Thursday, February 05, 2015

Big Moon Hug


Big Moon Hug
©Jerry L. Kirk
 (Dedicated to Elly, who has always loved listening to my stories)

“Daddy,” said the little girl, “Why does the moon follow us wherever we go? Is it because we’re special?” The father looked down at his daughter’s soft, pretty face, so full of innocence and wonder, as she gazed inquisitively towards the big, round orb shimmering brightly in the vast night sky. Surrounding it were an unfathomable number of stars that blinked and gleamed with light that shined as if beamed through pinpricks in black velvet curtains draped casually across the heavens. It illuminated the shadowed, suburban street on which they lived and their own yellow house was radiant in the glow.  A serenade of frogs and crickets filled the warm, still air.
“Actually, yes!” he said, swooping her up into his arms and gently sitting her on his knees as he sat down on the steps of their long, front porch.
“Really?” she asked.
 "Really," he said. “Let me tell you a story.” Eager for the tale, she settled deep into the folds of his lap. “Many years ago, when I was a boy just a few years older than you are now, I used to take my dog Boo for long walks in the evening after the sun had set. Night was my favorite time of the day because there was usually no one around and I could let my imagination run free. I always felt safe with Boo and our usual place to walk was on a path that ran along the tree line on the other side of that big hill near Grandma’s house.”
“I know that hill!” the girl interrupted. “I like to play there when we visit Grandma and Grandpa!”
“Yes you do!” he said. “I did too when I was your age. My brothers…your Uncles…and I used to chase each other up it, roll down, and sometimes slide down on pieces of cardboard. In the winter it was the perfect hill for sledding. It was our playground.”
“You were so lucky,” she said.
“You’re pretty lucky too, you know. This is a nice place to grow up.”
“I know. I just like that hill.”
“Anyway,” he said, continuing the story, “One particular night, after dinner, Boo and I set out for our usual walk. Everything seemed fine and normal as we walked through the streets of the neighborhood but as soon as we started getting further away from the houses I realized that something was different.”
“Oh no, Daddy. This isn’t going to be a scary story is it? I don’t like scary.”
“Just listen. It’ll be okay.” He put his long arm around her waist and pulled her in closer. “I couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong until Boo and I got to the top of the hill. Suddenly I realized how unnaturally dark everything was. It was a clear night…there weren’t any clouds at all…but there were no stars and I couldn’t see the moon anywhere.”
“Oh no!” she said.
“The only sounds that could be heard were the crunching of grass under my feet and Boo’s heaving panting. We stopped walking and I looked around. In the direction that we’d come from I could see the glow of streetlights and all the well-lit houses. These were giving us the only real light we had to see by.”
“Could you see Grandma’s house?”
“No, it was too far behind the other houses.”
“What do you think they were all doing back there?”
“Well, since we’d just had dinner, I’m sure that Grandma was cleaning the kitchen and putting away the dishes. Grandpa had probably already fallen asleep in front of the TV, he usually did that after dinner, and your uncles were no doubt in their bedroom wrestling or lifting-weights or trying to find some other way to out macho each other.” His daughter giggled at this. “We were kind of a predictable family in those days. Now, where was I…oh yes! Looking on the other side of the hill I could see the tree line at the bottom, but the woods themselves were pitch black. Normally Boo and I would go down to the edge of the woods to walk. We liked it there because we could hear the scuttling of critters in the trees and the brush and sometimes rabbits or deer would step out into the field, which would of course drive Boo totally crazy!” More giggling. “But on that night the best light was along the hill, so I decided to keep walking there. The good thing is that, even on the darkest nights the sky still has a kind of a natural blue glow, which also helped us to see. I didn’t want to step in any holes or trip on a rock or something. But the whole time that we were walking I kept wondering about where that old moon could be.”
“I wonder too!”
“We had walked for a little while, Boo and I, when suddenly I thought that I heard a voice… someone speaking. And it was strange because the voice sounded like it was both far away and up close at the same time; like someone was whispering to me but they weren’t close enough for me to hear what they were saying. And even stranger is that I couldn’t tell if the voice belonged to a man or a woman.”
“Gosh.”
“Yeah, I was a little freaked out and Boo was acting kind of nervous, on edge. The voice was gone as soon as I heard it. We kept walking, slower though, and I had convinced myself that it was just my imagination, when suddenly I heard it again! This time it was louder, but I still couldn’t make out what it was saying. And now it felt like it was coming from inside my head!”
“Daddy I’m scared.”
“Don’t be, it’s all good. Just weird.” He shifted his body a bit for comfort, leaned forward and hugged her closer.
“Even though I couldn’t understand the voice I knew somehow that it was trying to tell me something. It’s really hard to explain but I felt like it was guiding me someplace. And, for some reason, I wasn’t frightened. Somehow I knew that whatever it was it wouldn’t hurt me. So Boo and I kept on walking, only now we were going down the hill towards the woods. It just seemed like that’s where the voice wanted us to go.  It was darker after we left the hill and starting walking along the tree line and getting much harder to see, but the whispering was still in my head and I knew that I was supposed to keep going. Then, as Boo and I came around a corner of the path, I noticed in the distance a faint glow. As soon as I saw it the whispers in my head got louder, more excited. That’s it, I thought. That’s where it’s taking me! So Boo and I started running and the closer we got the brighter the glow!”
“What was it Daddy?”
“You’ll see. Boo and I came to the edge of a ditch that went down about 3 feet and there was a small creek running through that ditch that went into the woods. I looked down and to my right. There, kind of hidden in some bushes just above the water, was the source of the glow. The voice was really excited now and it was the only sound that I could hear. It was kind of making me a little crazy and I wished that it would stop. Boo was scared of the glow and refused to get any closer no matter how hard I pulled on her leash, so I tied her to a root that was sticking out of the ditch and walked slowly towards it. Boo started whimpering like she didn’t want me to go.”
“Don’t go Daddy!”
He laughed at this. “It’s okay. Really. You’ll see. I wasn’t scared at all!” She burrowed her little body even deeper into his arms and lap. “I pushed the limbs of the bush out of the way so that I could get a closer look…and do you know what I saw?”
“What Daddy what??”
“It was the moon!”
“The moon?”
“Yes, the moon.”
“But how? The moon is big!”
“Well, I can’t really explain it, but I just knew that it was the moon. It was small…about the size of a basketball…but it looked just like it does when in the sky. I could see all the craters and rocks up close, like the pictures in your science book. And it had the same glow around it, also like we see in the sky. The only thing different, except for the size of course, was that it seemed alive! The glow kept getting brighter and then dimmer, like it was breathing.”
“Did it seem nice?”
“Well, I still wasn’t scared. And the voice in my head had calmed down. But I had the feeling that it needed help. That was the reason it had called me. The bushes were all broken and flattened on one side and the ground was dented, so I knew that it had fallen.”
            “Daddy?”
            “Yes?”
            “Maybe the moon has always been small but just seems big when we see it in the sky.”
            “That’s a good observation! You’re so smart. But we know that's not true because astronauts have visited the moon, remember? Listen to the rest of my story...very carefully, and slowly, I reached down and touched it.”
            “What did it feel like?”
            “It was very hard and rough; kind of bumpy. And it was cold! So cold! That’s what surprised me the most. I decided to try and pick it up and as I bent down to do so the voice got really excited again and seemed kind of happy! So I figured that I was doing the right thing. I braced myself to lift because I expected it to be heavy but you know what? It wasn’t heavy at all! It was actually lighter than a basketball. And as I lifted it off the ground and stood up, the glow got brighter and brighter.”
            “Wow!”
            “I know! It was crazy! Boo was all excited and barking now and the voice was almost singing. It sounded so pretty. But now I didn’t know what to do. I looked at the moon in my hands, all lit up from the glow, and I looked at Boo going nuts over there and then I looked at the sky. And it came to me just like that. Somehow, someway, I knew exactly what I had to do.”
            “What Daddy? What did you have to do?!”
            “I had to put that old moon back into the sky.”
            “Yes!!”
            “For some reason, and to this day I don’t know how or why, that moon had fallen out of the sky and landed right there in that ditch. It needed my help and it was my duty to put it back where it belonged.”
            “How could you do it?”
            “The only thing that I could think to do was to throw it.”
            “Throw it?”
            “Yep. I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to try because it had already fallen out of the sky without getting damaged, at least as far as I knew, so how much harm could be done by me throwing it? So I took that moon into my right hand and I got myself in the same position that I did when getting ready to pitch a ball during baseball games. Remember when I told you how good a pitcher I was in Little League? Well, I cocked my arm way back, closed my eyes, and concentrated on throwing that moon as hard as I possibly could. At this point the voice was happily singing away in my head, making just the loveliest music that I ever heard, and it was so loud that I couldn’t even hear Boo’s barking. ”
            “Throw it Daddy, throw it!”
            “I did! I heaved that moon as hard as I possibly could straight at the night sky. I threw it so hard that I thought my arm was going to fly right off my body.”
            “What happened then?!”
            “The craziest thing. I will never forget this sight as long as I live. I threw that moon higher than I’d ever thrown any ball, and just when it looked like it was slowing down and would fall it started to rise up on it’s own! It just kept going and going like a balloon and as it went it got bigger and bigger! Even Boo stopped barking and watched. That moon got so big that it completely filled up the sky and the glow was so bright that I had to squint to see! The craters and the rocks that had only minutes before been so small in my hand were now as big as mountains and boulders.”
            "Wow!"
            "And then it started getting really far away and the further it got the smaller it looked until finally it stopped and took it's proper place in the sky. And then the stars appeared...more stars than I'd ever seen before...and I could see the hill and the woods and all the land around just as clear then as on any other night when the moon was full."
            "YAY!!!"
            "Boo and I stood looking up at that old Moon for a good bit and it just seemed so content up there, back where it belonged, and all of the night was at is should be."
            "And that's why the moon follows us wherever we go?"
            "That's exactly why! When it was time for Boo and I to leave the moon started following us and it stayed with us all the way home. And it's been following us ever since: you, Mommy, Boo and me. I think that's its way of saying thank you, of returning the favor. The moon looks out for us now and, I think, always will."
            He helped his daughter off his lap and watched as she stepped off the porch into the front yard. She stared up at the moon, so bright and proud in that clear, night sky.
            "Thank you Mr. Moon," she said. "Thank you for looking out for all of us. I'm so glad that my Daddy could help you to get back up there. I love you." She raised her arms and spread them wide. "I wish that I could give you a big hug!"
            The Daddy smiled, looked up, and gave a wink. "C'mon little lady," he said.  "It's time to get ready for bed."
            "Okay Daddy." His daughter started walking towards him then stopped and turned once more towards the sky. Her voice soft, she said, "Goodnight Moon." And it seemed as if the night got even brighter.

End
           
 


Friday, January 09, 2015

Life

Here's the thing, man...I love life. I love everything about it. I love the highs and the lows, when I'm mad, when I'm sad, when I'm tired, when I'm jacked on caffeine. I love everything. And I'm so grateful every morning when I wake up and I'm breathing and I'm here and I'm doing this and I'm doing that and I'm going there and I'm with my family and I'm just living, man. I love it all and I don't want it to end. I want to live forever. I want to be around to see the future and to dwell on the past. I want to just keep on keeping on.

I love it when I'm out walking the dog at night and I'm looking up at the moon and that old moon is staring down at me 'cause he knows me true and he's looking out for me. And somewhere past that moon, so far and yet so close, is God, and she's also looking out for me and I consider them both to be my really good friends.

I love it when it's 4 o'clock in the afternoon and the light is just so perfect and it makes everyone look so beautiful. I love it when I get to sleep in late, but I also love to get up early and I love a good book and a good cuppa coffee and good cheese and delicious wine and London, Paris, New York City, Charlotte, Blowing Rock and the mountains. I love my wife, my daughter, my family and all of my friends. It's all good, so very good. I love it all, man.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Best Albums of 2014

And now... drumroll please... the annual 'end-of-the-year-list' that matters only to me! Here is my 'Best Albums of 2014'. It was a decent year for music, dominated by the return of some old but rejuvenated artists plus a few welcome additions to the rock world. And much-needed proof that rock is not dead!

(Clockwise, left to right...)
1. TURN BLUE by The Black Keys / Easily the best of the year and the dynamic duo's most satisfying album, featuring lots of groovy R&B and some epic guitar rock.
2. THEY WANT MY SOUL by Spoon / eclectic throwback alternative rock featuring the years best single, 'Do You'.
3. PLAIN SPOKEN by John Mellencamp / The singer-songwriter's late career resurgence continues with this dylanesque slice of acoustic americana nirvana.
4. MORNING PHASE by Beck / Beautiful and dreamy mellow gold.
5. LOST IN THE DREAM by The War on Drugs / Surging, pulsating, anthemic and atmospheric guitar rock.
6. SUKIERAE by Tweedy / Wilco's leader teams with his son for what is essentially a double-album of supremely crafted rock-pop-folk songs.
7. STANDING IN THE BREACH by Jackson Browne / Proving once again that his music is still vital and important. Beautiful and meaningful songs.
8. ST. VINCENT by St. Vincent / Taking 'Art Rock' to a new high. Weird, wonderful and joyous noises.
9. HIGH HOPES by Bruce Springsteen / Teaming with Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello, Bruce infuses his music with a different and dynamic edge proving once again that is the once and forever 'Boss'
10. SEEDS by TV On The Radio / Melodic and fuzzy art pop driven by keyboards and guitars. These guys just keep getting better.
11. BENJAMIN BOOKER by Benjamin Booker / The return of good old-fashioned, lusty, guitar driven rhythm and blues.
12. SUNBATHING ANIMALS - Parquet Courts / Punk rock lives! 14 pop-rock gems that clock in on an average 3 minutes. Exhilarating!



Friday, December 05, 2014

So Goes The Day



So Goes The Day
By Jerry Kirk


“Shit. Shit! SHIT! What time is it? Oh crap! I’m so late. I’m dead. I’ve got to get up, get moving. I need my phone. What the Hell is wrong with me?? Why did I smoke that? What was I thinking?? I’m such an idiot. I knew that I had to work and now I’m late and I am so stoned. I’ve been zoning out for hours! What was in that stuff? Mark should’ve warned me when I bought it. But I’ll have to score some more. Where’s my phone? Crap…what am I gonna tell them? What excuse haven’t I used lately?  Think, Ryan, think…Shit! I’ve gotta get it together. Be cool. My mouth is so dry. I need a drink. Get to the sink…nice cold water in the face. I wish that I had time for a shower. WHERE’S MY PHONE?? Damn. Here it is, in my pocket. Okay…deep breath, concentrate. Be cool…here goes…”
            “Dave! Yeah man, it’s me, Ryan. I know I know I’m late. Listen dude, I’m sorry. The car wouldn’t start and then I couldn’t find my cell. Oh right, yeah, I had car trouble last week. I guess I need a new set of wheels. But good news! I got it to start! I can be there in 30. No, it won’t happen again, I promise! Okay. Thanks man. You rock!”
            “At least you’re not calling in sick,” he says. That’s what I should’ve done! It’s too late now.  Who am I kidding…he knows I’m high. He always knows. I’m so close to getting canned. What a loser I am…worried about keeping a job as lousy waiter. But hey! That’s what happens when you get yourself kicked out of college! Loser. Christ – how am I gonna handle the dinner shift? Where are those eye drops? Where are my keys? Can I drive? I’m so stoned. That is some truly righteous dope. So stupid, how can I be so stupid? I’ve really got to stop this before it becomes a problem. On my days off… after work…fine…but not before work! I know better than that. I really need to learn moderation. Yeah, that’s a joke.  I really wish that I didn’t have to go in. Maybe Addie can take me. Yes! That’s it. She’s cool, she’ll understand. I’ll promise to give her some. She and her friends would love this stuff.
            “Hey Mom! Where’s Addie? What? She’s not here? (No!) When is she coming home?” Shit. That’s a drag. I guess I’ve got no choice. I have to drive. Man I don’t need another incident. One more ticket and I’ll lose my license. I really just gotta focus; pay attention to the road and everything will be cool. Focus is the key. Hmmm… maybe…I wonder if I smoke a little more if it’ll even out the buzz, clear my head? A little hair of the dog…NO!! I can’t do that. Not with this stuff. I need to come down. Coffee would help. Maybe Mom’s got some in the kitchen. Got to focus! What do I need? I’ve got my cell. I’ve got my keys, wallet. What else? Shit. I’ve got to change into my uniform!! Dave would love that, me showing up in ripped jeans and a tee. This is crazy. The clock is ticking. I am SO gonna get fired and I can’t lose another job; Mom would kick me out for sure. Where’s my shirt? Oh man, still in the hamper. It doesn’t smell too bad. A little wrinkled but that’s okay. Is that it? Shirt, vest, pants; I’ll put on my bowtie when I get there. Shoelaces tied, (that was way too hard), I’m ready to go. WAIT! WHAT WAS THAT?? Oh, just the cat. Shit. What is in this stuff? How long does it last?
            “Huh? What’d you say? No Mom, it’s okay. I don’t need Addie. I just wanted to ask her something. I know I can call her. It’s not important. I have to go to work. OH! HELLO! Don’t scare me like that! My eyes? (Shit!) Nothing. I just woke up. I fell asleep listening to music. Yeah, I’m running late. I know I know…no, I’m not high! NO! Seriously! Stop. I really don’t have time for a lecture right now. Just leave me alone. I’m fine. Everything is okay. I gotta go or I’m gonna get fired. I told you I’m late! Bye.”
            Yeesh. She knows. Dave knows. Everyone is gonna know. What the hell was I thinking? Such an idiot. Okay. Here goes; key in the ignition. Let’s try that again. Why is this so hard? There. Key in. Engine on. That would be so totally ironic if it didn’t start! Not funny Ryan. Here I go. Just have to focus, pay attention to the road. WHEN did this driveway get so long? Dammit! I almost hit the mailbox! There, I’m out. Wait a second for my head to stop spinning. Okay…take it out of reverse and put it in drive. Good. I’m ready, one step at a time. First get out of the neighborhood safely. Just focus, Ryan, Remember to focus…God I wish that I didn’t have to take the freeway. 

End

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Gathering


The Gathering
By Jerry L. Kirk

I hate flowers. Especially yellow; so sunny and fun and positive. Ooooh…La-de-da…Fuck that. So naturally this room is full of ‘em. And now that I look around I see yellow everywhere. Window drapes, couch pillows, placemats. How’d I not notice this before? Even the fucking wine they’re all drinkin’ is piss yellow. Probably cheap shit; just what I’d expect from good ole’ Uncle Clark. Heaven forbid he pry open that wallet and splurge a little. But no, not even for family. Not even for family that we haven’t seen in years. Well, at least he is who he is and not some phony trying to impress. Wow. This is quite the reunion; cousins from Texas, (Marjorie got so fat!), Mom’s sister from Denver; even that dumb-ass hippy half-brother of hers from Taos. I can honestly say…never have I been in one place with so many people I didn’t want to be around. And of course my kids are late. Probably outside hidin’. Sneaking a smoke. Come to think of it, I could go for a smoke myself. But Lord knows this was never the place for that. Aunt Cheryl turning up her nose when she’d smell it on my clothes. Clark tellin’ me how bad it is for my health as if I’m some kind of idiot who wouldn’t know that. Meanwhile, there he is right now shoving some kind of raw lookin’ meat down his pie-hole and chasing it with whiskey. Hypocrite. Yeah, I know who the idiot is.
God I look awful. So damn pale. I don’t know how these people can stand to look at me. I can hardly stand to look at myself. Yeah I see you turning away cousin Sue. Not even gonna make the effort, huh? I know you never liked me. Bitch. Oh for the love of…is that their neighbor Jimmy?! Who invited that weirdo? Probably saw Sue from across the road and invited himself to get a closer look. Creep. Not that I can blame him, though, really. She is fine piece of ass…despite being a bitch. Or does that make her hotter? She knows she’s hot too. God I’d love a drink. Isn’t anyone gonna offer to get me one? Ha Ha, of course not. Jeez I can’t get over how pale I am. White as a ghost! Oh man that’s funny. I crack myself up. Good thing I’ve still got my sense of humor. What the hell is that outside the window? Balloons? What the…what are my kids doin’ out in the front yard settin’ balloons free! Isn’t that supposed to be symbolic or some shit like that? Huh. Never knew them to be so sensitive. Kinda nice, actually. 
HEY OH! Here come the boys from work! Now this party’s gonna livin’ up for sure! I hope Clark’s got that bar good and stocked ‘cause these boys always got a big thirst! Wait. What the…don’t tell me their gonna be a bunch of downers too. Come on guys…get this party started! At least they’re drinkin’ beer. Hey Ricky buddy! What’s up? Why you lookin’ at me so sad? I know I look like shit. Christ, stop it. You’re gonna get me to cryin’. This sucks.
Look at all the pitchurs in this house. They’re everywhere! Hey, there’s Ma out in her garden. That’s a good one. She sure did love to plant things. I miss her sometimes. There’s Cheryl and Clark’s kids…bunch a losers, all of  ‘em. There’s my kids during that visit two Christmases ago. Jeez…how young they look. Time is a crazy thing. Look at those smiles. I guess they’re pretty good kids. Me and Shelly didn’t do so bad. Well, Shelly didn’t do so bad. Me, I wasn’t worth shit as a Dad. Just as bad as my own Dad was to me. You’d think I’d a learned something from his example, but no… the apple really doesn’t far fall I guess. How does that old saying go…“Especially when your pickin’ apples in the garden of hell”…something like that anyway. No surprise I don’t see any pitchurs of me here. No surprise at all.
Oh no what now?? Ricky’s givin’ a toast? Please don’t. Oh what the hell. There’s no stoppin’ him. I’d raise a glass too if I had one to raise. That was nice. Thank you Ricky. You always was one of the good ones. Ha! Just as I suspected; weird Jimmy’s got Sue backed into a corner puttin’ the moves on. What? She’s actually smiling? God, if there were ever two people who deserved each other. What’s going on over there? Jeez… Uncle Brian is pulling out his fiddle? No, please, spare me! Aunt Cheryl’s calling everyone to gather ‘round? And here comes Clark with champagne and glasses. So is this a celebration now? That’s right you bunch of losers… drink up! Cheers and fuck all of you. Okay. I’ve had enough. I’m ready to go, ready to move on. I don’t even care which way I go just get me outta here! How does this work exactly? Do I just close my eyes? Click my heels and make a wish? How do I get outta here??? Christ, who ever told Brian he could play that thing? Augh! And you people, get away from there! Stop crowdin’! Stop looking at me!! Can’t you see how terrible I look? For the love of God would somebody please shut that lid?! Close it already and leave me alone. Please! Just leave me in peace. God I could use a drink. This sucks.


End

Sunday, March 16, 2014

CRADLE


The wind
strokes the sea
bringing salt
to my lips.

The sun scorches
my neck scolding
me like an angry
father.

Father Sun.
Mother Earth
catches me when I
fall.

©Jerry Kirk

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Desperation


I am tired
with no time
for sleep. I
hunger but not for
food. oh

Let me begin
one day without the
alarm. let me
do more with my life
than just get by.

I want to be
so much more than I am
crawling
from this aging skin
              screaming

my rebirth
seeking meaning
demanding

destiny.



©Jerry Kirk