From the dawn of time,
To the dusk of the present,
Man has warred internal
Over matters of many,
From the depths of his wallet,
To the tip-tops of his very head,
Raging against new horrors,
Nitpicking at the mundane,
Yet feeling lost at all points
Here and in between.
This personal strife
Has not abated quietly,
For the man must fight daily
With those demented elements
That come hotly against him,
Designed to inconvenience,
Or simply to put him out
Into the cold, dark world
This war internal
Has not been a lone battle,
But a war of singularity’s parts,
A test of will against the pieces,
The pieces that define him,
And the bits that form him,
Internal and external,
Of blood and mullet alike.
This war has raged
Since the beginning of time.
But today, perhaps,
Man shall, at last, see its end.
He may put his strife to rest.
Given that nothing happens
To compromise the peace he seeks
With those pieces of himself
That have remained at war.
Perhaps, today, if all bodes well,
Man will be at peace with his mullet.
Will our madness ever cease,
This perversion of taste,
Such antithesis to peace?
Or, are we destined to skirmish,
All day, into night
Like some confused dervish?
Uncomfortable with our sight,
Steadfast in identity,
Clashing over who’s right?
We fight with the mirror,
You and me, against sanity;
O’ the results couldn’t be clearer.
Our war is attrition,
Where neither is a winner;
We both deserve admonition.
Yea, a mullet you may be,
But my hair you still are,
And baldness escapes we.
In a world where image reigns,
And respect is found in covering,
We must take our salt in grains.
Peace between us must be found.
Shall we truce then, dear mullet?
Shall we reach our common ground?
Oh, you wacky simpleton,
I never wanted to fight.
My job was to protect you,
From birds, bugs, and light.
It was you who hated me,
Not I who hated you.
I just wanted a chance to live,
To claim my right as hairdo.
Dear confused man, you,
So short of your seeing,
Your scalp is my dwelling place,
A canvas for my being.
Why shall I battle
Against my very home?
What purpose is it for me
To strip myself off the dome?
Man of vanity, sir of strife,
Our war is doth misplaced.
Much else demands your attention,
My aggression is but chaste.
Riots, speech, and bloodshed,
True problems in need of release.
Shouldn’t those be your sadness?
Can’t you grant me peace?
Ooh, a quarrel among soulmates,
How juicy, how saucy!
I must scrutinize this drama
As one swirls a fine wine.
Analyzing the players of this story,
Shall grant me a great pleasure.
Oh, yes, the play-by-play, sublime!
How may I capture this event forever?
Behold! One of you is a vessel,
Designed to carry the other.
The other of you, a passenger,
Designed to ride like a leech.
You fight! You make up!
A narcissistic fever dream.
The spitting image of my own battle,
A battle you’ve also fought with me!
Oh, no! What interloper is this?
Has horror visited me twofold?
Has decency gone amiss?
I lie speechless at this entrance,
At this, intrusion, at this mess—
The mullet interjects!
You! Cross-pollinated monster!
Who invited you to our party?
This battle has kept sacred
Our intimate anger quarte!
The man duels. I duel.
A gentleman’s war with image.
But you, oh foul beast!
You have no place within our scrimmage!
Be gone! Be gone,
Horrid golem of insanity!
You are perversion of style,
Man’s folly for vanity!
How dare you infect it,
The sacred image of man?
How dare you supplant me,
Hair most foul in all the land?
My, my, somebody’s testy today!
You say to me I’m unwelcome?
Have you the right to tell me off,
Infamous “Do” of the eighties?
I think that I think not, dear un-sir!
Cast a stone at me at your peril.
I am no pushover to hairbound justice!
I can tangle with the best of you!
The night is young and so am I.
With a twist and a pop, I exist!
Listen to me, yesterday’s news,
My physique needs no shears to shine!
All I need is a rubber band and a will,
And maybe arched shoulders and pride.
The best of men wear me, you hear me?
The best of men wear me for truth!
Oh, no! This interloper is man bun!
It has its grips set upon me.
Save me, mullet, for I am done!
They say the enemy of my enemy
Is my friend, ice cream scoop head!
But man is no longer my enemy,
And you, top knot, are not my friend.
I know your game and what you seek,
And this peace you shall not invade.
Reconciliation is my order of business,
Not a threat from a twisted man braid!
Dear Mullet, you misinterpret me;
I do not seek to invade your space.
You see, I am the new kid on the block,
Observing a world in which to fit in.
The places around me abound in wonder,
And the joys I bring are geometrically sound.
I come to satisfy the hunger of man,
To shape into anything he shall imagine.
But that is not all that I am, Mullet, I hope you see.
No, there is more to me than meets the eye.
So, please listen, intently, to what I wish to share,
As early judgment against me will fulfill no victory.
This message, I insist, benefits us both,
And you shall know why our peace must exist.
Now, look me in the bulb, dear Mullet.
Take hold of my ponytail and see!
Do you not understand where I come from,
Or the ignorance of your lambast against me?
I have not come here to start a war with you.
No, friend, that is not the goal I keep.
The imperativeness of my clarity, I hope you know,
Is paramount to our mutual trust.
So, please understand my message, friend Mullet.
Please listen, as I do not wish to enrage you again.
Yes, I choose not to pull you into aggression, my pal;
No, no, no! An engagement of battle I do not seek.
We shall have no beef on this or any other day,
For you and I were born of the same place.
Yes, dear Mullet, we are brothers,
Like fraternal twins, but better.
Do not fight against me, or the future.
Instead, join me, and let us make this world of men stronger together.
Oh dear, what do we see,
But the internal war
That hair has among itself?
Is it true then, dear humanity,
That vanity is a vicious circle,
Set to fight all who oppose it,
Even when the source of vanity
Is just another victim of vanity?
Shake your heads, men.
Shake your heads in shame!
For the man bun is upon you,
The man bun has come to stay!
(To be continued…)
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I don’t write poetry often, but I do appreciate what it accomplishes when done well. Every once in a while I get a little inspiration to poeticize, and last night was one of those moments. Here’s what I wrote. Enjoy.
My Fading Silence
I’m not sure where I am, or how I got here,
But that person whom everyone surrounds
Immediately takes notice of me,
And he calls me over, as if he knows me.
I know I should listen to him, listen intently,
For he commands authority—
I can tell by his voice.
I can tell by the way everyone stops to hear him speak.
He recognizes me, I know that for sure,
And perhaps I should be troubled,
Troubled that I’ve yet to recognize him.
But I don’t. I don’t feel any trouble here at all.
I sense that the man already knows this,
For he’s nodding at me, as if to say it’s okay,
That he’s not offended by my ignorance,
That in time my blankness will all make sense to me.
“Over here,” he says, as he points at a spot nearby.
“Come, let me offer you a word.”
I push through the crowds,
Still wondering how I even got here,
As I don’t remember where I came from,
Or what I was doing when I left wherever.
I just know that I’ve never been here before,
Yet, somehow I’m no stranger to this man.
I sit by his feet, and he instructs me to take higher ground,
Not quite level, but close enough to look him in the eye.
I feel a little small, if I’m honest,
Though, maybe I am a little small.
Many of the people here are larger than me,
Not all, but many,
And a part of me wants to feel intimidated by them.
I’ve already figured out that I’m not.
Anxiety does not describe my feeling,
Even though I wonder if maybe it should.
I know next to nothing but what I see.
The faces in the crowd are peaceful,
Convincing me that I’m right to relax,
But I can tell they’ve left behind some baggage—
It seems their peace has come at a price—
They hide it well, their smiles are bright, but I know I don’t identify.
The man does not hurry in his speech.
Whatever he has to tell me, it is no longer urgent.
But his soft smile convinces me that I still need to hear,
That a lack of urgency is not the same as a lack of importance.
I open my ears and wait for his word with anticipation,
As does every person still standing in the crowd,
Every person who leans forward in expectation,
Also without hurry in their faces or posture.
The man balls up his hand into a tight fist,
And he gently taps me in the shoulder with it.
He says, “Sorry you didn’t get your shot, my son.
Sorry they never gave you a chance.”
With a comforting look he says, “You could’ve been a contender.
A fighter like you, I know you would’ve changed their lives.
And you would’ve put a smile on their faces.
You had such potential, and you would’ve done much, I’m sure of it.”
Sitting up as straight as I can,
I look him back in the eyes,
Wondering what more of this I don’t know but should.
“My son?” I ask, flabbergasted at my memory lapse. “Am I your son?”
At least, that’s what I think I say—
It’s hard to tell if my mouth has a voice,
As I’ve never actually heard it before,
But it sounds like I might.
The man opens his palm—it looks different than mine—
And he pats me on my head.
For some reason, this makes me smile.
Again, I don’t know why.
“You are always my son,” he says,
“But I wasn’t always your only father.”
I hear the words washing over my ears,
But I don’t fully understand what they mean.
He acknowledges my silent question with an audible answer.
“Let me explain,” he says, but he doesn’t stop there.
Just as many of us here, who also rest in this unfamiliar place,
Do not have the wealth of memories that so many others do,
He recognizes mine as being equally dry,
And he begins to tell me how I got here and why.
None of it makes any sense to me.
He smiles and says it’s not really supposed to make any sense.
He tells me my story, and I don’t know how to respond,
For even though it’s true, it feels like it should be a lie.
Maybe I don’t understand the place I’ve come from,
But I find it hard to imagine it would treat me with such disregard.
When I look at the people around me,
Each with their own stories to share,
I silently beg them to help me understand,
Yet they only echo the story my father tells me.
They tell me what I don’t want to hear:
That even though they’ve all come here under differing circumstances,
My circumstance is among the most common—
Traveling from stage one to stage three,
Without the necessary transition through stage two,
An arrangement by way of ignorance, or stupidity,
Or by way of entitlement, they say.
The hand of a robber, of a soulless villain.
He assures me that I’m not alone here.
Sixty million others were once like me.
That’s a number I don’t fully comprehend,
But he tells me it’s enough to fill a civilized nation.
I continue to listen to what he says,
And he continues to explain things to me with an apology.
He keeps telling me that I’ve come here prematurely,
But now that I’m here, I can live again.
Perhaps I should be okay with this reality,
And maybe I can be fine with the reasons that drive it,
But I have to wonder now if I am, really.
I have to wonder if I’ve been cheated somehow.
I can’t say I feel any animosity toward those who put me here,
For this place doesn’t seem to generate negativity,
Whereas the place I came from was full of it, so I’ve heard,
But I know something about the way I’ve come here isn’t fair.
I don’t know how many years have passed since I’ve awoken here.
They say time has no meaning in this place.
But what I’ve learned from my father in this ubiquitous infinity
Is allegedly heartbreaking—it certainly is to him—
Though, I must confess that I don’t know what I’m missing,
Or what opportunities I’ve been denied,
Or what emotions have been stripped from my existence,
Or why such lack of emotion has sent me here in the first place.
All I know is that I had a different body once,
Not yet fully formed, but certainly formed enough.
I did not yet have a voice, but I could still scream.
And scream, I did plenty of in those moments before I came here,
When my body was ripped apart from suctioning,
And my head crushed between two steel clamps,
In the name of women’s right to choose, whatever that’s supposed to mean,
Though I’m sure the people killing me couldn’t quite hear my voice.
Just a side note, I know I’m behind on Friday Updates. Haven’t had much news the last couple of weeks. Not sure if I’ll have one tomorrow, either. I’ve been spending a lot of time relearning editing techniques and things, and I want to eventually apply them to some of my existing works. I still have all of my future plans for this site in mind. Sometimes takes a while to get everything together.
And now we come to the “Back to the Future” Day Week celebration’s main event:
In the year 2000, I began My First Mullet, a series of poems about man’s epic struggle with his hair, the nefarious mullet that somehow becomes part of him, a four-part skirmish in which he attempts to vanquish his foe through the shear might of…well, a pair of shears. In the year 2011, I came back to finish the chronicle of the man who is now at full-scale war against his trashy shaggy nemesis, where the battle is no longer personal, but a clear struggle between good and evil. And even though I wrote well past the eight poems that told of the war to chronicle the “collateral damage” caused by the event, I wanted to celebrate Back to the Future Day with the installments that tell of the direct conflict.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you My First Mullet, parts 1-8, in their complete, unaltered forms. Enjoy and comment at the end.
My First Mullet—The Prologue
I thought it was a nice day to start again,
Since the past dished rough times on my head,
Blowing fierce wind all through my hair,
Tangling long locks in front of my eyes,
Blinding me to the truth that hid on my scalp;
Revelation that a jungle weeded out from within me.
I discovered the hard facts when my reflection vanished,
Which resulted from losing sight of my mirror,
Blocked by the curtain hanging and tangling before me,
Leaving maybe glimmers of the image I looked for,
But screaming that I was wasting my time trying,
Therefore awakening the need for some chopping.
I took a trip to the upscale downtown shear shop,
Where guys in white coats snipped and cut people’s heads,
Trimming former shrubs into sculpted bushes of art,
Applying buzzers against the narrow lawns near naked ears,
Dropping dead strings and body mulch to the floor,
Leaving a new kind of carpet for the scissors people to sweep.
I was called to sit in the chair of reconstruction,
Where the Sultan of Shears held his tool against my neck,
Asking what kind of transformation I expected that day,
Which I suggested just cut and go and maybe surprise me,
So the metal edges of the chop device began before my eyes,
Clearing out the obstruction that blinded and annoyed me.
I twiddled my thumbs underneath a plastic sheet,
Waiting for the job to be done without complication,
But something occurred to me in the middle of my surgery,
That I liked the length of my back and desired to keep it,
So I asked the hair doctor to leave my reverse side alone,
Just to sculpt me so that I could have vision before I left.
I left the building when the project became success,
Proud that my vision returned and my hair maintained control,
But my joy had depleted after going home to watch TV,
To see one of the trash talk shows coming on air with high volume,
Revealing its guests in all their bickering glory,
Each wearing the same haircut I knew I just received.
I looked in the mirror to discover my folly,
Shaping what should have been a normal style of trim,
Into something that was disproportional and found on truckers,
Which would’ve been okay if I drove diesel behemoths,
But I didn’t so I could not handle the barber’s new creation,
So I decided to find some scissors and remove my first mullet.
My First Mullet—The Transition
I never used to care about hair,
It was always something that was just there.
But when I knew it was getting long,
Ignoring it would’ve just been wrong.
I decided I would get it chopped,
Down at the local barber shop.
But when I felt the trim completing,
I could feel my dear dignity depleting.
I thought short was the way to go,
Since that’s the only style I know.
But scissors stopped above my brow,
Leaving the back of my head to grow.
Now my hair flows a funny way,
Stuck to the top with back blowing away.
It’s like a raccoon cap glued to my head,
Without the stripes or fur to shed.
It also makes my neck feel hot,
Especially since I sweat a lot.
But I’m disappointed about this no matter what,
Because I wish I never got my first mullet.
It forces on me an achy-breaky heart,
Tempting me to rip it savagely apart.
Now that I have scissors in hand,
I’m slashing the back to fit my demand.
I may not care a whole lot about hair,
But I know when people start to stare.
My First Mullet—The Aftershock
Why do you torment me,
Hair among hair?
You flop short of my forehead,
But flow like a cape down my back.
Waves twist around my neck,
As you are careful not to touch my eyes.
Now I know what it feels like,
To be an eighties rock star.
I did not expect your arrival,
Hair among hair.
Barbers informed me of a new style,
Insisting it would be cool.
Then they cut me in places,
Leaving others alone.
I demanded scissors at each angle,
But they lost their tip instead.
My heart is now sunken,
Hair among hair.
I wanted total hair shortness,
But must deal with shortcoming.
I used to find enjoyment,
In the way the wind touched you.
But now you’re so uneven,
And people just want to make fun.
You may be my first mullet,
But with these shears I must make you
My First Mullet—The Apocalypse
A pile of you lies on my floor,
As I hold shear victory in my hand.
My blades scoff at your weakness,
Taunting back the curses you spat—
Curses aimed at the top of my head,
Insults you hurled from the back of my neck.
You thought you could hurt me,
With your devastating look of lunacy.
But your attack failed by my hand,
So now you must suffer your fate—
To be swept up and thrown away,
Like careers of musicians who once wore you.
You lost my respect at the barber’s chair,
But there was nothing I could do.
You convinced the stylist you were cool,
Secretly crossing your fingers and laughing—
Those strands that tangled behind my neck,
Which I could never see without angled reflection.
You may have won that first victory,
When the stylist ignored my plea to cut.
But the scissors in my hand says never again,
Your decimation proven by my face in a mirror—
Which reflects back a short uniform hair helmet,
Completely free of extra mullet residue.
Somehow I can see you trying to attack again,
Creeping your way down the back of my neck,
Without coming anywhere close to my eyes,
Making me wish that you would blind me.
My First Mullet—The Immaculate Collection
Ten years ago the mullet died.
Clipped from the source of life it fed upon,
Fallen to the linoleum earth,
Bagged and shipped to the landfill of time.
Fifteen years ago it abandoned style.
Gone was its fame, dying was its fate,
Missed by none, duped by some,
It lost its grace,
Heading for the wasteland of time.
Twenty years ago it tempted fate.
Born on the head of a Lethal Weapon,
Dancing on the head of rock star generals,
In the breeze it swayed,
Riding on the glories of time.
Caught in time’s spiraling vortex,
The mullet spun out of control,
Clawing its way to the present,
Fighting to survive its apocalyptic fate,
Vying to conquer the world again.
Today it experienced rebirth,
Gaining new fame online.
From business in the front, to parties in the back,
The mullet returns from the grave.
Immaculately, it rises.
My First Mullet—Shear Brutality
They rise up, seeking hair.
The blades of justice,
The blades unfair.
They seek the scent
Of misshapen style;
They search for trashiness;
They invade without guile.
Modernization under cover
A quiet closet eighties lover,
It was a rock-born sympathizer,
A trailer park’s lucky clover;
Jeopardy, it shrieks at scissoric threat
The blades had cast from the net,
And the fear makes it sweat;
It hides, but cannot run.
Madness comes, chaos ensues;
The blades of shears come flying.
The hairnet breaks, the mullet quakes;
A hairpiece has fear of dying.
Tragedy falls from the gown to the floor,
A sink washes life out the door.
Lament the mullet at the hands of fate,
Shear brutality forces a cleaned-up slate.
My First Mullet—Failure of a Stylist
Eyes peer at me through the mirror,
While a smile feigns delight,
Her expression becomes a twinkling,
As her clippers say goodnight.
My stylist bounces from the chair,
To the victor go the spoils.
Does she think I want to pay for this?
She hardly even toiled.
“What were you thinking?” I begin to say,
Out loud in a lucid daydream;
Of course she doesn’t hear the question,
For she’s focused on her styling cream.
I attempt to ask another question:
“Could you take a little more off the back?”
As she squirts the cloying foam in hand,
She grimaces; do I lack tact?
“Oh come now,” she says with a cackle,
“The girls are gonna love it,
You’ll be the talk of this crazy town,
No woman can resist a mullet.”
A fear begins to grip me,
For I’ve been in this place before.
Is my stylist just an idiot,
Or does she have an agenda something more?
“I’d really like a shorter cut,”
But my words fall on deaf ears.
Before she gives me my chance to object,
She puts away her shears.
“That’ll be thirty bucks,” she says with joy,
“But here’s a kiss for luck,”
Of course she can hardly control her lips,
For her laughter becomes untucked.
She must know she won’t see a tip from me;
Only madmen reward a fool,
But as her fingers remove my tainted gown,
I realize I must remain cool.
There’s one more chance to counter, I realize,
Last one before we hit the sink,
Once the shampoo dampens what remains of me,
My heart will be in the drink.
As she swiftly wheels my chair around,
And beckons me forward off my seat,
My heels stamp the stark linoleum floor,
And my body whirls from my feet.
Once again I’m facing the cold, clear mirror,
Eyes locking gaze with reflective eyes,
Her hardened expression dares my action,
But my hand ignores her cries.
I reach for the dormant and silent clippers,
Taking matters into my own hands.
But then my distracted head jerks backward;
She’s taken my mullet into her own hands.
“Revenge,” she whispers into my buzzing ears,
“Sickly sweet, my handsome dear,
Never distrust a stylist’s rightful eye,
If you want to know no fear.”
I shudder to think what she’s thinking about,
And then it dawns on me.
I once questioned her on that “cool” bowl cut,
And challenged her integrity.
Idiot maybe, but not a fool;
She had me in her hair-stained grip.
Once again I screamed that she was right;
Then she forced me to give that tip.
My First Mullet—My Second Mullet Rises
“What’s that thumping sound, little boy?
The beating of your fearing heart?
Did you reverse your hillbilly beard this morning?
Your back hair grow upward into your brain?”
I’m not listening to you, mullet;
You do not exist.
“Why are you running so quickly, little boy?
Did your barber fill your heart with dread?
You think your feet won’t trip over those locks of yours,
Do you think you can escape my grip?”
I’m not listening to you, mullet;
You do not exist.
“Come, come, little boy, come listen to my tale,
You hear my voice calling, do you not?
Pounding like the thunder on an oval racetrack,
Or the roar of victory over roadkill done shot.”
I’m not listening to you, mullet;
You do not exist.
“A wizard who lives in a trailer park, little boy,
That wizard gave me my super power today.
With a flick of your barber’s muddled brain,
Your history will now wash, rinse, and repeat.”
Go away, you wretched mullet;
You will not exist.
“Now, now, little boy, can you hear the pounding of your fearing heart?
I can hear it stammering deep within you,
Deep inside your chest, stammering,
Like poisoned lice wanting to escape.”
With summer just around the corner,
Unless you’re reading this in September,
You may want to try something new
To spice up your season.
Yes, you can play baseball or football,
Or go fishing or drag racing.
With the possibilities endless,
You may want to try a little of everything.
But, may I suggest something?
Try my favorite recipe:
Southern Fried Mullet!
It’s simply delectable.
Now, don’t let the name intimidate you.
It is much simpler to make than you realize.
You just need a pot and a few ingredients,
And you can be on your way to summer spice.
Before you can manage a hot, crisp mullet,
You need to acquire these items;
Remember, we do things differently
Down here in the South.
If you want a “Northern Fried Mullet,”
You’ll simply have to change your ingredients
According to your style.
But I don’t recommend doing anything “northern.”
First you need a medium-sized pot,
Perfect for holding plenty of water.
You’ll also want to grab a fry pan or skillet,
Perhaps the one you threw at your spouse last night.
Without these necessary kitchen aids,
You won’t get much frying done on that mullet,
So make sure you’ve got at least one of each.
It doesn’t matter if they’re clean.
Next you’ll want some “southern ingredients,”
Like onions, okra, peppers, and cheese.
Frying mullet is a celebration.
If you don’t have the “right” ingredients,
Then you can use the next best stuff.
Most importantly, be sure you have the mullet.
You can’t fry a mullet if you don’t have the mullet.
Terrible people have tried, and disaster befell them.
Don’t fry a mullet if you don’t actually have the mullet.
Also, stock your cabinets with oil and breadcrumbs.
Down here in the South,
We love our breadcrumbs.
We bathe in breadcrumbs.
Once you’ve confirmed your ingredients,
Fill the pot with ten cups of water
And bring it to a slow boil.
Or, bring it to a fast boil; it doesn’t matter.
While you wait for the pot,
Spread butter and oil across the skillet,
Then set your burner on “high.”
Mullets need to sizzle before they fry,
And nothing says sizzle,
Like a mullet set to “high.”
Once you hear the gentle rolling pops,
Turn the burner down to “medium.”
By then the butter should be oil thin,
And the mullet should be ready
For its ten-minute date
With the fry pan.
When the pot water boils,
Toss in all your ingredients at once.
You may have noticed we skipped a step:
Measuring the amount of onions, peppers, etc. you need.
Like the speed of the boil,
The amount you use is contingent on preference.
Use as much as you’d like.
Remember that more onions means more spice,
And more peppers means more heat.
When you fry your mullet, you’ll want heat and spice.
Once your kitchen fills with steam,
It’ll be time to put the mullet in the pan.
Slow the boil down to “low,”
Then cover if your pot has a top.
Between the onions, okra, peppers, and cheese,
You’ll have a soup in the making.
A good fried mullet goes best with soup.
It’s how we do things here in the South.
Did you remember to grab a bottle of oil?
Now’s the time to bring it to action.
Measure two cups of oil with your favorite cup
And gently begin pouring it onto the mullet.
The mullet should be doused in oil
Before it hits the pan.
Doing so will soften its texture.
Then roll it through a plate of breadcrumbs.
Once the mullet is properly prepped,
You may finally set it in the fry pan.
Now, be careful with this step.
Be very careful.
For, you won’t want to burn yourself
On the pan or skillet.
Always use caution when frying a mullet;
I recommend you call on a parent or a friend
To help guide you to the pan,
As you gently lean over and tilt your head—
Grip the edge of the stove tightly,
For you’ll want to keep balanced,
As your oil-soaked hair sizzles in butter
For the next ten scary minutes.
That burning smell is expected.
Once your ten minutes are up,
Promptly remove your hair from the pan,
And grab a dishtowel to protect your neck
From the excruciating heat that may follow.
Just stick it between your hair
And the back of your neck.
It’ll be enough to prevent a rash.
But you might still have a red neck.
Finally, as your fried mullet begins to cool,
Lean over the pot and remove the lid.
You should be ready to soak it in the soup
And give it its final texture.
Let it sit in the cauldron for about three minutes.
Once the gooey cheese soaks in,
And the onions, okra, and peppers marinate the hair,
You can pull it out of the pot and turn off the burners.
Then: Viola! Southern Fried Mullet,
Just in time for summer,
Or fall or winter or spring.
Perfect for that fashion statement,
You’ve been wanting to make,
Proving that chicken nugget-skinned hair
Is just as stylish as gel or purple dye.
And that’s how we do it here in the South.
Oh, and just to be clear,
If you thought this recipe
Had anything to do with frying fish,
You should know by now,
I mean really know by now,
That we don’t care about that kind of mullet.
That’s not how we do things
Down here in the South.
You should really do your research
Before simply following orders.
Note: This is part of series I’ve been working on in spurts since 2000, called “My First Mullet,” a collection of poetry (and other writing styles) about man’s struggle with trends, popularity, bad decisions, and bad hair. The majority of these works were written this year.
I’m aiming to have these assembled into a printed collection sometime in November. More information on that in future blogs.
Wrote a new poem today. This one is the 9th installment of my infamous “My First Mullet” series (the other eight are not yet on WordPress). This follows the conclusion to the epic struggle between man and mullet and serves as the first of four postscripts to that tale. This one in particular summarizes the conflict that a man has with his most awful of haircuts.
Note: It’s supposed to be ridiculous.
My First Mullet – The Bonus Mullet
Maybe it’s not such a bad thing, I thought.
It’s not like it was a disease I’d caught.
Perhaps fine fashion is what I’d sought:
My endeavors, clearly, were all for naught.
My first mullet, a mistake, to be certain.
Wearing my hair like a nape-neck curtain,
Cause for the cursin’ I’d been blurtin’,
No dignity, no composure, just shame I was spurtin’.
Living with it longer than sophistication allowed,
May as well’ve made me hopelessly disavowed,
From any sense that one could be wowed,
By the devoid brilliance of the trailer crowd.
I must’ve been duped by a crafty lie,
Perhaps on the whims of a saboteur or spy,
Employed by the ranks of the fashionably spry,
Eager to watch a man’s dreams die.
I could no longer stand the sight of my blindness,
My complete ignorance to fashionable kindness.
I should’ve considered my stylist’s guidance,
Rather than stare at him blankly and mindless.
He told me my mullet would cause me trouble,
Said I’d be better off with baldness or stubble.
Perhaps I was just living in a fashion bubble.
My stupidity sure left me with emotional rubble.
I was willing to give it a fair chance,
As all things deserve their time to dance,
But mullets eschew the great expanse
Of wisdom employed; that is my stance.
The results, I thought, were expectedly disappointing.
A mullet, for shame, for my heart, was disjointing.
A prayer I would need, or a stylist’s anointing,
To end the humiliation, the laughing, the pointing.
In truth, I’d had enough of that insufferable blight,
Hair so bad that I’d go out only at night.
My sense of style had not been right:
A provocative mess I had to fight.
I told my stylist to cut it or pay;
I would not suffer indignity today.
He brought out the clippers without delay,
And shaved that dastardly thing away.
Now I wonder if I’d done the wrong thing,
Since no haircut is truly that disgusting.
But, I digress, with much understanding,
That to some atrocities I should not cling.
Maybe I’d feel bad about my heartless trimming,
Over a disturbance in which I’d been wading or swimming,
Where my anger or dread had been brimming,
And hope for a reprieve had quickly been dimming.
But perspective is a powerful force,
As I’d once read in a wise man’s discourse.
Plenty of tragedies had been worse
Than my urgent need for a mullet divorce.
Maybe it’s not such a bad thing, I thought.
It’s not like it was a disease I’d caught.
Perhaps fine fashion is what I’d sought:
My first mullet, I’d bought, I’d fought.
My choice, my bad haircut, today is gone.
Mullet zero; me one.
I don’t write poetry much anymore. I sort of grew tired of it when I realized that fiction is a better resource for telling stories and essays are better for sharing my poignant discoveries and emotional meltdowns. But every so often I’ll become slapped in the face with inspiration and feel the need to jot down my ideas in poetic format. This happened to me last night when I was on my way home from taking a midnight walk through the neighborhood where I saw two fire engines racing by and where I passed many different types of fences and wondered who or what are they keeping inside.
I Built a Fence
I built a fence
To keep people out,
So they can’t get close to me.
If I let them in,
They’ll cause me harm
With pain I wish not to receive.
I’ve had no fence
For many a long time,
Much to my regretful dismay.
People got in,
And they moved me around,
Then left me with my disarray.
So I formed an idea
To build a fence,
That could separate me from pain.
But it took me time
To get the barrier right,
Because people won’t stay away.
The fence I wanted
Was a picket fence,
Ornamental and pleasant by sight.
But people are drawn
To its inviting design,
So I had to change my mind.
The fence I built
Was a two-rail fence,
Cheap and easy to pull.
Though, with space so wide
Between wooden slats,
Anyone could slip right through.
So, in front of that fence
I built a chain-link fence,
Made sturdy to keep them at bay.
But too many holes,
Created footholds to climb
For hopping over my barricade.
So, in front of that fence
I built a wrought iron fence,
Tall and narrow and firm.
But eager climbers
Could still shimmy on over
When skilled or eager or learned.
So, in front of that fence
I built a barbed-wire fence,
Sure to keep agile trespassers out.
But those meddling hands,
Yet padded with comfort,
Could just push my little barrier down.
So, in front of that fence
I built a privacy fence,
Closed off and sealed with wood.
Though if I stood too close,
And they battered it over,
They’d flatten me and ruin my mood.
So, in front of that fence
I built an electric fence,
Secure with ten thousand watts of power.
Now if anyone bothers
Or attempts to enter,
I’ll certainly cause them discomfort.
So, behind all my fences,
I am closed and well guarded,
And no one can reach me anymore.
I am safe, secure,
Free from your silly attempts to damage,
So don’t bother getting on through.
Yes, I have built my fences,
So many resistant,
And for years I will hide from “friends.”
But as I look around
To see what I’ve protected,
I realize no one wants to come in.
This poem is free to share in any format provided you keep my name attached to it.
I’m at a loss this week. It actually started last Saturday when I attempted to find some lunch to satisfy my stale heart and discovered that two dine-in sub shops I occasionally visited were both gone (a Quizno’s and a Miami Subs). It culminated in the disappointment on Monday when I attempted to pick up a $40 ticket to see Former President George W. Bush speak at the Miami Book Fair (for tomorrow afternoon) and missed it because the writing lab was too busy the moment tickets went on sale, thus leaving a once-in-a-lifetime dream in the dust. Losses I would get over, certainly, but they still kinda sucked.
Well, last night, I was blindsided by an even greater loss when my cat Nova suddenly deteriorated from a lively, if not occasionally grouchy and unusual cat, to a weakened and unresponsive creature who not only couldn’t recognize her name, but failed to twitch whenever someone would touch her ear. She had gone from slightly injured last week, to somewhat sick this week, to delirious Thursday night, to dying the following evening. The speed at which she deteriorated was alarming, and even now I’m still in a daze from the reality that my cat is no more.
I should’ve known a few days ago that something wrong was happening with her when her usual desire to run outside or sleep on the couch faded. She had spent most of the week lying on the bed with a bandage over her ear to prevent her from scratching her sore. Much of the time she didn’t move, and there was one moment when I had to look closely to see if she had any life in her. Of course, she twitched at my presence, so I left her alone. I would often find myself doing that whenever I’d find her sleeping anywhere, for she was pretty old and seemed to have strange sense of comfort in bathroom halls, on top of towels, and so forth. Never knew if she was okay or not, but she’d always respond with the lift of her head, the twitching of her ears, and then a return back to sleep. It’s just the way it’s been for several years now. When mornings came, she was up and running, at her food bowl, and at the back door waiting to go sleep in the sunshine. That was her way. But in the last week, her usual cat energy was snuffed.
Thursday night was the night her future first showed its disturbing head. We (as in my family and I) were watching TV in the living room when she wandered out of the bedroom and had that air of dementia hovering over her that suggested she had no idea where she was. She didn’t respond to her name, and she didn’t walk to her usual hotspots. Even then the first question came up, “Is she looking for a place to die?” It was easily ignored because it just wasn’t possible. Our cats were fighters. They, as in she and Sniffy, the other old cat, survived three major hurricanes, lived outside during house fumigation among other things, and endured a number of photographs taken over the years. For her time to come so suddenly, it didn’t seem possible. But the signs were there. She was standing between the refrigerator and its door when I went to find a drink, and didn’t move when I tried to close it. She stood between the organ and the television, staring at the empty space between, and showed no sense of recognition. She had entered her own private nursing home for cats.
Friday morning, she fell off the bed, the first indicator that her muscle control had faded. She was on her back and couldn’t right herself. In the afternoon, she was taken outside to sleep on the patio under the clothesline (one of her favorite outdoor spots) and stayed there until after sundown. The last time I watched her move, she was trying to crawl under the patio chair. She tried to stand, took a couple of steps, and fell on her water dish. That was it. That was the last time. She stayed under that patio chair until her life faded down to a soft pulse. Around 9pm, when the light of her life was nearly burned out, we put her in her makeshift bed (pillow and a couple of towels in the top cover of her litter box), brought her inside, and let her spend her last hours on the same bed where she had spent the last week trying to recover. Sometime in the middle of the night, her pulse finally stopped. And that closed the book of her life on earth.
I don’t really know what I want to say here. I’m still dazed. My pet is dead. She’s been part of the family for about 10 years, and now we feel the hole in the heart she’s left behind. My sister is heartbroken. This morning, my mom cried for the first time in years that she had cried over any animal when she laid the rock down on Nova’s burial site. The other cats are visibly upset. Nami, the youngest of the three cats, spent much of the day in the window watching over Nova yesterday during the hospice period, while Sniffy patrolled the yard, keeping the birds away. Everyone is off-kilter.
In the end, though, everyone tried to give her a peaceful way out, and I think we accomplished that. She died her way, and not many animals can do that. Perhaps that’s the joy in this. She got to go out peacefully. For a cat that seemed so internally troubled, perhaps that was the best thing for her when her time finally came.
All we can do now is remember her:
Named after a space explosion,
You came into this world,
And though we did not know you then,
You exploded into our world.
Four months they had you caged,
But for four months you endured,
Four months you patiently waited for us,
Until your lonely life was cured.
You came home to a life of freedom,
I’m sure it was a sunny day,
You met your buddy Sniffy,
And life let you have things your way.
Ten years you ruled the house,
As the matriarch of cats,
And though kittens would come and go,
You kept your roost long last.
Sleeping on tables left you cautious,
Sleeping on couches kept you content,
Sleeping on beds made you queen,
Anywhere was a place well spent.
But as life eventually ends,
Your time finally came,
Last night the sun went down on you,
Today we’re still feeling the pain.
Your family will miss you, kitty,
Sniffy and Nami will the same,
A rock and a plant now cover your body,
But heaven holds your spirit’s frame,
Nova was your name.