What shall I do with the ghost staring at me in my living room?

Shall I shake his hand to congratulate him on his arrival? It must’ve been some ride from wherever he came from, no doubt.

Shall I ask him to tea, ask him about life – and death – and ask him if he’s craving anything, like fresh strawberry pie or braised goat tacos from North Hollywood.

Shall I pass him my joint and tell him it’s more CBD than THC – in case he doesn’t want to get higher than he already is.

Shall I flirt with him, ask him if he still harbors any sexual preferences, or is sex something that’s forgotten once the genitalia turn spectral. 

Shall I listen to his moans and groans, and I stay silent, and wait until he utters the first word in our encounter. Why would it be incumbent upon me to act first? The living are such pushovers. 

Shall I ask him about my parents – how is mother and step-father doing?

Shall I ask him about the election, he surely must know the results; I mean, what’s the point of living then dying then coming back if what he can only offer is the incitement of fear. How boring. How juvenile. How insulting, actually. 

Shall I ask him his age, name, and last-known location, as if I were introducing myself via some old AOL chatroom, surely that must be important; for, at the very least, I can help guide him to wherever he may want to go; perhaps, this could be the perfect reason to use up the last drops of ink in my Epson printer to print out directions for him via Mapquest; he’ll hopefully get this joke, unless of course, he was of the Thomas Bros. generation of navigation. 

Shall I ask about God. Ha, no, LOL.

Shall I invite him to sit down and rewatch that episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” on Netflix with me. The episode where Japanese taxi drivers pilot ghosts around the town of Ishinomaki free of charge, and I’ll joke that the eerie way they would appear in the back of the cab reminded me of his summoning to my living room.

I’ll tell him that I originally watched it with my wife and that she laughed when she saw me squirm inside my snuggie, turning what was supposed to be Netflix and chill into Netflix and chills.

And I’ll ask him if he had ever taken a taxi as a ghost before. And no matter his answer, I’ll fake laugh because, in truth, I wouldn’t be able to relate anyway. And hopefully this will ignite some small talk. And he’ll blather out all the sordid details of his passing, and I’ll nod and smile and mirror his body movements to gain trust, and who knows maybe we’ll turn friends and I’ll invite him to meet my group of friends after the pandemic is over, and he’ll joke that that would be the most ironic thing because, by that time, I’ll be joining him and…

Okay, I think I’ll just get inside my snuggie and pretend he isn’t there.

Music Poetry Vignettes

G Chord to C Chord

The C chord is a magical chord

powerful from the get.

I struggle with its shape

but when my fingers nail it

it defines the moment.

It’s present.

The G chord is just right

like the swish of a basketball through a net.

When it’s strummed

reverberations flutter through my heart.

It echoes through time.

The guitar, like water from a spring.

The guitar, where have you been all my life?

Poetry Vignettes

Beetle on a String

We looped a thread around the beetle’s body.

It buzzed over our heads.

Circling, circling, circling.

No remorse. No retreat.

Wasn’t about life. Wasn’t about a game.

Was about the day, was about time.

The Scarab Beetle, lost in the world.


Only to be handcuffed for being strong.

Held down, flight cancelled for the night.

The next day, dead. The thread tied around its corpse.

Limp-like, breathless.

The salagubang. A friend.

L.A. Vignettes

A Conversation Under a Bridge

La Cienega Blvd. under the 10 freeway.

“I thought it, poetic .”

“Not really; more of a clichéd poetic.”

“Doesn’t it say something to you?”

“What does it say to you?”

“I marvel at the fact that one word, as simple as one word, can move someone, like the same way a poem moves when you read it, all just words. You look at a billboard, words. It gives you a message. You internalize it. Words move, even if those words don’t make sense. Out of context, and sometimes, with way too much context, and even just one word, one tag, that can move.”

“I wonder if the guy who owns all that shit is okay, and of course, I immediately think, of course, he’s not okay. But he was just there. Surviving. And you think, How long does he have left? I mean, if that’s rock bottom…”

“How do you know that that’s rock bottom?”

“If that’s not rock bottom, if that’s not the lowest one will go, one can go, then what does low look like?”

“It looks like death. That’s the lowest one can go.”

“I think we’re high when we’re dead. When we die, we’re not dead anymore. We’re elsewhere. I no longer matter to people, and people no longer matter to me. I, for one, couldn’t give a fuck about another stranger dying.”

“Would you give a fuck if that person who owned all that shit died?”

“Yes. Now, I do. I feel like I know him now.” 

L.A. Vignettes

What Happened to Western Avenue?

What happened to the good ol’ days? Well, they went away with the winter rains. The gutter took them from block to block and dumped down to the beach where the tourists play, down by the Santa Monica Pier.

What happened to Western Avenue? They took away its soul and replaced it with a ghoul. But it’s been so long that nobody noticed that the soul was gone. So the ghoul stays and says hello.

What happened to you and me? You and me are here. We read and we write and sometime we fight about what we read and write, and by some miraculous occurrence and by the end of the night, we find ourselves smoking weed by the dim street light.


Jungle Rules

Inside the No. 52.

Long Beach Transit. Blue limo gold.

A woman choked.

“Your momma,” she said, before the man lunged forward.

His hands on her neck.

Spittle everywhere. White hands gripped the rail.

Red faced with a bus-full of diverted eyes.

No one. Nobody cared.

In the ‘hood, you are on your own.

Attack and be attacked.

“Jungle rules, ya know?”

The hands are now gripped around my neck.

“Best make sure to fight back, cuh.”

Out of towners. Knives on Metro.

The L.A. lesson. The Chicago-boy king.

Attack and be attacked.

He thought he was the shit.