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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

View From the Bottom (Rough Draft)

The carpet needs vacuuming.
There's an old shoe under the bed
I should really keep my room a bit cleaner
But I can't find the strength to even stand
Because this is the view from the bottom and
All I can think of is why I'm here
How did I get here?
Because the view from the bottom,
Much like the view from the top,
Is a place where you can see a lot.
All the things left unsaid.
All the matters left unattended and
All the tiny details that were missed.
My bad genes match the dirty jeans balled up in the corner
And I laugh but it's a laugh full of irony
Empty of feeling and devoid of joy
Because this is the view from the bottom and
At the bottom even cockroaches are looking up at you, saying
"Damn brother, you need to pick yourself up!"
Only there is no picking up.
There is only laying still.
Watering the carpet with my tears that
Flow for no reason, or rather
Not any reason anyone "normal" would understand.
See, laying in the bottom is the safest place to be
When it hurts to move; when you know
That movement can and will mean something terrible.
Because this is the view from the bottom.
Looking up at the sun, so affirming and life giving
If only it would burn me to a cinder and stop all this
Give me a chance to give back the life I don't want
The pain I can't take and the drama I don't need.
If only I could muster up the strength to move
Fight this instinct to stay alive that keeps me laying
In the dirt of a floor that needs vacuumed because if I move
Just an inch
I know the view from the bottom will be the last thing I ever see.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bury my Heart

Bury my heart
For the love has ceased to grow
Lay it to rest
Lest it become stone

Bury my heart
Before its time
Exsanguination slow and painful
Yet merciful expiration

Bury my heart
After its prime
Tried and failed to blossom
Beneath the salt in this wound

Bury my heart
Beneath the curse of love's eyes
Tame the quiet hope
Let it become stone.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Fifth Dimension


The cold December air whipped around his head and John Jacobson instinctively pulled the collar of his black petticoat more tightly around his neck. The action was truly reflexive as he didn't feel the cold. The only sign that he was even aware of the cold, either physically or consciously, were his eyes that were tightly squinted against the wind, and his ears that shone a bright, painful red. The wind whipped around him again and again in a whirlwind of Oz proportions. Yet, he didn't deviate in the slightest from his path. Both his pace and speed remained constant. Passers by, had there been any, would not have believed a man capable of such a gait in the inclement conditions. For his part, John's pace spoke of determination. In due course, he arrived at his destination and he stopped, staring for a moment. The events of the last few days of his life played over and over in his heart (his mind seemed to have lost all interest in what was going to happen, and had decided to keep its distance) and he became unerringly convinced that the next moments of his life would be his last, best decision. With a deep breath, he stepped to the edge of the bridge on which he'd stood and looked down. Vertigo gripped him and a small voice that he'd dubbed "survival instinct" spoke to him and he immediately took a step backward.

"What are you doing, son?" came a voice.

"Me?" he asked dumbly, never looking at the source of the voice.

"I don't see no one else walkin' up the edge of the Direwater Ravine bridge and then backin' off like some kinda fool."

"Right," he laughed,

"Son, don't you know you just backpedaled into four lanes of highway traffic?" the voice said again.

He hadn't noticed. In fact, he was standing in the middle of those four lanes, somehow unaware of the cars that sped past him on either side, of their horns blaring in protest of his stupidity. He silently, quickly sped back to the bridge's edge, where an old, grizzled man awaited. A sheen of sweat glistening on his dark skin.

"Thanks," he said numbly, holding out his right hand,
"I'm John. John Jacobson."

"I know," the man said, taking the offered hand.
"I'm Jacob. Jacob Johnson." he matched John's cadence exactly, and John wasn't entirely sure he wasn't being mocked.

"What do you mean, 'you know'?"

"What do you mean, 'what do I mean'? I mean I know. I know who you are and I know what you're doin' here and I know you ain't gonna do it." he punctuated the last four words with a finger poke to John's chest.


"Ain't got time for 'how'. Just come with me, and we'll get you all sorted."

With that, Jacob didn't say another word. He just grabbed John by the arm and put him in the passenger seat of a truck that had appeared as if from nowhere. John knew he should be feeling nervous, or at the very least he should be worried for his safety, traveling to an unknown destination with a man he'd only just met. There was something about the grizzled man, however, that John just couldn't put his finger on. Besides, he must be in his seventies at least; hardly a threat.

"Seventy-five." Jacob said.

"Pardon?' John replied.

"I'm seventy-five years old. You got nothin' to worry about son, I just needed you off that bridge. You're acting like a damn fool."

"Well, yeah, I admit the bridge was a bit stupid, being that I'm scared of heights." John said, his voice betraying none of the seriousness that he felt.

"So is the rope, and so is the poison, or the alcohol, or the pills and we both know you don't have a gun."

John was getting agitated at the way Jacob seemed to be in his head.

"Who do you think you are?" he asked.

"I've been where you are, son." his voice took on a serious quality.
"That place where it seems like your entire life is one big pile of shit that just keeps getting bigger. The place where you start thinking no life is better than bad life. Where alone is better than together and where love can't save you anymore. I've been there."

"Spare me the 'it gets better' speech. I'm too old for fairy tales." John spat, suddenly feeling about Jacob the way he would feel about a televangelist or Jehovah's Witness that came trying to save his soul.

The old man just laughed. He laughed heartily and from his belly, a raspy sound that gave way to a cough.

"That's rich! 'It gets better' he says! Oh my! What a good one!"

John looked out of the corner of his eye, confused.

"Nothing gets better, son! This is exactly the way it's supposed to be! That's what I'm here to tell you!"

"Okay . . . " John said, suddenly confused.

Looking out the window, he idly watched the snow flakes blow in the still whipping wind and wondered exactly where his life had led him this time. 


After a ride that seemed longer than it was, the truck came to a stop, and Jacob parked next to a meter in front of a Pawn Shop called "Jacobson's." Jacob got out of the truck without ceremony and came around to John's door and opened it before John had a chance to.  John stretched, and this time when he pulled his collar around his coat it was because he felt the sting of the wind after being in the relative warmth of the truck. 

"Home sweet home." Jacob said.

"Shouldn't it be called 'Johnson's Pawn Shop'?" John asked.

"Son, you ever tried to run a legitimate business with a name that's a euphemism for your pecker? It ain't possible in this day and age. You try typing 'Johnson' into the Internet. That's saying nothing of the perverts that just wander in thinking it's a front for a whorehouse or some kind of underground sex club. Still, takes all kinds." he said, shaking his head.
"They got the first part right." he said with a wink.

John couldn't resist, 
"It's a whorehouse?"

"It's a front." Jacob said, pulling the gate on the front back and motioning John into the shop.

Crossing the threshold, John instinctively began to breathe through his mouth. The air was stale, and the shop was dark and dusty. A cursory glance at the items for sale betrayed the fact that nothing had been bought or sold there in quite some time. He stopped before the jewelry counter, a lump forming in his throat and his breath coming in a sob. Before him was a necklace, made of ivory, with a Celtic pattern carved in its face and the whole thing inlaid into carved onyx. He knew it as well as he knew himself. What he didn't know was what it was doing here.

"Where did you get this?" he asked, only then aware that there were tears streaming down his face.

"Well, let me see, now . . . " Jacob said, moving to his sales register behind the counter.

"Oh yes, now I remember," he began.
"This piece came from a lovely young woman who brought it to me when she realized she hadn't returned it to her young man. She was quite despondent about it as I recall. She simply said 'Sell it to someone who is prepared to love big. As big as he did. That's my wish for him.' You want to buy that necklace, son?" 

"It's mine." John said quietly.

"That's where you're confused, son. It's not yours."

"It's mine." John insisted, thumping a fist lightly on the glass case.
"My mother brought it from Ireland and I gave it to her when we fell in love. I never wanted it back. Not because I was being mean but because, I knew she still loved me. I knew she'd want it to remember."

"She wanted to remember, that's for sure. But she didn't need no necklace to do it." Jacob said,
"Come on downstairs, we got to talk, son."

He led the way into a basement, that was only barely dustier than the storefront. John's chest had caved in once again, in a way that he had become all too familiar with throughout his life. He couldn't help but feel like there was a big revelation coming. Something life changing and meaningful. He'd had this feeling several times in his life, and the moment had always been fleeting, followed by emotional upheaval and turmoil. 

"Sit down, son. This is gonna take some tellin'." Jacob said.

John blindly sat, and stared blankly at the older man.

"Now, some of what's coming you ain't gonna believe. And some of it you ain't ready to hear. But the plain truth of it is, it's time for you to hear it because this is about more than just you."

"Okay." John said, quietly.


"This pawn shop is just a front like I said. It's something special for sure. I've had it for about fifty years or so and before that it was someone else's. He went by the name of Nicholas and when he found me, I was laying in the street. Literally laying in the street. See, I was tryin' to lay in traffic. Over a woman of course. I was lonesome and heartbroken and she'd just up and decided she didn't like things no more and I didn't see much reason in trying anything at all after that. Not even breathing in and out."

"I know the feeling." John said.

"I know that you do. And see that's just what you're doing here. See, a man came along and explained things to me just like I'm about to do for you. But before I do, how about you tell me why you were standing up there on that bridge?" 

John instantly became defensive.

"That's none of your business old man." he spat angrily.

"No, no. I suppose it isn't. But see, the thing is, you got to assume I already know and then I can tell you what you're doing here."

"If you already know then why am I telling you?" John said, still defensive.

"John, let me start at the end. This place is special. That necklace came to me from someone you know but it wasn't the person you think it was. These things in your life, they do happen for a reason, but it ain't the reason you think. And it sure as hell isn't going to stop anytime soon. Now all you got to do, son, is just accept it. Because I promise at the end of it you're going to appreciate things more. We all got our roles to play."

"Roles to play," John spat again. 
"You don't know what you're talking about old man. You think I asked for this? You think I asked for mental illness? Depression? You think I asked to be so unsure who I am? You think I wanted to get my heart broken again and again and again? Don't talk to me about roles to play."

"No. I don't suppose you did ask for all that. But what if I was to tell you there was a reason for it all. What if I could make it all okay? What if I could tell you a way to  keep your focus?"

"You can tell me anything you want, old man. That doesn't make it true, and it doesn't mean this is some kind of 'It's a Wonderful Life' moment."

"No. No, it's not like that. But, don't you want to know?"

"I want to know how you got my necklace."

"I told you that part. I'll tell you the rest if you tell me why you were up on that bridge."

"I wanted to jump, okay!" John shouted.
"I am so tired of getting my heart broken! Is that what you want to hear? I didn't see the point of living one more day in a world where she didn't love me anymore! Okay! Is that enough?"

"It was more than the heartbreak though, wasn't it?"

The intensity of his emotion spent, John now felt more in control.

"Yeah. It was more about the fact that this is always happening to me. I can't ever seem to catch a break. I was tired of feeling a big hole in my chest where my heart used to be. Like, I just keep trying and trying. I stay positive, do my best and it all still comes down to getting shit on, in a spectacular fashion." 

"Did you ever think there was a reason for it?" Jacob asked, suddenly intense.

"Poor choices. Genetics. Bad upbringing. A lack of guidance. That kind of stuff. That's what's always behind these things."

"It's far more than that." Jacob said
"When Nicholas found me laying in the street and he brought me here, I was a lot like you. I thought life was a curse. I thought I was always going to be unhappy."

"But it got better." John interrupted with an eye roll.

"No. It didn't. I'm every bit as miserable now as I was then." 

John blinked. This wasn't the response he'd expected.


"You heard me. I understand now. And soon, so will you. See, it's my time John. And now I have to tell you because that's how it works. Shit. I'm getting ahead of myself. Just sit back and listen."

John did as he was told.

"For you, it comes down to the necklace. That is the necklace you remember and it isn't. See this shop here, this is what you call a gateway. A gateway to the fifth dimension."

"The fifth dimension?"

"Yes. The fifth dimension. You already know the first four. Lenght, width, depth, and time. The Fifth dimension is reality itself. And it turns out that there is more than just this reality. See, the original owner of this place knew that and he built his shop here for a very specific purpose."

"What purpose is that?"

"I'll show you." Jacob said, standing.


"What is it?" John asked, standing in front of a wall. A plain brick wall.
"What am I supposed to see?"

Before their eyes, the wall coalesced into a jeweled portal. It shone with an eerie glow that reminded John of a television screen displaying white noise. Before he could ask what was happening an image began to form.

A sob caught in his throat as he saw her there, radiantly beautiful as she's always been. She wore a white dress and flowers in her hair and she gazed at him. Directly at him. He'd seen that look a million times and in this moment it was more than he could bear.

"You know her?"

"That's her. That's Sara." he said dumbly watching the scene play out.

She was standing with him now. They were outside but very clearly at an altar. They were getting married! He'd always wanted to marry her. And once upon a time she'd wanted to marry him too. Before it all had gone south. Before she'd decided she didn't love him anymore.

"What the hell is this?" he asked.
"Some kind of cruel joke?"

"This is no joke. This is what happened. This is her life with you."

John looked again and saw the two of them in their favorite park watching their children play. He sobbed openly as the scene dissolved and it seemed years had passed. The children were older and graduating from school. John could see the two of them there, still in love, and so proud of the young man that stood before them posing for pictures. The scene again dissolved and again it was years later. John saw himself as an older man, laying in his bed with his love next to him, holding his hand. She herself was older but still looked deeply into his eyes, longingly and lovingly. John watched the scene unfold and let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding; as the other version of himself quietly passed away.

"What the hell is this?" he asked.

"It's what makes this place special, son. What you're seeing is the life you and Sara had together."

"That can't be. She left me. We didn't work out. I mean, it was over. Wasn't it?"

"For you, yes. But not for them." Jacob nodded to the portal that had returned to a plain brick wall.

"You're saying that was me and her? In some kind of, what? A parallel world?"

"Now you're getting it."

"You're crazy, old man. I don't have time for this science fiction. I don't now how you did all this, but it's time for me to go."

"John, every choice that's made is played out somewhere in this great multiverse. Dozens upon dozens of versions of you and me that play out every choice ever made. What you just saw was a version of yourself that didn't make the same choices you did."

"Okay, say I believe you. What does this have to do with how my life is such a shithole?"

"That's the easiest and the best part. See, there's a version of all of us that exists just to carry the bad choices. The mistakes. We're the versions that make all the bad choices and live with the consequences. We do it so that they," he nooded at the wall again.
"Won't have to. We carry that burden for the happiness of all of our counterparts."

"So you're saying that I make shit choices and my life sucks because of some sort of cosmic law that keeps things in balance? That there's some version of me out there living the life I always dreamed of living?"

"More than one. There's the you that ended up with Sara. The you that ended up with Christian, the you that ended up with Daniel. You always seem to end up in a happy relationship. Everywhere but here. Here you end up alone, but you can still be happy!"

"But you said you were just as miserable as before."

"That's me, son. I never got over the injustice of it. But you're a young man. You have your whole life to find meaning in something else. Something that those other versions of you will never have."

"Okay, let's pretend I believe you again, why are you telling me all this?"

"Because it's my time, son. And that necklace is what led me to you. Just like Nicholas did with me. Nicholas found me in the road waiting to be run over and he dragged me back here. It was his time, you see, and he needed someone to run this shop and watch over the gate."

"And you're saying that's my task now? To be some kind of gatekeeper for this place?"

"I'm saying that the necklace came here because you've been chosen. It's all about being chosen. You can live here, and when it's your time, you'll be led to someone else."

"To what end?" 

"This place is special, son. Nicholas didn't understand and I don't either. All I can tell you is that it chose you. But you're gonna have to decide quick if you want to be chosen. I ain't got much time and I got a lot to teach you."

"You mean I have a choice?"

"That's what this is all about, son. Choices. No matter what you say here, somewhere else there's some version of you doing the opposite."

"Well, that being the case, I guess I'd better go ahead and just hear you out then." John said.

And the story of his heartbreak ended. He learned the secrets of the Universe that night, and the meaning to his own life became far more plain than he would have otherwise believed. He did not live happily ever after, though he lived with purpose until the day a young man with piercing blue eyes smacked a white gold engagement ring on the counter and with tears in his eyes he said,

"Sell it to someone who's ready for a big kind of love. That's my wish for him." 

And John suddenly knew the final piece of the puzzle was falling into place.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

National Coming Out Day

The first time I kissed a boy I was 29 years old. The first time I had consenting sex with a boy I was 15. Those intervening fourteen years were full of confusion, denial, less than safe sex (in less than safe places), a marriage, a birth, minor brain surgery, and a divorce  . . . in other words, life. None of that matters in terms of my coming out story and yet somehow all of it matters.

I was closeted for most of my life. Only in my teen years when I began noticing boys and girls and when I had fantasies about both boys and girls. the most confusing thins, though, were the times I'd focus on the men when I watched or looked at porn. I never wavered in my belief that the male form was just as desirable as the female form; which in itself was confusing as I was raised the same way everyone typically is that you will marry and love one woman.

I was never sheltered from homosexuality. I went to an Arts & Academics High School, and I was exposed to and had many gay friends (remember I was fifteen when I first had consenting sex with a man). I understood Gay, but I never felt gay. I liked girls too. I had sexual urges surrounding both. Yet my understanding at that stage in my life was that you were either gay or straight. Imagine my confusion at being both! I didn't even have a word for it, bisexual was something that girls were, and apparently all girls were as well. I did, however, admire anyone I knew who was openly gay. I wished I was as sure about who I was as they were about who they were. Ironically, I was, but at the time I didn't know that bisexuality was a valid identity for a male and I lacked the esteem and confidence to make it valid in spite of this. As it happened, there were three events that would happen around this time, which would put me in the closet and shut it's door for fourteen years.

The first thing that happened was having sex. By the time I was fifteen I'd already had sex with girls but never with boys. My first time with a boy wasn't like "fireworks" and "trains going through tunnels" and all that. What it was, however, was familiar. To contrast it against my sexual experiences with girls up to that point, I knew what I was doing. Here was a body I understood. I knew how a cock worked. I knew the ways to touch, fondle, stroke, lick, whatever; in order to make it feel good. When it was over, though, there was no afterglow. What I mostly felt was more confusion and a healthy dose of fear. No, not fear. Shame. I felt ashamed. I knew I couldn't tell my family. I knew I didn't want to "give up" girls. I knew I wanted to do it again with boys, but that I had to never do it again; and so I didn't. Not for a really long time. Instead, I stepped into the closet.

The second thing that threw me into the closet was gay porn. Also at around 15 or 16, my mom found a gay pron magazine of mine. When she confronted me, she was angry. Though, as I recall, the source of her anger wasn't the fact that I owned gay porn, it was that it had been left in the bathroom where visiting family members could have found it. She was embarrassed and she didn't want to have to explain her "gay" son to the rest of the family. So, when she asked if I was gay, I answered honestly and said that I wasn't. After all, I did still want girls. The closet door began to shut.

The final thing that pushed me into a fourteen year exile was homophobia. Specifically a homophobic moment with my mom. I had been dating a black girl and my mom was less than thrilled. She was very honest that she knew it was wrong and that it was just the way she was raised, and to her credit she was understanding but also protective. We have a mixed family and so her misgivings didn't and still don't make sense to me. Still, it was beyond her comfort level, until I asked her the following question: "would you rather I date a black woman or a white man?" She answered, "black woman." From there I don't remember much of the conversation, but I do remember clearly that she said to me that if I were gay it wouldn't affect her love for me, but it also didn't mean my partner would be welcome at Christmas. And with that one final statement I knew that I could never be honest with my family about who I was and how I thought of men. The closet door shut and I remained there, in the dark for fourteen years.

During that fourteen years, I lived a horrible cycle. I denied my attraction to men and tried really hard to forget it. The cycle, however, was more than persistent. It started as noticing the men when I looked at porn. It continued to finally buying gay or all male porn. It culminated in illicit encounters with men in bookstores, cars, alleys or, if I was lucky, a motel. If no men were available there were phone sex chat lines (this was the days before the Internet was "mainstream") which resulted in my not having a phone due to hundreds of dollars in phone bills for several months at a time. Dangerous to be sure, but even worse, it left me feeling empty and ashamed. Each time I would throw away all my porn, and resolve that it was just a weak moment. I would focus only on women and decide that my "urges" would subside when I met "the one." The cycle only repeated.I eventually got married when I was 24. I was physically faithful to my wife, though the cycle of porn continued and even grew as I gained more and more access to the Internet. I never told my wife I was attracted to men, though.

After a few years I fell ill and nearly died. Brain surgery saved my life and I made a full recovery. this is another story. What matters for this story is that, when one stares their mortality in the face a great many things become clear. I realized that life is short and I wanted to live as a whole, genuine person. As a result of this I eventually came out to my wife. She did not take it well and after a long, painful process we divorced; even though I came out as bisexual. With my marriage over, I was free to really explore who I was. I didn't say experiment. I said explore. I tried on the label of bisexual when I was 28 years old and I started "dating." I learned quickly that bisexual dating for men is basically hooking up or one night stands. While the danger factor may have been removed, I recognized this was the same pattern I'd been in before I got married.

Then, I had my first kiss.

In all the encounters I'd had over the intervening years, male kissing was always very taboo. I didn't and don't understand this. Perhaps, this is because I love kissing so much. At any rate, I had been helping out a gay friend of mine by giving him rides to and from work when his car broke down. I was also "out" for the first time and so I openly flirted and made it clear that I was completely gaga for him. Eventually our friendship evolved and next came the moment I came out to myself. Completely and unequivocally came out. No quotation marks, no hesitation. It happened when he asked me:

"What would you do if I asked you to kiss me?"

I said I would do it, and he replied, "Well then why aren't you?" and I had one of the deepest most passionate kisses of my life. In the words of S. Morgenstern,“Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.” It was fireworks. It was trains through tunnels. Just that one kiss was more amzing and affirming than the previous fourteen years of illcit sex. And for the next several month I was happy and really feeling whole. Alas, we ultimately wanted different things and it was not to be more than a summer romance. From that point on, however, I was out to friends if not family. The immediate benefit to this was the fact that I no longer feared sex with men and so I didn't seek it in secret. I was no longer having dangerous sex. 

Completely coming out, or coming all the way out? That came as the result of activism. I had begun dating a woman who was polyamorous and this seemed like a great idea to me because I had denied my bisexuality for so long, I wanted to be free to explore it more. So we entered a relationship and she was the most supportive woman I'd ever met. In fact, if I hadn't been burned so badly by marriage I think I'd marry her. I was hired as a contributing writer for Bi Social Network and was literally over the moon about it because I had been struggling for years as a writer. My family had long known my desires to be a writer and I couldn't wait to share it with them. The only problem was that I felt I couldn't. Ultimately, with the encouragement of my life partner I decided to come out. I was nearly 30, I had a son, I'd faced death (literally) and I could be proud of who I was.

I chose to come out to my sister first. She'd always been accepting of me and so it was easier. She wasn't surprised and said she had suspected for a while. She congratulated me and has proven over the last four years that she accepts me no matter who I love and I am more than grateful for her. She is a beacon of support when life gets me down.

My mother  . . . this was harder. I had the memories of her disapproval from my teen years looming in my memory. I knew she wouldn't accept it and I fully expected to be disowned. Surprising me, however, she was supportive. She hugged me and she said she loved me and nothing would ever change that. She also said she couldn't have been more surprised if I'd said I had been half alien. She wasn't in favor of telling the rest of the family. Honestly, I'm not sure to this day if aunts and uncles and cousins know. But in that moment she accepted who I was even if she didn't accept my expressing it. She asked me to allow her the belief that any future boyfriends are "just friends" though I am happy to say we are working through that now.

At any rate, I came out and have been living out to everyone for four years. My partner and I are both bisexual and maintain our polyamorous relationship. Living a genuine life has led me to a life as a writer, to Los Angeles and the GLAAD awards where I met Josh Hutcherson, Chaz Bono, Milla Jovovich and many more people. It has led me to many more opportunities than trials and ultimately more love than I could have hoped for. I am free to date men and I do. I prove Dan Savage wrong every day of my existence.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.    

Friday, September 21, 2012

After My House was Robbed

From the minute we're born
Our life as a statistic begins
255 babies born every minute and
Every step of our development from that point on
Is programmed and categorized
For easy comparison and reference
Apgar score, head circumference
Height, weight
How fast we grow . . . or how slow
From the minute we're born
We either fit in or we don't
We're either normal or abnormal
And every minute after realizing this
Is spent avoiding statistics
"I don't want to be a statistic" we shout, while
57 million Americans have mental Health disorders
      (and there are 55 Million registered republicans)
How quick can we say
"I'm not crazy" when
1 out of 2 people abuse alcohol
Let's drink to not being the one with the problem!
4 out of 5 of us do drugs
Well, pass the dutchie because I'm. Number. Four.
1 out 5 children witness domestic violence
So maybe that's why I still shake when someone wants to fight
3 million homes will be robbed
1 out of every 6 women will be raped
      (1 out of 10 men)
216 people will die while this poem is being read

The question is, Does that matter?

How many sunrises will be seen?
How many sunsets?
How many first kisses will be enjoyed and
How many last kisses will linger in memory?
How many job interviews will be nailed and
How many pink slips doled out?
When will success happen and
When will its relevance be questioned
How many books will be read?
How many poems written?
How much love will be fallen into and
How many dances will be danced?
     (In the rain?)

From the minute we're born
Our life as a statistic begins
And we remain one until we die
This is the way of things
Birth followed by death
The part in the middle?
That's called life and
Life is now and
Life  . . .
Is still to come.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


She speaks to me softly
The stuff of dreams
Wrapped around me
Squeezing me tightly
She tells me she'll never leave me
She tells me she loves me
She tells me I can be free . . .
As long as I'm with her
She crawls inside my veins
And she pumps her love through me
Until I bleed her out
Creating verses of devotion
And paintings of her beauty
Until I'm an exhausted and beaten shell
She takes me in her arms

"When will I be okay?" I ask her
She answers with her body
Pushing me down
She climbs on top of me
"You'll be okay inside me" she whispers
Taking me again and again
Until I have nothing left to give
She humbly asks for more of my love
Offering butterfly kisses
and Promises of forever
She'll never leave me
As long as I give her everything
When will I be okay?
When? Will I be okay?
I'll be okay if I live for her
I'll be okay if I bleed for her
I'll be okay if I sing to her
I'll be okay if I believe in her
Never that I'll be okay
Never that I'm enough
Never that I'm okay on my own
Miss Blue
The stuff of nightmares
Taking never giving
But I have found my voice
And when I leave, For what will be the last time
She asks
Could you stay . . .
Long enough for me to say goodbye

She speaks to me softly
The stuff of dreams
Wrapped around me
Squeezing tightly

Friday, September 14, 2012


I hate that song.
The one that used to be my favorite
Only now it just reminds me of you
Like your lingering scent on my pillow that just won't wash out
Or the phantom of your lips
on my lips
Words so soulful remind me of
That weekend
You said you'd do anything with me
And I said I'd let you.
Because I didn't know it was all going to go so wrong for you
While I was just dying to believe in what I'd heard
Now I hear that song
And it's still my favorite sometimes
Only now it comes with baggage
And I'm carrying so many already
I just don't know how I can handle my escape plan, my safe space, this melodic requiem
To become as heavy as the bags full of dad's empties, full of mom's judgement,
Full of parental guilt and full of my fight or flight
You see, that song, it was something I shared with you
It wasn't something for you to take with you when you stopped calling
Leaving it as all I have to remind me of the hope I felt.
So I'll take the song back please.
And I'll put it in the empty spot I'd made
In my heart, for you to live
Because, you see
I love that song
The one that's my favorite because it reminds me of you.

The Audience I've Never Met

On the road forever
     (or at least it feels like it)
Not arriving; False starts and detours
Roadblocks in the way
Like so many crumpled papers in a wastebasket
The problem is, I'm not writing for me
I'm writing for an audience I've never met
And what I want to say is so much more personal and
Not at all appropriate for polite conversation
immediately after introduction
I was inspired by the muse in the ether
Giving me the words when I've got nothing remotely interesting to say
Telling me to share my pain
Like a dirty needle in a back alley
Encouraging me to lay bare my angst
Like a catholic in a confessional
Demanding I convey what its like
To see the shame of every memory I never wanted
Reflected in your eyes
How much it hurts when your favorite poems
     (the ones that make you cry)
and the songs you sing the loudest are all echoing your pain
With the words you could never find on your own,
Bouncing off the walls of my soul
Shouting your hatred and loss
Until it becomes my own and
I live with my shame and your hatred as my neighbors
And then the words come
Hot and stinging
Painting an ugly picture that seems
Somehow hauntingly beautiful
I am equal parts excitement and fear
When I come to the Audience I've never met
As a supplicant
Begging for empathy
Pleading for understanding
From someone
Anyone who can say
You are not alone in this
Because I wonder
What would that be like?
So I relate my story through verse
Waiting for something, anything
And then I understand
I'm writing for myself  
Sharing with an audience I've never met
And if art, like beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder
Then it is my honor to share mine with
The Audience I've Never met

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Natural Consequence of Love

No matter what
Changes Change
And Pain is Pain
Summed up by strike and bruise
Not all scars are seen
Not all pain is clean
The brightest day
The Blackest night
Which is
Darkest before the dawn
Life is metaphor
Simile and rhyme
No reason?
Beauty is reason
Love is treason
Accept is all with
Poise dignity and
Strength of birth
Right in the end
Wrong in the middle
Time’s arrow kills Cupid’s love
Discordant entropy is reality
The end of time’s beginning
Solved the problem
Build the wall
Protect yourself
Protect your love
One gets in
All becomes one
Becomes none
The natural consequence

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Walk Up the Midway


She stood before the mirror; soft light from overused dimming bulbs that lined her reflection creating radiant beauty while lacking all function for the task at hand. She patted her face with powder, creating a cloud that gave the illusion of an otherworldly origin. The analogy was fitting for the setting, though she paid it no mind; her ritual was practiced with ease and grace borne of habit. She bent low and pulled dark stockings over her feet and up shaped calves onto her thighs where she clipped them to a garter, hidden under a black skirt. She stood before the mirror, topless, taking in her body's shape and allowing time to appreciate the curves that had taken so long for her to accept. She knew now that her acceptance didn't matter, not here, in this place; which was ironic since this very fact made it easier to appreciate. The image in the second mirror, behind her, was more difficult. Thanks to the juxtaposition of the companion mirror made her back visible and was a necessity, though it made her uncomfortable. She did not appreciate what she saw. Damaged, scarred flesh, made her shudder and curse her misfortune as she always did. She knew the scars were a necessary evil and to some, their symmetrical pattern would appear artistic, maybe even beautiful. To her mind, though, they were a reminder of the hardships that had led her here, to this place; and what had created the scarring she so despised. After a sigh she picked up her bodice and slipped her arms through it easily. She pulled it around her breasts tightly and began to fasten silver clasps in a regular pattern. With each gesture, the bodice tightened and she inhaled sharply in slight pain. Her back became more rigid as small wires inserted themselves into her skin at strategic points along her spine; these were the cause of the scarring, she knew, but she had no choice. Completing her task she stood before the mirror once more and gave herself a winning stage smile, spreading six arms before the mirror as if she were presenting a new car on a game show.

"Timothy!" the sharp voice cut the boy like a knife and he immediately blushes and quickly retracted his head from the tent, where he'd been watching.

"Timothy Clark Duncan! What in sam hell are you doing there?" Tim cursed silently to himself as he joined the fuming woman several feet from the tent.

"I'm sorry Ma," he said, "I was just watching."

"I know what you were watching, young man and you know God will strike you blind for peeping!" his mother said judgmentally. Tim ran a hand through his mop of dark hair with one hand while shoving his other into his pocket. He was handsome for his sixteen years, looking closer to twenty, with only his eyes and his smile betraying his innocence. 

"I'd rather be blind than a virgin." he quipped.

"Keep talking smart. You'll see. I bet all them monsters down in Charlotte were smart too. Look what's happening to them." In response Tim rolled his eyes.

Mother and son resumed their walk and Tim took in the sights and smells almost gleefully. He'd never been to a circus before, and had been pleasantly surprised when his mother had agreed to the trip. The midway was a bustle of activity and everything Tim had hoped it would be. A juggling clown on a unicycle rode in front of them and was rewarded with an awed stare from Tim. In spite of this, though, he wasn't deterred from his destination.

The sign read "World's Greatest Freaks!" followed by "100% Authentic! 100% Alive! 100% Creepy!" painted on the image of a ribbon wrapping around the rest of the text. Tim felt his heart begin pumping as they reached the entrance.

"Honestly Tim, I don't know why you want to go in there, those poor people."

"It's all fake, ma. Don't worry. I just saw Spider-Girl putting on fake arms." 

"I'll just bet that's what you saw." his mother said reprovingly.

"Jesus ma! Would you let it go?" he said, and instantly regretted it.

"Don't you dare take the Lord's name in vain! Now, I raise you better'n that, didn't I? Brought you to this place and that's the thanks you have?"

"I'm sorry. I'm just excited." he said.

"Well, excited about what?" his mother asked impatiently.

"That." Tim said, pointing.

The sign that read "World's Greatest Freaks" was centered above 4 painted portraits, each about ten feet tall.  The first was a smiling woman with six arms and read "The only living human arachnid! SPIDER-GIRL!" Next to this was a normal enough looking man, painted in a profile shot, wearing a black suit with a bowler hat on his head. His sign read "What cruel twist of fate can make a man become what he became? John Smith." Tim, wondered at this for a moment but shook his head, assuming there would be some gimmick. The third sign had been painted black with a banner that simply read "Removed by order of the state of Louisiana! Write your Congressman!" The fourth, though, was what had Tim's attention. The image was a man with the palest of pale skin, which appeared to be decaying; the eyes were glassy and white, lifeless and his clothes were torn and there were pieces of his body that had been worn down almost to bone. His mother gasped at seeing it but there seemed to be little surprise in her reaction. The sign read "FIRST APPEARANCE! GENUINE! CAPTURED IN CHARLOTTE! THE ONLY UNDEAD SPECIMEN IN EXISTENCE!" Tim didn't care that they hadn't bothered to name it, he intended to see it for himself, nonetheless.

"My God!" his mother breathed, "How awful!"

"If by awful, you mean amazing," Tim replied, "I agree."


"Step right up, step right up my young man!" the voice was boisterous and attached to a man who looked to be the inverse of a stereotypical ringmaster. He wore a black tuxedo, complete with tophat and tails on his jacket, his shirt was blood red with a white tie, and over his feet he wore red and white spats. His plump face was red and his bushy mustache was sculpted at the ends, rising into a curl on each side.

"Who are you supposed to be, Ringling?" Tim asked, incredulously. He made a mental note to point out on his blog that this man's appearance was so out of date that it passed nostalgic and served to take away from the ambiance of the attraction.

"If you like, good sir." Ringling replied with a smile, "We don't stand on ceremony here." 

"Whatever," Tim said, then before he could finish,

"Timothy! You're being rude!" his mother said with a smack on his head. 

"It's quite alright, madam! The boy is right to bring skepticism into the tent with him. A show like ours hasn't been seen in years and, as you can see some aspects of it have fallen before the more sensitive appetites of the modern world." he said, gesturing to the third sign on the panel before them.

"Look," Tim said, losing patience and waiting to get inside, "I already know this is all fake. There's no way you could get away with putting "genuine" freaks on display in a sideshow. Not these days. You'd get sued! It's not PC!"

"Quite so!" Ringling said with a chuckle, "Quite so, indeed. And yet, here we are. I assure you all of the attractions are guaranteed."

"Or our money back, right?" Tim scoffed.

"Not exactly. You see, you've already paid to enter and the entry fee is non-refundable. Our guarantee is something different entirely."

"Oh?" this from Tim's mother, she had moved closer to Ringling, and if Tim didn't know better, he'd think she was flirting.

"Indeed madam!" Ringling said with a flourish. "Why, if you aren't one hundred per cent assured of the bona fides of the attractions we will grant ownership of the entire show to your good selves."

Tim scoffed again, "Come on! That's hardly worth anything! If they're fake, why would we want them?"

Ringling was still undaunted, "As I pointed out, young sir, you have already paid the entry fee." he gestured to the tent. Tim admitted he had a a point. Even if the attractions were fake, a person could make money taking the act on the road.

"There's a sucker born every minute." he said walking into the tent. 

Tim blinked hard in an attempt to force his eyes to adjust to the darkness, though it didn't help. As soon as the tent flap closed all the light as well as the sounds from the Midway had vanished, and this unsettled Tim, though he assumed it was part of the show.  

"I shall be your guide on this tour of the grotesque," Ringling's voice came, more somber than before, "Please don't move until directed to do so. This is a safety precaution for yourselves. 

As if on cue, soft lights came up and Tim was able to see his mother next to him, as well as Ringling standing before a stage, cordoned off with a velvet rope, similar to a museum exhibit. Behind the rope, Tim could make out a velvet chair next to a simple wooden table. The table held several items, a pipe, a carafe of what Tim assumed was Brandy, a book of matches, and a lipstick. On a nearby wall there was a mirror, though there wasn't enough light to see a reflection.

"What we have here is the sitting area for John Smith." 

"Yeah, what's the deal with him?" Tim asked, "He isn't scary or a freak at all. He's just some guy in a bowler hat."

From further into the tent, Tim thought he could hear a low growl, and abruptly remembered why he'd been so eager. He felt fear for a moment, and wondered if the undead specimen was as genuine as promised. 

"Please, hold all your questions until the end, young sir." Ringling admonished. 

"John Smith was found north of the American border and welcomed the chance to make a home here with us. It seems that the residents where he'd come from were a bit unsettled by his countenance." Tim though Ringling had chuckled at the end of that sentence. 

As if on cue, a man appeared. He was clearly the man that had been pictured outside, he walked up to the chair and sat down, though he appeared to carefully position his back so that it wasn't pressed into the chair. He reached for the pipe and matches and deftly lit it and began puffing away.

"What's the lipstick for? Is he some kind of transvestite?" Tim asked, straining to make the normal character seem a bit weirder than he appeared.

"Certainly not!" came the appalled reply. John stood up, grabbing the lipstick from the table and began walking toward the mirror. He arrived, still facing the observers, and bent toward the mirror, backward. His back moved at an unnatural angle as he tilted toward the mirror, though what appeared as the reflection was anything but the back of his head. A blonde woman, reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe in her looks (though quite obviously not the famous actress) appeared in the mirror and began applying the lipstick.

"Oh my!" Tim's mother cried out in surprise.

"Come on! That's just a trick with the mirror! Anyone who took theater in high school knows how to do that!" Tim didn't bother to hide his disdain over the obvious forgery.

"Young man," John himself spoke now, "I appreciate a skeptical mind indeed, though I must protest at your lack of faith. Perhaps you'd like a closer look?" 

John moved up to the velvet rope, close enough that Tim could reach out and touch him. He locked eyes with the young man and began to slowly turn. The move was practiced, and he paused for just a few seconds in profile view and then completed his turn. Tim took an involuntary step back and inhaled sharply. The blonde woman from the mirror stood before him, lipstick freshly applied. She leaned over, and Tim noticed the curve of her breast in spite of himself, and swallowed hard.

"How did . . . " he stammered, "Uh, how did you do that?" 

"We didn't do anything, sugar." the woman stated, her voice soft and with a hint of sultry seduction.

"What happened to you?" Tim's mother asked.

The woman looked at Ringling, "Now, I just hate that question, don't you?" she said, "Nothing 'happened' this is how I was born."

"You were born as two people? Or as the front of two people?" Tim asked narrowing his eyes.

"Yes." came John's male voice.

John sauntered back to the chair, the female face remaining visible, and sat down, a bit more daintily than before. Tim winced at the motion, wondering how the being's knees were able to bend so flexibly in either direction. 

"It's some kind of trick." Tim said, though his voice lacked conviction.

"I assure you there is no trick. Shall we continue to the next, ahem, exhibit?" Ringling asked. His question was answered by another low growl and what sounded like a small scream. Tim looked past Ringling into the tent and took a hesitant step forward.

"What's next?" he asked, "Spider-Girl?" 

"Quite." Ringling said, ushering his charges forward.

As the trio moved forward, the lights dimmed once more, preventing Tim from looking back at John Smith and his curious "twin." He felt disoriented again as he was veiled in a darkness that was somehow thicker than any other darkness Tim could think of. his disorientation passed as pale light returned, slightly to his right, and he looked at what he knew to be the "lair" of Spider-Girl. He thought breifly of watching the woman prepare for the show and his disappointment that she was a fake subsided when he recalled her full breasts and curved hips. Before his thoughts had a chance to turn too erotic, however, Ringling spoke again.

"What you've surmised is correct, young sir. We have arrived at the Web of Spider-Girl. Now, she is not an arachnid per se, of course."

"Right," Tim said, "Let me guess. Some type of human-spider hybrid?" 

"Nothing so droll, I assure you," Ringling said, his tone indicating that he was beginning to lose patience with the boy, "No, Spider-Girl was involved in horrific accident a number of years ago. There was damage to her nervous system and she lost much of the mobility of her arms and legs. She joined our family, originally, as "The Living Dead Girl" but the effects of her appearance on the crowd was simply too catastrophic. Through a series of bizarre accidents we discovered that a prosthetic allows her to regain 100% use of her legs."

"So you admit she's a fake?" Tim asked, suspicious, "I thought you guaranteed everything was genuine."

"You'll now, I'm sure, that the chief characteristic of spiders is that they have 8 limbs. I'm sure you were expecting that Spider-Girl will as well. There are, however, other characteristics of the spider. We'll let you decide, young sir, if Spider-Girl can indeed live up to her name."

From the back of the web, Tim's eyes caught movement, and he saw Spider-Girl emerge. She did have the requisite 8 limbs, though Tim had to admit he was surprised to see her using all of them. She fairly crawled on her web, almost as a real spider would have. As she got closer, Tim was distracted by the light glinting from the web. The material was thick, but appeared fragile. No doubt it was some type of fiberglass, but it did seem odd that it bore her weight.

"She can use all 8 limbs," he began, "I'll grant you that but what-" 

He was cut off by a roar and what was unmistakably a scream this time, and he jumped back, startled.

"Pay of no mind, young sir, I'll tend to it while Spider-Girl regales you with her talents." Ringling said, disappearing into the darkness so quickly it was like he'd vanished.

"Your legs are impressive." Tim said, conversationally.

"I've never had any complaints," the arachnis replied, "You don't believe I'm genuine, I take it."

"Well, I mean, come on. How can you be?" Tim said. Spider-Girl moved closer and his mother drew back, not bothering to mask her fear. Tim knew this was due to her great fear of spiders.

"You heard the story of my accident. The legs may be prostheses but I assure you, I'm quite the Spider." her voice dripped with confidence in what she was saying. There was no question she believed every word.

"You see, when I was "The Living Dead Girl" the crowd reaction was fierce. Children screamed. Women cried. Men fainted." she said, the memory clearly drawing menace from her. Tim, was hypnotized by her gaze as she spoke.

"One day, a little girl screamed and wouldn't stop. I laid still, not wanting to scare her any further, but her mother, so appalled by my, began hitting me with her handbag. My benefactor," she gestured to where Ringling had disappeared, "Did his best to stop it. In the end, though, it was a good thing. Because I learned how to do this." she leaned in, mere inches from Tim's face, and he leaned back, so hypnotized was he, that he welcomed what appeared to be a kiss. At the last moment, however, Spider-Girl opened her mouth and a thick substance shot out and sealed itself over Tim's mouth. He reflexively reached up and pulled it away. It was sticky, but pliable and after a moment he was completely free. For her part, Spider-Girl crawled back to the top of her web.

"What the hell?" Tim's mother smacked his arm reprovingly as he swore. "What is this stuff? Spider's web?" the only response he got was the shrug of six arms.

"Ah, I see, Spider-Girl has let you in on her true nature." Ringling said, suddenly reappearing. His face was ashen, and sweat beaded his brow. 

"She caught me in her web, if that's what you mean." Tim said, then, "What's wrong with you, you look like you've seen a ghost."

"Nothing like that, young sir. It's been tended to and we are now ready to continue our tour. Shall we proceed?"


"Finally!" Tim exclaimed, no longer to contain his excitement. The other "exhibits had been cool enough, and he was intrigued about what a woman with six arms could do, but that didn't change the fact that what he'd really come here for was  the undead specimen they would now see. 

"Has the young sir not been happy with what we've seen so far?"

"Why do you keep calling me 'young sir'?" Tim asked, evading the question. The truth was he was convinced that nothing was being faked, but he could never let Ringling know that after being so certain it was. After all, for all he knew it could have been and was just far more elaborate than he had at first guessed. Either way, he had no intention of challenging the authenticity. If he lost the challenge he'd lose face in a public setting and if he won the challenge he'd win a Circus he didn't really want.

"My apologies. My intent is not to offend; we simply stand on a certain  . . . propriety."

"You can call me Tim." Tim offered carefully.

"No, young sir, I don't believe I can." Ringling said after a pause.

"Whatever." Tim rolled his eyes.

"Before we go any further, sir, madam; I must warn you that this next, er, specimen, is quite violent. You will need to stay back for your own safety."

"Is it safe?" Tim's mother asked.

Ringling met her gaze, his face still ashen. By way of reply he made a sweeping gesture.

"Shall we continue?" this time, instead of leading them on; he dropped behind them, ushering them forward. 

"He didn't answer my question." she murmured, moving forward.

"What's that smell?" Tim asked as they entered the next room. They were once again shrouded in blackness and a faint metallic smell had touched his nostrils.

"That is the smell of iron." Ringling said, "Now remember, stand perfectly still where you are and-" he was interrupted by a low growl. 

"What's that?" Tim's mother asked.

The growling increased in intensity and volume. It seemed urgent, feral, as if the source was a threatened animal backed into a corner. Tim stood still, and began shaking, suddenly afraid. He wasn't sure what was going but he knew that he wished the lights would come back up. He recalled, with the most vivid of mental images, the painting of the undead specimen he'd seen right before entering. He recalled the other times he'd heard the growl and later what he'd thought was a scream. Then, Ringling had disappeared and . . . . the thought clicked in his mind.

"Wait, is that-" 

His mother's scream was preceded by a guttural roar. Tim cried out in terror,


But it was no use. Her scream was long and loud, and eventually dwindled to a wail that sounded wet and strangled. The metallic smell from before became stronger and Tim sobbed, knowing what had happened.

"You asshole!" he screamed, at no one in particular. He wasn't sure where Ringling was due to the darkness, but he knew their guide could hear him, "You killed her!"

"I am sorry to stand on semantics, young sir." Ringling said, his voice barely above a whisper, "but I assure you I did not kill your mother."

As if on cue, the lights came up and Tim saw his mother's body, limp and lifeless; hanging over the velvet rope before the undead creature they'd come to see. The creature's mouth dripped with her blood and it's lifeless gaze turned to Tim as it growled once more. It was bound by chains, unable to move its arms and had limited motion from legs that were chained to the floor. Tim forced himself to look at his mother's body; at the damage that had been done. 

"That smell you said was iron? That was blood wasn't it?" Tim asked, softly.

"It is accurate to say that it was iron, young sir. Though I believe what you are referring to is the high concentration of iron in human blood that gives it a metallic odor."

"I'll kill you." Tim said. Either to the pathetic, chained, undead creature before him; or to Ringling, he wasn't sure.

He started at his mother's form once again and committed her wounds to memory. She'd likely strayed just close enough to the velvet rope for the creature to lunge. The bite was on her neck and her entire throat was torn out. She would have died in seconds from blood loss and oxygen deprivation, Tim knew that much to be certain. Her blood dripped from the gaping hole in her throat and onto the floor creating a pool beneath her. He breathed sharply as her finger twitched but sobbed in grief and anger as he realized he must have imagined this.

"I am sorry, young sir." Ringling said, moving between Tim and his mothers form. Tim eyes him suspiciously as the undead creature loomed behind him. He observed silently, waiting, willing the thing to lunge again. To destroy the demented tour guide that had led his mother to oblivion, but the creature only growled.

"You're sorry?" Tim said, anger overtaking him, "Sorry!?" he lunged himself, pushing Ringling back toward the velvet rope. The man stumbled and fell into the creature with a cry of alarm. The creature leaned over him menacingly, blood and saliva dripping from its open mouth as if it were taking stock of what the man was. Then, without ceremony, it stood and looked at Tim, snarling again. Ringling scurried to safety and stood before Tim.

"Young sir, I'll have to ask you to leave the premises." 

"Oh I will," Tim warned, "And I'll be back with the police." 

Ringling was on him in a flash, so fast that Tim barely had time to register the glint of metal that he next felt pressed to his throat.

"Listen to me, you sniveling shit," Ringling said, his voice suddenly a stark contrast to what it had been before, "You'll leave this place now or you'll become food just like your bitch of a mother. Savvy?" 

"I'll kill you." Tim responded, his voice choked as Ringling's hand closed around his throat.

"You'll leave us alone you bastard." Ringling chided, digging the knife in deeper. Tim winced as the blade broke the skin on his throat and he felt a trickle of blood down his neck. The undead creature jerked against its bonds, straining to break free at the smell of new blood.

"Or you'll kill me," Tim said, "Either way, one of us is dying today." and he brought his knee sharply into Ringling's groin causing the older man to jerk his arm upward, slashing Tim's cheek from chin to eye. Blood spurted from the wound and soaked half of Tim's face instantly. Ringling for his part doubled over, clutching his injured crotch. He wasn't felled for long; he fell and rolled into Tim's braced legs the motion causing Tim to stumble and trip.

Directly into the monster.

As it had done to his mother before him, the creature sank its teeth into Tim's flesh at the junction of neck and shoulder. His vision blurred and he let out a strangled cry as he fell to the floor. He thought he could see his mother, just out of the corner of his eye. Had she fallen from the rope? How had that happened? Was she crawling away? Blackness surrounded him again and as he lost himself within it, he faintly wondered what was left to see in this den of horrors.

Ringling stood over the boy, watching in fascination as gouts of blood gathered in a pool at the boys feet. He moved closer, to draw the boy closer to the undead creature, pausing long enough for the chained beast to move away from him. A second growl joined the first, guttural moans, and he heaved a sigh as the lifeless body of the young man's mother crawled toward him, a grotesque analogy of a newborn rooting for the breast.

"I'm sorry madam." he said, his voice once again proper, "But we've got no more space for new attractions." and he brought his knife down into the back of her head sharply, burying it through hair and skull into the brain underneath. He pressed it into her cranium as firmly as he could until she'd stopped convulsing and then pulled it out in one smooth, deft motion.

He turned his attention back to the boy and stopped cold. Blood was dripping from the gash he'd opened in the boy's face, but impossibly; the bite wound was getting smaller! Ringling watched, mouth agape as the hole in the boys neck slowly, steadily closed. Where the wound was spilling blood only a moment ago, there was now only fresh, pale flesh. Ringling kicked the boy experimentally, and was satisfied when he didn't move.

"Seems dead enough, anyway." he murmured, bringing his knife to bear.

In a move as sudden as it was unexpected, Tim swept his leg into Ringling's ankles causing the man to fall on his back, hard. He gasped, trying to recover the wind that was knocked out of him but before he could move, Tim stood over him holding a knife that had been Ringling's only a moment earlier.

"Victims." Tim said. He shoved the knife between the eyes of the undead creature that had killed his mother, and pulled it out again not bothering to watch the creature fall to the floor. He slowly knelt down next to Ringling,

"Aren't we all?" he asked, slicing the man's throat.

He watched silently as the blood poured out of Ringling; though it was the man's eyes that he watched closely. He gurgled and struggled for oxygen that would never come, and reached out toward Tim in a supplicating gesture. Tim didn't respond. He simply stood there watching until Ringling's eyes faded into nothing and his breath stopped. Satisfied, he dropped the knife and found his way out of the tent. He never looked back, never registered the glances of other circus goers that gasped in concern or gave him a wide berth as he walked by them, covered in blood. Some of it was his own, coming from the gash in his face, and he was thankful for that; it would be far easier if he could convince people that the blood was from his own injury; at least he could distract them from the fact that he'd just killed a man. He knew that the sheer amounts of blood didn't add up, but he forced himself to keep a steady pace; strolling up the midway as if nothing had happened. There would be plenty of time to figure things out later.

He hoped.