long live paris


i’ve thought about killing myself a lot within the last ten months. i even thought about it tonight, at a red-light on 401 to get onto 540, on my way back to an empty apartment, leaving my daughter behind at her mother’s house.

from around 6:00 until 7:00, i looked for better paying jobs for which i’m qualified. i have a masters degree and my yearly income is currently below $18,000. i have $84. my monthly bills come to $2,500.

i’m diagnosed depressed, social anxiety, and add/adhd. i take three kinds of pills every day (one to focus and not feel disgusting inside, one to keep me from sobbing all day, one to make me fall asleep at night), and i still cry hard at least twice a day. often, it’s when i’m doing little chores, like folding laundry or cleaning the kitchen.

i realized just now that i’m almost always standing up when i cry. anyway, i often feel like i’m never going to get better. like i’ll never stop feeling ‘like this’, and i’m gonna be honest, i’ve felt this way for most of my life, and it’s just a horrible thing that i wouldn’t wish on a single human being.

so, yes, i have thought of and still do think of suicide.

and then i remember how selfish the act is.

even in depths of despair, and i promise i understand how dark things can be, i realize how selfish it would be. someone would have to come clean out my apartment and decide what to do with my things. my daughter would only have the faintest whispers of memories of me (she is two and perfect). and people who know me would be left wondering if they ever really knew who i was (because i often still don’t know that myself)

* * *

when i got in the car on the way to the gym, around 7:00, i didn’t know about paris. at a red-light (a big night for red-lights, it seems), i scrolled through twitter and saw vague ‘praying for paris’ and ‘oh my god’ tweets, which struck me as intensely ominous. i pulled up cnn in my car and actually said aloud, ‘oh my god.’

i parked. and sat. eyes kind of glazed over, i walked into the gym, to the weight room floor where i suddenly felt like an idiot, vane and so trivial, and climbed up on the dumbbell rack to change the channel from college basketball (‘how can anyone watch sports now?’ i thought, even though most people there probably didn’t even know what had happened) to the news.

and i sat there and did curls with admittedly gorgeous man-arms, and watched the world burn and had no idea what to do and had all of this feeling pressing it’s way out of my skin from inside of me.

1) i would like to request we stop calling cowards and assholes who strap bombs to their bodies and murder innocent people in public places as ‘suicide’ bombers. it’s disrespectful to suicide. those people are clearly already dead and are cowards.

2) to you assholes who strap bombs to your bodies and assault innocent people in public places with strategically planned attacks and rifles and bullshit zealotry, please erase ‘courage’ from your lexicon. when i was five, my family hosted an easter egg hunt, and i hid my own eggs because i was scared i wouldn’t find any. i hid them where i knew i could find them and feel like a big shot.

an art museum? public venues? unarmed people? children?

i had an excuse. i was five. what’s yours?

3) you will never win this ‘fight,’ because what’s happening is the rest of us are refusing to play with you. because the rest of us refuse to be scared. much of europe soaked up refugees you drove away, welcoming them. right, see, people were leaving you because you’re dicks and because you kill people who aren’t dicks.

you won’t win this fight, because you already know it’s lost, which is why you have to attack crowds of people whose body armor consists of cardigans and sports coats.

and you won’t win, because if you somehow managed to overtake this earth, there wouldn’t be anything left worth having. what the hell are you going to do with a population of all dudes who want to kill people? how long is that gonna last? you gonna use adoption agencies, hope baby humans start growing on trees, what? do you have an endgame strategy for reproduction, or is the most complex thing you can come up with ‘hey, put this on and walk into that crowd of people shopping for groceries?’

* * *

i hope my daughter grows up brave. her eyes are so bright, so so bright.

and i think the reason moments like this affect me (and, i’m assuming, almost anyone reading this) so much is because we’re all people. we all know our community could be next. this pisses all of us off more than it does frighten us. i ended up weeping on the weight room floor, a room with many many mirrors, in front of dozens of people, big strong looking people. hell, i look big and strong. and when i looked around, eyes pink and cheeks soaked in tears, i saw others crying, too.

and my blood was so hot. i realized my jaw was set in preamble to the boiling rage that followed my sorrow.

paris, i am so sorry.

i’m sorry for what happened, and i’m sorry i cannot be there to help.

world, i am sorry you are so broken. and i wish i had answers besides ‘love’ and ‘grace’ and ‘biscuits.’

live, tomorrow. shop. hug. laugh. watch football. be in love. wake up at 6:00 am to go teach (wait, that’s just for me, sorry). go to the museum. tell children ‘this is a good world,’ because it is, because it has to be. live like you mean it. throw the heftiest middle finger to the people who we call terrorists who, in actuality, are the ones most frightened.

i mean, really, when you’re scared of the light, you’ve got problems, and if you’ve ever considered blowing up a public place, i would love to talk with you and listen and see if we can’t find some common ground. entirely serious.

paris, be brave.

i love you and goodnight,


he’s also shirtless now/truth remains

he read aloud to her
a poem he’d written for her
from last september.

he wasn’t wearing a shirt
but that’s ok and he
wasn’t embarrassed about
the poem even after more than
one year which is saying something

because he’s usually embarrassed
about what he wrote last night
and he was rather amazed

at how accurate that poem
still is right now today and
tomorrow and that makes him
feel good when he manages
to write the truth
and the truth remains.

. . . didn’t hurt that she is still
herself, who is, well,
the subject of at least two
fucking amazing poems.

singing your unwritten song

i realized, again

a rerealization?

that just thinking of you causes me to
sing to myself, sometimes hum
a melody of immediate creation
when i suddenly must express
things that cannot be expressed
it’s that thing you do where
somehow you create new things and
more of me just by being who you
are and who you’ve been and who
you will one day be.

composed from the love seat

to Whomever is In Charge:

please help my heart

and help me make good choices

that are good for lots of people

and please take away the

pockets of sadness because

they’re really deep pockets like

i can find old lollypop sticks in here from

a haircut i got months ago and some gum

wrappers from twenty thirteen and oh

there’s a movie stub from that theater trip

we made in greensboro

and help me be a good man

of whom am proud to be and

maybe a better paying job while we’re here.


joel houston

one of my four Loves


dahddy car?

yes, my love, daddy’s car.


scahwlett’s punkin?

yes yes scarlett’s pumpkin let’s put it down
oh god gently please


on the way to play
at the park
my scarlett fox always stops
to gather up her acorns.


some of which she shares and
others she safely stows away in
scahwlett’s pahwckehts.


oh and she was a gum ball machine
for halloween and daddy went as

* * *

and yes, it kinda weirds me out
to post images not poetry
but sometimes well always
a daughter’s growth and seeing
my own eyes in hers and
running screaming inside the house
and kneeling to assuage her fears
and being stern and not taking shit
because let’s be real she’s two
sometimes a daughter growing
into herself is the stanza itself
with two adorable metric feet.