Love and Monsters (Sing Your Song)

TAOS Valley Overlook

Northwest across the gorges from Rift Valley Trail

The energy here is impossible to grasp. Tectonic plates oh so slowly sliding past each other on a bed of magma miles beneath your feet. How can one be sure of anything that’s merely human?

I’m still incredulous. She can’t be gone and yet where is she? I go to bed, turn out the light, and see it all play out again. The breathing and the little moans especially, the long goodbye. Three days ago I woke up shattered but the sky and clouds were so damn beautiful I took a hike where I’d be utterly alone. At a certain point along the trail I called out for a sign and thought I heard her voice. Focus on the love, focus on the love, over and over again. Think what you will about my mental state but that’s exactly what she’d say and did repeatedly when times were rough. Afterwards I saw the details in a way I couldn’t face before because I feared my guilt.

She had a stroke, of course, maybe two in quick succession that damaged separate areas of her brain. In the throes of that, she couldn’t talk or use a phone and likely would have died right there in bed if not for me. The blockages occurred when pieces of a blood clot in her heart that no one knew about broke off and traveled up her neck while she lay sleeping. The clot itself had developed over time following an aneurysm—a bulging of the arterial wall—that slowed her blood flow like the bend in a river where a sand bar grows. This happened months or even years ago. An undetected heart attack may be involved. I can’t rule out stress related to living with me, either—and that was from falling in love!

The official cause of death was blood poisoning (sepsis) from untreated aspiration pneumonia they never noticed in the rehab unit. Stroke victims often have trouble swallowing and accidentally inhale food or drink. It may have started there or from the very first spoonful I fed her in the hospital—we were careful but had no supervision. Even if she’d made it home, it could have happened yesterday, tomorrow, or next week. Blood thinners wouldn’t have guaranteed there’d be no other strokes. Her 30% ejection fraction* meant danger of arrhythmia and cardiac arrest. If she hadn’t had the stroke and all of this was was still unknown, she might have died the next time we went walking…

We fell in love so hard and flew like eagles. The only thing I’m scared of is that I’ll forget what it was like and all the things she told me. There wasn’t a day I didn’t say how much I loved her. We’d hold hands half-asleep at night. I still cry almost every time I make the bed.

It’s so quiet in this neighborhood. That’s good because I sleep and eat at any hour. I don’t know what I’m doing, but the I Ching said to wait. This suits me. The grieving shows up when it wants.

I still have some insurance money and there’s savings so I feel a little rich and I’ve been buying things. I ordered moosehide moccasins from Minnesota. They don’t have any lining, just bare leather that warms and molds itself around my feet. Almost like being touched. I bought a digital scale from Amazon that reads in tenths of a pound, so much better than the old one she wouldn’t let me throw away. My brother inspired me to set up a brokerage account with Charles Schwab. I dumped three grand into their best mutual fund and made a hundred bucks the last two weeks. Amazon again for underwear and two new pairs of hiking shorts. I pretty much stopped watching MSNBC and don’t spread scary bullshit anymore on Twitter. Ten bucks worth of flowers every time I shop for groceries because they make me think of her. I feed the birds. The weather’s beautiful, thank God.

If you’re in love and die together, maybe then you win the prize. I was ready. That bent-over geezer tapping his cane with a crazy old lady on his other arm was me. I wanted to grow old with you. I never wanted you to die.

There’s another way to win, though.

I’m so well-rehearsed at punishing myself it’s hard to see. The stream of criticism is unending. Guess who saw that and pushed so hard for me to quit and never gave up hope and always said she “knew” the first time she laid eyes on me.

I wrote an essay almost 20 years ago that puts it perfectly. She’d just left on a trip back East to Maryland to house-sit over Easter for some friends. At the time we wondered if we’d done the right thing after all by moving to New Mexico and I was worried she’d be pulled away by visiting the scene of the crime. Here’s the ending as I reassembled myself anticipating her return:

He knew what it was. He’d felt it as he’d done their income taxes, scanned her appointment calendar for business trips and read between the lines of all the dutiful and spritely entries. This was the datebook of his own voodoo goddess, as ferocious, wide-awake, and loving as any on the planet, whether in hiking boots or her own bare feet he loved so much. She was ready for the moon, and he was still waiting for permission. She had always been ready.

It was Easter again, and he was alone. He went to the freezer, pulled out the turkey franks, and set them on a shelf in the refrigerator to thaw. A feast fit for a king, he thought: king of the hipster bandidos, voodoo warrior of the West, or just plain John.

Roll away the stone, brothers and sisters, roll away the stone.

I could have written that a week ago except it isn’t Easter and she’s dead. (How the ever-loving hell?) The last body that I saw her in, at least, the bits in a box on a chair by the window. The woman I knew is never coming back and that destroys me. What I sense or imagine she really is is something else and still in love with “just plain John.”

Whenever I check out she’ll be there. There isn’t any doubt at all.

A plan of sorts is forming, nothing practical of course.

First I have to finish the job. Buy an urn to put the ashes in, order a grave marker of some kind, arrange for shipment and installation, finalize the date, reserve myself a motel room in darkest Iowa, drive up to Keota and make it happen on the weepy warm green prairie where the white folks live.

Her parents and other relatives are buried on the quiet hillside. Her grandmother who came from England as a young wife, for example, the one whose farrier husband got kicked in the head by a horse and died. (My brother-in-law still has the pipe he bit through when it happened.) I met her several times. She had a lovely British accent and the softest voice. Her oldest son (my late father-in-law) used to drive them to Montana every summer in a Model A coupe to visit another son in Anaconda. A third son became a banker in Keota after World War II. He had to straddle an open bomb bay door in a B-24 and kick a stuck bomb loose over the English Channel. All good souls, a perfect resting place. My name will be there too if not my ashes. When the time comes you can shoot them to the moon for all I care [he thought], but as I write this, why not put me with my sweetheart? It’s just that anyone who can will probably be dead or loathe to deal with Kathy’s crazy husband’s fucking dust. Best to stay detached.

The plan though if I dare call it that is more a final letting go. All I can tell you is the love of my life believed in me and I’m still here. Let’s not go throwing that away. “Just plain John” will do exactly as she told me on the mesa and I know we’ll be all right.

You, me, everyone. It’s always been okay.

* Measure of blood pumped from heart. Less than 35% is moderate-to-severe heart failure.

We Goddamn Did It


Ask me if I know those feet (amost 20 years ago in Arroyo Seco)

Gone now 50 days. Until Wednesday afternoon, I still couldn’t call Verizon to cancel her phone. Shutting it down felt like having her die all over again. The love’s still roaring out and rending body parts. We goddamn did it though, you know? I’m proud. Do you hear what I’m saying? My hand fits perfectly around that foot.

Fifteen feet from where I sit, there’s a fancy wind chime hanging by a poster from a Pablo Picasso exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in the summer of 1980. We rode up there from Maryland with Hall and Betsy in the back seat of their little Mustang II. I didn’t mind because he drove, but New York isn’t all that hard if you can keep your mind on what you’re doing while you’re gawking at the sights. The show was stupid crowded. Shoulder to shoulder with people from all over the world trying to squeeze in close enough to see the art. The wind chime on the other hand we bought in Las Vegas, New Mexico some 15 years ago to hang on our front porch once we found a place to buy. Well, guess what? It never happened!

“Home,” she’d say, “all our things in one place, hoooome…”

Seventeen years together in this old adobe. Quiet, sturdy, charming. Also sand falling from between the boards above the vigas, spiders, mice, no central heat, an ancient Whirlpool washer that empties into the kitchen sink if you remember to stick the hose in right and weight it with a frying pan. One year a bear broke down a plum tree.

The river kept on running. Mothers died. My aunt died. Teresa died and Bill died. People dropping everywhere and leaving shit to figure out. One summer I had to go to Austin every three weeks to smoke dope with the dying. Arizona nearly broke me. Calling Kathy crying on the phone because I couldn’t find a damn motel in Tucson in the fucking heat and someone stabbed the tires on the rental car, plus my mother and my brother were insane. I had to fly to Maine. “It’s only life,” she’d say. We kept our options open even as we sought to put down roots. The seasons passed. We lived. We loved. We hiked. We fed the cats and watched the moon, took long road trips every year. She loved the air, the mountains, the wildlife, the beautiful black-haired girls who talk so fast, and missed our friends in Maryland. There were bad days but we made it. She laughed and played piano all the time.

I’ve been looking at that wind chime lately feeling really low. Then it hit me that was crazy. It doesn’t matter what you think you didn’t do because the journey never ends. My God, look at what we did. The roots are in our hearts.

More and more the way I see it is, her race was simply run for secret reasons. She’d wake up early in the morning sometimes musing darkly and I’d try to set her straight. Now anything that puts me right in front of she’s-not-ever-coming back will set me off. There’s a pressure deep inside that builds. Look at me, you know you want to, and I do because I love her, and the stab is sudden, sharp, and almost sweet. I tell her things I never said in life. She’s here somehow. She sees. Whenever I have outside business on her account, I wash my hair and shave and wear a fancy cowboy shirt with snaps and roses. Big Zuni inlay silver ring and shades.

The only things that ever made her cry in pain were being treated badly and me beating up on myself. I can’t take back the times I hurt her. (Yes I did, it’s in the blood.) My hand fits perfectly around that foot you bastards. I want the world to know. She does.

Oh baby doll. I miss you so much. What the hell am I supposed to do?

Almost June (Could Be Worse)


Eighth House dude rides again

Almost died last night, I swear. Never mind it’s been six weeks since since I laid her back down on the pillow, closed her eyes, and called the nurse. There wasn’t any crying then. We’d had an intimate last few hours all alone and there was nothing in that room but love. I blazed like a Leo sun and told her I would be all right so she could go. This week has been the worst though.

You see, I have this project. We moved to New Mexico from Maryland in ‘99 without a plan, completely winging everything. She was absolutely for it. The whiplash of the ups and downs was vicious but we did all right. A few months after we arrived I bought my first digital camera, a compact Nikon something-something lost to history but did I ever use it. Graduated from that to a couple of Pentax DSLRs, of which I still have the K-x and all its lenses, though the iPhone is my go-to tool. The point is that I have a lot of pictures. Right now there are more than 35,000 digital images stored on hard drives, SSDs, and in the cloud. The project involves copying every single one that has her in it onto a USB drive so they’re ready for a book or three I have in mind.

It’s also something of a re-education. A gatling gun of memories. Oh, that place. That was where we stayed after we’d been two months at my mother’s doublewide in Tucson (help me Jesus) while we waited for Wiz to kick Bill Whaley out of his tiny little guest house just two blocks off the plaza and when we came back he said he’d changed his mind and wasn’t going to rent it after all. Taos man, that’s how it goes. Up in Arroyo Seco after. Nice views, someone else’s furniture, only had a two-month lease. That’s where we were on 9-11 when those crazy bastards flew the planes into the buildings. You remember, right?

Oh shit no you don’t. Not now.

I made it through three years’ worth last night, only 17 more to go. Cried all over the fucking keyboard. San Cristobal, Arroyo Seco, the condo at the end of Hinde Street. So many pictures of my honey, different haircuts, pretty clothes, all dressed up to play piano at a concert. Waving at me from a road or chair or picnic table in the boonies. She took it like an exiled queen and charged ahead with hosts of angels. Looking at the photos, I remembered all the trouble I was for being young and stupid. Yes friends young is relative. Stupid true, depending. Like last night. I pushed myself too hard and felt the changes in my body. Flopped and twisted in the bed so much I woke up every hour. Wrecked myself the whole damn morning, slept the afternoon away. Cloudy, cool, that kind of day. You know how nice it feels sometimes to lie down on a freshly made bed covered by a blanket with the window open so you hear the wind?

Whenever I come back from town I drive right by her studio. Usually I stop to look around, water the two lonely geraniums and the Christmas cactus. The green things miss her too—it’s startling. Last time I was there, I pulled the cover back from her piano—a black Kawai RX-3 six foot one inch grand—lifted the keyboard cover, and played a few chords. The keys so shiny, all is spotless. She loved the instrument so much. Just thinking of my cousin’s generosity for buying it would make her weepy.

She could listen to almost any kind of music, tell you what the meter was, and guess the key. She never minded when I cranked the speakers up. Classical, ethnic, jazz, or rock & roll, no matter. If it was one of her favorites, she’d sit there with her eyes closed, moving her finger like she was following the score. Never any such thing as “background music” in our house. The studio has to go soon, by the way. I want to keep the grand piano and have no place to put it. This old adobe has to go soon, too. I want to keep so many things and have no place to put myself.

Answers will surely come when I relax and let them in. I owe it to myself, to her, and everything she taught me. The video below is from two years ago in June. Turn the volume up and listen. Every syllable is perfect. The incalculable richness she brought into my life. I don’t know what I gave to her except my heart.

Gift of Life (Missing You Baby)

Gift of Life (Missing You Baby) post image

Kathy knew what she was doing, I’m convinced of that. Somewhere deep down inside herself, she did. There’s so much I haven’t told. Maybe I shouldn’t. But I want to write at least a little. It’s important.

She stopped driving a couple years ago, for one thing, and I was glad she did. Chalk it up to aging was how I looked at it, but then I would. Just like when she tapered off using her computer and didn’t check her email. Sometimes the latest New Yorker didn’t get opened. I was already doing the cooking. It didn’t bother me so much that she didn’t change her daily outfits all that often any more. Hell, I have my own “uniforms.” And then she stopped reading her books. Her short-term memory grew terrible at best. We’d watch a little MSNBC on my laptop, maybe a nature documentary on PBS, and have a cozy time together. What with all this and the virus raging, we were together 24 hours a day. She said she was happy, and our home was full of love.

You can talk about the writing on the wall. We didn’t. There were times I’d get scared and angry and try to correct her, which hadn’t been a good idea for over 40 years and surely wasn’t now. The pandemic was a blessing because we had to stay at home. What a great excuse not to see the doctor, either. She kept saying she wanted to “focus on the joy.” As long as I let myself be carried along and didn’t push her, our emotional intimacy only increased… I felt like I was moving into a magical world where nothing mattered but being together and watching for that smile. I tried to focus on my work, protecting us, and doing what I could to help.

We had some ugly days. Sometimes the screaming in my head would get too loud and some of it leaked out. After the last of those she wrote in her diary—I peeked for 30 seconds just the other day—that it was “really rough” but what she felt the worst about was “how hard it was on John.” My God. Oh Jesus. Cut me down and kill me. Holy shit.

You only think you know what’s coming down the pike. You might be wrong, though.

There was a time or two—no more—when Kathy had to take prescription drugs. She hated the very idea and hardly ever went to doctors anyway. (Her mother was the same. I doubt the woman ever had an aspirin until the nursing home where she died of Alzheimer’s.) I never put this down to being scared or stupid. She was fiercely proud and strong and trusted in her body. Whenever she did discover an ache she couldn’t explain, she’d push and poke and demand that it stop. The only thing she truly feared was ending up like Fielda. I know what you’re thinking and you may be right. It doesn’t matter now. We were independent beings joined together living our own life. This is true and possible and everybody’s birthright. Another reason why I love her so and why the emptiness has been so vast.

A few months back, I don’t remember when exactly, we were in the living room one Sunday afternoon. I was probably doom-scrolling on Twitter. She was sitting right across from me, not reading, just being still and quiet, lost in thought or having none. All of a sudden, it was like a gun went off but silently, a boom or flash inside her head:

“What just happened?” she almost shouted. She sat bolt upright and looked at me in great confusion and alarm.

“Wha—what do you mean?”

“Where have I been? What’s going on?”

She was totally her old self. Loud as hell and speaking rapidly, full cognition instantly restored. She jumped up from her chair, ran quickly to the other room—to check the calendar?—and then came back. I hadn’t seen her move like that in months. Her psychic energy was blasting out. She was absolutely normal. It was staggering and incredible. I was stunned, astonished, sobbing.

As best I could, I told her she’d been having “memory problems” for quite some time. She wanted to know how long. I lied. She kept shaking her head, apologizing. I told her, “No, no, no, you’re back, my God! Oh honey, here you are again!”, all but falling out of my chair. She talked non-stop and battered me with questions. Were her brother and sister all right? Did they know? What else had she missed? What crazy things had she been doing? We didn’t hug or touch. I was in shock. She was incredulous.

What a moment. What a miracle!

I was also terrified it wouldn’t last. Like someone raised up from the dead and then they fall back down again. After maybe an hour, very gradually, that’s exactly what did happen. Oh no, no, no, no, no. Oh yes. It was like watching someone slowly drown. Ninety minutes later, we were right back where we started. Holding on to sanity was difficult, but if it happened once, it could happen again, I told myself. All I had to do was keep on loving and believe. Just you and me, babe. We got this, we can do it. Six weeks later the night exploded.

Give it time. We’ll work this out.

It’s very hard to talk this way. Many people have no idea and there isn’t any reason why they should. I needed to and I’m the one who’s left. I know she knew I’d tell you. It matters because of what it sets up. Only the last few years, too, nothing fatal in itself. She was never going to go out like her mother. Her conscious ego might not have been aware and struggled, but no way, no how. I can feel her whole self now. I know.

Kathy was always ahead of her time, always ahead of me. She pounded on a neighbor’s piano in Wall Lake (and made her mad) when she was only three. At her elementary school in Des Moines, they had a recital for all the kids who’d been taking lessons. Her family couldn’t afford those, so her mother taught her. Music in hand, she walked up to the stage and asked the teacher if it would be all right for her to play even though she hadn’t had “real” lessons. Of course, her teacher said! (Thank God.) At every stage of her life, help came from out of nowhere when she was following her heart.

Her parents bought her a piano when she was still in school and even let her pick it out. To the very last, she never understood how they were able to afford it. It still sits in her studio four miles away. Instead of going to college at Drake and living at home to save, she ended up at Cornell College with the best professor of piano in the state of Iowa. (A scholarship? Her sister would know.) When she fell in love with me and moved in, she called her mother and made her cry because we were living in sin, but Fielda—what a beautiful name—never once rebuked her. After we moved to New Mexico, when Kathy was living in Dubuque to give me space to grow up, make some money, and help take care of her mother, my cousin in Florida inherited a sizable chunk and bought her a beautiful brand new Kawai RX-3 grand piano! How often does this happen to anyone, anywhere? There wasn’t room where she was renting, so she played it at her sister’s house until her mother died and she could come back to Taos. The things we had to do to get it here, her joy when the mover unpacked it and set it up. I can’t begin to tell you all the ways the love and blessings manifested. She never really had bad luck. I’d better repeat that:

She never had bad luck.

Life has sliced open my heart and fed it to ravens and bears. There’s a hole in my chest the size of a grapefruit. I drip blood wherever I go, but where does it come from? On the other hand, I still have a partner.

Maybe it’s hers.

Stupid Widower Tricks

old adobe

Goddammit all to hell

The fear came back. The kinds of things that woke me up at night before she had the goddamn stroke and suddenly I cared too much to worry. Even when she died, I didn’t cry. Not the last few hours. Not after I realized that might make it hard for her to let go, and then the love poured out of me like Niagara Falls. The last damn chance to show how much I loved her and a whole lot more. The power of it wiped my psyche clean. I need that back again because I’m crying now.

Not all the time. Monday when I decided I’d better see if the 1099-R was in her studio. It wasn’t, naturally, but so much else was. A picture of her as a little girl, the photos of her mom and dad. Performance programs, PR shots, resumés, syllabi, mementos, paintings, dying plants, her favorite rocking chair, the little notes she always left around. Her grand piano hasn’t been tuned in over three years because the very best tuner in all the world, the only one she trusted, up and moved to Spain. “Don’t you think you ought to have it tuned?” I’d ask, “I know it sounds okay now, but—”

“Wait until we find a home!” she’d interrupt. “After it’s been moved.”

I thought of that when I was looking through her desk and lost it all again. Oh baby, honey, baby doll, why did you have to go?

The physical details of her dying come back sometimes when I lie down or go to bed at night. Of course they do. I paid such close attention. The way she breathed or tried to. The blackish-purple blotches on her tongue and lips. The absolute impending certainty of what was happening, the nothing-I-could-do unfolding as I stood or sat there, holding, touching, talking to her constantly. The time I called the nurse at 4:00 a.m. because I couldn’t get a reading on my pocket oximeter. She looked at me like I was from another planet but humored me by wheeling in the big machine that told us 98% and afterwards I tried my own again and there was nothing. You see it spilled out on the floor or painted huge across the wall but don’t know how to feel. I know she’s dying but I stand there fooling with the stupid plastic thing as if it makes a difference…

Okay, you get it. Welcome to my world. And now a little shift but still on Planet Juan.

Before my honey died she looked me in the eye and shot a picture right into my brain. It was the local cemetery in Keota, Iowa (pop. 958) where her parents are buried. No one in the family lives there any more unless we count the aunt by marriage who erected headstones for her miscarriages and gave them names. She meant well of course and I don’t mind. My sister-in-law and her husband have a monument in place with dates of death left blank. Their brother in Georgia wants his ashes scattered in the Gulf of Mexico so he’s out. But scads of other relatives are already in the ground, including Kathy’s beloved “Gram” who came all the way from England. She had a hand pump in her kitchen for the well and once had grapes and chickens in the back yard. Her cherry dresser stands beside my bed. Our bed. My bed. Goddammit all to hell.

The telepathic prompting told me, yes, please put my ashes there. (Finally looked at them last night. Quite finely ground, about five pounds of powder in a heavy plastic bag.) The plan is I will use her parents’ plot to bury the urn and place a flat “companion stone” on top. Having neither of these on hand meant I had to do extensive research.

One place I found is called “Mainely Urns” and guess which state it’s in but they sell every kind of urn and granite gravestones from a website built in ‘96 I’d say. They’re not the only ones, either. Returns might be a bitch if anything was spelled wrong but there’s no reason I can’t do this. I’ve even been texting back and forth with a fellow named Slaubaugh who handles all things cemetery-related in Keota. He hasn’t gotten back to me yet about borrowing a post hole digger so maybe I pushed him too far. Mainely Urns does sell nice bronze urns that cost much less than I ever would’ve thought. There’s even one on sale right now for 80 bucks. Don’t know about the granite business yet.

By “companion stone” I mean one that has both our names on it. The drawback here is that it’s heavier but I’m still shopping. Two small stones side-by-side might do even if I’m never buried there. Having some kind of marker is the thing though. I’m proud to have walked this Earth with the love of my life and want at least a few to know. So here’s the deal: I have the gravestone (also called a “grass marker” since it lies flush with the turf) shipped there if it’s not too heavy, regardless of where I order it from, or maybe I could pick it up along the way. Early September after Labor Day. Perhaps my sweetheart’s siblings will be there. I dig a hole, bury the urn, and place the stone. Everybody cries and I drive off into the sunset. Maybe I return years later on secret pilgrimages. Not tell anyone, just me and her. Strange dude kneeling on the grass and weeping. Leaves a bouquet of yellow roses, walks back to his Maserati and disappears.

I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know where I’m staying. Driving through Taos, it feels like Venus or bad luck. What is there to stay for? Soon everyone who knew who Kathy was will be dead just like me, and mostly people didn’t know. Now there’s a funny thought. We only pay attention to you while you’re in our faces, then we all go back into the stew. I guess the thing is do it now and let us know.

She lasted 22 years after she retired early. We didn’t plan it though, she simply quit and then we winged it. Everybody thought we must have gotten an inheritance but no, not anything. What if she had stayed on ten more years in the academic cancer factory? Shut up you shit you can’t ask questions like that. The point is that she stood for joy and insisted we follow our hearts. That was how we got here and it’s beautiful. There are no mistakes, not ever, and there’s no way I can make one now.

I’ve opened a brokerage account with Charles Schwab. Watch the old dead hippie blow the rent on mutual funds. A couple, anyway. Wake up a year from now and find I made a couple thou, I’ll keel right over then go buy another phone. Felt I couldn’t do that while we were “saving for a house” of course. That didn’t work in any case and now she’s gone, goddammit, but still here in my heart and maybe cheering.

When I was looking for the tax form in her studio, I came across some old silverware she had there. Pieces from a larger hoard here in the hutch, actually my great-grandmother’s silver plate from way back in the 1800s in West Virginia. I kid you not. We—“we”—have tons of things like that. No one in either family ever threw anything away, especially mine if it were worth a nickel. Somewhere I have my great-grandfather’s “clergyman’s pass” for the B & O railroad. Worth lots more than nickels then, but the point is that my grandmother kept it, see, because she was proud that he could ride the train for free…

Where was I? (These people. Me too, obviously.) Anyway, the silverware:

It’s heavy, solid, and I like it. Could easily be 150 years old. Why am I eating with soulless stainless steel utensils made in China? Let me say again, I like these. She made me find them. The drawer was even hard to open. They’re a symbol. Follow your fucking heart right now or die a worthless sack of scum.

Immediately I thought, hey.

Hey, Juan.

You need a funky old museum kind of house to keep and use this stuff. It makes you smile. Then you don’t have to sell or give it all away and pull a stupid trailer around to state parks like a sad old motherfucker with a little yappy dog and scare the little girls. My Kath-a-leen approves. (“Why didn’t you do this before I died?”) I know, it’s sad and crazy but there is this kind of sense. I had a thought I liked and didn’t kill it. My family, all mostly dead, would not approve and this does bring me joy.

A flicker of direction. A drunken firefly at 40 yards. I may barf it up tomorrow but tonight I sleep. Oh look, a half-dead lilac. Moving on.