Tag Archives: monologue


Franklin set the onion ring down and looked out at the gray mist behind the buildings in the distance.

“Mark,” he said to his friend sitting across from him. “Do you ever feel like you might be done?” His friend chomped a bite of his half-pound burger with slow, grinding motions and looked at him, eyes set narrowly in an inquisitive gesture. “You know, like ever take a look at your life and say to yourself, ‘You know what, I’ve peaked. I’m never going to do anything better than what I’ve already done. My life is pretty much as complete as it’s ever going to be.’ And maybe, maybe when you answer that, you realize that you could’ve answered that way a long time ago. Maybe really, your whole contribution, whatever you’re going to add to the world was pretty much as good as it was ever going to get like, maybe five or six years ago. Like at work–all your best ideas were when you were young, climbing up. Now, you’re pretty much just a manager, sorting out other people’s ideas. So, really, anybody could do that. Had kids, and in the early years, maybe you didn’t inspire them to be Beethovens or whatever, but you kept them from turning into serial killers or anything like that. So now, if you were gone, then they might be sad for awhile, but things would pretty much turn out the same for them as if you were there. So, you know, that’s about it. You’ve done what it was for you to do. And really, you could drop dead or just sit on the couch munching every kind of Pringles you can get your hands on, and the march of time and the universe and all that would go on pretty much unchanged. Do you know what I mean? Feeling just kind of done? Over?” Franklin picked up the onion ring again. “Do you ever feel that way?”

Mark, still holding the burger, leaned to his left enough to reach the straw of his soda with his mouth and took a sip. With the chunk of meat, bun, lettuce, mushroom, bacon and everything else washed down, he opened his mouth again and said, “No.”


I have a penchant for certain words. I have 82 poems titled “regret.” And 17 called simply “cobblestone.” I think I’d like to imagine these are trademarks, and not collectively a rut. Still, it worries me. “Worries?” No, that’s no good. Vexes. It vexes me…in the wee hours…no, um…it vexes me in the cold, solitary hours when the world does not exist but for me and my pen. Yes, that’s it.

I wonder how much I really have to offer. In all my stories, I see the same resolution unfolding. Even when I sit down, determined to write a different arc for some new character, I find invariably that the characters demand their logical conclusion and that conclusion is always the same.

In all of my stories, the protagonist has to kill himself to get the girl. Even Raymundo Caligular, the gay sea captain, ended up cutting his own throat to impress Bernadette Von Trudeau, the mermaid queen. You’d think at least he wouldn’t want to make a grand gesture for a woman, but nope, in the end, it was the only end he could want. The plot demanded it, as it always does in my stories.

For me, the hero always has to die with so much left to do, with some colossal store of kinetic energy. Whole volumes that will go unwritten. And of course I know what it all means. I know what it says about me, and I’m not sure whether to be proud of myself or not. After all, this pattern reveals that lowly I, humble me, have escaped the one great fear of every human breast.

Oh, dear, I’m really overdoing it. It must’ve been mentioning Raymundo that got me going like that. He always was too longwinded.

What it means is that I’m not afraid of death, right? That’s good. But it also means that I’m living in fear of the other ending. I’m terrified of that place at the end, the place without any words left.


I drove right past my house. For a second I thought it might have been a mistake, an accident. But I felt in the bones of my hands, in my metacarpals and phalanges which did not move the wheel, that it was no accident. It was a choice. At first it was just that, just a decision not to stop, not to turn into the driveway and do what I always do. It was a small choice at first, but it grew. It quickly became a decision not to go back, either.

Finally, as I moved further and further away from the house, from the roads I drove day in and day out, I wondered, “What else could I drive past?”

I am a moving point on a landscape. The features stand still. If there were a map of me, whole zones would be dark, unknown, and still others red, forbidden. My ignorance has a location. My fear. My pride. Every limitation is a coordinate on the map. If everything has a place and I am moving, then can I pass everything by? Can I leave every brick and mortar of my life behind? Mortality? Morality?

If they are boundaries, then they must be somewhere. What if I could drive on a straight plane and leave the earth through sheer will? I chose not to do what I’ve always done, what was natural for me to do, so what’s to stop me from continuing, from ignoring gravity?

Ahead of me is a wall. Now you see. Now you think you see.

Could I drive right through that wall ahead? You shake your head. “Of course not,” you say. Some empty philosophizing and a whim that could only be indulged because of a full tank of gas do not shake the unalterable limits of reality. “They do not, sir,” you say.

So here I am closing in on the wall.

You think you know how this story will end.

And maybe you’re right.

Maybe I’ll die catastrophically.

But maybe you’re wrong.

I am only a second from it so there’s not much time.

Maybe there’s more to this whole thing than you can imagine, whole realms outside of your universe of up/down, length/breadth, forward/backward, past/future. Shake your head more, but you don’t know. You’ll never hear from me again unless you admit that there’s something off the map.

Because that’s where I’ll be.

The Itch and the Resolve and All the Other Things

It was a failure.  A miserable, total, catastrophic, unbelievable failure. My New Year’s Resolution. Complete fuck-up. I watched that clock. I watched it and I waited for those tall, skinny-man numbers to go 12:00. As soon as I saw it, I blinked. Closed my eyes on those particular photons and held ’em in my brain. This time’ll be different, I said. This time for sure, I told myself. I was done. Done being the fool I’d been for as long as I can remember. It just couldn’t last, though. I felt it right away. There’s some switch inside that let’s you know, like one of those railroad signs that blinks slow and steady when the track’s been diverted the wrong way. That’s how you know when you’re lying to yourself. No matter how much you convince yourself that you’re on the right track–there’s that signal going in even, slow pulses. Maybe that’s what starts the itch. Maybe they’re related. Because right away, you get the itch. It’s like the equal and opposite reaction to trying not to think about it. Addiction. You think it’s thoughts when you first realize you’re hooked. But no, when you get in deeper, when you’ve tried to turn your back on it a few times, that’s when you figure out that thoughts are just a symptom. If you succeed, even for a minute, in chasing away the thoughts, in getting mental control, that’s fine, but the addiction is still in you somewhere. That wanting is going to be expressed somewhere in your being, somewhere. Me, I get the itch. It turns up right beneath my skin. All over. Like my back itches. I have to scratch my back and I know, I know that’s really the longing. So right away, even as I held the red 12:00 in my head and vowed never and never and never again, right away there was the itch. I caught myself scratching. Every second, some part of me wanted to be scratched. Unless I thought about it. If I thought about giving in, about what giving in to my longing would feel like, well, then, no itch. But that’s worse, you know. Thinking is closer to it than the itch. So of course, I failed. I failed pathetically. Not even a day. Not even a day and I was done.

So now it’s almost Lent. And I wonder: should I try again? Give it up for 40 days? Could I? Would that be easier? If I knew it was only temporary? If I tell myself that it’s just for Lent, just until Easter…and then if I make it that long…no, can’t really admit that part, because then I’ll know, I’ll know what I’m up to and then I’m just as screwed as ever. But maybe, maybe for a little while, maybe if I tell myself it’s just for Lent, for a spiritual sacrifice, then maybe, maybe then I can give you up.