Jack of Hearts

            I used to work up in South City as a bartender at the Dirty Cactus on weekends during the summer. I’d take the train to the South San Francisco stop and walk the one and a half blocks west to Linden Ave. where there wasn’t ever anybody, or so it seemed. The Dirty Cactus always had the chronic winos and beer-gutted scum coming through, never bothering to tip anything besides a few words. Sometimes though, a jewel of a bastard would come in, and I could have listened to these guys talk for hours, if they felt like talking for that long. Then I would take a break, write down as much as I could remember before going back, and serve ‘em up the next round, lighting a cigarette.
            Dirty Cactus was one of the best bars in South City, even though it was what you might call a “dive” bar (originally used to describe the bars during Prohibition that were located in cellars where you would “dive down” out of the public eye.) Of course who’s to say what the best bar was, I was in fact a bartender at said bar, so my opinion is slightly biased anyways. Regardless, what dive could possibly be complete without the cliché of being entirely deficient of women? The Dirty Cactus undoubtedly deserved some award for being the only establishment in the city that hadn’t served a female patron in weeks, if such an award exists, but this was just one of the many eccentricities of the Cactus.
            After a lone night of drinking at the bar after closing, waking to an incurable hangover, I was trying to sleep on the train when this girl came and sat next to me. Now I knew that the tram I was riding was most likely empty, and that this girl had sat next to me to start some conversation. I hated these forced conversations sometimes, there were times (especially before work) when it was just nice to sit alone for a godamn half hour, when there was no reason to speak at all, and you could just observe. Picasso once said, “If only we could pull out our brains and only use our eyes.”
She pulled a tiny book from her tiny purse and sat it in her tiny lap. She was twenty-something, Euro-looking, with thin trimmed blue eyeglasses, her legs too thin for my taste; she was too thin in general. I adjusted my head in my jacket against the glass window, watching the cars and cities float by, people outside on lunch breaks or midday excursions.
            The girl began reading furiously, her brown bob cut hair swung as her head turned from one side of the page to the other. She turned her head toward me as she moved her hand to turn the page, but when she turned the page, she kept her eyes one me. Now we’re gonna have to speak to each other, I thought, Fuck. I turned back toward her and sat up in my seat. She politely put her book down, never taking her eyes away from mine.
            “Do I know you?” I said, figuring she was trying to pick me out from somewhere.
            “South San Francisco stop, this is South San Francisco,” a static voice said loudly from the speakers as she tried to say something.
            “Actually this is my stop,” I said, standing up and grabbing my backpack, “Sorry we didn’t get to chat. Come by the Dirty Cactus sometime, I’m always there.”
            “But…” she tried to say, but I had already walked away and off the train, into the warm air of another California winter.
            There was only one shift at the Dirty Cactus: the night shift. I usually opened the bar at three-o-clock on weekdays, two-o-clock on Fridays and Saturdays. The Dirty Cactus always stayed open till 2am though, no exceptions, and we were closed on Sundays. The owner never minded paying me overtime everyday, in fact, for such a shitty place, the owner, Niles, was an upstanding guy. Well, more or less upstanding; there were instances where his anger could get he better of him and on days when he’d show up to the bar, there would always be an altercation between him and some customer. It was a Friday, Niles never showed up on Friday night, so I would have the whole bar to myself.
            My bottle opener keychain snagged the inside of my jeans pocket as I pulled out my keys and it ripped a hole the size of Manhattan in the bottom of my pocket, the contents slipping down my leg to the wet cement.  I unlocked the door, chipping off a few dry red paint flakes, and walked in, sniffing a deep sniff of stale beer, dirty mop water, a hint of vomit from the direction of the bathroom, and the bar flies were hovering above the taps. After I wiped the bar, moped the floor and killed the barflies with an impressive homemade blowtorch, I poured myself a shot of Makers as I flipped on the purple neon OPEN sign and turned up the music. I shot the shot, and with a shake of my head and a large sigh-ish exhale, I started washing dishes. 

       to be continued...


Mid-October Rain Blues

 It's the middle of October,
    the rains have come &
        I miss women

It's the middle of my life,
    the rains have come &
        I miss women

I think of my exes, of all
      the girls I've fucked
      in the rain and I
      can't remember a single
      time being alone all
               waiting for a
                       dry day.
We're always looking for
companionship, but in the
wet California winter,
we look for a

a person who grounds us,
makes us feel at home,

October rains have come, and
   everyone waits for Halloween
   in quasi-anticipation.

Fall has always been the transition
                       month, when I
realize I've been doing it all wrong.

This could be the "boyfriend" in me
   talking, that or the

   fuckin bitches...


Sunday Vibes

The mellow Sunday vibe
permeates a pub, cool
90’s tunes bass lines bump
pitter patter rhythms through

Clinking glasses and
clattering, the beginning
of a new year, camraderous
atmosphere, resolutions
being broken already.
Outside, the cool
California air nippin at
the fingertips,
the toes, the knees.

The beer helps it along,
like a faucet that takes
too long to get warm.

I get up and
use the bathroom,
relating the feeling
of relief to the ecstatic
feeling of the release
of letting the last year

What does the new one bring?
   just new bullshit,
     new crap to deal with,
problems with women, work,
   bars, bartenders,
     drugs, and dealers,

a whole new suitcase
     of worries, whose
latch opens slowly,
     but assuredly.


Morningtime Sentiment

I hear curses down the alley from
the bar,
"Fuck... shit, fuck... shit!"
while I smoke a
spliff, listening to
the rhythm of a
dripping drain.

It's Thursday night, and for some reason, I'm
alone, not that I'm
necessarily  complaining,
 I enjoy a late night situation,
or an early morning sunrise.

But I usually sleep
tilll noon, and wake
to a cup of french pressed
coffee ground too
thinking of the girl from
the night before,
inviting you into her
taking off her shirt and

I held her for a while,
pretending not to
be aroused, until I started
to rub her back,
     at first,
  then slowly
    and rougher,
till I felt her
body, squirming
with the rhythm of
my hand.

She turned and
    kissed me,
"This is it" I thought,
  "estoy aqui."

But she seems mildly hesitant, why?
She's gotta sleep for some BS class at noon?
She's actually tired?
Her period maybe?
A scared prairie dog escaping
to its home?

Her amazing body moving
at the touch of my hand,
and her breathing beat;
in, beat, out, beat, in,
soft skin in rhythm
with the fingertips.

My eyes go dry, and I fall
asleep, holding a lost puppy
in its own bed, tossing,
uncomfortable, turning,
stiff back, adjust, dead arm,
roll over.

Awkward sleep,
            no sleep,
   awkward morning,
she cleans, I pick up my
pack, filling my pockets,
put on a fresh
         New day,
          new me,
   awkward morning
        strange car,
     awkward drive,
    new conversation,
        new music,
      new goodbye.

Why I Subject Myself to This

Why I Subject Myself to This

Am I masochistic?
asking for the hand, in
a sense, of a woman
whose pants slide
seamless off her smooth
razored legs like the sun,
30 minutes of sunset?

Listening to her whispers, above
the roar behind the shower curtain,
telling my friend to “keep it down.”
I pull my ear from the paper-thin
wooden door, “I think I hear
something coming” she says.

I go back to the outside
patio that looks out wide at Monterey
from the hills, safe
from the top hat of fog
chuggin inland from the
sea, as I
snap a match and light a stoge

I wince and take a long drag
as her and him, hair wet, stomp onto the

She rolls a
late morning spliff
to share as we chat about
classes and post-graduate
overseas studies, planning
an alone day at the beach
for me and her. He goes
inside to get
his best shoes for work, talk-
ing about two pairs of socks
to avoid the blisters

She smiles at me, holding in
her lungs a swirl of smoke, then
closing her eyes and pursing her
lips to blow out a slow stream
of smoke, like from incense
crawling to a ceiling to evaporate…
     …she passes me the spliff

He leaves, riding his bike in
loafers to work, waving
goodbye to me and her,
now alone, at his house.

we pack up our things, a
single backpack each, me with
my guitar, her with her
purse, treading
water out the front door to
my car, flying..

I flip on a tune roll
my windows down, starting
the car, almost forgetting
that she was about to
crawl into the passenger seat

Im flying so fucking high

We sit in the
silence of
the music, me
and her tappin
our hands on the steering
wheel and steel door, respectively,
to the beat of a Grateful
Dead tune.

“Been ballin my jack from dawn till doom,
While my rider hides my bottle in the other room!”
I sing
interrupted by the sounds of
shitty hip-hopy pop
coming from the radio of
a teeny bopper driving a Mercedes
Benz and I realize its bullshit

its all a bunch of

from the mono tonular
melody of the music, to
the girl playin mind games
sitting next to me
     tappin away, trying
          to forget
while my ambivolence
and sarcasm
fills the situation
like a bullet in a chamber.
But I just drive on,
smoking the last lucky
stoge, music filling
the car, but I’m
stuck in my own
head, dying alive.


Thoughts on Blogs


   I've found (through no fault of my own) the incredible power of composing prose in a tiny box floating on a screen rather than embracing the au-naturale feeling one gets from using ink on paper. Having to scribble unintelligibly in an awkward notebook, while it brings its own power and uniqueness to the art of writing and is still my preferred way to write, coming up with something using a computer has its own unique benefits. I've recently (re)discovered how interesting it is to be able to compose about as fast as my thoughts and also let my inner editor have some say by rearranging sentences or changing words, or sometimes finding a more interesting word in the thesaurus to use in another's place.

   Something in my gut though, makes me feel like I'm cheating, something is so artificial about being able write this way, it feels like I've been doing it all wrong. Maybe I've been doing it all differently, not necessarily wrong, and maybe instead of feeling guilty of cheating, I'll embrace this newfound art outlet!

   You'll still see me poeticizing in my notebook at any number of bars downtown, half empty beer in front of me, pen moving back and forth like a lone blade of grass stuck in the earth during a storm. I knock back the rest of my beer, order another, turn the page, and expect a gleaming white sheet staring up at me, intimidatingly.