Fool’s Gold

About seven years ago
I forgot how to be funny,
as all humor leaked from me
like water from a cracked vase.
Wit and truth
have become the gold of repair,
veining me up and down
and holding me together.
I could not have mended without
my infinite joking words;
now they burst from me
like fresh-cut bouquets.
They are ephemeral,
but their brightness
lasts long enough.


Big Ifs

If all the hungry
had all the food
they needed,
if all the sleepy
had cozy beds
and rooms to be sweet in,
if all the adventurous
could leave today,
and not worry about the cost,
if all the curious
had all the books
and the time to read them,
if all the exhaustion
came from carefree socializing,
if all the problems
came from something
the weather did
(as in, no one controls it),
if all the pools
were free and open
and clean and warm,
if all the beaches were
for all the people,
if all the medicine were like that too,
my god, we’d be living
in some sort of
near-perfect world.

If we could only
put our wants together
we could make the world
so much better.


Thirsty Plants

Some plants live by desert rules,
a little water
goes a long way
to keeping ’em alive.
Some days I wish
I was a cactus,
taking one sip
and settling in with the sun.
Instead, I
chug my whole bottle
once, twice, at least
three times a day,
taking in so much
water, expelling so much
I lift my water bottle
again; this is love,
this is life.


I got days

where I floss,
not the dance, I can’t
move right,
but the oral hygiene thing,
I still can’t move right,
forgetting, bleeding
gums and hearts
as I beat
myself for lacking discipline,
I need to learn to
worship at the altar of myself
and my formerly
pearly mouth gates.


when we become dust

our gods will look away, some
times are just hard like
that first snow of the year, which
drops like a mask, quiet,
fast and awe-inspiring.

that first snow, which drops
quiet and fast, it’s like
a mask inspiring awe as
it reveals a face
that is soft, and sad, our gods

watch and lament
our avoidable exit.


Putting away taco fixings

after dinner,
I think that maybe
the first time I saw a perfectionist
was when my stepdad
pulled fast at plastic wrap,
until no creases showed
above a bowl of diced tomatoes.
Now I wonder
what kind of life I have been storing,
tugging this way and that
without stopping?
I am not a bowl of diced tomatoes,
but still, I need
to free myself of this suffocation,
this self-applied plastic.
Otherwise, I’ll sit
and keep forever,
too perfect to live.

video games

Playing Human: On a Particular Scene in Immortality

If you haven’t played the brilliant Immortality yet, I must advise you:

HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD! Please for the love of all that is beautiful and artistic, PLAY THE GAME. PLAY IMMORTALITY.

Anyway, as I played through the game, before I even knew about The One and The Other, I watched a harrowing clip in which we, the players, see fictional actor Carl Greenwood struck by the accidental discharge of a handgun at point-blank range. In the chest. He starts bleeding immediately, Marissa Marcel (the actress who accidentally shot him) is shocked, and the director, a man named John Durick, states in a muted tone of disbelief “Jesus fucking Christ.” Which, ya know, is sort of a tepid reaction when you just watched another human being get killed. Even if it was by accident.

Even on first viewing, this clip struck me as odd. Why did John react in such a mild way? Why isn’t he loud, not screaming necessarily, but why doesn’t he sound at least a little bit shocked? He sounds like he accidentally stepped in dog shit. Like he’s mildly frustrated. Not like he just watched another human being die.

Well, the answer finally came to me after I’d played most of the game and uncovered most of its secrets. You see, the actress Marissa Marcel is actually an immortal being called The One, and while the precise details of The One’s abilities are unclear, we do learn that they may shapeshift into human beings. Human beings they kill. The One has the ability to stop a human’s body from working, then they take on that appearance. They even absorb the memories of that person so they may better imitate them.

So was The One merely killing Carl Greenwood to take on his appearance? Well, no, actually. Even earlier in the story, but maybe later because you discover new footage through match-cutting, you learn that The One also killed the original director John Durick, and somehow manages to embody both him and Marissa Marcel. That’s right, The One is actually TWO HUMAN BEINGS at the same time. Which is interesting because at no other point is this feature of their powers discussed. “But wait,” I hear you say, “what about The Other?” That’s right – there’s a second immortal being of whom we know, who also takes on the forms of humans they have presumably killed. The kicker to this whole thing is that while The One embodies Marissa and John during the “accidental” discharge of the handgun, The Other embodies Carl Greenwood.

So wait, The One has shot and killed The Other? Yes and no. By viewing the “subverted” footage (which reveals the immortals behind certain scenes and decisions) we learn that The One calmly informs The Other that they, as Marissa, will shoot and kill them, as Carl. Which means that, by extension, Marissa, John, and Carl are all aware of what’s about to happen. The immortals know what’s coming, but the actual human beings on the film set don’t know. Which brings me to the title of this piece: playing human.

Essentially, The One and The Other are acting all the time. They take on human forms and do their best to imitate those people so no one becomes suspicious of them. We aren’t sure just how complete the “imitation” process is – The One speaks to us at a certain point and says they absorb some memories when they become a new person, but it sounds vague and incomplete. They still need to be aware of their immortal self, right? So when The One shoots The Other, they are both aware of what’s happening, but the humans they are pretending to be have to behave as though they don’t know what is going on. The discharge of the gun is “accidental.” “Marissa” is shocked that she has accidentally shot “Carl,” “Carl” is shocked and pretty much fucking dead, but the actual Carl must have died before because The Other has his body, and … yeah, it’s confusing, but please bear with me. “John” is also The One, so The One is playing two parts at once, in two literally separate bodies, so by the time The One has reacted in shock as Marissa, they might just not have the energy to pull off a convincing performance as John. John’s underwhelming delivery of “Jesus fucking Christ” at the sight of a fellow human being accidentally getting shot and killed on his film set starts to make a lot more sense when we accept that The One is actually behind these reactions, and they are two people at once in this moment, which must take a lot of energy. I don’t know for sure, I’m one human being and I’m probably not immortal. I really don’t care to test my hypothesis.

Anyway, I was initially confused and taken aback by John’s strange lack of empathy in that moment, or hell, his strange lack of any emotion at all (I guess it’s possible that a person can be so shocked by a sudden “accidental” killing that they don’t respond with feeling), then the other pieces of the narrative started to fit into place. I’m pretty sure that The One intended to be rid of The Other for good by cremating him (fire supposedly kills immortals for good), but The Other returns later through a process neither of the immortals knew was possible – it’s incredibly interesting that even though they’re immortal, they’re not omniscient. They can still learn and grow.

Those are my thoughts about one particular aspect of Immortality. If you haven’t played the game, I really hope you didn’t read any of this, but if you read this anyway, I hope the game still sounds interesting enough for you to try. It’s really fucking good. A masterpiece. Thanks for reading, and please go make some art.


I am rather bad at sticking to decisions.

Or, how I signed up for Substack then returned to WordPress.

Author’s Note: Hey, remember when I posted that long rambling explanation of how and why I wanted to jump ship to Substack in the hopes of making money there? Yeah, that didn’t feel right. So I took back that decision. I wrote a whole other rambling explanation of my decision to return to WordPress; I originally posted it on Substack, but I really like WordPress so I’m copying that write-up, making some edits, and posting it here. Thanks for reading!

Hey folks, it’s me – a writer screaming into the void of the internet. I’ve been doing this for a long time now – almost nine years since I started blogging on WordPress, but if we count the ol’ MySpace bulletins, I suppose I’ve been putting my thoughts online for even longer.

To be totally honest, I only signed up for Substack because I wanted to read other people’s work; a few of the activists and thinkers I respect use Substack as a platform, and I want to read their analyses and thoughts when they publish them. So I signed up for Substack and I thought “Whoa, people make money on this website? Maybe I should try it!” While I believe that folks should be paid for their work in this shitty capitalist system, making folks pay for my stuff online never sat right with me; I’m proud and a little abashed to say that I like writing, and I’ll post my poems and random thoughts whether I get paid or not.

At first, I fought myself over this line of thinking. I’ve been writing for decades, it’s been a lifelong passion, and I’m pretty good at it when I want to be. Since capitalism demands money from us, shouldn’t I use my skills to get that money? Well, yes and no; while I’d love to write for a living, the naked truth is that I live for writing. I enjoy the act of writing, of using words to make something, to evoke a feeling or suggest a thought. It’s a joyful act for me, and if I suddenly felt beholden to a boss or an audience, I think it would deflate the goodness I feel when I pen something.

I also believe it’s possible to hold two (or more!) disparate thoughts in one’s head at once. I could write ads or copy or whatever other schlock a company wants and get paid for it, and then write my soulful stuff in my free time. I could do that. I might try that again. I used to freelance for mere pennies a word, and while I’d ask for more money these days, I also have to say that time is precious. I don’t like deadlines. I used to beat myself up for not applying myself to a writerly career, but Christ, I hate the whole notion of a career. I have to put in a ridiculous amount of effort and jump through a disgusting number of hoops to earn crumbs from some boss? Yeah, fuckin’ no thanks.

What does all this talk of writing careers and getting paid have to do with my Substack? Well, I thought I’d try that whole subscription feature, and it didn’t feel right, so now I’m turning off that feature. I uploaded the whole of this nine-year-old WordPress blog to that site, then locked the majority of it behind paywalls. While that may be a good business decision, my writing doesn’t come from a desire to start a business. My writing comes from a desire to have fun and challenge myself to share thoughts and feelings with words. Sometimes, words fail, and they’re not enough, or they’re too much. But I love wrangling with the damn things, despite their shortcomings. So yeah, I turned off the paywall. All the older writing I uploaded to Substack is now available to any random person who finds my site and decides to read it. But as I said earlier, the main reason I signed up for Substack was to read other people’s stuff. So going forward, I don’t know if I’m gonna post too much on Substack. What I will do is continue posting here, on my good old WordPress blog. With no paywalls. Everything I’ve ever written and shared is here, for free, and I like it that way.

I may feel inclined to double-dip and just post everything I write to WordPress and Substack. If I get lucky and someone decides my words are fit to be published for money, then I’ll talk with that person and see what we can do together. Until then, I’m gonna keep writing poems and thinking about how I can turn video game stories into anti-capitalist fables. Fuck it, it won’t all be anti-capitalist stuff, but that’s where my brain tends to go these days.

What I’m saying is, I’m gonna keep writing, and sharing my words. Thanks for bearing with me, and I hope you have a damn good day.


The point of a cupcake.

I didn’t think about it
until I reached for one,
sitting in the package,
chocolate frosting impossible to miss.
Tasty goop on my fingers,
I go for a bite
and manage to goopify
my mouth.
I’ve made a mess,
and it was sort of fun –
that is
the point of a cupcake.