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Thu Apr 16, 2015 at 11:47 PM PDT

Like A Vision

by PapaChach

Winter's gone for good. It's past two in the morning, and I just comfortably walked the neighborhood in shorts.

It's warm out. I liked the cold, but I am digging the warm. Somew

"with a chance to make it good somehow
hey what else can we do now
except roll down the window
and let the wind blow back your hair..."

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Thu Mar 05, 2015 at 10:51 PM PST

The Winter's So Long

by PapaChach

Been inside for a good ten minutes now, and my hands still ache from the cold.

There's a full moon out there and I just had to go take a look.

Poured a glass of wine and reached into my left pants pocket, felt the lighter warm and snug down in there.

Crept out the back door, trying my best not to wake anyone.

My brother's cat out on the back porch startled me.

I threw the thick orange scarf around my neck and then lugged the big blue parka up, over, and on to me, and then I stepped outside.

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Winter?

11%16 votes
22%32 votes
10%15 votes
55%77 votes

| 140 votes | Vote | Results

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Sat Nov 15, 2014 at 11:18 PM PST

Forever Ago

by PapaChach

The problems, my own and everyone else's, slipped a million miles away, and I headed down the driveway and then west down Grand, not a cloud in the sky, Saturday morning still a gift, for now but who knows how much longer, my legs like springs, my lungs drawing the cold air down deep.

Once around the park and then up one hill, then another, my stride long and fast, across South Street and into Hudson View Cemetery, nearing a jogger's pace, up one last hill, the groundskeeper on his phone off to my right, we nod at each other, my breaths coming fast and hard, I walk past the open field and toward the gravestones, on the right a guy I went to grade school with, on the left a guy I grew up with, can't believe he's been gone ten years now.

I am feeling good, just those breaths, deep in, steam out, my time my own for a change, and then I think back, do the math, seven years ago, would have been a Thursday, the day before she started showing some signs of life, the day before we starting thinking a miracle might be coming.

One foot in front of the other, how you make it through the moment and through everything, I try to focus on the sound of my feet hitting the ground, hard, but I feel it slipping away, I feel myself slipping back, to a hospital, an intensive care unit, to the faces of the doctors and nurses.

More gravestones, but no one I knew. I read the dates, do the math, add up the years of lives long gone, trying to make it back, and I do, the sun so goddamn bright, the bounce in my step, the appreciation of this minute right here. Two women digging into the ground, planting something, I wander off to the left of them, hoping they don't see me, but one of them does, good morning, she says, good morning, I reply.

I walk on, down toward the field we played on as children, baseball, football, hour upon hour. I keep my head down and keep the pace fast, very fast.

I veer off the path and over toward the edge of a hill, toward an old tree, not sure what type of tree it is, was never much good at that sort of thing, but the trunk must be a few feet around and the branches reach high and I know it's been there my whole life, I know I've seen it before.

I think about standing at this same old tree trunk one afternoon this time of year, late 1992, same type of day, clear sky, cold air. I stop there, at the edge of the hill, think about that day, twenty two years ago. I look down the hill and out at my old hometown. Slate roofs everywhere I look, the same roofs I looked out way back when.

Some things have remain, some have gone. Church steeples still dominate what passes for a skyline, the mighty Hudson still twists and turns, the railroad bridge crosses the river. The smokestacks of the old paper mill have gone. That day in 1992 seems close enough to touch, seems to lie just beyond the reach of my fingertips, what I wanted then has come and gone and come again.

For some reason I feel elation, and I clap my hands together vigorously and yell out into the sunshine and cold air. I feel free, and thrilled to be alive. I wonder how often I will feel this way, wonder how long I have to go, my twenties of the early 90's dissolved into late forties of the mid-teens, the clock running out for sure.

I finally move, walk on, up yet another hill, now on my way home, up past the old stones now, and at the top of the hill, the stone that breaks my heart every time, the little one, rounded at the top, maybe two feet high.

Tommy Parker, it reads. 1909-1915. Born In England. Thy Will Be Done.

I picture a child on a death bed, surrounded by a mother and a father and maybe grandparents and sisters and brothers, who knows. Nothing breaks my heart more than the thought of a child suffering. I wonder what Tommy died from, think of those who loved him living the rest of their lives without him, with all his unrealized promise ripping at least some of the joy out of each and every day.

And I think, for a moment, of another deathbed, one I stood at almost exactly seven years ago. For a long time I thought that deathbed would be the death of the best of me, and for a while it was, but I walk on now, the sun and the cold feeling good, toward a house where a beautiful wife and beautiful children wait for me, I walk fast, and if troubles and sorrows lie somewhere ahead, I don't care at the moment, no, I feel young and strong and so goddamn glad to be alive.

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Sun Nov 02, 2014 at 12:43 AM PDT

A Found Hour

by PapaChach

Like magic, the clock went from 2:00 to 1:00, a free hour found in the midst of the wreckage of the day, a do-over if you wasted the first time the clock went from 1:00 to 2:00 and then stayed up late enough to do it over again.

The days get away from me these days, hours melt in a blizzard of work, the job, the kids, the homework, the arguments, the dishes, the laundry, the cooking, the scrubbing of the bathroom floor. Hours always seem to come with some sort of price tag attached, and I pay the price just for the chance to make it to some hour that never seems to come.

One kid thinks she broke her foot doing gymnastics, another slipped and fell getting out of the shower and seemed fine for the better part of a week and then all of a sudden his left ankle turned purple and swollen. Another one puked all over her mother right before bedtime, and her mother put her in the tub and I sprayed some sort of cleaner all over the floor and wiped it all down with paper towels.

And then I counted the money in my front right pocket, a couple hundred, enough to get the week's grocery shopping at least started tomorrow. I thought about checking the checking account online but thought better of it; wait until tomorrow, yeah. Paid the car insurance, the cable, the heat, the electric, but sure as shit there's something else coming, just can't think of it right now, and as long as I can't, might as well try not to remember it.

There was a six pack in the fridge, and I went to work on that, and threw the headphones on and went online looking for music. A little Hold Steady, a little P-Funk, what with it being Saturday night and all, a little Bruce, and then an old Steve Earle song, "When I Fall," that's the one I repeat a few times.

I think back to a long time ago, another Saturday night, a lot less children on my hands, a lot less of everything, it seems, me and my boy Dan wandering the streets of the city, a whole bunch of sheets to the wind, and then wandering on up to the Beacon Theatre to see Earle perform this song with the Dukes, and his sister coming out to sing the harmony parts just like on the album, and I felt young and strong and full of right answers, knowing life would just kind of work itself on out in a good old way.

Closing in on fifteen years later and amazed at what I didn't know back then, amazed at how what I know now doesn't seem to do me all that much good. I replay the song again and turn around to look at the clock, and more than half of the found hour has already slipped away.

I glance at the articles here, the news.

A lardass governor who couldn't take my eight year old without his security goons backing him up screams at a seemingly decent guy just looking for some answers.

A tool of the oil gods get caught spewing filthy truths, yeah, they're even worse than we thought.

It seems worse than ever, but then I guess people have been thinking that way since the Pharaohs were running things, so I'm not sure.

But I do know that when you take people who give a shit but make them run around like rats trying to make ends meet, the good guys have less of a chance, but again, maybe the good guys never really had a chance anyways. Maybe there is a God, and he or she is one mean old motherfucker who likes to see people suffer, hell, seems that way some days, doesn't it?

The song plays again, I take another pull on the pint glass, I ache for a cigarette, I ache for answers, for justice, for something, but there's nothing but the minutes of a found hour slipping through my fingers, and the hope that maybe I've put at least some of them to decent use.

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Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 11:08 PM PDT

Symptomatic

by PapaChach

Good Lord, what an awful day.

Work was alright, though the bill comes due tomorrow. It'll be a minor miracle if I get out of there on time. Someone asked for a report first thing in the morning and like a cheerful idiot I said, yeah, sure, I can do that. Early in the week someone asked me for something that will probably take an entire day by Friday. Sure, I can do that.

It's already one in the morning and I got a good two hours of drinking and writing in front of me.

Could be worse.

A Gaza invasion, a jet probably mistaken for a military supply plane shot down with 295 civilians aboard.

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Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 12:09 AM PDT

An Opening? (Heaven On Our Minds)

by PapaChach

I think I was seven, maybe eight years old.

The sun going down late on a summer's eve. Dressed to the nines, in my First Communion outfit. My Nana coming in through the back door of Apt. J-3 in the JS Moore Homes.

Pumped up.

The oldest of four.

The other three would stay home with Nana that night.

Me, I was big time. Going out on the town for the night, on up to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to see a real live production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." I used to be able to sing that shit word for word, from start to finish.

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I couldn’t take any more of the local sports talk meatheads and the bad oldies and the decent stations playing not-so-decent stuff as I snaked my way down Route 67 on the way home from work, so I fumbled through the old CD holder, looking for a song commensurate to the occasion, and to my mood.  

We tend to associate birthdays with celebration, and perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that, especially as we age. As the years go by seems like more and more of the people you love wind up on the other side, and the other side goes from a vague concept you maybe think about occasionally to something you know lies in wait for you before not all that much longer, so I suppose, on the one hand, a celebration fits: any day above ground is a good one, as I said to a workmate earlier today.  

But I felt on the wrong side of morose rather than the right side of celebratory as I drove on toward home tonight.  

I looked back and forth between the CDs and the road.  

I see an aqua-colored disc that looks familiar, and pick it out. Dylan’s “Time Out of Mind.”

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Sat May 24, 2014 at 12:11 AM PDT

The Righteous Path

by PapaChach

Out strolling the streets, running my own version of Friday night lights, the air carrying just enough of a taste of both warm and cool to keep me satisfied. Walk two or three blocks before I hear any sound: young voices carrying out from a third story apartment, seems like a video game's on in the background.

Their voices fade within a block, and then nothing more than the sound of my feet making their unsteady way up Chestnut.

Then the sound of car wheels rolling slowly.

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Thu Mar 27, 2014 at 10:50 PM PDT

Somewhere North of Albany

by PapaChach

I felt like I was gonna puke.

We rode the bus on over from Jersey, on over the bridge, on into Manhattan.

I didn't have a watch, didn't wear one then, and don't wear one now.

But I knew the minutes were disappearing, one after another.

I think we stopped at both Port Authority amd Penn Station, though it could have been one or the other. I don't know.

It was a long time ago.

It was April 28, 1993.

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Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 10:40 PM PDT

First Night

by PapaChach

Work sucks, everything sucks. The kids seem to hate me lately, the job's turned into a gigantic pain in the ass, and the car's on the fritz to the tune of eight-fifty plus tax.

I need to figure out how to pay $3,700 worth of bills due by Monday with the $3,200 I'll have to work with. And the taxman lurks around the corner, looking for his $1,500. Man, it pisses me off that motherfucking GE's gonna get a zillion-dollar refund to add to their eleventy-billion in yearly profits while I'm gonna havta scratch my ass and figure out which Peter can rob which Paul to give 'em their yard and a half next month, but that's 'murrika. We're number one, after all, and we didn't get there with progressive taxation, now did we? Always somebody gettin' over on the top of someone else, since the days when George Washington was telling lies about just who chopped down that old cherry tree.

It's enough to drive a man to drink, I'm telling ya, and that's just what I did tonight.

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"Some things baby never told you
Some things papa done ain't right
Spent a lifetime just to get over her..."

Gaslight Anthem, "Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts

Maybe five minutes left in the second quarter, down by five, and I see the coach tap my oldest son on the shoulder.

Get in there, he says.

Bailey gets up from the bench, takes off his warm-up jersey, checks in at the scorer's table, and runs out on to the court.

A few hundred people in the gym by now, an away game for us, the crowd now waiting for the JV game to end and the varsity game to start. I played sports in high school, but at a much smaller school. Might have played before two or three hundred people once, championship game in soccer my junior year. I got in there with the game well in hand, I think we were up 4-0 at the time, mid-second half. I remember getting the ball around forty-five yards out, faking a couple guys out, and firing a shot high over the cross bar.

&&&&

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Sat Nov 16, 2013 at 10:08 PM PST

The Dark

by PapaChach

What I remember most, six years on, is the dark.

It seemed as though the night went on without interruption.

I remember bright, late November sunshine that shone down on the morning of the funeral. Bright sunshine as we walked away from the grave and climbed into the black car. Bright sunshine as we drove away and my son collapsed into my arms crying, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.

The rest of it seems to have happened at night. In the dark.

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