Man, I’m getting old. perhaps too old to be working in a campus coffee shop. Today a student came up to the counter, and I was already prejudiced against him. he has long, curly hair that he somehow manages to poof out in all directions, and he wears gaudy, intentionally tacky and attention-seeking clothing. I had seen him come around before, asking for internet passwords when he hadn’t bought anything (a purchase is required to use the wireless internet at the cafe), and I’d seen him hanging out with various other slacker hipsters who have made it this far in life solely on their parents’ finances. it’s a bit unnerving to see a bunch of kids who don’t work for a thing dressing the way I did when I was a child because they think it’s cool, when I had no choice because we coudn’t afford new clothes. so this kid walks up to the counter and says, “happy latte day.” our wednesday special is “$2 any-size latte”.

“I’m sorry?” I said, not quite sure what he was saying to me.

“I’ll have a latte,” he answers.

“Okay,” I say, “what size?”


“I’m sorry?”

“A soy latte.”

“Okay, what size?”


“Alright, that’ll be $2.70.” Two for the latte, fifty cents for the soy milk, and tax.

“Oh, you’re one of those people,” he says.


“Uh, you’re one of the people that charges me extra for soy.”

“Well, that’s what we do.”

“It’s okay.”

I really had to fight back the urge to jump over the counter and strangle the fucker. And thoughts of violence continue to stream through my head. I think it’s time for me to get moving along. C’mon, folks, let me go to grad school! it is probably in everyone’s best interest.

anyway…sorry if the website has been up and down over the last couple of days. apparently there have been a few technical difficulties on florida drive…but they might be worked out by now. please notice the new poem.

Have a good night, everyone!

A Scarf

We had hard heads once, too
when big flakes fell from an open white sky
layers of fluff building on mailboxes and fire hydrants

Nowadays we walk quickly from driveway to house
from parking lot to grocery store or the front door at work
expensive stocking caps, gloves and a scarf
spare no expense
to keep warm
in those brief moments we spend exposed

but then, way back when
two miles trudged with nothing
but a worn out fall jacket
which had been of questionable value even when brand new
the bottoms of our pant legs
and our socks
soaked through to skin and collecting more snow

But to think of it now,
I can hardly recall that we ever wanted for warmth


I slid the glass door of the pastry case
closed the same way I always do
but I don’t usually leave one finger sticking inside

and when I slammed it shut
the sharp sting surprised me
I tried to punch the countertop to vent the frustration
but it was hardly satisfying since I
couldn’t punch with the already-injured half of
my hand

after settling down for a moment
and while the pain grew in sharpness
signalling the un-stunning of nerve endings
I examined the tip of my finger for damage
and could see a bruise forming
underneath an already misshapen fingernail

I remembered being a child
stepping out of my grandfather’s cream-colored Cadillac
that we used because we had no car
and he was old
the door on that boat of a car was bigger, heavier then I was
so maybe I was using two hands to close it

before I knew what happened I saw
the blood running down my hand
dripping on the street

Mom sat me in the car with Kleenex
and went inside to get by brother

we had to change the evening schedule
to include a trip to the hospital fifteen miles away

between fluorescent lights and stainless steel,
the doc who had burned warts off my hand
cleaned up my cracked and bloody fingernail

the whole nail fell of within a week, of course
and hasn’t grown back exactly right since
but I didn’t get any change when I put that fingernail under my pillow

I haven’t been a patient in a hospital since,
not a stitch, no broken bone


I imagine myself a part of a community
as I step into the restaurant—
a Chinese buffet
in an off-campus strip-mall. I just had my hair cut
by a man whose shop has been there since
seventy, and I plan on going back because it reminds me of home.

The waitress points me to my table—
a booth with a bench on only one side; on the other is a window to the parking lot.
She fetches my tea while I fill the first plate.
I still have to wait
because she didn’t know I wanted chopsticks:

I am just a white boy. Conspicuously,
I pull apart the sticks and rub the tips together,
the insider’s trick for avoiding splinters.

Maybe I’ll be back.
It fits my schedule,
two afternoons a week I’ll come. She’ll bring
my tea and chopsticks; I won’t have to ask.

I savor the thought with a piece of sweet and sour chicken,
when an older guy walks in.
He looks tired, and retired,
and looks at me in the booth.

She looks, too, and looks embarrassed. She motions
to the next table, and it becomes clear—
I’ve taken his seat.

Happy Anniversary, to me!

eight years ago today, the realiztion hit me that I would have a much better chance to become the person that I want to be if I would only stop taking unnecessary risks with my mental health (by way of abusing mind- and mood-altering substances). since then, I have not abused such substances.

sometimes I abuse other things. like the chemicals my brain produces when I engage in particular behaviors, like indulging in rage or sexual excitement, or even the titillation of winning a respectable amount of money on a good hand of poker, or wagering a respectable amount on a bad hand.

other times, though, I just indulge in self-centeredness. I grow comfortable with the feeling that my wants/needs/thoughts/feelings/beliefs are more important than other considerations, such as what’s best for the group or for other people involved, or what’s morally/socially acceptable, or what’s legal. like, for example, driving seventy-five miles per hour in a 55mph zone. or refusing to pay parking meters, and the tickets that result from not paying them. or updating my address with the secretary of state, so that information regarding my driver’s license that is sent in the mail will reach me in a timely manner.

anyway. this last bit of self-centered irresponsibility is going to cost me, now. I was stopped by a state trooper today, who told me that he had clocked me driving seventy-five miles per hour on a 55mph road, and that a check on my license revealed that it was suspended. a little more than a half hour later, I was riding back into Urbana in my friend’s car, and another friend followed us in my car. The officer kept my license and wrote tickets for speeding and for driving on a suspended license. I’m due to appear in court on the 22nd of February, by which time I should have sought legal advice to know how best to proceed. but for the time being, I’m going to pay my parking tickets (who knew I had so many? I thought there were only a handful since the last time I paid) and attempt to have my license reinstated quickly. Will also be found shopping on for a little something to prevent this from happening and I’ll even update my address with the secretary of state. I’ll keep you posted on what happens from there!

Five Months…

…until I graduate. no foreseeable snags…so long as I can scrape by with a c- in two classes this semester, I will have a bachelor’s degree in may. alright!

I sent off my applications to grad school on friday. I had already completed the application for the u of i, but everyone here assured me a number of times that my chances of getting in were just about non-existent. so I also applied to purdue, illinois state, and antioch university in LA. the last one offers some sort of correspondence degree. this means I wouldn’t be getting a teaching assistantship, presumably, but they do offer the opportunity to stick around after the MFA to get a Master’s in education to teach at the college level. anyway, everybody send some positive vibes out to encourage the universe to allow me to pursue these opportunities.

finally, I posted another poem, so go enjoy it. I’ve been spending most of my time loading my backup files onto the new laptop, but I think I’m about as far as I’m going to go with that. so now I can take advantage of the remaining few days prior to the semester’s onset to get some writing done! look forward to a bunch of new stuff!

Dude, I Got a Dell! (again)

I think I’m liking it so far. not too heavy, but a nice big screen…seems to be quick enough and has most of the right stuff…just missing frontpage (so I can edit and publisher (so I can edit meeting schedules). I’ll have to see what I can do about that. but it does have the right software to turn any document into a .pdf!! I will finally be able to post all of the documents on javajunkee in .pdf format for easy printing!

anyway, now I’m off to see if I can get the right equipment to use the new dell to yank all of the important stuff off the old hard drive.

and for the jogging: I’ve been keeping up with it! the first night was between 15 and 20 minutes, because I chose a route that was too short. the following night, I extended the route a little bit, and it probably took between 25 and 30 minutes. did the same route last night and it probably took a little more than half an hour. my legs are awfully sore, but not in such a bad way that I want to stop.

Happy New Year

and happy b-day to my sweetheart!

we decided against the ibook/powerbook and went with another dell, especially because it was the best deal I could find. ($800 with necessary software and warranty!)

she might still buy a mac, though, so we can be on both sides of the fence.

the old dell is on ebay, and I’m fairly hopeful about the auction. within 18 hours of posting, a guy from africa sent me a message saying he was willing to pay an amount not far from the price I paid for my new one! maybe a scammer, who knows. nevertheless, I’m gonna let the auction finish.

I made up a list today and have 13 short-story ideas, not counting ones I’ve already started (probably another dozen or more). now just finding the time to write them…

finally, I’ve made a new year’s resolution: to jog/run for not less than twenty minutes (most likely on a treadmill at CRCE) every night, sunday-thursday, for the whole year. and I am thinking about adding: no eating pastries at work! hey, I quit McD’s and smoking, how hard can this be?