All in Free Verse

"DIRTBAG DREAMS" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

We lived in a tiny shit hole 

above a crack den 

in downtown San Diego. 


We slept on the floor 

and purchased 

the cheapest food 

and cooked it 

inside a closet sized kitchen. 


And we worked. 


We worked, 

as the homeless roamed the streets, 

as the traffic and parking 

attempted to murder us. 


And the west coast sunsets, 

they brought me back to life, 

and there was always something to do, 

but we never had the money to do much. 


So we walked the city 

and watched the tall buildings 

with the light and glass dancing. 


The Bay was that way, 

Coronado over the bridge, 

and we had a pet snail named ‘Hank’. 

He lived inside an old salad container, 

and we loved him. 


We loved him 

because he was life 

and we were life 

and we were living. 


We shopped at thrift stores 

and tried new foods, 

and in all our time 

we were wondering 

what we could do with our dirtbag dreams in this behavioral sink.  

"BEAUTIFUL IDEAS" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

he News plays a carnival of violence and I watch this shit in my underwear.

 

The world is burning.

Nukes are fueling.

One group’s pissed.

Another plays coy.

Hate funks the air

and so on and so on.

 

Molotov cocktail meteor showers.

Riot gear, batons, plastic bullets, tear gas…

 

The tank canons rise like something from your mother’s wet dreams,

and university campuses are in Hippy Orgasm

 

…and those politicians, Mannnn.

So scrubbed and clean and healthy and smiling.

Fuck yeah, they want it this way.

A communion of hate and fear is easy to manipulate.

Getting those VOTES!

 

I scratch my balls through soft cotton fabric

a dumb hairless ape.

Jesus! We really are a massive herd of cattle.

 

I snag the remote then and flip to a new station.

 

On the magic screen,

there are panels now debating free speech.

Next it’ll be a free thought…

Cellphone monitoring.

A new tobacco tax.

Another gas tax.

Another strike.

I begin to feel ill.

 

Elon Musk? Take me with you!

 

I look at the TV remote’s power button,

a glowing red eye looking back at me.

I slam it then

and sit in dark.

 

Silence.

I sit in the silence.

There is goodness in the silence.

My great couch of solitude.

I breathe and rub my face and try to remain still and try not to think…

 

We are fighting with ideologies,

philosophies,

structures of ideas.

They stack, oh, so precisely,

in just the right way

hoping only for calm wind.

 

Nationalism.

Globalism.

Freedom.

Peace.

God.

Country.

Democracy.

Socialism.

Free Markets.

Individualism.

Collectivism.

The Parent FUCKING City!

 

Philosophies all containing beautiful thoughts,

beautiful ideas,

and we fight with them.

And for them.

 

Most think,

if implemented in just the right way,

in the correct combinations,

just enough of this,

and a little of that –

our elixir of beautiful thoughts –

the world would become a utopia.

 

You are crazy if you believe this.

 

We are strange anomalous creatures, you and I.

Freaks of Nature.

And we are very good at many things,

and one thing we are good at is lying.

We are even better at it when lying to ourselves.

It might be what we are best at.

 

We really fight because we refuse to look in a mirror.

We refuse to understand what we really are.

Egos and Truth seldom harmonize.

We don’t want to see what we really are or what’s inside of us.

We love our beautiful ideas oh, so much.

We lie and believe they make us beautiful too.

 

This is a problem.

This is a BIG, fucking problem!

 

You see…

There is something down deep,

something underneath

your self-righteous thoughts,

under the current of your so called life.

 

It is down there in the dark,

deep in the dark,

further than most are willing to look.

 

It sits there in an animal silence.

It sits,

a warrior king in the night,

a black archetype,

lounged on a thrown

forged from a millions skulls

of evolution.

 

He sits there listening and waiting.

Patiently waiting.

Waiting for your beautiful ideas.

"BEAUTIFUL IDEAS" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

For New Writing, News and The Everyday Grit of Life, follow Gabriel Thomas on Twitter.

"OFF" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

Stay off center.

Keep to the edges.

Comfort kills slow but kills COMPLETE.

Your mind goes first:

a numbing narrowness.

Then the body:

a fattening chemical dependence.

Don’t worry.

You'll  be too deadened to care.

 

Push back

Escape

Fight or Flight

Their ploy is Self-pity,

It's our GREATEST flaw

 

Hang on

            Hang in

                        Hang for

                                    Hangover

 

Time's limited

Time's unknown

Time's illusion

There is only NOW!

Live there

 

Reason can work

Reason can be scary

Reason can be TRUTH

Reason leads to insanity

Be quiet with your reason.

Use it,

but don't let people know you have it

It's like a Bull's-eye

 

Stay Shadowed

Live on the edges

Self-pity is self-victimization

 

The world owes you nothing.

You don't owe it shit, either.

 

Any ORDER is false.

We're in an abattoir.

Didn't ya know?

 

In the chaos,

do what you want.

Time's up. 

"OFF" Prose By Gabriel Thomas, Previously Published in “Lone Cow” By Gabriel Thomas

"ELEPHANT" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

ELEPHANT

 

I remember the circus

and the elephant.

I remember standing in a line

with other children,

and we were silent.

 

We were all pondering

this real monster

so close to us.

 

Frightened.

In awe.

Five at a time,

we rose up

wooden stairs

to a platform.

 

A man would move us in and over then.

Our legs straddling the beast

like a cowboy’s.

 

Cameras flashed.

Smiling mothers goggled.

Their babies so adorable on an elephant.

Then a man would say,

“Let’s go, Lisa”

and the elephant would move.

 

She moseyed

around a large ring

on a dirt floor

in the center

of the circus tent

five children on her back.

 

I waited my turn

(with the other silent and terrified).

I watched the elephant’s long sways,

her colossal legs taking ginger steps 

in slow motion.

 

I watched  those pillars move.

I watched her toenails,

her ears flapping like sails,

that long impossible trunk.

I watched her.

 

I watched her,

and when she was close enough,

I  looked at one of her eyes.

 

I saw her eye

and in her eye

I saw her,

and

in her eye

I saw that she saw me.

 

I saw that she saw me

but saw me

from some depth,

from some place,

some inner world,

I couldn’t imagine.  

 

But when I looked at her,

I saw goodness.

 

I rode in the front

behind a skull

as wide as a coffee table.

Her smell was strong and thick and animal,

and the way she moved…

 

She moved like a rock that changed shape.

She moved like a rock that moved like water.

And when she moved,

she moved around the circle

in the circus tent,

and I was so high in the air.

 

She could have done terrible things to us.

To anyone.

Something that powerful.

She could have done anything.

No one could have stopped it.

But she didn’t.

She was good.

 

She was magnificent.   

"FRIDAY EVENING AT THE ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BUFFET" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

FRIDAY EVENING AT THE ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT BUFFET

 

Friday evening,

I was starving.

So, I went to The All-You-Can-Eat Buffet.

 

Jesus! Oh-God-help-me.

 

There were about a thousand of us in there,

at the buffet –

packed in –

little piggies jostling for Mama Swine's tit.

 

I juked and maneuvered and elbowed and made my way in,

 

then a ten-year-old boy threatened me.

 

He threatened me for the last

baconcheeseburger slider.

 

Ten years old,

biceps like hams,

he did it with his eyes.

 

I backed off,

out matched.

Slopped some pot roast,

made it back to a tiny booth table.

 

I ate in fear while looking around.

There was a tension in the air

like just before a riot.

 

Then,

as the breach memories of the buffet faded,

as my adrenaline subsided,    

as my mind calmed,

 

I began listening to a Loud woman in a group near me.

 

"Our next class is Wednesday after the service. It’s over Greed and Envy" she said, "I'm really looking forward to it. I must confess, I AM envious of Carrie's vacuum cleaner. It's beautiful. Perfectly balanced. Got to be one of those industrial ones. It’s got that feel, you know?... Anyway, I AM envious of her and that vacuum cleaner. I feel guilty about it, and I think this class will really help me with that. I'm tired of feeling guilty."

 

She kept rambling.

My jaw slowly dropped

and stayed there.

Eventually,

from my fingers,

a french fry tumbled away.

I looked around then,

panning the space,

the crowd,

the masses,

the chewing and sucking and sweating,

the screaming young,

the women chatting,

men standing watch over families,

sons searching for guidance,

other men in the midst

just sitting,

like me,

defeated in some way,

time etched into their faces,

their bodies limp and exhausted and beaten.

Then I noticed the eyes.

Some of their eyes wondered the room,

like mine,

analyzing

this place,

this moment.

Pondering it

and their place in it.

A hopeless acceptance

weighing down upon

slumped shoulders.

Some knowing,

I think,

of how they got here.

Maybe what went wrong.

Maybe there was never any real chance,

and this is how they got here.

Most just seeing it as it was,

I think,

their life.

A pointlessness.

A grasp for a meaning.

A settling for any possible comfort.

 

A settling,

and this is a highlight.

This right here.

A Friday night

at a cheap buffet

in a mass of chaos.  

 

I see their eyes.

I see their souls through their eyes.

 

Inside of me,

at that moment,

something broke.  

 

I rose then.

I rose slow

from the table

then moved silently,

walking fast.

 

But Not Too Fast!

 

I was afraid, you see?

Scared some unknown power might take notice.

Something of power and malevolence and godlike and an enforcer of predetermination…

It might see me and try to stop me!

 

I stepped on.

I burst through exit doors

into the night,

into cold air,

into black sky.

Then I turned,

looking back

at the bright building.

 

From life’s insanity,

from original sin,

from some kind of guilt instilled into the common heart,

somehow,

somehow,

 

I’ve escaped.

"CHICKEN WINGS" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

Writing this in The Bu (Chevy Malibu).

 

Was at a bookstore.

Just bought a literary mag.

4:30 PM, Halloween.

Now, I'm in traffic.

 

A migration of MASSIVE,

aluminum turtles

extends like defeat

in front of me.

 

I'm wiggling in my seat

to Lady Gaga.

YES, A 33 year-old,

straight man can do this!

 

The song ends.

My dancing ends,

and…

I JUST CANT TAKE IT ANYMORE!

 

I inch off to an exit,

glide to a red light,

make a turn,

and jerk it into

a strip mall parking lot.

 

There's a chicken wing place.

Wings?

NO WINGS!

On another diet.

Gotta stay sexy.

 

A good day

until the bookstore.

They didn't have what I wanted

(besides the literary mag).

 

Making my purchase,

the clerk hacked and coughed,

throat ejecting all over my book.

THEN HE SMILED AT ME!

He smiled

and handed it over.

 

How do I handle these situations?

How?

 

I took the book.

Thumb and forefinger only.

All other digits splaying,

flaring out,

trying to escape infection.

 

Now I sit

in this parking lot

with the book

radiating death

next to me.

I can feel it.

 

I look at the lit mag.

I want to devour it.

I want to burn it.

It's like an x-girlfriend.

 

I breathe deep,

withhold decision,

and turn

looking at the world.

 

The traffic's there,

rising to an overpass,

staring down at me like a colossus.

 

AAAAAHHHHHHH!

Time. Time.

All this Time!

 

I look back at the book.

Read?

Disease?

 

I start thinking.

 

Between me and my apartment,

somebody's dead.

Poor person.

Blood on the highway.

Probably had a family.

Halloween,

kids dawning costumes,

candy treats being prepared,

significant other devising sexual adventure.

 

Sorrow.

The one that went down…

They went down fighting

this invisible foe.

It'll claim every one of us.

Poor family.

Bad day to happen.

 

Should I try the highway again?

Approach the gauntlet?

Can I take it?

NO!

It's scary out there.

Better to sit here

in The Bu

with the disease.

 

Chicken wings?

NO!

 

I look at a vacant area

adjacent to the strip mall.

It's a small field

about the right size

for a football game.

Crab grassy and level.

 

There's apartments–

even shittier than mine

–beyond.

 

I look at the field.

An old man's out there,

walking,

swaying a long pole

in front of him.

 

He's a blind man, I think,

but then  I understand.

He's carrying a metal detector,

swinging it left to right.

He's out there searching.

He's searching while we all

cruise toward DEATH.

 

I decide I like the old dude.

I hope he finds something.

I haven't.

 

Chicken wings?

 

 

"SHOWERING" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

At the gym

I shower.

They don’t have towels.

You've got to bring your own.

 

I've got eight hand towels,

precision folded.

Eight

little

perfect 

baby-blue

squares,

in my gym bag.

 

The water is ice.

Thin

piercing

rays

of anger

slicing me.

 

They don't want people like me here.

They don’t like car bums.

They keep their water heater low.

Gym people don't like homeless people.

But I am a paying customer.

 

I shower like an Olympic sprinter.

Soap!

Scrub!

Shampoooooo!

 

There is an older man at the gym.

He gets there when I do.

He works out when I work out.

After I flip on the water,

he sneaks into the shower room.

He does push ups on the wet tile floor.

He gets down there,

pumps them out,

genitals dangling.

They make slimy,

slapping sounds

as they plop,

then lift

then plop

on the tile.

 

When he's done with those,

he grabs a three-inch pipe

running the ceiling's length.

 

In the nude,

he performs pull ups,

facing me,

watching me.

 

He pulls.

He rises.

He descends.

He watches.

 

I've started showering with my knife.

I place it on the

wall-mounted,

liquid-soap

dispenser.

 

I shower fast,

get out,

shake like a wet,

freezing dog,

then I dry off

using my little hand towel.

 

Physically, I’m clean.   

(written in 2015)

"SHOWERING" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

For New Writing, News and The Everyday Grit of Life, follow Gabriel Thomas on Twitter.

"TOWN TALK" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

TOWN TALK

 

The talk’s of work,

needing a job,

getting a job,

minimum wage’s

too minimum.

 

Then, now,

it’s the high rent.

Can’t afford it.

Got to have two workers in that home.

Got to have two incomes, at least.

 

Long ago,

they say,

it wasn’t like this.

 

I have a hard time imagining that.

 

And there’s those Politicians, they say.

We get on those politicians.

They’ll run you over, son, they say,

suck you clean.

You young people need to do something.

This world is fucked, they say.

 

Then,

they ask me,

“Can I get a cig?”

 

Now, it’s politics.

Now, it’s election.

Now it’s rock the boat time.

Rock the vote time.

Those politicians, man!

 

On street corners,

in trollies,

outside libraries,

this is town speech.

 

And I’m thinking…

The Pacific’s four blocks away.

It’s the biggest thing

I’ve ever seen.

Sunset’s at 7:04

I’ll eat rice tonight,

make it spicy somehow.

 

As the woes of life call from street level,

as human bodies quiver in state necessity,

locked inside me,

I know a secret.

 

I’ll share it with you,

but you may not like it…

 

The World Doesn’t Owe You Shit!

 

"TOWN TALK" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

"BLUE CANISTER NECKLACE" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

"BLUE CANISTER NECKLACE" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

When I lived

on the fringe,

I wore a necklace –

a blue rope with an

aluminum canister.

 

The canister was

shockproof and waterproof.

Inside lay a flashdrive –

almost EVERYTHING

I’d ever written.

 

It was me and my necklace

sleep contorting

in my car.

 

It was me and my necklace

counting the cards

over the blackjack table.

 

It was me and my necklace

public showering

in fear.

 

It was me and my necklace

pounding keyboard

at the library.

 

It was me

and

my

necklace,

 

and now, I don’t wear it.

 

Sometimes,

I reach up,

fingers press

the patch of chest

where it laid.

 

It’s gone!

Panic EXPLODES.

Where is it! Where is it!

 

Then I remember.

Then I know.

 

The days of thrift are over.

There’s light up ahead

in this black, black tunnel.

 

But I reach up.

 

I feel

 

My blue canister necklace?

 

It got me through.

 

In the darkness

you need a light.

 

Maybe, it’s best

When you make

your own.

"BLUE CANISTER NECKLACE" Prose by Gabriel Thomas

For New Writing, News and The Everyday Grit of Life, follow Gabriel Thomas on Twitter.