Final Race

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017 – 11:20 pm

In Fairview Arms, I flail to free myself from a fevered dream. I run with brilliant torches down God’s chosen path. I yell warnings, begging you follow me to safety. But my bright race cuts back to black. I wake up with my first seizure. I’m eighteen.

My head was nodding wildly and uncontrollably and I reached up with trembling hands and I pushed against my cheeks to stop the shaking. The tears on my palms announced I was sobbing. Night terrors.

Now I cry every day. One or two or ten or twenty times a day. Sometimes for as little as half a second, gasping and choking it back. Often it is while engaged in the mundane, such as making coffee. Little things.

My conversion disorder agitates and aggravates seizures in unpredictable ways. When I cross thresholds like painted lines in parking lots, my brain locks up and the body likewise in basic lockstep. Then I must one, two, three baby steps and one day at a time to push through the seizure to cross the finish line. Each time.

This is typically paired with panic attacks, sharp stabs to the chest and gasps so fast now, I have to be careful not to pass out. Once done hyperventilating and adrenaline abates, I go into seizures again. And then crying. And then.

I cycle through each and all – panic, gasps, seizures and sobs – three or four times each in a twenty minute span of trying to fall asleep. I wake up in the middle of some of the symptoms at random times. Every night.

Every time I push my walker or cane into a new room, it is all I can do to not sob uncontrollably.  All day.

Every transition every input every color every sound every noise every fear and hate and love and empathy and fuck and why and God and too much please stop at once oh no seriously I think we’re gonna crash. Help us.

I struggle every day with the fear the doctors have missed something. Whilst my spirit often soars and I am pushing myself more than before, my physical improvements seem negligible to nonexistent. I’m impatient.

My body is so numb, I barely make it to the bathroom in time, several times a day. We have to schedule reminders to eat, because my brain most often cannot hear hunger. I must also watch that I do not overeat, as I cannot feel fullness. Total disconnect.

Around 2000, seeking God, I fasted many times over a few year span. It was usually days or weeks. I had three fasts that were forty days each. Too long.

Mapping my near demise and demolition is tedious and daunting. From 2000 to 2010, I was on almost maximum doses of Fentanyl. Or Oxycontin. Or Morphine. Or Methadone. Because those are the medicines that good people do. And die.

In 2009, my father was rapidly declining. After my first opiate detox in 2010, I began to drink much more. Two shots of whisky a night became four became ten became twenty became thirty blurry nights in other homes and foreign couches. For years.

After my second opiate detox in 2013, something brain based broke loose and floated downstream and down ptsdream. I hurt so much then and now and later. I ache inside so deeply, it cannot be named. Seeing others suffering now causes me such physical pain. Not helping others is rare to resist. I’m compelled.

October twenty eighth, two thousand fifteen, twenty, thirty blurry hurried shots and my last hurrah. It was the final night I drank alcohol. For life. I had between twenty and thirty dirty drinks in a dangerously small window. Three hours.

My PTSD evolving or succumbing to conversion disorder may have turned the track when I quit drinking. There was no longer enough aqua vitae on the globe to drown a living lake of fire. If I could do it all over again, I would do it the same. Still burning.

October twenty ninth, two thousand and fifteen and fate and faith falter and freeze. I am standing again at the final crossroad and see my end coming soon. I am telling God we are damn well done drowning everything and deluging everyone in my fucked up story Ark.  He is telling me of final fires and floods. He is warning of burning torches to win loved ones lost in slumber. He is reminding me of thirty year visions and a final race to draw witnesses. He is saying it is the brightest I will ever burn. Personal best.

I will never stop burning. I will never stop running. I swear.


Persistence of Memories and Get Ready, Child

Monday, March 13th, 2017 – 9:32 am

“Persistence of Memories”

I wander with
Hands full
and Regrettable.

Dropping tones,
noisome notes
sung and strung,
bitter clues across
wrinkled gray moss,
sand so soft.

Loving pointers,
crumbs and
hours Witch
clash and crash
to scratch an
inside itch.

Meld and melt
inside my
first place
and count
to your
softer face.

Lush lashes,
burnt dreams
of will versus fate.



“Get Ready, Child”

It is easier to love others than yourself, child. You will accept this when you are grown and your eyes have finally opened, like mine. Get ready.

The key is to remember only we are worthy of love.
We are special. 
We are better.
Get ready, child.
The world is changing.
The darks have their own marches now.
The fairies have laws now. 
Unnatural unions persist between protestants and catholics.
We even got filthy saracens in our midst.
For now.
But with God’s help, we are cleaning house.
For good.
Part of loving others is to accept your calling to rule at the head of the table over lesser creatures in God’s plan. And to take a stand when others will not. To crush satan with your bootheel. And his followers, if need be.
Just like Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to sin no more you filthy whore, it is still our job to kick our sons out of the house and stop talking to them, when they say they think they love men. Or our daughters with women. Love is tough. Look at the cross.
We’ll force feed them true love like they’ve never seen. This one’s gonna leave a mark, you watch. Get ready, child.

Day in Disorder

Thursday, March 9th, 2017 – 12:01 am

“Day in Disorder”

Wake up
Twitch, smile, Hi
How are you, Fine
Here’s your cup, get up
I have time or do I?
Brawn takes me to stash
helps me sift through
unbroken glass
and dreams of
hashtags, Alice
Dawn in better times,
brightest in morning,
blight to mourning blues
with her sunny smile
and golden greens
Friends take me to task
and school me in
prose, verses, cons
and constant kindness
killing the blue genes
I almost can’t get them
off in time to pee
I lost love and legs and time
and maybe my mind but
I don’t cry or do I?
Shaking gasping grasping canes
begging asking focus slowdowns
toomanysights toomanysounds 
God in religion, heave
heaven and hell that help
toll the bells in between.
Every day, I got this
if I just try or do I?


Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 – 2:41 am

“Pentatonic Scale”



Almost three ay em and I still can’t shut down the office and send the workers home. In my retirement, there is no more ugly undulating umber turning to angry ample amber, the jockeying of sun and moon and liquid black to blooze. Now I merely move metal full jackets into the red, into the dying blue buds because justice is blind and karma is deaf. 


My descent down mount doom has been bolder lately. Per this manic part of my Pilgrim’s Regress, there appear my old pals all along, Apollyon, Racing Thoughts, and Sleepless in Psychotic. They were my faithful visitors and dearest Job’s Companions for much more blasphemous nights than these dirty dozen, in the headless hisses and shifting shadows of the two terrible times I got clean.


The clock burns and churns with a new efficiency when both hands are pointed at the moon. That’s when I make believe best and burn out books and ballads and beautiful, bold battle plans. I present to you a terrible tyrant to fit tracks together to tease my trains to run on time. Please pay him no mind.


I’ve been thriving on a fast of coffee and heavy metal for a couple decades now. In the days of my youth, I hurried headlong into Hendrix and shot sorrow full of Skynyrd. Life saving levels of metal and speed and rhythm and adrenaline. Rot in front of your damned screens while I rob zombies. 



I met my friend Scott Lewman thirty years ago in the college age group of my church. He would weep as he talked about his love for the Lord. He knew my heart broke for those battling addiction and for the mentally ill, two areas with which I have long struggled.

On Sundays, Scott and I took his cream colored carpet van downtown for months to ferry homeless people back to the church, to provide them a free sermon and an almost free lunch.

The first day I worked for his floorcovering business, he climbed into the driver’s seat of his van and I handed him a giant mug of coffee to match my own. He set his Bible on the dash and asked if we could start the workday with prayer.

Eager amens were had all around and then he stuck in Megadeth and turned it full fucking blast. And we went on to make more money and madness than imaginable, with bodies invincible and minds unbreakable.

After a few months in Scott’s employ, my fighting with my dad came to a bloody spearhead and I found myself heading to my own homeless ends.

My dad kicked me out and Scott let me move into his attic. His wife was less eager to see me move in than he, but the arrangement helped everybody. Christian charity aside, I made Scott too much money for him to lose me to naps under a bridge.

After our long days at work, we would plug in our guitars and bass and dream of glory days in his living room. We knew we would get a band together. The metal ministered to our rage and soothed our trauma with triplets and adrenaline. We both depended on the metal, whether speed or death or black or heavy and the faster and the louder and the angrier, the better.

We also enjoyed the consumption of caffeine in experimental levels. When espresso was still a creeping fad in the eighties, we tried it and discovered we could install far more carpet with than without.

So, we tested our very limits to common chemicals. After regular espresso, we tried doubles and then to the barista’s confusion, we asked if we could get “double doubles.” Four shots of espresso with the twenty ounce black chaser. On the long sixteen hour jobs, out came the crunch and hell of surviving on yellow vivarin.

After a morning double double with a double down of a double dare and another double double at lunch.

“Uh oh, this doesn’t feel right. Does your chest hurt too? It is harder to breath. Maybe we should back off a bit?”

We relented and retreated baby steps to more sane levels of speed and fun.

Shortly after I had moved out of Scott and his wife’s belfry and into my own apartment, I got the first real whiff of Scott’s addiction and struggle with mental illness. I got a peek into his madness that bound us as brothers.

Scott called my phone far earlier than usual for work and asked me to pick him up somewhere different that morning. I pulled into the fog of early grays to find him pacing outside the mart at the base of Burnside bridge.

The skin of his face was the wrong color. Odd blotches of blue and green and sinister grays under the eyes were nature’s warning that he hurt so deeply that self poisoning pills and powders made it hurt just a fraction less.

He stunk of booze. He apologized and told me the reek was from just then chugging a whole bottle of wine, so I would be able to handle him. He had to first dim his coke and a smile. You’re fucking welcome, he offered me. After I yelled at him, my boss, and got his promise that this shit would not happen again, I dropped his strung out ass at a friend’s house and finished his carpeting job by myself. I was always making most of the money for him, for his pipe and now for his nose.

We connected on a need for speed and backgrounds of abuse and simmering rage. We both knew what destruction we each could wield and gave each other extra space and an uneasy detente. We knew if we ever got into a fight, we would never stop until one of us was leaking out precious life and not moving anymore. Nothing like dysfunction and toxic fathers to fuel the violence and addiction of the mentally malleable.

Scott was one of of my few friends who completely understood when I confided that with my violent background and endless rage, my greatest fear was going to prison for life for beating someone to death with my bare hands.

That’s typical, right?

He understood completely.

The limits of our mania meandered into mayhem. And love for pranks. I once strew his thousands of dollars in tools down the sidewalk to create the illusion someone had broken into his jobsite. He screeched his van up into the yard and ran inside swinging his double edged bloody mary, ready to slice anyone open. I had a hard time calming him down after that joke.

I would continue to mess with him by using my bloody mary to slice up his cigarettes and used carpet glue to stick them inside the pack. He always made me reimburse him out of my paycheck and once even threw my lunch onto a customer’s roof to get me to stop messing with his smokes.

There was a time we might have joked too far. He one time took a realistic toy gun that I grabbed for a buck at a garage sale and, when I dared him, he pulled it on a gas station attendant.

Then he laughed and said “just kidding, fill it up!” I had tears, I was laughing so hard. But then some of our older, wiser friends suggested that was a bad idea. Thirty years hence, I agree with them now.

But then, we could never play too many practical jokes. I’ve yet to meet someone with as wicked and quick a wit. Despite our history of fighting, he will always remain one of my best friends.

Years later, I would get together with Scott again, this time on one of my own construction jobs.  We entered our uneasy detente again. But after destroying a fifty dollar tool of mine and refusing to pay for it, he got to test the darker side of me.

Out came my Mr. Hyde who informed Scott that, guess fucking what, YES YOU FUCKING BETTER BELIEVE YOU WILL FUCKING PAY ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

Clenched fists. Go time. I don’t blink. We never blink. Time goes slower here.

Guess what? He ended up paying for it.

Fortunately, he paid with money. It almost cost us arms and legs and freedom.

He claimed he was being generous and I was lucky. He swore that with his having had higher ground in the stairwell, he said he would have kicked me in the face first before using bloody mary on me. He was not kidding. I still laughed.

That was the closest we came to one of several fights. And I had known that he had spent time with bloody mary as his weapon of choice when he was a bodyguard for a big dealer in another state. He spent time in jail and in one halfway house after another.

Scott first gave up his business and van and then lost his happy home. He pushed away a beautiful wife and sweet son. He lasted more years than most coke and heroin addicts, but gave it everything.

One time, I got tired of my missing tools and went looking for Scott. I wanted my eight hundred dollars in metal that he shot in his arm or up his nose. After a lot of calls and driving, I finally found him on the floor of a flophouse with his much younger, naked, groupie girlfriend.

He said I had a lot of guts tracking him down. After we had a fake calming and cooling, we moved on to fake pleasantries. He said he was excited about managing the local Portland bands, Unspun and Grindstone. A year later, I would meet the frontman of Grindstone and listen to him scream notes around a six foot hole.

About a year later, an image of Scott popped into my head one morning and I simply could not stop thinking about him. I kept seeing his face in my mind every day until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I finally relented and prayed out loud that God would allow me to run into Scott just one more time. I only wanted to tell him he no longer owed me anything for my tools.

Three days later, I forgot something on the way to work and was forced to return home at an odd hour and down a strange street. At the intersection of 39th and SE Powell, I looked up while sitting at my red light.

There was Scott.

I flashed my lights and waved. He spotted me, put on his blinker and drove up a block to pull over and meet me.

It was bad. He looked more sick than I’d ever seen him. He said he had already died once. Just a few weeks previous, his heart stopped in the ER from an overdose and they had just barely been able to bring him back with Narcan.

I told him he did not owe me for my pawned tools and he got tears in his eyes.

The next day, I tried calling him in the hopes for one last double espresso with my oldest friend. I called again the next day. And the next. And again. I called each day for days.

On the fifth day, his girlfriend picked up and asked if I had heard the news.

Scott overdosed and puked and foamed out on the filthy floor of a long forgotten convenience store. He threw himself inside with the final hope that someone save him in time.

They did not.

Barely thirty, his pain and rage burned through his frame like a spark to dry straw.

I loved Scott like a brother.

I still miss him.

I keep trying to call and reach him in time.

Therapy and Good Ol’ Days

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 – 12:57 am


Midnight metal for self
medicated children’s
candy bowls

Death defying
sixteenth birthdays’
thirsty second notes

Ungrateful for suns,
now begging for sparks
in darkness

Burn notes ’til
stumble worn paths
hear heart hymns



“Good Ol’ Days”

I miss when a man could survive on just diesel and grit, black coffee and a cigarette. Back when men were men and women were whatever we wanted.

On a good ol’ day, one might finally find a fairer and more just ideal, cramped and coerced and comfortable as a gin soaked bathrobe at a dusty revival.

Other country gods and other Gods and country and make believe decades of freedom from the flailing. Bless our undying love of lies and illusion, sick romantic longing for escape from the aging grays on both sides of our temples.

The movement was first felt in our youth, in tone and vantage, like something had finally landed. It was disorienting at first, until the big two – icy beginning and fiery end – both banged into crisp view and for a brief moment, the whole world sensed the impossible.

All together.
All the meaning.
All the futility
All the darkness.
All the pain pushed
pushed, pushed deeper and darker
into brighter pyres of purpose.

That would never do.

The powers ran the filthy models up whiteboards and down catwalks and had to pick which apocalypse likely sticks the landing best. They counted the red cost and divined the poor price of an even poorer soul. They stormed in and took away the lights and landmarks and shoved them back into boxes and pixels to force feed their fawning flocks.

They gave us free skin and sweets and sedatives, soul surfing to sooth our waking hours back into song and slumber, back to the black bliss of the unborn, just like the womb and its moment of warmth.

It’s good to be back.


Friday, February 24th, 2017 – 4:53 pm

Someone will.

Someone else.

Feed the bastard. Cover her breasts. Clean their mess.

Someone will endure the smells of their hells and beds and cells. He’ll thank them at the throne for peering past his broken gates and his punctured, bruised branches. She’ll spin from his red-eyed stench and his sick and the whiff of his family shame and he’ll repay their kindness in the final day.

He stirs with blue birds and hides in hell each morning in hopes we’ll follow. He cast off his three person suit and buried it under a bridge with a bottle and both gold rings. He gave up his three and third degrees and crawled into dusty rocks, swirling around third rails.  You can still hear the echos of his last few whines under the rock hymns and taunts of a third of the angels.

Fill the seats to hear that he lives in the hearts and streets. Tear more chairs and hope someone rises up to flip over tables and cast out crooks. Turn whips on the weak and pray for rain that could never land inside. Burn more myrrh, bury the scent of addicts and time. Turn up the dead drums and drown out the bleeding ghost and bleating goats.

Pray for him to pray for him to pray for her to pray for saints to pray for me to pray for you to pray for sinners.

Someone will.

Someone else.

You’ll see. Don’t move. Just watch.

Mewl for mules and missionaries and pant for profits and prophets, so someone else might feed the lazy and selfish and beat our swords into song hooks and our gyms into jails and our clubs into children’s wards. 

Pray for someone to be born and raised and loving and trained to face her tears once again, and again and again and again, even when her face keeps changing, each time one more fairy tale is ripped away in death of desire and such a small splash of red.

Someone will.

Someone else.

Imagine it. New stories. Good Book.

We’ll sing songs of the old and new days, when we cast away choking chains and metal crosses and of the endless night we picked up his wooden one to drive like a stake.

But, until then.

Settle for the chilling smiles and tales of how hollow words can help the hungry. Bend and bother but never break the mold and moldy bread. Blow over embers of older feelings, long lost to freeing the fearful.

Never gaining ground from the glory of goats and their glittered Gaols.

Someone will.

Someone else.

Some fool. Some bum. Some sheep.


Friday, February 17th, 2017 – 5:59 pm

He named me for the burning coal in my newborn mouth. I defended faith for frozen eons. I waited silent for my only task and yet it finished after brief millennia and floods of wrath. My sword charred the branches and archives of earthly wisdom and their stench of death. History, freedom, empathy. Empty and grotesque. Skeptics and saints alike and all their senseless scrolls of little worth. 

Abel was my first charge, until Cain opened his mind with the first spray of red on earth. But I never moved from post or calling for the cries of the second born. I blocked their chance at the horror of eternal life in their rotting shells. And I did it with nothing more than my name and an ageless burning blade. With mere legend, I’ll save mankind from themselves, until my coal flickers at the first drops of the final rain.

Steady Hands

Friday, February 17th, 2017 – 2:47 pm

I don’t care to be your inspiration. I don’t want to educate people on conversion disorder. I don’t need to teach anyone about PTSD. I just need to live my life in peace. I just want a fraction of control regained over body and mind. I just care to feel like someone I once recognized.

We thought everything was fine. We always think everything is fine. Until it is no longer fine. Maybe if I get angry, I can push through this for a couple minutes without crying. Recovery isn’t pretty or useful for inspiration porn. It’s ugly and painful and scarring. I remember quaint days long since gone when I thought my recovery from two opiate detoxes and two drunk decades were my biggest trials to survive. I used to joke about the book of Job and God’s humor at my history of losing everyone I care about and always getting the cutting edge diseases. My humor is waning.

Yesterday morning, Amy and I worked through another of my violent, dissociative breaks. It was my fifth one in the last year. What quickly shot me seconds away from a trip to the emergency room ended instead with my shaking speechless in the kitchen as she held me for several minutes, running my hand under cold water. I tried to stand upright while we both cried and I came back. She moves fast and holds me tight every time.

Then I had seizures for several hours after that. They keep returning sporadically for minutes at a time, even waking me repeatedly in my sleep last night. Something old, something black and blue, borrowed tremors from tired old trauma. Aftershocks of aftershocks. I hate this disease. I hate feeling helpless. I hate no longer trusting or knowing myself.

In other ways, I have physically shown improvement over the last few weeks and months, which made yesterday’s event more of a scare and surprise for both of us. But of the last five events over the last year, Amy was there to stop the last two from escalating to the point of my possibly hurting myself or someone else. We are fiercely fighting for one another, more than ever before in our thirty years together.

I daily feel like a different man and often hardly know who I am. But I know I will always be in her sure and faithful hands.

Valentine Prayer

Friday, February 10th, 2017 – 1:57 am

Our secret

Is her

Peace for my storm
light back home
when I’m lost
each night
Reason I love
and hope
and trust
and fight
Missed the mirage
only her smile
never hurt
or cry
I fall anew
every time
sunlight hits
her eyes
Amazing strength
and grace
I beg her
let’s run away
my everything
poet’s heart
I’ll ever pray

I envy the sighted with either mind or heart or both quieted.
It’s too wrathful with both awake.
Those too proud to pick will write poems and prayers.
We dutifully and daily don Sisyphean pens and roll our hearts up page again.
We find faith an image will ink and inch closer to the top of the truth, better bleeding love and pain on the page.
I’ve only loved one woman and forever will.
I lust daily for better words to say it still.
I should show you how she still stuns me when she smiles and then the sun hits her green-as-envy eyes with an unreal blue halo.
Or I could try to describe the fathomless fortune of her highest heart.
Do you still believe in such a thing?
We stayed the same age we’ve ever been, in love and each other’s arms.
I will be strong and well again.
For her.
I can.
I am.
All to make her smile and laugh and never cry, even more today than those dazed decades ago, when we first kissed and Portland stoplights were missed at midnight.
She complains I make her sound too good to be true.
Those who know Amy know too, I am not yet that good a man or writer.
But I’m still trying.
She is my light at the top.
I can never quit climbing.


Tuesday, February 7th, 2017 – 5:28 pm

I smacked my cane on the garage door frame earlier today and yelled at one of my corgis, “Chloe, get back here!”

My friend Nicole pulled away from my driveway in her grandfather Elwin’s silver Sebring.

It belongs to her now.

He passed away Sunday in the same Mollala home she spent over a year caring for him.

As a young man, Elwin’s wife Ruba was pregnant and he was only twenty two when he signed up to fight in World War II. On June 6th, 1944, he was one of the brave and terrified young men storming Omaha beach in the D-Day invasion.

Elwin was already in his sixties when Nicole was born. He was almost seventy when Nicole started to grow close to him from the many times she stayed with him and grandma Ruba. 

It was there she fondly remembers his woodcutting, the garden and canning, christmas tree farm and his laughing for hours over coffee with his “cronies at the Y.”

But as much as she loved her grandpa, there were things she went half a lifetime hiding from him, for fear of his disappointment or rejection.

Nicole was twenty four when she first came out as gay to her sister Kayla. Just eight years later, she would tragically lose Kayla to cancer.

When she finally found the courage to tell her mother Susan next, her mom assured her, “I always knew you were gay. I was just waiting for you to tell me.”

Ten years later, Elwin, now in his nineties, found out by accident at one of their Mollala United Methodist potlucks.

One of his church friends said, “Nice service except those damned dykes in the choir.”

Elwin replied, “Agreed. I just don’t know how we’re going to get them out of the church.”

Nicole’s mom had heard enough.

She told her brother, “I need you to drive dad home. I can’t listen to this anymore!”

On the ride home, Elwin asked Nicole’s uncle Keith why his sister was upset. Keith said, “Don’t you get it, dad! Your own granddaughter Nicole is gay!”

Nicole and her grandfather didn’t speak for over a year.

After too much time and regret, he finally asked Nicole’s mom, “How come ‘Coley doesn’t come around as much anymore?”

Her mom replied, “She is worried about you rejecting her for being gay, dad.”

Elwin said, “Okay. I did have a hard time. At first. But please tell her I love her and miss her and want to see her.”

Uncle Keith later tried to help his dad to imagine being a man, yet trapped in a woman’s body.

At the next family picnic, Elwin saw his granddaughter in her nicest blue dress shirt, khakis and short black, dapper cut combed back with blonde highlights.

Her grandfather turned to his then caregiver Shawna and proudly said, “You know, I think Nicole would have made a very handsome man.”

Nicole and Elwin grew close again over the last few years as she became his caregiver in his final days.

Two days ago, Nicole was convinced by her mother to let her grandfather know he could go when he wanted.

Nicole agreed and on her next visit she assured him that if he was ready, he no longer needed to stay for her upcoming fortieth birthday, which is tomorrow.

Less than twelve hours later, Elwin Harley Swigart died peacefully in his sleep at the age of ninety nine.