Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Butcher

Colby brown hair was a standing there making her wish. Over grave where husband laid she promised 'soon'.
'soon I'll be right next to thee. Soon I'll lay between cold sheets eyes gone to dark from blue. Dead, get it?
'walter, walt, wall big cock dream purveyor. Love give orgasm planter of soil an singer of songs the preservation machine then we...dead!'
It's Tuesday and she's got a little brown journal. She got black slack. She got white chiffon top. She got eye swollen, tit sag, muffin top mother of 3. She got long hair messed ragged from love, life and marriage...drain draining drained.
She carries herself low now. Once tall and slender like a shadow. Now the fresh dirt, now no grass, now potted plants slumped dying. Life gone from it all, 'better their dead, better to sleep in.'

Thursday, May 6, 2010

the ecstactic

an i hear the voice out in the wilderness.
an i smell the wild locust an honey...
an it drifts from me. these wild things. an it drifts from me. an it ecohes out across the fake vinyl sidings of new mansions along old town poverty row whilst little black girls an little snot filled black boys play toss no parents in sight.
fast talker.
i can see her sex from three blocks away. i can see...i can just, well let me stop let me gather myself there is a job to do. my wedding ring is loose from weight loss from hard work pulling the plow. you can feel the hair on your arms rise when it is free and lying around. the hunter (though now trying to be good though now going home and praying though now starving it out through no television through no podcasts through no alcohol or fun at all) don't forget.
the silence is deafening
we are alone don't you know, if christian god wanted our company he would of allowed babel to be built. wouldn't live so long on the mountain top and most assuredly wouldn't of tried to drown us.
you see the silence, we are alone here. i can smell her through the black spandex yoga pant. hair pulled eye shades over face bent and wriggling for her weekly grocery.
my wife wag like that?
ah, you forget about time an all those tight spaces i squeeze myself out of.
it don't matter the weather. i never look back. it don't matter the phone call or nice letter darling, i never look back. leave those that are gone to the graveyard. abandoned the ship of i. we sail on. now when you catch a ride on the next machine an it don't perform like me that's the fate of a lack of faith.
i won't wink back.
i won't reach and pinch or help with the groceries only to be invited up and given fellatio.
won't do shit.
i got silence here. i got temptation of talk show.
i got candy and white flour.
i got these gray hairs.
there is not a cloud in sight.
you understand?
it passes in time. there is a wilderness here. every option at every moment. life like seeing all the snowflake patterns at once. hearing all the words at once. feeling everything at once. every possible option and outcome for every possible situation in one moment. the breath of god. the wilderness. every moment, every possible out come is playing out. somewhere somebody is pinching an ass through yoga pants.
an there there is a rainstorm. an maybe they are lovers.
in the ghetto, where i roam, there is only the bass drum. there is only the black bag booze. there is the over stuffed jeans and the savage pacing. the verbal explosions.
i will not pinch.
i will not speak.
i will think the lord's prayer.
will hope for belief will wait for converts.
i can imagine my wife on her knees a deep smile a deep ruby colored lipstick not heavily applied. the children are laughing using the things we afford from all my paid walking. cable is on. pot is on. i am almost home.
when i get in the car i will drive in silence, sunroof open not a cloud in the sky pass twelve men an hope at least seven wave hello.
maybe the phone will ring.
more stepping to go. she smelled of vanilla i breath deep and leave her behind.

Monday, April 19, 2010


5 am i am going to put the last of the garbage into the can (though it shouldn't be called a can anymore since it's made out of plastic )...ahem, container. last night was a big win for those blazers and today was to begin the translating of a story from chicken scratch to blog but as i dropped the trash turned to settle into a reading typing marathon what did i see? a chicken! it's chicken head bopping about like a parent whose lost their child, 'hey you see them (bop)? you over here you see anything (bop)'.
i had no idea there were chicken in the neighborhood. so i stand at the fence feeling the oats of american freedom and industry. it seemed to me, that no where else in the world could one watch a chicken so early in the morning without fear of a dictator or a bombing or a taliban leader wondering about your dancing history.
did you ever see that documentary 'arab star' where the lady gets voted off and for her final song dances? after the song she is assaulted by a whisper campaign, rolling eyes and also death threats. this woman feels the heat of the boiling water and calls home to mommy and daddy begging to come back. her parents agree, but think that the heat of the water is too hot and would much rather stay away from them. their house get's graffiti-ed with the word 'whore' and all for a dance!
what kind of assholes are against dancing? and how does everybody go along with it?
in america i could be watching that chicken drinking like a dope, using my medical marijuana and doing the chicken. a very heady morning of celebration to our lady liberty and our great freedoms.
soon after the chicken comes a rumbling truck. an ambulance. it slowly grumbles down the street with a flood light reading the house numbers, not moving fast enough to be a real emergency headlights dimmed as if trying to be polite but ruining it all with the floodlight.
after the ambulance comes a fire truck. nobody is moving quickly save for the chicken. being unsure whether it's good manners to stick my nose into the scene i watch around the tree at the corner of my yard. i can't tell anything. something happens doors are opened the firetruck backs and leaves. the ambulance goes up the street maybe 120 feet stops has a discussion with somebody in a hooded sweatshirt. i assume the murderer now allowed to leave scot free because there was not enough evidence only to later be caught by portland csi who will find a snot bubble dried in her ear that has enough dna.
so enough. it still hasn't moved. i don't see any body screaming or crying none of the neighbors are rattling their blinds and i have to use the toilet. as i turn i think about the chicken. it seems confused about what to do, as well. so i throw a pine cone in it's direction, one must always be aware that freedom comes at a price. we both scatter to our homes.
the ambulance finally has left.
i have decided to call one person a night. a new leaf in personal involvement hope i still have the white pages, though everybody has unlisted cell phone #'s now. random 10 digit dialing!
i am beginning to build apps for the iphone! go blazers! start story translating tomorrow or more off the cuffisims!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


i dropped dead after being struck on the head by a raccoon. it seems that, while i was nature hiking around mt. hood, an eagle grew tired of carrying it's heavy load and dropped it's dying lunch from it's talons. while studying the growth patterns of the blue pine a shadow grew over my head. i looked up, wondering if a thunder storm had moved in only to find a terrified teeth baring raccoon heading straight towards me. i ducked, covering my eyes and throat only to have it crash upon my head and start squealing gnashing and clawing about.
most men would have frozen up here but not i. back when i was 11 it was the pacific ocean and we were on a disneyland vacation. i rose from the water only to feel, what i thought, was a plastic bag on my head. it was no plastic bag but a giant three foot wide jelly fish. i coolly tossed him off and went about the business of evacuating my bladder while doing my best imitation of jesus christ and sprinting out of the water.
if you asked around and anyone told you that i screamed, well they are surely liars. what i did do was pull the animal from my scalp and toss him towards the woods. it was then that i turned, tripped over an overgrown log and tumbled off the side of the mountain.
i remember the fall but i do not remember the impact. if there was pain or embarrassment of any kind by soiling my fine hiking shorts or wooly socks i can not recall. what occurred was a falling, no screaming of any kind, then black and then i am here.
'where or what is this exactly?' you ask dear reader.
well we will start from here next time and begin, like inspectors with our fine magnifying glasses to figure it all out. for now, duty calls.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


carol hampson was a tough nut to crack. she could not stand the idea of harold choosing his mustache. she was a plate thrower, a pure blood american woman. she could allow her husband his wolfman appetites so long as they were a team. 'damn you,' was a well worn carol hamspon phrase. she would damn harold for buying the wrong color curtain or working too many days and not spending more time with her.
my grandmother lover her husband. she was always presentable, hair combed, face washed and clothes were never sloppy. carol hampson would smile baring all her teeth, her cheeks would flush and her eyes would flash a spark when ever the thought of harold would cross her mind. she was a double armed squeeze hugger i can remember appearing on weekend or other school breaks to be swallowed in those arms before being presented with a snack or candy of some kind.
the hampson's followed the pattern of the wolfman before them. harold was very successful in the farming field but their true money was made in buying stocks just before the market was restored after the crash of 1920's. their home was massive and sat on hundreds of acres of land.
it should be stated that harold hampson, my grandfather, kept in his wallet a small collection of hair and on the entry way wall a large picture of himself sporting a large fluffy mustache. though i had only known him as clean shaven.
stories were whispered through the years about said mustache. one had it being an award winner of the highest grade, the other having it being the great devil of their relationship and almost the cause of it's ending. one could never be certain. carol hampson could put her foot down, and had left once whether he shaved and brought her back or she came back on her own accord you can't be sure but i am wagering on the former.
my grandmother was a great baker but either had a fantastic metabolisim or never ate more than a crumb of her cooking for she held her fighting weight all the way to her final moments. my grandfather, on the other hand, had a fine pot belly that would stand at attention and make a great empty barrel rattle when ever given a firm pat.
carol would always sit close to her husband and take his hand. he would never protest or refuse and it was the warmth of that love that caused not only their life but that of their children to prosper. she was a quick hot burn when sparked but never was anything but supportive when the full moon appeared and the hampson men would take to the fields howling and werewolfing about.
my strongest memory is during the summer night while the eldest hampson had his man paw across my shoulder. he was giving a dissertation on the most humane way to kill an animal. while listening i happened to glance over my should up at the house to see carol hampson in the window. she gave a thumbs up and a proud smile as i sank my teeth into the chicken's throat.
'oh damn we are going to get.' i heard my grandfather say.
'prize chicken, old lady hampson gonna take a wack at us. best thing to do is to tell her straight away.'
so we rushed to the door. i took my seat on the floor before her and as we told her of my mistake i did not feel the blast of her anger, instead her hand scratched the back of head near my ear as she sighed, 'oh well, we all make mistakes.'
'what is this? are pigs flying? carold hampson gone soft? maybe i should regrow my mustache,' my grandfather said smiling.
'you regrow that mustache and see whose gone soft,' my grandmother said and the tension in her fingers reinforced that she meant it.
'well harold a man's got to know when he's been beat.'
the rest of the night was spent in front of them, as they sat close on the coach her hand wrapped about his man paw her other hand scratching my wolfman head as the insects chirped their insect gossip along the night air.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


my grandfather was a son of the soil. his joys were found in the pushing of the plow and the farming of the land. a wise old owl he figured out that if you had animals of your own nobody would care what you did with them.
during the boom times harold hampson thrived, during the lean times he did better than survive, for we all have stomachs to bow before. harold hampson grew hemp, he grew corn and various other fruit, vegetable and nuts. besides a mighty strength, the wolfman, maintains a superior night vision and incurable case of insomia. thus, while the other farmers were sleeping or out dining with their wives harold was in his field weeding, picking or any of the other demands a farm could bring.
it must be stated that harold hampson life was not all light and joy. he battled with his first wife over the existence of his mustache. she pressed upon him the joys of a clean shaven life and he upon her of the joy of the calloused hands and the stroking of a fine plump mustache at the end of the working day.
carol would shoot back, 'a woman could do no worse than having to kiss such a furry beast hello every morning.'
harold hampson would go for the throat with, 'well the door locks from the inside and there is no guard at the gate. if your looking for a clean shaven man, i suggest, you start your adventure as soon as possible for women only have so many child bearing years.'
'how dare you,' was a terse response.
harold hampson sat at the dinner table sucking the juice and blood from his steak. carol hampson would stand, would tap her foot would await his apology that was not coming.
'you rotten so and so, it would be a scandal,' she said.
'the tide is always changing, even rocks can not last forever,' he would respond.
'love cannot speak to you, your heart has gone cold to this...mustache?'
they are silent. harold hampson leans in his chair, mind drifting from answer to answer. developing a way to ease her mind and fill her heart with light and joy. hampson was developing an apology closing his eyes to formulate the proper words.
the silence was almost perfect. to raise it up to the level of absolute harold hampson hand absent mindedly found the mustache and he began stroking the sides. while his mind drifted he moved from the thinking man to the sleeping man. he supposed it had been a light cat nap, but when he awoke he found the morning sun had returned and that the night had swallowed dera carol hampson.
'all good things must come to an end,' he thought and returned to stroking his mustache listening to the sounds of the farm come alive.

Monday, April 5, 2010

4/2 wml prelude

i come from a long line of wolfman. the appropriate way to say, when talking of a group of us, is wolfman. there is no plural. we, wolfman, would appreciate if you could take this to heart. thank you in advance.
my great grandfater was a clock maker in london. i have never been to london so will not go into any great detail about cobble stone streets or terrible warm beer. as a matter of interest i have never been on an airplane for any great distance. i fear that a full moon could appear at any moment during such a long flight causing me to change and maybe eat the pilot. it was family lore that my great grandfather hid in the boiler snacking on mice and the loose negro attendant.
his name was harold hampson just as my father's name was harold hamson just as my name is harold hamson, the name goes down the family ladder as well as up all the way to the first harold hamson whose real pronunciation was whatever they translated harold hamson to. harold hamson the great grandfather to yours truly, appeared in new york and immediately felt the draw of the west. he would sit on a stone in the out lying lands and dream of what could be. he traced the moon light with his half man half wolf paw hands out over the expanse of tree to the black of the unmanned space.
though the forest and thousands of miles of land was not completely unattended was a fact based on your opinion of the indian. i, for one, have always believed in the equal standing and treatment of all humankind. why the atrocities faced by the red man and the negro would have sent me into a frenzy.
if you look through your history books, deep enough, you will find a hampson in the middle of every struggle for human rights. as wolfman of distinction and more than a little economic success we believe in giving back. not only for the christian ethic of our soul but also to repay the community, to reduce our guilt burden for the moments when our better angels have seceded from the body wolfman and we may have eaten the random orphan or working woman.
it should be noted, right up front, so no one can call your dear author a phony or a crafter of half truths, that wolfman maintain a constant struggle against their animal hearts. we are a community of aesthetics. we enjoy the arts and support them mightily. we enjoy reading on current events, political activity and taking part. yes, wolfman, come from a culture and familial history of interest and involvment. one could say that the ideals of the wolfman family have been coopted and applied by the most famous of american family. president kennedy would write to and on the rare opportunity visit with harold hampson to discuss matters of great national import.
it was a hampson that demanded the pursuit of the moon. it was the wolfman sent to cuba under the blanket of night to strong arm a young castro. why every president has been able to call a harold hampson a friend. this tradition was lost during the last two term president, who shall go nameless, that brought with him the witchcraft bastardization of american born again christianity.
for the last few years i have been hiding out, living in the portland oregon dreaming of the life to come. was this the end of the hampson life style? to go forward we must take time to reflect. there is more than a little to be gained by watching the river ala siddhartha and seeing where it might lead. when we have studied to our satisfaction we can then wade into it's deep waters of evolution and see what our history has for our future present in store.
as i sit on a stone in a small cave nestled in the bosom of mt. hood gnawing the femur of a fallen climber i return the western gaze of my grandfather from so long ago.
for whats to come we study what has been...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

wml redo

it was the mustache that sent me packing. while others in my age rage could only grow a small clipped banker style mustache i had the ability to grow the behemoth. it was raven in color and came past the edge of my nose. it was full and fluffy like the pillow in hookers bed. magnificent and well worth the price of admission, this mustache, was also my downfall.
it should be noted that, i am, a wolfman. i am a werewolf descended from a long line of werewolves. while most, now a days, are converted from the werewolf bite i was born to a fine pair of monsters in the late seventies. i was born to cynthia and hamsun strasse at st. luke hospital in boise idaho during the early hours of the first day of march. this was not a full moon.
not only was i descended from a long line of werewolves but also from a great tradition of mustachios. it was great great grandfather, walter strasse, who invented the ax handle mustache. he wrote in his diary on that day, 'dear diary, today has been one of fantastic discovery. while i was out chopping some lumber i happened upon a nest of bees. in previous encounters all would have been lost for, as you know, i am allergic to their sting and especially sensitive about the ends of my lips. as they launched their attacks i figured all to be lost, and what a way to go out! for you see i had developed quite a hideous looking rash on each side of my lips from eating too much raw meat. so, instead of looking like a monster, i had grown facial hair about each side of my mouth. now when i am laid to rest and they open the casket all will recoil in horror at my final state of dishevelment.
'just as i had begun to fear the final moments and hear the mighty roar of the bee army a most magnificent thing happened. it seems that the side growth on my mustache repelled their attacks. not just defending me from their terrible sting but almost cutting down their soliders like an ax to a tree. you see that while they strike against the face their stingers get lost in the hair, get tangled and removed leaving them buzzing away stingerless and dying.
'with this discovery i am, soon standing with confidence against their weaponry. i laugh in their tiny bug faces demanding to know if this is their best. if they have must continue their attacks them let them fail, let them die for their is no way to survive my ax handle mustache.'
with this entry, the strasse, went from a rather private quiet multimillion dollar family to boise's cultural champions and the first name of idaho's mustache society. it was this event that started the slow ball of fate to roll. it was this desire to foster the mustache, to study and perfect it, that has left me laying in the woods bleeding shot down by charlie simmons.
we will come to that in good time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

3/17 the wolf man lament

it was a silver bullet through the night. that son of a bitch used a silencer, i should have known, when i heard the twig break, that rotten bastard charles j simmons was behind all this. that fat grey haired mess of a man. that sore loser. i should have known. as i lay here bleeding out, feeling my life sliding away my mind drifts back to the beginning.

my father was a whiskey drunk and my mother a wolf woman desperate for a baby. it was boise idaho during the go go seventies. it was boise during the window boom and, my father, was rolling in dough. he owned a seasonal weather window company. these were wood framed double paned windows of the highest class.
my father had a name, jack, and a physical beauty that could stop a woman in mid step. there were pleas from the crowd to run for office. there were many advances from woman, married or otherwise, on the job sites. some he accepted some were denied. my father was pro mustache and anti bell bottom. he would wear carpenter pants a many pocketed field shirt and a neckercheif. jack kept his hair well groomed, he was a tall athletic fellow with a wry sense of humor. he was a man who could stand out in anytime and the only thing that anchored him to this time, the seventies, was the side burns and car model.
juliette, was my mother. she was a wolf woman during the full moon and a model the rest of the time. she was tall and lean with chestnut hair. she would try to stick to a vegetarian diet but during the full moon found herself chewing whatever meat she could find. it was because of this that she stopped owning cats and leaving near farms.
my mother was beautiful. it was her beauty that kept the men at bay. no one dared ask her to the dance floor or out for a nice dinner because they were certain she was attached or just out of their league.
jack bumped into juliette during a st patricks celebration. he had ordered two irish car bombs, one for himself and the other for himself, and while backing away from the bar they met. they collided, is more accurate, causing the drinks in his right hand to slosh and almost spill.
there eyes met, there was a spark and from there they moved as if by providence.
'for you,' he shouted.
'to ireland,' she shouted.
'cheers,' they said and drank.

Monday, March 15, 2010

3/15 intermission

the shepherd left the gate
gone savage
my sheep self
to the wolf grass
and temptations

gone to
stomach growls
to booze
a calling
to the whistle of
the all american
ruby red lips
that catch a heart afire

who to blame
who to blame
who to blame

out here baahing
sticking my nose where
it ought not to be

a preist can't have it
you know
cat call from the stage
'be good or be damned'
without responsibility

blame the sheep
or blame the shepherd
or leave it for
the judge
at the throne of heaven

i can't keep track of it all
my mind a mess
i push rocks
i push mail
i stare at things that
need to be fixed

if you don't want
you wont be
ashamed at what
you don't got

blame the shepherd
for rushing home
to his wife
and children

blame the sheep
for eyeing
the horizon
and thinking
what i want has got to be over

christ is coming
christ is here
chirst is looking for answers
any or all of the above

it is never any good
one must conclude
to take your eyes off
the floor
and wonder about more
than gnawing grass


i have no reason
to write on this thing
my ear hurts
it is five thirty
and my teeth are
going bad.
no one told me how
poems go
why they rhyme
i don't stare at anything
but sometimes happy
children dance or laugh
in the recess of my mind
i can smell
on the breeze
i use to think i should
be a divorce lawyer
to the stars
i wish i could work
at a cubicle
and have no compulsion
to tug on strings
or imagine things
i watch my son
i watch my daughter
i watch my wife
good people
hope something is got
to pay off

should be more honest
pray for
fallen leaves
and the evicted
milk men
things change
even us christians
acknowledge that

Friday, March 12, 2010


she sits, she crosses her legs, she sucks her teeth and twists her hair. if she had gum she would pop it. her leg bounces on her knee. nervous. she hasn't brushed her teeth, this morning. she hasn't used the bathroom this morning. she just sits and waits for the other one to talk.
the other woman, the wife, is slumped in the tan rocking chair. her eyes are open but she is gone staring out through the window, down the road and over the horizon line.
she wants to be polite but sometimes you just have to pee. she HAS to pee. she stands up her clothes are young, short and tight. she has a sweatshirt that she doesn't want to wear but feels the need to put on. she wants to be polite, make a good impression if that makes sense. she was a good student. she made it to the city college and has begun to study business.
the other woman does not stir as she passes by her. as her body rubs against the wall with all the family photos. it is quiet, save for the ticking of the grandfather clock. she had no where to go or she wouldn't be here. it is too late in the semester to get a dorm, besides there is no way her parents would pay for it now.
the porcelain is cold to her flesh. she has a job that barely covers her costs from home.
'now what?' she thinks.
this is a large house. she could live here, if they would let her.
'how they gonna let you live here? c'mon,' she thinks.
these are desperate times. her friends may let her crash for a few days, but couch hoping is no way to get through a pregnancy. there is no telling how long her dad will punish her. he was mad. m a d mad. she has images of his slumped to the couch crying. she has images of him banging the table. she has images of him throwing her clothes onto the ground. he did not care enough to pack them. it was her mother who came ten minutes later, it was her mother who suggested bringing the test strip and showing 'the father of this child what he has done,' and it was her mother who watched her eat one last sandwich while tussling her hair.
at first she left. after that sandwich she was gone, clothes left on the porch splayed casualties to the fire fight. later she returned and scene had been scrubbed clean. there was money. there was a note. there was no one around. there was nothing more to do.
the knock surprised her.
'honey, you hungry?' the voice was weak, tired, worn.
'yes, ma'am,' she said.
'listen, i do not know how we are, but we are going to make it through this thing. okay?' came the voice, her voice it cracked but did not break.
'...' she listened.
'we just got one ground rule, one rule between me and you.' she said.
'my husband, is my husband. we are not going to share him. this is my home and my family. now i know what you got growing. i know what you got in your life and i know his responsibility to that. but it was just one night. so before we move on we got to have an understanding that you are no longer interested in him, that you are not going to pursue him, that you are not going to make this mistake anymore,' she said her voice straining.
she is on the other side of the door waiting for her answer, face red, eyes wet, trying to hold back the fury that is boiling inside. trying to hold back tearing the door down and strangling her.
'if she says no, then it's over,' the wife thinks.
'if she says no then i gather the kids and we go,' the wife thinks.
'if she says no then i get the best lawyer, then i crush all these hopes and futures, then i tear that picture wall down,' she thinks.
'if she says no, what about my kids? you selfish little ____, do you know what you could do to my kids? they are innocent. they don't know better. their father their hero. do you know what you are going to to do to us?' she thinks.
'alright...' comes the voice.
there is a pause, but before the wife can push away from the door.
'i'm sorry. it won't happen again,' she says.
there is a silence.
'honey, you want a towel, you want your bag so you can shower?' the wife says.
'yes ma'am.'
the door opens. as the bag exchanges hands their fingers touch. there is a pain to it. their eyes meet there is a sadness there.
broken things can heal. just got to take some time.
'kids are going to be home soon. i got to make breakfast. it will be alright. if i don't break down and kill you. or kill him. ha, don't worry....hard, but alright,' the wife says and retreats to the kitchen.
the young girl turns on the water. she cries. the warm water feels good to her skin. with one hand she holds herself up while the other absentmindedly rubs her stomach.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


cold. the dew stains through her shirt causing the fabric to cling to skin. cold causing the hair on her harms to stand up. cold. she is feeling the rocks through the grass now. slowly her eyes fluter open. she wonders for a moment if it had been a dream. she wonders for a moment how she ended up out here instead of in their bed.
she is connected to something. there are heavy arms wrapped about her waist. she is pulled or cuddled close for warmth. he is wheezing, moaning and the dried blood about his face causes his nose to whistle. she pulls herself free. she stands. they are not far, few football fields away. she can see the top of the roof, she can see the chimney.
'let's go,' she says.
he opens his eyes and is startled. he tries to stand but loses balance.
'____", she thinks.
she will hold him. she will carry him. she decides.
he keeps his eyes closed.
all hard breath and sweat. all tight muscles clenched beneath the damp cloth.
'_____ together,' she says.
there is the sound of dogs barking. there are no cars. she has no watch to put the time. the only noise that is close to them is the sound of feet. two feet walking. one foot stepping and one foot dragging. beyond that, their breath then we must go further out to find more noise.
'why now?' she thought.
'why me?' she thought.
there were moments were she could have let him down. she could have dropped him into the ditch beside the road they were walking.
'it is not like i never had my opportunities,' she mutters her brown hair clinging to her sweaty brow. her clothes clinging to her skin. she is a mother, things will always be clinging to her, always leaning on her, always depending on her kindness for survival.
'there was ___, i should say, there is ___. he has been after me for awhile. maybe i should just do it. i mean what is this marriage now?' she says through clench teeth.
the moon does not rise or fall but loses it's importance as the star begins to appear. she begins to see the black of night lighten, the first hint of day erupting for the eastern soil.
'he is always at the coffee pot when i am there. he is always at the same lunch table or near the same tree. he keeps coming at me. what is that? i use to think the devil. i use to think this is the test, the temptation of a marriage. i shouldn't say use to. this is how i think. but now what? maybe he is a good man. maybe this is a life line to set me free. from this, from you. maybe. though you were a good man, well you are a good man. everyone has doubts. everyone has moments that test or push our character to it's limit. some fail. some fail but that, what does that mean? we've been in love, we've been sweet hearts, and we've trusted for so long. is it one mistake? is it an eye for an eye? is it the universe moving us apart so that i can actually find my true partner? what about the kids? we can't napalm their life. this life. this life is about their life now, as much as my freedom and joy.'
she can see the top floor. she can see the rocket curtains that decorate her children's room.
'everything is set in motion. everything is set up for this, for us. now what?' she bites her lip. his eyes are still closed, he is wheezing. he is leaning. he is drag footing but still she does not let go.
'it's about trust. it's about knowing i can whisper secrets to you and they won't get repeated. it's about mutual sacrifice. it's about sitting there on dead head nights and giggling over the television cuddled up. now what? i don't want our children to get sick, to put our heads together for a solution and think the idea you are giving me aren't just yours but yours and this new voice.'
the first floor is starting to rise from the bend on the road. she can see the windows all dark, save a corner, the living room where the television is on.
'i don't want to look like a fool. i don't want to say x and y are our family beliefs. i don't want to say to people i know, i work with, inlaws, anyone that our family is x and y that is who we represent. i don't want to trust that to you and find out it was a lie. find out you are running around town like a rogue with a whisper campaign that describes yourself as an independent agent. i have to trust you're a part of this thing. you're the husband and father that we are described as. trusted as...____ it's now that i am the fool. now i am some wounded sick thing. now i must be attended to. even if i move on. even if i go with ___ or never choose another man. people are going to walk on eggshells around me. some fragile thing that has been dealt a blow.'
they are on the porch.
'so with all things being equal. before all this i would not choose another man. before all this you were my soul mate. my one true love, father to my children hearer of my secrets and catcher of my tears. with this, i don't know. but the fact that i don't know means there is a chance, the fact that i don't know means you are still close enough to be considered. for my children. for that one chance. for that closeness, for that history i have to stay.'
she opens the door. there is a rush of heat. it feels good to be home. she sees her curled like a child on the coach, television light dancing over her eyelids, blanket pulled tight to her chin. she almost drops him. she almost vomits. steadies herself and helps him upstairs. she puts him in bed. she kisses his forehead.
there is a violent anger that swells but she white knuckles the door frame. but she takes a deep breath. it is not gone it is caged. she heads downstairs she has breakfast to make her kids will be home soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


saturday. he has a hard time seeing. he can't remember how he got back to his room, their room pictures of a family line the wall. pictures of a couple on the night stand. the night stand dark wood that he put together while she rubbed her pregnant belly so long ago. he moves through the sheets and everything hurts. he is alone.
there is the noise of voices. there is the sound of pans and dishes rattling. there is the stomp of feet. as the sun creeps through the blinds, as he tries to sit up but gets dizzy and has to lay down again he would like to think it was a nightmare but the pain tells him different. he fades out.
he wakes up to the sound of a car. he wakes to the sound of children laughing and running inside. he can trace their path as they move from the porch to the front room. as they move and call out to their mother. as they are greeted as they are held and whispered what happened. or a story of what could happen.
he has one eye swollen.
'____ so ____ stupid,' he says thinking about what he lost as he traces their wedding picture with a bent finger.
'dad,' they call. they move quick, they jump to the bed they hug him and he groans.
'careful,' he can hear a voice say.
there is a movement in his body towards vomit. the pain causes his vision to go white. he wants to hold them, to kiss them. he wants to feel the power of youth in his children. he wants to be loved and express love. 'careful,' comes the voice as he curls and moans.
they retreat.
there is the sound of the door closing. he looks, but is too late. there is only the folded upon itself white robe. the one with his name that she wears. it was a wedding gift. there is only the copper door knob that he fixed when they moved in. he can remember kneeling before it screwdriver in hand.
'what's next?' he thought as he unscrewed the knob. as he held the piece in his hand staring into the hole looking for what could be a problem.
she was there, at the edge of the bed, long auburn hair then. she was there indian style on the bed watching with baited breath. she was full of victory kisses. she was full of victory hugs. she was full of love to dispense on him, just waiting for him to give her a chance.
'what is going on?' he wonders the drifts to black.
he wakes up to the sound of laughter. he wakes up to find a dish with a sandwich and water on the night stand. he wakes up and has to use the toilet. it is slow but he moves. it is tear inducinng painful but he stands. he holds the wall like a drunk and teeters sliding across the floor. he braces himself for a few steps. he moves forward gaining balance. going from touching the wall to standing on his own. he sucks his teeth and groans but makes it across the floor to the tiled bathroom.
he does not want to see the mirror so looks straight ahead. he wants to focus on the grey wall. he wants to focus on the deep brown shower curtain. he wants to turn his attention to the tissue box atop the toilet. he is successful but for a split instant, out of the corner of his eye when he can see the purple, the red, the black and the blue. it is glimpse, it is swollen it runs down his face spilling across his chest across his arms down to his legs.
he holds himself as he urinates. he sighs. tears come and he has to use his free hand to prop himself up. he palms the wall openly weeping.
there is the noise of family down stairs and as the day fades towards the night he wobbles back to the bed. as the day fades to night and he can hear the clink of dinnerware he chews a bit of the turkey sandwich, drinks a bit of from the water glass sucks the snot through his nose and rubs his tearing eyes.
as the day fades to the night he leans back. he groans. he listens for a hint at what has become. he listens for anger or violence. children are laughing the television flicks on and as he fades he wonders what he has done.
he wonders what is to come.
somebody laughs. he is back to sleep.

Monday, March 8, 2010


it's the crunch of feet on grass. it's the crunch of face on grass. he don't talk out of the car. he don't say nothing but make low guttural noises. he sound like an animal on the attack. a wild thing crushing this man to the ground.
stomp stomp stomp goes his foot to the man's face.
his wife, the walker, the one in anger, the one with sick built up in her stomach. his wife the offended party. she sobs and screams for his safety. she wails into the night air. she jumps the jumper landing on his back. this under the starry wide open night. there is the orchestra of bugs and other domestic creatures cooing, crying and trying to find romance. the moon is full, the moon is casting an unwavering eye upon them recording their deeds for some future playback to some future judge.
he screams under the wailing. he knows it has come home to roost. he thinks of her, he thinks of his wife the witness. he can hear her screaming as she is thrown from him. he can hear her scream as the other woman attacks. he can hear a small child crying. he can hear 'go back to the car,' being shouted. mostly he can feel the attack.
'i didn't know,' she says uncontrollably sobbing.
'daughter,' the other woman cries and slaps and pushes.
'i thought he was a good man,' she says and falls to her knees.
i...he was a good man,' she says.
'good man,' she says.
the other collapses next to her. the are mixing in tears as grass stains clothes. rolling sobbing and holding one another.
'she's a good girl.' she says.
'my girl,' she says.
'no!' comes the verdict from the man. he is heaving, he is full of sweat causing dirty blonde hair to stick to his forehead. his glasses are askew and his shirt has come un-tucked exposing a plump purpling middle age belly. he is holding down the guilty. he is staring at the women, there is snot and spit dripping from his face. gape mouthed gasping for breath. the other man barely registering, barely conscious.
there is silence now, save for the heaving, moaning and crying of a child.
'you want her, you want to act like the man to my child? you want to get her drunk? you want to rape her? you want to get her pregnant? you want those things or take the risk for those things? then you get her, she's yours and if you do not keep her, if you do not help her through this life i will press charges. i will make it ugly and take your job. i will come back with a gun and shoot you dead right in front of your wife and children.'
he takes a moment, he stares them all until they blink. he points to the wife and then to the man. the man in a heap on the ground.
'that was my daughter, she was a good girl,' he says, 'i am not right, i will never be again.' he says, 'i don't talk to threat, or talk to hear my tongue flop. what i say is a promise. jail or the threat don't mean ____ to me.' he says.
the wife of this man starts to cry.
'honey, listen now, this ain't good bye. you see you got our daughter, you took her like a thief. you didn't ask permission. you did not come to me and say, 'larry i am in love with your little girl and would appreciate your permission to date her,' you did not say those things. you just snuck in like a fox in a hen house. it's going to take time. you got our daughter. you got our first grandchild. you two, you two are going to have to work to get back into our good graces. you two are going to have to work to help us get over this. to get to the thanksgiving table. to get to the delivery room. my wife there she wants a grandchild real bad. she wants to spoil that thing. i can't lie, i do too, i do too.'
they are watching him. the wife clasps her hands together at her chest when the grand child is mentioned. she lets her tears fall and can't keep a smile from her face.
'we are not happy how this happened. but if you are a man, if you can take on your responsibilities then maybe we can heal. that's what families do, right, we heal and get tighter, tougher from our scabs and the scars they leave.'
the man rises. he takes his wife's hand and pulls her up. 'good night,' she says. they move towards the car. he places her in the back and she holds the crying child. she moves her mouth towards his cheek and ear comforting him with kisses and words. the man pops the trunk so the lid blocks the window view. he reaches in and takes out a long black double barrel shotgun. 'this is what i'll use,' he says, 'good night.'
he places the gun into the trunk, closes the lid. the car makes a squeak from the shock as he sits into the front seat. as suddenly as they arrived they had gone.
the wife in a bath of moonlight and red brake light makes her way to her husband. he is curled, broken and moaning. she moves towards his cheek and ear comforting him with kisses and words. they lay, they fall to sleep comforted by the orchestra of wild things, some songs of joy and others songs for the dead and loved ones that left home never to return.
surely there are bug wives widowed from war. widowed from the unforseen torture of the magnifying glass, eagle beak or inadvertent shoe fall.
surely there are bug wives who cursed their husbands for their failures. surely they can watch this and understand, sympathize and maybe bend a note their way. surely seeing her holding him until they sleep her hand brown red from dried blood her face tear tracked and her body curled against him until they look like a crescent moon reflected on a rippled pond, they could understand. right?

Friday, March 5, 2010


she rattles doors, she rattles pans as night is cast across the floor through the windows filling the spaces consuming the light. alone to the kitchen. alone to the fridge it's bulb cutting through laying an equal lateral triangle of yellow. pulling the cover exposing feet, eyes and floor. she moves in. face first lifting foil, rattling ketchup, knocking milk bottles searching like a child for her mother's left over.
she looks, she walks, he follows all three hunting down a piece to fill this new gaping need. what to do? what to do? what to do? they could think.
she is the lead dog. she is the front man. she is far enough to feel independent yet still hear his foot fall on gravel track.
'where we going?' she thinks.
'all this, all this is got to go?' she thinks.
'if your good, a good man can you make mistakes?' she thinks.
'we are in love, we are in marriage, we are in parents. can we survive?' she thinks.
'why do i got to leave?' she thinks.
he is not trying to catch her. as the night falls he keeps his distance. he does not pick up the pace. he does not try to calm her down. he does not try to think of the where the finish line lay.
'why?' he thinks.
'i got all this. i got all this...' he thinks but pushes it away.
they are closer. there minds move in union from years of marriage. if it was allowed he could think of hope. if it was allowed he could think of her and how she will stop and hold him. if it were acceptable he would hold her he would kiss her and he would cut his vein to bleed out the poison of this act. for now he will follow hold his breath and wait for whats to come.
'a pbj it is.' she says to the air. she is still a child. the weight is not on her. there is a lump to be feed in her stomach. there is a lump to be rubbed and sung to. she has been orphaned by her actions. good girls are not allowed mistakes.
her father was a salesman. is a pusher of cars. her mother makes knick knacks to be placed on the kitchen tables. they like the news. they like gin rummy. they like to whisper in the dark about the problems or gossip of others. they were not happy to hear the whispers return about them.
she has a young brother who will cry for a while. they were good friends. he would bring homework in, mostly math, that they would sit and chew pens while completing and then they would talk about a future to come. he is young, he is innocent, he is to fresh to know that he shouldn't share everything with everyone. so he told his father and his mother as if they had known. so he had watched as they roared and tore at their breasts. so he watched as they shuffled through garbage and drawers. so he watched as they packed her clothes into a duffel bag. so he watched as they placed a small plastic stick in the pocket lay open from lack of a zipper. so he watched as they put it on the front porch with a small white envelope containing twelve hundred dollars and a folded yellow note. so he followed as they packed him and drove him away.
'pbj it is,' she says. she moves through the dark to the couch. she will curl her legs up and place the plate on her knee. she will hold the sandwich with one hand, with the other she will manipulate the control until it lands on some reality show about people trying to room together, trying to stay drunk all the time and trying not to murder each other or step on the other's fabulousness. the glow of the television will highlight her smile.
she has stopped. there is a cross roads. she has stopped her head tilted towards the moon, her chest heaves , she screams and falls to her knees. she pounds the dirt. he is beside her. he is stroking her hair, she does not stop him. she does not curse him. their forms are alighted by moonbeams. far away with a telescope we can see her mouth moving. we can see her mouth move and form the words, '____ ______ together.'
he is nodding shaking the tears from his cheek.a car unwittingly passes by, save for the little boy whose face is pressed against the window. inside the car the boy knocks. inside the car the sound catches the drivers attention. the driver looks into the rear view. in the rear view he sees a man that looks familiar. suddenly the couple on the road is bathed in the red light of brakes. suddenly a driver pounds the steering wheel. the moon light that covers them is more yellow when compared the to the white of this new man's rage.
an we all think of whats to come.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


it's quiet while she's down. passed out, placed on coach.
'while i'm sick, i'm no monster,' said the wife.
they are at the kitchen table. they are waiting for a relative to come. they will meet them at the top stair and watch the children go. the adults will know, but act joyous. laugh, smile, ask of the day, the relative, the brother in law will want to strangle him. the brother in law, blonde, six feet eight inches coiled and ready to attack. he will look for a sign in her eyes. he will look and see nothing feeling a break in his heart. when he gets home, when the children are consumed with dinner or playtime with their cousins, he will sneak away and finds things to squeeze, to hit and to break.
they will sit on the porch rail after the waving is done. they will sit until the car is gone past the horizon lines and she will strike. she will slap the face. she will slap the face. she will punch the chest. she will not scream, she does not want to wake her. she will curse and spit. she will slap the face. finally, with tear and heavy breath she will want to know all.
he has been quiet. he has been wiping tears. he has been filled with the wrecking ball watching it flash and destroy everything inside him. he will imagine the emptiness of the one room apartment that she will cast him to. he will be alone, trapped by mistake to a life aborted.
'i don't want to tell,' he will whisper.
'____ you.' she will say.
there is silence as she paces, as she pauses, as she cries thumps her breast and attacks. the absorbing machine, he will take it all. he does not want to talk, to reveal, to remember and to support that it happened.
he does not want to give word, breath and life to that night. he wants to forget. she is laying on the coach. she is so young. she has pulled a pillow to her chest. she has on track pants and a highschool sweatshirt. she has on all white sneakers. she has on little make up so you can see her age plain.
he does not want to give this life.
his wife is holding her chin. she is pale and looking down. he follows her gaze. it is a duffel bag. it is a green duffel bag. it has the logo of the school with a picture of the mascot. there is a side pocket. there is no zipper on the side. no security and no protection, so that the pocket lay loose open like a drunks mouth. hanging from those lips is a thin plastic white stick. from here it is obvious. from here he can see and lose his breath. from here he watches his wife tilt her head towards the roof, tear stained cheeks mouth agape calling for voice but hearing nothing.
two purple lines. pregnant.
there is an earthquake inside buildings shaken windows blown power lines going down. his wife begins down the stairs, begins walking down the street leading north. he begins walking down the stairs, down the street heading north. he is behind her, he will not catch up, will not know how long they are going to go. it is sunset.
when they are out of sight, she stirs, she awakens. once again she finds herself alone.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


is a plain. is the dirt road cut through cow pasture. cut through knee high grass. cut through the cow farm, the bad lands, the home of the long horizon lines. is a white house, farm house, long empty porch save for rocking chair, save for wind chime, save for young girl in brown dress, drab dress humble to her body.
sun is going. the shadows long some stretch skinny some grow rich and fat fill the place as she stand there, as she knock there. she got long hair, raven black unmoved by springtime breeze. she got chestnut eyes wide like a horse. she got thin long arms, sweet milk white skin and a plump stomach. she got a baby in there. she got a child on the way. she got her nostrils open waiting for the door to open waiting to make her demands.
there is a kitchen table with fruit in the middle. there is a home kept by a woman. there are some toys and other play things there. children's fingerprints are all over the place. there is a television that could be on at any moment.
a family home.
is the family home, she wonders aloud. she will rub her stomach. she will inhale deep deep DEEP. she will make her way across the porch and peekaboo the inside. there is darkness. there is one car, a sedan. it could be wife, but you never know. she could be napping, what to say what would you say to her to that about this.
not my fault, thinks the girl.
she is young. she is 19 at the most. she was cheer leader. she was top of the pyramid at the football games. he was not a football player now, but was a star so many years ago. he was fit, young and excited in his youth. he is middle aged now. he is lost to the savages of monotony. he takes to wearing button downs. he takes to wearing slacks over blue jeans. he keeps his shirt top one button undone. he watches things with hungry desperate eyes. he has brown hair that rarely gets combed. he loves his wife.
he never meant for this to happen. he did say.
he loves his wife and family. he did say.
he just got to damn drunk and what is the problem with him anyway. he did say.
a good man. is the town's opinion.
he is a teacher of english. he carries a leather saddlebag. he talks fast and get's excited about the ideas of stories. there are so many angles and opinions. so many inlets and roads out of him that he is a multifaceted man.
should not have done that. he would think to himself.
life was slow, you just get desperate for action, for change. he would think to himself.
she is young. she will move on. she will find her forever love and everything will be fine, stay quiet life can go on. he would think to himself.
she can hear footsteps now. the are coming behind her. there is a a cacophony of family sound coming behind her. she gets cold, she sweats and grips her duffle bag. she does not want to turn. she does not want to turn. she DOES NOT want to turn. but there is the word.
hello goes the wife.
the family stops, the family stands at the bottom of the stairs. the older woman sees. she sees the lump, the bump, the flush the tears. she knows. as pieces of her infrastructure begin to collapse. as power lines begin to snap she knows.
the quiet shower. she thinks
the distance. she thinks.
the nights where he stood quiet watching the moon hang. she thinks.
her free hand will go to her children. he is behind her. she can hear his breath stop. she can her his feet shuffle with shame. she grips her children close. too much to bear.
hello. goes the girl and she breaks. there are tears. there is no one there to catch her as the knees buckle. she goes to knee then instincts brace her body slowly lowering to her back to protect the precious cargo. she will lay staring at the white of the porch over hang. she will lay as they are still. she will lay thinking what have i done here? she will lay and let the shadows over take her. she will lay fade to black unknowing whats to come.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

the losing 8

we don't talk in the car on the way to the meeting. we hadn't talked since i returned home from work. she wanted to know about a stain on my chest pocket. she wanted to know how, 'if you sat in the car for lunch you couldn't hear the phone?' she has lots of questions.
i am angry but i did not refuse to go. i am angry and in the past i would have gone to the phone and canceled the baby sitter. i am angry that she has questions, that she wants to know as if i am untrustworthy. there is a clock on the wall, we have thirty minutes before we have to leave. i go silent, i shake my head from side to side. she is wearing her purple blouse and dark denim pants, each clinging to her, accenting the body. she is young, thin and at the moment receiving the silent treatment.
she appears at the shower curtain trying to make peace. she says that she get's worried. she says that 'i really look forward to our lunchtime conversations. i am home bound with the kids and so the only contact i get form adults, during the day, comes from that time. i am sorry if you felt like i accused you, but i get worried. please let's just pretend it didn't happen.'
she says all that leaning against the wall. she says all that and still i boil. i am quiet. i breathe 'ok' and begin to towel off. we kiss as i dry. she leans her head against my naked chest. the aroma from her hair fills my nostrils.
still i sand on defense.
the baby sitter arrives. there is silence in the car as we move towards that meeting. there is silence in the night air as we move towards the meeting room. there is a space, however infinitesimal, that has arrived between us. it is cold, the space, cold, lonely and bringing with it the fear of growth.
there are celebrations and conversations, but we are quiet. there are shouts of joy at the scale. there is the lecture about fighting through the wall. there is the conversation of support. there are here deep brown eyes, rubied lips and mountain of a body turning towards us fresh from a five pound loss. i am not sure how to feel.
'no scale tonight, huh?' she says standing between my wife and i.
'nah, just don't feel it this week.'
'well just keep working at it, i guess,' she says and moves with her husband towards the door.
'that was nice,' she says but i understand the true meaning.
i nod. i know she wonders why. she is thinking. i will refuse to show my hand. i will refuse the scale i will refuse the diet i will stare at the new wound, the new space between us. like a sore in ones mouth i will tongue it, put pressure the twinge of pain not welcomed but continually tested for it's presence. she will not go to the scale. we sit together. we stand together. we move towards the car and head home together. in the dark and the silence of the road she will try again.
'that danielle keeps losing, huh?'
she wants me to explode. she wants me to cry foul and a cheat so that she can join the chorus. so that we can come back together. reunite the team over the common enemy and frustrations. the urge is there. the words on the tip of my tongue. how i want to crush that mountain of a woman. how i want to tell of her diet pills and secret eatings. i know she will act offended, she will want to punch her in the face, she will understand my faults and failures but celebrate my strength. i know she will say, 'see how great and strong you are? you won't take a short cut, you will fight for your body and dreams. you are willing to struggle and fail only to get up again and keep trying. i am proud of you, i love you.'
we would talk, cry and eventually make love. i won't give into this now. i am hungry. i am lost being led farther away by hunger pangs. i can hear the search part, i can see the flashlights up ahead, but i am not ready to be found.
so we are silent. so we pay the baby sitter. so we undress and redress. so we lay in the dark as i stare at the ceiling my stomach rumbles and i do not go to the kitchen i do not reach for her hand.

Monday, March 1, 2010

the losing 7

i thought i saw her, danielle, sitting in the far corner with dark glasses on. there was a tray there filled with empty wrappers and her face stained with hot sauce. i am angry. now i have to act like i am ordering to stay on the point scale. now instead of regular soda i have to have diet or better yet water. as she is near the end of her meal i slow down, take my time, read each item and their ingredients hoping she will leave. i hope she will not notice, not say my name, maybe be as ashamed as i am, to be fat, old and trying to sneak a meal past our spouses.
as i am getting past the point of no return, seeing the minutes of my lunch hour slip away, i take a deep breath and step forward. the lady at the register is ready. her face open, bright, young and eager to satisfy. she will be a manager one day.
'yes i would like a taco salad, no cheese and a large water,' my stomach grumbles disapprovingly.
'is that everything?' she says.
'no,' comes the deep full bodied baritone from behind me, 'he would actually like to cancel that and get what he wants.'
danielle is standing there, sauce staining her wide plump lips and large crowded teeth. she has her glasses atop her full rosy cheeked face, her auburn hair hanging limp, wavy as some sort of snake vine. i wonder if it's a trap? as she stands there bits of food still clinging to her dark shirt. i wonder if my wife has put her up to this.
'our secret,' she says.
'so is that everything, sir?' goes the employee.
i make a decision, 'actually i will have a large soda, two burrito's and a quesadilla.'
she waits, we sit together.
'friend or foe?' i ask before settling into my meal.
'how dare you,' she says and pulls a candy bar from her bag.
'now, that son of a bitch is beautiful,' i say and begin to eat.
she eats, as i do, quickly. we have been trained, by the shaming stares of others, to not savor. we must get in and out. we do not talk until it is over. she puts the candy bar wrapper under the food wrappers and we place the tray in the middle so that, with two sodas, people will think we shared.
'i see you are having the same time i am staying on point,' i say.
'life is to be lived i say.'
'if only.'
'you know i have not been able to stay under or at my points since this damn diet started.'
'but your losing weight,' i say.
'ah, diet pills. i take a few of those suckers and boom success. it's just so i can keep my husband off my back.'
'i hear you,' i say, but secretly burn from her celebrated cheating.
'you should try it.'
i tap my fingers along the table top. lunch time cars have filled the drive through. the place is beginning to fill.
'i'm afraid of my heart exploding,' i say.
'ah, old wives tale.'
she has her glasses back over her eyes. there is something buried under all that flesh that strikes me as sexual, as beautiful as worth wanting. bizarre. there is a part of me that feels like i am cheating, not from the food, but for being here alone with a woman. for being here alone with a woman that is not my wife and sharing a secret. i have a twinge of guilt. it's near the end of the lunch hour, for me. i get up.
'same time tomorrow?' she says.
'we'll see, i guess,' i say.
'hey, don't feel guilty we aren't fooling around. it's just lunch,' she says.
i watch her stained lips move to form words, i watch them as the plump up, purse dance about unsure of their transmissions but sure of their intention.
'yeah, houston's is my tuesday joint. have to cover your tracks, you know.'
'yeah, great place to do it.'
'hope to see you there.'
i nod. we part. in the car my face flushes, my hands strike the wheel and thighs. i am unsure, stomach full, what direction to take but understand nothing good will come of it.
'you haven't cheated,' i say to the mirror.
something has turned, or slipped and this current life, safe place seems in jeopardy. as i turn the car into traffic, turn towards the office i call my wife and think of houston's. i call to her voice and try to imagine her lips dancing, out performing the lips on the mouth of the woman i just left.
it's her voice mail. the road is open and at the stop i can take any direction i want. such are the choices we sometimes face.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

the losing 6

well this is really right damn terrible, but a promise is a promise. i want to say something about my character and my track record of doing things the right way. you won't know, well most of you won''t know, that i was voted most honest in highschool. most of you won't know that i spend some of my free time helping out at church. i am, at my core, a good man i come home after work and play with my children. i come home after work and talk with my wife. i am not out hooting with the owls at some local bar singing about glory days or the sports page.
so what if i can't keep doughnuts out of my face. i mean it is not like i am doing drugs. so what if i buy the large chicken nuggets or buffalo wings. there are some really horrible things going on in the world, in the country, in the state, in the city or on my street. a man grows tired of having to justify his character because of his weaknesses. a man grows tired of defending those same weaknesses when they are so minor.
if carl was to have a birthday and someone were to bring in cake then i must eat. how can disrespect a man, or any coworker by not celebrating with them on this such an important milestone? now what if it isn't a birthday cake but instead brownies or fried chicken? what if it isn't a birthday but a milestone? what if it is for no reason other than building a communal bond? should i bow out? should i say no thank you i have to think about my points?
i am a good man, a kind man. i look deep into my soul for these answers and they always come back yes. they always come back to take part to build bridges. so why should i feel guilt when i wipe the sauce or powdered sugar from my mouth? why do i feel so torn? the answer, i believe, is in the constant psychological torture. ever since i was a child my mother would talk about weight and diet. we learn what we are repeatedly told.
i can remember the diet soda challenge. i can remember at ten being given the lecture on portion control. i can remember the tightening of the belt and the refusal of common childhood wishes. the sugar cereal did not grace our cupboard. the dinners would be steamed and boiled, the starvation would set in.
i can remember the wild look in my mother's eyes as she would break down. off we would rush to ________ for hamburger. off we would rush to _____ _______ for ice cream. off we would rush to _____ _______ to be lectured and weighed to shed tears and to promise a fresh start.
it would seem, with all these years of utter failure, that i would run from _____ ______ as an adult. well for most of my adult life i did. i would never have darkened _____ _____'s door step if it weren't for my wife. she was thumbing through her lifestyle magazine and noticed a coupon. i am not sure about your gender or relationship status but as a man who is in a marriage there is no worse a phrase than 'i found a coupon.'
the coupon has brought nothing but pain to my life. in the beginning they were celebrated, a few pennies off of eggs, some two for one on turkey or diapers, real economic boons. slowly they began to change, two for one pedicures that i must go to, ten dollars off of cable or satellite or interent causing us to be in constant flux over providers. there is the oil change thirty miles away that is 10% off and finally _____ ______.
'oh honey i found a discount on _____ _____, i really want to go. i need to get a fresh start, a leg up will go will you help me in this?' she said.
it was a friday evening and i had just returned home form work. i was tired and not thinking clearly. i agreed. that first night i did not sleep. tossing and turning i remembered the terror of my childhood. i remember the pain of gaining what i had lost, gaining it back to late night runs with my mother to a doughnut shop or drive through. i remembered the water aerobics the speed walking and general anxiety _____ ______ had caused me. now, with the threat of returning i was at a fork. should i tell the wife? should i deny her this joy of the coupon, of the denial of pursuing? i turned and was going to spill the beans, was going to tell the whole story but watching her tender almost innocent face glow in the night's faint light i swallowed.
'i am a man, it will be different what the hell a little kid of course he is only going to do as well as his parent. yeah this will be good, maybe finally be able to see my feet, ha! this is the right thing. the good thing. yeah i am excited,' i thought and dreamed of a waist size back in the thirties. dreamed of a shirt with only one x on the label. i was excited, hoping only for the best the whole adventure still out before me.
i am a good man. i am a honest decent man. i was one dumb naive sucker. sitting, here reflecting on all this, in my car wiping the barbecue sauce from my mouth and looking down at the empty sandwich, fry and soft drink containers. i look down, my stomach grumbles with satisfaction. my stomach belches in victory and i feel a quick shiver of fear understanding my enemies power. i am a good man, a honest man and an abject failure at dieting.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the losing 5

tired sitting here picking my nose wondering where to begin, again. danielle was quite pleased yesterday with the loss of a pound. we all celebrated by jumping up and down. her husband, whose name escapes me at the moment, clapped and wolf whistled. what the hell is his name anyway? dale? i can't remember. i am staying up to late watching television with the wife. i am sneaking out of bed too many times to stuff my face with pop corn and chocolate.
i have stopped going to the scale. the idea of the old woman, the numbers and disappointment is too much to bear. now we go to the lectures and afterwards when the line moves me to the front where the old woman is i pay and quickly turn about and leave. she says nothing, her wise weathered eyes pinched and crow footed wet about the corner as i turn to leave. people in my position are called wait ______ in the community. everyone who has started where i have started has had set backs.
the first time i did not weigh in our leader took note. the second time she stopped me by the door.
'charlie, hey how are you doing with all this?'
'my best,' i said.
she is a medium sized dark skinned woman. claudette, she has no lipstick on over her bulbous purple lips. claudette is wearing a red top over a black dress and if there was one word to describe her it would be kind.
'listen, we have all been here.'
'i'm okay. just not ready to get back on the scale,' i say trying to short circuit a longer conversation.
'i know, i know. just remember the motto of the jews,' she says.
i suck my lip and think for a moment.
'and what is that?'
claudette stares into my eyes. she has the unblinking power of a stare that mother's obtain somewhere in the evolution of raising children.
'if you keep walking, you'll make it to the promise land,' she says, 'all we are is these things we aspire to.'
'very good,' i say.
'wonderful, thank you,' says my wife and i feel a rage beginning to boil.
my wife is beautiful standing there. she is wearing a deep blue form fitting top, she is wearing tight clean straight legged brown slacks. she is wearing heeled shoes that allow her toes to peek through. she has her hair styled straight with the bangs to the side and her makeup is on. i am torn by her beauty and kindness and the fact that her weight control/loss makes me want to scream obscenities into her face.
you can love someone and be furious at their success. you can love someone and be completely eaten away by jealousy. i am a fat guy, i shouldn't have a woman this beautiful but at the same time i do so she must take the full force of my character and it's judgements.
now at the door to this nondescript business center, we are getting ready to leave. we say good night and thank you to claudette and she rushes over to talk to another wait ______. as we are moving into the night air i think of danielle. i think of her massive piles of flesh flopping up and down as she jumped. i think of my own massive stomach and breasts flopping up and down if i were to jump off the scale.
success is in the continual attempts. if you are falling down keep getting up it's only when you stop that you fail. if you never stop you can't fail. i am rubbing my stomach while we drive home. tonight i want to make love to my wife. tonight i want to start again get back up, commit and face the scale. tonight i want to shed the wait label and begin my life.
'that was nice, tonight,' my wife says and reaches for my hand.
'what part?'
'just he whole thing, how claudette talked with us and how the woman and her husband were so excited. i don't know, it makes you feel good to see people acheive something,' she says and leans her head back.
i know she is not thinking about me. i know she is not hinting about my scale avoidance and how she wishes i would try harder. at least i think i know those things, but something sparks a fire anyways. something causes me to withdraw, be hurt and angry anyways. we drive in silence and i think of danielle and i think how i will show my wife who can achieve.
this week will be different, starting tomorrow. i think and pull the car into the driveway, we are home.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

the losing 4

i have to tell you that i am not using my own name here. it would be really stupid to come out and write 'hey this is chuck steesom from walnut street, come pat me on the back,' because you never know who could be watching this thing. my luck it would be the boss or hampson that son of a bitch neighbor with his cackle, muscle car and garage bench press combo machine.
hampson may think he is the summit of mount awesome, but let me tell you he has some more climbing to do. take his outfits, i mean who still wears those damned baggy gypsy pant? he struts out there, on the weekends listening to the rock station a bit too loud wrench or weight in hand yodeling into his blue tooth.
hampson the softball player, making his wife keep stats. hampson the grill master who calls everyone over. i can still recall last summer's cook up when amongst all the neighbors he grabbed my belly and pronounced, 'should of made this one pay,' everyone got themselves a good laugh off of that.
later over beers he tried to play it off as, 'having fun,' but i knew the real reason i could see his eyes drifting over my wife's body like a fog. he filled all the spaces around her, all her nooks and crevices. i wondered if she noticed. the person that did notice was hampson's wife and i could see her mind working, calculating the anger to be distributed later. this was not the first time.
matter of fact of do not use anyone's real name. i try to keep them all sorted on a piece of paper but last night my son took the paper and threw it in the toilet. though i am pretty sure that no one is reading this journal, i am going to apologize now for any screw ups.
there is this mountain of a woman that has begun to attend the meetings. she comes with her husband dale, and let me tell you something, he is a real piece of work. this guy with his slick blacked hair and tight 32 waist. he leans forward during the discussion taking notes. at first i thought, 'what kind of monster takes notes to abuse his wife with later?' only to find he had his own book.
these skinnies are getting to be a real damned problem. i know, i understand, that they are looking in the goodness of their heart to support their fatso spouses but come on. if you are just starting out in the gym, you want to start with people at your rate or do you want to lift your twenty pounds and then have your spouse have to add more weight each time for their exercises? the fastest way to lose hope is to have someone who is not as desperate. one school of thought is that you get the inspiration of the final product, but this is not true. what you really are getting is a daily slap in the face about your failures and the hard work that lies ahead.
i am angry at all this and seeing slick boy dale over there sucking the end of his pencil while his wife quietly blushes does not help.
that mountain of a woman goes by the name danielle. she has blond hair, green eyes and a stomach that could rival mine. it's bizarre the way a woman's backside grows until it looks like it is about two feet long in their stretch pants. danielle has a serious ass. she shifts and the chair groans and as her husband makes notes she blushes and sweats.
i watch them as sweat runs down my own cheek and stomach i watch her and wonder about her struggles.
news flash, my son has just come into the room and thrown his cereal on the floor. so i guess that is the universe telling me enough for now.

Monday, February 22, 2010

the losing 3

now i know what you are thinking, 'how much does this poor guy weigh?' at least i think that is what i would think but i can't remember if i have written it down somewhere earlier. well let me tell you that
a) if i haven't then it is none of your damn business what that number is. that you should be ashamed for even thinking about it. what's that number mean? you just looking for another reason to judge?
b) it was less than today, after a night of complete and utter gluttony. by god life is a buffet and i took the time to stuff myself with it all. while little miss goal weight went for a walk i rushed a bowl of cereal. while she boiled the chicken breast and washed the lettuce i made an excuse about needing light bulbs, forgot the bulbs and ate a double cheeseburger skipping the french fries only to get a bag of potato chips with the light bulbs. i ate until it was hard to breathe. i ate until my stomach cried out, stretched against the barrier of pants and belt. i ate myself exhausted and returning home lay on my back sweating worrying over how to eat the dinner.
c) i am exhausted. closer to three hundred than two fifty. my children where trouble last night, crying out every hour on the hour from midnight on, teeth are a terrible thing to grow. as we would take turns going to their room, holding them, putting them back to sleep i would make side trips to the kitchen for slice of apple, for peanut butter on apple with mixed nuts or valentine candy.
i curse ______ _______, i curse the small measuring scale and points. i lay in bed grumbling thinking of ways to destroy my journal and point score food glossary. a man has got to eat, has got to be healthy have a belly. let's say we are in the wild and two animals are going to fight which one are you picking? a thin bear or a fat one? why doesn't that apply to us americans? why do we have to invent the skinny fit jean and celebrate jack thin body?
i am holding my stomach, pushing the sides together to make a fat hairy valley from my breasts to my belly button. the flesh canyon leads to the end of the belly and a waterfall of hair down to my privates.
i lay in the dark wondering if fat is truly like a suit. if my body thinks i am wearing a fat shirt and pants under my regular clothes. i wonder if my innards will go on strike against the mouth and brain. if the blood will send secret messages from the muscle and bones to go on strike, stop for long enough to cause a stroke freezing the mouth in a tight clasp so that i can only consume liquids. so that i will lose the weight and save them all from so much work.
i wonder on their union meetings if the ankle and jaw are willing to sacrifice themselves so that the doctor will have to wire shut my jaw and viola will put me on a body saving liquid diet. i think of blended hamburger meat or steak. i think of a life of triple thick chocolate shakes. i think of doughnuts and the pure joy of eating in the early morning when they are still fresh and warm.
i rarely think of making love anymore. i enjoy it. my wife she is heart achingly beautiful. she is magnificent in the sack but i lose focus. i think of my breasts flopping my stomach flopping my whole body moving like an angry sea. while we are conjoined there is the sound of the bed frame there is the sound of my hard breath and the heat of sweat covering me and i am embarrassed. i am sure that she has not achieved an orgasm in months which is not right. so instead of being emboldened, so instead of inspiration to screw it is just overwhelming shame. it is the shame that drives the body to the cabinet, it is the damn 'screw all this crap, you fat jerk lazy so and so,' thoughts that get me through the snacking and then satiated i lay on the couch fingering my fat breasts.
it is in the night, this night with the plus number hanging as a sword of damocles that i think of her. it is in the night while we fight with the teething child that i trace her sleeping face. it is in the night heavy sighing from an overfilled stomach that i curse myself for being soft and making the wrong food choices. it is here amongst god and family that i promise a recommit to the program. a promise to start fresh in the morning and celebrate this promise with a handful of candy as one last kiss off. a handful of candy the sweet final kiss of a solider before he is shipped out to duty.
things are going to change around here, i think and place my finger in between belly and pelvis pushing the skin and fat skyward then letting it drop with a thwop. things are going to change.

Friday, February 19, 2010

the losing 2

there is always a party. ever damn day somebody is getting older or having a child. every damn day somebody is getting engaged, graduating or having a kid do something worth celebrating. the invitations come through the mail, they come through the phone and sneak onto your computer without warning. each with a warm front, a picture of small animals or of the hosts or of the honoree and each comes with a commitment card.
i curse their smiling, eager faces. i curse the innocent wanting eyes of babes as they express the emotion of 'please don't let me down'. so we check the boxes write the number of attendees and i await the onslaught of temptations.
like a shipwreck in a storm, i cling to the buoy of five pound loss as the waves toss me about trying to dislodge me from my hope and goal. first there are the whispers of, 'well we have been doing so well what's one drink?' growing to a crescendo of 'this is america god damned it and you are a god damned grown man who pays the bills, what you can't enjoy one drink after a hard week supporting your family?' the weather is merciless as i watch my wife getting her 'goal weight allowances' and passing them up.
i curse at her, under my breath, for never breaking down. i curse at her, under my breath, for always smiling as she makes a one egg white omelette weighing each item and marking them in her food journal with the joy of a school girl.
lunch, at the office, has become torture. i bring a sack lunch and make excuses. 'ah, that sounds great but i don't have any cash on me. what's that? oh, no don't worry about it, see i brought a lunch.'
i can hear them laughing and know it's about me. i take to eating in the car two streets away. i take to making excuses, 'oh my wife she needs me to call her so we can decide about _____ or else i would love to go.' in case they drive by or are spying i will push the ear piece and begin talking, waiting, pretending to listen and talking again.
men don't understand _____ _______ they wonder about the point scale. they wonder on the little book that was in my pocket but now hidden in the glove box. i tell them it's for my wife, how she really wanted to do this together and, 'i damn sure won't give up my beers and steak,' when i see the looks on their faces change to shock.
thursday is our weigh in day. it is by this time that i need the lift of the scale, to see the sweat was worth it before heading into the weekend where the devil sits temptation on either side. we have arrived, we have made it through the support speeches and food fighting techniques now are lined for the weight and exit. as my wife is at her target or below she will not have to pay. they have given her a pin and have her stand to be admired, during meetings. i will be paying for awhile.
we slide to the side. she steps on the scale.
'very good,' says the old lady.
she moves off and i move on. the numbers spin and land. before she says anything i know. my heart stops and my palms sweat as i can feel all eyes on me, judging my efforts and body. there is a deafening silence.
'you'll be alright honey. you just got to keep your head up, keep working the program. you'll make it i promise. don't let this break you,' the old lady says.
'plus two,' is what the scale says.
i can feel every fat inch of my stomach. it is laughing making rude faces through the shirts fabric and letting everyone know who is in charge.
'would you like to stay after and work with a councilor?' she says.
'it'll be alright dear,' says the wife.
'plus two,' says the scale.
'no thank you, but thank you. two steps forward is still more than one set back, right?' i say and muster a smile.
as we leave, silent i can feel her eyes on me wanting a conversation. as we leave i can hear my stomach rumbling it's victory song. as we leave towards the car under the veil of night, it is darkness, black and i can feel something terrible on the air. i know it is hungry,it is angry and justified as it arrives home from detention.
'don't give up, honey i am right here for you. we can do this together,' she says.
my mind already lost to the faces on the invitations, their buffets, their booze and the freedoms of man in america.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

2/18 losing

we sit in steel chairs, those drab grey hurtful monsters. we sit close together heating the air, steaming the windows and causing our bodies to sweat. well not us all. we sit, we heavy breath, we move slowly adjusting our heavy frames as group leader to some attendees give their tales of the tortured stomach.
we the watcher of weight. i am among them, my dimpled plump belly pushing against shirt, against belt and pant button causing and impression. i am uncomfortable feeling the flab fill my arm pit getting caught trapped smothered against arm and pit rubbed raw by the hair and goosepimple chilling as the sweat rolls over and down the expanse of skin.
god damned these flabby breasts! i think. i am a man.
...i use to get a tan by the fridge light from checking to see whats to eat,' the group leader would say.
you were laughing at the tales of woe. you were attentive and reaching from my hand the whole time. you phony, you single serving princess that dragged me here. there is a big loud moon face clock behind the speaker. there is a drab rented meeting room in a drab economy hotel. there is a long easy fold particle board table with brochures fanned across it's face. there is the end with a kind faced old woman seated her glasses seated on her forehead. she is the judge, the money changer, the recorder of the scale. the white bathroom scale sits right beside her right before the door where one by one we will scoot to the end take off our shoes and be weighed. afterwards the weight will be recorded in our books, it will be authenticated with a stamp and signature our passports recorded we will be set free.
i curse you as each loud minute tock passes. i keep my head forward but shoot cold sideways glances towards you. you the tourist the easy to maintain push her plate away regular body bitch. my wife the enforcer, the honey voiced suggester.
'well maybe it would be great to go and we can learn some new tricks to staying healthy,' she says.
first it was the book. i come home from work and there is noise in the kitchen. i come home from work the kids are to be kissed so i lean and grunt purpling my face and causing my back to scream.
'how was your day?' she would sing.
'uh, hmm, good,' i would respond trying to catch my breath.
god what have i done to myself, i think.
the kids, they are young just starting out and i watch them anxiously. i secretly feel their size when i hold them to see if they aren't getting a little too much food. i try to think about the local team, i try to think about my wife and laying a good smooch on her face anything to avoid dreaming of our family fat as cows or floating about like parade balloons. placing one hand on my knee i push up with a battle cry and head into the kitchen.
she is there amongst the pots and pans, amongst the steam and smells. we embrace and glancing over her shoulder i see the book, i see the scales.
'whats that?' i ask. i ask but i know from a life time of my mother who took me to her meetings at eleven. i know from my mother who carried the scale who was always talking or listening to somebody talk about weight and weight control.
'oh, it's my old ____ ______ food guide and scale,' she sings and i am angered.
'ah, well you seem happy about it.'
she seems to catch the mood and is quick to react.
'wait, we agreed, i thought. we agreed to try this, so there is a meeting tomorrow night, i got my mom to baby sit...'
i am staring at her a fury has build in the pit of my stomach. i try to hide it. i grow distant and listen to the sound of small children playing.
'was i wrong?'
i take a moment, 'no, no just so fast i guess.'
'well we can cancel, we can try another time?' she says.
there is a moment.
'no, you are right, there is always a beginning and this is it.'
there is a silence as she returns her attention to the food on the stove.
'dinner will be ready in about ten minutes, why not go play with the kids they missed you.'
i do. ten minutes comes and we are seated. i am staring down at boiled chicken. i am staring down at spinach salad. i am staring down at the results of my years of avoidance.
this is going through my mind until we are here. we are at the end the kind old woman with her glasses down pen in hand as my wife sits atop the scale.
'well, you're already below your ideal weight, good for you...$12'
i am trembling from rage as i step on the scale. i am cursing her for being below her weight. i am cursing her for bringing me here to be trodded out like cattle for public ridicule and embarrassment.
'five pounds down, keep it up,' says the smiling old woman.
the fire goes out. success and joy swell my chest. i clap my hands like a child. i already feel lighter, light enough to float away i grasp my wife i lift her to the air and we retreat to the night laughing to ourselves.
we are innocent the night seems like the night and not the black of foreshadow the dooms to come.

Monday, February 15, 2010


what a whale she became. thank god we made it out of the ocean, away from her grasp, her fingers lips and tongue. thank god for land, for this woman skin of olive tone. for this woman an her hour glass, of this woman her fingers lips tongue and hips that sway.
we the two but she the breeze causes i tree to dance in the parks of this town where children play on wooden structures two story tall. where children laugh, throw pine cones and cause their parents to scuttle after pushing their parent glasses or dirtying their parental high quality sleeves. there is the sidewalk here, there is the store here there is the construction that slowly sucking them dry. whole streets lopped off as one by one pregnant buildings give birth their glass faced wombs emptied marked by 'for lease'signs an deep socket window eyes prowl for other dreamers cocksure to fill their bellies once more.
there are no balloons here. what happened to the balloons? to the laughter of children with their pink or red balloons following behind mother and her brown bags of sweater or wine bottle both. now we got the text phone, or the video phone all this noise leave no time for the silence. sad. it's in the silence we get the morse code of our heart. the rhythm to translate our desire.
'beat beat', ah i want to be a dancer.
'thump thump', ah i really love charlie.
now with all this noise all we got is our best guesses at the muted signal. all we got now is the quite tink that could be mistranslated.
'tink' huh what is that.
'tink tink' he will change.
'tink tink' stay in the cubicle, or stay in arizona or stay with the plate of hamburger and cheese.
we stumble onward. just this morning it was anger and attack. a stranger will stab you in the back a friend in the front and family will feel bad after they do it. we all got knives an scars but the joy is not the attack, no the joy of family is in the heal.
'its just its just its just,' she starts to say but where can you go?
they turned against him. 'ah, brother he tries to follow his heart, you know,' she says.
'sometimes it's a maze we gots to love in,' say i.
we know, you know. there are brick buildings here. some are taken care some are dilapidated. some house families and some the drunk. there are buildings and homes and you can never tell whose living behind what, you can never tell who is who or built for what until there is a little pressure.
i love i love i love. they say in the summer when the sky is blue and the parks are filled with picnics and joy. well anyone can do that.
in the street noise of our silence it begins to rain. in the noise i pull her close think of all the what could have beens all the mistranslations of the heart. in the rain and the cold and the breeze i pull her close, i love i love i love and don't notice the weather at all.
they say the weather will change. weathermen don't trust them. they say the wounds they will heal. the doctors don't trust them. they say that they don't got no time for you no more and start their whisper campaigns against it. seasons change and those that believe in a year of winter will either adapt or be left behind.
a man can fish the sea, he can't live there. we hold on we hold close we move forward towards whatever might come. you dig?