on the shore

Today, I am too tired to keep unpacking. My hands are sore, calloused and raw from working on things around the house. In the past few days since we’ve moved in, I’ve unpacked about half our things (my half), converted our shower doors, upgraded some bathroom hardware, fixed/broke a toiled and assembled some new furniture to name a few of the things. Right now, I’m sitting at the top of the loft, on my writing desk, typing. I can hear my wife sleeping quietly in the living room, curled up with a blanket on top of a body pillow.

Earlier, I rummaged through my books, because I’m looking for something specific. I am looking for Kafka on the Shore. You have to understand that for readers, we have important relationships with our books, relationships that evolve and change as time goes by and we either re-read and build nuance, or we allow our memories to sweeten, yet dilute with distance. Every reader has a few seminal books that anchor them. These are the words that have formed who we are and who we’ve committed to never being. We need these books to inform us and teach us the lessons we knew when we were young, lessons we vowed to live out as we got older. I wish I were not in such need of a reminder today, but I find myself straying from those truths that I once saw so clearly. I don’t mean doctrines, I mean those blurry truths that we hold loosely in our hands like sand or ocean foam.

In the past week, I’ve delighted in the work of my hands. I’ve demolished, built, and rebuilt various items with these hands and the physical work in conjunction with tangible results are a welcome break from a job where I can nary see the fruit of my labor on this side of heaven. I’ve worked on the framework of the home that will surround and raise my coming child, and I’ve found great satisfaction in one of the few ways I can prepare for fatherhood while my wife contributes more to the baby in her nap than I could in all my waking hours. Yet, I’m back at my desk and reminded of the responsibility to leave behind a legacy of words and beautiful ideas; the very things that shaped me more than the walls of my small bedroom in Flushing ever could.

So, I’m diving back into Murakami’s world of falling fish and heavy stones. Maybe I will find something there that reminds me of who I’m supposed to be. Maybe I will find something there worth bringing back home.

art-shaped hole

I’ve been in a funk. It started before I left for Taiwan. A week before the trip, something awakened inside. In my sternum, a dark egg-shaped weight started to rumble with life.

Then, suddenly, I found myself in Taiwan, rushing around a humid island, trying not to lose team members and my job. The weight slept, dormant under the bustle of the mission trip.

Then, once I returned stateside, it rumbled again. I know exactly when it was born.

In early July, a week before Taiwan, I was on a boat to Catalina Island with Stephy. We were trying to stay warm on an unusually cold Southern California day and combat sea-sickness. She leaned her head on my shoulder, fighting the urge to vomit in front of a literal boatload of vacationing families. I pretended like I wasn’t getting hypothermia. There, it occurred to me, I needed to put my submission together.

You see, I had a deadline for an annual writing contest I wanted to submit to. Since I had previously submitted, notifications for the contest came into my inbox reminding me of this year’s deadline. The emails started coming in June, but on account of June being a busy, nightmarish hell-month, I put it off. That is, until my frozen, hallucinogenic mind brought it up.

Later, during the submission compilation process, I realized something rather unpleasant. My work kind of sucked. It wasn’t fake-ass creative false-humility, I mean that I looked at my previous submission for the same contest, and realized that it was better than anything I had written since. Thus, a weight was born.

Someplace, in my chest, there weighs a strange sensation that I should be creating something. It weighs heavier when I’m listening to podcasts and interviews with writers, creators and artists. At times this week, it could have been a thousand pounds.

There’s an art-shaped hole, and you wouldn’t know it, but a hole can be very heavy.


Today, I realized something. I realized something that I realize periodically and always forget. Kind of like Alzheimer’s or the ending to the notebook (insert crying emoji). Today I set aside some extra time to read the Bible and pray. I was time set aside for myself, not for church-work or anything else. Just solo time with the Big Guy. Even as I just started to read, I could sense a weight being lifted. The anxiety and tension of not successfully being a failed writer was assuaged.

I had turned back to the creative world to substitute something God is meant to provide. I ravenously drank from poisoned wells and suffered the resulting explosive-poop-laden dysenteric existence. I keep thinking back to a passage that Thomas often shared with me in our college days. I’ll wrap up by sharing it here.

John 6:67-68
So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

P.S. Funnily enough, time spent in a decent God-time made me pick up a pen (keyboard) for the first time in weeks. So… you know, (moralized summary of anecdote).

04.12 the guys at o’briens

04.12 the guys at o’briens
the guys at o’brien’s
in o’hare are
just warming up

ten in the morning
and they’re on their second pilsner
talking now about their children
about their golf swings
and if the bulls will
get past the wizards

the conversations in airports
boil down to what’s true to
the average american
celebrity divorces
hurricanes in foreign countries
riots in the name of justice

o’brien’s is
a lowest common denominator
say what you want
‘shallow, surface level shit’
but this is the common thread
under our mountain of differences
the canvas under our reds,
blues, whites and blacks

so it’d be wise to raise your glass
tip your hate and salute

these elevator topics
are glue for this cracked earth
you’re goddamned right – go bulls
go bears
even the cubs too
especially those cubs

09.27 totems

I am writing this as I nurse a hot 奶茶 in the back-corner of a HK style cafe in Chinatown. The tables are rickety and sticky and green and the condiments on the table are watered down. I’ve finished my 皮蛋瘦肉粥 and accompanying 油条. Both were soggy and bland but my meal was six bucks and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I’m surrounded by senior citizens, but hearing so much Cantonese reminds me of a good friend and that makes me feel at home.

It is 8:30 and I realize that I’ve already been awake for two hours. When you sleep in your tiny car on a hill next to Candlestick Park, you don’t sleep much, and you don’t sleep well. I think it’s par for the course when you’re on the road, but I’m beginning to wonder if I’m getting too old for this [expletive removed]. I think there’s a special feeling inside of a man when he fills up the gas tank of his car and drives it until it’s empty. I did that twice yesterday, and I like to do it every now and then to quash the wanderlust. Every click of the odometer relieves the pressure that builds within me and tells me that there are goodies on the other side of the long road.

Despite appearances, I generally over-prepare for my road trips, booking campsites and establishing a working knowledge of distances between intended destinations and building a mile-based itinerary. This trip, I didn’t do any of that. It wasn’t until I was stuck in traffic in Big Sur and looking at a chart in the back of my atlas (yes, an atlas.) that I realized Seattle was a pipe dream, and I wasn’t going to make it unless I wanted nothing but highway for four days in a row. I set out with a cardinal direction (North), and my three day travel pack. That includes my sleeping bag, a bivouac sack, dopp kit, and three days worth of clothes. I didn’t have a mile or destination goal, just an understanding that I was going to end up closer to Canada before the day was over.

I set out like I did when I was younger: sans-a-plan, trusting that God would throw some adventures my way. So far, He has not disappointed. Circumstances have opened the door for me to stay in the Bay(ish) area and I’m given the chance to slow things down and ask the questions I need to ask instead of hitting the road and filling my mind with NFL betting lines and Debate commentary. The slowing of pace forces me to think.

Last year, I backpacked through Europe thinking about an answer to a question that I didn’t know until I got there. As I tossed and turned on the hotel bed in Madrid, I learned the question I needed to ask. Then, as I swerved on switchbacks through mountains in Switzerland with my tiny Fiat 500, I learned my answer. When I say answer, it was more like the sound of God laughing at me. Don’t be mad at Him though, I was laughing too. It feels like this trip is also becoming one that surrounds an important question. I can only hope I find out what it is in time.

For a wanderer, there are few anchoring forces, and perhaps fewer anchoring places. These anchors are few, far between and hard to predict. Ironic that for me, someone working in the church (a spiritual place industry), there are surprisingly few places that hold a mystical significance. I’m visiting two such places today. When I last visited these locales, I wrote extensively about them. They were places of ἀναγνώρισις (anagnorisis), that is, tragic revelation. At these locations, our hero glimpsed his fate, learned about himself, saw things that he didn’t before, and even saw things that were yet to be. Today, I will find out if his and ultimately, my own predictions are true. Wish me luck.

1. The Sentinel A.K.A. Columbus Tower, San Francisco. N 37° 47′ 47.774″ W 122° 24′ 18.288″



2. Albion / Little River, California N 39° 16′ 33.842″ W 123° 47′ 8.415″





from love is a watched pot that never boils


he runs his hand,
slowly undoing
the tangles in her hair
letting smooth strands run atop
the webs of his fingers

in this universe,
all is enveloped in black,
freckled with the lights
of the dying stars
but there is a heart
that reverberates with
his same pitch

a heart that
beats like the dusk,
orange and yellow
and brighter than
the thunder and flash


from love is a watched pot that never boils

in a shadowy
dorm room

my lips meet teeth
because she smiles
when I kiss her

or, at least,
that’s how I picture it

her, smiling
with her hand on my chest
as I press

the skin of her palm
casts soft ripples
of lightning through my skin

then I find myself swimming
and again
in the rhythm of her hips and I
feel as though I’ve drowned,

but I’ve drowned
in solid air,
there is life in the sound of her footsteps,
little pockets of air,
found in the violence
of her swaying hair

the weight
of her shoulder
on my chest, the scent
on her nape would’ve be enough
without diamond eyes
cutting me to ribbons

but now, those eyes are gaping open.
mine are still closed,

when she pushes me back,
her smiling mouth is gone
and she’s

my hands are stretched out,
not holding her,
not helping,
not calming her down.


from love is a watched pot that never boils



I know this may never find it’s way to you,
whatever this is.
a letter,
a poem,
a half dream made in a delirium.

however improbable–
I hope it does.
pray that some august evening
finds you with this,
whatever this is

it’s words will reveal my sigh
how you strike me mute
and how my brow softens,
my hands,
throw themselves with sudden gravity
down to my side, and I look your way
with all the fondness
my frail heart can forage.

my eyes,
they struggle in vain
toward you.
and yearn
to tell you of how,
I want badly to kiss you.
my thumb’s palm to stroke
the milky smooth film
of your cheek,
and your skin that looks
to feel like
what skin feels like
after being caught in a sunny rainstorm,
midday in june.

I want to hold you by the small of your back
in a silhouette
with williamsburg behind us
and void alone ahead.

your coat envelops your supple frame
and beneath a sleeve your slender hands hide.
cloth stretches down to the creases
of long fingers and you lay them,
onto the skin of my forearm,
my hand placed on your waist and
my lips below your earlobe.

but you’re no longer
looking at me
and the hollows of your eyes
cast shadows ad infinitum
your face is turned from mine

there in my arms,
on rain drenched streets in brooklyn
you are with me,
but alone.
and I,
I’m the same as the others.

08.07 I am the boatman

from on stage, the plague


08.07 I am the boatman
I will get you across
this cold accursed river

I will row
and you can rest
you’ve paid your toll
you done your best

close your eyes
and lie down in this old wooden boat
let the waves rock you to sleep
and allow the moans
of dead
to serenade your eyelids
down into a deep
deep slumber

let your tears fall
to the river of tears
and let your sorrows
drown in the murky liquid
beneath our feet
never to return

on the other side,
it is greener,
I promise,
I’ve seen it

it’s full of lights
and the lights never dim,
or break
the warmth will fill you
even before you reach the shore,
but you must endure this
and this boatman

in dreams begin responsibilities


“in dreams begins responsibility” – W.B. Yeats (it was Delmore Shwartz that later re-worded it.)

Next week, I’m going traveling through Europe. My usual travel plans usually around driving across America, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I will be backpacking through Madrid, Milan, Locarno and Dublin. It’s essentially because of a Murakami book that misquotes a century old Irishman.

“in dreams begin responsibilities”

I write this on all of my notebooks. There’s a good chance I’m going to tattoo it on my chest. You see, I believe that we have a responsibility to our imaginations, particularly our dreams. Two weeks ago, I dreamt that I was crossing on a bridge in the clouds from Italy into Switzerland. On this bridge in the clouds, I was told the answers to my questions. What are these questions? I don’t know right now.

The trip will take me into three countries where I don’t know the language. It will cost me over $2,000, eat up what little vacation I have and I’ll be traveling alone and abroad when I could be spending time with my family. I had two weeks notice to plan to this trip and since my job situation is in flux and my church stuff is in transition, this trip is imprudent, untimely and unwise.

Nevertheless, it is important for me to go. I was scared. I felt like the stakes were high this time and I was at a crossroads about the kind of person I would become. I want to believe in license—in our ability to shape our destinies with sheer volition. I don’t know if I’ll find what I’m looking for. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but as long as the dreams keep coming, I’m going to keep looking.