Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Bees

the bees
poem by Mick Tomlinson

first it was the spiders.
they repelled down like paratroopers
they dangled over my coffee
my computer, my sofa, my bed;
legs all over my apartment
spread open, waiting for contact.

I went to war with them,
and won.

last night it was the bees.
I imagine at first it was just one
that flew in by accident,
in through the open window
near my bed.
after a few moments of disoriented
buzzing into walls and ceilings
it finally calmed down
and accepted it's new home.

but what's a home without
friends and family?

that little fucker invited EVERYONE.

leading up to the war between
man vs. bees,
man had been drinking beer
and twisting metal in the driveway
all evening;
the bees remained sober
and full of sting.
6 beers, 1 poem, and an 8 dollar
bottle of wine later
I took the highway to my bedroom,
exited south.

and that's when I first saw them.

three of them at first,
just resting on the wall near the window.
their black & yellow bodies
& folded down wings, tight and still,
I think they were asleep.
I left for the kitchen and returned
with flyswatter in drunken hand..

the first one never knew what hit him,
but the second and third were quick
to figure me out: I was a sudden threat.
they were awake, but their aerial escape
was languid and their stupid little wings
couldn't save them.


I was the Inebriated Emperor,
the king of my dilapidated castle.
I would sleep victoriously,
dream of battlefields littered with fallen warriors
with me standing in the middle, triumphant-
and then I heard The Sound...

it was the sound that's made
by many bees,
the sound heard just before
a swarm attacks.
and it was very, very near:
oh.. my..
behind my rag-tag window blind
was the rest of them
huddled in the upper corner against
the glass, an army of insects
stirring angrily, wings quivering
and coming to life.


I looked down at my miserable
choice of weaponry, I looked around.
I needed a new strategy.
I went back into the kitchen,
opened another beer.
I thought about Sun Tzu's chapter 8:
Variation Of Tactics.
I thought about America and her two wars.
I thought about the Hatfields & McCoys..
and then it hit me.

I returned to my bedroom (battleground)
with a can of oven cleaner
in one hand, and a lighter in the other-
Chapter 12: The Attack By Fire.
I took aim, thumbed the lighter to life,
and sprayed...

the flame blew out
and my incendiary attack became
a chemical attack,
which angered and confused two-dozen
winged stingers and sent them flying
in all directions, my plan had failed.
I felt the tide of war shift to their favor.
I retreated and watched
as my room became a tornado of madness.

I picked up the flyswatter
and in a drunken rage I rushed in, returning fire:
one by one they fell,
they had to land at some point.
I dodged strafing attacks and kamikazee runs,
I was very impressive for being so loaded.
Chapter 5: Energy, Chapter 7: Maneuvering
Sun Tzu would be so proud.

I went to war with them,
and won.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

All In A Days Work

    I've come this close ---->     <---- to almost snubbing two people within the past month. Now before your beautiful mind jumps to it's own conclusions and prematurely labels me as a sociopath, allow me to explain. I am a garbage man, for those of you who didn't know. I drive through neighborhoods every day, in a big truck that has a mechanical arm attached to the side. When I pull up next to a garbage can I use my left hand to operate a joystick, which in turn operates the steel claw (arm) that extends out of the side of the truck and grasps the can. With a few simple hand motions I can raise the can high above the hopper (area that holds the trash) and dump the can's contents inside. Then I simply lower it back down to the sidewalk and proceed to next can. Viola! I'm a garbage man.

    By now you're probably wondering what this has to do with me almost squashing two human lives. Be patient, turbo, I had to set the scene. Now that you understand my role as a trash picker-upper I can further explain my story. Take the aforementioned knowledge I just gave you and come with me. And please, be polite to others as you read along. There's room for all of us in here, no need to get cranky.

    It's Tuesday and I'm driving along a somewhat busier street than normal. Typically if I'm inside a neighborhood traffic is minimal, but this street was a major connector between two areas, a well-traveled through way, and it was that time of morning when everyone is hustling to get to work. So I'm humping along, can-to-can, watching my mirrors as I go. Everything is normal, cars are zipping by beside me, the morning is warming with the rising sun. The Joe Rogan Experience podcast is playing in my iPod and I'm listening to him rant about ancient civilizations and the history of language and what role it's played in the human race. Pretty heady topic for first thing in the morning, but that's how I roll.

    Then in my right-side mirror I notice a bicyclist about two blocks back, he's headed in my direction and gaining fast. On this particular street there is no bicycle lane, just street and sidewalk. He's cycling in the street close to the curb and now he's about a block away from me. I keep my eye on him as I move to my next can. Big trucks have blind spots, but I know my truck well and I pay good attention to my mirrors, back-up camera and surroundings. In addition to blind spots, my truck has another hazard that other big trucks don't: that mechanical steel arm that I mentioned earlier. This is the last thing on the bicyclist's mind. The only thing he sees is an enormous obstacle ahead that he needs to get around and he has one decision to make: whether to pass me on the left or the right.

    Vehicles have it a little easier, they can only pass me on my left. They don't have the luxury of riding up onto the sidewalk when the going gets tough. The bicyclist, however, does. I'm aware of this nifty little trick and as he finally gains on me I have a garbage can in the steel arm and it is high above my truck in the dump position. I study my mirrors to see if the bicycle guy is going to stick to the street or the sidewalk. I see him lean left and veer out into the street, it's a fine choice, so I twist on the joystick and bring the garbage can back down to the sidewalk. In the four seconds it takes for this to happen, the bicyclist had changed his mind and decided to take the sidewalk. The next thing I see is him whizzing beneath a 3,000lb steel arm on its downward descent. I missed him by INCHES.

    I sat there for a moment, bewildered and stupefied. You have to realize that the mechanical arm comes down with such great force, had I actually clipped him in the head chances are he would've suffered severe skull damage that more than likely would've ended his life. And I would've had to finish out the rest of my life trying to cope with the fact that I accidentally killed another human being. People, use your brains out there, that's all I'm asking. And be patient too. Time is a true beauty, cherish it, and I'm not talking about the time you see on your wrist watch, I'm talking about the time we spend doing the things we love, or with the people we care about. In short, don't play limbo with a garbage truck, okay?

Whoa I just spent a lot of time on that, and it's only the first half of my 2 part story. I'll tell you what, since I know how valuable your time is I will summarize this next event in a paragraph or two. I'll keep it simple so that you can get back to doing the things you love! Am I not the most generous man on the planet? I know you love me, calm down.. and please, stop humping my leg.

    So this next story is for all you parents out there. I'm not a parent, but even I could do a better job than the two mothers in this story. Same scenario: I'm in my garbage truck going can-to-can. This time I'm deep inside a closed neighborhood, zero traffic. Up ahead there are two moms walking and talking together and with them are their two very small children. The kids are both riding on plastic big wheels. All four of them are on the sidewalk and as I get closer the kids get excited and start zig-zagging around the cans. I've caught up with the children but the mothers have walked ahead by about a house length. I'm next to the can I need to dump, but I can't dump it because the kids are parked right next to it. I shoot a look at the mothers and they call to the little boys to move. They do move away, but not very far. I dump the can and move on to the next. I shoot another look at the moms, they yell at the kids.

    By now I'm furious. These mothers don't have the presence of mind to remove their kids from the sidewalk long enough to let me pass. Instead they allow their boys to ride very near my danger zone. I look at the moms with a stern face and I motion with my hand to get those precious little monsters far away from my truck. Finally they get the message and they walk up next to a garage door and call their boys up. All four of them are now lined up at the top of a sloped driveway that angles down to the street. The boys are still on their big wheels, but at least they're at their mothers' heels. Capitalizing on the moment, I hurry and dump the can. As I am in the downward motion and the garbage can is returning back to the sidewalk, one of the boys decides to unleash and pedals down the driveway. Before I know it, he's suddenly right back in my danger zone. Unbelievable!

    Unfortunately these two close-calls are just a day in the life of a garbage man. We have to always be on the look-out for things like this. Children, adults, bicyclists, basketball hoops, parked cars, moving cars, mailboxes, etc. I wouldn't trade any of it though, I really do love my job. Maybe in another blog I'll explain why being a garbage man is such a kick in the pants. It's pretty much the best, last remaining middle class job in America, and I'm lucky to have it.

Ciao, folks!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Alien Babies Wrought Against This World

I remember everything became very small; tiny little pieces of a disorganized life fell from shelves and crashed onto the ceramic tiles below. The sound of fragile things shattering all across the floor woke my mother, who appeared in the entry way with her auburn colored robe wrapped tightly around her, her hands tucked somewhere inside of it. I could see her breasts pressing through, they matched her eyes. Her hair reminded me of snakes fucking, I wanted to run away.
   "What is this all about?" she asked in a sleepy monotone voice. She took two steps into the room and her foot made contact with a shard of broken dream. "Goddamn it! What have you done now?" she shouted as she bent down to inspect her wounded sole. It was bleeding, we both knew it. The light from the pantry window shone through just enough to reveal the red around her toes, her life was spilling out onto the floor.

I was nervous, I didn't want to move. I figured if I stood still long enough she might forget I was ever part of this. I remembered when I was younger, maybe 16 or so, I took a shit into a zip lock baggie and wrote "German Chocolate" on it with a black sharpie and mailed it to my cousin in Jersey. To this day he still brings it up at family reunions. Some people cling to memories as though they'll never make new ones. Maybe it's not that, maybe they're afraid they'll never be able to outdo the ones they already have. It's possible, I have a few that are record setters, for sure.

   "I accidentally let a pile of dishware fall through my fingers. I'm sorry, mom, I really thought I had them grasped pretty well. Sometimes things still find a way to get loose, you know? I think we're only down a plate or six, it's not as bad as it seems, I'm sure of it. I've been witness to worse, honest." I proclaimed as she stood upright and flicked a shard of glass into the sink near her.
   "I'm going to hurt you, boy. I'm going to use some of this broken dinnerware to slice you up into stupid little pieces. You sicken me. I didn't give birth to you, an alien did. An alien from a far away planet flew all this way and birthed a stupid little reject, and that reject is you. Do you understand what I'm telling you? You are the offspring of a degenerate alien race that got lost and fucked an earthling out of despair. That's why you break dishes all the time, you have alien blood running through those dainty little alien fingers of yours, you can't grasp well. Humans can, though. Humans can be good little boys for their mothers." She was standing almost directly in front of me now. Her breath smelled of Irish whiskey and her eyes jaunted in their sockets, a trembling affair, to say the least.

    It was difficult for me to believe that this could be happening all over again. Last year, on my birthday, almost the exact same ordeal took place. Only then it was a crate full of underdeveloped kittens, some of them were cute as all get out. 2 out of 6 lived, so I wasn't sure what all the fuss was about. I was treated like a such a child then, I never understood that. Yeah, so some of the kittens died, so what, it happens. I'm 41 years old for Christ's sake, and still she treats me like a child! Maybe she's right, maybe I am an alien baby. Maybe one day I will use my ray gun to eliminate everything that threatens my well being. Maybe... one day... maybe.


I'm not sure why I wrote that little piece of fiction, it sort of popped into my head as I sat down and started typing. It appears that I have a tendency to write passionately about the painful side of life. I think maybe my purpose as a writer is to dive in deep and go places where many people are too uncomfortable to go. Fact: humans hurt other humans all the time. We wound each other in ways that sometimes last forever. I like to write about those wounds. I like to put faces and names and stories to the heartache that we all know is out there. I realize I'm not the easiest writer to read at times, but as long as there are scary mothers out there like the one in this story, I will write about them. Same goes for other scary humans as well. It is my duty to let the worms crawl through the mud.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Man Named Tom Collins

The Budweiser clock hanging just above the doorway leading into the kitchen read 4:18pm. The obnoxious sounds of the lottery machines could be heard over the equally obnoxious sounds coming from the ESPN channel on the big screen TV. Edgar sat at the far end of the bar spinning a beer coaster in circles. It was warped from hard use and cocktail condensation and it bowed in such a way that when spun it twirled just like a top. A minute ago he counted fourteen revolutions, it was his highest record yet.

    "Goooooooooaaaaaaaal! Goooooooooaaaaaaaaal! Gooooooooooaaaaaaaal!" the announcer narrating the soccer match on TV bellowed. Manchester United had just scored on Liverpool. "Half the world has gone completely mad." Edgar thought to himself. And just then, as if his thoughts warranted special attention, the door to the dimly lit bar opened and a flood of outside light rushed in. It was as if he'd been drinking during an eclipse and suddenly the sun reappeared as the moon slid away clandestinely. Bright light, new and invigorating, filled up the place like a mother's love. Edgar could see the silhouette of an ogre standing in the doorway, strands of hair leaping from it's enormous outline haphazardly. Puffs of forced air shot forward from it's facial area and the bar immediately began to smell like a farm. The beast grunted and heaved and moved inside, the door closing behind it as darkness enveloped it while it stood there glaring at the bar. It seemed thirsty. "Well you came at the right time, Beast, happy hour starts at 4pm here." Edgar thought.

Uninterested, Edgar turned his attention back to his beer and coaster. He picked the coaster up and flipped it through his fingers a few times. He was thinking about the cute little thing who lived down in The Big State. She was a writer too, and she wrote in a unique way that captivated him, even while he slept. Often times he'd wake up, still drunk, and find himself thinking about the last thing she wrote. He had never met her before, but it felt like they'd known each other forever. If they lived in the same town she'd more than likely be sitting right next to him, spinning her own beer coaster, trying hard to beat fourteen. She was something special, they don't usually grow that well in this soil these days.

Just last week he had been at a poetry reading downtown, and after reading eight poems to a bohemian crowd of about thirty people, Edgar found himself getting blown in the bathroom by a goth girl whose poetry had been less than mediocre. Her father was all-American military and had forced his chain of command down her throat on more than one occasion. He moved her from base to base, state to state, completely wrecking her childhood and social development in the process. And there she was, a twenty-something girl trying to black over her existence, sucking a poet's cock in the bathroom of a small downtown dive on a Thursday night. In times like this all we can do is bring the bottle to our lips or the gun to our temple. She had reached for the gun.

    "Hey bartender," Edgar asked, "can I get another beer and also a Tom Collins for the Beast sitting to my right?
    As the bartender began to pour another Bud into a pint glass he turned his head and spoke over his shoulder, "Sorry Edge, we retired that drink about a year ago."
    Glossed by curiosity, Edgar pondered for a moment before replying. "Let me get this straight, did you just say you retired a drink from your bar menu?"
     "That's correct, my man. We officially stopped serving Tom Collins on March 13th of last year, when our own local Tom Collins, who used to be a regular here, passed away in a hunting accident. He was hunting bull elk near the Santiam River when he got shot in the back of the head by a stray bullet. I heard it opened up his face like a split fillet. Awful, just awful."
    Edgar sat there processing all the information just given to him. "So you mean the entire situation is awful or your description of the story is? Because honestly, what the hell man?" He shook his head in awe and accepted the beer as it was handed to him. He glanced over at The Beast and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "I'm just as shocked as you are."

    "We all miss him dearly. He was a joy to have around, until he started drinking, that is. Yeah ol' Tom C. was an absolute delight, yessir. Matter-of-fact he used to sit right there in that very seat you're sitting in. He'd order a Tom Collins two at a time and drink 'em all the way past nine. He was a walking cliche, that guy. But we loved him dearly, and when he died the owner decided to retire the drink. You know, like they do with the jersey number of a great athlete when he calls it quits. The owner is a real sports nut and he thought it was the right thing to do." The bartender started placing a rack of clean cups back into their spots as he contined, "So that's it, no more of either Tom Collins. It's as though two things died at once. Kinda strange, ain't it?"
    Edgar looked over for a moment and then up at the bartender, "Yeah I suppose it is. So, do you have many white Russians living around here, and if so, have any of them died?
    The bartender stared at Edgar blankly.

The End.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bumper Stinker

I was driving home from work the other day when I came upon a green Toyota pick-up truck. He was in my own lane, so when I caught up with him at the red light, I was directly behind him waiting for the light to change. He had a bumper sticker on his tailgate, just one, and it read:
Hmm, okay. The fact that this was the only bumper sticker on this guy's truck meant that he really thought it was hysterical. I mean, come on, what's not funny about that, right? Well I'll tell you. If you are willing to display this thought to everyone who lives in your town, then at least go all the way with it. Here's real the problem with this bumper sticker: it doesn't go far enough. Yes, that's right. Here, let me explain.

Anytime you try and deliver a naughty potty joke, you're taking the chance of offending many people. Shit humor is difficult to pull off, especially when it's in the form of a bumper sticker AND has an actual picture of a stinky pile of POOP to further emphasize it. Some might say the poo pic is an example of this sticker taking it all the way, but I disagree. It only adds REJECTION to an already mediocre joke. As I sat there reading it I shook my head and refused to accept this bumper sticker as funny, and also refused to accept this guy as part of my community.

Now, had the sticker read this instead: "I'm only speeding cause I already shit my pants" AND included a picture (I'll let you use your imagination) then my reaction would have been entirely different. While I personally would never put something like that on my own vehicle, I would at least have been completely shocked and laughed in disbelief because of it, and the true intended result would've been achieved.