ESTATE SALE

You will not need your show posters,
Those CDs and DVDs,
Those pots and pans
That were tucked into your kitchen cabinets are out
Now, on the counter for all the world to see.
You will not need these things.
The bed you slept countless nights in
And comfy chair you sat away many days.
The rug under and lamp beside it
Lit books in a bookcase you will not need.
Cleaning products, put em in a box outside.
Appliances like your Foreman Grill
Won’t do you a lick of good where you’re going.
You are free of these things,
But the rest of us must pay for them.

Surprise is my love language Or, They say you should know everything but I’m not convinced

I used to want to know
everything

What was happening or
about to go down

Who was saying what
and what that means for me

I was so anxious
about the future
that I didn’t know
what to do

I was confused
about what
could be,
should be,
or might be,
that I barely knew
you know who

Because I was worried about
what I didn’t know,
I stopped paying attention
to what was what

And this is no way to live

Now, I’m in love with the
moment

Everything is new

What’s happening
right now is
completely unexpected

It’s like hunting
Easter eggs

If and when you find one
that’s the prize
not what’s inside

Tattoo removals


Down the street from my apartment, behind the Battery Exchange, is a billboard that advertises tattoo removal. It plays with perspective. A large person with a full back tattoo has tiny window washers on it, squeegeeing the tattoo, returning the back to a normal skin tone.


If only removing tattoos were that easy. I image the process to be long and painful. But the idea of the billboard makes it seem that tattoos are no longer permanent. They can be wiped. Or altered, covered up or added upon. Permanence is malleable. Nothing is forever.

I have a tattoo. My brother got matching ones. The same marking. My grandfather's initials designed into a symbol he used to engrave on jewelry he designed. When he died we put his initials on our arms—it was his brand. He was gone forever but never forgotten. There's one thing about permanence. Something lives forever if you burn it in your mind. Write it on your arm. We write to remember.

This symbol is a reminder to us, for the rest of our da,s of who our grandpa was and what he meant to us. Did we need the tattoo to remember forever? What is forever? Because I will one day be gone. My skin will deteriorate. But maybe in the future I'll be able to tell the next generation why I have this tattoo and the story that goes with it. And when they ask, I will make sure to let them know that I never thought of removing it. 

THAT'S OK

Cross-walking in front of me is a man who doesn’t look familiar. He could be anyone with a beard and baggy clothes. I fixate on him anyway. He’s carrying a black plastic shopping bag with what looks like a six pack of tall boys inside–PBR’s my best guess, but I’m not 100 percent sure.

That could’ve been me for an evening, I think, while waiting for the light to turn green. But it’s not now that I have a job and a bike and a wife and this backpack of frozen veggie burgers and bananas that I’ll add to my oatmeal in the morning when I wake up for work again. 

I get this song stuck in my head as I ride. It goes: Black plastic bag filled with six packs a beer. And I sing it over and over to myself. Across MAX tracks and over The 84. Up one street, down the next. I’m looking both ways on one ways, going up the hill and home the same way I always do.

THIS RING

Three years ago I got married. My wife put a ring on it. This ring. 

She didn’t buy it. And I didn’t buy it. It came from my mother.

It was her mother’s. I’m wearing my grandmother’s ring. 

That’s weird to write. 

It wasn’t meant to be this way. I was meant to wear my grandfather’s ring. 

And, I am in a way. 

Let me explain. 

Poppa, as we called him, died before I moved to Portland—12 years ago. 

My grandma died a few years later. But before she did, she told my mom she wanted me to have his ring.

So, when I was planning to marry, I asked my mom to bring the ring to me in Oregon. 

When we sat down together and I tried it on, it didn’t fit. Poppa has sausage fingers. See, he worked with his hands for 99 years—right up until the end. I put on the ring he wore during his nearly 70 years of marriage to my grandma and it felt like a bracelet. There was no way I was going pull it off. Mainly because it fell off.

I was bummed. But my mom to the rescue. Like the trained magician she is, she pulled out from no where this ring, which looks like a man’s band. 

She said it was my grandma’s. And I was confused. I looked at the inside and saw the initials W.K. (William Keil, Poppa had no middle name) and CHL (Caroline Hedges Keil), my grandma’s initials. Engraved, also, was 9-7-’40, the day they got married.

I could tell Poppa had had his hands on this ring. He made jewelry after he retired and there were tiny hammer marks on the outside of the two bands that make up the one ring. The bands look silver but it says 14K on the inside, so I assume it’s gold. 

I play with the ring a lot and look at it from time to time and think of them—my grandparents, whom taught me many things, who are gone but not forgotten, who are fading form my memory the more that time passes. 

I think that it's special that I get to wear their ring. The one she wore, and the one he worked on.

That their ring is our ring.

I think of the two of us and the four of us coming together like these two silver looking gold bands are coming together.

This ring that touches the vein in my finger connected my heart. 

COFFEE PEOPLE

Barista at the airport asks people where they’re off to.

Reacts to us excitedly,

Oh that’s cold…Yikes, how?
All with a smile on his face.

Takes the card, 
swipes it. 
Returns a receipt without a line for the tip.

We’re surrounded by jars 
that all say the same thing:

If you don’t like change, leave it here.

Crammed in each and every one 
of them are
Single dollar bills. 

Spilled out, the airport money is
Padding the coffer of the barista.
Who will one day be taking a trip
to the most appealing place 
he’ll recall someone saying to him 

Which won’t be the place I’m going, 
single digits or if double 
not much higher than 12.

Your small latte is ready.

And even though I spent three dollars and 50 cents on a cup
I find a single and add to his. 

MY TIMEX

I didn’t have what I ended off the year with: Time. But now I have it. On my wrist! See, the watch that I’m wearing is a Timex—Made in China! It's a nice watch that has a weight to it. Big numbers on a black background. Indigo, too And a genuine, black leather band. I got the watch as a present. Picked it out with my wife! It was our agreed upon gift. At that time, I didn’t have a gift for it.  So it was a stressful time. But also exciting! Because of the watch. I ended up giving her drumsticks and that one David Sedaris book. She’s now read it. Both were complete surprises to her. That was Christmas Now it’s February, the 8th. And today, I got a massage. It was given to me by an older woman. I took off all my clothes for her! And put my watch–yes, that watch—in the pocket of my folded jeans just so. Before lying face down on the table with nothing on but my undies. Please, she yelled to me, Get under the sheet! And closed the door again. I didn’t know! Putting my clothes on after, the watch fell out of my pocket and onto the cement floor. The back popped off and wouldn't go back on. Time had stopped for all of us for two days until I got my watch back back on. Fixed by a Jeweler (for free!) and set to the correct time and date. I placed my Timex on my left wrist and left.

HAT GUY

When I call my friend, the name that comes up on his phone is Hat Guy. 

I guess that was his first impression me, the hat on my head. 

I’m wearing that hat right now in fact, so I guess it makes sense. It’s the hat I was married in—a flat cap that fits so well. It’s not the first flat cap I've owned but it’s the best one I’ve ever had. 

When it’s raining I’m likely to wear a hood, but there’s a good chance you'll find a hat underneath it.

You might say I wear many hats: I’ve got a day hat and a night hat, a hot hat and a cold hat, a cap I can sleep in but not one for the shower. For I am bald and take baths. 

I take my hat off when I eat and when I go inside some places. 

The hat's off when I ride my bike because I wear a helmet, see. But I have a rack on the front of my handle bars made for, above all things, a hat.

Maggie and I have matching hats that we wear when we go to baseball games. 

She cuts felt out and sews logos on to two, generic navy blue adjustable hats. So no matter who is playing we're representing the home team.

I have but one head and will for the rest of my life! And it often has a hat atop it. 

I guess what I'm saying, my friend, is that you could call me a hat guy—when I call you that is.

LOOK BACK TO GO FORWARD

2016 is a weekly planner
left mostly blank.

I guess I didn't really use it all that much.

With a week to go I begin write down what I did last week.
Then, I do the week before.

I'm an explorer on a rescue mission,
mounting memories and evading events.

I write down what I remember happening
until I run out of space.

My year has become
a long story short.

To go forward I look back
And end the year at the start.

ON BOXING DAY

On Boxing Day,
there is plenty of time
to take a bath and
drink camomile tea
simultaneously.

On Boxing Day,
there is plenty of time
to unpack yesterday's paper
and take it to the cafe.

On Boxing Day,
there is plenty of time
to read and listen,
stare and hear
until you're sick
from overthink.

Two cups of coffee,
and a ripe banana,
a smoke from a leaf, and
plenty of time
should do the trick.