Category Archives: Poems

This Year I Will Not Hibernate (Audio Short)

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(If SoundCloud is down, download the track)
(Download the instrumental version here)

These last few winters, the arctic chill has given me a good reason to stay in, to sink into my introversion. I’ve made a habit of hibernating, stocking up on movies and curling up to the warm glow of a TV screen. Come spring time, my prolonged isolation makes it hard for me to reenter society. Real people don’t talk like they do in the movies.

This spoken word mantra is my attempt to break myself of this habit, to brave the cold and do something with my nights, to stop waiting for the groundhog to give me the all clear, to help kick old man winter in the keister. I hope you enjoy it.

My Poem for National Poetry Day

Minneapolis

Most people live within 30 miles of their birthplace. I’ve been living in the same neighborhood for 15 years. I wrote this poem when I was 24. I’d been living on my own, in Minneapolis, for 6 years. I wasn’t making it in the city. No matter where I went, I felt like I was on the outside looking in. My outlook was bleak. Of all the unpublished pieces in my archives, I’m sharing this one for National Poetry Day because of its harsh brutal honesty.

In the Mouth of Minneapolis

Your check bounces at the impound lot
The city repossesses your job
Your schooling
Your girlfriend
You’re a convicted pedestrian
Serving out your community service
Not by the hour
But by the blister

Automatic teller machines scold you
Like a mother wielding a report card
The city shrinks down
With each negative digit
To its lakeside parks
And wooded bike paths
Now food and shelter have an expiration date
Your bar tabs condemn buildings
Beer pitchers turn from brown to yellow
From yellow to “Thanks guys, I’ll get the next one”

Traffic lights flash red as you cross the street
Lamp posts dim as you walk beneath them
Minneapolis does not want you to know where you are going
Minneapolis does not want you to leave

Your list of cabbies and escorts
Dwindles in your cell phone
Menu, options, erase
Menu, options, erase
The city shrinks down
To its chained table sets
To its three legged love seats
With the springs at your back

Now all you order is water

The man behind the desk
Looks at your wheatgrass hair cut
Your brown moss stubble
Your wild berry pupils
Last months employment history
Tattooed to your face
Minneapolis garnishes your wages
Before you could even offer up a clammy hand shake

Minneapolis wants you to work for her exclusively

Girls walk by with their pastel cardigans
Stitched to their shirts
With their eyes so big and blue
You know they’ve seen Europe
You’re invisible in your frayed shoe laces
Your tan line for a wrist watch
Minneapolis has laid a claim to you
Minneapolis wants to go steady

When you walk under bridges
When you pass through bus stations
You feel like you’re viewing homes
Un-taxable real-estate
Your hands in your pockets
Eyeing the benches
Kicking the dirt
Checking for outlets

You thought you were just passing through
On your way to someplace bigger
Thought you could get by on your looks
On your youth
Thought you could sweet talk
A record contract, a publishing deal
A bachelors degree, and a wedding ring
Out of this city

But Minneapolis will digest you
In her seedy underbelly

Too Many Options

The last suit in the closet
The last one that fits
With bleach splatter pattens
And holes in the armpits
Every string frayed
Every edge ripped
Every loom line showing
Just where it was stitched

I’ve got too many books
So I don’t don’t read anything
I’ve got too many movies
So I don’t watch a single one
I’ve got too much information
But no knowledge to flaunt
I’ve got too many options
But not the one I want

The last tie on the rack
The last one to lose its shine
With remnants of a pattern
And deep Windsor lines
Every fiber faded
Every weave undone
Every red power lie
Exposed and gone

I’m in the heart of the city
So I don’t go anywhere
I’m surrounded by bars
So I stay home with my liquor
There’s a crowd outside
So I don’t talk to anyone
I’ve got too many options
But not the one I want

Soul Donor

Busted
Busted

Something haunts the attic of my imagination, locked in an old trunk, it watches my movements through the keyhole. While I stack character traits, it lies in wait. While I lay scenes on the card table, it bides its time. While I wave my marker, connecting plot points across the wall, it stares at my rolling chair with bright green eyes, a prince watching a throne, waiting for his time to come.

Entering the attic of my imagination, I find streaks through the floor boards. The trunk sits beneath the window, the keyhole positioned to see out into the real world. Trying to drag it back to its place, I give up part way. Distracted, I read the notecards scattered across the table, I toss half of them to the floor. There’s just no room for them anymore. I need this section of my imagination to process something I’ve been thinking.

Jotting a word down, I set it on the open space. The card says: INDECISION. The floorboards creak. Thunder claps off in the distance. I set the word OBLIVIOUS in an empty spot. There’s a thump. The lights flicker. I set the word UNREQUITED down. There’s a crash behind me, a click, followed by the groaning of a rusty hinge. Turning around, I find the trunk has moved. Its lid has opened on its own.

Peaking inside, a swarm of locusts engulf my eyes.

The trunk was filled with all of my romantic compulsions. Every time I develop feelings for someone, the infernal crate starts filling. The self doubt, the jealousy, the fear of rejection, all these things start rumbling. I can stack books atop it, hammer nails in, put it in a dark corner of the room, but sooner or later the trunk bursts open.

Once that happens, darkness takes over my imagination. My characters break down, my plot points get painted over, and my scenes get scattered. The story I’m developing disappears as the specter of a doomed romance leaves its mark on everything.

2. Trunk

I wrote the following in my early twenties, back when my best ideas were abandon in favor of an overwhelming urge to vent. Its wordy, silly, embarrassing, and completely honest. Recently, I dug it up and gave it the musical treatment. I hope you like it.

(If SoundCloud is down, download the track)
(Download the instrumental version here)

Soul Donor

The third law of thermodynamics
The one we all love to hate
I poured my heart into something
That didn’t reciprocate
I syphoned out all my good parts
To feed your perceptually aching machine
I slowed myself to crawl
Just to keep it going

Like a vampire blood donor
Like an eleventh hour Valentine
I put so much of myself in you
But you’d never be mine
You’re feeding off my entropy
I’m running out parts to give
I’ve been dying long enough to know
That dying is no way to live

It’s safe to assume
It’s safe to foresee
Even if it makes
An ass of “u” and “me”
It takes an addict
To spot another addict

Ah fuck it, I admit it
I really am psychic

The only law that Murphy had
The one that we all try to break
I left so much room for error
Our foundations were bound to shake
I always came when you were jonesing
For the high only I’d provide
Who knew you could quit cold turkey
And let this whole thing slide

Who knew you’d leave me in this bath tub
In this motel up the street
Dry ice freezing my skin off
You only take the parts you need
When I signed on to be your lover
Did I sign on as a soul donor too?
How could I hate myself enough
To give my love to the likes of you?

It’s safe to assume
It’s safe to foresee
Even if it makes
An ass of “u” and “me”
It takes an addict
To spot another addict

Ah fuck it, I admit it
I really am psychic

3. Ghost Hand

An Object Gathering Dust

Toy soldier gathering dust
Toy soldier gathering dust

If relationships in my early twenties taught me anything, it’s that I left women with a sense of buyer’s remorse. I didn’t turn out to be the man they saw in the shop window. My first impression ran out of steam. My bravado deflated into cowardice. The image they tried to project on me, no longer fit.

There’s how a man ought to be, then there’s me.

In 2006, I wrote a poem about a toy soldier losing the admiration of his owner. What started as a piece about a waning romance, became a critique of the ideal man. The poem broke down the expectations set by the greatest generation, chipping away at Americana idealism.

This has always been one of my favorite pieces, but every time I set out to share it, I held back, thinking it was too personal. It took the support of my readers to shed those reservations. I hope you like it.

An Object Gathering Dust

Window shopping on main street
A gust of wind
Snatched the scarf from your neck
Blowing it across the boulevard
Leaving it on the window sill
Of a vintage toy store

Where you saw a clean cut,
Broad shouldered, toy soldier
Decked out in World War 2 apparel
Iconic in its shrink wrapped chivalry
A throw back to an era
Of courteous square jawed gentlemen
Who lived to open doors and hold hands
A Norman Rockwell day dream
A sparkle toothed smile
Complete with the sound of a glass tap

This toy soldier
This prince charming
All your girlhood fantasies
Wrapped up in cellophane

You altered your work route
To walk by my window
Your left hand shaking
Your right hand deep in your purse
Clinging to your wallet
Fighting the urge

One night a dream
Carrying a vision of your man
Walking down the white staircase
Of an aircraft carrier
Burned itself into your mind’s eye
You had to throw fifty dollars on the counter
To appease the Sandman

My attempt to make myself look like a plastic toy soldier
My attempt to make myself look like a plastic toy soldier

You took me home
Unwrapped me
And sat me down
As the guest of honor
At the head of your tea party table

You stared into my half moon eyes
With all the love the world had
For Jimmy Stewart
For Humphrey Bogart
For Frank Sinatra

In Michigan I was a lump of plastic
Lying on a conveyor belt
But in your arms
I became the spirit of a decade
A symbol of an America
Revered by the rest of the world

When I slept beside you
You dreamt of an approaching cavalry
Parading through small town streets
Of boy scout meetings
Of slippers
Newspapers
And corn cob pipes

You were Audrey Hepburn
With her man on her arm
The belle of the ball descending the staircase
In her long velvet gown
An airbrushed pin up
On the nose of a jet
That all the fly boys
Just had to tip their hats to

A sudden flicker of random eye movement
And we were French kissing on Ellis Island
With fire works off in the distance
Our hands cupping one another’s elbows
The moon framing our silhouettes
We became the skyline

But one day you woke up
To find that the green of my uniform had washed out
That my jaw had chipped at the edges
That the half moons of my eyes had faded
And my frozen salute had lost its meaning

You still took me out to the bar
But my smile couldn’t compete
With touch screen Gin Rummy
You buried me in your purse
When my shadow
Eclipsed today’s cross word puzzle
The spirit of the 1950s was gone
America was a different place
With a different skyline

I went from a Christmas miracle
To an impulse item
Yesterday’s playmate
To today’s inanimate object
And all the love you had to give
Went back to being a lump of plastic

You took me off your pedestal
And put me on your shelf
Never to be played with again
A relic of your sense of romance
Looking down at you through incense clouds
An object gathering dust

Here’s looking at you, kid

My Best Posts on Love or Lack Thereof

V for Valentine
V for Valentine

(The V for Vendetta aspects of this post were inspired by a Twitter conversation with @fredamoya@CantrellJason, and @jazstory. Go forth and follow them)

Valentine’s Day is here. For some it’s the biggest date night of the year, a time for hard won reservations, and subpar service. When collective expectation is at a fever pitch. A time to feel put on the spot by romantic peer pressure. A day when one-upmanship makes lovers jump through flaming hoops to prove their feelings.

For some it is a day to abuse social media with forced romantic sentiment, a day for contrived vows that could only feel genuine if delivered in person. Some clog news feeds with couple’s selfies, while others clean house with mass-unfollowings.

After Christmas and New Year’s, Valentine’s Day is the last note in a overwhelming chord. For some it’s a victory lap, a day to celebrate the love they’ve been given. For others it’s the last stretch of a gauntlet of loneliness. V-Day is when they cash the last of their resolutions in.

Permit me to speak from the heart, with some help from the gut, with a little bit of bite, and a twist of the tongue.

My volatile Valentine’s vendetta derives its viewpoint from a bevy of vulgar visuals. Vapid vagrants with malevolent intent, visiting taverns to vocalize a variety of vacuous vows, proverbs with vanilla verbiage voiced verbatim, inviting victims to venture beneath their duvet for a vigorous vault through venerial viruses.

Avoiding reverence, evasive lovers veto verses, and revoke overtures. Vexed with a variety of vultures vying for votes, vixens avert involvement. My vehement vows provoke vagabonds to vanish. My devotion advances vamps through a vortex. Their verdict delivers a violent vivisection of vital vascular valves and vessels, leaving a vacated void, a victory for the villainous, a vasectomy of the virtuous, a vestige of St. Valentine’s venture.

A memory memory for the 14th of February, the Saint beaten beheaded, left to rot, I see no reason, the real reason for the season should ever be forgot.

This year, I’m one of those bah-humbuggers. To quote Placebo, “I’m killing time on Valentine’s. Waiting for the day to end.” For me the day completes a trilogy of unhappy holidays. Some days I believe in love at first sight, sometimes I want to tell Cupid where he can stick his arrows. Today is one of those.

If you’re at home reading blogs on Valentine’s, then I think I know which camp you’re in. If you’re looking for something to read, that hits that bittersweet spot then I’ve got you covered. Be you a hopeless romantic or a ceaseless cynic, I’ve got something for you.

May I present my best posts on romance, be they short stories or blog entries, poems or podcasts, I’ve got something to make the time pass.

The NSA Took My Baby Away
A Missed Connection from a love struck NSA Agent.

An Ode to Love Songs
A love poem where each verse is stitched together from song titles with the word “Love” in them.

11th Hour Valentines
A study of the bar close mating ritual.

Bullet Proof Cupid
For every romance, there’s a massive covert operation. Watch Cupid’s tactical unit engineer a happy accident.

My Time Travel Romantic Comedy Pitch
What’s missing from the time travel romantic comedy genre? A harsh dystopia. What if every manic pixie dream girl, was secretly a talent scout from the future?

Bubble Pipe
“There’s more than one way to get noticed by the opposite sex,” says the man smoking a bubble pipe. A blog and a song on the silly things we do to get attention.

The Tragedy of Headshots
Sometimes dating feels like auditioning for a part you know you’ll never get.

The Narration
When a strange voice declares a young woman’s romantic intentions to her friends, she’s forced to do some serious back peddling.

The Night the Moon Came Down to Earth
There’s nothing more romantic than being on a stake out for an urban legend with someone you have crush on.

The Residual Blues
They say that amputees can still feel sensations from their phantom limbs. So what do you feel when someone rips the heart out of your chest?

Harvested
Have you ever felt like you were harvested of all the love you have to give?

Unnecessary Hero
“It’s better to have loved and lost or some crock of shit. Free advice is worth what you paid for it.” Lyrics on romantic heroics.

Pigs Will Fly
“There are wedding bells for you and I and the pigs will fly.” An optimistic look at becoming more than just friends.

Bubble Pipe

“There’s more than one way to get noticed,” says the man smoking a bubble pipe.

In my effort to spoof Sherlock Holmes I somehow created an album cover
In my effort to spoof Sherlock Holmes I somehow created an album cover


(If SoundCloud is down, download the track)
(Download the instrumental version here)

One of the first things women notice in a man is his shoes, so says the round table of talking heads on day time television. Shoes are a window into a man’s wallet. What better way to put his best foot forward than to have the right kicks on? What better place to evaluate him then from the ground up? Of course, if there are suds dripping down the tongue of his loafers, you might want to pan up to see their source.

There’s something about a bubble pipe that makes you forget about a man’s footwear.

Watching the foam spill over his timepiece, you can’t help but wonder what makes this man tick. The pipe might make him look psychotic, but that soapy water is very hygienic. Mayhaps he’s giving his face a bubble bath. You’ve got to love a man who can luxuriate in public. That prop makes him such a mystery. Even his body language seems foreign.

Why would someone bring a bubble pipe to a champaign party? Maybe he’s just that confident. Maybe he’s crazy. Maybe you’re being pranked on national TV. You dare not ask, for fear the answer could never live up to your expectations, but still, you have to know before the night ends.

Watch another desperate boy work his tired sad little ploy, while just over his shoulder Professor Bubble Pipe is waiting there. You find yourself abandoning your companion mid-come on line. There’s something, someone else, that has your attention. He’s blowing you a path. Standing center stage, he plays his instrument, all tall dark and random.

Sure, he looks like a lunatic, but he’s a lunatic with a secret

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Bubble Pipe was one of those pieces from the archives that had me thinking, “I don’t need to share that on the internet,” but I kept coming back to it. It was an inside joke that I was the only one snickering at. People watching at parties, I wanted to mock the mating ritual. I wanted to confuse everyone.

Bubble Pipe is a piece in the spirit of that tao of fuck it. That go for broke attitude that says this is me as I am, take it or leave it. Watch me eat junk food. Watch me sleep until noon. Watch me mock social mores. If you don’t like my attitude, then that’s your problem.

It’s about spending three hours putting an outfit together, only to say, “Screw it, I’ll just wear the sweat pants with the mustard stain again.”

It’s about dropping your flowers on the way up the steps, leaving you to present your date with a bouquet of bent stems. “They’re perfect, you love them.”

It’s about giving up the pretense, but not the ambition.

I’d rather stand out as an honest lunatic than go along with a heard of straight faced liars. To steal a line from The Twilight Singers, “A lonely boy will stand when others crawl.”

So to my fellow lunatics, with pipes leaking soapy water in your breast pockets, I say, “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”

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The voice I used in this recording is a sad attempt at a posh accent, if anyone asks I’ll say, “Oh, that? That’s just a typical midwestern dialect, it is no way a piss poor attempt at replicating the tone of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Star Trek: Into Darkness monologue.”

I chose flute sounds for the musical accompaniment because, like bubble pipes, they’re wood wind instruments. I used distorted hip-hop beats to add some weight to my thin premise, a little badassery to go with my B.S.

As for the poem itself, it’s one of those things I had to get out of my system. I wrote it when I was 22. I still think it’s funny, and as it’s turned out, I still have a lot to say about the subject. My original artist description for this poem became a companion piece, called 11th Hour Valentines, if you liked this, then you’ll love that. Check it out.

IMG_2196 Continue reading Bubble Pipe

I Know You

Sometimes it takes someone else’s words to let you know that you’re not alone. Sometimes someone else’s art speaks for us. Henry Rollins’s poem I Know You spoke for me.

Yes, that's a bit of packing foam in my microphone, and no, I still can't get it out.
Yes, that’s a bit of packing foam in my microphone, and no, I still can’t get it out.
You can't do a cover of Henry Rollin's I Know You, and Trent Reznor's A Warm Place without combing the fonts from Black Flag and Nine Inch Nail's logos.
You can’t do a cover of Henry Rollin’s I Know You, and Trent Reznor’s A Warm Place without combining the fonts from the Black Flag and Nine Inch Nail’s logos.

(If SoundCloud is still down, download the track)
(Download the instrumental version here)
(Download the vocals only version here)

Have you ever read something and felt like the writer knew you, like they got under your skin and spilled your guts, like they cut to the heart of the matter and found out what made you tick? Have you ever felt apart from the world until a song lyric revealed the connections that bound you to it? Your situation was pegged in the length of a verse by that one perfect line that hit the nail on the head. Something that put your allusive emotions into perspective.

Have you ever watched a movie and saw yourself on screen? You blinked and suddenly you were the protagonist. You heard a love lorn line of dialogue and proclaimed, “I just said that today!” Has a dated romantic comedy had you searching your living room for microphones? Has a line from a screenwriter’s pen found its way into your breakup talk?

Has a stand-up comedian made a punch line of your secret quirk? Has a clever cat got your tongue and started saying things with it? Your thoughts streamed down their teleprompter. They outed you to the world. Did it surprise you to see the audience laugh with the comedian, as if they knew exactly what they were talking about? Did it feel like some of their approval rubbed off on you?

Has an artist that died before your time, peered across time and space, to plagiarize the thoughts from your head? These knowing Nostradamuses, saw your breakdown coming. They stepped on your grave. You felt it in your bones. They knew you before you were even there to be known.

They found a way to put into words the thoughts you believed would go unspoken, unmarked by your nearest and dearest. How you’d lived to find someone with the emotional capacity to share them. Here a stranger has seen you for what you are. They’ve shown you a truth about yourself, and it’s devastating.

Don’t think that this connection is less meaningful, because it didn’t happen face to face. If Stephen King has taught me anything, it’s that writing is telepathy. It doesn’t matter if the author was alive, if their work has been translated, remixed, or covered. Moving into your mind, their thoughts have taken up mental real estate. They’ve cast you as the hero in their story.

You learned that your most private peculiarity, was actually universal. You were stricken with a profound relief. Thank you dear author, dear singer, dear comedian. Thank you for letting us know that we’re not in this alone, that I am not alone. Thank you for making yourself seem vulnerable so that I might feel a little bit stronger. Thank you for quite possibly saving my life.

Black und White

I’ve never experienced this phenomena more profoundly as I did the first time I heard Henry Rollins read his poem I Know You. My composure melted away in an instant. I collapsed onto my cramped twin bed. True to his word, Rollins knew me very well. I was sobbing by the end of the first read through. Locking myself in my room, I listened to it for an hour straight, staring at the ceiling, seeing into something bigger than myself. This was over a decade ago, a time when I needed to hear it. I needed to know that I wasn’t the only one who operated the way I did, and Henry told me.

He didn’t stutter. He didn’t ramble, nor did he get lost in abstraction. Where I’d felt scatterbrained, he was collected. He preached with steadfast certainty. He’d broken a code and he was showing his data. With a cool composure, he spoke to the screaming silence of isolation. He brought calm to a conversation about rage. While so many growling vocalists brought brute force to their mic stands, he applied just the right amount of gentle pressure.

He wasn’t hiding behind euphemisms like “mental illness.” While psychologists argued about the map, Rollins told us about the terrain. He told it like it was.

He armed me with the language to communicate my inner workings, and instilled in me a strong desire to do just that. He got me thinking about deciphering myself for the benefit of others. He’d given me purpose.

Half Smile

It was on the tip of my tongue, but I couldn’t find the right word for it. Following my roommates out for drinks, a strange pull beckoned me home before bar close. I had every intention of riding the night out with them. I wanted to meet people, to make connections, but my enthusiasm worked on a bell curve. I came out with a pocket full of high fives, only to find my fingers go limp in the middle of handshakes. I spent my quick wit on the pilling introductions, only to watch my jokes fall flat by the time the conversation got light. I was the one who brought the lull to the table.

I got low, but “depression” was the wrong word for it. It was too broad.

My James Bond composure came with a time limit. The moment the clock struck midnight I reverted back to Woody Allen. My charm turned into a pumpkin. The larger the crowd, the more I’d turtle up. Shifting the conversation, girls joined us in the booth. The more competitive the tone, the less I participated. The more overt my room mates’ intentions, the more subtle mine became.

A polarizing fear had come over me, but “social anxiety” wasn’t the right term for it. I could be social. In my element, in my sweet spot, I could hold my audience’s attention. I could read ten poems a night without so much as blushing. The stage was my domain, yet small talk always seemed like Everest.

Watching the screens mounted on the bar, I found myself paying more attention to commercials than I ever thought I would. Convincing my friends I had a prostate condition, I took more than my fair share of bathroom breaks.

Sure my breath quickened, but calling these episodes “panic attacks” would be a tad too dramatic.

Giving up on waving down bartenders, I paced what little space I could, guarding my precious shoulders from being rubbed. After all, I wore my heart on my sleeve.

Pop psychology would have you wondering where I fit on the social disorder spectrum, where I fell on the Myers Briggs, or where to categorize me in the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. You could try to dissect me with all those “blunt little tools,” but you wouldn’t come away with anything of substance.

While giggles turned to cackles, my voice became a whisper. I waited until the group hit a critical mass, until I was sure that I was lost in the crowd. Then I disappeared, Batman giving Commissioner Gordon the slip. Off to fight crime from the confines of my bedroom.

The word “INTROVERT” hung beneath my face like a caption, I just didn’t want to accept it. At the time, I took introversion to mean shy, meek, and fragile. If you only looked at half of the data, you’d say that I embodied all of those traits, but if you watched me lead a counter demonstration against one of America’s most notorious hate groups you’d draw a different conclusion. If you listened to me speak at a writers’ workshop, you might mistake me for an alpha male. Drop me into an argument where I can speak with authority and you’ll hear Sherlock Holmes bubble up from my mouth.

It turned out the right word had been there the entire time, I just thought it meant something else. Introversion had less to do with how weak I felt, and more to do with what types of interactions I valued. While others needed a group to blossom, I excelled at the one on one, bringing things out of people others couldn’t see. While extroverts were the life of the party, I was the king of empathy. While others saw their emotions as splotches in an impressionist painting, I could translate mine into words.

The best part of these revelations was that they defused so much of the hate I’d been carrying. Extroverts were not the enemy. After a lifetime of jealousy, I realized that I possessed qualities that they might envy, that they might even need. Rather than flee them, I sought them out. As Sarah Silverman put it, “I’m looking for a Yin for my Yang, not a Yang for my Yang.”

Turns out, there might not be anything wrong with me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the hole in your heart is an optical illusion. It disappears the moment you change perspective.

His superpowers include: empathy, self awareness, and candor.
His superpowers include: empathy, self awareness, and candor.
If you consider yourself an introvert, and you've come to view that as something to be ashamed of, you need to read this book.
If you consider yourself an introvert, and you’ve come to view that as something to be ashamed of, you need to read this book.

After reading Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts, I found myself drawn back to Rollins’s poem.

I see Henry Rollins as a role model for introverts. He’s one of the good ones. The man wears his solitude like a superhero. He walks the earth, searching for himself, like Caine from Kung Fu, or The Incredible Hulk moving from town to town, challenging authority, saving villagers. He’s a poet, an author, a musician, an actor, a stand-up comedian, and a role model. He’s an international man of mystery, getting in his van, rocking off faces, stopping crime, and giving Ted talks.

Grateful for everything he shares about himself, I have an endearing affection for this man. It takes a lot to be a positive example of vulnerability. Along with George Carlin, Rollins’s candor is something I’ve tried to adapt into my own literary voice.

This all started the night I’d discovered I Know You. I had to capture that feeling of identification. I had to share it. I had to let people in on the secret, that we’re in this together, and there’s a community out there for anyone who wants it.

Lens Shot

Rollins’s speech resonated with me all the more, because someone had paired it with A Warm Place my favorite song (at the time) by Nine Inch Nails. A Warm Place has always been my go to instrumental for self reflection. If you’re making a meditation playlist, this song is mandatory (feel free to download my instrumental version to add to that list too, it’s also great for yoga, and other intimate encounters). It hypnotizes with its descending and ascending melodies, both sombre and tranquil, bitter and sweet.

When I decided to cover Rollins’s poem, I realized that I had to cover A Warm Place as well. I’ve always wanted to hear the song with grinding distortion, and heavy beats made from footfalls and whip cracks, so I added those elements to my version.

It’s not enough for me to just throw up a link to Rollins’s original recording, I had to pay homage to it. I had to read it myself. After all, along with Nicole Blackman and Saul Williams, Rollins inspired me to get into spoken word in the first place. Turns out, this is one of the most popular pieces for poets to read live. They’re Rollins’s words, but we all want to inhabit them. It’s his monologue, but we all want to star in it.

A Warm Place Logo


(If SoundCloud is still down, download the track)

As I mentioned, the idea to combine I Know You and A Warm Place wasn’t mine. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a recording of the poem without the Nine inch Nails song tacked on. I’m not sure who came up with the idea to combine these recordings, but they’re two great tastes that go great together. Although, I always felt jostled when A Warm Place started looping half way through Rollins’s reading, then abruptly faded after he’d finished. I wanted the recordings to fit together seamlessly, so I notated my version to do just that.

I got it in my head to transcribe the song myself, to put together my own minimal interpretation, a distorted melody, made fragile by heavy tremolo and thunderclaps. Not that I could hold a candle to Rollins’s deep rich voice, but I loved his piece so much I had to give it a go. This is a cover of a remix of a poem. I can’t think of a deeper niche than that, but it’s the universal themes that make it so endearing.

Over the last year, I’ve done over five hours of audio recording (if you include my audio book Terms and Conditions). This seven minute piece is by far my favorite. Please share and enjoy.

You can read Henry Rollins’s poem in its entirety by hitting “Continue Reading.” Continue reading I Know You

Full Red Submersion (Audio Short)

A piece about seeing red when your space is violated.

I was thinking of calling this "Red Drew Redemption" but thought better of it.
I was thinking of calling this “Red Drew Redemption” but thought better of it.

(Download the instrumental version here)

Have you ever felt so rotten you were afraid people could see it in your face? Reading your micro expressions, they caught the instant your smile fell out of synch with your eyes. From there, your audience put all the pieces together. They took a second look at your posture; your arms crossed over one another, like a Jolly Rodger made flesh, and they just knew.

Shifting your weight to one heel, you leaned away from their scrutiny, drawing a border with your free foot. Ignoring these cues, they breached your comfort bubble. They listened as the inflection dipped from your voice, as your confidence waned, and your tongue twisted. Your composure seeped out, like a sigh through your lips.

Your shoulders slouched. Your accent shift. Your customer service mask slipped. There was a draft where your armor should’ve been. Your space had been invaded. You were exposed. Your audience got in on your introversion. Finding their way into your attic, they were pulling out your insolation.

I’m talking about that embarrassing moment when someone calls you out for having a bad day, when you’ve done everything in your power to bury it. This is about the sense of violation from someone telling you how you’re feeling.

I have to admit, I wrote this one shortly after ending a career in retail where I’d accumulated my share of these experiences.

The calming musical accompaniment is there to contrast the heated prose. The melody rises in subdued hums. The beat echoes across a vast space. The throbbing synth-bass was inspired by College’s song Real Hero (you might recognize it from the end credits of the movie Drive). These combined elements make this my catchiest track yet. Check it out. Continue reading Full Red Submersion (Audio Short)

Spring Forward, Fall Apart (Audio Short)

When cabin fever strikes, we all get to reenact Pink Floyd’s The Wall, here’s something I wrote about it.

All and all this iPhone is just another brick in the wall
All and all this iPhone is just another brick in the wall


(Download the instrumental version here)

I wrote this poem just as the leaves started to turn, and slowly but surly it became a self fulfilling prophecy. The cold has gotten so harsh that my dog refuses to step on the sidewalk for fear that the ice will chill her paws.

The clouds overhead have become a fixture. The stars won’t be back until May. The monochrome landscape isn’t as inspiring as it was a few months ago. Anything worth describing has been buried beneath a layer of white out.

There’s a city to explore, but subzero temperatures have a way of narrowing my field of vision. My introversion has gone from a choice, to something that’s necessary for my survival. If I wander the streets too long, I’ll die of exposure.

So here I am at home surrounded by a wall of screens.

I’ve got a season of House of Cards to watch. I’ve got a crackling electric heater. I’ve got a fridge full of left overs, and a dog demanding that I feed her. I’m comfortably numb, zoning out on the internet, wondering if there’s anybody out there.