that shut door

There I stood, like so many times before:
at the edge of the lip of the chasm;
too scared to leap, to open that door,
when I was seized by a spasm
that knocked me to the floor:
was I destined to be the Last One,
or would there come after, even more?

This wasn't in my Plan, no,
this was more than I bargained for:
too much introspection sucks out all the fun,
takes you way too far from shore,
and unless you are in the mood for adventure,
you just look at that shut door;
you just look at that shut door.

January 31, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

a place for you

I carved out a place for you
right here next to me;
I used a rusty nail.
It's hard with a rusty nail digging in the dirt,
but I got your place carved out,
and I didn't get hurt;
at least not any more than I was before.
So now you'll be beside me forever,
right here in the dirt.

January 31, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

writing advice

don't sell yourself short, kiddo:
those smears across your screen
when you write:
blood from your heart,
and sweat from your soul;
the tears are bonus.

let to flowing like it wants to,
that head of yours contains a whole lot;
trust me on this:
I have seen great, good, okay, and lousy
over the past 40 years;
and you are good, and maybe even great.

remember, it's not bad when
the voices start talking back to you --
it's bad when they stop.

January 31, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


out of tune

in the whispers of time can be heard
the harmonic dissonance of the universe
the whisperings of particles as they live and die
life, death, life in the blink of a blink of an eye
and we dance, all of us to that maddening tune
are very being vibrates and swoons
faster and faster we go
until we all explode
and in the tiny fireworks we leave behind
is born new lives that dance and move
to that disharmonic universal tune

23 years

Hey, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
District Attorney John Chisholm:
you take as much time
as you feel you need
to explain to us all
how you plan to give
Robert Lee Stinson
back the 23 years of his life
that you stole.

Then you can
give us the square root
of one.

January 30, 2009.

Copyright 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

better luck next time

by the time I pretty much figured
that I pretty much had everything
pretty much figured out,
that was about when I realized
that I had run out of time,
pretty much anyway;
and so the Muse
that has herself so tightly
wrapped around my brain,
well, she told me to write it all down,
just in case I pass this way again:

better luck next time.

January 30, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

that image

rulebreaker, risk-taker,
a hooligan come true:
trouble-maker, toy-taker,
but I hung a star for you;

you can say it can't be so,
but you and I, we both know:
I keep your face
and that smile
tucked safely
under my eyelids;

for all that was,
and for all that may yet be,
no one is going to take
that image
away from me.

January 30, 2009, for Jan.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Great Phone Conversations 3


"Hi. Godot called, just wanted to let you know."

"Who? Who called? Who is this?"

"Godot called. He's not mad at you at all, and I thought that you should know."

"Know what? Who is Godot? Who are you?"

"He's not mad that you didn't wait."


January 30, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Great Phone Conversations 2

"You need to stop calling me and emailing me and texting me. You just need to stop."


"Because I have a boyfriend. I am committed to him, and nothing you can say will change that, that's why."

"Wow, my situation is the same. What a coincidence!"


January 30, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.



Not sure when I said goodbye,
but it was a while ago,
the first time at least;
maybe it was when the announcement
was made that the joint was going dark;
or maybe it was when I was shown the door,
having lost my self-control with a troll;
or maybe it was when I returned in disguise,
except the IP address can tell no lies;
anyway, it's been painful to watch you slip away,
like my mother-in-law when she died of lung cancer,
twenty-two years ago --
she didn't just die,
she faded away and disappeared into the bedsheets;
and with you, it's been hard too,
once such a vibrant, teeming stew
of personalities and ideas;
the proving ground for some, and
the training ground for others;
you met so many different needs --
one size really did fit all, for once.

And when I think about all the people
who have become so important to me here,
and all of the smart things,
and pretty things,
and wondrous creations,
that have been laid before me here,
well, it's tears of joy and thanks
for a little time, in a little spot,
where a little was enough,
where only some was usually a lot.

thisisby.us, we should always remember,
existed because of us,
and ended with us.

January 28, 2009, for all my friends and colleagues from thisisby.us.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Updike Died Today

One of my earliest literary heroes,
he was likely just as misunderstood
as Piet, and Rabbit, and Henry,
and the rest of us, life's markers
left holding empty bags full of zeroes;

And if I were half, or even a quarter
as good as he, oh what a fine homage
this little bit would turn out to be:
but, sorry to say, turns out I'm just a fan,
for whom words get in the way;

So I have no choice but to let the man
speak for himself, as I have lost my voice;
but luckily still have His upon my shelf:
and though it might not have been his pick,
these lines embody the master of Eastwick:


"No, not for him the darkly planned
Ambiguities of flesh.
His maker gave him one command:

January 27, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Cog, from Verse: The Carpentered Hen and other tame creatures and Telephone Poles and other poems (Crest, 1965).


Great Phone Conversations 1

"I'm going to tell my husband what you have been saying to me, you know."

"Oh God, please don't do that!"

"Why shouldn't I, you pervert?"

"Because, I'm afraid that then he'll want me to say those things to him."


January 26, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


me and Kanye West

me and Kanye West,
we both dream in color,
and in rhyme,
but he's the one
selling records
in record time;

serves me right:
I finished college;
now he's got the hits,
and I just have knowledge;

if I had a day job,
I'd keep it.

January 25, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

my new invincibility

I suppose I ought to keep this bottled up somehow;
but I can at least tell about it:
a friend was questioning my new obsession, being
the King of Dismalia,
my imaginary realm,
where things don't seem quite as dark
because we are all already wearing black,
having discovered that
mourning comes
just as easy as
morning comes;

and so I gave it some old school thought --
cogito ergo sum --
and I realized that by virtue of
my shortened wick,
that I can be the candle that burns brightest;

hell, that's better than being King any day,
that's better than being related to Jor-El,
and the further beauty
(if that wasn't enough)
is that I can eat that kryptonite for breakfast,
and all those caps still just bounce
right off my chest;

I was dangerous before,
when I hid from my mortality;
now, without those fears to chain me,
I am invincible --
maybe I should join the bomb squad,
or grab my carabiners and go hiking
in search of Osama;

or maybe I should just aim a little lower
for starters: find a cougar,
and consume her;
hell, maybe she has a couple of friends.

January 25, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

the whole truth

she said "things are sad, life sucks,
the duration of life sucks more . . .
the things we want but can't have suck the most . . .
but you know what . . .
Life is also pretty amazing.
Most days other than Molly,
my life is a giant stinking pile of shit . . .
but that one thing, even if it's alone
makes every second a joy and a gift . . .
I may sound like a bullshit Hallmark,
but I mean it.
Don't be so dark and miserable that
you chase away everyone that you are lucky enough
to have around you.
Seriously Ricky, I mean this in the nicest way possible . . .
and with love ok . . .
but you need to be happy and if you can't do it alone
take a friggen pill for it . . .
things are what you make them . . .
why have you chosen to make things so bad for yourself?"

and I had to stop and breathe for a bit.

because, believe it or not, I wasn't sure where to start.

I thought that I might do the usual, and start
at the beginning, but then
I realized that I was no longer really sure
of where the beginning was:

was it when I was born,
or was it when my Daddy died;

was it when I lost nearly everything, six months ago,
or was it yesterday, when the new job turned out to be
less than expected (should I pay them to work?);

was it when I didn't owe the IRS a basketful of money,
or was it all the bills that I just left behind in my old life;

was it when the tumor was just a little bump
or was it yesterday when it really started to hurt;

was it when I had it all,
or was it yesterday when I started to fall;

was it when I gave up one good woman for another,
or was it when the other cut and ran;

was it when I first cried,
or was it when tears would no longer come;

was it when good news is no news at all,
or was it when there is no one to call;

was it when I started kidding myself into thinking I had talent,
or was it when I started realizing that I'm just a hack;

was it when I discovered that I don't know where I'm going,
or was it when I found that there is no way back:

this could take a while.

January 25, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved. Like anyone would want to steal this.

what I do

writing things down,
it's what I do;
something to occupy my mind,
something to take up some time,
while I try not to think about you;
while I wait for the
certain curtain,
and consider when life
began hurtin',
and while I try to figure out
something else to do,
a higher purpose,
a noble calling,
when the sun looks down at me,
even though it too is falling;
marking time,
making rhymes,
asking questions with no answers,
it's what I do.

January 25, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

built for one

we often speak of things
that are "built for two,"
and yet this life, in the end,
is only built for one:
arrival alone,
grabbed and held
for a little while,
but then let go;
and that last act,
that final scene,
is the one where reality
finally comes clean:
you leave alone,
and all the rest is a mere
stolen moments
that we use to deceive ourselves
into thinking
that anything was "built for two";
it's a very long solo,
punctuated by a picture
that turns out never
to have been true.

January 25, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

low expectations

the wrens search the ground
for something, anything, to eat;
their expectations are low,
as the whole world groans
under a sheet of ice,
and the sun offers little help;
the diamonds still sparkle
on the harbor, but they are few,
and far out in view,
near the horizon;
they have yielded their right
to shine
to the ice crystals,
temporary, fleeting,
but today, oh so fine;
the diamonds claim that they
will return in milder weather,
and for today, at least,
the ice just laughs.

January 25, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


the snow, now a crusty tundra
over most everything,
tries to strangle the earth into
ground down by wheels on the road,
and melted by salt
ever so slightly, it becomes
a sheet of wet glass
that offers neither
reaction or traction;
at nineteen degrees,
it is going nowhere soon.
the harbor currents,
and their waves, greet only
gulls and terns, making
great arcs, desperately
looking for anything
that is moving;
we are all looking desperately
for anything
that is moving.

January 25, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Hot to the Touch

I really prefer to remember her back then,
Way back when, when she was on fire for me,
When what she needed was just what I'd expend,
Back when the best two things in the world were her and me;

That way it doesn't burn so much
When I start crying:
The tears aren't as hot to the touch

I will always have a piece of my heart tucked into her,
That's just the way that it always goes for me,
And though I'll forever wish the two of us together,
Sometimes the best two things in the world aren't meant to be;

That way it doesn't burn so much
When I start crying:
The tears aren't as hot to the touch.

January 24, 2009, in memory of way back when.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

I'm no Socrates

I'm so tired of answers
that arrive dressed up like questions:
oh, for those simpler days,
yes, back in the daze,
when I was mostly looking
for my own purple haze;
that's a memory that I adore:
when I didn't know exactly
what it was that I wanted,
only that I knew that
I wanted more;
I'm no Socrates,
more like a modern-day Crito,
rather run than joust with a shadow;
rather be the bow
and not the arrow.

January 24, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

The Voice in Silence (Part 3)

"Hey, Jules, hey . . . hey Jules, wake up, honey, wake up, you must be having a nightmare or something. Come on, Jules, wake up, it's me, Shelly. Wake up, here I am, honey."

"Wha . . . who . . . what is it, what's going on? Where . . . oh, wow, what an incredible dream that was. Shelly, that really was freaky. Can you get me a glass of water, please?"

"Sure, honey, you just be still there and get a hold of yourself. I'll be right back."

"I didn't even realize that I had fallen asleep. I was just laying here with my eyes closed, and the next thing I know, you are shaking me, waking me up. And that dream, well, that wasn't a dream, it was a nightmare, Shell, a really weird one too."

"Here's your water, Jules. Yeah, it must have been really strange. I mean, I was just sitting here, reading Cosmo, and all of a sudden, you started saying 'simple Korean houseboy.' You said it over and over again, and I was like 'what the hell is she talking about? What Korean houseboy? Who even has a houseboy?' And then you started moaning, really loud, and then you said something about him being 'berry berry bad' and then you started rolling around, and I was afraid you were going to fall off the sofa and maybe hit the coffee table, so that's when I shook you to wake you up. Weird, huh? So who is this houseboy? Do you even know any houseboys?"

"I must have been dreaming about Jake. The Korean houseboy was an inside joke between him and me. But I don't remember much else from it, except . . . except that I could see Jake's face, and his lips were moving, but I couldn't hear any words. He was trying to say something to me, but I couldn't hear a thing. I remember thinking, damn, I wish I could read lips. But I couldn't hear him."

"Wow. I wonder what that means. I mean that must mean something. I read somewhere that dreams always have meanings. What do you think that means, Jules?"

"I don't know, Shelly, I don't know. Maybe it's just my mind trying to come to grips with the fact that my Jake is gone. Maybe it's just trying to reach him somehow. Maybe to let him know that I am thinking about him, and that I'm waiting for him to contact me like he promised he would. I don't know."

"Of course, it could just be that you are so emotionally drained from all of this, and that you are just struggling to cope right now. It could just be you missing him so much, I guess, and wishing that he was still here, or wishing that he had contacted you from the other side already. I read an article that said that the other side has been described by people who died, and then were brought back to life, that the other side has this big bright light, and you sort of walk toward it, and everything is really peaceful. But if you get brought back to life, then you move farther and farther away from the big bright light. I wish I could remember where I read that."

"I don't know much about any of that stuff. I don't think I ever paid much attention to it. I don't think I ever thought much about death and dying for that matter. I mean, even all that time, knowing that he was terminal, I don't think I really spent much time thinking about death and dying. Maybe I should have. Maybe if I had thought about it a little, maybe if I had read about it, maybe this would be easier now. I don't know. I always wanted to believe that he would be okay, that some miracle would happen, and he would be okay. I guess I never really wanted to believe that he would die."

"Well, I don't think anyone wants to spend a lot of time thinking about death and dying, Jules. I mean, I don't anyway. I want to live, and have fun, and think about what I want to do with my life. I don't want to spend my time thinking about depressing stuff like that. I just want to think about today. I think that's what most people want to do, too. So I don't think there was anything wrong with you not thinking about death and everything. I think it's pretty normal not to want to think about stuff like that."

"I am so worn out, Shelly. I feel like I've been run over by a truck or something. And I slept, so I don't know why I feel like this."

"Well, you may have slept, but you did have that really weird dream or nightmare or whatever it was, so I'm not sure that it was very restful sleep, Jules. I mean, I heard that in order to have really restful sleep, your mind needs to be relaxed, not just your body, so if you are all tense or upset about something, then you won't get restful sleep. You'll wake up almost as tired as when you went to sleep. I wish I could remember where I heard that. It might have been on Oprah."

"I'm thinking I might take some Ambien tonight so that I really can try to have a good rest. I feel like I've pulled an all-nighter. I haven't done that in years, but that's how I feel."

"Well, Jules, listen, I called Tracy while you were resting, and she's gonna come over, she should be here any minute, and she's gonna stay with you while I go get us some food. What kind of food do you think you want, honey?"

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe some Chinese. Yeah, Chinese would be good. You're such a dear to be here, and help me like this, Shelly. Thanks for being my friend."

"It's what friends do, Jules. You would do it for me, I know that. So, don't think about it. It's what friends do. And you are my best friend, Jules, in the whole world. Oh, I just remembered -- you got a package while you were resting. It must be important too, because it was delivered by World Courier. I put it over on the sideboard there. Let me get it."

"A package? I wasn't expecting a package. Does it say who it's from? Who is it from?"

"I dunno, there's no return address on it. It just has your name and address. Here it is."

"Well, let's see what this mystery package is. It's a CD. This is strange -- it's James Taylor's greatest hits. I didn't order this from anyone. I own this CD already. Who would have sent this to me? Shelly, do me a favor, go over there and look at my CDs, and see if I don't have James Taylor's greatest hits there."

"Yep, it's here; here it is. James Taylor. You have it alright."

"This is so odd. Oh my gosh, it's not James Taylor's CD inside though. What is this? Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Ode to Joy. What is going on? I get a CD that I didn't order, and in the case is the wrong CD? This is weird. Look at this, Shelly."

"I know, I see it. I sure wish there was a return address on this envelope, Jules, but there's nothing, just a blank space where the return address should be."

"Shelly, after we eat, I am going to take an Ambien, and try to get some rest. I've got to get some real rest."

"You should, Jules, you really should. This has taken a lot out of you."

"Maybe Jake will contact me if I really fall into a deep sleep."

"You never know, Jules. You never know."

The End

January 24, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


The Talkshoe broadcast did not happen, as some of you may know.  It was a connectivity issue.  There is another one scheduled, and you can check here for more information.

Powered by TalkShoe

One of our developers flaked out on us, so we are down to one person, and the launch date looms.  2-1-2009 is the goal, and we hope to get everyone situated and satisfied, but we're certain that there will be a goodly amount of woodshedding necessary in the process, and we thank you in advance for your patience.

Of course, any suggestions, questions, threats, insults, candy or bribes may be directed to: tibu.two@gmail.com.


me and Beethoven

(listening to the 5th has its disadvantages)

damned dangerous business,
measuring yourself against a maestro;
not for the faint-of-heart
or the otherwise weak-kneed among us:
when he died, with all that glorious,
melodious, and sometimes odious work
behind him,
he was only 57;
and I, pitiful with constancy,
am 54, awash with flights of fancy,
and my little spark does little against
the dark, as does his bonfire, tall,
and getting taller, higher and higher;
and so all of my sorry little words,
if strung end-to-end,
would never reach to
where Beethoven did begin.

January 24, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

25 Things

1. I wish I knew.

2. I wish that I didn't want to know.

3. I really want a way out.

4. I don't like the cold or the heat.

5. I hear music in everything, and if it doesn't have rhythm, if it doesn't have a beat, then I'm not interested.

6. I'm tired; I used to be sick and tired, but right now I feel okay.

7. Most of you never really understood me.

8. Most of you never really loved me.

9. If I was suddenly silent, it wouldn't matter.

10. Before I go, I want to get Songs from the Road published.

11. I want a good job that uses all my talents and abilities.

12. A woman I know told me recently that all women are tricky and sneaky. I did not realize that she was included in that group until yesterday.

13. Life has become a chore.

14. Searching for meaning is fine, until you get to the end.

15. When each day starts with "not another day," you know you have had enough days.

16. Despite everything, I still manage to laugh everyday, and I wish I knew how that happens.

17. Black is my favorite color, but I am only wearing it until they make something darker.

18. I wish that the joke wasn't always on me.

19. I know that God has a sense of humor. He created me.

20. I hope that life for my three daughters is filled with love and laughter, and that even the bad things go down easy.

21. I hope that you find whatever you are looking for, and if you are not looking for something, I hope that you will tell me how you manage that.

22. I wish that I had no feelings.

23. I wish that I could break up the conversations between my heart and my head, and that I could make my fingers stop participating in their conspiracy.

24. The only thing that I really have to recommend me is a pair of killer blue eyes.

25. I wish that I had more to recommend me.

January 24, 2009, inspired by Danielle Michele Unruh, the ok melon baller.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

seething so strong that the bitter is sweet

all across the land, sleeping in on a Saturday morning,
satin slides, and gingham hides,
as America has a good morning squeeze,
and warm hands find willing harbors,
and hot breath whispers over covers,
star-crossed, most, yes, but mostly lovers;

while stuck on the bottom of the national shoe,
I sit here pining and starving anew,
seething so strong that the bitter is sweet,
ready to leave when I can't find my feet;

not a thing to recommend it, even what I once loved,
this life is a bore, it's an uphill trudge;
it's one reason why wisdom is saved for the old,
if you had it young, life would remain untold;
no one would willingly enlist in this folly,
no one would gladly take up this cross;

no one, but no one, would covet such loss,
as this life supplies, at such a great cost;
kill me then, take me, so that I do no harm,
leave me, still wanting, still sounding alarms;
nothing is nothing and it completely surrounds me,
as slowly I vanish, and you just do not see.

January 24, 2009, from the forthcoming collection, Spoken Rage.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

easier to understand

after a while, if you can still see
through the muck and the blood
and the tears, it is easier
to understand climbing that ladder,
and emptying,
and reloading,
and emptying,
and just waiting to be free

January 24, 2009, from the forthcoming collection, Spoken Rage.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


not really strong at all

there's really not much point
to listing out all the times
that I've been wrong in this life;
probably not enough keys here
or enough paper there,
or enough time for you to care;
just a little exercise in self-pity,
small-town boy lost in the big city,
and who really gives a good damn?

I've done a pretty good job
of disappointing myself and
everyone else, and what's funny
is that I didn't have to take any
special classes; it always just seemed
to come naturally, like draining
the beer out of beer glasses;

but what disappoints me now,
as I prepare to finish the long fall,
is how wrong I was about you:
you were not really strong at all.

January 23, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. Something something something.

sad enough

I realized that I wasn't quite sad enough,
that even though everything continued
to be pretty rough, that I was still just a little
too tough, not yet fully beaten down,
still not ready for that thorny crown of that
dark Danish prince, like the last forlorn
Emmett Kelly clown, but still not ready
to take that last train out of town;
so I did my best to pull together all the rest
of the darkest things I know, and I listened
to Neil Young, and I tried to breathe real
slow, and I thought I felt the darkness grow,
but I still wasn't sad enough, and so I let my
mind wander, hither and yonder, to all the
terrible things that I've seen and felt, and yet
it wasn't enough to get the iceman to melt,
and so I struggled to my feet, ready for the end
to meet, and I screamed "out, damned Spot, out!"
and still I was not sad enough; and so I considered
all that I will leave behind, a bunch of silly words
from an over-stimulated mind, all those that you've
read before, the ones you know by heart and more,
and still I was not sad enough; I thought of all
those who have claimed to love me, caught,
red-handed, carrying big bags of insincerity,
worried about themselves, and never about me;
and still I was not sad enough, and I began to
wonder if I ever could be, and sadly, decided
that I would be sad eventually, but not on the
timeline that I had set out for me, no, not on the
timeline that I laid out like a path, yet another
failure, cannot even manage to be sad enough.

January 23, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved. As if.

The Voice in Silence (Part 2)

"So Jules, do you want another glass of wine? I'm ready for a refill. Are you ready for a refill too?"

"Sure, Shell, why not. I deserve to get a little buzz tonight, to try to blunt a little of this, this emptiness that has wrapped itself around me. Pour away."

"Right away. You know, I wish there was something I could do, something I could say, but like I told you, I'm not really any good at this sort of thing. When my Dad died, I was just a ball of tears and confusion, even though I was like, 21 or 22. I didn't know what to say to my Mom or to anybody. I was just speechless, just incapable of forming sentences at all."

"Well, I appreciate the company. You don't have to say anything, and I really don't know what anyone could say. I wouldn't know what to say. I mean, I'm sorry and that sort of thing just seems so lame in situations like this. Of course, you're sorry. Everyone's sorry. We're all sorry. This is one freaking sorry life that we are all caught in, and for all of the puppies, and sunshine, and happy thoughts, it always ends badly -- it always ends, which is bad enough for anyone."

"I've always tried to be an optimist, like my Mom, but it comes very hard for me, Jules. I always try to see the bright side, but there is always my paranoia, my fears, my worries, that overtake me. My Dad wasn't an optimist at all. I used to wonder how he and Mom fell in love, and were together for so long, when their personalities were so different. Maybe that's why, because they were so different, you know, opposites attract and all that. I dunno."

"Oh, I guess there's some truth to that in some relationships. That wasn't the way it was with Jake and me, though; I mean, we were alike in lots of ways, liked a lot of the same music, both loved writing, we loved a good joke and laughing. And oh, he was so smart. It was one of the first things that attracted me to him: what a smart man, and funny, and he knew so much about so many different things. And he was always happy to teach me about things, and he never talked down to me, he always made things so I could understand. I used to listen to him for hours. And that voice. Oh God I could listen to that voice, he could read me the back of a cereal box, and it was magnificent. I got chills up and down from that voice. I really will miss that voice. I will miss that man. I adored that man. Like no other, I adored that man."

"So, um, Jules, how did you, . . . how did you find out, anyway?"

"His oldest daughter called me. That had been the plan all along. She knew how to get in touch with me if anything happened. And so she did. She's a great kid. He used to talk about how his daughters represented his very best work. And they are, all three, pretty remarkable girls, women, I mean. He was very proud of them; they were the center of his world in so many ways. And so she told me that he died in his sleep. Just went to bed like usual, and never woke up. So much for his nightmares about dying a violent death. He died on his pillow. He was right about so many things, and yet wrong about so many things."

"His daughters, how are they holding up, then? This has got to leave a big void for them. I know it did for me when my Dad died. It was like someone had just shot a giant hole through me, just taken a big chunk right out of me. It lasted a long time."

"Well, they seem to be doing okay, but I know it hit them hard; I could tell from his oldest's voice -- cracking as she talked to me -- which is what I would expect. I mean, I call them young women, but they're young, and this is a major part of their world that is suddenly gone. I think they'll be okay. He raised them to be pretty strong, and they have each other too."

"Listen, Jules, you want to take a rest for a while? I mean, you could just stretch out on the sofa, and I can answer the phone and all. You probably should get a little rest, don't you think?"

"I guess a little rest would probably be a good idea. I still need to make flight reservations to go out there, but I can do that later. I don't know how much I can really rest right now, but I suppose I should try. I just keep hearing Jake in my ears. I wish I could make out what he is saying, but I can't. I just keep hearing him. The voice. My God, he's gone. He's really gone."

"Here, honey, just stretch out and close your eyes for a while. I'll be right here if you need me."

[to be continued]

January 23, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

comes a time

comes a time, sometimes, words seem to run out:
the serious ones, the cute ones, the exotic ones,
even the dreaded rhymes, sometimes, they disappear
and the things that are left behind, not that kind;
staring into an empty hole, with nothing much clear:
cling to the doorframe that is familiar, head hung low,
hold your breath as long as you can, try to hide the fear,
try to forget everything you dreamed, and what you now know;
turn out the lights and see if your heart will glow,
stand in the corner and watch your shadow shrink
what you learned you somehow no longer know,
not even enough left to make you stop and think;

comes a time, sometimes, when all you want to do is go,
when you tire of just watching the river flow,
when what you've done is nothing, nothing at all,
and when the future crouches in wait, behind the next stone wall;
when hope is impaled on the lance at noontime,
and looking forward is a fool's enterprise, a fake gambit
wearing a pretty woman's disguise, lying here and there,
lying eyes, and you're hypnotized, mesmerized,
and though you think you are the master of your ship,
turns out, you aren't, and anyway, it is capsized;
when all of your tears have evaporated and your hunger
is all at once sated, when there is no fire left down under;

comes a time, sometimes, when there comes no more times.

January 23, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. Like there's any point.


The Voice in Silence

"Oh my God, I came right over. I just heard. Are you alright? No, that's a stupid question, of course you're not alright. What can I do, can I get you something?"

"No, I don't need anything. But thanks for coming. I could use a little company."

"So what happened? I mean, if you want to talk about it, 'cause if you don't want to talk about it, that's okay, we can talk about something else. Or we don't have to talk about anything at all. Whatever."

"Shelly, please sit down and stop talking so fast. Just sit down. Do you want something to drink?"

"No, no, I'm fine. Do you want something to drink?"

"No, and if I did, I would get it. I live here, remember?"

"Of course you do, of course you live here. I am really not any good at this consoling thing, if you want to know the truth. But I came over because you are like, my best friend, and I would do anything for you."

"I appreciate that. For right now, just sit down, and stop talking so fast. My head is buzzing and whirring, and the talking fast only makes it worse."

"Okay, okay, sitting and slowing down. The talking."

"Thank you."

"So do you want to talk about it? I mean, like I said, if you don't want to talk about it, that's fine. I just wondered if you wanted to talk about it."

"Shell, it's clear that you want me to talk about it."

"Well, not if you don't want to, Jules. Honey, it is entirely up to you."

"I guess I am still just stunned. No matter how much run-up there is to something like this, no matter how long it has been coming, you are never prepared. Never. I wasn't prepared. I can't imagine being prepared. No one is ever prepared for this. It doesn't matter how much you think about it, talk about it, you are never prepared. Never."

"I know. It is a hard thing to accept. I've never lost anyone really close, but I have friends who have, I mean, besides you. And I can't imagine what anyone could do to prepare themselves for something like this. Something so . . . , so final."

"It had been coming for a long time, and I knew it. And, of course, he knew it. We both knew it, knew it as rationally and intellectually as it could be known, as it could be understood. If it can be understood. I don't know if it can. It makes me question my whole life. It makes me question ever living at all. It makes me wonder if I should have had kids. I mean, I love my kids, and I wouldn't trade them for anything, but I wonder if it is really right to bring children into a world that will just end one day. I just wonder what the point really is. It's made me question my faith, and I thought my faith was pretty strong. But now I wonder, I really wonder. Because he promised me that when he left, he would contact me from the other side. And he hasn't. And I know one thing: that man never made a promise that he didn't keep. Never. And so now, it makes me wonder. Is it that there is no afterlife? If there was, he would have contacted me, because he promised that he would, and he never made a promise that he didn't keep. So I just have been sitting here wondering."

"Well, maybe it's too soon for him to contact you. Or maybe there are rules that say that you can't contact anyone. Or maybe he's tried to contact you, and you didn't realize that it was him trying to contact you. Or maybe . . . ."

"Shelly, please, slow down the talking. It's like you've had too much caffeine or something."

"Sorry, I did have an extra cup this afternoon. Maybe that's it. Yeah, that's probably it, just one too many. Sorry, Jules."

"Well, just chill. Do you want a glass of wine to level off a little? 'Cause I'm thinking I might have one, just to loosen up a little. You want one too?"

"Well sure, but let me get it for you. I'll get it."

"Michelle, dear, I am capable of getting us two glasses of wine. I am not that much of a basket case right now. Do you think that I am too much of a basket case to get us a couple of glasses of wine? Do I seem that bad?"

"Um, no, you seem okay. Except that you never call me Michelle, Julianna. What's with calling me Michelle? Julianna."

"Oh I don't know, maybe because Michelle is your name. That's a definite possibility. Just like Julianna is my name."

"Well, yeah, but you always called me Shelly or Shell, and I always call you Jules or . . . , well, I guess that's all I ever call you."

"I suppose it is just the teacher in me. I never call students by anything but their given names. I don't know. Red or white?"

"Red or white?"

"The wine, silly. Do you want red or white?"

"Um, well, if it's white, it needs to be chilled, but if it's red, then room temperature is okay. But if it's a Beaujolais, then a little chill is nice. I like merlot the best, if you have any of that."

"I'll see what I have. Chilled if it's white, . . . hey, Shell, you get the wine, all that is too confusing to me. Just pour me a glass of whatever you find, chilled, not chilled, red, white . . . , hell, mix 'em together."

"Okay, you just sit right here. I'll handle it. Where's the wine?"

"Over there, on the sideboard. Glasses on the shelf right above it. I can't believe that he's gone, Shell. I sit here, and I think, and I sit, and I just cannot believe it. It is beyond my ability to comprehend. It's like it can't be true, this can't be real. This can't really be happening. And I wish that I was asleep, and that I wake up, and none of this is real."

"Oh, I know what you mean, Jules. These kinds of things never are easy to accept. Nobody accepts things like this easily; this kind of thing is hard to believe, no matter what."

[to be continued]

January 22, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


you gorgeous little hot tamale, you:
somebody should sprinkle you with salsa,
put a dollop of sour cream on you,
and call you a freakin' fiesta.

January 22, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Of Course

Of course...
I still think of you

Embedded in my marrow
are the syrupy tones
of your coiled promises
and blended truths

You mouse away with
mounded morsels of
no vital importance

Of course...
I still think of you

Binging on a freshly
green heart that was
placed at your feet,

You turn over the pith
...gone is its toothsome
unripened essence

a substantial slab

I will always
think of you
...of course.

this heart

soggy and frayed,
like the bottoms of your jeans,
when you were seventeen;
having been dragged
all over Creation,
as you were avoiding
being a fool,
just trying to look cool:
youthful exhilaration;

that's how this heart of mine
seems to muddle through
all the time,
when my thoughts turn to you:
wet, worn and forsaken,
even for all the love made,
and all the joy taken;
still and all I wouldn't want
to change a single thing
for the way you make my
heart sing, it's a wonder:
that rubbed raw and soiled,
I am glad to have toiled
in the beauty of your garden.

January 22, 2009, for Jan.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Shiny Penny

innocent dreams
in cradled arms

cooing at their beauty
and luminess

prideful desires
of future empires
and never ending legacies

stand we in pride

readied to stride
towards forever's

but we all will
and we all will
tire of the

innocent dreams
in cradled arms

The End of the Love Affair (Part 6)

"We left off with you describing your view of love and life, with what I can only call an extremely fatalistic point of view, which essentially has all of us powerless against what will be -- we are just some kind of puppets or inanimate dolls or something -- and we are swept along by a tide to wherever we might wind up. Is that a fair characterization?"

"Well, some might think it fair, but I think it's a bit incomplete. I've never said that one cannot act; I think everyone must act as they are driven to do so. It is simply that the time for me to act has passed, and now I must make the best of what time I have left. I have to burn my candle from both ends, because it is short to begin with and because I have a lot yet that I want to write, and a lot yet that I want to do. But anyone with the opportunity to take action must take action, however they think it best. To do otherwise is to be pushed along by a tide, and I don't think that is our collective destiny. I think our free will is largely responsible for where we wind up, unless, of course, events overtake us, catch us unaware -- as in my case -- and then we do the best that we can with the cards that we have been dealt. This life, and its storyline for each of us, is not perfect by any measure, and to expect anything approaching perfection is to be constantly and consistently disappointed."

"But your view of your own impending demise -- your view of mortality -- seems so, so complacent, so accepting, that it should not come from someone who loves life as much as I think you do. How do you explain that inconsistency in your thinking? Or do you explain it?"

"I wrote a poem last fall called 'Accepting Mortality,' and I think it sums up my thinking in that regard, and it goes like this: 'It is the hardest thing/That we humans are called to do;/Accepting the reality/Of our own mortality:/That our time in this life,/Regardless of beliefs,/Is finite; it will end:/No one leaves alive./Difficult even for those/Who believe in an afterlife,/Or another life:/It is hard to let go,/No matter what you think you know./In the end, it is the end,/And the prospect universally/Horrifies:/Not just in the leaving,/But in the good-byes.' The acceptance is not complacency, it is simply acceptance. Facts are facts, whether one likes them or not. And I don't mean to suggest that I am going to lay down and die; I will live on and continue my work as long as I possibly can. When will it end for me? I don't know; and I am not going to waste any of my precious time and energy worrying about that or trying to figure it out. I am just going to do all I can, for as long as I can."

"Getting back to her, then, she knows all of this? You have shared all of this with her? And her reaction?"

"Well, yes, I have shared all of this with her. And her reaction, predictably, was that I needed to get medical care, and there had to be something, etcetera. And I suppose in there was a measure of anger; 'how could you?' or something like that. A refusal, at least on one level, to accept the reality of my situation. I've only told one other person the whole thing besides her, and that person had pretty much the same reaction: 'Oh, there must be something that you can do; there are free clinics, they have to treat you, etcetera.' All of which, of course, presupposes that I want to live on for twenty or thirty years, and as I told you before, I'm not at all sure that I do. And so, that is why I was so disappointed when she announced that we would have to bring an end to the love affair: I had only asked her to spend my last months, years, whatever with her. She was concerned with twenty years from now, when I am 74 and she is 55; I was hoping to last five years, when I would be 59 and she is 40. And it hurt me that she did not love me enough to give me those five years. I didn't think that it was that much to ask."

"So what do you do now? What is the next chapter for you? Or have you thought about that at all?"

"I've thought about it a little bit, to be sure. And I don't really have a 'plan' of any sort, other than to keep writing, keep working, and keep trying to win her back. It may be, ultimately, a futile effort to win her back, but it is important to me to try. It's a bit like the old saying: 'You never know until you ask.' And to be honest with you, I think she would be disappointed in me if I did not keep trying. I told her just today that it is a little exciting, trying to woo her all over again. I loved wooing her the first time, and I am enjoying doing it over again, as if I never had in the first place."

"So we have arrived at no real conclusions, at all, have we? I suppose that I have failed you in that regard, at least. I suppose that I have not been much help to you at all, then."

"Oh, no, you shouldn't feel that way. I think that we both have gotten a lot more out of these talks that either of us realizes at this moment. And I certainly hope that this has not been the last. I mean, I hope that we can talk again, as events warrant."

"I look forward to our next talk, and I really mean that. Until then."

[to be continued, 'as events warrant'.]

January 21, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


Listening to the Gershwin brothers'
"Our Love Is Here To Stay"
It's no wonder that we are here today;
That music brings the romance
Out of stones, tree stumps and pure chance:
It's enough to get a rise out of the hypnotized,
And make the dining room chairs get up and dance:

A good tune,
A good time;
See you soon,
When you'll be mine.

January 21, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

As Grand As It Seems

Seldom have two people connected,
Or such a love been resurrected,
As has happened between me and you;
And while it could be dissected,
We have both elected
To just let this love play on through.

We could ignore what we have,
But that would be heresy;
We need to let this love blossom and last:
It's the best of you and the best of me.

So put your worries and your woes
In a corner that no one knows;
Open your arms and your heart,
And we will never be apart,
Tucked into each other's dreams:
This love will be as grand as it seems;
This love will be as grand as it seems.

January 21, 2009, for Jan.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

booty duty

booty duty
it's what hits me
whenever you call,
I don't stall,
I run up the wall
to perform

booty duty
ah, that's what I like,
to feed my appetite;
that's what I need:
some guaranteed

booty duty
that's the best kind,
deep in your mind,
lookin' so fine
while you're callin' me
for some ecstasy

booty duty
don't be afraid, girl;
I'll rock your world;
just get close to me,
I'll take you there
eventually, baby

booty duty
just pick up the phone;
when you're alone,
and you need it real bad,
I'm here for you, boo,
best you'll ever have

booty duty
reportin' as ordered
and quite happily
ready for the drill
to give you that thrill
I'll give you your fill

booty duty
booty duty

January 21, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

the way the cookie crumbles

I asked her if I might crumble her cookie,
and she laughed, that nervous laugh,
because I was crossing a boundary;

I've always been a ruthless trespasser,
tried to live like I am my own master,
which usually led to walking down the road
just a little bit faster;

and she said that the rules said that
I had to stay on my side,
and I said that sounded like nobody
leaves satisfied,
and nervous laughter was how she replied;

and I told her I didn't see any boundary:
all I could see was her cookie and me.

January 21, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

listen only to me

she said I've come to save you from yourself, don't you see,
and I said well that's been tried, it didn't work out so perfectly;
she said just close your eyes, relax, and listen to me,
listen only to me, listen only to me, listen only to me;

I guess that's the moment that I was paralyzed,
listening to that voice, and looking into those eyes;
she had come to save me alright, from the soot that lines the night,
but of her real mission, she said not a word;

although as I drifted off to sleep, I know that I heard:
now who will save you, who will save you from me?
listen only to me, listen only to me, listen only to me.

January 21, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


a two-fisted life

(Beethoven's 9th inspires much.)

get up off your couch,
off your barstool,
off your high horse,
off your ass;

stand up and sing dammit:
ring ring ring;
until everyone around you can't stand it;
yell like hell and make it sound swell:
yell yell yell;
make some damned noise,
all you prim and proper girlz and boyz;

live your life today;
forget prudence that withered little spinster:
live a two-fisted life,
and live it your way;

because none of us are guaranteed tomorrow,
and even if we were,
we might not want to stay.

January 20, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

The End of the Love Affair (Part 5)

"I suppose I am really not sure where to begin after that bombshell that you dropped the last time we talked. I'm nearly as speechless now as I was then."

"Well, I seem to remember telling you that you did not want to know, that we should have talked about something else, but you were very insistent. You can be very insistent, you know. You can really be very insistent."

"Again, I think my persistence is one of my better qualities. It helps me to get what I want -- in this case, information. It helps me to get what I need, and I don't apologize for it."

"Well, it doesn't bother me now, but it was pretty annoying, is pretty annoying most of the time, whether you are meaning to be helpful or not. It's annoying. And I told you that you did not want to know."

"I need to try to understand what your thinking is here. Why have you not sought treatment? What do you see as the long-term plan? Give me something I can work with, please."

"Well, it's simple really. For starters, it's been nearly a year and a half since I first noticed the bump at this point, and so likely whatever damage will be done is pretty much done now; not much chance at this point of turning the clock back. And that would be if I had money to get health insurance, which I don't. And even if I could get health insurance, I am uninsurable, as it is a pre-existing condition, so it would not be covered. And anything that is 'means-tested' would likely require me to turn over the little money I have before I could be treated 'for free.' And I need that money to keep living, to pay for my car insurance, and gas for my car, and to keep my phone working."

"But I am sure that there must be a way that you could get the life-saving treatment that you need. There must be a way. I don't think you have investigated all of your options. I cannot believe that there is nothing that can be done; that you have a death sentence here."

"It's interesting that you put it that way. But we all are living with 'death sentences,' aren't we? I mean, we are all going to die, right? Isn't it really just a question of from what cause, and when? I mean religious beliefs and spirituality notwithstanding, we are all going to go, aren't we? And so, in my case, it will be sooner than I might have wished or planned, and it might not be how imagined the end to be, but it will be the same result as for everybody else, won't it?"

"But we are talking about your life. You could have many more years. There is so much that you could do. You have daughters -- don't you want to see them all grown, and with their lives underway? Aren't there things left for you to do?"

"Sure, it would be great to have many more years, but I am not at all sure that I want to, in all honesty. I see how rough life gets as you get really old. I see how much of the fun is sucked out of it. I see how routines become everyday, and how life is relegated to a series of habits and duties, with all of the sunshine washed out of it. And I am not sure that I want to live that way; I am not at all sure that that is really living -- I think it might just be 'existing.' And I see old people who lose their hearing, and their eyesight, and their memory, and I wonder if that is the path that I want to walk. And I don't think it is. As for my daughters, well, I have loved them and done the best that I could to set them on the right path, and where they go from here is up to them. I love them, and I will miss them, but I would feel the same twenty or thirty years from now. It's really just a difference in timing, not in feeling."

"But what about her? If you die, she loses you, and you lose her. If your love is as strong as you claim, don't you want as much time as possible with her? I mean, you haven't won her back, so if you die, you've lost her forever, haven't you?"

"Well, without getting into my religious beliefs, I don't think that my dying causes me to lose her, or her to lose me. But even if it did, what can be done about it? Eventually, we will both die. One before the other, or both at the same time -- it doesn't matter. This life is not a permanent state; it is very much a temporary one, and those who try to make it otherwise are fooling only themselves, and at that, not very well. I think what is really important about love is also what is really important about life: the quality and depth of the love, and the quality and depth of the life. Anything else is simply delaying the inevitable. And as I tried to tell her, spending the rest of my life with her is not really an investment in infinity or eternity: there is a clock, and however quietly, it is ticking."

"You sound so fatalistic, so resigned to this, and I just cannot understand that. I cannot understand how you can be so matter-of-fact about this whole thing. To be honest with you, it is downright eerie to me; it is almost freakish."

"I think it would be eerie and freakish to think of it any other way. Would I rather things have turned out differently? Yes, I think so. Can I change anything now? No, I can't. So I take the cards that I have been dealt, and I do the best that I can. I keep working, and I keep living, and I go on until I can't go on anymore."

"I really need some time to absorb all of this. We need to pick this up again later."

"Well, I'd say something like 'Take all the time you need,' but given the circumstances, don't take any more than you need."

[to be continued]

January 20, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Atonement Trebled?

How long?

How long will I have to atone?

How long will I have to atone for her?

How long will I have to atone for her mocking?

How long will I have to atone for her mocking Dr. King?

How long will I have to atone for her mocking Dr. King as the film of his "I Have a Dream" speech played?

How long will I have to atone for her mocking Dr. King as the film of his "I Have a Dream" speech played on the national holiday dedicated to him?

How long will I have to atone for her mocking Dr. King as the film of his "I Have a Dream" speech played on the national holiday dedicated to him, and for her ingrained, unrepentant racism and prejudice?

And will my atonement be trebled because she is my mother?

January 19, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


The End of the Love Affair (Part 4)

"Here we are again. So have you had enough time to consider what pushed her to the breakup? Have you been able to process and accept the truth of what I told you?"

"Well, I've had enough time to think about what you said, and I disagree with you just as much now as I did then, although now I'm thinking a little clearer -- I guess I was just tired from all of the talking and thinking."

"And so you cannot -- or will not -- accept the truth of what I suggested to you, that she simply needed a physical aspect to a romantic relationship, and that she had to let you go so that she could pursue that?"

"I won't accept that she is driven by base desires like that, because I know her well enough to know that such things aren't what make her tick. She has a much more mature attitude, and a deeper sense of devotion than you give her credit for having. She once told someone: 'I adore that man.' And those kinds of feelings don't get pushed aside so that you can grab a few cheap thrills with some grabass in the back of a restaurant on a cheap date. I won't have her painted like that, because that is not her. She was committed to me."

"My guess is that she was committed to you, but only up to a point. My guess is that your age, and your distance, probably raised red flags for her when she first learned of them, but they probably didn't scare her off because she probably thought that they would never become an issue. You said yourself that neither one of you had any idea that you would fall in love. So maybe falling in love, and then having the age and distance issues rise to the surface, well then, those issues moved her to the breakup. They were no longer just abstracts, they were present tense, and very real for her."

"I don't know about that. You'd have to ask her. If that was the case, I never had any idea of it. And if it was the case, then I guess maybe I was a little wrong in my understanding of her. I always thought that she made her own way, and lived her life by being true to herself, and didn't really care what the rest of the world had to say; she didn't live by popular opinion, she lived by what felt right to her: instinctually. And while she is a great believer in societal norms, I don't think that she believes that they necessarily have to apply to everyone, much less to her. I think she dances to the beat of her own drum, and seeks happiness inside, not reflected from outside in."

"I think that you have put her up on a pedestal so high that even you cannot see her clearly now. I think that the altar you have built for her obscures the light of truth and reason."

"Well, I don't know about pedestals or altars, but she was the best woman that I have ever been involved with, and she loved me, and she laughed with me, and she cried with me, and she and I helped each other through some very dark hours. And if I am loyal to her as a result of that, I don't see what is so damned surprising; that seems pretty natural to me. My late Daddy always used to say 'dance with the one that brung ya.' And I still think that she and I could have had a future together, even if it was only for a short . . . . Oh, forget that, never mind."

"Wait a minute. 'Even if it was only for a short' what? What were you going to say there?"

"It's nothing. Let's talk about something else."

"We've hit a nerve here, and I am not going to move until you tell me what you were going to say. So take as much time as you want, but you are going to finish that sentence, and neither of us is leaving until you do."

"You are awfully pushy sometimes. Do you know that?"

"Yes. It is one of my better qualities. It gets me what I want. And what I want right now is to know the end of that sentence that you stopped in the middle."

"It's too personal. I can't talk about it. Let's talk about something else."

"No. I am prepared to stay here until hell freezes over. And yes, I am glaring at you. I will continue to glare at you until you tell me."

"You don't realize what you are asking me. You really don't want to know. Trust me on this. There are some things that you just really don't want to know. Some things that are better left unsaid."

"I'm waiting."

"Fine. In September, over a year and a half ago, a couple of months after I lost my health insurance, and when I was nearly destitute, almost completely out of cash, and couldn't find any work, I . . . . I'm sorry, I can't talk about this."

"It's okay. Cry if you need to, but I need for you to tell me."

"Okay. So one day, I discovered a little bump on my stomach, and I wondered what it was, but didn't think much about it, and I had plenty of other things to think about, plenty of things on my mind. So I ignored it. But as the weeks and months went by, it got bigger, and by Thanksgiving that year it was the size of a golfball, and then by the next spring it was the size of a baseball. And if I pulled up my shirt now, you could see that it is the size of a softball. And so I am uninsured and uninsurable, and I have a tumor growing inside me. And I'll bet that now you really wish that you had listened to me, and that you wish that you didn't know."

"I think we both need a break right about now, because I can't think of what to say."

"It may have to be a long break, if you are going to think of what to say."

[to be continued]

January 19, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

in your debt

I hear your voice a lot:
it still rings like no other;

and though others may appear,
none of them will ever hold a candle
to the fire that is you;

I say that once, now, forever.

I'm not nearly as dumb as when
you found me:
and you could have taken advantage of that,
but you didn't;

I was oblivious,
but you treated me better
than any woman before you,
and likely any others who are
crazy enough in my short future;

and for that,
I shall always be in your debt.

January 18, 2009, for She Who Cannot Be Forgotten.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


hot hair

T-top silver Camaro,
blonde hair piled up
under a straw hat,
Aerosmith and
Lenny Kravitz blastin';

a stop light,
she was lookin' tight,
and she took off that hat:

"holy freakin' hot hair!"
was all I could get out;

she probably was a

but I'll never forget her.

January 18, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

convince me

shouldn't have to tell ya
this is a dangerous place for you to be:
too many things you could see;
too many bad boys, lookin for new toys;
you shouldn't be in here;
only one worth anything is me,
and I'm a real bad idea.

so close your eyes, baby;
I'll lead you through;
hey, it's the least I can do;
then when we're alone, maybe
well you know how to sing
that song, doncha, baby?

sing it real slow,
sing it way down low,
convince me, since we,
got somewhere to go;

shouldn't have to tell ya
this is a dangerous place for you to be;
dangerous cuz it contains me;
too much of me, lookin to see
what I can get for free;
only one worth anything is you,
and you're what I wanna do;

sing it real slow,
sing it way down low,
convince me, since we,
got somewhere to go;

so close your eyes, baby;
I'll lead you through;
hey, it's the least I can do;
then when we're alone, maybe
well you know how to sing
that song, doncha, baby?

sing it real slow,
sing it way down low,
convince me, since we
got somewhere to go.

January 18, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

The End of the Love Affair (Part 3)

"I really needed that break, but I'm ready to go again. We might actually come out with something constructive if we work at it."

"Well, I'm always happy to be involved in something that's constructive. That's what relationships are all about: being constructive. We all want something constructive out of life, and our relationships are a big part of our lives. My relationship with her was very important to me, and I suppose that that is why it hurts so much now."

"But your relationship with her was based on so many things that most people would find laughable: you are nineteen years older, you are over 1500 miles away, and you two have never met face to face. How can that be a relationship?"

"I could not begin to calculate how much time we spent with each other, online, on the phone. For months, we talked several times a day on the phone; in the evenings, it was nothing to spend two or three hours on the phone with each other. We could spend an hour or two just playing checkers or dominoes or some other game online. We shared everything about ourselves: our pasts, our present, and what we dreamed about for the future. She was going to get me to go whitewater rafting, and I was going to take her to New York City, things that I had never done, and things that she had never done, and we were going to do them together, and she was going to make sure that I didn't drown and I was going to make sure that she didn't get mugged, and we were going to spend all our time together doing things and loving each other, and we were going to be happy."

"Spending time online and on the phone is not the same thing as a real, flesh-and-blood, up-close-and-personal relationship. It does not determine your compatibility with the other person. It's like a freaking lab experiment; it has no real-world qualities -- it is artificial, dammit, don't you see that?"

"Well, I don't think it is artificial at all. It seemed very real to me. We were intimate, and apparently a perfect fit for each other in that respect. And we shared our innermost with each other, and we laughed with each other, and we cried with each other, and I think we probably know each other as well as any two people can. And I think we were far less artificial that those couples who are like two ships passing in the night -- who sleep in separate beds, who pass each other on the way in or out of the door, who go to bed angry at each other. I think we were a lot less artificial than those folks."

"But a real relationship requires intimacy that you can't achieve when you are 1500 miles apart. It requires physical touch. It demands that you be in close quarters. Women, at least, need that, and I suspect that men do too. Sometimes a woman just wants -- needs -- to be held."

"I didn't say that it was perfect; it was far from perfect, mostly in the ways that you just mentioned. But we both knew that, and we dealt with it; we probably worked a good bit harder as a result of it; but we were enough in love that it was a sacrifice that we could make for the shorter term -- we could put up with being physically apart, comforted by the hope that we would soon be together. You know, you have to understand that when she and I first started emailing each other, and even when we first started calling each other on the phone, we had no intention of falling in love; it just happened after a while. We started out as two people who were writers, and who were both going through some major life changes as the result of separation and divorce, who both had three daughters, who just had so much in common that we quickly became very close friends, and then, as things went along, we fell in love. Actually, I think it was me who fell first, but I'm not really sure. But we both fell at about the same time. And the whole physical distance thing was always a problem, it just wasn't that big of a problem, and put up against everything that we had in common, and how we felt about each other, it just wasn't that big of a deal. And it probably still wouldn't have been, if our situations had not kept us apart."

"I still don't think that I can buy your description of your relationship. I still do not think it was a real relationship. But you intrigue me with your mention of your 'situations.' So, if I am understanding you correctly, since your situations are not going to change anytime soon, that is what directly led to the breakup, is that it?"

"I think so. I mean, my situation is being here, taking care of my mom, who is legally blind and 87 years old, and her situation is being there, raising her kids. We are a little out of sync with the kid thing; hers are 15, 14 and 11, and mine are 21, 18 and 16. So she is going to be doing the kid-raising with her three daughters for at least another seven years, until the youngest graduates from high school, whereas two of mine are in college and not at home anymore, and the third is a junior in high school. So our 'situations' are not going to change tomorrow, and we are where we are for the foreseeable future."

"Ah, I've got you now: you left something pretty significant out just then; you left out that she is a young, attractive woman of 35 who might want to get out there and date some men that she can actually touch, who can actually hold her close and kiss her."

"Ouch. You sure know how to cut to the quick; you'd make a lousy manicurist. Okay, maybe there is a little element of that going on, I don't know. I do know that she told me that she was always very satisfied with me and with our time together, and that always seemed to be the case to me. But I suppose you might be right. I don't know; you would have to ask her. But to be honest with you, I really don't think that she is shallow like that, and I know her pretty well."

"Dammit, that is not shallow -- that's reality. That is physical needs that cannot be denied. That is compulsion, that no matter how long and hard you try, you can only suppress for so long. Eventually, there has to be a release. Can't you understand that?"

"No, actually, I can't understand that. Because the same argument that you just made could be used to defend all kinds of awful things, like child molesters or rapists or murderers -- 'physical needs that cannot be denied'? What are they? 'Compulsion' that 'you can only suppress for so long'? What the hell is that? 'Eventually, there has to be a release'? What I am hearing you say is scary. And I can tell you for sure, that she is a lot more in control of herself than that. She can handle it. I know she can."

"I think that you are trying to kid yourself now. I think you realize that what I am suggesting to you is very true, and is very likely what pushed her over the edge with your 'relationship.' I think I have got you nailed with this one."

"Well, now I think I need a break; a chance to regroup and collect myself."

"Fine. We can pick this back up later. I'm happy to give you some time to rationalize it. Take as much time as you need."

[to be continued]

January 18, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

an extra pillow

I have an extra pillow on my bed:
it used to be there in case you appeared;
now it's there because you won't;

some nights, it fools me
into thinking you are next to me;
and some mornings, it makes me
think that you just had to leave early;

I have an extra pillow on my bed:
it's only there for emergencies;
like to soak up extra tears,
or to push away extra fears;
sometimes it makes me feel you near;

I have an extra pillow on my bed:
sometimes I need extra support for my head,
since it's still filled with you.

January 18, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


somebody told me
that I have a great ear
for how people really talk

and I told them that
I have been listening
for a very long time.

January 18, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


bell ringer

onceuponatime, I rang a bell for you;
onceuponatime, I'd have gone to hell for you;
thencameatime, you said we were through;
wish I knew what the hell came over you;

now I ring no bell,
and I guess it's just as well;
I wasn't cut out to be a bell ringer,
or a rock 'n' roll singer;
better at writing the words,
and following directions;
I only wish I had directions to you
or a map to where you've flown to;
not that I'm annoyed,
but that's a place I'd like to avoid;
clarity just leaves me more confused,
and here I thought I was done being used;

onceuponatime, you and I were two;
onceuponatime, I knew just what to do;
thencameatime, the world was cut through;
wish I knew what the hell I should do.

January 17, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Lovely Days

When you make love,
You take it;
If it's a great love,
Don't break it;
Hold it gently,
And you'll make it;
Put it first always,
And you'll see lovely days, trust me,
I've seen enough to see
That's how it goes, no mystery,
It's no mystery:
What you get you give to me,
And what you do, I give to you.

January 17, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

The End of the Love Affair (Part 2)


"So, what?"

"So have you thought about what we talked about yesterday? Have you managed to recognize the truths that I spoke to you about your relationship with her? It was doomed from the beginning. It had no future, there was no way that it could have worked, and you need to accept that, learn from that, dammit, and move on."

"Um, yes, I have thought about everything that you said yesterday, and I'm not very sure that I agree with any of it."

"Good grief! What exactly does it take to reach you, to make you understand? None of this is complicated. Why are you having such trouble understanding me? Are you just completely in denial?"

"Well, no, I don't think I am in denial. In fact, I'm not really sure what denial is. I do know that she broke it off with me, and I am sad about it, but I don't know about that whole 'denial' thing. I haven't denied anything: we were in love and she broke it off. I think she broke it off for the wrong reasons, for reasons that don't make enough sense, and I think we could have had a future together."

"So you don't think that your age difference matters? You don't think that being separated by over 1500 miles matters? What do you think matters, then? What really matters?"

"Well, first of all, I think what matters is if two people really love each other. If they think about each other all the time. If every random moment in every regular day has the other person making an appearance, then that is love. When you pine for that person, day-in and day-out. When you can't wait to hear their voice. When you are bursting with good news, and that person is the first person that you want to tell. When you are at the bottom of the pile of your life's debris and detritus, when you are sad beyond all measure, and they lift you up -- that's love. When you dream of days and nights and life and laughter all shared with that person forever after, that's love. When they can make you laugh hardest and cry longest -- that's love. When you want them with you at sunrise and at sunset and every time in between, that's love."

"This is almost too much sugar for me to consume at one sitting. Do you really hear yourself spouting these greeting-card platitudes? Do you really believe all of this crap, all of this dime-store wisdom about 'Love'? You sound like a Barry Manilow song."

"Actually, I've always liked Barry Manilow's songs. I think most people do, and they are just unwilling to admit it; like it would be a demonstration of how un-hip they are to enjoy some uplifting thoughts."

"Oh. My. God. You. Like. Barry. Manilow. I am almost without words. I don't know how to talk to someone who likes Barry Manilow. I don't know how to do it. There could not be a more rosy view of the world than someone who likes Barry Manilow. It's all make believe, dammit. It's not how real life works. It's all fantasy."

"I think it could be how real life works, if real people would act differently. If people put love, and hearts and souls first, I think it could be how real life works. I think it could eliminate a lot of loneliness, and a lot of broken hearts if more people listened to Barry Manilow."

"We have got to get Barry Manilow out of this conversation. I am starting to feel nauseous. Please, for the love of God, let's put Barry back into the golden oldie vault where he belongs. Okay?"

"Well, I don't want to make you nauseous. So we can stop talking about him if you want to. I would rather talk about her and me anyway."

"Good. Maybe we can make some progress. To start, we need for you to carefully consider your ideas about love. They are unrealistic. They are, if they ever were true, no longer operative in this world. They are confectionary dreams. They are unreality. That kind of love just does not exist."

"But I think that kind of love exists, because it existed for me. I loved her with my whole heart. I spent all my time talking to her, emailing her, playing games online with her, writing poems for her, helping her with problems, laughing with her, crying with her -- you name it, we did it together."

"But that is not enough. You two have never even met in person. How do you know how you would react to her if you met her in person? What if she is a lousy kisser? What if she is too short or too fat? What if she has bad breath? You just do not know her, and no amount of phone calls, or emails, or games or poems or anything else can help you to know her, or her to know you."

"If I met her in person, I would just take her in my arms and squeeze her, tell her I loved her, and give her the very best kiss that I could come up with for a very long time. And I don't care if she is not that good a kisser; maybe I can help her be a better one. And I don't think that she is too short; she is 5 feet 5, which is fine by me. And I don't think that she is too fat; she told me that she has some extra pounds -- so do I. She's never mentioned bad breath, but there's always mouthwash, I guess. See, what I fell in love with was not her kiss, or her height and weight, or her breath -- it was her; her heart, her soul, her goodness, her sense of humor, her compassion, her spirit -- gentle at times, fierce when necessary. I fell in love with her vulnerability and her unstoppable strength. I fell in love with her sense of right and wrong, her understanding of justice and injustice, her love of music, her love for her three daughters, her love for her little sister, her love for her parents, her love for the little children that she cares for every day -- I fell in love with all the things that anyone would fall in love with. And the things that I might not have fallen in love with are the same imperfections that we all have -- that you and I have, that everyone has -- and I accept those as proof positive that we are all human, that we are mortal, and that none of us is perfect in every way. She is just perfect enough in just enough ways that I fell in love with her."

"We have a long way to go here. That much is clear to me now. In fact, that may just be the only thing that is clear to me now. I need a break. I need to regroup and collect myself."

"I guess I could use a break for a while too. All this talking makes me thirsty. I'll see you later."

[to be continued]

January 17, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.


A Dream

I dreamed that I didn't wake up,
But it was just a dream;
I thought I saw you standing there,
By that gurgling stream, but I was mistaken:
You'd disappeared, I was cleared, and you were taken;
Once mine, forever gone, love forsaken;
Wrong once, wrong twice, third one was fakin';

Oh my, what I would do,
To not wake up to this crazy zoo;
To find that I dreamed the whole thing;
To have another day when you sing.

I dreamed that I didn't wake up,
But it was just a dream;
I reached for you were you had been,
But you had disappeared again:
You were gone, you moved on, and I was empty;
Once mine, forever gone, nothing left me;
Wrong once, wrong twice, third one wasn't any;

Oh my, what I would do,
To not wake up to this crazy zoo;
To find that I dreamed the whole thing;
To have another day when you sing.

Oh my, oh my, my baby;
Had enough of you drivin' me crazy;
Even though I put all of me into you, and
Left all of my head and most of my heart
Layin' at your feet where you tore them apart;
I'm torn up and busted, and you can't be trusted
With a man as good as I am;

Oh my, what I would do,
To not wake up to this crazy zoo;
To find that I dreamed the whole thing;
To have another day when you sing.

January 16, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

The End of the Love Affair


"You need to sit down, and listen to me."

"About what?"

"About your situation. About your life. About your breakup with her. About everything. You are a basket case. You're a madman. You've lost what little of your mind you have left."

"Oh, that."

"Good Lord, that's your response? 'Oh, that'? For crying out loud, this is your life we are talking about here. Are you just going to lose your mind? Are you going to be one of those sad, sorry little men who walks up and down the block all day, drooling and talking to themselves, and making wild gestures that scare the little children? Are you in some kind of a downward spiral here?"

"Maybe so."

"Oh, you are so damned frustrating. Can you manage more than two-word sentences while I am trying to help you? Can you please focus on the fact that you are not yourself, that a lot of people are worried about you? Are you understanding me?"

"Yes, I think so. And that was four words."

"If I did not care about you as much as I do, and God only knows why, I would strangle your smartass self right on the spot. You try to make a joke out of everything. You don't take anything seriously anymore. Ha, ha, all the damn day. I don't know what is happening to you. I don't know who you've become."

"Just a little painful right now, her ending it with me. It had been over a year, and she meant everything to me."

"Oh, for God's sakes, grow up and grow a pair. You were too old for her, and you should have known it from day one. You deceived yourself into thinking it would not matter, and it does matter and it did matter and it will always matter because you are too freaking old for her, dammit."

"What about love?"

"Love doesn't cover everything. Sometimes love is just a silly sissy excuse. Sometimes love is greatly overrated. Sometimes love just causes trouble. And most of the time, love is not worth the trouble it causes. Look at the trouble this 'love' has caused you. You look like you're ready to jump in front of a bus. You have that haunted, hang-dog look in your eyes like a junkie just coming off a three-day throwdown."

"But I loved her, I was good to her. Doesn't that count?"

"Maybe in made-for-television movies on Oxygen, and maybe in horseshoes, but in real life it counts for squat. She is a real person. She is a real woman. She wants a man her age, not someone who is 20 years ol . . . ."

"Nineteen, dammit. I am nineteen years older than her."

"Whatevah. You too damned old for her. You are old enough to be her, her, her father, for crying out loud. Her father!"

"That's technically true, I guess, but I did not father any children when I was 19. I was 33 when my first daughter was born."

"Stop evading the issue! Stop ignoring the obvious! You are too old for her, you were too old for her, you will always be too old for her."

"Then why didn't she breakup with me sooner? Why did she keep it going? I only got older as time went on; it's not like I started getting younger."

"You are the most impossible man to reason with that I have ever known. You are simply . . . impossible! She didn't break up with you sooner because she felt bad about it, she felt sorry for you, she didn't want to hurt you, she hated it when you cried. Big boys don't cry. We women don't like men who cry. We want men, real men. Not some sissies who cry all the time, who show their feelings. So she didn't break up with you in order to be kind to you."

"She didn't break up with me in order to be kind to me. Is that what you said? And you think that I am going crazy?"

"Look, it doesn't matter that you are too old for her. Don't accept that if you would rather continue to be delusional. But what you cannot deny is that you two are physically apart, over 1500 miles apart, and you just cannot have a relationship with someone when they are 1500 miles away. You just cannot do it. It can't be done!"

"Couldn't it be done for a little while, for the short term?"

"No. Women are sexual, tactile creatures. We need human contact. We need to be touched, to be held, to be made special. So, no, you cannot do it from 1500 miles apart, even for a little while, even for the short term. Once again, I will repeat: you cannot have a relationship with someone when they are 1500 miles away. Period."

"You believe in Jesus, don't you?"

"What in the name of all that is holy does that have to do with what we are discussing here? What? See, this is why I worry that you have lost your mind. You keep coming up with these off-the-wall comments and questions, and you act like nothing's wrong!"

"Don't you?"

"Oh, whatevah. Yes, I believe in Jesus. I do. What is your point?"

"You're going to get angry at me if I tell you, I know it. You're going to yell and scream at me, and pound on me with those little fists of yours if I tell you."

"I promise, I won't. I will restrain myself. I am an adult, and I have self-control."

"You promise?"

"I promise."

"How far away is Jesus?"

"Oh Jesus Christ, I cannot believe I walked right into that one. Oh, no, oh no, oh no."

"Well, as you guessed, if you can have a relationship with Jesus, who is all the way up in Heaven, then I don't see why she and I can't have a relationship when she is just 1500 miles or so away. Heaven is a lot further away than that. Probably twice as far."

"I give up. You are hopeless."

"Actually, this talk has made me feel rather hopeful."


[to be continued . . . .]

January 16, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.

Rusting Out

everything rusting out:
from my guts inside
to grampa's 100-year-old two-man saw;
and I look around,
and I wonder,
what was it all for?

these things, this life,
those struggles, that strife;
as I move from puddle to puddle,
drenched in their tears,
I see a little magic,
used to dispel fears:
that all of it has been
for naught, and that finally
I ought to be at the end,
ready to rend,
ready or not,
and I am.

January 16, 2009.

Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.