Thursday, September 25, 2014

Namaste off my back 

That poor kid was up all night.
Dreaming and planning and really 
about how to kick a field goal.

I know it. He tries so hard and
I like him. I am on his side. 

So, this morning at school,
on the football field
I watched him come out in the helmet
and uniform and tee up the ball. 

(The goal post is along the fence
and over the fence is the biggest house 
in the city, with a pool, furniture imported 
from maybe Paris, and a blue, bubbling hot tub. 
This is Monday, and the tub is full of 
the richest people in town, on a retreat.) 

The kid runs up, kicks the ball, and the ball
goes sideways over the fence, lands 
in the hot tub and explodes in the heat 
and steam, scattering the bathers like 
fireplace sparks. 

The kid walks back to me, head down,
helmet off, dangling from his hand. 

“I worried about that happening all night,” 
he says. “I worked and practiced so hard.”

My name is Chester, the kids call me Coach Chester. But I moonlight as a Zen Buddhist teacher. The other coaches call me Coach Moonlight. It’s not very zen of me to say this, but the hell with them. The kid raises his head and I look him right in the eye. 

“Mistakes are for the very alive; only the dead are perfect.” I say. 

“Thank you,” says the kid, pulling his helmet back on. “I feel a little better, but I worry so much, especially at night. What do you think, Coach?”

I gaze off into the distance, through the goal post, over the fence, beyond the rising steam of the hot tub, toward ... the east. 

“Sometimes you have to still your mind. Sometimes you have to let it go. Sometimes you have to say to your brain: namaste off my back!” 

I toss the kid a fresh football, and he kicks it straight up to the moon. 

“Thanks, Coach Moonlight!” he says. His face is a sea of tranquility. 

(I made some of that last up.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Legal and Alive  

She came at me friendly but with too much patchouli force. We had in common checking out groceries. 

“Saw you in the parking lot, saw your California plates. I just moved here, from Topanga. You like North Carolina? I’m BrassyLady - one word.” 

“Yes,” I elaborated. 

“We were smart to leave, you and me,” she said, moving even patchouli closer. 

“Oh, that drought, yeah, I was getting all dried out.” 

“Yeah. But more than that, the illegals ripping everybody off.” 

“In what sense?” 

She gave me a blank look. On top of the other one. 

I loaded my groceries on the black conveyor belt and rolled my eyes at the hispanic checker (name tag: Guadalupe) who BrassyLady didn’t see at all. Guadalupe was a shopping cart. 

“In - the sense - that the aliens are upsetting our economy, stealing our jobs.”

Guadalupe bagged my bagels and batteries and Perrier bottles. 

“Oh come on, BrassyLady. Are you listening to your parents again? You can tell me.”

“This is America. My parents are American. I am an American.”

 Now Guadalupe was rolling her eyes at me. 

“You’re an immigrant,” I said, “like your parents. Like me. The only people not illegal in America are the Mexicans. Or the Indians, and they’re all dead.” 

I checked Guadalupe’s reaction to this one. We smiled together, did that funny rolling thing again. 

We could’ve shot craps with our eyeballs that day. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Floor it 

It’s never too late to drive out of your fucked-up childhood; FLOOR IT! 

You don’t have to stay married to it, though you’ll drag it through your life like the cans tied to your back bumper after the wedding, and every time you stop the car to think it over, those cans will bash the back of your brain. 

So, as a man in a bar on the west coast of Ireland said one morning,“don’t think alone.” 

Get to the therapy garage, go up on the rack ( yes, this metaphor’s getting a lot of mileage on it, but who cares? ) and lose the cans, one by one. 

Then, floor it. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Uncle Sam is Needy 

Mind you ignore uncle
Sam, he's way dysfunctional
a drag, but always punctual 

dragging you off to war
so ...

don't ever be malleable
as he's ever as fallible 
as your body and soul are flammable. 

(...but enough of this cute rhyming
run like hell when you see him
or have a drink or go get dinner; 
what would uncle do with his time, then?)