the fights,
we should have never been together, you and I just aren’t right.
You were my entire world, believe it or not, and by you my sun set and would rise.
Special you wanted to be and special you were,
now you are nothing but a nightmare and a thieving cur.
And if you want to go fire with fire we’ll both of us burn,
don’t make me reopen charges and shine a light on your emotional spurn –
meth, dick, deceit and theft, you’re the one no one should trust,
hell, I shouldn’t have for a second and I hate that I still feel like I must.
So go lay in the gutter all filled with hate,
funny how it rings so loudly as manipulative a classic NPD emotional quake.
Fuck your intolerant and misjudging voice,
you’ve slandered my ass far too often to care, but that was your choice,
I learned enough from you and I’m done with the lessons,
you speak pretty proudly for a someone who treats their latest attachment as a lifelong obsession.
Clearly your conscience is clear, there are no places of doubt,
I wish you would actually finally cough up your bullshit stories and stop playacting on what this was all about.
Shower someone else with a thousand dull points,
bleed your issues on them till you’re all run dry,
except that you don’t want to do anything about them, you don’t even try,
you just want the sympathy to help you look good and pure while you endlessly justify.
Goodbye for forever, and good luck out there,
Please don’t come back into my life,
we shouldn’t have married, I was no husband and you were no wife.

Hey there Teacher,
with the red eyed face.
I made mistakes and fucked up your life and made it all bad,
but I thought we made our choices ourselves and shouldn’t be sad?
I adored and admired the person you were,
but now you use my name like some dirty slur.
I won’t darken your days or your nights,
all I ask is you get gone and do what is right.
Teacher, you’re all that I needed,
but it’s time to staunch the wounds and stop the bleeding.
Good luck in life, I don’t wish ill on you despite what you’re feeling, I swear,
someday, hell, you might even see that I genuinely cared.
I found that “me” that I lost,
the confidence now to not get talked in circles like a fighter might box.
I’ll share my happy with the world with refinement and friends,
now that your sickness is gone I can finally breath again.
No more second guessing – nothing that won’t make sense,
Hell, I’m back on my meds and feeling peace and its wealth.
Feeling feelings again that aren’t belittled or kept stealth.
I’m free and wished you well while you stole from the bank,
no more parasite on my soul and my heart watching and mocking
while the ship ran aground and sank.
I’m not perfect, I’m deeply and totally flawed,
but your hate is misplaced, and your speaking all wrong,
if I was more talented I’d try and put it to song.
At least then you’d pay attention and might actually have listened,
which I didn’t do until it was too late,
that’s another fault of mine, an ommission.
but that’s ok, it was an error, something I would have changed, a MISTAKE.
So Teacher, the class is dismissed and we’re out of session,
I’ll end this babbling shit show with some questions.
Why is it that you hate me for everything that’s passed?
You’ve done just the same, mimicked my every action in fact –
each nail you drive home, does it stick also to you?
Do you recognize the hypocrisy your hate is laced thick with?

Do you even fucking care to just look at what good times we had as a gift?
The only thing left when the love died was respect in what you were –
does it hurt to know now that she’s gone, that imaginary incredible girl?
The one who says she wouldn’t tell anything but the truth,
never be vicious, always patient and would never steal.
You’ve broken every value you pretended you had,
why am I’m supposed to be the one that leaves this situation feeling terribly bad?




The Middle of the Story

Where our main characters find themselves journeying apart from each other into adventures and places unknown in the hopes that they will reunite as realized and complete individuals on the other side….so we begin in Reno, NV…..

S & H at Taco Loco

Transcribe the hope I feel
into optimism and other such essential stuffs.
Imbibe the flow of sweet spirit
that drips from off our lips and out our mouths.
Believe in dreams meant not to fade
even if the road has twisted uglier and uglier still.
Hold tight to goals we shared
as our footsteps drift further and further apart.
We’re still in love,
and this journey which so profoundly changed us
is not at its end yet – just an interlude.

F*ck Sunshine

I’ve found playful meaning

in the sharpest strands of daylight

while they bleached my night tan

into a wholesome red and brown.

been stripped clean of the unwholesome.

The rasping, the choking, the decaying

scent of another moon laced night

spent chasing dragons down the streets.

In the silver kissed necklace of shadows

that roll menacingly beneath the stars

as a slipshod grasp on tenuous reality

falls away, fast as a bat, never to be caught.

Crawled out dusty and beaten by self

into the unwelcome openness of daytime

Where people have jobs and families

go do things and have fun of their choosing.

There’s always a sick, nasty bitterness

surrounding the way I’d look at the crowds.

In those moments when shame carries

the day and bitterness over the injustice,

of wounds septic and worsening, a brain

melting beneath the heat of inquisition.

A Cadillac of contempt would sit, shining

In the corneas of each purple smudged eye.

Letting the self-loathing and concern go awry,

masking envy as hate and desire as disgust,

riding panic and fear out as arrogance and disdain.

Patronizing seconds as the world creaks,

moans its way out of the decadence of night,

quickens into the tittering joy of form alive.

There’s no surface to touch and manipulate

no interface that allows for a connection across

to that other world imbued with shiny smiles

and unbroken teeth not doing unspeakable acts.

In those moments when the sickness begins,

wafting out of your skin to notify and alert

anyone caring to notice of your diseased being,

your lesser than status, your unworthiness.

Those are the defining moments that show

the defying strength and fortitude you want,

when you have the opportunity tell the world

“get fucked, piss off, I make the next choice.”

or reaffirm the skepticism pandering to your

apathetic acceptance of what life has become.

Those are the moments when the shear grit

required to simply gut out the next series

of bad decisions, knowing how much it will hurt

but owning it, owning that the deeper down

you crawl the higher it will feel at baseline.

When you finally disconnect from the grime

Long enough to breathe untainted air

Purified in the radiance of sunbeams

And the wealth of happiness that soaks

Summer days beneath the blue painted sky,

there is a startling awareness, an epiphany,

a closure to doubt and a recognition,

that sobering up is just getting high in a new way.

Clown Shoe Hustle

On with the show.

When I show up and use a prepaid debit card with borrowed funds and a big grin while spouting the sweetest “thank you” ever heard to the check-in lady–ignore the fact my clothes are second hand. Ignore that from a material standpoint, virtually everything I’m wearing is from homeless shelters, the YWCA, and the generosity of strangers and family. One of the necklaces I have on is from a cellmate when I was in jail, the other is a gift from my wife, neither ever comes off. A reminder of what awaits when my control slips, the other a reminder to be grateful for the people in my life who mean more than things–something I’ve consistently been terrible at remembering.

The suitcase I have has traveled more than 42 residence moves, endless hotels, the streets, and being encased in the coffin of my truck bed while filled with the only non-destroyed dress pairs of shoes I own. In point, the ones I’ll be wearing which are from a Goodwill purchased on my wedding day, another pair came from the local 7th Day Adventist thrift store on our bi-monthly free clothing visit. I once owned a brown, $700 pair of Italian handcrafted leather wingtips that fit around the cedar shoe trees as perfectly as my feet and sat in shoe bags so as not to be scuffed. These days, you’re more likely to see me wearing absurd Size 13 flip flops I accidentally purchased and for some reason couldn’t part with. I’m a size 10.5.

My bracelet was the first item I bought for myself when I moved to Oregon. It came at the same time as a pair of beautiful green earrings for my then new girlfriend. When I sued her for the return of my stuff it came to light that her mother had stolen them along with the cell phone I tried to return. That same woman kept my dress clothes and shoes I had put into storage, changed the lock, and had me trespassed from the property. That was a year ago and just like every other time I’d lost everything, I’ve gotten used to not having as much. The bracelet is banged up, missing insets and can be generally uncomfortable, but it’s mine and there are a host of memories attached to the feel of it’s rougher edges cutting into my wrist while I type on the computer.

That’s what it boils down to: memories–items, trinkets, keepsakes, notebooks, letters, a pair of socks, a favored t-shirt, a picture–everything is a memory unto itself in some sense. Those are what I miss more than anything as I find my recall to be less then lucid owing to the PTSD and schizoaffective bipolar. Like I’m fishtailing through a swimming pool of ideas more than memories in any sort of recognizable pattern. Concrete items help lock down specifics in a tactile fashion as though a smell conjuring up the taste of grandma’s sugar cookies.

Just like the suitcase I’ll drag to the elevator has the mental odor of a hundred hotels I stayed in with it when I was last a corporate man traveling the country by plane, train, and automobile. It remembers the blackout drinking, the shakes in the morning, desperate preparations in strange towns trying to banish the heebie-jeebies from my body in time to present rationally to the next client. New York City, Philadelphia, D.C., San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, Orlando, Raleigh, Baltimore, Rochester, Binghampton, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Denver, and every damn city in New England to boot. My bag remembers a time when we stayed at nice hotels and flew 1st class because we were Gold Elite or Platinum mileage members and had a reason to be going from point A to B that didn’t involve simply surviving for another day.

It remembers being filled with the stuffed pig I would take pictures of in all those cities to send home to my son and ex-wife to let them know I was thinking of them. Being crammed with apology gifts for when I hit it too hard and forgot to call home because I was passed out or indisposed with a drinks meeting that night.

I’m sure it remembers being stuffed in with everything I was allowed to salvage from the house when the divorce started. That was the storage unit, 10’10’ space packed full, that I used to sleep in some days when I was too beat. I would lay my head on it like a pillow and bungie cord the door shut since there was no lock on the inside.

Because it remembers those things, holds them in the toughened fabric sewn to it’s exterior and it’s still rolling wheels, I can still feel those moments as vibrant as they were when they happened.

When I get to the room, you won’t see the mixed look of shock and delight on my face when I lay down in a normal bed, or take a shower with hot water and comfortably dry off rather than contort in the space available at home or the local truck stop. You won’t see the delight when I shave, appreciating the joys of a full mirror and a counter to lay things on. The last sigh as I close my eyes in a fully darkened room without dogs barking, goats bleating, and crazy midnight dazed roosters crowing away convinced the stars must just be confused suns needing to be warned away.

Next time you’ll see me is catching the 6:45am shuttle to the training center. You won’t know this backstory either, this is my life story and while I’ll share it with the world proudly, I know when to keep certain things under wraps. After all, I’m back to being regarded as a competent adult male who knows his shit, and you know what, I do. For every moment of doubt that might materialize, or second of uncertainty edge its way through to rut against the fundamental sense of confidence I have to nurture daily–for every one of those moments I can recover with a sense of gratitude and awareness I once lacked. I do know my shit. I’m grateful to be able to say that comfortably, though I will always remain open to learning more.

This time I’m not going to feel like I shouldn’t be where I am. That the world was just messing with me, getting my goat by pretending that I was a real boy and letting me play dress up as an adult. I’ve paid my dues, and I know my intentions. I’m going into this with knowledge of myself, the good and the bad. I have a partner/wife who is behind me and supportive as I have never experienced. She deserves my undivided time and attention, I will not slip into the mentality of unappreciative disdain for others in lieu of burying myself in the job. I will maintain the vicious degree of honesty by which I live my life and the understated fact that I don’t change who I am for anybody–take me or leave me, I am enthusiastic, creative, weird as hell, and 100% genuine. Let’s see how that shakes out this time as I step back into the corporate sales world.

You will see a big smile, teeth perfectly aligned and shockingly intact despite decades of drug abuse, hair combed, suit jacket fitted precisely, shirt pressed, bracelet and watch sparkling, shoes polished and clean shaven with eyes glittering a million laughs and adventures into the air between us.

I’m happy to be there, I’m thrilled to meet you, and I’m actually excited for this challenge. Let’s get this show on the road, because I have a wife and dog who deserve to not be crammed into a broken down RV missing it’s ceiling where the water damage was worst, someone who never asks for much but has earned the right to be supported as she pursues her own dreams in education and life. People who believed in me and lent hands to repay, child-support to pay and an ex-wife to sue for access to my children so I can try to set things right with the ones who never did anything wrong or asked for anything more than to be loved. Friends to show that anything is possible, that it can be achieved, you can change your direction in life no matter how low down the ladder you have gone.

I might even buy a pair of size 10.5 flip flops if things go really well. But I would never get rid of the old clown shoes–after all, they have some stories to tell.