At Sixty

I know I could do this if things would just slow-the-fuck down,” he muttered. Head bowed, sitting at a dimly lit kitchen table, teetering on the edge of a midlife meltdown.

With more than 30 years in the industry, you think he’d be brimming with confidence. For most, that kind of experience leads naturally to calm assuredness. But with experience comes expectations, and those expectations smother him like a blanket of boulders.

He feels incapacitated by his experience, not buoyed by it.

He fixates momentarily on his wife’s furrowed brow and imagines himself tiny, wandering through those deep valleys of disappointment.

At work, he’s surrounded by the young and hungry. Buzzing with ambition, their bright voices float on currents of frenetic energy.

Was he ever that exuberant (about anything)? He struggles to remember his younger self, but it’s like painting with numbers without the numbers.

In his cubicle, yellow sticky notes pop off the edge of his monitor. A sleek uninviting flower, daring him to delve in – begging him to fail. Tossed to the corner of the desk, a coffee-stained and panic-scrawled legal pad.

His “to-do list.”

After a full day’s work, that list somehow gets longer, not shorter.

Early in his career, he’d slide into a work groove and rip through his “to-dos” effortlessly, like a sickle through the wheat. But nowadays, he’s easily and willingly distracted. His ability to focus comes in short bursts only, and the mental elasticity of youth is frustratingly absent.

His focus is hampered further by a barrage of instant messages and multiple meetings a day. As a result, he always feels two steps behind in a mad dash to a deadline.

He wears his age like an ill-fitting suit, and he struggles to keep pace with his profession.

He lifts his head and speaks again.

“Honestly, I don’t think I can do it anymore. I’m sorry, because I know that puts us behind the eight-ball financially, but every day’s a struggle, and I’m barely keeping my head above water.”

He wasn’t being lazy. He was being honest.

He remembers when success was all the motivation he needed. He remembers plowing through whatever work stress he encountered, because on the backside of that stress were people who depended on him. For 25-plus years, that was all the motivation needed to keep at a job he never truly enjoyed.

Now that his kids are grown and on their own, he faces an increasingly stark scenario.  Deadlines approach, the work pace quickens, his ability to keep up wanes, and the desire and motivation needed to plow through it all has vanished.

He concludes that what’s required of him, and where he is philosophically (at sixty), have diverged irreconcilably. He feels this in his bones and in his gut every morning when he wakes.

And there’s a nagging sense of entitlement, that at this phase of life he’s earned the right to slow down — to take his foot off the gas — to smell the roses. He romanticizes about a job that doesn’t follow him home every night. A job that ends when the day ends and doesn’t occupy his mind ceaselessly.

At sixty, he has no interest in climbing the corporate ladder. Instead, he wants to set it ablaze, sit cross-legged on his cubicle floor, and watch it burn to ash.

At sixty, he has no illusions about discovering job satisfaction. That boat has sailed, and there’s no sense lamenting he never got on it. Instead, he’s looking for balance.

He’s looking for “just enough.”

Just enough to pay his bills and free up some time.

Just enough to sip coffee in solitude, and not worry about work.

At sixty, he sits at a dimly lit kitchen table, looking for a way out.

Crackling Fires from Funeral Pyres

Digging holes with metal poles

Earth hanging by a string

ember coals and smokey souls

our hearts refuse to sing


Nostril flares and double dares

blood coursing through our veins

no one cares or fires flares

to save us from the flames


Rubber necks on splintered decks

missiles pierce the sky

the crackling fires from funeral pyres

sparkle in our eyes


Mascara streaks on dampened cheeks

as quiet fills the air

we crawl across a floor that creaks

to waken our despair


Stars explode and fade to black

the darkened sky above

stretches far from east to west

obscuring peace and love

Democracy on the Ballot

Price hikes and inflation are cyclical and are tied to global events – things will return to normalcy regardless of which party wins the majority in Congress.

Your democracy (and the freedoms it provides) is tied to local events – specifically, election day voting.

If you fail to vote against the party that espouses nationalistic and fascist views, your democracy will disappear.

If you fail to hold politicians accountable for supporting a former president’s attempts to overturn a free and fair election, your democracy will disappear.

If you vote for a party that wants to restrict freedoms and rights rather than expand them, democracy and the freedoms it provides will disappear.

Don’t be short-sighted this coming election.

Slip Knot Future Up Ahead

Mascara streaks

on expressionless faces

punk-metal fills the air

a swarm of pierced humanity

hits the mosh without a care


Rabbit holes of red-hot coals

their world spinning on a string

empty souls dance to Dave Grohl

life to them, a fling


Rubber necks on double decks

Russian missiles fill the skies

distant fires from funeral pyres

the flames flicker in their eyes


Tattered seams on crocheted dreams

slip knot future up ahead

poisoned streams and noiseless memes

They’ll dance until their dead

Fodder for Felons

Mar-a-Lago’s a henhouse

guarded by foxes

with top secret files

in taped cardboard boxes

Classified docs

spread all over the floor

fodder for felons

trying to even the score


Millions of lost souls

and Q-cultist bigots

they lap up the lies

from electronic spigots

Looking for purpose

while grasping at straws

praising their savior

despite all his flaws


Empty of knowledge

full of deep longing

Q fits the bill

and their need for belonging


Fingers raised up

they sing and they sway

“The storm is-a-coming”

and so’s judgement day


Engaged in a story

which casts them as heroes

too dumbstruck to know

that they’re dancing to Nero

drinking the Kool-Aid

they’re dope-sick on Q

freebasing lies

and shouting fuck you


There’s fear in not knowing

how this will end

how far Q is going

to strongly defend

the lies of a con man

unwilling to bend

Rise Up

Don’t you ever get

so tired

of all the bullshit

in the air


Politicians

always wired

pretending hard

that they still care


Don’t you long

to get inspired

get this train

back on the track


Aren’t you sick

of being mired

never forward

always back


We’re in need

of revolution

a youth-led promise

towards a day

when our leaders

represent us

no corporate

interests

in the way


Aren’t you tired

of being berated

your world

twisting on a string

all the truths

interrogated

while the lies

go on to sing


Band together

form your power

march into

the voting booth

Turn the day

into your hour

cut down the lies

and raise the truth

What Shining City?

When did it become Ok

In America

for snickering governors

to play politics

with the lives of tired

and desperate human beings?


When did the light

from that shining city

on the hill

become a trick candle?


When did America

erect its Darwinian dome

of indifference towards

the tired and the suffering?


When did we drift from the

Give me your tired and poor

to a cold and callous

Let me show you the door?


When did we

start to fear and hate

the huddled masses

detesting them

while casting a cold

and stony shoulder?


When the humane

treatment of others

takes a backseat to

cheap political stunts

it’s time to look at

the soul of our nation

Tangled up in Black

In the alleys of your heart

In the backstreets of your brain

from the constant buzzing beltway

under rusted lock and chain


In the pain inside your sternum

the boiled marrow in your bones

lurks an ever-growing darkness

over jagged rocks and stones


In dark valleys of depression

and the not so grand delusions

In a vice grip of obsession

In your manic-plagued illusions


With a never-ending stipend

of more than you can bear

an abundant over-ripened

softened fruit

of deep despair


An undefined sad solitude

that something is amiss

always on that taunting edge

of a welcoming abyss


an open-ended sadness

a journey never-ending

exhausted by the battle plan

of constantly pretending


You’re looking for an exit

a respite from the black

An offramp from the sadness

a train that jumps the track


“I can’t believe he did it

I can’t believe he’s gone

no one truly knew

the darkness of his dawn”

Our March Towards the Gallows

Silhouettes and shadows

blurred pictures on the wall

we stumble towards the gallows

our walks turn into crawls

People start to gather

they’re screaming at the sun

hollow eyes and sunken cheeks

blinded, crippled, stunned

Cracked and hardened landscapes

fires all around

sunbaked souls

are full of holes

no water in the ground

Empty silos bellow

a sorrow fills the air

we turn to face our fellow man

and find that he’s not there

Trees that beg for water

dead branches in a field

a loss of social order

our weakened faith revealed

The warning signs were present

we looked the other way

as climate climbs

and mankind falls

what else is there to say?

Souls too weak to whisper

our words fold into prayer

the dead feed off the living

and dust becomes the air

Morning Coffee

His alarm goes off a 6:45 AM.

He looks wearily from his pillow across the room at his desk, where two monitors and a Mac sit framed by a window that overlooks the side yard of his 3 bedroom, one-and-a-half bath cape.

He lays in bed with his dog for another 15 minutes, scratching her behind the ear. Finally, he lets out a heavy sigh before rolling over, sitting up, and lowering his feet to the floor.

His 11-year-old Pitbull watches sleepily, yawning and stretching across the center of the bed. He turns to give her one more pat on the head, and her tail thumps the mattress in warm appreciation. Then she lowers her head and closes her eyes. She’ll sleep another hour before heading downstairs to begin her day.

He heads down the staircase from the upstairs bedroom, emptying into the sun-splashed kitchen. It’s one of the things he likes most about the house, but he’s not sure why. He gives this some thought and concludes it’s the practicality of going from a room where sleep still clings to you to a room where the coffee pot awaits. That design makes perfect sense.

“That must be it,” he mutters to himself.

He gets the coffee pot going immediately. He opens the French doors from the kitchen to the cement patio overlooking the yard. The grass is still wet from the morning dew; he walks out, sits on a patio chair, and waits for the coffee to finish brewing.

He starts to rethink why he loves the idea of a staircase connecting the kitchen to the upstairs bedrooms, which has nothing to do with coffee and sleep. He thinks the design decision harkens back to simpler days when the kitchen was the hub of family activity. And even though that was long before his time, the idea of it sits well with him.

In another hour or so, he’ll be back upstairs at his computer, looking at emails and preparing for meetings.

He can’t wait for the day when sitting on the patio is not a prelude to work but rather an interlude to a day without plans or schedules.