The Stuff

Today’s free-verse experiment in…something.

The Stuff

Ah, yes, you remember the Stuff
and miss it fondly on occasion.
Day coming, day going,
there was a liquid for the moment.
The socializer, the bravery fuel,
the red ritual accompaniment,
the bubbly social lubricant (not like that, ya perv!),
the perfect tart, acidic white to go with food,
or a hot, sunny day
or some exotic spot out of country
or an elegant dinner
or a gathering with friends
or a chat with your buddy
or a lonely, sad night by yourself.
You won’t judge now
if others still consume:
you had those moments yourself,
many a time and again.
Though you worry when you see others
follow your dark path
long after you turned back.

Eventually you had to stop, of course.
No blackouts,
no lost weekends,
no coming-to
in a puddle of your own making.
But you weren’t quite on top of your game, either, were you?
not with that Stuff.
The work always suffered a little.
The mornings always starting a bit slower.
The weight always creeping that much higher.
And you kept coming back for…
The medicine. The anesthetic. The stimulant. The depressant.
The coping mechanism. The Muse.
The Stuff always called,
and you always answered.

And what do you do with yourself now?
You take reality straight, no chaser.
You’re forced to face the face that faces back:
gray-haired, watery blue-eyed, overweight,
aging, unstable, neurotic, intellectual, sarcastic geek.
All the stuff that made you self-conscious
is all you’ve got left,
and now you’ve got to live with it.

There’s a woman willing to take you
but she doesn’t know the Drinking You.
She sees only the vulnerable, middle-aged, non-drinking dork
who’s been forced into honesty
with himself and with others
because he’s got nothing left.
She hasn’t seen the surly nastiness,
but she doesn’t see the inspired creative, either.
No roller-coaster emotions,
no need to cope,
but nothing to inspire visions on paper, either.
That’s your story without the Stuff:
one day like another,
just calm and well-balanced
with nothing to say.
She doesn’t see how weird that is,
how frightening.
And you don’t trust
that the Stuff won’t return.
If you could drink in moderation,
you would be.
But you’re not, and your life awaits.
Get to work.

/b 11/29/22

Poetry Experiment: Do, Be, Do

Here’s where my brain went at 6:30 this morning…

Do, Be, Do

The mind dithers and withers
as it goes
Pursue your fondest dream today
or bake in the TV’s glow?
Things to go, places to do
and always a bill at the end
With good and bad habits
to cultivate and mend.
No doubt the clock ticks ever
farther down–
Will you grin when the phone chimes
or frown?
Are you truly busy today,
with chores ever pressing,
Or just keeping boredom at bay
while the Horsemen are still dressing?

–BL, 3/3/22

Forced in on Myself

I’m not expecting any great “transformation” or personal insights during this period of enforced isolation. They could happen, mind you, but I’m not expecting or forcing any. What follows are my thoughts about the state of my soul before and during this shared crisis called pandemic. Continue reading “Forced in on Myself”

Poetry Interlude: Thunderbolt


It starts placidly enough:
A couple ice crystals of thought
bumping into each other like
random atoms,
inconveniently colliding as they make their way
purposefully through the universe.
The collisions create energy, though.
The atoms collide with others,
inconveniencing their fellows
up and down the cloud.
The ice itself grows thicker,
building higher,
billowing into a floating, bloated mountain,
feeding on the heat and energy below.
The collisions keep coming,
bringing the moving mass out of balance
with the rest of the world.
Abruptly the atoms achieve critical mass,
crackling with an energy all their own.
No force can stop it,
no logic will deny it;
the wavering electrons must go somewhere.
In a moment, they discharge their fury,
unleashing their destructive force
on the nearest, most prominent target.
With the speed of light
and the righteous power of the gods,
they smite their target, blasting through water, air,
artifacts, people.
The place where the atoms strike is charred,
a smoldering, blackened ruin
where once there had been innocent peace.
The storm passes,
the atoms of thought no longer colliding or inconvenienced.
But the damage has been done.
An ashen hole in the ground marks the thunderbolt’s passage,
eventually to be covered by forgetful grass and weather and time.
But the damage has been done.



Still fluffy on the outside. Plush.
Still bumpy on the inside. Mush.
I don’t pretend to know how to fix
the mess inside.
My only weapons or tools or saviors
are work and peace and writing and time.
Work for distraction.
Peace outside to emulate inside.
Writing to get the gunk out where I can see it,
push it around into smaller, grimy piles and sort it out.
Time to heal and rest and forget.
Maybe, eventually, time to make some slight repairs
to the messes I’ve made, the things & people
I’ve broken.
But I can’t repair others
until I can heal myself.
And the much-too-tender soul
underneath the exterior crust
needs time, as much as the world can spare.
I have a lot to learn about how to heal
and be kind to all, even myself.
Still so much to learn.



Poetry Interval: Straightening Up

Straightening Up

He’s not quite sure what normal’s like
But he thought he would give it a try
The quest to be healthy is quite a hike
When he’s used to just getting by

But he’s exorcising the various demons
Clearing out his multiple neuroses
And trying to acquire a free man’s
Life without pills or doctors’ diagnoses

He’s learned a few things pushing fifty
It’s really about time that he did so
Being a happy, healthy guy could be nifty
It’s never too late to settle down and grow