For the past five years or so, I’ve released at least one book per year. Last year’s release was Obey the Darkness: Horror Stories. This was back in February, if I recall correctly. Anyway, since then, I haven’t put out any new books at all. I’ve been writing poems furiously since February of this year, and getting some published at various magazines, but I had no books planned for this year. A few days ago, I decided to go ahead and create a release for 2019. The book, a relatively short one at 35 pages, is called Welcome to Flowerville: Poetry from San Juan Commons. It contains 19 poems I’d written years ago, heavily edited and modernized, of course, as well as photographs of flowers I’d taken from around this adult residence I live in. Even though the general theme of the poems do have something to do with flowers, the book is not actually about that. The flowers were used to inject color, figuratively and literally, to the poems which, themselves, deal with heavier subject matter like loss, betrayal, death, you know, the fun stuff. Lately, my poetry has the ghost of Anne Sexton watching over them. Despite her personal flaws, I do like her work and they are an inspiration for this collection. I guess I’m glad I still have the strength and wherewithal to write and release books. When it comes out maybe I’ll treat myself to a nice lunch from one of the local eateries.
1. Sleeping with your clothes on (like, you have a choice!) You never know when somebody’s gonna wake you up and tell you to move. Even worse, you can get your clothes and shoes stolen by another homeless person.
2, Sleeping with your contact lenses on. Several times I’ve been rudely awakened by the police or property owner who want me to bounce. I need to be able to see who they are right away in case it’s just someone coming to rob me. Death of the homeless on the street is a common occurrence. People get shot and stabbed routinely and a lot of it doesn’t get reported because, well, society considers the homeless as being unimportant, insignificant pests.
3. Mastering the art of the one minute bath. This is accomplished in public restrooms like supermarkets, gas stations and department stores. Of course, if you’re on candid camera, you might have just 10 seconds to wash it and beat it.
4. Wearing the same clothes two or more weeks in a row. That’s easy to get used to. All you have to do is not change your clothes. It’s really simple when you’re starving and, therefore, lack the strength to change anyway. You learn to deal with the ornery smell and try to stay away from people because they’ll hold their noses and cross the street which in itself is embarrassing. Yeah, some of us do walk around with track marks, shitty pants and pissed on shoes, but what can we do? We’re waiting for the construction of free public showers nationwide. Until then deal with the funk.
5. Eating food right out of the can. The can opener is your best friend. Eating vegetable soup, green beans, chili or whatever right out of the can is more than a way of survival, it’s a fashion statement. Think about it. People walk around with saggy, low hanging pants because it’s cool; it’s the style. The style, of course, comes from prisoners who wear their pants like that which means they’re always on and opened for business, so to speak. And since whatever’s subservient becomes the norm, eating out of a can will be, too.
6. Learning to do with less: less items of clothing, less money, less food, less protection, less friends, less encouragement, less will to survive. Here in Seattle the I-5 overpass is a homeless person’s best friend. One simple leap off and his troubles are over.
Being close to death changes a man’s perspective. You learn to appreciate life. I was pushing my bike up a steep incline on the NY highway years ago. I was so dehydrated I felt like Chris McCandless in Alaska. When I stopped to gave over a promontory, I wanted to take a flying leap to the valley below. The will to survive kicked in and I was able to drag myself to a store about a mile away. I was lucky.
There is a constant war going on in my head. It’s between emotion and logic, between the limbic system and the pre-fontal cortex. It sucks because I hope logic will win 100% of the time but it doesn’t. Every so often emotions get the best of me and I turn to shit. I hate it.
A few months ago I applied for federal disability, SSD. From what I’ve heard, their determination can take five months or more. I’m now running out of rent money. In fact I only have funds for one month left. I figured I’d apply for Medicaid through the state’s DSHS. They said I may be eligible for the ABD (Aged, Blind & Disabled) Program. I saw their psychiatrist who diagnosed me with severe clinical depression and mild anxiety. I’ve now been approved for Medicaid which makes me eligible for the state’s HEN (Housing & Essential Needs) Program. I’ll call them Monday to make an intake appointment. Hopefully they’ll come through with help for my rent & utilities and other items like toiletries. Things are starting to look up. I’m glad these social programs are in place. Can you imagine, though? Walking around with a disabling issue and not receiving treatment for it? Makes you wonder how many homeless wanderers are out there who are undiagnosed with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and a host of other neurological and psychological disorders.
Won’t be long now. I hate these extremely uncertain times, that heavy feeling in your chest when you fear something dire is about to happen. It’s like being on death row – you know what the ultimate destination is yet still hope for a reprieve. I wonder if this is how millionaires feel when they invest all their money into one company hoping the investment will make them richer. The anxiety must make them bite their nails down to the cuticles. I’d hate to be the guy in Las Vegas who’s spending all his rent money to get more money that will take him through a few more months of rent. I hate these worries. If this holiday season has a silver lining, I haven’t seen it yet.
Last Sunday I thought I’d take advantage of the sunlight and snap a few pictures down at the Seattle Waterfront. I really need a better camera than the one I currently use because it has focus issues; still, it’s better than nothing. I managed to capture about 300 images which I narrowed down to the 26 seen here. It was a pretty nice day. Tourists, as well as locals, were out. People were taking pictures everywhere. The homeless, as usual, were also out begging for scraps. I remember the first time I went to Nashville. It was shocking because of the large amount of homeless people scattered all over Music City. Shameful. You’d think that here, in an area where huge corporations like Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks proliferated, the spoils would be shared by all. I guess not.
Designed specifically as an author’s site, this blog will be primarily focused on my writings. At times I may talk about the music I’ve written and recorded, but that will be secondary to my literary achievements. All of my writings have been fiction (with the odd non-fiction review on Amazon). They range from flash fiction all the way up to a full length novel. So far I’ve written about 30 short stories, six screenplays, five novellas, a handful of fairy tales and poems, and the novel “Commoner The Vagabond.” A collection of short stories and novellas will be published soon on All Things That Matter Press. It’s called “Wetland & Other Stories” and is fiction using the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest as its base. The stories run the gamut from general fiction to horror and from crime to science fiction.