hel·low (ˈhelō/) exclamation. A salutation embodying the vibrant energy found in the color yellow.

27 June 2012

If Time Was Money

People say money is time and time is money, but these two factors cannot be equivocated when the sums of their differences are anything but similar. Money can be saved and money is limitless. Putting aside compensation caps and explosive tax rates on elevated incomes, one has the potential to garner as much monetary capital as they desire to pursue. Time, conversely, cannot be stockpiled and is limited to a mean average of 67.2 years for us humans. Of course, one's personal clock may run short much later than this number, but life may also be snuffed in a mere moment. Any moment. Time is an insecure commodity. It is always moving, like a river with a steady current, carrying us like floating logs. There is no way to retard the progression or climb out to rest on the riverbanks. No amount of wisdom will allow us to store time in a jar, like dropping a week's paycheck in a coffee can for a rainy day. We try to store it, like sand, but only to watch it slip through the pit of our hourglass and remind us that nothing will freeze or alter its steady pace. Time is invaluable for its fickle, anti-sedentary existence. There's no place to store it, so we have to spend every dime of it wisely.
But hell. If time was money, I would rob a bank.
But then you'd make a withdrawal from my savings account to be reimbursed for the precious moments I stole from you by reading this.

25 June 2012

Uncovering Zen

 Today I pulled back the lid of my old turtle sandbox. You know the one; green, plastic, a round lid shaped like a shell. I’m sure most kids had one of these in their yard. This was the first time I peeled back the turtle’s shell in over three years.
There were several cracks and holes in the sun-bleached green plastic. A myriad of white streaks had been scratched into the turtle’s base from a weed-whacker. Crusting white bird droppings spattered the shell. Openings in the lid had let in enough light for weeds to form a layer over the sand inside. Dried feces from my deceased cat were entangled in the dense forest of saw grass and dandelions.
I placed the lid in the lawn and picked up a rake. I stroked the layer of weeds with the rake’s teeth, watching them break up the clumps of dried sand. A mesh of browned grass clippings clung to the teeth like strings of celery catching in your molars. I tapped the rake against the turtle’s edge and the dried grass fell onto the lawn. The rake’s wooden handle was smooth in my palms. Reaching forward, I dug its teeth into the sand on the far edge. Sinking it in deeper, I firmly tugged the rake across the sandbox, hearing the roots of the weeds snap in opposition. In the wake of the teeth, smooth caramel-colored sand came into sight. I dragged the weeds to the edge closest my toes and tapped the rake against the turtle’s base again. The clump of plants fell atop the dried grass clippings. In the sandbox, the line of smooth sand in the weeds looked like a brown river cutting through a jungle. Surprised at how easily the weeds were pulled, I decided to widen the river of sand. Soon the whole jungle was lying in a heap beside the plastic turtle’s feet.
With the weeds and cat feces removed, the bare sand made a reversed oasis before me. The circle of sand was surrounded by lush green lawn, like a dry desert found in the middle of a tropical rainforest. Just what I wanted.
Stabbing the rake back into the sand, I dragged the teeth over the loose soil, catching the remnants of roots and small green leaves. I brushed them into the pile of junk I had pulled out before hoisting it all into a wheelbarrow. Kneeling down in the lawn, one hand wrapped around the plastic edge while the other dove into the loosened sand. It was cool. I squeezed my hands around hardened clumps and felt them loosen. Sifting through, my fingers brushed against a soggy fag I had dropped in here years ago. Crystals of sand glistened on the burnt tip and a clump of dirt filled the hole where my fourteen-year-old mouth had once inhaled smoke. I lifted the cigarette from the sand and tossed it in the wheelbarrow behind me. Several more were thrown in behind it.
Once my hands could no longer find cigarettes, I dug the rake back in. I moved the sand from one side to the other until I heard the teeth scrape against metal. I pulled up a dented Coke can and placed it in the wheelbarrow with the weeds and cigarettes. Some of the lettering had faded on the aluminum can, but I could still make out the flowing Coca-Cola script. I continued digging and tossed a mangled Sprite can riddled with BB holes into the wheelbarrow. John always had Coke, but I preferred Sprite. My mother didn’t like us having pop, and like the cigarettes, we figured she wouldn’t check the sandbox.
            Setting the rake aside, I knelt down again and drowned my hands into the loosened sand. I brushed over a layer of clumped dirt and a smooth white bone peered up from the soil. Like the dinosaur I had always wished to find as a child, I gently brushed away the sand around the bone and removed a small skeleton. It was dwarfed in my hands.
            “Cotton…” I breathed, envisioning my hamster’s beady eyes looking up at me from the diminutive skull. The tiny bones glistened in my calloused hands. My ten-year-old tears must’ve deteriorated the shoebox. Besides the water rushing to the corners of my eyes, burying him was the last time I cried. Gently, I rested the bones on the turtle’s head before picking up the rake again.
Spiderman and Donatello (the purple ninja turtle) soon found themselves tangled in the metal teeth. The sands of time caught them amidst a grand adventure. Carefully, I pulled them out from the rake and brushed the dirt from their plastic arms. Spidey’s hands forever frozen in the web-release position, he would eternally be the envy of my lust for superpowers. Donnie’s lean and green biceps shone in the sunlight. His brilliant mind and aptness at inventing would always inspire me. I leaned them against the side of the sandbox and continued excavating.
My hands plunged further into the depths of sand. My fingernails scraped against plastic, so I fished out a small red shovel and a broken yellow pal. My first set of tools to sculpt the many castles that once existed beneath the turtle shell. Through the kitchen window, my mother would wave to me with a little yellow sponge and I would wave back with the little red shovel. Exchanging smiles, we’d both return to our work. She would dip her hands back in the soapy water of the sink and I would dip mine back in the sand of my turtle sandbox.
I placed the pal and shovel beside the action figures.
The rake’s teeth dug through the last layer of firm sand before tearing a gash in the black plastic that lined the bottom. I sighed. Then I raked through the rest of the sand before leveling it out. I tossed the broken pal, cigarettes, and dented pop cans in the trash and dumped the pulled weeds and grass clippings in the compost heap. I brought the action figures and shovel inside and placed Cotton’s skeleton in a small wooden box. With a piece of sandpaper and a bucket of soapy water, I went about the base of the turtle, buffing out the scrapes and washing away the dirt and fungus. I did likewise to the lid, scrubbing off the white bird droppings and carefully gluing the cracks shut. I leaned the shell against the fence to dry and stared at the sand.
I got an idea.
Several large rocks sat along the base of the fence, rejected by the garden my parents dug last spring. With the rest of my soapy water, I scrubbed the mold and caked dirt from their surface. I liked the rocks. Almost as much I liked raking. But I loved my sandbox.
So much of my childhood could be regenerated by the geological time scale of this sandbox. Dating back nineteen years, an accidental time capsule had been created beneath the plastic shell. I smiled. The rake was dropped into the sandbox again and I keenly moved the teeth through the clean sand. It was suitably repurposed. As I rested my rake against the wooden fence, the sun was glowing red on the horizon. I laid the stones in the smooth sand and positioned the clean shell over my new garden. I was a backyard archaeologist, an explorer in the sands of time, a seeker of Zen.

10 June 2012

Mary, I Hate Christmas

A glass ornament hanging from the Christmas tree
Twinkling under colored lights for you to see
Boxing day comes and the lights
Go dark
The cord yanked from the socket
The needles on the tree skirt
Beaten off before it’s stuffed in a box
For next year with all the ornaments
Being taken off
The dying tree shakes
The wire hook bends
Your little red bulb slips off the spindly arm
Shatters red glass on the floor
Like shiny confetti
From a steel piñata
Fuck. You say
And go get the vacuum
You suck up my love
My dried needles filled that void
Ever since you dragged me in

Standing between my two brothers
In early December
Young snow clinging to our boughs in the brisk dawn
You smile
The wind makes me wave back
You clap your hands together
I return a smile
In the only way a tree can smile
You tell them I’m the one
Soon they’re sawing off my roots
I said goodbye to my brothers
Got taken to your home
Dragged up the stairs and propped up
In a stand, screws in my trunk
Fed water to keep me full and green
While you dress me up in lights
Adorn me with glass bulbs
And mount a star on my head
From the shiny paper on the gifts beneath me
Tagged to Mary
I learn your name
Assume that’s who you are
And bring you happiness
In return
You bring me to my brothers
Them standing straight and tall around my stump
I lying with browning needles
In a heap of snapped branches and ice
For a week before
Your dad comes out with a saw
To make logs out of me
So I can keep you warm at night.

Your tree burns on the Epiphany
And the shattered ornament is sucked up
By your vacuum
In pieces

As a tree, Mary,
I hate Christmas.

08 June 2012

Trampled Trees Under A Scarlet Sky

Afternoon is long past
The blue sky has reddened
Without undergoing a shade of violet
Trees, spindly fingers
Tearing up through the earth
Squeeze the heavens
Angels bleed
I have fallen
Like a corpse in the brush
Bones of countless lovers
Becoming one
With the forest floor
A single bony arm
Reaches up
To jab another
To warn him
Of his coming
Horizontal state