T for Tom

I’ve Never Met Him

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on February 26, 2010

I’ve never met him

but

John Robert Shaw

must’ve been in some kind of trouble.

I know his name because

he left all of his belongings in my garage.

Postcards, pictures,

a box of clothes,

hobbies, furniture, paintings.

I only know his name because I found

his birth certificate that was jammed in the bottom of a briefcase.

and now I know the life story of a man

I’ll never meet.

but

I have no room to talk.

This is my home now because

I’m unemployed

and my friends are letting me sleep under their roof.

I guess you have to be

some kind of down and out

to have

nowhere to turn.

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We Have Raccoons Outside

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on February 26, 2010

We Have Raccoons Outside

and when it gets cold

they move in,

and damn it they’ve found a way into my attic.

and since we can’t afford a trapper

we’re giving the sound treatment.

that’s right,

an all-night mariachi band in my attic.

everyone deserves a song,

but if this gets them on their way

I’ll sleep better

for it.

Everybody Wants To Be Something

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on February 25, 2010

Everybody wants to be something

And all I want to do is write.

write books,

poems,

inspiring works of fiction or even

just stories.

something to get this madness

out of

me.

They all say,

and by ‘they’ I mean the

“lucky ones”

(whatever that means)

who have jobs,

real

jobs that pay

money,

“Get a job!”

and then I’ll have

money

just like them.

But

I’ve had money.

What

I can’t have is

dragging ass into an office

or factory

eight hours a day to

work for nothing

that does nothing

for me.

That’s why I like to

write.

I used to

get paid to

write

but it wasn’t the same as this.

It was some

jag-off

telling me how

useless the copy was

when

he didn’t understand

that I wasn’t

writing

but dragging ass into an office.

It

kills all of us

slowly.

You’ve all heard

the stories

about Kerouac, Bukowski, Ginsberg, Cassidey,

and the rest

and how they would

hop around the country

washing dishes while writing you’re favorite literature,

purely

as a means of

living and getting

drunk.

But where

I went wrong

was where

they got it right.

The bastards never got an

education,

never once tried to make

a life for themselves

and always lived their life

with color,

day to day

because it’s real easy to not need a calendar when

you don’t have a job or

people telling you what to do.

Now

I’m stuck between the dead and the dying,

not living

as either rich or broke.

I can’t even find

work

pushing carts,

chopping trees,

sorting papers,

fixing lights, scrubbing floors, painting houses, or washing clothes

because

those jobs are for the uneducated,

the immigrants,

the poor,

and the people in charge

of such

menial tasks

laugh every time I show up to

ask for work.

“You can’t be serious, you’re

overqualified.”

And

the jobs I want

tell me to fuck off

(I know this by their silence).

“Son, you just don’t have any

experience.”

FUCK EXPERIENCE.

The people who’ve

spent their whole lives

building a résumé are

DEAD. They don’t have

character

and you wouldn’t call them your

friend,

they marry for status because

money makes them comfortable.

What experience do they have?

Have they ever

climbed a mountain,

made love to a woman,

painted a masterpiece, written poetry, made music for an audience,

or seen the world?

I suppose

those things are for

the vacation time,

because they’ve got it all

figured out

and

that means

daily obligations.

they flail their arms

at people like me,

and then you wonder why

I’m bitter and

drink.

Drinking helps me think,

it makes days longer,

women cuter,

jokes funnier, food taste better,

driving more fun,

sometimes it can give me the winning horse number,

and its a good way to

block out the world

and it’s people

telling me what to do.

Nietzsche said

“smoking is vanity” and while

I’ve got that down pat

I’d like to

argue

that these are the vices

of

the thinking man.

I’ve got much

on my mind.

What

better way

than to make people suffer through

my poetry?

But it worked if

you made it this far.

And for that

maybe,

just maybe,

understand me better.

But to the

“lucky ones”

I’m dead

so I suppose their opinion

is worthless.

#2.5

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on February 24, 2010

I posted that and realized it should’ve come from Henry Chinaski.  I need my own altar ego.  I’m not good at this but that’s the point, isn’t it?

#2.5

People, can you feel it? Love is everywhere.

It’s in the way you said goodbye after six long years.

His name was Robert, or Dick, or something.

Love’s in the way you walked through the room where I saw you for the first time,

The way your ass moved caught my eye

but it wasn’t love, yet.

It’s in the way I was chased

through six months of loving another woman

until you took me to your room and swept me away.

It’s in the glass on the shelf,

the only one left after you threw the rest against the wall.

“I don’t love you anymore. That’s why!”

I remember exactly what you said, but I didn’t need a reason from you.

You were leaving, you left.

And now that glass is full of scotch.

Soon it will be empty again,

and the frequency of it’s change reminds me of the bed in my room

that sees a different woman each night,

each with their charm but none of them lasting as long as you.

It’s not in the way these women love me,

It’s in the way I pass the time while they sleep.

But I’ve poured another glass.

Can you feel it? Love is everywhere.

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#2

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on February 24, 2010

Well, one wasn’t enough.  I can’t get The Allman Brothers’s “Revival” out of my head, so I’m giving it’s key line an update.

#2

People, can you feel it? Love is everywhere.

But it’s not in the fields, it’s not in the trees,

It’s not in the mountains, it’s not in the seas,

It’s not in the ground, it’s not in the sky,

It’s not in the bushes or even the vines.

You won’t find it next door or find it in the news,

You won’t find it in books or in the things you use.

If it’s not in the bullets it can’t be in the war,

If it’s not in the fight then it’s not in what we’re fighting for.

But love can be here and love can be there,

It’s only the love we make, so make love everywhere.

People, can you feel it?  Love is everywhere.

This Is Cathartic

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on February 24, 2010

Today’s been one of those days, the kind where I understand exactly where, why, and what’s become of my life, which is to say not something of treasure.  And in an attempt to explain my problems to myself I’m writing this, not as a manifesto but as an open letter to anyone who’s known me in the last five years to shed some light on where I am: I’ve been stronger, I’ve been smarter, I’ve had more ambition, I’ve had things screwed on tight, and, as of recent, the one thing I used to know best I now know very, very, poorly – there’s no telling what is to happen with my life.  The last thing I ever said to someone who used to care about me was that “I knew exactly where I’m going, I’m damn good at my job and nothing can stop me.”  I used that line to make friends even, but I haven’t used that line in a long, long time.

My crippling fault is sadly my greatest trait: I take care of those I know and love at the dire expense of myself.  And now I’ve dug a hole I can’t get out of, at least easily.

I blame my father for this, to no fault of his own.  He grew up stubborn and will leave this world the same way, but in between he’s done everything he could with nothing.  Without getting an education he taught himself a craft and made a life with it, but when the needs of family came calling he did what any loving father would do and sold his craft, packed his bags, and started all over with nothing.  In the process it was, as I’ve been told, been so difficult at times that we couldn’t afford to buy milk when my brother and I were infants; I’ve seen first hand that, though things got better, they didn’t get drastically better.  And just when lady fortune begins to smile, my father does what he does best.  He started doing everything in and out of his power to provide for my mother, my brother, myself, and the people he knew, from his pocket and at his own financial risk.  Without getting into detail, I’ll allow you’re knowledge of the current mortgage crisis to paint the picture – it’s not a good time to work in private construction in an area where there isn’t much, especially when you’re grievously in debt.  But that didn’t matter.  He was doing what he thought best at the time to take care of the people he knew and loved the minute he got something he thought he could give away.  And I’ll be damned if that’s not the most honorable way to live, and I’m damned either way because that’s the single greatest thing I learned from him while growing up.

That characteristic works it way into the backbone of everything I am.  Those of you who’ve known me well as well as the people who’ve talked to me for just five minutes know that I’m as honest as a lion, and it’s made for me as many enemies as it has friends.  But that’s not one trait I’m going to have taken from me.  Hell, if I wanted it gone it wouldn’t leave, but you can’t tell me that telling the truth is ever bad, and if I wanted to be funny I’d say you’re lying.  I hope that everyone finds that part of me honorable, even when I need to be punched.

But to the point, my honesty and stubbornness got me somewhere for a while.  What I took from my upbringing was, in order to take care of everyone I love I could make it easier by getting an education.  So I flew straight from a young age (don’t let me fool though, I wasn’t without mischievous conduct), I kept my grades high, and I was active in the right academics because I knew down the line it would get me to college.  And it did, and to a good one, The U of Texas at Austin.  But when I got there I got in my own way, thinking I could do everything, I mean everything, and still accomplish things.  As I type this, I just overheard a good line: “There’s a time and place for everything, and it’s called college.”  I let the friends I made sometimes get me into trouble, because if it meant we were having fun then I was doing them justice.  I enabled everyone, and that meant they enabled me.  But luckily I got act my together, and in the end was beginning to do what I thought would be the rest of my life.  It’s not, though.

While I was making a name for myself during college and after, I did what I’ve been saying all along: I spent time and money being with the people I cared for, lost sight of my own needs, and now can’t take care of anyone including myself.  I didn’t learn that maybe what people wanted from me was to take care of myself.  And now they’re taking care of me because I can’t.

I’m luckless, listless, lost, and losing.  There are five people in this world who are keeping me off the streets and for that I will owe them my life.  I’m not a bad person, I’ve just made bad decisions.  And the most recent one has cost me, literally, everything I’ve worked toward.

I had greater intentions for this post but it seems to have become a plea for understanding.  I’m trying people.  I need your hope because I’m losing mine.

I’ve got a really good heart, I just can’t catch a break.

He’s A Poet Again

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on February 24, 2010

I’ve decided to write poetry again.  It helped me feel better when I didn’t, and by that math it’s time again.  Mock me all you want.  Here’s the first, originally a thought I had in my head.  It’s short, but succinct.

#1

The glass is not half full

It’s nearly empty because I drank all the whiskey

And the reflection from the booze isn’t of me

But of who I’ve become:

A 5th and a lit cigarette in the hands of a bum.

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Some Thoughts On Dancing

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on February 21, 2010

It’s been sunny in the past and though the clouds have settled in on my life for a while, they always part before long and just when I’ve given up that the rain will go away, the sun comes out again.  We always laugh when someone says it but “the sun will come out tomorrow.”

I guess that’s why I’ve been dancing a lot lately.  Nothing like jumping up and down on the bed, but shuffling my feet everywhere I go to something, anything.  In HEB two days ago I was shopping and sang out loud to the music they were playing, which was not good music.  But I hold on to these feelings because that’s proof that I’ve still got a life and one to be thankful for.  We should all be forever young even if just in body and spirit and it’s the good music I surround myself with that facilitates this for me.  While I type there’s a victrola with The Allman Brothers’s “Beginnings” spinning, some of the music the funkiest blues with covers of Spencer Davis and the like.  The blues are the blues, and to quote Howlin’ Wolf for a minute, “A lot of people be saying ‘I don’t what know the blues are, the blue the blues. What are the blues?’  Well I’m going to tell you what the blues is.  If you ain’t got no money and you’re broke, you got the blues.  When you ain’t got no money to pay your house rent you still got the blues.  Some people say ‘well, I ain’t got the blues.’  But if you still ain’t got no money to pay your house rent or buy food so you can eat you damn sure still got the blues.  And I’ll tell you anytime you ain’t got no money or food you’re thinking evil.  And if you’re thinking evil you got the blues.”

And as close as I can relate to the wolf’s blues I can say that I make it by dancing.  The words may be troubling sad, but when they ask why we dance to the blues it’s because we’re all there in some way, and that is I believe why the blues brings so many different people together.  Grab a good girl and celebrate on the dance floor.

Some people don’t dance enough, I think.  It’s liberating (maybe that’s where Ellen gets it from).  When your blues and too much to handle sometimes maybe just throwing on your dancing shoes will bring a smile to your face, I know it works for me.  And even though the blues won’t let me forget why it’s still the blues, damn it I’m alive and I’m going to dance.

There’s all different kinds though.  There’s blues in old country music and I might feel like a two-step, so I’ll throw on Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, which I defy anyone to say isn’t perfect music for every possible situation.  I’m a Texan after all and if people say “I don’t know get why people say Texans are arrogant,” just take a good look at some of us.  This may be why it takes confidence to dance in public, I must just get mine from my southern heritage apparently.  That’s why a two-step is fun to have in my bag.  Not everyone’s a cowboy to be sure, but everyone knows the blues, and that’s again what brings people together and gets them on the dance floor.  People need to move with people, we’re a social animal, and the blues is something we all understand.  Even if it’s just a little swing and a few twirls, that’s dancing.  I’ve never been one for clubbing, so I can’t speak from much experience, but there is a time and place for a little body movin’ as well.  It is after all a hobby for a good bit of America.  But rock and roll is not dead, and I love that it never will die.  Because out there are a growing number of people who got the blues.  This is becoming a tougher time to be a first world country, and it’s got more people gettin’ the blues.  And I’ve noticed that we’re dancing.

Maybe you’re stepping at half time and that really good couple is putting everyone to shame with some kind of jitterbug, but really does it matter?  Some people are just trying to buy some milk and they have watch me shake my hips down the cereal aisle, but it makes me feel good and I sing, too.  I don’t think that makes me crazy.  It’s the mad ones for me, in the words of the dharma bum himself, and they don’t judge my dancing.

Waltz even if you don’t have a partner, or throw on the tijuana brass and bust a salsa.  But for me it’s the blues.  I can’t say this enough, this whole thing started in my head because I was getting the Led out with the windows down to “Black Country Woman” from Physical Graffiti, the dirtiest funk to come out of a guitar.  I don’t know if there’s a sure-fire way to dance to that, and if someone knows I’d love to be shown.  I just make up moves to songs like that, because I love the song and it deserves dancing, which is another way I’ve been looking at it: maybe some people don’t dance because they’re not hearing the same music I’m hearing. I’m not saying they should, but there’s some melody somewhere that will get everyone shaking.  It is after all, a party in the USA.  With that I’ll show myself the door.

So if you made it this far, you know what to do and I hope you’re doing it it now, wherever you are and whoever you’re with.  If you need help, allow me to set the mood: