Birthday Suits for All!

Life can knocks us out again sometimes,

like all those old cartoons where the clothes

or wool

are literally blown off the skin

and we’re left alone and embarrassed.

 

But you know what? Oh well,

“Naked I came into this world,

naked I shall leave,” says Job.

If that’s how we are, that’s how we’re gonna be

and we’re gonna be awesome too.

Birthday suits for all.

 

Through all things, blessed be the name of the LORD!

Just Jazz

He had always been a tall man. Walked tall, lived tall. People asked him if he played in the NBA, but he hated the sport. Pass the ball, run. Pass the ball, run. On and on. Always predictable. Jazz was never predictable. It was always raw and alive. So he chose jazz.

He played trumpet alongside the best of ‘em, moving from smoke-drenched dives to glitzy ball rooms, always wearing his favorite silver bowtie. A good luck charm of sorts. He was meant for this. It suited him well.

Then, death came, like a dark tide, sweeping away his favorite players. Overdose. Cocaine. Everyone riding A-train into the netherworlds. He got on board too, found himself in the emergency room, two shakes away from death.

But he didn’t die. It was the bow tie, he told himself. Or something.

He left the scene, stepped away. Started working on engines with his brother.

Then, he got the call. An old buddy was getting married, wanted him to play. He said he was out, but his friend was very insistent. He did miss the scene.

So he showed. He played the gig. The kids beside him idolized him. He didn’t care. He’d been here before. The music was all that mattered, and the music felt good.

Across the way was the bar. He wanted a drink. To calm his nerves, he told himself, but he wanted more, much more. He wanted back.

He walked up to the counter. The bartender greeted him.

“Can I get you anything?” she said.

He paused.

“I’m just taking a break,” he said.

She paused.

“Water?” she said. “It’s a hot day.”

He nodded.

She kneeled down, grabbed a bottle, and shot up again.

She wobbled.

“Oh wow, I stood up too fast,” she said.

“All for nothing,” he said, and took the bottle. “Thanks.”

He drank enough to wet his lips and returned to his horn.

He played and played until everything was gone, until it was just him and the music. No death, no drama, just jazz.

Sueño

A boy wakes up, goes to school, learns things;

he gets homework assigned, he goes home

eats dinner and speaks a few words to his parents

before hitting the books.

Later, red-eyed from staring at pages of overwrought words

he hits the hay,

he dreams-

dreams of asking out that one special girl at school,

dreams of making his friends laugh and think he’s cool

 

dreams of winning his parent’s respect.

He’s always been in his brother’s shadow, you see,

and he’d like to get out.

The next day, he wakes up and goes back to school-

Yes, it’s back to same old routine.

Sometimes, he forgets his homework at home;

sometimes, he does well;

but for the most part he rides a solid B-/C+ grade,

just above average-

and he never talks to the girl,

and he never becomes the popular kid,

and his relationship with his parents remains strained.

Still, every night, he hits the hay and dreams

and dreams

and dreams.

Soon enough, the boy grows up.

He graduates from high school and moves out

to go to college.

He gets drunk and has sex.

He has some fun.

His grades drop.

Soon, a young woman tells him that she is pregnant with his child.

He drops out of college and

takes a job at a gas station.

There is a shotgun wedding,

weeks before the baby is born.

 

The boy turns into a man,

he works hard,

both he and his wife-

it takes him a while to get used to that word-

spend a lot of sleepless nights together,

raising up the fruit of their loins.

 

They spend a lot of time doubting themselves,

their ability as parents,

but they smile widely anyone stops to

say how handsome their little boy is.

The man gets fat and old,

his wife is still beautiful.

He knows much more than her name now.

He sees the multiverses in her eyes and in her smile.

He holds her hand.

He tries to let go as seldom as possible.

 

Their kid grows up.

He goes to school.

He catches on quick and gets good grades.

The teachers say, “what a fine boy he is!”

The man says, “you can thank his mother for that.”

It’s tongue-in-cheek, but really he’s eating up every word.

 

 

The kid grows up and moves out.

The man goes to bed one last time.

He can hear his wife sleeping beside him.

He knows his time is near, still he doesn’t want to disturb her.

So, he simply leans over, kisses her on the forehead,

closes his eyes, and dreams.

 

RIP Stephanie Xanadu Torres

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This week, a bright light has gone out from the Universe. Competitive eater, poet, and friend, Stephanie Xanadu Torres, died on Tuesday. She could eat anyone under the table, write free verse poetry like you couldn’t believe, and be there for you in a heartbeat whenever you needed her. We would all do well to be more like her. Our deepest condolences go out to her family. She will be greatly missed.

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