Random thoughts at 3am

Every child of God is a protagonist
put to the test in the great novel of life.


Sad to see you standing on your head again.
I thought you were smiling but you were just upside down.


I remember the day our knees touched
and somewhere in the ocean an island sank.


I love the shape of women
though it’s nothing they can help.


God is too bright for my Raybons,
staring down at me from the wrinkled sky.


Stuck in traffic with Mona Lisa.
She just won’t stop smiling.


Could we just bounce on the trampoline
and forget about time for once?


All my socks are in heaven.
All my shoes are in hell.
How am I supposed to get to work on time?


I’m in line for love.
Hope I don’t have to wait too long.

Walk

I took a walk during my lunch hour today. A murder of crows swooped menacingly at me as I crossed the asphalt parking lot. Then I noticed a dying crow on the cracked pavement, flapping one wing piteously. I left in a hurry, not wanting to be misidentified as the assailant. Above me, a small chunk of tree branch hung impaled by an electrical line. The rest of the tree had been removed. I remembered that tree, the way its leaves always applauded as I walked beneath it. I wonder why they felt the need to cut it down. I walked over to a small city park a few blocks away, where a ball field sits vacant all winter, full of birds. Ever notice the way swallows swoop after insects, wanting to be bats? And ravens strive unsuccessfully to be butterflies?

Low-flying Aircraft

From this low-flying aircraft I can peer into the tents of the homeless
crammed beneath the freeway overpass
and watch men building coffins out of cardboard,
and women, arms outstretched, praying for an end to rain.
As we fly parallel with the freeway I peer
into the car windows flashing in the sun
and see drivers staring into cell phones,
some of which display my low-flying aircraft and myself
observing them.
Our pilot takes us into a school yard where young children
chase one another atop dark asphalt and a young teacher
rushes to the break room before the next bell rings
and an old teacher searches under tables
for lost imaginations.
From this low-flying aircraft I peer into the bedrooms
of pricey condominiums and see
flat-screen tv’s displaying movies of
people making love
though the rooms themselves are unoccupied.
And as we fly past the house I once lived in as a child
I see it has expanded;
the new owners have removed the apricot trees
and replaced them with three SUVs
and a shed for cooking meth,
and from the kitchen a tired woman
stares out her dirt-streaked window,
her mouth trying to tell me something, though what it is
it’s impossible to say.

Chelsea, Bambi, and the Man with the Axe

axe

I was smoothing down a painful foot callous with course-grade sandpaper, sitting atop a red cement picnic table mottled with bird droppings, when my cellphone rang and a woman’s voice said, “This is Chelsea. I broke through the chain link fence.”

I didn’t know anyone named Chelsea but was intrigued. “What chain link fence?” I asked.

“You know, the one that separates the railroad tracks from Centennial Park.”

I happened to be sitting in Centennial Park, so I looked up toward the railroad tracks and sure enough, a young woman with hair dyed bright green stood next to the chain link fence she’d just snipped her way through, waving the bolt cutters above her head.

“I don’t know you,” I confessed over the phone, “but I’m impressed. How did you get my number?”

“You’re not Guy, are you.” Her voice lilted gaily, almost as if she were singing.

“No.”

“He’s got a face creased like Marlon Brando,” she said. “Watch out for him; if he knows you’re talking to me he might hurt you. He’s wearing a bl with Bambi on the front.”

“I don’t know how you ended up calling me,” I said.

“Just coincidence, I guess,” she said. “God wanted me to, I suppose. Do you believe in God?”

“I believe in God but I’m not sure I believe in you,” I said. “I think I’m going to hang up now.”

“I lost my cat,” she said. “His name is Mister Bejeesus. That’s why I cut through the fence – to try to find him. I seen him crawl under it. He’s a tuxedo cat with long whiskers. Have you seen him around?”

“No,” I said.

Just then I spotted a man wearing a black t-shirt with a picture of Disney’s Bambi emblazoned across the front in neon colors. He was walking across the park lawn carrying an axe in one hand and a dead cat by the tail in the other. He looked like he was 70 years old or so.

I yelled at him: “She’s over there” — and pointed toward the woman.

“Chelsea?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“How the hell do you know Chelsea?”

He turned and faced me. He did look a bit like Marlon Brando, if you squinted just right. Brando with an axe.

“I asked you a question,” he said, as if he was a cop. As if I owed him an explanation.

I pocketed my cell phone and headed home, one shoe on and one off. I didn’t look back. And here’s the thing about me: I can always tell when it’s time to head home. And once I know, I find it’s best not to dawdle.

Quote

Gus

The cat we call Gus stares at the door and makes a funny squeal with his mouth that sounds like a butter knife scraping against a violin string. He is letting me know that he wishes to go outside to chew blades of grass so that he can yowl and retch. It’s dark, though, past 10pm, and raccoons are on the prowl. Raccoons will eat the face off a cat. As Cat Stevens sings, “Oh baby baby it’s a wild world.” Gus enjoys the outdoors. He’s becoming more adamant as he ages. “I want out, damn it,” he seems to be insisting. That weird sound he makes? That’s cat cussing.