Half Luck

Katie never kept anything because between keeping things and letting go, letting go left less room for looking back and looking back is painful.
So when she found herself in yet another situation where she was going to have to let go, she was ready because she had had a lot of practice. Then he told her that she could keep half of his luck.
No. No, she thought. Throw it away like you did with the ends of shoelaces, handwritten pencil letters in your drawers, songs made just for you on shiny CD’s, and stardust cobwebs on your heart. Throw it away like you have to throw away

fast cars through beach towns with illegal parking jobs
clumsy fingers, nylon strings
hand in hand electricity across a dance floor made
for leather soles and weathered souls
blended voice melodies like cannons in the sky that
break the ice on a shooting star, wishing across the sky like
the ice blended drinks that spilled across the floor into
laughter and 2 AM conversations about how
beautiful she was.
Like the thought of a whisper in the middle of the afternoon when her chest was full of the things
she’d let go – a prayer that it was going to be okay.
Throw it all away. Throw it away like it doesn’t feel like stepping all over wildflowers or searing your hand on the kitchen stove. Like you’ve lost a piece of what you’re looking for.

She was ready, ready, ready, unprepared and breaking but ready until he gave her that last thing to drown all her hope in. Half luck. Wouldn’t that mean three and a half years of walking under ladders for the both of them? Or did he have so much heart that the cup would always stay half full?
Half full still meant half hungry and half hungry could mean half starving again. She was thirsty for reckless abandon into twilight hours. She knew to get it one day, after he went away forever, that she’d need to be really, hopelessly lucky. But for now she’d take all the luck she could get.


This story is based off of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks.

If I hear that damn song one more time I might blow this entire setup.
Well, I was going to blow the entire setup anyway, just not in the way that we planned.
“I’ve got you, under my skin…” Frank Sinatra’s voice carries throughout the diner for what to me seems like the thirtieth time that night. It’s actually more like the fourth, but one of these people must really have someone under their skin all right because they keep choosing the song on that stupid, chintzy jukebox.
I’ve got nothing to do but wait for the signal so this whole time I’ve been trying to figure out who it is.
The diner’s got one short order cook left in the back, one guy with a huge schnoz and stained white uniform tending the counter, and one waitress taking care of all the tables. It’s not any of them. The glassy look in each of their eyes says they’ve been here almost eight hours and the only thing under their skin is bacon grease and the remarks of impolite customers. They’re probably sicker of the song than me.
“I’ve got you, deep in the heart of me…”
Maybe it’s that couple sharing the oreo milkshake in the corner booth, one of his hands on her knee under the table like they think no one can see. But I think they’re too busy staring deep into each other’s eyes to care who’s deep in the heart of whatever.
I’d think it was the three kids sitting at the counter but the cowlicks in their hair and ratty jeans with the three root beer floats between them gives me the hint that they don’t have a leftover twenty five cents a pop to be sticking into the machine.
The mother with the bags under her eyes with her two twin boys at the middle table? I think trying to force her kids to eat their grilled cheese and stop pulling at each other’s hair is higher up on her agenda than whatever song is playing incessantly in the background.
The group of twenty somethings by the window probably don’t even know what song this is. The family outside on the patio with the German Shepard tied to the table don’t even get the pleasure of hearing it play.
Well it’s a mystery then because that leaves Ralph and me and it sure as hell isn’t me and Ralph hasn’t budged an inch in the barstool next to me the whole time.
Ralph got under my skin the very first time he walked up to me in that bar and asked, “Can I buy you a drink?” Since I was wearing my favorite A-line red dress and the job at the airline didn’t go through, I said, “Why not.”
I’d said “why not” to a lot of things after that, but after I learned he’d walked up to a different girl a few months later and asked “Can I buy you a drink” to her too, all I can say is, why.
I’d said why not the first time we skipped out on a tab while I distracted the doe-eyed waiter. I’d said why not when we smuggled out some of the local liquor store’s choice stuff under my coat. I’d said why not at the jewelry store, the gas station, anything that would make us a few bucks. Or in some cases maybe more than a few bucks.
I was always asking why not, but I knew exactly why. At first it was just because he was the first man to offer me a drink that wasn’t wearing a clip on tie. At first it was because at home all I had waiting for me was my fourteen year old cat who thought the leather couch in front of the TV was just for him.
Then it was because he would pick me up for dates in a black cadillac convertible and the confidence in his voice when he told the waiter to keep the change. Because we would walk holding hands and whispering down the sidewalk even though we were parked right there. It was because when I got home at night my lamp by my bedside only worked half the time and the other half I would think about how alone I was in a big city. Why? Because I liked the way his eyes looked under his hat when he pulled me close. He called me breathtaking.
Why, why, why not why not. Why not. That one two word phrase could sum up a lot.
Another two word phrase that could sum up a lot and I pictured myself saying one of these days was “I do.”
But now I don’t.
One one of the nights where my lamp did actually work, he said he had some business to attend to, I was sitting watching the city life go by outside the window. Well I saw my life go by out the window too because there he was in his black Cadillac convertible. They drove by in less than a second down the street but it was long enough for me to see that he had one hand on the steering wheel and another on her thigh. She was wearing a red dress, too. I bet her told her she looked breathtaking in it.
The diner was emptying out now. A shame it had to happen here. There’s no other word for the town but quaint, and the little diner fits right in like peanuts at a baseball game.
They serve the kids meals in cardboard cutouts of fancy old cars heaping with french fries and the red and white vinyl tablecloths are sticky from ketchup and grease and who knows what else. They’ve got more license plates on the walls than they’ve got room for people in the seats, and I half expect a barbershop quartet to come out of nowhere and strike up a song. A quarter of the place sells little odds and ends that I think my grandma would like if she were still alive, beaded coin purses and black and white postcards. I don’t know if the smell of hamburger will ever wash out of my hair. And of course there is that damn jukebox that won’t shut up.
“Don’t you know, little fool, you never can win?”
Watson’s, says a humble blue canopy sign above the entrance. I don’t know who Watson is but I think he’ll find it in his heart to forgive me.
It’s clearing out now. People are setting out their tabs. I can feel him tense next to me, one eye fixed on the cash register. Simple job, really. In a second he’s going to tap my leg and go over to the jukebox and keep it playing, just to make sure there’s some background noise. As long as he doesn’t choose the same song. I’d even take “What’s New Pussycat.”
He’s got a revolver tucked into the inside of his trousers. He’s not going to fire it, it’s just to speed the process up a little. But he’s got his little secret with the other girl in the red dress, well I have a secret too. Mine’s tucked into the top of my tights. The metal was cold against my skin but now it’s warm, the trigger’s pressing into my stomach, but I can’t feel it anymore. I can’t feel anything. His secret ruined my life, my secret’s about to do the same to his.

Popsicle stand

I don’t know what I’m doing I don’t know if I’ve done it but if it might be love I’m running from it. A mountain I’m not prepared to summit. What if this was my one hit; a miss, the rest of my life Instagram posts in backwards hats of how I’m definitely, totally not thinking I was the dart that never hit the bullseye. Never even played. Always prayed and delayed the chance to give someone a chance because I was turning renegade. Against the idea that anyone fit the grade, hit the mark, wasn’t afraid. The letter in the mail I slowing realize is never coming, the lyrics to the song I’m forever humming, the clumsy strings on the guitar I’m strumming. I want my life to be stunning but for now I’m stuck gunning down thoughts of regret and shunning. Chimney smoke in a cloud puffs say you’re not allowed to to the pursuit of happiness, till the show’s over bent and bowed. I’ve vowed to be the one who made a ripple, made it loud, but that horizon line’s far away and caught in shrouds. You’re close but I’m looking for you in the lost and found.
I just I just don’t want to be 20 bridesmaids dresses down the road and realize you were the white dress waiting to happen.


We stood on an ivory tower built up brick by brick with porcelain words. Fragile, discussing ever afters or perfect disasters. Discussing the moon haze night and the lives of the people below and pretending neither of us noticed we were the song stuck in each other’s heads and reflecting in each other’s eyes. But we did because you were the playlist to my summer. You sighed to the sky and said you didn’t want to leave. I said “I know” like some Han Solo knockoff because I am too scared to say things back. So we did a few more slow dances in our heads then walked down a spiral staircase into broken butterfly wings and drawn out goodbyes.


He is
He’s shining when he walks into a room. And that other boy, he’s the one who tells her she’s beautiful.
That one, she’s half in love and starstruck in the light.
But the other half is still riding dandelion wings into the past.
That other one – it should work. Their hearts align. Things are easy. Around him she knows she’s the one that teenage boyfriends still dream about.
Just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it’s home.
She wishes she could take off her shoes and smile at the end of a long day. But you can’t live at a hotel.
Her heart is still framed in the eyelashes of someone she met in the spring. When stones skipped across rivers and the moon hung high and she was ready to fall in love. When his hand was in hers.
She knows they will never fit together again, but she’s cold and caught in the rain and tired of being homeless.

Point B

A Harvard study from 2007 shows that the average American spends 101 minutes per day driving, assuming they begin their driving lives at age seventeen and stop putting pedal to the metal when they’re 79.
We spend about seven hours each day in our bedrooms, sleeping. We sit in classrooms or work for hours at a time. We go to restaurants, read in libraries, walk in parks. We live our lives in these places.
The average person spends 101 minutes per day using their car to get them from point A to point B, not realizing that they’re really going from point A to point C because point B in the middle is a place, too – their car.
Each person’s car has a story. If you bought a 2015 Lexus new from the dealership, well, that’s just the beginning of its story and hopefully it has a long road ahead of it. If your car has had three owners, been across the country and back, gone through two transmissions and 227,000 miles, then it’s probably near the end of its story. Yes, that’s my point B, the 2000 Subaru Outback station wagon painted in something called “seafoam green” that is now more “rusty green,” which gets me from point A to point C. Most of the time.

Continue reading “Point B”

Never Getting Older

In a year from now I want to be the song on the radio.
The one that I flip through the stations to find, that other people call in to request.
And even when it’s not on or it’s good and over, parked in the driveway, I want to keep on singing. No matter what happens to me. No matter what driveway I end up on. Right now I laugh when the wind gets knocked out of me and wait for the next blow. I want to look heavenward instead and say that blow’s not coming. I am music notes on airwaves riding raindrops till I reach the sun. And it doesn’t matter that my heart’s gotten bruised and battered because when I’m sung I heal and there’s nothing quite like hitting that note.
I’ll write notes across crimson skies when times are hard, I’ll write across the clouds and the blue and into the ears of those who need me. I will seep through closed doors and out of windowpanes and straight on through the glass, never going out of tune. So tune into me, a living breathing melody of hope. I want to be stuck in people’s heads and the soundtrack to the movie of your life. Whistled under the breath of someone who doesn’t know where they’re going until they find the rainbow they’ve been chasing. I want to be the nostalgia on the lips of someone who’s remembered where they’ve been. A lullaby to all of us awake in the day and an anthem when night finally comes. I want to play a lovesong to the story of a life worth living.


I find you in ordinary objects, in
extension cords running across my carpet and in the
3 A.M. blinking of a traffic light on the corner of that intersection I take every day to get home
stop. go. stop.
I find you in the thread count on my pillowcase.
365. Threadbare. Your fibers
stretch across
the tile floor of a Wendy’s when I’m too tired to cook for myself because
I’m tired of you being gone.
Gone into the wind that never swerves my way again
In the veins of a brown leaf floating through the air.
I see you in extraordinary things, when someone asks me to dance and I blink the tears from the corners of my eyes and try to think about how unremarkable the buttons on a TV remote look.
I see you in the copper door I went down once to get a drink to wash you away – but you resurface in roadside drains and the fog in my bathroom mirror. You resurface in my breakfast cereal and the pedals of my car and when that other boy looks in my eyes and sees the word no.
I find you in lost laughter and the warmth seeping from an embrace. In the shoelace of my brother’s Nike’s.
I find you in the rain that never happens and the storm that always comes. I find you in all these things because I’m broken that I lost you.

you’re made

God recycles and when he made you he chose the prettiest pieces of seashells and the parts in fairytale stories where there are happy endings
out of upside-down kisses in water droplets
You were made from the gossamer
light spinning on spider webs and
everything I ever wanted but
tiptoed away
like a wave retreating-
nothing I can do.
from lightning bolts on gravel roads and the
person in that old scrapbook who makes
you wonder what life was like.
Of the breath of relief after jumping off
the cliff but
the feeling of falling, too
and waiting to fall.
When the candle blows out and it’s dark.
Of a million stars in the dark that you’re not quite
sure aren’t just fireflies
You were made of the love I never got
the chance to hold so
you were made of the hues of ice cubes at the bottom
of a glass of whiskey and
they sky when the clouds are full of rain
the planks of wood on the pier that smell
like sea salt and the neon in Las Vegas lights, the curl
in the corners of a roadmap
to somewhere I’ve never been and
to my heart.
The flames near a glassblowers hands
before the colors are done glowing bright and
I have time to miss them.
he also made you out of
all those puzzle pieces that try to
fit together
but never could