A Minute with Michael

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Signs, Signals, and Omens

Signals, signs, omens and the
I seem to miss them.
Although, I’m not always looking for them,
like some ancient oracle.

In hindsight though, I see them all
too clearly. The moments when
I should have noticed the way the
wind was blowing, or that the light
had changed from green to red.

I’d miss smoke signals on the
open prairie only to realize later,
as the Natives shot their arrows into
my body, that I knew something
was terribly amiss on the plains.

It’s terribly hard to recognize
what the Tea leaves meant,
after you’ve already rinsed your cup
out and hung it to dry on the rack;
was that a skull?

I’m not always the swiftest
in the interpreting of the will
of the stars, or if there is any will
with them at all, or if it was even
a symbol for me.

Like, what if I intercepted someone
else’s message and completely correlated
it to the wrong experience, ruining not only
my destiny but the destiny of some total stranger
who might have been waiting for some true sign?

I don’t even sometimes grasp the moment
when all she wants me to do is kiss her because all
I’m thinking about is how much I wish she’d
kiss me, so the message is missed and the moment
goes by and no one gets kissed.

I need my signals to arrive with a Thud.
The signs to make my eyes tear and
the omens arrive like a movie premier,
which I’d probably miss anyway,
still thinking about that kiss.

Photo Credit: https://www.carriegollergallery.com/shop/carrie-goller-smoke-signals-encaustic/mixed-media-48×48

Snow Ain’t the Worst of It

The world is a big place,
but it’s very small.

While you occupy a large
space on it in your own
perspective, you’re really
just a speck, a tiny little mote.

So, stop behaving as if
you’re the only one around.
Or the only one who matters.

It’s something I noticed
as we were digging ourselves
out of the mountains of heavy
snow that recently blanketed

The absolute disregard for anyone
other than one’s self.
Be it through shoveling snow into
a pile which will eventually become
someone else’s problem or literally
digging out your parking space but then
moving your car so you can take up
TWO parking spaces, and basically indicate
that everyone else can go screw themselves.

At least you got your space, Johnny.
Effing Johnny, man.

I don’t know where the sense of community,
or togetherness or a sense of unity ever went;
perhaps it’s just a myth I’ve persisted in believing,
that good people will do good things just because they
are good things to do.

Sure, there were minor instances of
people helping others, doing the right thing,
but I personally witnessed so little of it,
I did what I could to help, to not be a Johnny.
But it seemed so, thin?

We’re nothing as individuals really,
just specks of cosmic dust hurtling through
Space on a medium sized rock, and we
really aren’t that important.
Perhaps not even worthy of Rock Star parking.

Messy Valentine’s

The heartbeats thudding

in the chests of lovers

as they embrace, quickened

by passion and excitement,

anticipating the long kisses

that feel like melting together

in congealed commitment. 

Gross. Like, super gross. 

The metaphorical description

sounds so lovely, but if you

actually saw two people melting

together you’d probably


Valentine’s Day is a bane

on the hearts of the single

person. It hurts the mind,

the ego, the parts of the soul

that long for a Valentine of 

their own. 

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day.

I like it quite a lot actually.

I just strongly dislike 

celebrating it with a whiskey

on the rocks and my sofa.

Rather than someone who

is as into me as I am into them.

I’m not easy to love,

I’m a bit battered and slightly

bent around the edges, I am

a bit stodgy in my ways, occasionally

closed, sometimes quiet, sometimes

deeply annoyed by things others find

to be a mere nuisance. 

But I have love to give,

to the right Valentine,

who’s just as battered and bent

as I am, perhaps even less so. 

So that metaphorical melting

together can become something

real, without being

gross, super gross. 

To those happy lovers though,

I bear you no ill will and 

honestly love your ability

to love so completely and

fully the person that you

chose to be your Valentine. 

Happy Valentine’s Day,


All the Feels I Felt

The feeling you thought you
felt, wasn’t the feeling you were
actually feeling at the time you
thought you felt it.
It was a different feeling.

You aren’t feeling it,
that feeling that’s supposed to
occur when you know your feeling
is right, that sixth sense feeling.
That inside feeling.

Some feelings are supposed
to be a spark that you can judge
by how it makes the rest of your
feelings feel. And when you don’t
get that feeling, you have to say,
you’re not feeling it.

Which makes others have the
feelings, the sore feelings, the
feelings that make you feel sick
to your stomach because you can’t believe
how much feeling you poured into
their feelings in the hopes that your
feelings will be reciprocated.

I’m just going back the feel of
things, no actual structure or shape,
no color or tone, just the feel of it,
the feel of the room, the feel of those
absent eyes, the feel of being left
out alone again.

The feel of nights alone on the
deflated and over-felt sofa,
the feel of cigarette smoke wafting
in little blue whirls overhead like a
crown of missed opportunities and
extinguished flaming feelings.

All the feels,
felt so often,
felt too much, crowded,
pressed together under pressure,
feeling like it’s going to blow.

Snow Underfoot

The crunch of the snow under
my boots, the familiar sound,
as I walk. Reminding me of all
the Winters I’ve spent,
walking through it.
The sound of it sending me
through time.

Walking to Grammar school
in the deep snow piles of the
1980’s, the trudging through
the snow to high school in the
1990’s. The late nights, leaving
a high school sweetheart’s house,
hoping to get home by curfew.

The late nights leaving bars,
the late nights knocking on the
wintery door of a lover, snow piled
high in front of her door, hoping
to be quiet. Of nights of knocks
unanswered, stupidly standing
knee deep in snow, shivering.

The snow, a deep part of my
memories; growing up along
urban sidewalks, some shoveled,
some not, cautiously stepping, so
not to slip and slide and fall into a
pile of broken bones. Walking like
a penguin, a waddle for safety sake.

Wading through the snow pack,
to get to her bed, to get to her arms,
to get through the night and hope the
snow will be melted, or shoveled or salted
when the morning arrives.
Pants and shoes dried by the heat vent.

The snowy Winters of discontent,
the snowy Winters of appreciative warmth,
the Winters of solitude and of company,
the snow bound nights of late drinks till
the scraping plows echo through the
early morning.


She makes me so mad,

When she knows that I

Don’t know about all

Her love.

So used,  she says,

And I can’t

Argue, I’m


But I’m never mean.

I only do what I think

I believe, and beliefs

Are questionable.

She makes me jealous,

Her talent, her wit,

Her presence in a room

While I stand goofily,

With a drink in my hand wondering

Why I’m there at all.

She’s funnier,

She’s smarter,

She’s aware,

She’s emotional but right,

How the hell did she do that?

I’m only mad because

I can’t figure it out.

Some secret that I’m not

In on. Some special

Message in the soup,

A message in the tea.

Did that guy just look at her,

God damint, fuck that 

Mother fucker,

Mother fucker. 

Damn it.

Where she going?


In There Somewhere

There’s a poem in there somewhere,
some story to write, I just can’t
seem to figure it out.
It’s as if I have become numb to
all the waves crashing over me.

With the occasional rarity of
monumental tragedy it was sort
of easy to spew out some thoughtful
and heartfelt poem about the nature of
humanity and the genuine belief in
the power of love to conquer all.

But that’s boring. So boring.
It doesn’t seem in keeping pace
with the rolling tragedies and
heartbreaking troubles we’ve had
to bear witness to. Over and over
again. Like lessons un-learned.

My fingers are too tired to wipe
away any more tears, or tap at
this keyboard, or point at the
monsters in the mirror and scream,
demanding to be let out of this fun house.

Fingers tired of rapping on the table,
the desk, the arm rest, the sides of our
own heads. Shoulders so tense, necks
so stiff from shaking our heads,
arms always flexed, hoping to fend off
the next assault to our senses.

An exhaustion of the right words,
jumbled and mixed in the ovens of thought,
half-baked in the glow of TV News and the
nightly prayer of, “what now?”
And going to a bed still nervous for the

I know there’s a poem in there though,
a story, a verse or two. I know it’ll come out
eventually, when my fingers want to work,
my shoulders relax, and my mind isn’t goo.

The Man With the Granite Hat

The man with the granite hat,
so stubborn in his ways,
no interest in anything and
unwilling to change.

So encased is he,
that even the Sun he will
not see. In his obstinance
he’ll miss even the slightest glee.

His face is curled in a stiff, muted
smirk, like he knows better about
life and stuff. And yet there’s nothing
that he has to say, nothing new anyway.

No words can penetrate the hard
case shell, no sound can escape
his self-managed hell. Arms folded
across his chest, never mind the rest.

His ears, unable to hear, from
under the heavy hat he wears,
not a whisper or shout will he
ever let out.

Stone stiff he lies, unresponsive
to anyone’s cries. No plea heard,
no wish granted, no desire to heal,
no genial politeness ever mentioned.

There he is, the man in the granite hat,
up on the hill, past the gates, near the
weeping willow and the old stone bench,
the path overgrown with weeds and debris.

That old Son of a Bitch, wicked and rotten,
no semblance of a soul, no redemption planned,
he’ll fade into the Earth as he fades into
history; not as he wanted, but how he’ll be.

The Year that Was, and Wasn’t

I had to go back and read
what it was I wrote for the
end of 2019, to see how I
should try and wrap up the
year 2020.


The Pandemic had yet to hit
and the possibilities of 2020 seemed
mildly amusing and at its
cheesiest best.
Kids in school?

2020 was the year that was,
and wasn’t. The year that
reminded us of what it is like
to lose, and lose badly.
It’s been a while since a lot
of us have had a quality

2020 was there to shove
their disgusting and diseased boot heel
into our faces and say with smiling
contempt, “I rubbed it in dog
shit too!”
Yes, 2020 came to kick humanity’s
collective ass.

2020 was the swirly no one expected,
yet should have been easy to avoid.
We had ample time to get out of the way,
yet our incredulous disbelief in our own
fallibility clouded our heads.

The tragedies of the last 12 months
have been immense and unwieldy,
like moving an elephant with a shoehorn.
So I make no predictions about 2021,
only that it is the year after.

It will arrive regardless of our disposition.
We will have to make the best of it as well as
we can and resist the urge to choke it out
before we have to.

So, all in all, the most I can
ask of 2021 is to be peaceful.
Calm, relaxed, measured and

I can dream of bigger things,
but I think it’s best to keep those
quiet for a while and see how things
go. I’ll look before leaping into 2021.

Happy New Year Dear Loyal Readers,
and thank you for all the support this year!

Sarah’s Parking Lot Christmas

                Sarah sat in the passenger seat of her boyfriend’s car. He’d taken the keys with him when he went into the store. It had been about twenty minutes and it was starting to get cold. Her breath was fogging up the glass and every so often she’d have to wipe it with her mitten to get a clear view of the entrance. She wished he’d left the keys in the ignition so she could at least play the radio and have some heat. Her legs were cold and she rubbed them to get the blood flowing. It was getting dark outside. Sarah could hear other vehicles driving through the store’s parking lot slush; splashing it. She looked at the time on her phone and sighed. She wiped another clear spot on the glass and scanned the store’s front entrance.

                It was the annual Christmas Party for Sarah’s employer. She was already running late. Jacob hadn’t really wanted to go but they’d been together for a year now and she thought it was about time she showed him off. She had dressed up a little more than she usually did for the Christmas party; wrapping paper looking leggings, a fun holly inspired skirt, a silly Christmas sweater and Christmas bows in her hair. She thought she’d try a little harder this year, since she had Jacob now. She’d been going to the party for the last few years as a single woman and since all her co-workers were all married, she never felt like dressing up more than the bare minimum of Holiday etiquette required. She was excited to show off her Holiday spirit a little bit this year. She’d encouraged Jacob to get something festive too. Which he didn’t do. Resulting in the last-minute stop at the store.

                Another five minutes passed and Sarah was getting colder. The temperature had been dropping all day and now that the sun had set, the temperature had dropped considerably. The windows in the car were all fogged now and wiping a clear spot was barely making any difference. She could only slightly make out the well-lit entrance to the SuperStore. All Jacob had to do was find something festive with a quick in and out to the store, a bow tie or a neck tie or suspenders or something Christmas-y to stick to his outfit. Which had already left Sarah feeling disappointed. Blue jeans and sneakers, an un-ironed, ill-fitting white dress shirt, and a Boston Red Sox Sweater thrown over it.  She was pretty disappointed into what little effort he had shown, especially since he knew that this was important to her.

                On top of that, she had been sitting in his cold car for half an hour. She took out her phone and tried calling Jacob. It went to voicemail. She texted him so he could maybe let her know how much longer he would be and if she should come in and find him or if everything was all right. No response. She was getting more and more irritated and worried at the same time. His blatant inconsideration seemed to getting more pronounced with each passing day. All Sarah really wanted was someone special to celebrate Christmas with. Someone to cuddle with as they watched the Christmas Classics on TV while happily covered in a big blanket. Someone to sweetly stare at the decorated tree with and comment on how this, this is all they really wanted for Christmas. She didn’t think it was too much to ask. Jacob played video games on his team chat all last night.  He barely looked at the little tree Sarah had carefully decorated, even with little picture ornaments of her and Jacob.

                She started to worry that maybe Jacob was losing interest in her. They’d met right after Christmas last year and everything was so sweet and nice. He was so attentive and cheerful, yet now, he seemed distant and disengaged. She knew that his work had been harder lately and he’d had some family troubles with a black-sheep sister and other stuff, but she wasn’t really sure since Jacob hardly ever spoke about it. She felt very confused, yet, didn’t want to lose what might be the most special relationship in her life. She wiped her eyes and then wiped the passenger window clear. Still no Jacob.

                She was now nearly in the car for forty minutes and was now twenty minutes late for the party. Her confusion and concern for Jacob had quickly turned to anger. She’d kill ‘em she thought. He’s ruining this night on purpose because he didn’t want to go to the party in the first place. She was beginning to think that maybe Jacob wasn’t so special after all. Maybe she didn’t need this sort of inconsiderate behavior at all. Maybe she was worth more than this, maybe someone, some guy out there would understand her value. Maybe the Christmas gift she needed to give herself was the strength to go out there in the world alone and make her own Christmas joy.  She had felt the sting of rejection and loneliness for so long that she was sure that she could get over dumb Jacob and his inconsistent attention and affections. Sure, it would be no problem for her to call an Uber to the store, get out of Jacob’s car and take herself to the Christmas party where she’d let her inhibitions go and really show those people that she wasn’t a stick in the mud or a sad sack or whatever Daphne had called her that one day. That was it. She was leaving.

                But wait, there were all the gifts she bought him, and the commitments to spend time with his family instead of hers and the promises made about sex and love and always being open to communication. It was too much for her to process right now. She would just have to get through Christmas and then she would let Jacob know that this wasn’t working out anymore. The she wanted more than this. She shivered.

                Jacob opened the driver’s side door and plopped into his seat.

                “So sorry babe, it was a madhouse in there. All the last-minute Christmas shoppers and then a fight broke out between some lady and another lady, and they were pushing each other and then a display got knocked over and all the cashiers had to stop it. It was so crazy,” said Jacob.

                Sarah frowned. Jacob put the key in the ignition and started the car. He turned the heat and defogger on. He opened a small plastic bag on his lap and took out a hideous Christmas neck-tie.

                “How’s this look? Christmas Party worthy,” he asked.

                “Fine. It’ll be fine. Can we just go please,” said Sarah.

                “Jeeze, what’s with the attitude,” said Jacob as he put the car in drive and maneuvered towards the street.

                Sarah bit her lip and fold her arms across her chest. Jacob turned on the radio to a Christmas music station. As the Little Drummer Boy pa-rum-pa-pa-pa’d, Sarah had already decided that Christmas sucked.   


——— Normally I try and write an upbeat sort of Christmas story, but this one somehow seemed far more fitting for 2020.  So be it. in spite of how crummy this year has been I do want to thank you and wish you and yours a truly wonderful Holiday! Merry Christmas and all that! ———