Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CHRISTMAS CARD POEM from the phucking crazy literary cadre known as the Language Defibrillators to all of you with love....


.....A holiday longing fraught with Greetings of
Wished for Light from Champs West....

Twas the corner of Kellogg and Western Christmas lights are festooned
Winter solstice is basking there is a full moon
The snow is a static of cable-porn and in flurries
When out of the echo of night the poets do scurry
Headed as if without any rest
To the emerald oven of a bar in the direction that is west
They arrive here once a month to congregate and to read
To gregariously chatter while engaging in banter
And offer keen insight in prose and pentameter
And empty more than just a few alcoholic liters
Please join us now, chug a Jameson or a Pabst
As we reminisce over of a year gone by fast
And toast to our future with Holiday cheer
For the writers and souls who have chosen to spend their year here:
There is
Sexy Sarah who cheers for my immortal white sox
And Nora whose licorice root
I mistook for a fallen dread lock
And who earlier in the year looked at me rather vexed
As she accompanied me on the “237 reasons” why we should have more sex
Blessed be thy scholarly erudition of wit that is a capital J
Who reads William Gaddis and sips a deep pipe
And Harshi whose smile is an autumnal slant of light
Shannon came back from New York to now join us
Erica, Brandice, Steve, Amanda, Hippie-Hannah and Bay
All chomped on burnt liver and chugged Guinness on Bloomsday
Nate with his tunes and Huck with his poetic score
And that one dude who broke the chandelier the moment he
Entered the door
Professor Worley, Demetrice here was last seen
And Adam who read and then joined the Marines
We were visited by the columnist from the paper who all the bars love to lynch
And Diane Happ who I kissed on the lone piano bench
The classy woman who scribes for the serial “Midwestern fowl”
And what a pleasure it always is to bask in the presence of the Doctor Blouch
They all congregate here in this neon leprechaun nest
with Phoebe whose paintings yanks at athletic cup near my chest
To read poems by Sylvia Plath, William Butler Yeats, selections from James Joyce and Anne Sexton
And hear the radiant chimes of Megan Canella
whose bra-size I’m just not allowed to mention (double G), reading

Poems about meandering jaunts in nearby cemeteries
Poems about one night stands in dual-eternities
Poems about superheroes and longings and unbidden sin
Poems about angels with dildos and Dionysian menstruation
Poems fraught with metaphor and ricocheting insight
Like Ethan who captured the color words make as they wane into light
Jessica Stephenson read with poise and searing intellectual allure
And conveyed what it feels like to truly Live, LOVE and conquer
Jenifer rose clapper recited her high school diary chronicle
Aron Felder’s fiction was both picaresque and rather comical
Anna Christenson who reminds me of the jovial wife of bath
Andrew King whose rhymes always makes me laugh
There are souls who will love you, alcohol in excess
Dave Griffin who likes to mime about the first time he saw a breast
Danny Severance read poems that are austere and demure
Alfredo whose wit just cannot be deterred
Britanny, cool Abby and Jessamyn all listened to
the wisdom imparted to us by Duffy’s truisms
and partied with the likes of both Gilbert and Hale
who sip godamn Presbyterians and who never fail
to splash a smile on my face—so next time
you find yerself combing the streets of west Peoria
Empty-pocketed and lonely in search for a jaded euphoria, an epiphany or a story
Feel free to enter
This den that was covered in the journal star
Leading one to inquire, “whatever happen to draft beer in this bar?”
Where the atmosphere is convivial regardless if the crowd is surfeited or few
Learn how to hush when the bartender yells ‘Silence in the pews!!!”
It matters not if yer an intellectual, broken hearted, coy or just fey
Just stop in and read, you have so much to say
And then party
w. the language defibrillators those local poetic boozers freely who feast
In this establishment whose name means opposite of east and is far from a loser

On the corner of Western its not very far
There’s always mountainous crates of cold PBR’s
To swig and to sip and to give you a chill
As you listen and acknowledge
That poetry is valid and has meaning still
And we owe it somehow all to a poet named Will.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

For my mother, who gave her engagement ring to Jesus....

The fifth month of the calendar year arrives zipping on the back of one's neck like a gentle breath of hope, with the clovery taste of mint-juleps mingled with the rainbow sight of roses lassoed around the necks of oblivious thoroughbreds. It arrives with the lobed sight of limp-eared hostas and greek-sounding perennials for sale in the doorway of local retailers. It arrives with the spiked lavender shock of hyacinths inching like troops as if saluting the heralding arrival of tepid temperatures leading up to my front porch. May arrives with track meets and with baseball standings. With overtly caffeinated college students living in the university library for days on end teeming with nerve-clattering anxiety. With hormonally-addled high school lads delicately unearthing the frosty plastic cube of a corsage as if it were some kind of big mac made out of their grandmothers’ wedding china, manacling it sport-watch fashion around the tube of her wrist while lost in the frizz of her hair and the scent of her body and the wild conjecture of what has the possibility of transpiring later that night as he brandishes his elbow in front of her eyelashes like a boomerang for her to grope, escorting his date out the front door of her parents’ house after posing in front of the customary fusillade of camera snaps, the perfect spring evening, his senses lost in the pulsating almost floral scent of the creature waltzing next to him who somehow smells brand new.

Who smells like spring.

May arrives with the sight of a single pink helix-ribbon pinned to the blouse of survivors, cantering as if treading water around midtown in a billowing glob of awareness and of, intrinsically, hope.

May is the month of transitions--of solemn almost pastoral garb and geometric hats bearing limp tassels bobbing as if in lost unison at the rhetoric and ramble of a commencement speech. It arrives with playoffs and barbecues. With seasonal hoppy pilsners on draft. With time off requests and looming summer itineraries. With dreams of packing everything that aches with longing inside your chest in a carry-on bag and leaving and then coming back somehow changed.

May is the month where every kitchen I walk into seems to noticeably reek of windex. The month of people wearing shorts who blatantly just shouldn’t go there. The month of twenty dollar bills unassumingly slipped into graduation cards by relatives you hardly know. The month where the morning sun begins to ricochet off the planet in a canopy of pre-dawn tint around six a.m., and set even later, casting out a neon-pink sail bejeweled with a rusty patina, dappled with slight splotches of copper and blue into the horizontal balcony of the overhead west.

And dangling in the background like wished for white noise the intermittent nasal buzz of a stuttering lawn mower followed almost always in tandem by middle-aged curses.

May, the month winking open like apple-blossom flowers on trees, yawning into pedaled consciousness, attacking the senses with wisped seeds of life scattering in random places in hopes of propagation and growth. May, the first Sunday, the stem of the wedding bride-colored carnation set aside like a matriarchal baton, aesthetically asterisked for the creature whose aquatic nest seasoned us for the first nine months of gestation, the womb where consciousness began with a flipper and a pulse and ends nine months later somehow cradled in the limbs of the woman you will one day refer to as mom.

And this flower is an epistle of thanksgiving to my own mother on mothers day, my mother who gave her engagement ring to Jesus.


As if traipsing through the botanical garden that is spring and feeling the scent of the planet enter your body in little puffed bouquets of vitality every time you inhale, here is a panoramic resume of the visual syllables hovering through the greenhouse of my psyche every time somebody says the word quote, “mom":

I think about my mom with her birch tree lank to her almost anemic limbs, skinny as a wind-chime with her soy milk and her fridge fraught with vegetables. My mother with her love of thrift stores and her clattering blue sandals and modest denim dresses leaking down from the dimensions of her strip pole-skinny torso like a bell. My mother with her weekly Ladies bible studies and her potluck dinners and her killer lasagna and her German coffee cake that is out of this world and her special egg, sausage and cheese casserole she furnishes for the entire family on Christmas morning. My mom who is a pastural cove of kindness in a biblical unselfish sense that makes the recipient feel humble and serene and loved just to be around her. My mom who has spent the bulk of her career patiently helping kids from turbulent backgrounds learn how to read sentences, how to read books, how to express themselves through the hieroglyphic tinker-toy ink of the alphabet.

My mom who believes that her assurance rests elsewhere.

My mother who is the strongest woman I have ever met.

My Mother who votes almost nihilistically with the candidate who is pro-life but who said she prayed for the health and safety of Barrack Obama when he was elected.

Mom with her homemade quilts and her shit I can’t stand christian radio always blaring in the hushed marble counters of her kitchen. With her recycling projects. My mom who for the first slipped decade of my life (lets face it) harbored a bad eighties perm which was slightly reminiscent of public televisions Bob Voss's afro.

Mom who is always praying. Sunday morning in the Baptist church she now attends, the litheness of her arms configured like a football line officiate making the sign for a valid field goal in the direction of heaven.

My mother playing the organ, always directing handbells, sitting in the front row of our church every Sunday taking notes, inviting guests over after the second service cooking a big dinner as my father watched football and read Rick Baker in the palpable beast of print that was once the Sunday Journal Star.

My mom who now lives in a house that looks like a cross between Thomas Kinkaid vignette of light and a brick kiln that would roast hobbits, the house her late husband grew up in, where he lived with his parents when they first started dated, when she arrived in Peoria of all-fucking-places to do her student teaching at a school situated on the south side of town.

I think about my mom who grew up in the working class south side of Chicago (hardcore whitesox terra ferma for all those who know me) an area now which is almost completely demographically Hispanic. My mom, the youngest of a big Czech family who was raised almost entirely by my grandmother. My mom who today still won’t drink a beer because when she was little her alcoholic father somehow splashed a shot of Blatz in her milk and she got sick. The whole family scared to death of my grandpa, his wife included. My mom being less than five fingers old hiding in the closet from the encroaching silhouette and sour mashed bourbon scent of her own father who has once again come home drunk and is looking for someone to wail on.

My grandmother taking solace in a nearby Lutheran church, partly because they had free day care.

My mother growing up pious, going to Lutheran college down the street from where Ernest Hemingway spent his formative years, the street riddled with the oblong planks and the cataclysmic architectural tilt of Frank Lloyd Wright houses who no one wanted to own in the mid-sixties because they thought they were eccentric. My mother finding herself teaching in a somewhat seedy river town two hours south of Chicago, meeting the coiled-spring gait and clumsy smile of my father at the church affiliated with the school where she was assigned to teach. My father falling droolingly in love the moment the goggly lenses of his glasses fogged up with internal soul-mate longing as he laid eyes on her, romantically cozening my mom to escort him into the wild backroad feral dips and tangles of the country the first night they met to stare at the broken cosmic chandelier braille of the overhead stars. The two of them blasting down the turns of Smithville road, my dad driving off the road, his three hundred dollar dodge getting stuck in the muddy banks abutting the side of a nearby creek, the oratorio-like chirp of various insects snapping on a hot summer night as my future parents hitch into town in the back of a truck, my Uncle plowing them free later on that night.

My mom who made my father lovingly genuflect on to the indented corduroy caps of his knees like a maladroit shoe salesman groping her slender overturned palm and proposing three times, coercing him to stop smoking and playing the lotto before her lips finally assenting, saying the word yes like she says the word amen every Sunday to his request in a smile.

My mother being modest, thinking that the ring my father bought her was too expensive, beckoning my father to exchange if for a cheaper one, the excess money my parents deciding to give to the church, to their lord as a tithe of their pending union.

My Mother and father who walked themselves down the burgundy runway strip of the wedding aisle into the pastel cumulus of the altar of their Deity bartering vows in front of the only god they have ever believed in while my grandfather, estranged and bitter without a beer, later confessing to his youngest daughter that he was in the parking lot of the church but just couldn’t bring himself to be in the same room with my grandmother.

Couldn't bring himself to walk his youngest daughter down the aisle.

If the thermostat-slender frame of my father looks like the luckiest man to have ever bartered oxygen with carbon-dioxide on the atmospherical forehead of this planet there's a simple reason.

It's because he has the smile of my mother matchlocked for life in the bridgework and geometry of his arms.

My parents who honeymooned in a christian conference in Dallas. Always serving the lord. Always putting his will first. Always praying together before meals. Praying together before bed. Always believing that the metaphsyical stock of their insurance lies elsewhere. Always putting their westernized-variation of a deity in front of that of their every materialistic desire.

My mother, who cropped the long swaying stage curtain alluring svelte of her diaphanous black tresses into an almost luting paige-boy at-a-madrigal-dinner chic finesse when she first became pregnant. Wading four years into their marriage before conceiving. Rejoicing at first. Offering holistic hosannas and pslams to their God, the bulb of life gestating somewhere above the stem of her torso. Like a flowered nub of spring. Like the resurrection. The promise of the life that is to come.

Then one night it happens. Three months into the pregnancy. In the porcelain baptismal font of the toilet. Everything falls out of her into a sanguinary pottage of lost entrails. The blood of the lamb. The tears of my mother who believes that even Jesus wept.

The two of them have supplicated and prayed. They are heartbroken. The gentle-bearded assessment of my father stating that they will get pregnant again. That this loss is somehow the will of god and that God is somehow to be praised in this unerring time of darkness.

My mom quoting bible verses, saying that she will still praise him. To let the Lord Jesus Christ be praised.

There oldest son being born less than a complete year later. Realizing drunk one night when I am in my early twenties realizing somehow that if my mother had never lost the gestating yolk of initial life kicking inside of her, had never experienced the pain she felt that night as she looked down into the baptismal font of the toilet and saw her tears reflected in the interior pulp of her anatomy— that if it wasn't for my mother's initial miscarriage, this author never would have been conceived.

My mom being told by a nurse the day I was born that I was the only placenta-caked creature she had ever seen who, when entering this planet, didn’t scream his way into consciousness with wailing high pitched minor key cacophonous octaves, instead I entered the bubble of this atmosphere of being puckered lips and pensive, a periscopic potato sack, looking around as if taking dictation in the new found soil I now found myself being escorted inside of via the dandling breath and limbs of surrounding antiseptic titans.

My mother naming me David out of the bible. The very vacation bible school agape appellation meaning "Beloved." Meaning a man after the poetic pulse of God's own heart.

Mother who thought my name was always going to be "No-no David," when I was two years old since that is all she ever said to me. Her son who just can't stand still. Who is a sloppy eater and wakes up in the middle of the night and can't stand up straight without bouncing around like an integered slightly breezed lotto ping-pong ball and screaming. Her son who inexplicably always wants to go to Szolds and who always inquires "Mom, where do you think all those people are going?" when he is three and they are stuck in traffic. Lil' David who can't stop clanging the pans in the kitchen together and clapping to the metallic din and syncopation of the echoing sound his ears regsiter to be the gnawing silt of an unfolding reality. Her son whom his mom took an almost prophetic picture of when he was randomly pelting at this daddy's smith-corona, the cursive caption in the book chornicling the first year old my life reading, "Maybe I'll be a writer someday," couldn't be more apt.

So convenes the story of my parents, dual lavender hushed progenitors in a nativity scene at the end of somebody else's usurped notion of time giving birth to two more (girls) musical savants. Memories of mother growing up- hunched over in an emerald (70’s fabric) housecoat in a pre-natal second tri-mester position in front of the yawning grille of the heater in the dining room, always a thoroughly annotated dog-eared bible next to her, always scribbling down her thoughts in a notebook in politely looped carbonated cursive handwriting. Feeling blessed to have somehow eschatologically inherited a family of two parents who adamantly believed in hushing shut the cyclopic iris of the television screen and reading to their kids every night. Memories of my mother reading Box car children to us in the old southern rocking chair they refurbished (role playing under the grand piano, gnawing into the rooting stalks with imprints of our baby teeth ), mother reading George MacDonald's THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN my first formative read. The protagonist named after my mother's mom, mom reading the tale to me in the bed where I more than likely was conceived.

Thus how myself and my two sisters were raised.

Raised in a house with the pastel breezy gentleness of a Sunday afternoon in spring. Raised in a house with Newberry award books doting the shelves of bedrooms and with musical chords evaporating in thunderous staccato puffs above the ivory tumble of the piano. Raised in a house where my father somehow found time to assist his kids with everything. To lob a ball in the side alleyway after school. To write songs about his kids on his guitar. Raised in a house where Christ was King, where there was always music and devotions and laughter. Raised in a house where evening meals were a five member family obligation. Raised in a house where there was always dilapidated fifteen year old station wagons cluttering the cement snap of the driveway--vehicles that would always seemingly breakdown around the holidays but where there was always music and devotions and self-produced plays and laughter. Raised in the house with parents who supplicated on the caps of their knees and prayed at their kids bed side every night.

Raised in a house that was almost overtly pg-13 rated, (the only time I ever heard my mom curse was on a family vacation out east and I duplicitously cozened her into inverting t he R and the F in the word FUDRUCKERS).

My mother, the strongest woman I have ever met. Standing next to my father on his deathbed.

My father who never had more than two beers in a week and was a non-smoker and who ran every day and who was humble and harvested his kids in a cloak of kindness and who never cursed and did everything right. My father who just two weeks earlier was cracking cheesy jokes and teaching third graders how to read. My father who almost three exact decades earlier couldn't stop smiling as he escorted the bridal sheet of my mother down the aisle while her own father was out in the parking lot getting shit-faced, my father, supine and with IV's threaded and needled throughout his anatomy. His entire body coated in pebbles of bronze sweat, his breathing lapsed and muffled and intervaled as if his entire anatomy was somehow being tossed out from the aching hovel of his lips every time he tittered an gasped for breath. My mom massaging the jaundice continents of my fathers bare feet on his death bed, thanking my father simply for the man he was while No-no David can't stand to be near the gaping breath of his moribund dad without slinking out into the bathroom and doing a bump of cocaine off the lid of the toilet, staying in the room for eight hours that night watching as the arena dome of viable flesh that rises and descends with every pricked breath gradually come to a stutter and then to a ceasing halt and then to a tearful pause, a filter of flesh cardboard stiff and then no more.

My mother standing in front of the yawning casket the day of my father's wake, her body attired in the simple drip of a black dress looking like a keyhole socket to some other world while gridlocked mourners grope the white doves of her hand and tilt their heads in endeavored acts of empathy and wreath their arms around my mom and her children in life preserving fashion and squeeze, talking about it being such a shame that my father died so young and what a man of kindness and character he was and telling my mom to be strong and my mother, telling each of the freight train line of shocked mourners the same thing over and over again as if in a round.

“His faith was in Jesus. He is with the Lord.”


There is more I could tell you about the creature I have eternally addressed as mom. I could tell you all about her benevolence to the elderly. How she is caring and kind. How she is always making baked goods or delivering food for people who are shut in. How the day after every thanksgiving until last year when she died at the ripe old age of 102 my mother and myself would drive down to Kewanee Illinois and see my great aunt Evelyn, mom using her good wedding china, giving aunt Evelyn a “chicken dinner” the day after thanksgiving.

I could tell you emotionally what it felt like to sit next to my mom in the baptist church she now attends the weeks and months after my fathers sudden death. I can tell you what I felt like inside, my arm buckled around her shoulders in the pew as tears of loss would seemingly drip out of every pore from her body. I could tell you how she continued to sing hymns loud, continued to hold her hands up in prayer as if performing the wave at a college basketball game, giving thanks to God who is her solace.

I could tell you how my mom was my best friend when my employer for over a decade, Bradley University, royally fucked me over last year and my drinking got out of control. Mom letting me crash in her house for a week to dry out, feasting on her chili. Mom, always praying, always scribing me notes in cursive blue ink riddled with bible verses, with guttural old testament names divided by dotted-totemic colons and integers.

I can tell you that it doesn't matter who it is my mother will pray for you if you are in need or rejoice with you in gratitude.

I could tell you about the time I cried and broke down in front of my mom, confessing to her the truth about the woman who the best times of my life were experienced with and who has been married to the same man since I entered in puberty. The woman I wrote epistles of sensual longing to every day for over two years telling her how much I love her, telling her how complete the metaphysical splash of her smile feels against the shoreline of my chest. Telling her how I can feel the residual glow of her all around me at all times.

The woman I made take off her own engagement rock and slip it into her side pocket before I introduced her to my own mother.

Crying. Telling my mom that my heart feels like it just went through the paper shredder at kinkos before I explode.

Myself now telling my mother how I felt like I was always a paralyzed product of my area code. How I wish that she would have somehow left her husband, but how she never will. Yelling, thrashing my mothers and late fathers ethical assurance in something higher. Claiming that I wish they wouldn't have given so much damn money to their fucking missionaries. To their religious charities. To their invidiously right-winged religious radio programs and instead, siphoned their funds into an education pool for their progeny their kids wouldn't be on the verge of bankrupcy trying to pay off student loans, working shit jobs all hours the day, drunk, dabbling in substanbce abuse trying to find meaning and love and accepatance in their lives.

And my mother not judging her No-no david, not admonishing her son in the slightest for falling madly in love and getting emotionally involved with a classy older married woman. My mother sensing the interior of her son's chest as being nothing short of a concavity of hurt, grabbing my hand, spoonfeeding him the mantra she has spoonfed me since I was old enough to swallow gerbers, saying simply:

“Life is hard but God is good, David.”

And indeed somehow he is.

I could tell you very simply that I've never heard my mom complain about any of the trauma she has endured over the lithe butterfly wings that is a life of faith and of grace. I've never heard her grouse or bitch. I never heard her play the blame game or act biased or cape herself with almost well deserved bitterness at the throes of her losses. Even though I know it destroyed her inside, I never heard her complain about her father not having the balls to walk her down the aisle. Although it wounded her within and she cried for weeks, I've never heard her expressing anything but faith and grace in regards to her inopportune miscarriage. Although her husband was taken from her way too early, taken from her before he was allowed to retire, taken from her before he had an opportunity to walk any of his own daughters down the wedding aisle or travel with his spouse or dandle a grandchild on the cap of his knees.

I've never heard my mom question the rudiments of her spiritual vocation.

I never heard anything say anything except my Jesus Christ quite simply be praised.

I could tell you that N0-no David is struggling to become the David my mother envisioned when she blessed me with the color of my name. The David who (ahem) just couldn't stop writing poetic psalms of light. The David who got involved with married women and who ironically has a best friend named John I seldom get to see.

The david who (telling my mom last week when she questioned my Bohemian lifestyle), telling her that, "The biblical David might have been king, but he sure knew what it was like to live in sheep shit."

The David who still has the shadow of Goliaths yet to slay.

I could tell you that, every Christmas, I give my mom jewelry--I try to get her something nice. Normally in the two hundred dollar range or so. Sometimes its a golden cross or a bracelet. Sometimes it is a ring. Even though my mom is modest and she tells me not to spend so much money on her. Every Christmas without fail I think about my mother who, in the early seventies, decided to sacrifice her emblem of materialistic nuptial union for something even greater she still ardently believes in.

Love you mommy and thank you. Happy mothers day to you all.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Transitioning stumbling blocks into stepping stones—a salute to the man simply known as Sully

His face was the color of damp cardboard, the type you’d find stranded in an alleyway behind one of his many fine establishments, flattened and vertical, a domestic beer logo branded in its center. He walked with a certain cogitating lank, a thinking man’s gait, as if he were about ready to break out into an Irish jig of enlightenment at any moment. He chained smoked Marlboro lights. He was gregarious. A raconteur. He was kind. He drank cheap beer but served scotch that had been aging in a cask in Scotland for over seventy percent of my calculated existence. He had unkempt stringy hair and an angular nose and a rich oaky smile that made you feel as if you were staring at the hazy Irish sunrise the morning after St. Patrick’s day heavenly hung over on green beer. He drove some sort of dustbowlesque truck that looked like it was flat out of a stage production of “From Mice to Men.” He was always scribbling down shit on a notepad. He hired coifed perfection behind the counter that would pour you a pint of British ale before grilling you the best damn pepperjack burger in town. He was a huge fan of “The Bug Dance Rhythm band” which my dear friend Dave McDonald played a mean folk mandolin in. He was married to a woman I used to work for at Barnes and Noble who wore long swaying lavender dresses and had black hair and ashen skin the color of parchment a renaissance poet might use to compose Petrarchan sonnets on. Together with their dog (who would just never shut the hell up) they lived on the same street I grew up on in the West Bluff, an Irish Flag saluting out from the side of their abode like a wounded javelin. Later in his years you would almost always see the wiry bangs dripping from his scalp cloaked in a beret like a flaccid halo or loose liver, the organ that whistled out on him, fretted on a Gaelic cross on a hillside outside of Dublin.

He loved to loaf. Loved to laugh. Loved to shoot the shit over a plume of smoke followed by a chorus of wit and laughter banked by the clank of goblets and the call for another round for everyone.

The name listed when he took his first communion at St. Patrick’s parish was J.M. Sullivan. But everyone knew him simply by two syllables.

He was simply Sully.

He loved to open bars.

I first met Sully long before I realized he was the Guinness godfather of the Peoria nightlife scene. I was in my early twenties trying to make it as a writer living in an apartment that was part of an historic 1844 mansion on High street (the coolest mansion in Peoria) with an unparalleled view that overlooked the swarming neon nest of downtown. I taught English for district 150 at an alternative high school, walking to work every morning, the sun pouring in from the east in rich tangerine streams like a vodka screwdriver. It was the autumn of 9-11, my hair was a long limp stem tied behind back of my skull in ponytail fashion like a door handle to fire escape of my brain. Every morning I traipsed down from the antiquated crags of High Wine, swerving down the boomerang cement swoop of Main street hill, taking intermittent swigs from my coffee cup, blurry-eyed and just a tad bit hungover, composing dissipating jet stream sonnets of immortality inside my head. Every morning I would see him and he would bob his head in a singular act of acknowledgment holding out his flat palm in a gesture that teemed with the familiarity of seasoned drinking buddies. Of Family. Sometimes he would motor past me in his dustbowlesque vehicle smoking cigarettes. But more often than not our encounter transpired in front of the bar he owned, SULLIVANS, nestled like a sylvan hearth swallowed between a gay and Podunk bar respectively. Every morning he was almost always outside, sometimes sweeping corky butts and glass off the sidewalks or scaled up the rungs of a ladder, tinkering with the window display. With his impish lank and hair that looked like it could pass for a dehydrated yucca plant, he resembled a fairy tale troll, one that would request that you answer his riddle o’ three before allowing you to cross over the inebriated pond of enlightenment alcoholic excess often avails.

I had lived in his bars of course. I had gotten kicked out of ZZ POPS when I was only seventeen for attempting to catch a glimpse of (and hopefully seduce) scarlet haired violinist Rachel Barton, who was gigging there before playing with the symphony orchestra later that night. I had my first gratis (fruity what-the-hell-is-this-concoction) twenty-first birthday shot at the carousel domestic horseshoe sports den that is the original Sullys. I smoked weed in the urine-stained troughs at the old SOPS on the corner of Main and Madison (listening to more than my fair share of Dave Matthew tribute bands than could possibly be salubrious for my sanity in the early part of the millennium). Together with my best friend Dave Thompson (who ran the bacchanalian Vesuvius Lounge inside Dominics at the Metro Center), we would sip 17 dollar scotches before hitting a night on the town or heading to the now defunct Grill or going to Opera Illinois, my long hair dripping into the tulliped chalice of my imported libation, thinking of Jim Morrison slovenly requesting to be taken away to the next Whiskey bar and not asking why surrounded by bottles of scotch that looked like organ pipes bearing names likes Oban and Mccallister and Belvanie. Names that sounded like Tolkein Dwarves.

But for me the only bar that mattered was the original Sullivan's on main street (the bar which now adheres to the somewhat disgusting moniker of Mushrush, ie 'Mudrush,' but whose interior remains intrinsically unscathed in the Irish décor Sully himself so selected and prized). Sullivan's authenticated Irish pub no. 558. Sullivan's with the trademark Gary Coleman sized Guinness harp branded on the front door as you enter giving fair warning to the seraph of sobriety to pass over this public house of drunken bliss. Sullivans with the emerald lampshades and various Irish bric-a-brac and hummeled cheeked leprechauns and vignettes of Michael Collins and one pensive looking-watercolor of JFK stamped on the wall that defies you not to cry. Sullivan's with a coniferous-shaded atlas of Ireland splattered on the wall near when you walk in like a missing Green giant jigsaw piece. The bar with the quote Céad Míle Fáilte (100 thousand greeting) plastered above the leering eyes of the beer fridge.

Sullivans where they always gave you a fifty cent piece for change.

Sullivans where on a Saturday afternoon in autumn blue-collar catholics would loosen the noose of their ties after mass and curse at the television screen as Notre Dame once again came up short on fourth and inches. Sullivans where my dear friend and neighbor Dave McDonald played every weekend, the cidery cone of his amish-like beard dripping into the baritone frets of his guitar as I sat on the corner of the bar near the ersatz stage getting hammered on Caffey's stout or Boddington's pub ale. Sullivan's which was (with the exception of Jimmy’s) the first bar in this area code to have Guinness on tap in the late 90's.

It was the bar where you punctuated the narrative of the evening in exclamatory fashion-- ending up at Sullivans at 3:00 in the morning after a night of clubbing trying to guzzle down as many pints as was humanly possible before moshing your way through the faces of mingling inebriated beautiful mid-twentysomethings reflected in the mirrored rectangular Guinness placards festooned below the menstrual chipped coating of the ceiling, packed, a bouquet of jostling limbs, each crashing into the oak bar like a wave to a pier, getting lost in both the sight and scent of the stranger sitting next you, your eyes momentarily averting into the cyclopic digits of the Tullamore Dew clock stationed above the entrance, waiting for the carol of last call, getting lost in the sight of her forehead, her lips, the sudden snap of her smile.

A few weeks later I would be formerly introduced to the wiry-haired man himself at the establishment I so loved by my roommate the impeccable Dave Thompson, the three of us sitting in hard Euclidean angles at the end of the bar, smoking cigarettes, the seasoned proprietors imparting wisdom salted with wit to the partied out poetic plebeian (I had been 21 for less than two years) telling me stories about bars I have never heard of (what the hell is Barnacle Billy's or The poison Apple?), bitching about things being different from the way they once were. About politics and bar licensing and P-town not being what it used to be.

For the next six months I would stop in after teaching, laptop in tow. If he wasn't there I would adhere to my writers mantra of “ten typed pages a day—No fuckin' around!!” diligently slipping into my back pew, chain smoking, almost always nursing a Boddingtons, wildly pecking into my laptop like a young junior high kid and a drum set after hearing his formative first metallica album. But if Sully was there I would sit next to him and listen to his stories.

There are other barkeeps and restaurant owners in town you salivate like a Pavlovian chihuahua just to be around. You have the jovial Santa Clausian girth of Vince down at Jimmy's. You have Shaman Paul at One World whose good medicine mantra baptizes the metaphysical purring in your soul. You have stories of good ol’ Al Zook olfactory jisming out of control on cocaine and hitting a patron over the head with a pool stick and then looking at you when you order a spirit with the word reserved on the label and treating you like you just graduated from some school with Ivy weave and a cement tower because you know how to pronounce the surname of that certain libation. You had Dave Thompson the armani- clad classy oenophile who always made you feel like a cultural deity as he talked about verticals and vintage years in a way that was not pretentious in the slightest, in a way that somehow made you feel loved.

And there was Sully and there were his stories and for a young writer entering the bar and sitting next to this chieftain and sopping up every narrative sentence that spilled out of his mouth it was nothing short of an honor indeed.


No one told a story like Sully, the beerkeg bard. The story of the wayward baby alligator he bought during the Khaki Jack era scuttling out of his apartment like the emblem off a lacrosse jersey is timeless. The story about the time he yelled at an employee for wearing her cocktail apron while smoking a cigarette at the bar after her shift ended (admonishing her that she needed to be more professional and not wear her uniform while in medias sozzeled) not realizing that she worked at the bar across the street, telling me later that after being informed of the error that he apologized to her and then hired her on the spot to work for him instead.

My favorite “sullyism” concerns the origin of the whiskey bar F. Scotts. When I asked Sully if he was thinking about Fitzgerald when he named the bar he tapped an ash off his cigarette commenting, “Now that’s an interesting story, Dave,” holding his beer in his palm like a gavel one second and a feather the next telling me about the time how, when he was in junior high at a catholic school he said the word, “fuck” aloud in class and the Nun who was teaching the class made his stay after school for a week, telling him, “I’ll give you a word that starts with the letter F you’ll never forget,” coercing Sully to scribe out the initialized first middle and last name of the author who scribed THIS SIDE OF PARADISE 500 times on what was then called the blackboard after school for an entire week.

“I guess you could say the name somehow stuck.” Sully added with that smile.

His stories coupled with that of my own memories of his bars.

Taking my best friend Dainish out (we share the same birthday July 6th, his 21st, my 26th) and after slaloming down from Gorman’s to Rhodells, sloshing through Water street (myself knocking over a table at Martinis) raving inside, god, what was then the androgynous ecstasy that was the Underground, having heavily-masacred trollops pinching their cleavage together as if in prayer as we devoutly tithed one dollar bills from our lips inside Big Al’s, throwing up outside of the old SOP's we ended up at Sullivans. John, lost in the bacchanalian din and swirl of blurred voices and limbs the dyslexic first and second primed integers alcoholically avails to the itchy soul. Dainish, telling me he needs to excuse himself and hit the head. After twenty minutes later of combing though the restroom and looking outside and asking the Keep if they've seen this heavily soused dark skinned Lithuanian lad celebrating his twenty-first, I notice that the side door leading top the crypt of the basement is wedged open and on a whim decide to plunge into the darkness yelling out his name eventually to find my best friend and brother John (ie Dainish) seated a la Rodin's Thinker style on a beer crate in the back of the basement, alighting his bottle like an alcoholic scepter in the hand of a bemused patriarch who had just bartered his kingdom for a zip-lock bag of magic beans.

The silly stories: The time folk singer Dave McDonald started playing almost Raffiesque renditions of Kids songs on Sunday afternoon inside Sullivans and (I shit you not) the whole place started doing the hookey-pookey with the exception of one overtly disgruntled author who kept yelling out the name of Woody Gutherie at the top of his libation-filled lungs as if he were at a Freedom March.

The activist stories—my crazy methed-out rockstar cousin spontaneously arriving on my doorstep with his guitar from Chicago in April '07, wanting to FIGHT THE INCUMBENT SMOKING BAN set to take place at the beginning of the next year. The two of us passing out placards all over downtown Peoria reading THIS IS NOT AFGHANISTAN-SAY NO TO THE SMOKING BAN!!!! Out of all the bars we stepped in, only one owner treated us with civility and agreed to pass out the flyers dictated for our cause. That owner was Sully, telling me that this smoking ban shit was enough to make him even want to sell his bars. And one of them he did.

The late-late night Kinky stories. Cruising through the chorus of last call and being way too drunk to drive and stopping off at Swingers world to sober up after a night of hardcore hedonism watching videos in a half-opened state regulated shower stall that I can't even imagine what it must look like under the glower of a blue light. Or the time I was standing in front of the porcelain chin of the urinal at 3:30 in the morning inside the mens room at Sullivans when a beautiful glitter faced girl enters the mens bathroom in tight jeans and linoleum clattering heels and reels both her jeans and panties down to the caps of her knees in one unbuckled yank like she is lowering a flag to half-mast as she squats down on the urinal next to where I am earnestly trying to drain my own baton of masculine flesh, and because I’m sort of an innate flirt and just a lil' bit tipsy I immediately tell her “nice ass-baby” and smack the tanless side of her anatomy that is currently squatting on the jawline of the urinal, not realizing that we are peeing together, not realizing that she is giggling and starting to blush as I touch and begin to bite into her ass with the claw of my finger tips. Herself, finishing before I do, standing up, any garments that zip and or snap into place still wreathed slightly above her shins. Her vagina winking in my face like a portal to another world, her lips giggling, knowing that she wants me, knowing that there is a vacant stall less than three feet away as my mind freight trains out of control imagining our bodies locked and bent over, forming what Sesame street might classify during their curtain call as being brought to you by the lower case letter h lost in the lecherous abeyance of thrusts and pauses, unbidden scratches pinned with quick muffled screams of feral and unalloyed lust.

And somehow in the moment I went to kiss her, my hand still on her ass, certain vectors of my own physiology jutting blood stiff and out of control, I somehow saw Sully's sandpaper visage in the side mirror(even though the bar is now called Mudrush's and they no longer give out fifty cent pieces for change) perhaps telling me even though she wants you, don't take advantage of this cute lil' thing who is throwing herself at you because she has been twenty-one for all of five months and is drunk. Not in this bar you damn near don't and instead of kissing her, I placed my pointer finger between the hyphen thin opening of her lips like pressing an elevator button to nowhere helping her to wriggle back into the lower-hemisphere of her attire like a mermaid to a denim fin.

The fleeting passionate stories:

Or the last time I found myself after fifteen hours of brachiating from barstool to barstool, finding myself like old times, ending the night inside the bar that once housed the proprietors last name. The woman I knew somehow from another lifetime ago and inexplicably recognized the moment she echoed the confetti syllables of her first name. The girl who would smile and laugh as she would almost surgically peel the label off her beer in a Catcher-in-the-Rye Jane Gallgher keeping-her-checkers-all-in-the-back-row kind of way. The woman whose petite lips tasted like a poptart as she waded the gradeschool valentine of her tongue inside my lips like a child pushing a toy boat into a Sunday pond immortalized on an impressionistic vignette of light, grabbing my hand, yanking me away from the sylvan plank of the bar, making out in the seedy alleyway behind what was once Sullivans, her fingers tumbling inside the grip of my palm like some sort of vital pulsating organ that has just been transplanted to a willing donor as she wore my jacket and I escorted her to her apartment in the frosty breath of late February, the sun rising from the east as if on stilts, a chalkboard smudged horizontal pillar of heavy pink light indented into the pastural aerie of tufted clouds and the potential promise of a new found spring.

But there's one sullyism I can't stop thinking about. One story that for me coronates every bar stool anecdote, every late night drunken fete. Its a story about how one man jousted a grim medical diagnoses head on.

Shortly after he was diagnosed a local columnist from the Journal Star interviewed the ageless wonder that is Sully about the recent news of his ailment. The video was stamped on the Star’s website in early January. The interview gives a solid barstool post-shot tingling snippet of the joyful proprietor’s persona. In the interview he says something profound. Something I’ve thought about nearly every day since first I heard it a few months back. When presented with the query of how he expects to deal with this diagnoses Sully tapped the ash off his cigarette and responded with the following:

“Yer gonna have to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones sometime in your life and this is the first day, you know, you do it. And you better have fun doing it. Why make yourself miserable.”

I think about this all the time. I think about how pretty much every one whose sight peruses the paragraphs of this homage to P-towns premier barkeep will, come five whipped decades from now, be reduced to nothing more than a vacant hillsboro coffee can of ash, the collected narrative of their corporeal sojourn licensing a loam of earth as if locked into a bad mortgage. I think about how pretty much every one I know shields themselves in a veneer of naiveté (myself including) to avoid dealing with shit that is often blatantly uncomfortable and painful to fucking stomach. Shit that is scary. I think about Sully. Turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones into metaphysical rungs to scale and to climb and to grow. To approach the cocked nozzle of the unknown with a beer and a smoke and smile and with laughter. And maybe tell the impending shadowy drape of death a story.

This is courage in its most pure and unadulterated form.

You face up to shit that is difficult and unpleasant and lonely and emotionally taxing and arduous and hard and you do it. And you better have fun while you do it. After all, you are here, on the scalp of this planet for a finite time, why make yourself and everyone around you miserable.

Spoken like a true proprietor of a man who honored this fleeting happy hour called life indeed.


The night I heard of Sully’s passing I found myself cradled in the saltine limbs of my ex-girlfriend, a local poet. We both work burn out jobs with burn out hours to be able to support the “sexually frustrated demands” the time and nature our respective crafts entails. We stopped dating around thanksgiving, but earlier this year we started spending one night a week, holding each other fully clothed, squeezing the fuck out of each other. When we were dating we never even held each other after sex. Now we don’t even kiss and our elbows and thighs are locked together like legos in a gable of clothed flesh with gentle nocturnal breezes emanating from our lips on each other’s neck, blithe aerial ribbons hailed from a summer wind. Sometimes Zorro the cat sleeps on the mattress with us. In the morning we make coffee and she slides her glasses on her visage the way the ophthalmologists assistant instructed her when she was in third grade, grabbing both stems with both hands and saluting them onto the geometry of her face in one swiping motion of grace.

I have vivid dreams when her pulse drips into mine and the dream I had less than 24 hours after Sully's demise is as follows:

In the dream I am attending Sully’s wake (which for some inexplicable was in a building where Geier Florist is located on Heading avenue down the street from where I live in West Peoria). In the center of the room Sully’s casket is placed in the huge vignette that for some reason is rather rococo and last-suppery-like with a pink sunset hue and looks like something a Davinci scholar might scrutinize with a magnifying glass before authoring a pamphlet on conspiracy related issues. In the dream Sully’s eyes are welded into his gas station cigar-colored face and all these monks, in taupe robes are flanked around his body with their fists tucked into their robes acting very hush-hush. In the room there are mourners and there are tufts of plastic funeral flowers and the monks keep on oscillating around the barkeep. When it is my turn to pay reverence to the man known simply as Sully I walk up to his casket and look at his listless body when the next thing I know, one of his eyes delicately hushed close as if in prayer blossoms open and winks at me. Startled I turn to the monks and point and they assure me that he is dead. As I look at Sully's sandpaper countenance again his supine anatomy starts to titter and shake and his head slowly begins to transition into this blue-windex color. The monks are flanked around his coffin so that only myself and the reticent posture of the monks are witnessing this anatomical transmogrification of the flesh. The flashes of blue splotches out of his pigmentation and his face returns to its healthy color. Sully then audibly “snaps” his neck, opens his eyes, looks at me, winks again, makes a plosive “shhhhhh!!!” sound and then falls limp as if he is only feigning death.

And in the dream I go apeshit. I start telling mourners that he is still alive. That there has been some sort of grave medicinal error. That he is still alive. I begin to titter and to shake, Sylvia Plathing out of control in the dream funeral home of Geier Florists (that has this visible field of rye and wheat gargling like a stainglass sunset outside the window). The mourners are assuring me that there has been no mistake, that he is dead. I point at the monks, I begin to verbalize to the crowd that you can ask them. That they saw the whole thing. The padres remain stoic , standing like untrammeled bowling pins that has just missed the marble globe of the ball to the gutter, silently commenting aloud that they saw nothing.

I get irate. I scream out the word fuck!! I begin to kick the wall. I thrash a bevy of nearby peace lilys. I tell the fellow mourners that they are making a huge mistake. That Sully is still alive. I then call up my brother-in-law (who is a doctor at St. Francais in real life) and tell him that he needs to send an ambulance up to Heading avenue because a significant medical mistake has been made. I go outside and wait for the paramedics to arrive. When the medical staff arrive I lead them inside. I mourners are quiet and looking at each other in shock. Where Sully's body was is now vacant. The casket where he was lying and where he cracked his neck back into consciousness in overturned, wilted flower petals are scattered in the fashion of a damp nest.

I am standing next to the paramedics when a parishioner turns next to me.
“Its Sully,” He says, “The monks stole him.”

I wake up from the dream in agitated sways, inadvertently kicking Zorro the cat off the bed. My ex-girlfriend fishes along the side of her bookshelf looking for her glasses as I relay to her my dream. We make coffee, chain smoke a.m. cigarettes and find ourselves in downtown Peoria an hour later. I stop into the Liqour store across the street from the Pere Marquette, purchasing a six pack and a newspaper. When we get back in her vehicle we drive to Bradley Park. I begin to quote Waylon Jennings about the beer I had for breakfast not being bad so I'll have one more for dessert as I pop one open as the two of us begin to comb through the paper, looking for details on Sully's death.

“Shit.” I say aloud, verbally responding to my ex-girlfriends query of what by telling her that of all the places in town, Sully is being buried at St. Josephs cemetery, the cemetery located on the street where I live, the cemetery that sits directly across the street from Geier florists, where my dream last night took place.

My ex-girlfriend looks back at me with her lips slightly ovaled. She then smiles and gives my non-beer swigging hand a little squeeze.


I was in Chicago the afternoon of Sully’s wake and the day of his funeral. When I arrived back in town I went down to Mudrushes. It was my first time spending significant amount of daylight hours inside Sully’s former establishment since I used to sit next to the man himself all those autumnal afternoons ago, pissed off that the Tullamore Dew clock had been moved to the opposite end of the pub(the bar has a much more placid feel at 3pm than at 3am). I drank five pints of Moose Drool (thanking the alcoholic forces that be that this blissful big sky libation has finally managed to migrate its way east) and slammed down four Guinesses, ordering the last round two beers at a time so that I had three separate chalices in front of me. I sat in the same oak patch on the landing strip bar where I tripped into the smile of the beautiful spritely-lipped girl only two months earlier taking down notes, chatting up several of the crisp-haired lads behind the counter telling them I was a writer and asking them what there favorite “sullyism” was (note: the naïve short haired fucks response was 'Sully hasn't owned this place in about two years'). As we were conversing the phone rang and the bartender came up to me.

“Yer not gonna believe this bro."

“What?" I ask the Naïve Fuck.

“You've been asking all these questions about Sully. Phone just rang and it was some guy actually asking if Mike Sullivan was in.”

“Did you tell him he died last week.” I inquire.

“No,” The naïve short-haired fuck bartended replies, “I simply told him that Mike Sullivan was no longer here.”

“No longer here.” I thought to myself, settling my tab, tipping the ill-trimmed sideburns of the Naïve Fuck behind the counter, and, when his back was turned, after I garnered my sans fifty cent piece o' change, I then nonchalantly slipped the superfluous Guinness chalice into the side pocket of my jacket, entering a dizzying splash of spring air as I walked past the fire-hydrant sized Guiness harp petrified on the door exiting the bar, thinking about just how wrong this Naïve Fuck is with his "no longer here" assertion as I look down into the variegated neon signs sprouting out of the sides of dead tooth brick buildings on Main street, thinking about how Sully's legacy is here, how it never left, and how, like my dream, his influence won't die, not any time soon. In fact I saw Sully everywhere downtown that spring afternoon shortly after his untimely demise.

I could see his lanky frame refelcted in the tint outside the windows of the former Sullivans, but I could also see him in the beer patio of Sully's, in a gasoline puddle near the cement star outside of the Madison theatre, near the original SOPs, in the alleyway where F. Scotts used to be. I could see his influence dotted up and down Waterstreet epsecially with bars like Martini's and Kellehers, perhaps emblematic of the "Monks" in my dream who stole his body.

As I drove up Main street that day I stopped at a nearby liquor store and purchased a six pack of Guinness. I then motored into St. Joseph's cemetary, across the street from the flower shop in my dreams on the street where I both live and work, on Heading Avenue , the street where another lifetime ago you fell in love and now have a desk in the Nuclear woods. I parked my car outside the pitching mound of dirt that is the man known simply as Sully's final establishment. I unearthed the filched Guinness chalice from the side pocket of my jacket, propped open a Guinness, filled the goblet and set it near the bottom of his grave. I then bowed my head in reverence and told him thank you.

I then told him cheers. Cheers to you brother.....

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

poem for Kyle....

Traipsing through Target on Valentine’s Day Eve Disgruntled and All alone after walking in on my girlfriend fucking her roommate, noticing how everything is red, I think about William S. Burroughs

In Mexico City inadvertently
shooting his wife in the frontal lobe
while playing a drinking game
Variation of William Tell on a bet
Requesting that she balance her wine
Chalice on the balcony of her brow
Like a beach ball and a trained seal
Standing in totemic posture ten yards away
The drapes of her eyelids hushed closed
Blinking during the family Christmas photograph
Snap of his revolver
The china-tea of her earlobes
Simultaneously registering
The click of the trigger
When the voice of God the father erupts
Through the crust of her forehead
Ribbons of diverse crimson hues
Skiing down chin and cheekbones
The pale aspirin shock of Burroughs visage
Aghast reflected in the cold puddle of life
alphabetical putty exiting her skull
a wisp of sulfur billowing over
her body like a pair of panties
half ascended up the camp flagpole

the summer when first you fell in love

Before Waking up inside Target on Valentine’s Day Eve

Noticing how everything
Is that damn red color

My thoughts circulating lost and alone
across the elliptical prostitute
lipstick smudge gritty ventricle
clotting transience of linoleum isles
Seeking freight train silence
through the aortic valves of commerce
empty parking lot cart materialism
pausing near the bus stop
wishing I had a beer

No amount of over the counter
Benzedrine shot up with Ken Kessey
Could have assuaged the
Hurt I felt that afternoon when
The cardiac tiles of my chest
Mingled with the Asbestos of her breath
Offering hosannas in mid coitus
The moment I opened the door

Finding the arched steeple
satyr thighs and legs spread like
half-opened albino triangles
facing each other
trying to consume each other
A mason symbol of wedged bodies, stuck
Ready to come in an abbreviated pulse

As I stood in the door
The junkie eating his lunch naked and alone, I

Peeled my heart from my chest like a fresh water trout
And held it above me head
For all the world to see
A coronation of our expired dream.
When you reached in the dresser beside your bed
wielding the hard steel of a weapon instead

saying “Trust me. I’ve done this once before.”

Monday, February 01, 2010

"That on the Ashes of his Youth doth Lie" A retrospective panoramic verbal eclipse of a year gone past

The year convened swallowed in the wintery valance of uncertainty, December, the cold aged wedding cake frost of the earth, the hard breath of failure, the sunken helium of the chest, the sight of my inky shadow elongated beneath the slender stem of an overhead yawning streetlamp, snow dribbling past in wet prisms of moisture, an overturned ashtray of celestial decadence sifting like something freshly severed and grazed on top of my head as I traipsed home downtrodden and distraught and feeling all alone in the world, freshly battered and emotionally betrayed, exiled from the interior of the building where I endlessly scribed over 3000 pages over the past ten year (and subsequently every blog that has ever been published). Fired for my benevolence to strangers and aesthetic seekers. Fired for lies generated like a nuclear accelerator by a student worker I caught cheating on her time card. The building where I had 98 books checked out at the time of my dismissal while my Boss played Tetris all day and the library director lived vicariously through a torso-slimmed variation of herself via the cyber-medium of second life. The building that I gave my fucking heart and soul to since early 2000. The building where I worked around the moustached-numerical oval of the clock overtime esp. around finals and wasn't paid a buffalo nickel in remorseful recompense while my nepotistic sexually frustrated co-workers would come in before the building even opened to play on-line video games, exiting their allotted shift prematurely, leaving more work for the night staff to attend. Fired after I had just spent 600 dollars on holiday gifts. Fired from the building where I wrote my first short story in the basement (entitled ‘The Drowning’) while still in my teens. Fired from the fuckin’ University where my name is scribed on a plaque in Bradley Hall. Fired from the university for an ersatz education I’ll still be paying for come twenty years time. The canning that somehow turned out to be a blessing. Finding myself full of thought thinking of Jonathon Larson as I ambled through the snow-flake static into the backroom of an anonymous building on Main street catering coffee refills for the dried out souls as we sat around as if in a private book club whose narrative has escaped us and talked about what has somehow brought us to this place.

The year where I monopolized the month of January crushing can after can of PBR in my apartment, watching Bob Proctor's synopsis of THE SECRET over and over again like a congregational holiday round, not caring if all my intellectual quote-unquote well read friends who use footnotes in their writings think he’s some sort of a charlatan. The year I became David Sereda’s first friend on Facebook (something about havin’ a bond with fellow wayfarer’s named David I’m telling you). The year where I spent a small fortune on accumulating the digitalized library of Joseph Campbell after losing the bulk of my collection through the move.

The year where I became re-obsessed with the Journalism of the late Rick Baker, scribing his name on the white interior-flank of my forearm as a ritual before clambering on stage every time I read my poems in public. Thinking of the seedy taverns of my youth where he used to frequent—thinking about the working class wayward souls for whom he sloughed up his sleeves and for whom he so assiduously fought giving hope for the hapless working class arcana— the downtrodden, the disease-ridden the financially-fucked, the emotionally enervated, the perennially pissed, the eternal, the all. Paying fifty dollars for his posthumous novel “Mary, Me In search of a lost lifetime,” and crying as he combed across the arable welcome mat of the midwest taking intermittent swigs of moosehead madly seeking for the identity of a woman who had no name.

The Raymond Carver of Peoria.

The year of being interviewed for my new job two hours after watching Barrack Obama hold one palm out as if being read by a Parent-teacher league gypsy at a grade school carnival while his antipodal palm symbolically blessed the leathery forehead of Lincoln’s own bible in oath—an emblem of change, a punctuation to the absolute political inanity and democratic disgrace of the last eight years.

Somehow for me I have an errant predilection for life-altering shit happening to myself around the date of every incumbent presidential inauguration. The day after Clinton was initially sworn in I won a scholarship-slash-sojourn to England that changed my life and ultimately made me a writer (thanx Greta-Gazelle and Mark-Andrew). The day after W. Bushy was sworn in I got a job teaching inner-city truants, dropping out of college with a four hundred page manuscript tucked under my shoulder like a freshly triangular folded American flag after taps. milking the last eight years lost in a late-night haze, hurtling my heart into the icy rink of a fresh page.

The new job on the end of Heading avenue.

The job that is emotionally rewarding. The job where I pretty much am given 7 hours a night to write.

The year where I moved out of my cockroach-riddled apartment (although I still miss the Murphy bed and my library shelves) across the street from St Mark’s parish. Filching a usurped jenga stack of milk-cartons from behind Sav-a-lot, listening nonstop and full blast to Tom Petty's FULL MOON FEVER, to Peter Gabriel's SO (dreaming of Mercy and of Anne sexton) to Tracy Chapman talking about a revolution baby as I dismantled the books on my shelves like bricks from a dike and packed them. The apartment where the red-haired girl of my dreams and myself broke furniture and overturned beer chalices while dry humping on the Persian carpet in an incendiary blaze of nothing short of unalloyed love and pure metaphysical communion. Wading into the pond of each others spirit through the orifice of each others lips, the knock and sway of our clad torsos bleating for joy. Thinking about this poem by Yeats even now today as I think of her:

I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;

And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.

When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.

The apartment with the Wonkavator ( which was really just the interior of my kitchen cabinets clad with hundreds of diverse beer caps) and bookshelves and college kids and crazy neighbors. The house whose furniture as a whole was a collective assortment of bric-a-brac found combing the alley's behind Moss avenue and frat row in the first week of May. The apartment where I always partied with Gilbert who lived next door—Gilbert who likes a beer and a good time and makes a mean margarita and who looks like a lovable hybrid between Ben Franklin and some really nerdy yet cool dude whom you’d meet at a role-playing convention talking about his seventh level dwarf, Gilbert who Hale lived with for two years, filling a Pepsi machine in their living room with cheap “canoe” Beer—the Hamms, the Red Dog, the Blatz, The Old Style, the PBR (long live the heralding immortality of the Beer machine!!!!.) Gilbert who, along with the maternal benevolence of Diane Happ I eternally am indebted to and will never forget their encouragement and kindness that served as an air mattress for my deflated spirit those lonely and turbulent weeks.

The apartment where I said Goodbye to Tara in early spring, acolyting candles in my apartment cupping her hands and dancing slowly holding each other as if buoyed in the other’s limbs to stray off the inevitable descent of drowning, the inevitable departure. Tara with her Hippie dresses and cool azure jewelry and cool apartment replete with Buddha statue and ferret. Tara who fucks like Mt. St. Helen. Tara who loved to drink and party summer last when it felt like we were a local variation of F. Scott and Zelda as both our banter and our wit brachiated from bar stool to bar stool. Tara who I cheated on with a married woman then tried to justify it because she always openly made out with girls every time we went out. Tara who I burrowed myself in the bouquet of her arms five minutes after hearing that David Foster Wallace committed suicide last September. Tara who the last night in my apartment, made fun of my hair that I was coerced into cutting when I applied for the new job: “I’ve never seen you with short hair before David. It Just doesn’t look like you.” before we kissed for one last time, no tongue, no junior high back seat six pack hormonally induced make-out session, just a kiss, complex in its terse simplicity before she got into her car and began to drive cross country through the galloping overhead thunder storms of early spring, across lone highways of Nebraska and Kansas at night, alone with her ferret and life packed in her car, flinging across the pan handle of Texas like a fledgling stripper and a random flag pole, eventually dipping into the arid aura of New Mexico—the narrative of her life awaiting a new found genesis. A new beginning. A moist dawn of everything that is to come.

The year of flirting with Haydee at Casey’s gas station every morning often buying a cheap six pack or ersatz grape cigarillos or a newspaper or coffee before ambling back to my house via the Nuclear woods, the woods sliced between the fertile neck of heading avenue and Farmington road, the woods behind Nate Lockwoods house where we used to play growing up, the woods I immortalized in my first novel as the “Nuclear Woods” when I was living on High Street and never would have fathomed living on the cusp of the wooded meadow itself—a permeating halo of serenity ensconcing my limbs as I traipse past the oak stalks draped with snow and come across a family of deer in the winter peace of early morning.

The year saying goodbye to Gormans pub, holding my bar coaster out like a handkerchief billowing from a pier on a maiden voyage as I watched my local watering hole for the past decade slowly drift into the hangover horizon of the soon to be incumbent yesteryear. The bar that was one of the first bars in P-town top get Guinness draught on tap in the mid 90's. The bar where I drank with my fellow writer friends. The bar where I quoted Tennyson and made out with Manito-Meredith from Dr. Blouch's English class on a pool table in the back room senior year. The bar where John and I jipped work to witness the red sox win the world series. The bar where Nick-the-writer introduced me to pitchers of Guinness that would take five minutes just to pour from the tap for 14 dollars (no bar does pitchers anymore!!) going through five or six in a sitting, talking about the big boys-- Jim Harrison and George Saunders and Raymond Carver and Don Delillo and Rick Bass. Nick who phoned the library when I was out and said that he was Dave eggers and that the story I sent was accepted and when I went into work early Saturday morning and saw who had phoned I pensively walked out into the billowing November mist and smoked a cigarette and thought to myself that shit, after all this time, I somehow fucking made it before looking down into the scribble on the paper and realizing that it was a local area code. The bar where Nick and I talked about writing and watched sports—where we witnessed the televised slug-fest between Ron Artest and Ben wallace in '04 when the bar went crazy—witnessing a year later the greatest college bowl game in history, as a battered Texas defensive line somehow halted Reggie Bush and co., Vince Young blasting into the endzone on the final two-point conversation heralding an unprecedented upset.

A game that made the underdog in you want to fuckin' cry.

The ritual of egress with Nick the writer and myself, the two of us always punctuating the night with a syrupy-tangerine shot of Grand Marnier served in a translucent tulip-shaped goblet—a shot we'd toast to the writers who have somehow gone before us , who have endured volumes of solitude and shattering hurt and just plain fucking loneliness, the existential requisite of our craft, sipping the orange serum reflective and quietly, as if knowing our role as writers cosigned us the task with going back to work alone.

The bar where English majors would congregate at the end of the semester for the final class period, smoking cigarettes while slurping cheap lager, each verbally reciting one final poem. The bar where I would always saunter into my old high school classmates and try not to make mental cliffnotes about receding hairlines and burgeoning beer belly's—try not to note how age has inevitably settled into the once fertile throne of our anatomy.

The bar with stoic eyed Pete the bartender whose angular visage looked like something chiseled from granite on Easter Island. The bar where, every Wednesday we would smash tables together anticipating gratis platters of pizza.

The bar with the most depressing restroom you ever could imagine.

The bar where I spent hours laughing with the impeccable-hearted Jim Jager.

The bar where I did an unprecedented nine (count 'em) senior walks ending last May watching the now (somehow inexplicably young) college co-eds do fruity shots on top of the bar in their bras. Unbeknownst to anyone, spending the last night Gorman’s was in operation buying my Uncle a beer after he helped me move, sliding the key to my apartment under the winking bottom slit of the door, dropping my books and boxes of manuscripts in the garage of my new house before entering Gormans for the last time, buying my uncle a pilsner-pitcher of 312 before he left, sauntering into the cropped velvet haired artist I fell hard for two years earlier. The girl with the good wedding china cheekbones who spends hours dressed up like a samurai hunched over the hearth of a kiln. Having only enough money left for two PBR bottles, which is what we drank, slowly, as we sat at the bar, the two of us for the last time, and I watched the reflection of her smile tangoing in Blakean symmetry with the reflection of her laugh in the mirror in front of us, the mirror that read simply GORMANS in calligraphic emerald font.

The year where I moved back in with Uncle Mike. Mike who has always been Gandalf to my fretted-frodo. Uncle Mike with his beautiful Baha'i stories and marveling relentless enthusiasm for the faith. Uncle Mike the psychic. Uncle Mike who the first time I met him when I was living on High street told me to “look around you'll be living here someday,” and I looked back at him like he was so full of shit he should be working on a marketing campaign for Charmins. Uncle Mike who I left hanging a few years ago. Uncle Uncle Mike who used to give Psychic readings to Greta Alexander of all people. Uncle Mike who can fucking cook.

Uncle Mike who is the only person I have ever met who I swear grows younger each by calendar square.

The year of partying with ingénue-eyelided Shannon Moore on my birthday. Drinking at Mike's tap with my surrogate-soul mother Dr. Blouch and Dr. Vickroy, conversing with her cool psychologist husband about the intellectual art of implosion. We ended up that night playing pool at the Owl’s Nest.

The year of watching my cousin Matthew stand in front of the altar of whatever God there is and become ordained in the faith that raised me.

The year of monopolizing too much time on (fucking) facebook. Seeing pictures of the women I lost the virginity of my heart to years ago sprinkled in the snow of her wedding gown and thinking that she looks like a little kid playing dress up in her mommy's closet. The year of reconnecting with my brother the inimitable Ali Alibadi, whose lascivious largess is an intellectual lamppost of endless laughter and light. The year of hearing the gentle wind-chimes of Harmony Anne Dusek over the phone for the first time in fifteen years— the woman who half my lifetime earlier I let hold my heart like a grandparent allowing his knee-size lineage to sit on his lap and steer first gear as I held her on the Thames river in the winking lavender dusk of that April and somehow the narrative of my life felt complete.

The year of wildly smiling every time I read a blog creatively crafted by a certain Gazelle goddess or quickly espied and waded in a picture painted by a girl named Polly (honestly babe, how you can be that good after not picking up a brush in a decade does nothin’ short of astound me).

The year I was supposed to meet Daniela at the airport in Bloomington Illinois only her trip got rescinded at the last second, which, we joked, probably saved us a few trimesters.

The year of becoming emotionally enamored with the cyber-pulchritude steeple of renaissance light that is Carolina de Luca (of Exile, WI). ‘Nuff said.

The year of spiritually salivating over Chicago Bridgette. The artist who let me use her office phone to call a dear friend in California the first time I visited the House of worship in Wilmette. The girl with the cinnamon-hued stalactite French braid that slinks down the back cinnamon slope of her neck like a curtain rod to her dreams. The woman whose smile I tripped over and fell into like a maladroit waiter on roller blades. Bridgette with her placid sunrise over the lake shore smile that illuminates her visage like a little kid playing with light brites. Bridgette who gave me hug in the bookstore while a coifly dressed rich kid looked on in almost irritating disdain (yes!!!). Bridgette who I looked for and couldn’t find and then decided to leave and then sauntered into her leaving the architectural dome majesty of the building like it was something in slow motion cut from of a Merchant-Ivory flick.

The year my best friend John's cool martial arts diva girlfriend taught me how to break a board as in a karate chop which I succeeded on the first try. John telling me that I sliced through it like a plastic knife and a rectangular slab of leftover margerine. Kelly telling me that "That was nice, but you are supposed to scream when you break the board."

And yell I did on my second endeavor splintering the plank of wood, yelping like I was trying to get something atavsitic and primal back as the slant of my palm splashesd through the impenetrable hymen of oak.

The year of the swine flu and everyone flooding into panic although no one got very sick.

The year where I just couldn’t stop watching religulous.

The year of MJ suddenly moonwalking into the ashy scalp of the planet. The year of R and B going Gaga over a poker face; of Text-sex and tell’em with a smiley face. The year of having a ravishing woman I hardly know send me naked pictures of herself on my cell phone, which perhaps, makes it not a bad year indeed.

The year my sister Jenn (who was brilliant as Jo in Little Women) and her husband eric (who was brilliant as the lead in One flew Over the Cuckoos nest) moved to New York to pursue the vacillating glory of the stage. The year where Beth and Dan bought a summer house in Arcadia Michigan, two blocks away from the Lutheran summer camp that was my late father’s favorite place on earth. Beth who I can’t help but break into caroling the self-devised Junior League pledge every time I see her, (Ahem), “I pledge, to shop shop shop, to wear pink, to marry a man who makes six figures, to sometimes be a bitch”

The year of waking up in a cloudy bubble of intoxicated oblivion and being unable to speak in complete sentences before finding myself ensconced by the flagellating tempo of ambulance lights inside St. Mary’s cemetery. A writer friend picking me up at the hospital later that evening, screaming, haranguing, asking me when I’m going the quit prostituting my health and all I could tell him that I still can’t get over her after all these years.

I just can’t.

Realizing later that night that three years earlier I wrote a scene in the large novel that takes place in that exact same cemetery, ST. Mary’s in west Peoria, where the protagonist goes crazy and comatose and is found (albeit in a pink silo) three days later.

The year of my crazy Johnny Depp look-a-like rockstar cousin Larry from Chicago telling me that it was possible. That if he could do it anyone could do it.

The year of the Nuclear Woods.

The year of my mom really being there for me when I needed her most.

The year of Nothing makes me more happier in this pebble skipped eternity of space and time than meandering into the labyrinth that is the Bridgeport community in the south side of Chicago on a spring day, stopping by Uncle Johnny's, listening to his stories before gorging on one of his out-of-the-elliptical-gravitational-sway-of-this-planet amazing Italian Beef sandwhiches before hitting up 3rd Base (the bar, not the metaphorical adolescent sexual rung) for a few pints before wending my way to the old ball park, always with my best friend John. We saw Peavy's debut this year. We watched Quentin hit a grandslam on a perfect autumnal evening. We watched Thome nail one right above are heads--but every moment of this season, and other season, would be void without the continuity your friendship in both sports and the 90-feet betwen second and third in the often arduos pitchers ballpark of life.

Thank you.

The year of rediscovering One World. Hanging out with the raconteur wonder that is Shaman Paul. The year where Rachel ordered the priciest entrée on the menu and we found ourselves in a dervish alcohol-infused haze and eventually found ourselves praying for peace in a dim-lit burrow that looked like something a manacled Plato might try to escape from in the basement of the Newman Center. One world with Glover and Hannah and the liter committee. One world with dearest Dave Thompson and Matthew.

The year of reconnecting with Laurie N______ my mistress-muse for over a decade. Making love on her kitchen floor while concocting dinner in her house on the north side of town, the house with the pool and the hammock the ceiling sized bed. Hearing stories about her rich alcoholic husband who drank nothing short of one bottle of Beefeaters a day until it burned through his liver. Looking at pictures of her in her wedding dress pictorial snapped the same year I entered Kindergarten. Waking up after a long nap and walking barefoot and brandishing a Dos Equis in her backyard, telling me in her sensual Newport Cigarette monotone that sounds like jazz that she doesn’t fuck like she just turned fifty years old, while I asked her if she hears the oratorio of crickets that seem to be exploding in punctuation marks of a summer somehow ending, finding a modicum of peace stapled in the sentimental hovel of her arms. As if being single were an ocean an every three months I find myself raft mattress of a different yearning soul, feeling her lips kiss my forehead as she leaves for work in the am hours and I am left asleep somehow again all alone.

The year of drinking at seedy bars where you can smoke (where would I be without the Getaway on Western avenue that looks like something out of an Eugene O’neil play???) Shawna, who flashed me five minutes after I sat down. Smoking cheap cigars with Hale as we blast out into the pumpkin moon autumnal sunset the last Thursday of every month is search for the perfect Podunk haunt, the Road house in Elmwood, Willette’s winery in the sleepy doe-eyed southern hamlet of Manito where another lifetime ago I lived with and fell in love with a beautiful girl. (nothing like going through three hundred bucks at a tasting) the 801 club in Bartonville, the Shed with the beautiful country girl bartenders with “bad teeth and big boobs” in Buzzville.

The year of my mentor, the Great Doctor Palakeel, publishing a kick ass sleek variation of the epic of Gilgamesh and presenting it to me like a confirmation bible over kick-ass Southern-Indian cuisine.

The year of losing the copper around my birthday for four months, the metaphysical talisman that has almost always been pocketed in the indecipherable lata and longitudinal creases of my palm given to me by an eternal companion whose seismic smile alone shatters the poetic geiger counter burrowed in my chest.

Finding it four months later when I was doing room check and a resident had it on his dresser claiming that he found the copper, the thumb sized pebble of my heart in the parking lot a month earlier and kepy it because he thought it was just “a really cool looking rock.”

The year of chainsmoking my way back to a certain parkbench placidly abutting the Evantonian lakeshore, basking in the residue of her lips, the refulgent scent her smile, the warmth of her spirit, the chorus of her song.

The year of Will's monthly poetic gala's at Champs west, the Bohemian nest of local poets. The piano bar on western ave (that I still remember when it was Buzzies Ice cream, when it was staffords dairy) that is owned by my old coworkers at Jumers and that looks like the magnified interior of a clover, home to the artists in town who inspire the fuck out of me. Ethan with his goggly lank and convivial swagger and poems about Lane Stanely. Steve’s cidery beard and fondness for kick-ass spirits (Will whips up the best ol’ fashion in town, I challenge you as if in a dual to find one better). Adam who is shaped like a human exclamatory mark and who reads his work with a very sincere plowing monotone that simply defies you not to cry.

Beautiful Hannah, whose refreshing spirit and abundant enthusiasm for the art (as well as for litter) has been a blessed benchmark in my life for well over a decade.

And good ol’ Shan (god love her).

There is also classy Abby who for some reason reminds me of Virginia Woolf and who is an accomplished scribe in her own poetic inflection. Brittany whom I have known since she was single integers in age and sang Finoa Apple and who is now getting her Masters in English and who looks like she just stepped off the cover of the latest Victoria Secret catalog. Beautiful Megan who scribbles all her poems in hardback stationary notebooks and reads with the authoritative assonance of angels. Cool Alfredo who all the girls fall in love with. Sensual-lipped Anna whose poems rock my world. Groping hands with the “lock and dam” ebullience of Miss Stephenson underneath the oak helm of the bar before she empties the audience of their collective breath in one collective stanza—a poetic pillar of light escaping the podium where she stands.

And Will, the poetic avatar of P-town, a modern day Japhy Ryder pedaling up and down the gritty arteries of Western Avenue. Will, whose promulgation and promotion of the craft I love is unparalleled in the area code that shelters the current poet laureate of Illinois..

The year autumn was reserved for Princess Jessica, a poet.

Jessica who reminds me of Scout Finch smoking camel filters. Jessica who is small and waifish with a whip of scarlet hair often reeled back in a pinch behind her neck. Jessica who wears thick glasses and has cool reiki tattoos coating her entire back like armor and composes out-of-this-fucking- stratosphere damn good poetry. Jess who has a gargantuan queensryche poster vertically splattered over her bed that looks like something an avid CS Lewis scholar might mistake for a wardrobe entrance into another world.

Jess and I who the first month we were together it always rained. Jess with the cool CD collection and a two year old named after a romantic poet. Jess who I fell hard for when we parked our car amidst the stalking cement effigies of Springdale cemetery and she put on John Denver. This song.

Jess and I making love in the tangled brush of the Nuclear woods beneath the optic lens of the moon, the same gravity that holds and presses the earth in tandem to its nearest lunar orb swaying in time signature with the rhythm of our own pulse, the feral sway of our own bodies coupled with the carnal cauterwaul of unyileding confusion and hurt and need and joy.

During the day jess and I would sit in the parkbench in the Nuclear woods and read Walt Whitman and Rodney Jones and hold each other while I would sip beer between our relationship-decimating work schedules, lost in the smattering of autumnal stainglass leaves crunching below.

Jess and I who the first week of our rapport I received a verbal cyber-assault from a guy at the end of the bar who told me he was gonna kick my ass if he saw me talking to her again which only made me want to talk to her again more.

Jess and I who couldn't even make it to Christmas.

Jess who I surprised the last time I saw her at Firehouse Pizza as I lassoed my arms around her waist and kissed the bulb of hair on the back of her head while she was picking up a delivery before walking her out to her vehicle, somehow realizing that this would be our last collective moment together. Jess ask me simply to kiss her in public (which she never did before) before her vehicle shuttered away in an overture of fumes.

The year of sauntering into my surrogate sis from a decade ago, the lavishing countenance of Brooke Ferero on thanksgiving eve and telling her as I kissed the dome of her cheekbone that I am proud of her baby.

So very proud indeed.

There were other memories of course. Making more money than I have ever made in my entire life (which is still far less than 30 g's but makes me feel like the prince of Tides) and still hiding from creditors. Reading everything I can get my grubby little literary paws on. Spending Christmas with my cool cousin Brianna hours before her wedding, adhering to our holiday tradition of driving out in the country with a few beers in tandem, getting lost on the tortuous back roads of Hollis township off Tuscarora road where the leftover glacial slopes are reminiscent of Canada.

On the incipience of a new year the one memory I remember most from twenty-zero-nine transpired inside the Billy Goat Tavaran in downtown chicago. I had just been escorted off of Millennium bridge by a security officer for smoking a cigar while admiring the architecture of the newly opened Modern wing of the art institute (which looks like something I made once in summer camp with tooth and popsicle sticks) and I was pissed of at the Li-young Lee "City in which I love you." Pissed off at the hog butcher to the world. Pissed off at the city where my great grandfather worked as a bootlegger for Al capone ferrying a coal and Ice truck (stowed with moonshine) down the buegreoning industrial ash and chrome of Wabash. Pissed off that she wasn't with me. Pissed off at the superficial rich fucks walking past the lonely solitude of the poor in existenital suitcase doting existenial traipse. Pissed off at all the tottering sadness and loneliness in the world. Pissed off that, for many us, our dreams and ambitions and potential are all too often occluded to the dome of our area code.

Pissed off that I was having all these thoughts when I have lived in the United states my entire life and, sadly, unlike the bulk of the planet, have always had access to nutritious processed food. To clean water. To toilet paper. To a surplus of technology that I can utilize to assauge my existential loneliness twenty-four seven and make me feel that I am entitled to more. The advent to individualized human avarice.

Pissed off that the rich fuck who calls himself an artist by making a recursive looped video of a santa clause taking a dump purloined my grant money (I’m sorry, a recursive-looped video of a holiday harlequin taking a dump is not art and will not be considered art a century from now).

Pissed of at the city of Saul bellow and Studs Turkel and long time south sider Nelson Algren (miss reading those award stories in the trib!!!). Pissed off at the city of my beloved White Sox and vernal-meadow coating of Goose Island IPA. The city where I was blessed to introduce my mentor, George Saunders at the now defunct Barbara's Bookstore on Wells back in 2000 during the kick ass Pastoralia tour (read “Sea oak” and “The barbers unhappiness”) and then afterwards on the subway, saw the most beautiful girl toting a violin case ( remembering how smiled at me and blushed and grabbed my wrist and then, I shit you not, dissipated) I had ever seen. My fourth chapter portrait of the artist as a young man Bird woman angelic muse.

So pissed off that I did the unthinkable and went into the Billy Goat Tavern. The worlds most notorious Cubs bar.

I ate a few "doubles" my body, enervated, slouched over the lip of the bar like an over used question mark in a junior high exposition paper and began drinking. The bartender was an old man in his early sevnties and wore an all white apron like the bartenders used to wear years ago. Two other old men sat next to me on all sides. Old men who were born during the blitzkgrieg genesis of the second world war. Men who have endured bouts of cancer. Men who each wore thick glasses and had catarcts. Men whose face looked like wet-corrugated cardboard. Men who has been drinking in this damp chicago hovel, waywarly cheering on my cross town rivals since the late fifties.

Men who have been sitting in this exact bar the same day Catcher in the Rye was published.

"This is the sort've bar guys like us a place go to to get away from all the tampons and the nail polish." The guy next to me said. I lifted up my Schlitz as if in salute, seminally feeling out of place on the alcoholic wing of the geratric ward.

"She-cawg-oh ain't what it used to be though. You used to be able to smoke in here. The whole fuckin' place was just one nest of sportswriters and smoke. Now you have to fuckin' go outside to smoke. That fuckin sucks if you ask me."

I again toasted my chalice o' schlitz in Salute

We began to talk. I told him that I was a writer from downstate and that I come up here every three months just to walk around and look at people.

"If yer a writer you'd be interested to know that Mike Whoi-ko used to practically live in here."

"Who?" I ask

Whoi-ko” He says again, as if ordering from a Sushi menu, pointing to a wall splattered with articles.

“Ryoko?” I ask. The old man nods.

“Yeah,” He says, “Harry Caray used to drink here too. As well as John Candy. But there was no one like Mike Royko."

When I ask them where former tribune columnsit Bob Greene used to imbibe he smiles.

“He used to sip tea with the all four year olds at the american girls store down the street.”

There is a collective chuckle inside the bar.

Fifty years from now Ryoko will be Kobe to Rick Baker's Michael Jordan. Both are amazing, but Baker died tragically when he was only thirty-six. The same age as Jonathon Larson who wrote RENT. The same age as Mozart.

Still Royko was damn good. Ask ask journalism major. And this was his bar.

"Royko used to drink beer and talk about the cubs right about where you are sitting.” The cool bartender dressed all in white said, handing me my third beer.

I began to sit with men and average thirty five years my senior and talk about sports. They knew that Ryne Sandberg had been coaching in P-town for the last two years and inquired if I thought he was moving up the coaching eschelons of the Cubs organization. We talked about the bears and Jay Cutler and Bobby Knox. We laughed. For over and hour we sat and drank, the elders and the wild child talking about sports.

Then something happened that I wasn't expecting. The bartender, the old man clad in a sheet of white looked both ways, grabbed my empty beer mug, filled it quickly and then placed it in front of me. When I placed my hand inside my jacket to fetch my wallet he swatted his hand down in front of his face as if warding off late-summer insects indoors. This happened three to four times, the old man, noticing my goblet was empty, looking to see if his boss was watching him, before replacing the emptiness of my mug joyfully with suds.

Jovially I'm known in over half the bars of Peoria and I always tip at least 20 percent depending if the bartender has boobs and the only thing I have ever received gratis (outside of a few cool bars I won't name) has been a completely curable case of Chlamydia courtesy of Missy the bartender at Crusens on Farmington road.

That and a few severed hearts and the occasional hangover.

But I hardly ever get a free drink especially from a bar I just dipped inside of to escape the hoi-poloi materialistic redundancy of the streets. Especially from a Cubs bar.

A man goes into the earth to be reborn. To plant something into the arable womb of the globe. The Jesus I celebrated on easter Sunday when I was five fingers old goes into the soil of the planet a man and is reborn a diety. A basic meditation ritual of Shamanism is to mediatte on slinking into the earth, sprouting out of the crust of the planet with a very Jack and the bean stalk green-like stem in which to only ascend.

That I had somehow made a fraternal bond with these gentleman who probably have less than a decade of life left here on this planet. In this bar. In this city that continues to steamroll forward and continues to change.

That mythologically this bar was for me what the male initiation rights were at the caves of les trois freres. Going into the earth, being reborn and coming out and learning how to give through heartbreak and pain and the toppling dissipation of years. Learning how to give through old age, learning how to bring forth that metaphysical copper burrowed inside of us, learning how to look at the planet in awe and wonder, learning how to bathe in the joy of this plurality of time-space, this place of existence.

Learning how to fucking love and to enjoy and to create in the place we have found ourselves for the next year. And the year after that. And beyond. Before we enter the crust of the planet for good and are unable to return.

Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.

After all as a good writer friend of mine who I see every day once told me in print damn near ten years ago, "My friend, as long as we are here, we are immortal."