Journal Entries Written On the Back of Cancelled Checks


$58.41 /Payable to Duke Power Company


Things to do – Revised! :

  1. Learn Spanish
  2. Learn “Tattle O’ Day” on the guitar
  3. Learn to disappear in Mexico singing “Tattle O’Day” in Spanish

$150 / Payable to Citi Bank


Ignorance is the disrespect of human decency.

$21.95 /Payable to Mario’s House of Pizza


There wasn’t a lot to go on. Her eyes went hither and thither, hither and yon, hotter than Hades. I was contemplating overcomplicating a block of wood sitting in the middle of my living room when the thought came to me: “Measure twice, cut once.” I decided to make a zither out of the block of the wood. One of us would need a soundtrack. It would need to be airy, ephemeral and quenching in the profound protracted evanescence of her eyes.

Emigrants & Immigrants: My Paternal Grandparents



Paweł Banas and his father watched from behind a tree. It wasn’t his family’s land, it wasn’t his family’s lake but they were his family’s ducks, if ducks could belong to anyone. And when he and his father saw the Russian soldiers shooting them he knew it was time to leave for America.

There wasn’t an eligible bachelor left in Sandomierz that Mary Szata had not refused. As punishment for her recalcitrant ways her landed family sent her abroad to the newish world of America. There she lived the rest of her days, missing Poland terribly.

How they came to be man and wife I don’t know.  Perhaps, there are documents, fading as I type this, that detail their union. Their last surviving child, my aunt Mary, is 95 years old, at an age when, as my cousin said, “memories become more a source for comfort than facts.”

I wonder why I am so interested in people I never met. Yet, I’ve always been like that. Am I looking for comfort in facts and memories or to elide them in stories?

What is a memory, but an emigrant, an immigrant traveling from somewhere or another to somewhere else or another in the great, domestic, international, dialectic clash of thesis and antithesis, the here and the there to form the now which, sooner, or later, if its lucky, lives forever, or as long as well can tell, in memory?  What did the soldiers do with the dead ducks? Did my great-grandparents regret exiling their daughter?

I don’t know. I could make up a story from those two sentences and argue fiction is greater than truth, but it might be best to let them wander like the Truth. Sooner or later, Truth finds a home.

Tornado Witchcraft

doll head

She was one of those who practiced “Tornado Witchcraft”. And by that it’s meant that she had a beauty that spun you around into the ground like bronze die-cut rotini pasta into a sand dune. A sand dune authored by Kobo Abe if you get my drift.

And that’s when a mesmerizing wind would whistle faintly, warmly, first through the trees outside the tall windows then seep through porous chinks between bricks of an old soul and tiny grains pelted your face like kisses, whip up the whirl and scrub the length of history.  White magic conferred by her eyes, her stories, and through her hips onto your hands resting on them.

Yet it was reciprocal magic like a circle beginning where it ends; neither of you knew what to do with each other, busy perning into Tierra firma.

Lies, Life and Mac & Cheese


I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss getting drunk. I even miss the general dissolution that overtakes you gradually once you’re off innocently enough with friends for wings and beer, movie and a beer, a ballgame and a beer, a beer and beers, because to drink is to know where it’s going but to not know how or when you’ll get there; knowing that is has to stop and it will one way or another. I don’t miss the guilt hang-over, though, when your entire body is off base, wobbly, weak, and creaking like a dry sponge. That’s a feeling more helpless-inspiring than not giving a rat’s ass enough to begin with.  Despair is one thing, fear is another thing entirely; fear of knowing that it isn’t just the drinking that’s bad but that the drinking is really only a symptom of something even more ingrained, habituated and insidious. But there is a reward is not giving a fuck if you play it right.  Not giving a fuck about how you feel about what you want to do as long as it’s productive. Compose a sonata. Walk to the mailbox. Write a failed poem. Make macaroni and cheese out of a box! I’ve found Life isn’t a competition, it isn’t a constant evaluation, it isn’t a comparison and contrast between the person you are, the person you could be and the person you think you should be.  Life isn’t stopping your habits; it’s replacing them while you still have the time, the wit and the will to replace them with something, anything other than what kills you quicker drink by drink, dose by dose, thought but thought, action by action because even negation can have its positives.  Sing your song then shut the fuck up. You’re not the only one with a voice. And neither am I.

The Power of Negative Drinking



There was no romance and absolutely very little writing aside from bad poetry.

There were no interesting stories full of marginalized characters, people with scars, tattoos and great nick-names.  The real drama came when passing the beer aisle at the local Harris Teeter grocery store. Yes or no? Import? Domestic? Six pack, twelve pack, eighteen pack, case?


He would get so drunk getting off the futon was a challenge. But he would. He would get up and stumble into the kitchen and toss the empty into the recycle bin then crack open another cold one. He’d check stock. No point in leaving a few, not enough to catch a buzz. So, he’d plan on drinking the rest that night or drive drunk to the grocery store for more, this time to the Food Lion across the street where the risk of being recognized by the cashiers, the only people who really saw him out with any frequency or potential for recognition, was lower than his disregard of alcoholism, because he wasn’t an alcoholic. He was a writer who wrote very little except bad poetry.


There was a story one time.  It was set in a small North Carolina city. He woke up in someone else’s bed as a rooster crowed outside at the drizzly dawn. But he was drunk then, too, and never finished it.