Melatonin

I dreamed of kicking bears after they chased me up a tree.

I dreamed of children armed with baseball bats and riot gear; perfectly masked so as to hide their innocent faces from those befallen by their wrath.

Perhaps for a few moments I dreamed your face made of stars and the world reborn from the blackest sea and all the blue monsters rising up from the depths onto new lands, the old world seemingly forgotten, unspoken, unseen, and unseen, to be

invisible like the dreams of middle-aged men, kicking their wives while they sleep, steeped in a silent malaise and weighing options to best cope with the inevitable betrayl of that which they tried to drown in those dark depths.

I dreamed of shooting and looting and reaping and raving and winning and losing and running stark naked across a barren field and being

in the end, afraid and tired, worried for the children and that which is coming for them.

I dreamed of kicking bears in their sharp-toothed mouths.

I dreamed of hungry children marching to claim their birthrights.

Melatonin

The energy to come back again and again

A flower seemed
to grow alone
in a field.

Upon closer inspection,
I watched a bee crawl
from underneath
a petal.

The bee whistled a tune;
something
about missing his honey
while being out
on the road.

The song had a slow,
steady melody,
undergirded
by a buzzing melancholy.

Soon, other bees
I also hadn’t noticed
joined in the whistling.

I found the music odd,
unsettling.
The chorus of bees whistling
took me back
to someplace
I thought
I might never
visit again.

I left the bees
to walk in wooded silence
for the next two hours.
While the sun dropped,
I came upon
the shape of a house
as it slowly moved forward
from a dead end
in the woods.

I knew the house was alive,
for it breathed,
and it sighed,
and it waited
to help me remember a world
that I had forgotten.

I sat down
on the front porch
in seat that was warm
and watched a broken moon
appear low
in the sky.

Did you know the moon
was once a simple ball
of amniotic fluid?
Before it became
a great, celestial body?
We were all birthed by the moon and we never even knew it;
that part of our common history
erased.

I then began
to recall
all the things
I learned
during my college years
spent on an isolated island
off the shores of Greenland.

I remembered my moon studies professor
telling us how
she had learned
on her first day at school
that the sun
was not the center
of the universe,
but that it was the moon,
our moon above.

She told us
that the moon
and the sun
had gotten divorced
long ago
over a terrible thing
that was too terrible
to say.

She told us
about the polar nights,
the forever dark
and the clinging cold,
nights which scoffed
at attempts
to separate them
by thin slivers
of noonday light.

She told us
about the colors of the moon,
what they meant,
and why we should fear
a deep-purple sky.

She told us
how the moon
is covered with dust
from the sun,
light and golden,
and how the moon
has an outer ring
like a belt of rocks
strung together
from our mistakes.

In fact, she once told us
that if we stared at the sun,
right into its hot, glowering eye,
we would see the moon within.

She told us
that the moon
is a great jewel,
a magic treasure
of the universe.

She told us
that the moon has two halves,
the side it presents to the sun,
and the other side,
which she never talked about except to say,

“It is impossible
to see it both ways.”

I think back
to how
I was taught
the hidden truths
constraining the moon.

On the porch
that night,
I stared,
wary of the broken,
still-circling moon
and felt anxious
at the approach
of the bees’ whistles
coming to radiate
right through me.

The energy to come back again and again

Kids

Children who were freshmen in high school when this dropped are now done with college (if they were so inclined to pursue that route). It – all of this – evaporates so incredibly fast. Laugh a lot and tell people you love them. Eat cookies. Sleep in the woods. Time is not on your side. Kiss your children.

Kids

The Bat Grave, or Talking with My Son About Living

treading the dull razor line
that’s hastily drawn
whenever we mention death

still young enough to feel
faint echoes of that communal hollow
from whence you sprung not so long ago
kicking, screaming, wondering in fever-pitched frustration
     why this now?

i only listen;
     answer with tender brutality

yes, it will happen to me
     to your mother
          to your sister

yes, other people will live
     in our house
          after we are gone

yes, even batman will die

i know, but even batman will die

for tonight, you don’t believe me

and that’s ok

The Bat Grave, or Talking with My Son About Living

The White Stuff (In the Middle of an Oreo)

Last night’s episode of The Goldbergs (a loving sendup of 80s suburban American) exposed our children to New Kids on the Block – and by extension “Weird” Al (which I’ll get to). If you didn’t see the episode, the two brothers find an old VHS tape of their older sister on which she’d recorded her mad love for NKOTB. The boys planned to use that tape to tease her relentlessly, but couldn’t help themselves from falling in love with the New Kids, resulting in the boys recording themselves lip-syncing Hangin’ Tough. The video gets out and yadda yadda yadda. Good episode (most are). Now one of the many, many awesome things about our kids is that when something grabs their interests they dig right into it – and after the show it was, Was that a real song? Who were NKOTB? Did you like them, Daddy? BOOM!

CUT TO:

INT – JDOUBLEP’S HEAD

We are in the Brainbow.

On a purple couch, suffused in the prismatic light of the Brainbow, sit JORDAN, JOEY, DONNIE, DANNY and JON, THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK, frozen in time around1989. They aren’t doing the New Kids’ dance. They are looking right at us, unmoving, unblinking, seemingly on the verge of tears.

JDOUBLEP
(Voiceover)

DID I LIKE THEM? SHIT. HOW DO I ANSWER THIS? NO I DIDN’T LIKE THEM. I WANTED N.W.A. TO GIVE ‘EM SUMPIN’ TO DANCE TO. I WANTED ICE T TO BREAK OUT HIS DRILL ON ‘EM. I WANTED THE GETO BOYS TO SHOW ‘EM THE MIND OF A LUNATIC!

JOEY

WE’VE BEEN TOGETHER FOR A LONG TIME, BABY.

JDOUBLEP
(Voiceover)

NO. NO. NO.

JOEY & JORDAN

DO YOU HAVE TO LEAVE?

JDOUBLEP
(Voiceover)

I REMEMBER HOW IT ALL BEGAN
I USED TO SING DIRTY RAPS TO MY EASTSIDE FRIENDS

NKOTB
(Standing up, hands over hearts)

PLEASE DON’T GO, J
WE JUST CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT YOU
PLEASE DON’T GO, J
SO LISTEN TO ME… (DON’T GO, J)
PLEASE DON’T GO, J
YOU WOULD RUIN OUR WHOLE WORLD
TELL US YOU’LL STAY
NEVER EVER GO AWAY
WE LOVE YOU (WE LOVE YOU)

CUT TO PREUTOPIA:

No, kids, I can’t say I liked them – coolness codes of late 80s/early 90s forever prevent my saying those words…but I can tell you that I knew all the lyrics to their songs. Then my family teased me and we spent 30 mins youtubing NKOTB videos and doing the New Kids’ dance. I think I’m going to make some shirts that read “Donny is my home boy.”

Soon it was time to brush teeth and put on pjs. And while that was going on I mentioned “Weird” Al’s parody of “The Right Stuff”, which prompted: Who is “Weird” Al?

WHO IS “WEIRD” AL?!?!?

I’d failed as a parent. Our kids are pop music aficionados. They have incredibly nuanced and wacky senses of humor. They write their own parodies of Christmas carols about pooping! How had this taken so long? We quickly remedied this by foregoing standard bedtime routines in favor of 30 minutes of “Weird” Al videos which truly blew their minds and induced fits of giggles all around. It was awesome. They especially liked the Polka Face medley.

Finally, it was lights out and as the day faded away I caught our daughter humming lightly into her pillow: Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh-oh – Hangin’ Tough. Golden moments of parenting.

Then came morning and our son wakes up, rubs his eyes and asks, Can I watch some “Weird” Al videos? That was awesome, too.

This post is dedicated to my brother, M. The P family’s biggest “Weird” Al fan and only admitted NKOTB fan. (You didn’t hear that from me.)

The White Stuff (In the Middle of an Oreo)