Friday, November 27, 2009


I wrote you a love poem, girl, although we’re done, I know
Just because you said good-bye doesn’t mean I have to go
Why don’t you take a breather and try to think this through
I’m not that bad of guy, and I just wanna be with you
What’s so wrong with that, dear, just to wanna be with you?

You’re being awful sweet; you know how to make me smile
You got a way with words, boy, but begging’s not your style
We had a lot of fun and you treat me right, it’s true
You’re not that bad of guy, but I ain’t crazy about you
I wish you all the best; but I’m not in love with you

Now hang on, wait a second, girl, look where you’re leavin’ me.
I haven’t showered, haven’t worked, and I haven’t ate a thing
I lie awake all night now; not shaved in a week or two
The sun don’t shine a sliver and I just wanna be with you
Am I really such a nutcase just to wanna be with you?

Don’t put words in my mouth, now, I never called you names
I would of thought you’d be above playing all these little games
You’ve got a lot for someone, so someone will have to do
But as for this girl, she’s just not that into you
It was nice for awhile, but I am not in love with you

We were so great together, you must be missing me

No, I don’t miss your scruff, your ink, your kisses; not a thing

So the whole thing was a lie?

Well, now you know the truth

From today until I die, I just wanna be with you

I got nothing else to say except I’m not in love with you.

The Barracuda Mouth

Roll on into the Barracuda Mouth, where you’ll be spoon fed, strip searched, and by God you will get the cure for what ails. Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.

Yes, here it is, the Barracuda Mouth – come as you are and leave even better. Ask what you want, what can’t we give? Ice cubes in milk, propellers on bicycles, fire in the hole and hair on your chest – all’s fair in love, war, and the Barracuda Mouth. No stupid questions, no wrong answers, no lonely nights. No pain.

Listen to what the people are saying.

“Whatever you’re looking for, the Barracuda Mouth is it.”
-Dr. Steve Speller - St Paul, MN.

“I’ve been around for a long time, and I’ve never seen anything as good as the Barracuda Mouth.”
-Chev Chancellor, Chicago, IL

“I am the Barracuda Mouth.”

Wave your dirty laundry like the national flag. Show off the chinks in your armor like medals of honor and make love to the skeletons in your closet. At the Barracuda Mouth, your fallen angels will kick off their heels on dance on pianos. Ask what you want. What can’t we give?

We’ve got banjos, baritones, saxophones, telephones, dirt roads, army clothes, halfway homes, lawn gnomes, funny bones, cyclones, horn toads, afros, hobos, tacos, and the world’s largest freestanding fence post! That’s the Barracuda Mouth guarantee, and our word is our bond is our blood.

It’s the place to be, the hot spot, the sensation sweeping the nation. What’s behind doors numbers one through three, at the end of the rainbow, and behind the music. It’s the fountain of whatever you like. It’s where you never grow old. Its flame burns eternal. Drink and never thirst again.

So, next time you’re looking for a good time, the Barracuda Mouth is your one-stop, never-go-again destination. Don’t forget, Tuesday nights is karaoke nights.

Wrong Guess

She woke me just a little when she got back into bed, but woke me up more when she blew her nose with a little puff. My eyelid split open enough to watch her tuck the tissue into her waistband against her thigh, collect the covers in her fists, pull them up to her shoulder, and lay back down as she said something I didn’t catch. So I guessed (wrongly, as I found out the next morning) and said, “love you too.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Well, I’m just boiling. Boiling. My breath fires off in hiccupping staccatos that flush my face to the colors of fire. I ball my fists and bite my tongue and prowl around my apartment like a caged wolf. Grrrr. Snarl at the mirror. Grrrr. Slam dishes into the sink. Grrrr, take it to the nighttime streets with a smoldering cigarette while I rub my forehead against the brick wall of the apartment building until my skin scrapes.

The moon is all amber and grim, like the meat of a poisonous peach. It drips honeyed sweat through space to the earth and I lick it up. I gargle it. I paint stripes of it under my eyes. My, oh my, the moon says to me, your fury is shaking the whole planet. And you ain’t seen nothing yet. This ought to be good. Yeah it will.

Storm the streets, sparks flashing from my teeth. Grrr. It seems like a good idea to kick a streetlight, so I put my foot through the base of one and it caves under my apocalyptic strength. Feels good, do it again. Kick. Crack. Creak. Timber! I kick the streetlight over and it falls through a big grey building and the glass rains down around me in a million tinkling shards. And inside the building people in pajamas look through their broken walls at each other and then out at me. “Who is that wild man?” they ask in awe. Show them just who you are.

I wrap my arms around the trees and heave them out from their roots and then hurl them across the street into busses and stores. I pick up cars and their car alarms go off and them I slam them back down and they explode in fireballs.

I punch through walls.

I rip up sidewalks.

(Pause at a rose. Uproot it.)

Stomp craters into parking lots.

Spear water towers with flagpoles.

Tear off support beams from the bottoms of skyscrapers and then stand still as the whole building comes a’tumblin down around me and the metal beams smash into my head and the glass shards stick into my skin but pain is my beating heart and the taste of my blood is like wine.

“Stop him! He’ll break the world!” the people scream. They can’t stop you now, says the moon and I howl in agreement. The people come at me with crowbars and baseball bats but it’s true what the moon said, they can’t stop me. No one can stop me. My fists are hammers, axes, machine guns. My fists are bladed windmills.

Every hit makes me madder. Every madder makes me stronger. I toss the people like dolls and no one stops me. The twinkling stars start chanting at my destruction: Go Ty-ler! Go Ty-ler! It’s your birthday! It’s your birthday! Grrr. Roar! I am a grenade. I am an earthquake. I am just boiling!

I am boiling. I am a tempest of fury. I am a time bomb of terror. I am raging with the fury of a thousand exploding suns, and I stand in the ruins of a once tall and proud city but now emergency sirens are wailing and people are running away and the military’s coming (let them) and I’m breathing heavy, steam whistling off my back and moon sweat running down my face and arms. And I’m crying blood because I am mad and sad at the same time. And the people stare, “the wild man can’t be crying,” but he is crying (blood) and the grim old moon turns black so that no one can see me and people will remember me as wild and not sad. Because I am tired of being sad.

I’m gonna try mad instead. Hopping mad. Fighting mad. A little tired too, but mostly mad. And when I’m mad, I’m wild. I can do anything. I can break everything. I’m taking to life like a bull to a freeway. Like a spark to gunpowder. Like wolves. Grrr.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Of course, I’m mad – but I’d hate for anyone to get skittish on account my well-being. I am aware that these sorts of fantasies can be distressing to readers but it’s the Internet guys, and it’s 2009 to boot. Women can vote! Surely, if women can vote, men can write fantasize about citywide destruction – it happens in movies sometimes. It’s a healthy outlet. Like smoking! Hooka!

In order to satiate you all, here are some notes. (1) I do not actually want to hurt anyone. The people injured in the piece did not, to my knowledge, suffer any irreparable damage. (2) The moon has yet to actually talk back. (3) I am very nearly done with a tender, tragic little piece on lost love and heartbreak and its effortlessly nimble lyricisms will stir your heart to gentle, autumnal sorrow and you will all say, “Tyler is really good and, yes, he’s sad, but he surely is not emotionally unstable” and you’ll be right.

But that’s the next post.

So, for now, rest assured – I will not actually break the world.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


In Chicago, you can do anything.

Kick a stone. Grow a beard. Parallel park between a Hummer and a Porsche. Walk all night. Tempt fate. Tempt foes. Tempt yourself. Eat a ham. Make an egg. Make a song. Make a drink. Steal a second. Steal a purse. Order another round. Smoke the whole pack. Sit up all night. No missed calls. Dawn breaks. Paint a picture. Buy a banana. Buy a car. Buy a teapot. Bide time. Burst into tears. Burst into laughs. Bloody your fists against a brick wall. Climb a roof. Look at her legs. Pancakes with syrup. Beers with brown sugar. Coffee with Bailey’s. Wake up confused. Wake up crying. Wake up with your arm outstretched across an empty pillow. Dawn breaks. Love your sister. Go upstairs. Go downtown. Go to church. Tell a secret. Make a secret. Spill a secret. Spill your glass. Get her number. Pray in groups. Thank God for making everything so beautiful. Pray alone. Scream at Him for making everything His own. Beg Him to take everything away. Beg Him to give it all back. Tell a story. Sleep in a pile. Dawn breaks. Just a dream. Fold a blanket. Wash a glass. Put a picture in a locket. Put a quarter in the slot. Slam on the breaks. Honk at a friend. Cover your mouth when you hear the news. Steep your tea. Brew your coffee. Sip your wine. Lose your shirt. Break a pot. Kiss a stranger. Strike a match. Open a map. Lose your mind. Pound your chest. Flee arrest. Bawl your eyes out. Forgive your friends. Try the back door. Fight tears. Accept kindness. Give it back. Tell it like it is. Run out of gas. Remember everything. Find what you thought you lost. Wish for the impossible. Fight reality. Don’t call. Hover your thumb over the button. Drop a nickel. Dance on a car. Run across the street. Sit on the porch. Stare at yourself naked in the mirror. Shake your head. Sit on the steps. Run away. Stand still. Pause till the train passes. Prop open a window with an old book. Run a red light. Break up with a stranger. Try a free sample. Zip up your jacket. Shove your hands in your pockets. Grow old. Avoid old haunts. Avoid good friends. Avoid the future. Take advice. Look in the sky – what looks back? Pop a pill. Lose your life to save it. What’s this. What’s next. What’s it like. Say good-bye. A hand on the back of your head. Pull over for a nap. Dawn breaks. This light makes you look good. Dawn breaks. That light makes you look ugly. Bite your nails. Pick your scabs. Dress your wounds. Slice your fingers. String your guts on a line. Tip ten bucks. Sing praises to the Most High. Use a photo for a bookmark. Dawn breaks. Everything’s perfect. Dawn breaks. Nothing is good. Stay an extra night. Sing praises. Kick a stone. What happened. Nothing was wrong. Where’d you park the car. Die before you die. Kick a stone. Grow a beard. Have a heart. Hurt everywhere. Wipe your eyes. Lick your blood. Knuckle your nose. Buckle up. Simmer down. Grow. Rot. Scrub. Sketch. Break your teeth. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Hurt. Heal. Grin and bear it. Right foot. Left foot. Sing along. Go a mile. Look ahead. Look behind. Let go. Hold on. Look up. Move on. Stand still. Stand straight. Move ahead. It’ll never be okay. Tomorrow will be worse. Tomorrow will be better. Sears Tower. Cumulus clouds. Lake Michigan. Blue line. Boys Town. Bite marks. Basket of stars. Clod of dirt. Bucket of bile. Chunk of flesh. It’s all bad. Handful of sunlight. It’s alright. It’s all bad. It’s alright. It’s all God. It’s alright. It’s alright.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mistakes I've Made

It sounds easy enough to learn from your mistakes. You blunder, shake your head and snigger sheepishly at your own stupidity, chalk it up to experience and move on – sadder but wiser. It’s a neat trick, and it works well enough when you’re just looking to lose the training wheels, build a birdhouse, or get a driver’s license.

But some mistakes aren’t that cut and dry. Sometimes, your mistakes aren’t just strike one - they’re game over. And there’s nothing to be learned really – no lesson to take home. Nothing to be done. Thanks for playing.

Those mistakes aren’t learning experiences. They’re iron gates around your heart, and, for the rest of your life, every good thing has to find a way around it to get in. They’re deep pits, padlocks – foxes that roam your vineyards, torches on their tails. You’re no better for these mistakes. Only more broken.

So. Here we are. I’ve got a pile of mistakes, and I don’t know what to do with them. And you, you probably have a few yourself. There’s no cashing these in for a better deal – no tokens to redeem for a second chance. There’s just the looking back, pinching the bridge of your nose between knuckles, and “if only.”

It’s the prayer that God doesn’t answer – the do-over. “You reap what you sow,” Jesus informed us, and I say those are terrible words. Because I’ve sown enough trouble in my time; when harvest season rolls around, it may not be an altogether pretty bounty.

But, this too, is God – God, who made things solid, and firm, and cut sharp corners on reality. Life is not stream-of-consciousness, or cyclical (whatever they may say.) There’s math at work – you reap what you sow. Sow desertion and reap abandonment. Sow jealousy and reap obsession. Sow trouble. Reap trouble. A river of blood and frogs falling from the skies. A tomb just shy of the Promised Land. Or David, in his tent, crying, “O Absalom! My son, my son!”

They are terrible words, but God is good to do this to us: to set up parameters around life, establish some rules, no matter how flimsy or how many exceptions. Mistakes don’t all bloom into daisies, not if you’re sowing thistles. God is good as His word. Maybe I spoke wrong at first – there is always something to be learned from mistakes, even if it’s just this:

Though every man be found a liar, still you would be found true.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Give It Away

I said, once, that love was God giving us something back.

As in, “everything else leaves in life and nothing really lasts, but when you love someone – that's God giving you something to hold onto, saying – benevolently – ‘I know everything leaves you, but this is the thing you want most of all, and it’s yours forever.’”

Now, I said it to a girl that I wanted to like me, so I was being a little melodramatic (I am usually being a little melodramatic. This post, believe it or not, is a little melodramatic. You’ve been warned.) But, I did believe it. Love is God giving us something back.

I know a very little better now. “Love is God giving us something back” is one of those things that sounds true. It’s a sweet thing for lovers to whisper to each other, and it works nicely on a note (dotted with hearts.) But God, He only gives us sacrifices. Only gives us what we can give back to Him.

He gives you a gift in one hand and a match in the other – “Will you burn this also, for my sake?” And, mark my words – as you love your life - burn it on the spot. Better to burn it yourself then to have God show up one day and take it by force.

You could have had a sacrifice to the Almighty. Now you have nothing at all.

See the story of Abraham and Isaac (I don’t understand a word of this story. Not a word.) God gave Abraham the only thing he’d ever wanted, a bouncing baby boy, and then commanded him to strap his son down on top of a mountain and split his neck with a knife. Abraham obeyed and, what do you know, God called it at the last second. “Whew!” we all say, wiping our collective brows. “Playing it pretty close the chest there, God!” And Abraham…what did he think, then? Untying his son, chuckling nervously, avoiding his son’s saucer-wide eyes.

We are not told what would have happened had Abraham refused God this request. We just don’t know.

Monstrous, maybe. But what else could God do? What is our love, or what are we, really, except beings who can’t love anything without destroying it too? Our love gets confused with possession, obsession, and need. Our love gets confused with a roll in the hay. Our love gets confused with fear. Our love gets confused with hate.

We love with our emotions. We love with our tongues. We love with slip-shod bodies, jittering feelings, and buzzing brains. We wield love like fire hoses, like axes. We love with bladed arms and time bomb hearts. We love without mercy. We love without knowing how. We love, and love, and love and the whole world has paid a terrible price for our loving so fiercely.

And God sees what we call love, and He knows what will happen if we don’t let go. He’s seen the horrors done for love of man, love of country, love of His own self. So, he gathers all your love together in one place, sets the kindling, strikes the match. And you wake up and see yourself burning alive, muscles melting and tendons snapping, while He stands over you. And you scream “No, no, no! All that I ever loved! Stop! Stop it!”

But it won’t stop. He won’t stop. “Narrow is the road,” Jesus says about Heaven, and that’s true. It’s a narrow road with a narrow door, and if you’re going to fit – then everything else is going to burn away. He’ll strip you down to yourself.

Love’s a destructive force – we all know that. We use it wrong, we end up destroying what we love most (there are no exceptions, really.) Only God can destroy the rest.

So, something different now: If you love something, give it away.