For Anthony Bourdain

Remember that time we

shared a meal in that open market in Chiang Mai

you sweating on that hard plastic chair and me on my cool comfortable couch


Since there is no more “we” after yesterday

I’d like to wish you one last bon voyage

as your memories, memes and molecules disperse

amongst those who knew and admired you


I always thought I’d like being you (like so many others)

chronicling my world-hopping adventures to my legion of fans

sharing tips on the temptations of travels


But now, I’m not so sure

if I’d really like walking those miles in your shoes

if I had to do so with a broken toe


Today, I think just being inspired by you is enough

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work from home

hot shower, english muffin, earl grey

t-shirt is old, desk chair is older

control, alt, delete then a long password

my dot changes from inactive yellow to

ready to work green

my monitor displays little black markings

i digest them, and create new ones

which i send out faster than a blink


but i blink anyways

why am i sitting here again?


ah yes, so that more black markings

will show deposits

that i can use to buy things



there should be more

shouldn’t there?


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2 tree hill

Two Tree Hill

A hundred years ago, two seeds sprouted some distance apart and began their long growth heavenwards. At first struggling for sunlight within the tall grass, they eventually grew to dominate the long, gently sloping hilltop.

Each year the saplings grew taller, spreading long roots below the fertile prairie soil. They stretched leafy arms outwards – towards the setting sun, towards the foot of the hill, and more importantly, towards each other. Patient, as only a tree can be, they waited. A decade passed, and then another as the distance between them slowly closed.

They reveled in the warm sun of summer, leaves bursting with green life. They bore the golden change of each autumn proudly, before casting their multi-faceted garments to the earth below. They slept soundly through the long winters. They silently rejoiced in each spring’s renewal of growth.

Year after year they waited through drenching rains and howling winds. Through deadly, root-drying droughts and through sap-numbing ice storms that threatened to break them. They carefully housed birds, insects, and rodents in their crown, coat and feet.

Over the many seasons, they watched each other mature into majestic pillars that could be seen from miles away. And they waited. Waited for the day they could go beyond looking longingly at each other. For the day they could do more than just listen as the other sighed with the movement of the wind. For the day they could do more than just smell the scent of their own kind. They awaited their first touch as much as the dawn awaits the day. Knowing that, with patience, they would someday find their limbs entwined, forever embracing, forever supporting each other, forever together.

Even though they grew tall quickly, the outward expansion slowed to a pace that only a tree could endure. Many more decades passed. Their skin became thick and gnarled with age. Their once supple trunks grew less forgiving each season. From a distance or viewed from a certain angle, they looked as if they were already touching, but it was not so. Not yet. But soon.

One year after awakening from a particularly bad winter, the spring came with long bouts of sunshine. It was time. Their limbs ached with longing. Their leaves danced with anticipation. A breeze sometimes moved them to within an inch of each others touch. A lifetime of longing was almost within their grasp.

Summer neared its peak, the long days hot, dry, and nearly windless. And the trees were ready. One afternoon, the pressure of the air around them lowered signaling change. The wind began to stir, as dark rain clouds formed and moved slowly towards them. The temperature dropped and they could see a breeze stir the tall, brown grass in the distance. A few raindrops began to fall, and their parched leaves strained to gather the life giving moisture. The storm was nearly upon them.

Lightening flashed, followed shortly by great claps of thunder. They had seen many such storms before. Their branches were so close now a strong enough wind would end their years of yearning. They braced themselves, anxious, yet firm. This was it. But then the wind lessened. The rain slowed. ‘No, no’, they implored, ‘We need the storm to blow. We’ve waited so long and we’re so close. Just give us more of the storm. Please!’.

And the earth responded.

A thick, white bolt suddenly reached down from the sky and up from the earth, and in a deafening crash of light and sound, shot through her tall, proud body, shattering, piercing, and bursting her aged wood into a great, incandescent, yellow-white, ball of flame.

For hours, all he could do was watch in horror as she burned on and on and on. He prayed the wind would carry the flames to his outstretched arms and he could join her in death, but her closest limbs had been severed with the initial blast and fell to the earth between them, barely missing him as they crashed downwards. The wind betrayed him yet again.

She burned through the night.

The morning came and with it a gentle, steady rain. A sickly smell of charred wood and wisps of wet, steamy smoke curled from the blackened, split trunk.  He stood there numb as rain began to fall harder. Now the cursed wind finally grew – as did his anger. He had waited so long. He had been so close to touching her. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t god damned fair! How could he continue on this hill alone until he slowly rotted? How could he stare at her lifeless hulk day after day after day? His limbs quivered with rage as another storm grew in the sky above him. He was a tree and trees were ever patient, but this, this was too much for even a tree to bear. ‘Oh Gaia, why have you forsaken me?’ he called to the great mother.

And the earth responded again.

As the lightening flashed through his body, and his limbs burst into flame, he thanked Her for his release, sparing him a life of staring at the dead remains of a love of a hundred years in the making.

When autumn came, there were no colorful leaves to sail in the wind around the hilltop and blanket the earth in gold and red. When winter came, there were no tall, silent sentinels to break the winds rush over the grassy plain.

But when spring came, after the snows had melted, there in the clearing where the trees had stood, two small seedlings pushed there way up out of the earth, their tiny leaves already touching.

©2004 Tim Deegan

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heart attack

Attack of heart

a while ago
my brain made a deal with my heart
just keep pumping, just keep pumping
and it would ignore the slowing, the slowing, the slowing
of the vital flow of life blood
and the aching, the hardening, and the increasingly numb feeling

but i guess my brain had its fingers crossed
because it keeps sabotaging the pact it made
using chemical weapons like fear and anxiety
churning out peptides and formaldehydes from its command center
above and behind my eyes

it’s a kind of cardiac sneak attack
reporting back, with detailed facts about the hurt its had
and the love it lacks

ah, what’s a poor corazon to do?
it lives up to its end of the deal – just keep pumping, just keep hoping
but the rhythm feels forced and shallow
“I’ll give that heartbeat a seven, Dick, it has a nice sound but it’s hard to dance to”

so I step in and try to revive it – it’s my body after all
with jim beam and adrenaline and sun-drenched dreams
yelling “CLEAR!” and waiting for the shock of joie de vivre
then using the ensuing sparks
to light my way, fight my way, write my way
though the clots of boredom and the plaque of melancholy
and that big sleeper of heart unease – the insidious heart-clogging constrictions of all of life’s ‘what if’s?’

but I can’t seem to break it up, wake it up, shake it up enough
and the slowing continues
like an old clock winding down
after going around in circles too many times

finally, after being in the background all this time
team lung steps in – pissed off at the shortness of breath
and the big twins tell everyone to shut up, stop fighting, sit the fuck down
just breathe and pay attention to nothing else but breath
for ten god damn minutes

my brain complains and sulks, but stops the flow of toxins
my heart beats a little easier, a little stronger
and my lungs and i finally
breathe a sigh of

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the big game

i drive us towards our old university
backroads of course, efficiency is for work not play
i pull off into a weed filled driveway of an abandoned farmhouse
she reloads the drinks
while i pop the top off her miata

i haven’t driven a stick in years
years ago i traded control and power
for the convenience of not having to think
about shifting gears
but now i shove and pull and clutch and rev
and smile
past fields growing more golden with each reminiscing minute
old miles flowing out underneath new tires

she looks at me questioningly as we pull into johnnies tavern
i tell her we’re just going to do one shot and then leave
laughing, she points to the jim beam bottle in the back seat
but i am already headed across the packed parking lot
inside she follows in my wake as i navigate thru the churning sea
of alumni and pre-alumni preparing to rock chalk jayhawk
we toast loudly, forgetting how we ignored our team as students

before heading to the game, we take one final detour
to a little known park i liked on the banks of the kansas river
a group of kids on the play ground watch us pull in
in the middle of the empty parking lot i turn and ask her if she’s heard
that old saying about how its better to ask for forgiveness than permission
she nods and looks at me, a serious look on her face, waiting
i smile and do something i’ve wanted to do all afternoon…
rev then engine, pop the clutch, stomp the gas and turn the wheel hard left
virgin tires start to smoke as we spin like a merry-go-round
i grin, she laughs, the kids cheer loudly
‘this is not what i was expecting!’ she yells
over the revving engine and squealing tires
i stop doing doughnuts and and then calmly exit the park
‘me neither’ i reply, a big smile on my face

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the bike

screw this craptastic day and the horse it rode in on

rev the bike, a hi-tech, mechanical, japanese cat-like snarling
high and whiney and loud

1st gear shoots it’s load like a bullet and 13,000 rpm’s come too soon

i bang 2nd gear, my favorite, adrenal glands pumping faster than
the 65 milesperhour i hit in the blink of an eye

i still have four more gears

slam into 3rd feeling the front end pop up off the ground before digging in

throaty powerband of 4th is felt more than heard over the screaming wind
tach flicks around the dial in a flash but can’t look down now

unleash 5th somewhere way over a hundred
lower my head down behind the tiny windshield

finally slip into 6th, z-rated racing tires floating on the hot pavement
any disturbance, any malfunction and i’m hamburger now

curled right hand holds the acceleration – two fingers ready to engage front brake
right foot out of gears to shift
left foot near back brake pedal
left hand holding tight, no need to clutch yet

and for a few blissful moments…

everything passes by strangely quiet and slow
and blurry and clear and fast at the same time

and there is no thought of work
or house payments or music
or even self

a curve

spotted ahead

begin the ease up, slightly relaxing overtense muscles
the altered state slowly dissipating like a morning dream

back to earth, back to reality
down down

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invisible hand of god

It permeates me as i run today
tingling sensitive nerve endings
before penetrating the myriad pores
on my exposed skin
i imagine positive ions recharging the cells beneath
and i feel energized

i see It brush the surface of the pond
as i jog by and recall last night
where It quietly filled my sails and pushed my boat
through the oil-like water
a whisper in the darkness of carlyle lake

driving on the freeway this morning i felt It envelop
the smooth lines of my coupe
quickly and harmlessly slipping past
in marked contrast to the news on the radio
where It erased a small caribbean island yesterday
with a wave of It’s curled fist

It greets me this new dawn
playing with the curtains
around the open window near my bed
i look out and watch the upper branches of the trees wiggle
as they’re tickled

i can almost hear It laugh

i’m hardly aware of It as
i pull out of the driveway on my motorcycle
but in seconds It keenly makes It’s presence known
as It begins to furiously tug
at anything not aerodynamically correct
It’s roaring voice softens somewhat as i reach up
and close the faceplate on my helmet

and i listen

the musician in me is
in awe with the concept that
It, in all It’s glory
continually plays mother earth like a vast orchestra
her valleys and caves – the holes of an immense flute
the forests – reeds in a giant oboe
the powerlines vibrating and humming – a violin pulled
by It’s unseen fingers

i pull into the parking garage
and get off my bike
the cool stillness shuts It out entirely
and with It’s absence
i begin to feel


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the watch

I once knew a man
who lived by his watch
he looked at it all of the time

All of his life
he scheduled his time
the people he loved got a share

The man had a wife
she gave him a child
somehow he even found time

to go to the park
and watch his son play
but soon they were walking towards home

One day at his job
he was forced to retire
the machine was much faster than he

he stared at his watch
the second hand stopped
he felt for his pulse – it was gone

He fell from his chair
his watch hit the ground
and shattered its glass on the floor

the two faces stared
with hands that won’t work
minutes to memories then gone

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focus she says

the water danced for me
at least on the surface
squinting, i pull on my sunglasses
and she pushes hers off
as our drinks arrive

it’s all about focus, she says
pointing her camera towards the water
colored glass filters my view
clear glass narrows hers

yes, i see the diamonds on the river
floating by, a school of lights
not moving past, shimmering in place, she corrects

* * * * * * * *

you know that old piano won’t hold a tune
the young bartender says while cleaning a glass
but i try anyways
thinking if i could find enough keys
a door would open
and i could share
a piece of me

the white paint is chipped from
the faux ivory majors
but the ebony minors look fine
so i decide to decide
and give the dark side a ride
but she’s right
it’s hard to make discord
sound like a real chord
and the moment passes
more drinks come
cheers to you, cheers to me
and things go slowly
out of

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city noise

at the sidewalk cafe
I discern
a different kind of quiet

not the confining stillness of one’s familiar abode
with it’s tics of clocks
and hum of frigid air
but the sounds of the social embrace

no music for a change
nor directed communication (whether facial or mechanical)
just ambient noises from
the stream of sidewalk life

the click clack of the well-heeled dog on a leash
being led between parked cars
to destinations out of sight, out of mind

conversations coming in and out
of focus

cars passing slowly on delmar avenue

calling for immediate attention
merely listening and observing all creatures
late and small

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