los banos


It’s weird being sober—for me, I mean… it’s like getting a brain transplant. or something kinda weird. There’s a thought… There’s another one… Where’re they coming from? It’s kind of trippy… like when you first get high. it would be cool if you could get hooked on being sober.

Then the feelings start coming, bubbling up inside… what is that?

Maybe I have to fart.

Maybe I’m in love with that girl over there.

I don’t know.

I’ll figure it out.

My father is hopeless alcoholic. Not because there’s no hope, not because we gave up hoping he’d come home someday and be okay, but because he gave up hope for himself. One day my sister called from way up north and told me the doctor said dad was gonna die soon if anybody wanted to see him they should come soon.

so I went, got really drunk and went to see him. When I got there I looked at him, this brokendown old man who hardly looked like my dad at all.

And he was drunk and he looked at me.

I told him, “You motherfucker, I want you to know that I forgive you for everything.” And I gave him a big hug and he hugged me back and we both cried and cried.

Some years later I happened to be going through that town again and I decided to visit my sister. When I got there, my dad was there, I was drunk, and he was drunk and I said, “Hey—I thought you were supposed to be dead.” and he thought for a minute and he said, “If I die, I can’t drink.” and I thought for a minute and we both started laughing and laughing.

That’s how powerful addiction can be.

This intelligent, powerful dynamic man wasted his life leaving behind three wives from three countries and 10 kids that I know of.

san jose


Ben had snitched on one of the new young punks for messing around with Jill (one of his “girlfriends”). at first he was happy about it “i got them” but the security-tech guy had been really rough on Jill and the guy and afterwards Ben got depressed and just stayed in bed for hours during the next day and missed his classes and wasn’t being his usual playful self at all.

I pulled a chair up next to his bed and I told him the story of Steve Earle in prison, his radio having been stolen “because you missed the meeting I’m gonna tell you a story about a buddy of mine…”

(Ben: “I see where you’re going with this”)

“…and so he got out and now he’s a famous recording artist.”

Ben, walking up the steps to the cabin.

Paul: “Hey, Mr. Wright.”

Ben: “Hey.”

Paul: “There’s some fine women looking for you.”

Ben: “Where are they?”

Paul: “They’re out there looking for Mr. Right.”

Ben:”That’s me.”

At my goodbye Ben came up and gave me his favorite tennis ball that he had been bouncing around for four weeks.

Tim’s snoring:

—The waves crashing on the rocks

—A Harley that doesn’t run right

—A cow stuck in a barbwire fence

—rehab, 2006




is TizzaBoo.

Is Baby


Old Baby,



What did you do today?

go outside?

be an outside kitty?

Were you a good girl?

Bhudda eyes reveal nothing.

She never says.

10 years ago a young girl,

Marrianne told me

“there’s a kitten living in the bushes

outside your window.”

I told her, “No, I would have seen

it by now.”

“Yes there is!” she said.

I gave her my digital camera

and I said, “if there’s a cat out there

go take a picture of it.”

She did.

I still have the photo somewhere.

A grey and white face staring up through

juniper bushes and a boxwood hedge.

One time she brought me a live

mouse, dropped it in my bed in

the night.

She was a hunter. We loved

watching birds & squirrels from the kitchen window.

I started putting out food

and water for her.

One day she came to me,

she knew I was her friend.

She rubbed her body on my leg.,

I smoked my cigarette and

looked down at this little thing.

Grey and white puff ball

skittish, afraid of everything.

Where did she come from?

How did she get here?

She never says.

After months of hanging out

together on my smoke breaks

she decided to come inside the

apartment. She ran under the

couch and stayed there.

Sometimes she’d peek out, or

ask to be let out. She was terribly

afraid of Pam.

I’d come home from work and

she’d be waiting outside under

the window. She’d roll around

in the dirt while i smoked a

cigarette. Sometimes she’d follow

me into the living room.

Eventually she felt at home

inside, sitting & watching & waiting

for dinner. She was quiet, rarely

speaking, except to go out or

say that she was hungry. She’d sit on my lap and watch

& listen to everything.

i’d sit at the kitchen table,

she’d sit on the kitchen table,

preferably on a newspaper, and

watch for the birds and squirrels

that come to the avacado trees

outside the window

at night i’d lay on my back

and she’d lay between my thighs.

when i got up in the morning around

5 or 6 she’d join me on the porch,

on the top step, while i smoked a

cigarette. We’d look out at the

day slowly opening up. Watch for

signs of life.


5 AM.

  1. at 5 AM my body tells me to get up. I don’t want to get up. It’s dark. There’s nothing to do. I have to be quiet.
  2. I go outside and sit out on the top step to smoke a cigarette. There is the conspicuous absence of a furry little buddy at my side.
  3. 3 windows of the apartments that encircle me are alight.
  4. Lenny from downstairs quietly closes his front door and heads out on his way to work.
  5. A man is running down Ransford Avenue in the dark.
  6. There is a strange orange glow low in the western sky behind the apartments before me. It is the security lighting from 8 Arkwright Court, the largest apartment complex in the area, where my friend Alba lives, where the police often go.
  7. There is the conspicuous silence of two giant seagull chicks that have grown enough to move away.
  8. The guys at the Bagel Bakery are banging their pots around. Their language has improved over the years.
  9. A sliver of moon hangs low over the western horizon, although the stars are obstructed from view by the wet air.
  10. The cypress & pine trees, the older ones, stand tall and motionless, silhouettes in the dark, dripping fog.