in the breeze

my cousin would pull snails out of their shells
watch the worm-like creatures struggle and die
on the cement sidewalks in front of our homes

another cousin
was so obsessed with sex
that i got to learn at 8 years old
what the hole “down there” was-for

one cousin picked her college
according to coed-dorms and the
flavor of pot they were growing that year

one family member uses a wooden spoon
to spank her children bare-bottomed
because she read it in a book

but mostly i think she’s angry that
SHE didn’t get spanked bare-bottom

of course there was the one “adopted” aunt that
spanked backwards, forwards, and sideways

i have the grandfather that gave up going to work
while his wife supported them on a salary from JC Penneys
the father who probably committed murder-suicide
by flying himself into a mountain along with his family
OR that was a hero trying to aerial-bomb a dam in Utah
that was affecting California water rights. hard to say.
think there was a reason he was teaching the kids
how to take the wheel of the plane ….. but maybe not


i have a grandma who stuffed tissues everywhere
in her chair
with the knowledge someone else had to clean
at some point
she just decided certain work was to always
be done by others

helped get the california teacher’s pension fund
investing in real estate. died in 2008 when the bubble

they took her money and put her on medicaid, anyway
so she was destitute her last years
which was a greater pain and insult than any elongated death would

mostly i wanted to say i have a cousin who would pull snails
out of their shells to watch them die

i have an uncle that sits quietly
while his wife talks …. would grunt and nod
his head
like he was following some recipe on how
to interact and appear smarter than you are

i don’t know
discussions are always about who is doing what
has the most this
the greatest command of THAT
never on ISSUES
on things that need changing or on LIFE

even interesting things are relegated
to only that which they can laugh-AT

not that which makes a person pause to wonder
you have the perfect tablecloths
and the same china and silver
with the same “specialty dishes”
and the same dull and boring conversation

i would sit, silent
tried a few times
but they just use any opening you give
to slam you

used a fork to butter corn
now i don’t butter it
just salt to within an inch of its life

hard to keep water-levels
when your body itself is polluted
almost more than the Earth
(psychiatry is a gift that keeps on giving …)

ply you with wine at 13
and call it blood to forgive sins
sins you never did
or rather i always stuck to the commandments
and i can name on two hands
the times i have broken-them
maybe one hand

plus i added a few codes of my own
on TOP of the basics

like if someone is happy, let them

don’t chew with your mouth open
sit with your legs closed
cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

ok, i adopted those last three from the list
received as a child
…. but still, common sense

i remember just about everything i see
some goes into the “keep” file

he would sit on the roof
california sun bright and glaring
off the sand stuck in the tar-roof tiles
his t-shirt a red stipe on bright white,
more sun reflecting off brown hair and freckles… and studiously
pull them from their shells
throw them into the backyard


he would not smile
not laugh
or even have a quizzical look on his face

it was more like
see, now you get to hurt, too

they say misery loves company — but too often, it makes its own.


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