A Minute with Michael

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The Impact

“Whoa, that hole in the street just keeps getting bigger,” said Jerry.

He was munching on some cheesy pop snacks, licking the orange Cheetle from his fingertips. He was standing near the edge of the growing hole.

“Yeah, it’s getting pretty big I guess,” I said.

Something had fallen from the sky earlier in the morning and punctured the city street. The hole was originally about the size of a softball. Since then it had steadily spread itself out and had grown to the size of a beach-ball.

“What do you suppose it was,” asked Jerry. He continued to lick his orange fingers.
“It’s probably the Planet’s self-esteem plummeting,” I said.

Jerry stopped licking his fingers. He took a step backwards as the hole expanded again in a rubbery shudder.

“Whoa, that was not cool,” said Jerry.
“Definitely not cool,” I said.

A police car pulled up and blocked the North end of the street. Two uniformed officers came up to me and Jerry. The were hard looking cops; as if they were actors hired for their grizzled and hard nose features to portray world weary beat cops.

“So who made this hole,” said the old looking cop.

Jerry and I shrugged and stepped backwards a bit more.

“Hey, he asked you a question,” said the other old looking cop, but not as old looking as the first cop.


“Something fell, from the sky and like went, “shooom, ka-blam-o”, into the street here and then, like this hole formed and it’s been getting bigger since then,” said Jerry.

I nodded in agreement. The sounds were fairly accurate too. “I didn’t see what caused the impact, but it hit right here and WHAM, here it is I guess.”

The two grizzled cops looked at each other but they didn’t say anything to each other. It was as if they were able to communicate telepathically.

“Have either of you been drinking today,” asked old cop number One.
“It’s 9:30 in the morning officer,” I said.
“Are you getting smart with me,” said the Cop.
“No, I just, you know, it’s a little early for me to start drinking,” I said and shrugged at Jerry.

The cops had their hands on the butts of their side arms and they were speaking with us. I hadn’t noticed until taking a step back.

“I don’t like your smart mouth,” said old, but younger, cop.

The hole in the street shuddered again and Jerry and I took another step back. Other pedestrians on the sidewalk began to take notice and congregate a bit as they walked past. A lot only cast a cursory glance; others stopped in their tracks to watch.

“You two, up against the car,” said Old Cop number one.

Jerry looked at me and snickered. “What,” he said in curious disbelief.

The younger old cop drew his side arm and pointed it at Jerry and me. “Get up against the car immediately,” he shouted.

I turned and placed my hands on the nearest parked car and Jerry dropped his empty bag of orange puffs to the street. It blew up in the air and then was sucked into the ever-growing hole.

“Did you see that officer,” I said.
“Shut your smart mouth,” said older Cop as he began to frisk me.

Jerry was also being frisked by the other officer and he looked scared. His eyes, usually so playful and fun, and often a bit bloodshot from all the pot he smoked, were clear and terrified.

“Do not move,” said grizzled old cop. He got on his radio and began speaking in the cop code of numbers and directions and more numbers as some dispatcher responded with their own set of garbled numbers and directions and squawks. The other old, but not so old, cop leaned on Jerry’s back as Jerry leaned against the car hood.

“Officer, you’d putting a lot of weight on my back,” said Jerry.
“Shut up,” said the younger old Cop.

The hole in the street quivered again and expanded once more. It was now the size of a small backyard personal swimming pool. The inflatable size that you could kind of fill with a bicycle pump but never really could.

“Officer,” I said, “I think you should watch your step.”
“Are you threatening me,” asked old Cop, “Is that a threat?”

I looked at Jerry, not sure what to say but Jerry had his eyes closed and his head was now resting on the hood of the parked car as he was bent over. He didn’t look so good.

“No, sir, not a threat, it’s just…,” I started to say, but then the street rumbled and the hole belched.

The cops didn’t seem to see the hole anymore. It didn’t seem to even be a concern. They kept their focus on Jerry and me.

“I don’t like your tone,” said older Cop.
“I’m sorry, but I think you should really watch your step,” I said trying to sound innocent.

“That’s it buddy. You and me got a problem,” said older Cop.

Old cop stepped back from me as if to maybe pull out some handcuffs or a billy club or something but I couldn’t see since my back was to him. I was expecting something terrible, but then the hole belched again, setting off car alarms and rattling some windows.

“Johnny?” said young/old cop as he turned from holding Jerry down against the car.

I turned around slowly and old cop, who I guess was named Johnny, was gone. Where he had been standing was now just part of the hole.

“What did you do,” demanded young/old cop as he trained his firearm on me.

I sat up on the hood of the car, now aware that the hole was inches from my feet. “Whoa, Whoa,” I said, “I didn’t do anything. I think your buddy fell in the hole.”

Young/Old cop looked at the hole and stood near the edge, finally letting Jerry up. I pulled him up onto the hood next to me.

“In the hole?” asked younger yet somehow old cop. He looked down toward the hole. He screamed for Johnny into the hole but there was no answer. The hole surged again with a rumble and the nose of the car Jerry and I were sitting dipped down. We leapt off the hood of the car to the sidewalk on the opposite side. People on the sidewalk screamed and began running. The younger old cop teetered on the edge of the hole. He was waving his arms wildly and fell face forward into the hole.

“Holy crap,” shouted Jerry as we stood back against the building behind us.

The hole belched again. The street shook and the hole lurched. It was bending the asphalt down
and pulling the parked cars around it; like the edge of a waterfall.

“Let’s get our of here,” I said. Jerry nodded. We started to run wildly down the street amid the rush of the people trying to get away.

The Ringing in my Ears

There’s a ringing in my ears
but it doesn’t seem to be tinnitus,
it’s real and annoying,
high pitched and shrill,
constant and prolonged,
and making me irritable.

It seems to be coming from
the TV, the internet, the webs
of information swirling about
in the very air, broadcast in
every conceivable direction,
assaulting me with a ringing noise.

A mish-mash of noise,
coalescing into a pealing high pitch
through the tiny hairs of my
inner ear, through the eardrum
and into my over taxed and
under stimulated brain.

The “he said” and “she said”,
and “they said” and “he reported”
and “they alleged”, amidst
the crying pleas of the underserved,
the overserved, the guilty and the
innocent, comingling into a ringing deafness.

Sometimes, it goes away, in quiet places,
a drink in hand, a light fading Summer breeze,
tickling my forehead as errant hairs dance
about in cooling wind, a lover to lock eyes
with and feel the comfort of that silent
confirmation of mutual relaxation.

A short-lived respite among the organ
grinder’s constant insistence to fill the
air with noise, a jangling jingling of musical
gears grinding, producing a hellish decibel
level of ringing. Ringing of the ears,
followed by wringing of the hands.

The tintinnabulation of the Bells,
the ringing in my ears.
I hope it stops soon.

Old Monster

Old Monster stirs up the hill,

lumbering along the old dirt path,

winding through the trees,

scattering the birds and the leaves.

Old Monster groans and shakes,

fleas and bugs flung from matted

thick fur, dirty and muddy, grayed

and nappy, Old Monster starts his parade.

Old Monster trudges and stomps,

breaking up ancient wooden stumps,

creaking and groaning bones

as it climbs over the moldy thrones.

Old Monster passes the dens and nests,

the hives and the burrows of many

a creature who peek out as it crashes by,

too scared to run, too frightened to fly.

Old Monster sniffs the damp air,

a mildew scent, a smell, wafting in spirals,

through the tall trunks of towering trees,

a snort and a shuffle, hands on old knees.

Old Monster, approaches the summit of

the Old Mountain, in the Old Land, near

the Old Sea. Tired, weak and ancient,

one last peak to make complacent.

Old Monster huffs in great puffs of

cold stiff air, to the mountain top arriving,

in the clearness of the skies above,

all the stars of a universe unknowing of love.

Old Monster looks up into the vastness and

blinks, not much to see in all that darkness,

and then down to the Old Valley, Old Paths

and Old Trees below, in the Old Straths.

Old Monster sees all the love below, in the land,

in the trees, in the grasses and animals, the rain

and the dirt. So much more than just what was at the top,

so much more in the journey than the end.  

I See You

“Hm, that’s new,” said Kyle.
“What’s new,” asked Jennifer.
“That humongous eyeball in the sky. I never noticed it before,” said Kyle.

He scratched at his stomach as he slowly shook the sleep from his body. Jennifer casually looked up from her magazine and towards Kyle at the apartment window.

“Oh yeah, that. Yeah. I guess it’s been there for a while. I dunno,” said Jennifer.
“A while,” asked Kyle, “Like, what’s a while? Like weeks or days or hours?”

Jennifer put her magazine down on the sofa as she stood and approached Kyle at the window.

“Like, a while. I don’t know. It was just there one day. I thought you saw it,” said Jennifer.
“Um, no. I definitely did not see the giant, human-looking eyeball in the sky,” said Kyle.

Kyle pressed his face into the window and looked up at the eyeball hovering in the blue sky. The eyeball shifted its gaze back and forth, up and down in quick, furtive glances. There were no giant eyelids though. Just one giant unblinking eyeball scanning over everything.

“I’m really sure I would have noticed that if it was there yesterday,” said Kyle.
“We never actually went out of the apartment yesterday,” said Jennifer.
“Right. That’s right. We just stayed in our PJ’s, watched TV, ate a bunch of junk food and watched all our TV stories. So yeah. I wonder if it was there the day before then,” said Kyle.

Jennifer shrugged and returned to the sofa and picked up her magazine. Kyle kept looking out the window at the big eyeball.

“Do you think it’s watching us,” asked Kyle.
“Do you think that we’re that important,” responded Jennifer without looking away from her magazine.


“I don’t mean us specifically, I me the general us, the royal We, us,” said Kyle.
“Probably. What else do eyeballs do,” asked Jennifer.

Kyle stepped back from the window, wiped at the small grease mark his nose left on the glass, and looked down at the sidewalks below. There weren’t many people out for such a nice day.

“Was there anything on the news about the big eyeball,” asked Kyle.
“We watched streaming shows all day yesterday so we never watched any news,” said Jennifer.

Kyle could hear a police siren wailing in the distance, getting closer to the neighborhood, but still it was faint, maybe echoing in the opposite direction.

“We should probably turn the News on this morning don’t you think,” said Kyle.
“Probably,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer tossed her magazine onto the coffee table and grabbed the remote control. She turned the TV on. The TV came on in the middle of an episode of one of the Celebrity Housewives marathons that was always on. Jennifer didn’t change the channel but stopped to watch as Madeline, the main Celebrity Housewife, described her current gardening dilemma and the upcoming birthday party for her children, Bricedon and twin sister Cadillacy, and if they were ever going to possibly complete the Ivy
Walkway in time for the prince and princess parade.

“Jennifer, c’mon. The news,” said Kyle.
“I haven’t seen this one,” said Jennifer, “No wait. I have. They get it done in like, the nick of time. It was a whole lot of panic over nothing.”
“Isn’t it always,” asked Kyle.
“You just don’t get it. It’s about the personalities,” said Jennifer.
“Yeah, and here I thought TV shows were supposed to be about substance rather than personalities,” said Kyle.
“Okay grandpa,” said Jennifer.

Kyle sat on the sofa next to Jennifer and playfully nudged her with his elbow. She nudged him back. It was their thing. The gentle playful nudges. Jennifer flipped the channel to the Cable news station. It was a commercial for some sort of gastric blockage medication with two older people playing
tennis, then riding bikes, then hugging a puppy and laughing about it all with each other.

“Ugh. Every time we flip to the news it’s some commercial for something terrible about getting old,” said Kyle.
“Because old people watch the news,” said Jennifer.
“You’re old,” teased Kyle.
“Shut up grandpa,” said Jennifer.

Kyle grabbed after Jennifer’s waist and started pulling him toward her on the sofa as she feigned a struggle.

“Give Grampa a kiss. Give us a kiss, Mwah, mwah, mwah,” played Kyle.
“Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew,” protested Jennifer and she playfully kicked and squirmed.
“Let me take my teeth out so I can make sure this is a good old wet kiss,” said Kyle.

He placed a sloppy wet kiss on Jennifer’s cheek as she laughed. He added a quick raspberry to seal the deal.

“You’re a dork,” said Jennifer as she wiped her cheek.
“I’m your dork baby,” said Kyle.

The news finally came on after two more commercials about senior dating and something about fish oils. The commentator behind the news desk, animal name somebody, said that the giant eyeball in the sky did not appear to be a threat, but government officials were, “keeping a close eye on the situation”. Apparently, the eye appeared over the East coast of Great Britain this morning and has been following the Sun westerly. There have been some riots, looting, murders, fires, and general chaos through the world cities but oddly enough most American cities haven’t changed much. The commentator cited the fact that everyone was just too exhausted at this point to care about one more thing, and that frankly, the eye didn’t seem all that interested either.

“See, nothing to worry about,” said Jennifer.
“Yeah, just a whole lot of nothing,” said Kyle.

Kyle took the remote and flipped through the channels on the television.

“Go back to Celebrity Housewife,” said Jennifer.

Kyle sighed and changed the channel back to the celebrity Housewife marathon, wherein Madeline was still yelling at the gardeners in stilted English as she appeared to believe that yelling English at those who do not speak it will somehow magically teach them to understand it.

“You’re so lucky I love you,” said Kyle.
“No. You’re lucky I love you,” said Jennifer.
“Yup,” said Kyle and he smiled at her.

He put his arm around Jennifer and leaned back with her on the sofa as the censors bleeped out most of Madeline’s diatribe and police sirens wailed outside the apartment windows.

The Magnificence of Paperclips

The Magnificence of Paperclips

is often over-looked or taken

for granted.

They are a true engineering

marvel and should be recognized.

Before the paperclip was invented,

people used to stick a straight pin

into bunches of papers to hold them

together. Here’s a stack of paper,

with a sharp object to prick yourself on.

Along comes some genius, some

revolutionary figure, and says,

“Hey, what if we bent this sharp

pin over a few times, you know,

so we’ll stop hurting ourselves.”

I’m sure there was much mockery and derision,

told to shut up and go to hell, that things

were fine the way they were and there

was no need to change anything and

getting pricked by a pin was just how it was.

And lo, the genius did not give in to the naysayers,

they persisted in the bending, twisting and

turning of that pin until the paperclip

discovery was made. A giant leap in

paper holding technology was achieved.

Imagine the sleepless nights spent

by this engineer as they wrestled with the

very concept of holding a bunch of paper

together with a thin piece of metal

until that eureka moment was made.

One person believed that there

had to be a better way. That just doing

something just because that’s the way it was,

was unacceptable and they had to lead a

revolt. They held fast and changed the world.

With a twisted little piece of metal they

profoundly changed everything for the better,

with their dedication and steadfastness, they

taught us all we can choose progress over

stagnation. And get rid of little pricks.

Expectations?

Expectations.

We’ve all got them.

A desire for the world

to work out the way we’d like.

For events and people to be

what we want them to be.

High Expectations.

Never often met, rarely

accomplished and even more so,

rarely satisfying.

The wish, the desire, too often

larger than reality can provide.

Lowered Expectations.

Is just a disappointing phrase.

I don’t even like to mutter it under

my breath as I curse my high expectations

of moderate to reasonable desires

and wants.

No Expectations.

Is to be dead.   

Seriously, if you have no expectations,

you died and there’s nothing left

to want or desire or need even in the

most minimal sense.

General Expectations.

Just a sense that it’ll work out.

They’ll do their job.

It’ll get done.

It’s possible.

Maybe.

Shrug.

Regular Expectations.

Seems like stepping out onto

a tightrope over an active volcano,

while wild islanders chant about their

expectations that if you fall into the volcano

on the right side then the harvest will be robust,

but if you slip and fall from the left, the island is

doomed.

Poetic Expectations.

Even more foolish than regular or high

expectations.  Usually far too much to ask.

Like a kiss from your crush or being

told you’re admired for who you are. 

Expectantly disappointed.

Again.

I Don’t like the new Word Press Editor at all. It sucks.

First Times

Dominos

During this Pandemic

I have often found myself thinking

about the last time I got to

do something.

 

The last time I was at a

crowded bar.

The last time I was

able to hug a friend.

The last time I smiled

at someone, and they could see

my unmasked smile.

The last handshake.

The last kiss.

The last shared swig from

a bottle for the last Whiskey sip.

 

Thinking about all those

last times got me wondering

about all my first times

for things. Those precious

first times by which all those

last times were measured.

 

I remember my first kiss on

Halloween when I was in 7th

grade. The first time sitting with the

adults to play some poker.

The first time I felt the edge

of the satiny smoothness of

a girlfriend’s panties as we

stumbled through a first

make-out.

 

The first time I danced like

no one was watching.

The first big honest laugh I got from a

crowd. The first starlit night as a child.

The first nervous look into a lover’s

eyes.

 

Those last times for things

pale in comparison to all

those marvelous fist times.

So, maybe, it’s all the new first times

that I am really missing.

Moonlight

Moonlight

Moonlight streaming in
through the old bamboo blinds,
cutting a bright white line through
the dark bedroom.

This cutlass of light slices
across the bed, through my pillow
and my sleeping face.
I am awakened by moonlight shining on me.

“God damn,” I say, as I try and
figure out why this blast of moonlight
has settled upon my tired eyes as a
temporary resting spot.

“So bright,” I sleepily mutter and try
to twist myself into an unexposed
sleeping position. Yet, it’s upon me still,
this beam of moonlight, cutting sleep and dreams.

I am awake now. Squinting in the moonlight.
Trying to remember what I was dreaming about.
Wondering how the moon in its orbit around the
Earth is perfectly reflecting the sun, into my face.

“Let me sleep, moon,” I grumble.
I close my eyes in defiance of the brightness.
But I think outside myself, I imagine how I
must look from the foot of the bed.

Am I bathed in pearly whiteness like
some Renaissance portrait?
Am I a ghoulish figure transformed by the
pale moonlight in the darkness?

I’m in sleepy awe of the moon.
The unnatural brightness slowly creeping
down my bed in shifting rays filtered through
old bamboo blinds.

I roll over in my bed,
the moon now at my back,
I can return to sleep,
now that the moon is done checking in on me.

A Void

A Void

Jerry stepped into the empty void. Although as it was an empty void, he wasn’t exactly sure that he had stepped into it. He only knew that where he was before wasn’t where he was now. The now he was in was empty and more void-like than the clearly crowded place he’d been. So, he had to guess that he was now in the void. His sneakers squeaked as he walked forward across the floor of the void, which struck Jerry as odd that a void would have such a nicely polished white marble floor.  He wondered if there was a custodial staff that came into the void with a floor buffer and buffed the floors to such a degree that they appeared to not exist.

His squeaking sneakers echoed through the void as he walked forward. If a void could have any direction that is. Jerry only assumed he was moving forward, but without any sign posts or road markers of any kind he couldn’t be sure if he was just marching in place or actually moving. He stopped walking and listened as the echoes of his squeaks drifted all through the void until they dissipated.  “An endless void that appears to have no end”, thought Jerry.  He remembered the stories he read as a kid about those cruel overlords of medieval myth that would hurl brave knights into bottomless pits. Even then he had his doubts about a truly bottomless pit. He couldn’t help but wonder about the construction of a bottomless pit. Did workers go into a bottomless pit never to return. They would kiss the wife and kids good-bye and go down there with their hard hats or candles on their heads, and just disappear. “Would the general contractor go down there or would he stay behind with the evil overlord so the invoice could get paid? How would they know when they were done with the bottomless pit,” wondered Jerry.He shook his head and began his squeaking trek once more within the void.

The void was bright but it didn’t appear to have any external light source to Jerry. He couldn’t figure out how it was so magnificently bright in the void. He remembered reading about how the human eye perceived light and color and how it’s interpreted by the brain. He thought it could be dark as pitch in the void, but his brain was just interpreting it as bright. He had way too many questions about the void. He never actually thought he’d get this far into the void since up until the moment he stepped into it; it hadn’t existed. Jerry wished his sneakers weren’t so loud. He wondered if the squeaking rubber sound bouncing through the void was ruining the actual void experience. He thought about how the sound might be causing the void to have more structure since it may be reflecting the sound and therefore giving it shape.

Jerry stopped walking again and looked down at his sneakers as the Doppler echoes of his noisy footfalls faded. He bent over and untied his shoe laces. He stretched his sock feet and toes out as he removed the tight-fitting sneakers. The white marble floor was cold underfoot. It wasn’t cold enough to make Jerry shiver or react harshly. He put his sock foot onto the white marble and the sneaker vanished behind him. The void then consumed his other sneaker as he stepped out of it. They vanished without a squeak.

Jerry started with what he perceived to be walking forward again. Each socked foot stepping silently onto the white void floor. The squeak was gone forever; replaced with a hushed sock-footed shuffle. Jerry was pleased to remove the annoying squeak from the void. It made the void seem far more void-like than it was before. He never imagined he’d be complaining about the noisiness of a void or feel happy now that the void was quieter.

The white marble never varied in its slope, pitch, texture or smoothness. It kept expanding in front of Jerry as he walked/sock-footed shuffled. He remembered when he was a kid in his grandparent’s house and they had a lot of highly polished wood floors throughout the home. His grandmother was something of a dirt and dust eradicator. She spent the majority of her later years seemingly washing, moping, dusting and then all over again. In some constant struggle against the micro universe of dirt and dust in which she eventually lost, herself turning into the very substance she spent so much time sweeping and mopping away. The floors in the home were ice rink smooth though. Jerry could get a running start in his sock feet and practically slide from one end of the house to the other on the polished wooden floors.

He felt like he could do that now on the void floor. He wondered if he did get a running start how far he could slide. Physics always slowed him down at his grandparent’s home. He didn’t know if those same rules applied to the void. He grew concerned as the idea of sliding endlessly through all time in his sock feet might end up being more of an embarrassment than a joy. He worried that he might see someone else in the void and he’d be unable to stop sliding in his sock feet to say hi. Jerry worried he’d just zoom on by; never knowing whom the other void dweller was.

Jerry decided he wouldn’t do a full running start slide, but just a sort of one-foot slide so he could keep some control and stop if he had to. It would be like riding a skateboard but never bringing your left foot up onto the skateboard and just cruise along. He wanted some level of control in the void. Plus he could stop if he wanted to say hi to whomever or whatever he may come across in the void. If there was anything to come across.

The void kept going on in all directions, as Jerry thought it probably should. It being a void it had to be both infinite and incredibly small while being expansive and all consuming all at the same time. He’d bet the other guys at the bar he could get into the void. He said that if could, he would, and he did. Jerry wondered how he would collect on the bet now that he was in void. He wondered if since he’d conjured the void, if he could unconjured it. If he did that would it cease to exist, meaning he’d then lose the bet because he’d unconjured it out of existence? He had to prove to the other bar guys that the void did exist in order to win. Jerry wondered if his sneakers would come back into existence or if they were now lost the void.

Jerry kept sliding on his right foot. Pushing along with his left. Passing nothing. No passing of time. Just sliding in a hush. No echoes bouncing through the emptiness. Jerry couldn’t even hear his own heartbeat in his ears, of hear himself breathing heavy. He didn’t feel tired. He didn’t feel like he was working too hard to slide himself along the white marble floor. He wasn’t sweating.

Jerry wondered about his madness. Had he gone to far. Was he in the bottomless pit, forever digging down? Jerry stopped sliding and another silence came over the void. He peered into the perception of what was ahead. He squinted his eyes to try and see if there was anything to see.

More endless white marble floors.  Jerry realized he’d never looked behind himself. Not even once the whole time he’d been in the void. He felt scared for the first time. He felt like something was behind him. A imagined terror lurking at the rear. Was something else behind him in the void and he’d missed it. He was too worried about nothingness to be concerned with everything behind him. If there was anything behind him at all.

Jerry shut his eyes and started to turn his head over his shoulder. He suddenly felt sweat on his forehead and a weakness in his legs. He was breathing heavy now. He was thirsty. So thirsty. He got his head positioned over his left shoulder. He was shaking.

He opened his eyes.