Lightning Bolt III

Apocalyptic attack
She's holding nothing back

Watching in fear, and awe
She storms like never before

House lights go out
"That electricity is mine," thunderclap shouts

She laughs at your need for sleep
It's your soul she's going to keep

Madness takes hold
Sinks in, deep and slow

Give in, let her win
Never be the same again

For centuries fortold
Don't fuck with a lightning bolt

With no repair in sight
There is no god with such might

Your death will soon arrive
As she finally decides

That all her problems
They won't die with you

Running in the Rain

Running in the rain
One of my favorite things
Writing haikus, too

The rhythm of words
The sound of raindrops falling
Wind blowing wet leaves

Counting muddy steps
Heartbeat beat, listen, breathe deep
Grey sky, cool clean air

Dog barks, foot falls, birds
All deeper, darker, farther
As the pouring rain

Washes me away
Cleansing my world of worry
Watering my mind

Running in the rain
Rhythm and words like raindrops
I become a song

Lightning Bolt II

The air is electric
Before she arrives
Hair on end
Eyes wide
There she is
That flash of ligbt
My lightning bolt
To keep me up through the night, heart and mind.
Thunder rolls through
The deep black sky.
I know right now you're flashing your light in somebody else's sky.
Lightning won't strike twice. I stare into this black night, rain clouds cover the starlight, and no matter how hard I try, all I can think is why, why, why...

Thunder again, as my lightning bolt strikes on the other side.
Her new old new but not really different familiar horizon.
Beyond my eyes.
Maybe less brightly, she strikes, maybe less electricity. Maybe more. Imagine. No. Don't,
Try not to think of my certainly not mine and never was lightning bolt in that other sky.

I traced my finger along the vein on the left of her forehead, the "temple" they say. Where her hair met her face. A zig zag lightning bolt shape.

My lightning bolt.
Leave me in the dark black.
It feels like yesterday.
Look away. Walk away. Look away. Stay away. Look away.
Ignite our lives
Then hide
And watch the flames.
The air is electric,
But everything is going to be ok.

Lightning Bolt

What happens to a person 
Struck by lightning, doctor?
"Lightning strikes can inflict both cardiovascular and neurological damage on the human body."
Is that love?

She comes, the storm, the lightning bolt
She storms the sky, a force of nature
I stare. Wait for the strike
Some moments too clear
She had to go
I had to remain here

(standing on a corner watching her walk away)

I have been planning out
All that I would say
Words just get in the way
A lightning bolt, far away
A vision in a dream, gone in a flash
Then it's just black, and damage.

Wishing out the days
Nights, meeting her in a dream
But nothing to say, and she's gone, far away.
Catching lightning in a bottle is impossible,
Look to the sky, the black, the beautifully fucked misery
of cardiovascular and neurological damage,
Look to the sky and see if she strikes again.
In fear.

Book Review: The Four Winds

By Kristin Hannah

My mom is here visiting. Before she made the trip over I asked her to bring me a book, any book, as I know she reads loads and has been in a book club for a million years. She brought The Four Winds. I happened to be using some local flora from the beach as a book mark this summer that looks a lot like the stalks of wheat on the front cover, so I took that as a good sign.

From the back cover: (Actually, the inside of the cover flap jacket or whatever it’s called on these fancy hardcover books): The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it – the harsh realities that divided a nation and the enduring battle between the halves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

What a complete load of schmaltzy faff that is. Can you see the team of copy writers around the table coming up with that crap? And that’s just the last of three or four paragraphs! “Stunningly brings to life…”, really? “An indelible portrait of America…” because creating and promoting this kind of “made for T. V.” tick the appropriate emotion boxes PRODUCT is so much of what America is about. The excessive, contrived sentimentality of this book had me imagining it in my mind NOT as a realistic portrayal of one family’s struggles during the Dust Bowl/Great Depression years, but as a Disney movie. Once I came at the story with the understanding that I was reading a Disney movie, I was able to get through it. Disney should make this book into a movie. It is tailor made for Disney.

I’ve just done a bit of research, and it seems this authors previous book has been made into to a movie… So there you go. But even still, I’ve read a lot of Stephen King and John LeCarré books that have been made into movies, and they were no where near so obviously contrived for a movie adaptation as this book is.

Anyway, it’s about 450 pages, a long story about this woman named Elsa, a reluctant heroine and dedicated mother who goes through hell and high-water for her children. Though it is was obviously and annoyingly contrived sentimentality, I’m a sentimental soul and as my mom had given me the book, I couldn’t help but think of my mom and her love and dedication to her children. There is no love like a mother’s love. I cried at the end.

So, thanks for the book mom. I’m glad we don’t have to escape the Dust Bowl and live in poverty as migrant “okies” in Hoovervilles in California, living day to day, hand to mouth, but we have had our own struggles and obstacles and dreams and hopes in our family, and your love, strength, courage, wisdom and guidance have gotten us through and raised us up. I’m so proud of you and proud to be your son. Thanks.

The whole story is in this woman’s eyes. You don’t need to read the book, just look at this picture. If you really want to know what happens in The Four Winds, just wait for the Disney movie.

Dorothea Lange’s famous photograph
From the backseat of a Ford

Book Review : Witch Light

By Susan Fletcher

From the back cover: “1692, Corrag, a wild young girl living in the mountains of Scotland, has been imprisoned as a witch. Terrified, in a cold, filthy cell, she awaits her fate of death by burning – until she is visited by Charles Leslie, an Irishman, hungry to question her. For Corrag knows more than it seems: she was witness to the bloody and brutal Massacre of Glencoe. But to reveal what she knows, Corrag demands a chance to tell her true story. It is a tale of passion and courage, magic and betrayal, and the difference that a single heart can make in the great events of history.”

It’s that heart, so beautiful and broken, that makes this story so spell-binding. The author informs us at the end of the book that the characters and historical events are real, but the story is a work of fiction. Corrag existed, but the author has created her story and her truly mesmerizing meditation on life and the world she lives in and the people who fill it. The story is told entirely from Corrag’s perspective, as she tells her story to Charles Leslie through the bars of her prison cell. Each chapter ends with a letter from Charles to his wife, relating his views on Corrag’s story and the beautiful ways she tells it, with her deep insights, from the heart, about nature and human nature, with “an eye which sees the smaller parts of life.”

Her eye, her perspectives, come from the heart. I’ve lived this way, by heart, not head. “What life are we living, if we don’t live by our hearts? Not a true one. And the person living in it is not the true you,” Corrag says. The inner voice, intuition, instinct and impulse… Faith in the self, soul, inner wisdom… Belief that there is more to this life… And that there is life in everything, but very few can feel it, and those that can then find a deeper connection with and a deeper responsibility for our world and others. This way of feeling and trusting my heart has been the foundation of who I am, spiritually and externally. Am I a witch? Bewitching? Having this sensitivity, this natural connection, in the heart and soul, to our natural world and human nature, almost a “second-sight” or a sixth sense, is very much who I am and how I have come to be. The author of this book, through Corrag, spoke directly to that deep aspect of my spirituality, so deeply felt and so difficult to describe, so, like Corrag, I tend to ramble on and repeat myself alot… Saying the same thing a different way. This happens alot in the book. And I understand it.

Corrag’s connection to the natural wonders of Glencoe and the Highlands of Scotland… And her connection to Charles Leslie… And her love for Alasdair were all so beautifully described and genuinely poetic. Corrag has stayed with me, and I would love to meet her again. I enjoyed this book very much.

One last thought. At the end of the book there is an interview with the author that includes a list of ten poems. This was the first I chose to find, and I’m very glad I did. It’s by Carol Ann Duffy.


Thought of by you all day, I think of you.
The birds sing in the shelter of a tree.
Above the prayer of rain, unacred blue,
not paradise, goes nowhere endlessly.
How does it happen that our lives can drift
far from our selves, while we stay trapped in time,
queuing for death? It seems nothing will shift
the pattern of our days, alter the rhyme
we make with loss to assonance with bliss.
Then love comes, like a sudden flight of birds
from earth to heaven after rain. Your kiss,
recalled, unstrings, like pearls, this chain of words.
Huge skies connect us, joining here to there.
Desire and passion on the thinking air.


We watched the sun go down
And now it's coming up
Somewhere in the time between
Babies were born

Can't deny nature's laws

Dreams made to fade
Clouds dropped rain
Phantom pain in my brain
Is all that's left

Life loves loss

Mix the dark into gray
Waves wash them away
All those yesterdays
Let them go in the undertow

Landing like an albatross

Open your eyes baby
Let's hear your wild cry
Show me what you can do
Be you, new


All Those Yesterdays

I haven’t touched the guitar in a couple weeks, but wanted to play today, and thought I’d share this awful improvisation to show my appreciation for all those yesterdays. As fucked up as they were sometimes, I wouldn’t be who I am today without all those yesterdays. And of course, all those yesterdays start adding up and before you know it, you’ve made another trip around the sun. Congratulations! I hope you enjoyed the ride. You’ve got time. You’ve got time to escape. There’s still time! It’s no crime to escape! It’s no crime to escape! There’s still time so escape!

Book Review: Great House

By Nicole Krauss

From the back cover: “A heartbreaking meditation on loss and memory and how they construct our lives.”

I’m full of loss and memory. When my parents divorced my dad went to live with his friend Bruce, sleeping on a futon in the basement. Bruce was a very eccentric hippy who had inherited a fortune and a very great house that was filled with exquisitely cool furniture and decoration and details that defy explanation. One room was full of the most 1970s style furniture and asthetic, with shag rugs and bright colors; another was furnished with dark, rich mahogony wood antiques, with mother-of-pearl inlay and 1920s Art Deco style details; there was an enormous pool table in a room with red velvet wall coverings; the living room had a skylight full of ferns hanging over a slate stone coffee table surrounded by low sitting white leather couches that made the room feel like a garden. More: the t.v. was one of those huge consoles from the early days of home entertainment, over two meters long and one meter wide that included a stereo and record player and boasted of “hi-fi” sound; a hot tub, of course; an iron stove in the kitchen and the first microwave I had ever seen; a spiral staircase that led to a second floor sunroom with wicker furniture and three massive fish tanks. I visited Graceland, Elvis’ famously eccentric house, and seriously, Bruce’s was wilder and better in so many ways. Bruce also owned a 1950s Studebaker AND a DeLorean before the DeLorean became famous in Back to the Future, but he drove a Harley Davidson (Don’t ever try to outrun a State Trooper, he told me, with a swollen nose and two black eyes. It only ends bad.) And a customized brown van with carpeting, swivel seats and a stained glass window. The distinguishing feature of this great house, you see, was the stained glasswork. Everywhere. Bruce and my dad were professional stained glass… well, “artists” seems like a stretch, but certainly artesans. They were constantly designing and making and selling lamps, windows, window hangings, mirrors, garden accessories, candle lanterns, etc., etc. The house was completely full of their work. The basement was a workshop, and the whole great house was a studio. One particular piece stands out in my memory. On the back porch, where the hot tub (which Bruce also built himself out of wood), one entire wall was removed and replaced with a stained glass wall with an intricate Chinese dragon design that also served as a sliding door opening into the garden. The detail is so vivid in my mind’s eye. Speaking of the garden, the last time I saw Bruce, in 2008, he invited my sister and I over to see the giant glass and stained glass pyramid, with copper pipe framing, that he had constructed in, or, better, over his back yard. It was a small, (small being about 10 meters in length and width at the base and maybe just as high) scale replica of the famous I.M. Pei pyramid outside la Louvre. The top half of the pyramid was beautiful stained glass windows, but it was open below. It was incredible. My lasting memory of Bruce is him standing in the center of the pyramid that day and showing off his expert nunchuck skills. Nunchucks!

My father got his own place eventually, but continued making lamps and windows, but then remarried and that part of his life slowly faded away. I have three pieces of my dad’s here with me in Spain. The most precious is this lamp that he gave us for our wedding present.

This is the only piece of furniture I have any concern for or connection with. My father made it. It’s a beautiful gift and it reminds me of Bruce’s great house. My children understand that if one of them breaks it, let’s say with a thrown pillow or stray football, they will be immediately escorted out of the home and not allowed to return until further notice. If our home caught on fire, it’d be the only thing, besides photos, that I’d really be upset to have lost. I might be sad about my childhood Teddy as well, but that’s a different sentiment.

All of this gets us to the book, Great House, and the desk at the center of the story. The connection that different characters develop with the desk, and the way the desk connects the characters is what got me thinking about my father’s lamp and the history behind it. I have a photo somewhere of my son as a baby, with his head on my shoulder, staring at the soft light of the lamp. The photo would just be another photo if the lamp was from Ikea. But this photo is my new son connecting with the spirit of my father, through a lamp. The story behind lamp, the sentiment and emotion it imbues … Wait… How can an inanimate object like a lamp or a desk imbue sentiment or emotion? Exactly. But they do. Memory, nostalgia, sentiment. Animism is the belief that all things, even inanimate, contain a soul or a spirit. I hold on to sea shells and pens, dried flowers or bird feathers, teddy bears or tea cups, because I’m somehow connected to the spirit inside these objects, the memories and lessons they inspire.

The desk in Great House inspires a succession of writers, and much of the book details the delicate and deceiving dance of the writer’s muse. The author describes the deepest turmoils and turbulations of the characters most affected by the decades long voyage of the desk through Nazi occupied Budapest to London and New York. Its owners and their friends and family discover their connection to the desk is far more meaningful than they understood. The inner lives of these characters are deeply explored, and it seems the author believes that we are all, in our deepest places, speaking to ourselves with the same voice. The voice, tone, cadence, motivation, ideas and emotions of an elderly Jewish man are virtually the same as a middle aged American woman from the Midwest. This is my one quip with the writer. Whereas The Slap was very adept at creating and showing different characters and perspectives, most of the characters here seem to feel the same inside. That is, their internal thoughts, (there is almost no dialogue in the story… it’s all happening in retrospect) all not only sound the same as written, but are not distinguishable from the character in the previous chapter. Not everyone can experience memories and loss, and loss of memories, the same. Right? And if they do, at least each of us would use our own way to describe it. In this book, each character’s way is the author’s way.

It is, however, beautifully expressed: “… I thought of my childhood, of my mother and father who are both dead now, but whose child I cannot escape being any more than I can escape the nauseatingly familiar dimensions of my mind. Now I am fifty, Your Honor. I know that nothing will change for me. That soon, maybe not tomorrow or next week, but soon enough the walls around me and the roof above me will rise again, exactly as they were before, and the answer to the question that brought them down will be stuffed into a drawer and locked away. That I will go on again as I always have, with or without the desk. Do you understand, Your Honor? Can you see that it is too late for me? What else would I become? Who would I be? “

Despite my criticism about the author not making the character’s inner thoughts more distinctive in voice and person, it’s probably true that most people who have felt like this and have had “a heartbreaking meditation on loss and memory and how they construct our lives,” would express it in fairly the same way. I know I have, and I know I do.

I found Great House in an empty classroom. It has these notes scribbled and crossed out inside the back cover. Fascinating. Like a bonus chapter of the inner workings of a person’s mind.

The Undertow

The tides of time, truth and lies. Deep sea discoveries. Hand in hand. The rising and falling shoreline. Castles turn to sand. The currents. The drifting. Uplifting. Twisting and turning, tangled up in clear blue skies, waves, tides and currents. Deep blue pools. Sun, salt, summer, sky, sea, swim, shore, sand, seismic shift sent tsunami waves, but not before deep sea discoveries of oceans inside, oceans in disguise.

Ghosts in photos, empty holes where hearts and souls shared sacred secrets, deepest desires, shedding skin to show true selves, hopes and fears, to discover and connect with each other in waves of conversation and excitement and champagne sandwiches and dances and coincidences before consequences and scars. Hurricanes and cyclones came. Crashing waves all around, lightning bolts reaching ground, currents circling down, but these sacred places, like an oasis, safe sanctuary, sea of tranquility and clarity where we swam sideways through the shifting, swirling sea and nothing else mattered.

The undertow rips. The crashing tsunami hurricane cyclone waves coming back. Coming back hard. Pushing and pulling further out to sea. Swim sideways, dive deeper, search for a helping hand in the maelstrom, seek rescue or respite in the wrong places as the undertow rips, drags you down, tossing and turning, fighting for breath. Endless fights, sleepless nights, the horror of loss and hearts broken. The undertow, waves of consequences for acts and omissions rolling in, overwhelming undercurrents of repurcussions, pushing pulling tides of time, drifting further from shore, deeper down into memories of mistakes made, opportunities for redemption lost, swept away into the ocean of disguises. Here in the undertow, everything changes and thoughts of getting back to before, back to shore, quickly, painfully recede with dreams or fantasies of future days of discovery. The undertow leaves you with nothing.

Awake now. Face down on the wet sand, small stones and broken shells. Somehow alive. Somehow survived the undertow. The sea softly caressing, cool clear water washing mixing with salty tears at the shoreline. Deep breaths, follow the rhythm of the waves as they slip into shore, over the stones and shells, over me. The sound like an echo of souls breaking open, a fading echo of you, me and the sea, like a whispered song of what could never be. Let it echo, that whisper of fantasies, memories and realities, the signs and evidence that the act of love has consequence. Waves have an undertow. Let that echo drift, and fade and sink into the deep.

Stand strong on land, what's left of me. The undertow ripped and stripped the best of me, swept it out to sea and I had to let it go. Had to leave the best of me, to save the rest of me, to form again in the wet sand, a better man.