new book

New Poetry Collection, Feral Kingdom, Coming Soon

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My latest collection of poetry, Feral Kingdom, is coming soon from Kung Fu Treachery Press. The collection features poems abandoned and cut loose, crawling through the holes in the back fence, running beyond the town line, and disappearing down sprawling country roads into a world unknown. Between the lives we lead, the loves and jobs and homes we claim, there is a place of raw nerves and lonely nights, of bars drenched in neon and highways promising something better. There’s a feral kingdom out there, and all of us have to walk through it, live it, survive it, one way or another.

More details are on the way, including an exact release date and information about reviewer copies and PDFs. For samples of the kind of poetry you’ll find within, feel free to check out “Spiders at Night” from Up The River, “West Texas Skyway” from Punch Drunk Press, or “My Ex’s Father” from Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. But the collection will mostly feature unpublished poetry, and readings and signings will follow upon its release. Thanks for all of your support!

"Ages of Us" from Nights Without Rain

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My new book Nights Without Rain contains 50 brief stories, and this is the newest story of the bunch and the last one added before publication. Signed copies of the book are available and you can find both print and digital versions at Amazon. I hope you enjoy!

Ages of Us

Incandescent afterglow 3 a.m. where the streetlights stain brick walls and dumpsters yellow, orange, filthy neon silent in the southern nights, cigarette ash on my shirt, on the floor, out the door to the broken pavement where the wind carries everything away in time, nothing really yours, never will be mine. I cannot afford a motel room and I cannot afford to call her again. All that is left is the rest of her cigarettes in this pack that I’m burning through one by one and the single REM cassette she left in the dash radio, Dead Letter Office.

It plays on near-muted repeat, insufficient willpower to turn it off, up, or change anything. Drinking Jameson dregs from a pocket bottle all the way down until it’s just the taste of glass on my lips, dull and bitter. Held up to the light, the bottle reflects a dead street, a blurry line in the sand, empty hours approaching 4 a.m., dawn, and whatever comes after.

It was the long drive through Vermont that started it all, a silver creek running along the back dirt road to an A-frame she knew was empty for the summer. We stayed a week, driving into town to find food and liquor and things to talk about.

We met at a party in the town of Hudson and decided to drive north, easy as that.

Want to go for a drive?

And the days took hold, along with black flies that swarmed our eyes during long walks through the forest, but at night they disappeared as we’d slip into that silver water rushing, stony footholds, orchestral turmoil, sweet and daring, holding hands to keep balance. Nocturnal extravagance in the earthen pitch of night. Wet as all things when they begin.

A derelict honeymoon of stupid love.

She began smoking again in Nashville after some good panhandling and stealing quarters from pool tables. We both had the look now, dark rings under our eyes at all hours, unshakable desires that glued our piecemeal existence to one another. We would take the money and feed jukeboxes up and down the back streets where the tourists fade to distant shadows and blinking lights. Her weight against my weight as she played all her favorites: Dead Letter Office, Chronic Town, Life’s Rich Pageant, Document...

She ran her finger down through the condensation along the side of my glass of whiskey and anointed my forehead with a thick bead of water, a blessing. “St. James of New York,” she said, and I asked, “Patron Saint of…?”

In the neon dim of the bar we would pray over glasses and bottles and jostle elbows among rising plumes of smoke and circular stains of dampness on bar tops. Halos cast aside by long dead sinners and saviors. Holy nights of music and her finger wet with condensation, her lips a eucharist I gratefully accepted and returned with all the fumbling grace I could muster, leaning into the night and neon of the bar. We ate the music and stole any drinks we could scrounge up, leftovers, free popcorn at this bar, peanuts at that one. We slept in a parking lot down by the river with legs entwined and music whispering from the dash. She was never far from music, never far from the home we built within one another.

Outside the car the remains of her cigarettes scattered as the wind carried everything away in its own good time.

“Going west is going home,” she said, “all of us going home.”

In Tujunga, CA we ate at diners and would watch for unattended tips left too long on tables, coffee going cold. We got by like that, but by that point our silence with each other stung and we worked that pain like a tongue into a dead tooth stinging long and deep and undeniably pleasurable despite the gutting pain. There was a bar there with red leather booths that opened at ten in the morning and we’d go, play pool, watch the TV showing black and white movies with LuBelle the bartender on weekday mornings.

It was nearby in Montrose where she met the country club chef, tall and rangy and funny, so it wasn’t long before we lost track of one another. The west held little else for me despite the months I spent holding on to any scrap of life that tumbled by, and when I heard she was not long for this world I tried to find her again. But the nurses said she only cried when they told her I was outside waiting, and they would not allow me through.

I like to think that whatever remained of her after the ravenous transition of her body ascended into the fog and warm California nights, thick with condensation and holy silence. I like to think she rose northward beyond Los Padres and Morro Bay, beyond the Big Sur wilderness and the aimless seagulls calling her death song, flying in damp rings in the sky, the lights of Monterrey and Santa Cruz like distant bar signs, calling us home.

But not my home yet. We had lost something at every dot on the map when we headed west, so I headed east, hoping to find a few of those pieces along the way. But whatever I found only made the loss hurt more, made the glaring absence in the passenger seat just goddamn intolerable.

Now, through the blur of windshield rain, the lampposts all catch fire and explode in the 5 a.m. light. The Jacksonville dawn edging on, dashboard clock dead, instincts ticking that internal clock toward the last grain of sand. I’m sobering up now and thinking maybe I’ll drive until I find a boat ramp and roll this old Honda into the sea to find what the land and all its cities have kept for itself all these years, jealous of all us wanderers and what we seek.

I’ll go down there into another age, down into the cool deep, where the holy jukebox music cannot go, where the fire cannot follow. It might be worth it to find her again, and it couldn’t be any worse than this chronic sort of life without.

New Release: The Girl Who Loved Halloween

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The Girl Who Loved Halloween is a story I wanted to write for a long, long time, and I finally sat down and infused all of my favorite Halloween and October memories into this tale of one little girl who loved the holiday just as much as I did, maybe even more so. The details within are heavily autobiographical, but the events are totally new, especially Hannah’s discovery of her unique talent and the people and things this talent brings into her life one Halloween. Here’s the back cover text:

"It’s finally Halloween weekend. Hannah has waited all year for the parties, the pumpkin picking, the costumes, the decorations, the scary stories, and especially the candy. She thrives on the spooky fun so much that her imagination begins to cross boundaries, and dancing skeletons and flying witches evolve from playful daydreams into eerily realistic visions. And on the afternoon before Halloween, on an innocent visit to a local cemetery to make gravestone rubbings, Hannah discovers why her love for the holiday is so special, and so frightening..." 

The book is a standalone story released as both a physical booklet and a digital ebook for Kindle and Fire readers. If you aren’t able to access those versions and would like a free PDF in exchange for a brief review at either Amazon or Goodreads (or elsewhere!), just let me know. I’ll set you up. Thanks, and Happy Halloween!

2017: The Year of Finishing Something...Anything!

2017: The Year of Finishing Something...Anything!

My 2017 writing life started by trying to revise a novel I had worked on for almost a decade, before deciding around March that it just wasn’t working. Plot holes kept shifting, twists I added to make the story unique only made other part of the story implausible, and I kept blending too many genres to the point where I didn’t know if the story was taking place in the past, present, or future, if it was a dystopian story or a noir or both or neither. I admit, I was making it too hard on myself, too complex, but I had lost the clear vision needed to simplify that story. I was in too deep and it just wasn’t working out. I love the characters so damn much, but I decided to stop for good (or...for now?) and pursue other projects I wanted to work on.

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Dead City Jazz coming soon to Epic Rites Press

Epic Rites Press has selected my poetry collection Dead City Jazz for inclusion in their Punk Chapbook Series. This is the second season of their series, which includes 12 chapbooks released over the course of a year to subscribers for just $40, a little over $3 per book. This is an exceptional deal considering the subscription includes work from Ally Malinenko, William F. Taylor, Karina Bush, and many other talented writers, with more to be announced.

Dead City Jazz is a collection of San Antonio poems, of late night breakdowns and smoky bar crawls, of darkened streets and glowing cantina lights, of fading love and frightening lust, of death wishes and jukebox laughter. I'll see about getting my hands on signed copies, but I don't have full details yet on how the series works as far as that goes. But at the price listed for all of the chaps in the series, it really is a good deal to go all in. Many thanks to Wolfgang Carstens for accepting my work! More details coming soon.