Smoke and Mirrors

In a perfect world . . .

Category: Ghosts (page 1 of 3)

I has a sad.

sad, friends, goodbye, life


Sometimes when I start writing I have no clue as to what I will find;
maybe that’s the beauty of the written word; an internal GPS on shuffle mode.
I lost a friend of 30+ years last night and I’m fumbling for the right words tonight.

I woke up this morning with nothing special on my mind save for the usual morning routine.
It was 5:30am and my brain was on automatic as I drank my Mango juice, took my Multi-vitamin and gagged on my Fish oil.
Fish oil burps are, THE worst.
I opened my IPhone and saw a private message from a Facebook friend sent last night at 10:43.
It was simple enough and said, “Are you up?”
Obviously, I was not.
I really hate late night calls/messages.
They are never good.
I got on the train at 6:10am for my trip into Boston and responded;
“I’m up now. What’s going on, dude?”

We all think we are going to live forever.
There will always be another tomorrow.
The next scratch ticket is our ‘ticket’ outta here.
We reminisce about friends we haven’t talked to in years and think, “I should call him/her.”
Do we call?
We click our remotes to the next ‘Dancing with the Stars’ offering, the next ‘Idol’, the next ‘Desperate Housewives’ episode, and read the next Supermarket rag that somehow becomes a vital part of our lives.

We will not live forever.
Tomorrow is promised to no one.
Kim Kardashian was never sexy to begin with.
And ‘reality’ TV needs to be attacked by Navy Seals because it ain’t even fackin’ close to reality.

The message I received back told me that a close friend had unexpectedly died.
As I’m writing this post, I have not cried, have not grieved.
I am profoundly sad that my friend is gone.
I am numb.
I can’t believe I will never talk to him again.
I can’t believe I will never be able to say goodbye.
I just can’t believe that he’s gone.

I just called my best friend on my cell and left a shaky voiced message.
I wanted to just hear his voice.
Today has shattered my insides.
I’m trying hard to keep it in because that’s what I think I need to do.
He will call me back very soon, I hope.
After leaving him a message, this thing hit me like an emotional tornado.
I cried; am still crying as I type this.
Oddly enough it feels right; because genuine tears heal the bigger part of us . . . eventually.
More are on the way . . .


sad, broken, house, life, memories

Last Sunday my wife and I stopped by the cemetery to spend a few quiet moments with my Dad
seeing it was Father’s Day.
It was a sun-shiny day with puffy white clouds dotting an iridescent indigo sky and a gentle breeze that easily moved the American flag marking my father’s eternal place in the world.
We watered the royal purple petunias that my sister got for the grave and sat for a spell.
Cemetery silence is like no other.
It traps me in my own thoughts as I ‘talk’ to Dad while trying to figure out just what the hell is going on in my life.
Like he will just pop out of nowhere and answer me.
In a perfect world, as I always say.
I can’t remember the last Father’s Day that I spent with the man when he was of sane mind.
That bothered me last Sunday, a bit more than usual.
Maybe my daily commute to Boston and endless hours on the merry-go-round/cheese wheel that we call life has sucked the remembering marrow out of too many bones in my body.
I told him, “I’m tired, Dad. And I miss you. And I want to be 10 years old again,” as the thoughts of oiling my old Rawlings baseball glove for the ultimate game of ‘Catch’ rolled around my head.
It was total vindication of the good old days that sat heavy in my heart.
Every visit to see my Mom and Dad is sentimental in some way.
Maybe it’s how I’m wired, I don’t know.
I kissed my palm and touched the names of both Walter and Virginia, all that’s physically left of them.
I wanted to just drive by the old neighborhood for shits and giggles and made my way towards my old house.
I turned down Harvard Street driving past all the old neighbors; the Gilbert’s, the Masterson’s, the Pelletier’s, the Pinard’s and on and on.
The fields I once played on were totally overgrown with brush and trees and sadly no sign of my once significant presence.
We came back up Harvard Street and I looked at the house I’d grown up in.
There was no one home and there were pastel yellow signs taped on the front and back door that said, “NO TRESPASSING!”
I pulled my SUV into the driveway and Pamela and I got out to survey the multiple broken windows and damage.
The place that was once my ‘home’ was devastated.
Mold was eating its way throughout the entire exterior.
It was raped of its innocence and simple beauty.
It was a crime scene of epic proportions.
I was crying inside as I peered into the windows of rooms that held so many good memories for me now destroyed by people that just didn’t give a shit; holes in walls, carpets that looked a million years old and covered with dirt and soot.
It was disgusting.
The animals living here were lower than assholes.
If they were standing right in front of me I would say that to their hairy faces.
I was angry and sadder than I had been when I sold the house.
What would make someone do this to a place called home?
I was speechless.
What really hurt was that the window in what used to be my bedroom was shattered, she-doo-bee-doop, shattered, shattered.
I wish I had a great ‘tie it all up in a bow’ ending for this story but I don’t.
My old house is very sad.
And I can’t blame her.
It makes me even sadder because there’s nothing that I can do.
If my arms were big enough, I would have given her a hug.
But it’s too late for that.
The damage is already done.
And I’ll remain shattered . . .

Heart of the matter

This song is deeply personal to me.
Interpretation is as always a unique thing.
Jimmy Webb has inspired me for many years.
His writing style, lyrics and unmistakeable piano chords make me yearn to
write again someday.
‘Mistress’ has been recorded by many people over the years but no version gets to me like
As I said, the song is embedded deeply into the tapestry of my life.
A secret and a mystery I will take to the grave.
This is the beauty of the written song . . .

Just like Chaplin

Some thoughts from many years ago (2006)
Seems like yesterday . . .

We had my father over for Easter dinner on Sunday.
My sister wanted to pick him up and bring him over; something I believe she had to do.
I think she fears there won’t be many more left to share.
Sadly, I would have to agree.
Actually, I would have agreed over a year ago.
I have to give her credit for going through the rigmarole of getting him ready,
seated safely in the car and bringing him over to our house.
I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt.

My father has a difficult time walking these days reminding me more of Charlie Chaplin than the man I once called “Dad”.
It’s an unfortunate physical side effect of a brain at war with total neurological disintegration.
We eventually got him into my living room and plopped him down in my favorite chair:
one, because the chair is just so damn comfortable
and two, because when we finally let him go, it would be impossible for him to miss it.

We all sat down to eat and my sister and I filled his plate with ham,
green beans and Au gratin potatoes, all of which we cut up into pieces to make it easier for him to feed himself.
And feed himself he did.
He ate everything on the plate.
Either my cooking was really good that day or where he’s currently staying is really bad.
Whatever the case, it was wonderful to see him enjoy a meal.
He didn’t speak a word as he ate.

My wife caught him stabbing at an empty spot on his plate.
She gently rotated his plate to where the food was and he was none the wiser.
Mission Accomplished.

The rest of the afternoon went off without a hitch.

After eating, we ushered him back to my chair where he fell asleep; perhaps shuffling through his own little world of monochromatic movie screens and silent dreams . . .  a sleeping Charlie Chaplin.

We woke him an hour or so later and got him back into the car.
As I fastened his seat belt, I looked at him as he peered over the rims of his glasses and I said,
“No Boston Marathon for you tomorrow, young man.”

I’m sure he didn’t understand a word I said but knew enough to do a little chuckle and mutter, “Yeah”.

He plays the game so well most days so why the hell can’t I?

For me, the Easter cupboard was somewhat threadbare in terms of holiday revelations
and personal epiphanies but I did get to marvel over the way my Dad still gets through his days.
In many ways, he’s graceful in a way I may never be.
As long as his surreal movie keeps playing,
I’ll continue to watch him as he shuffles through his seemingly silent and black and white world,
just like Chaplin.



[photo courtesy of Kelly]

I’ve been mulling over in my mind the past several weeks wondering if I could
crystallize my many thoughts into one fine black point.
The little voice inside my head just said, “Are you really serious?”
Since the night I wrote ‘Boxes’ my world has changed dramatically.
On one level, there is this welcome sense of relief regarding the final end for my father and his long fought ordeal; another level acknowledges a deep sadness knowing and accepting the fact that he is truly gone.

I took a ride yesterday afternoon to North Cemetery where my mother and father are now buried.
It was unseasonably warm with a cobalt-blue sky, a Cape Cod-like sea breeze and enough
brilliant sunshine to make me start daydreaming about the summer months ahead.
This place where the earth now wraps its arms securely around my parents has become
hallowed ground for many reasons.
For me, it is a tangible point of communication, a visible portal to somewhere I’ve never been,
a place where special things happen and are accepted for all that they are.
It was no different yesterday as I stood staring at the rose granite bench bearing the names:
Virginia A. & Walter M.
Best friends, I thought.
The engravers had paid a visit and finished the stone.
The circle was now complete.
I was alone in the cemetery and sat down on the sun-warmed bench, stretching my legs out into the sunshine.
To my right was the small flag stuck in a holder that now marks my father as an American veteran.
I was sitting for less than a minute when the wind picked up.
The tiny flag began waving gently and touched my arm.
“Hey, Dad,” I said, smiling at the thought.
The flag continued to wave, touching my arm, my soul, my heart.
It was sitting there that I began to finally accept the finality of these past few weeks.
The stone was done, seeds were planted and tears rolled down my cheeks watering the dry earth below me.
As I stood up, the breeze ceased and the flag drooped down.
I kissed the palm of my hand and placed it on the warm rose granite bench that now held their names.
“You’re finally home, Dad,” I said to an empty cemetery.
I got in my truck and drove away a different man then when I originally came in and
for the first time in many years, something felt right.


Farewell to the Frozen Man

His soul sleeps,
buried far beneath a long forgotten vertical landscape,
yearning for home . . .
it dreams of places remembered; warm places, complete and innocently raw

The perpetual journey through a cobwebbed labyrinth remains a stygian quest at best,
an unanswered prayer, a dimly lit votive, a quiet cry in the dark
the clouds thicken, the earth cools and a winter of the mind settles in

Rolling waves of emotion yield snowflakes of blue
that fall like sleet, slicing the spirit into oh, so many unrecognizable pieces of what used to be a life; where nothing fits or belongs but must somehow remain

still . . .

Who knows when, this sadly shattered thing will end
Only God knows when it started,
But it’s wearing pretty thin, as the winter settles in, covering the frozen man . . .

ps. love you.

I Am

I am: always waiting, endlessly hoping
I think: the world is going to hell in a hand basket . . .
I know: I’m not the only one that thinks so
I want: just enough
I have: a sad heart . . .
I wish: it weren’t so
I hate: Winter . . . (it’s coming)
I miss: Summer
I fear: things I have no control over
I feel: tired, like always
I hear: conversation, the rustle of a newspaper, a train on the tracks
I smell: like a fine cigar . . . (that nobody likes)
I crave: anything but
I search: for ‘the’ words . . .
I wonder: exactly what they mean
I regret: so very many things, so many mistakes, wrong turns and unfulfilled dreams
I ache: daily
I care: deeply
I always: keep ‘hope’ somewhere very close
I am not: a brain surgeon, but I’m pretty freekin’ smart
I believe: in my three wonderful daughters (my 3 hopes)
I dance: like an epileptic underneath a manic strobe light
I sing: rarely these days, which is sad
I cry: behind locked doors (not often enough)
I don’t always: shave my head
I fight: for what I truly believe in
I write: to simply stay sane
I never: feel that life is fair
I stole: a nice four-wheel dolly from a ritzy Hotel in Boston many years ago
(actually, I just ‘forgot’ to return it)
I listen: to those that truly need to be heard
I need: something
I am happy about: the fact that the dung-slinging elections are almost over.
And I could give two sweet shits about them.
Politics suck. Period. Amen.

Feel free to tag yourself on this.
No tagging here.
I borrowed this from Moe.
Great Meme . . .
Maybe too much information?
Ah, well, it had to come out sooner or later . . .

An evening with JC

It was a beautiful night as I rode the Red Line into Cambridge.
From my window, the Longfellow Bridge offered up a brilliant panoramic view of Boston’s Back Bay settling into ‘night mode’.
I made my way to the Harvard Bookstore wondering what the evening would hold.
If you like bookstores, you would fall in love with this antique of a shop (est.1932).
I wandered around Harvard Square until 6:30 before going in and purchasing The Ghost in Love.
It was a very intimate setting with @20 chairs set-up.
I grabbed the closest seat to the podium that I could get.
God, I was excited.
The reading started promptly at 7 as Carroll read the first chapter of ‘Ghost’ in its entirety.
A brief Q&A session followed.
I asked him about his advice for ‘Writer’s Block’.
He laughed and said he never had a problem with it.
He answered honestly and to paraphrase said

“Always leave the windows and doors (of the mind) open . . . if they should shut, put the pen down and go cook a meal, take a walk, see a movie, have sex . . . anything but think about writing. Eventually the doors will open.”

He spoke of his craft in a way that was easy to relate to but unique in its approach.
Personally, he could have talked until midnight and I would have stayed.
After being gently prodded to begin the book signing, yours truly was 1st in line.
I did tell him how much he’s inspired me over the years to which he responded with a smile and a genuine ‘thank you’.
He asked my name and we talked a bit as he signed “Ghost” (~a ghost for Michael . . .)
I pulled The Panic Hand from my bag.
He smiled again.
As he thumbed through the first few pages he said, “Ah, First Edition, US. Very nice.”
I told him about the email I’d sent him years ago after winning the book on Ebay as well as my love of his story The Sadness of Detail.
He mentioned how many people really liked that story as he signed my ‘Panic Hand’ book . . .
I shook his hand and thanked him saying I would definitely see him on his next US book tour.
I wondered what it must be like to meet so many people that truly idolize you as an artist.
Carroll takes it in stride and is one of the most down to earth and personable writers you will ever meet.
He will be in California in a few days for anyone on the West Coast that wants a chance to see and hear this brilliant man.
I floated back (a few feet off the ground) to the Red Line and made my way across the Charles to Backbay, opening the two books every five minutes thinking the magical script would suddenly disappear.
This morning I realized just how wonderful last night really was.
It’s always nice when a dream comes to fruition.
And Vienna waits . . .

Click on the book for a little surprise!

ps. saw Stephen King again yesterday as well.
What a day for authors . . .


I can see her from my bedroom window on some of the warm and humid summer nights.
She stands motionless bathed in a slice of cobalt blue moonlight, staring up at me, waiting, wanting, needing something my lethargic mind can’t quite comprehend.
Whispers crawl around my bedroom floor rising to my waiting ears, words that have no form, no meaning.
Off in the distance, I hear the dissonant bells of a monument in a cemetery across the rippling pond.
The solitary whistle of a passing ghost train to nowhere only adds to the soundtrack of this surreal dream world I’m in, a maelstrom of stygian tones and swiftly passing night clouds.
But it’s her, always her; waiting, watching, wanting . . .
I rise from the comfort of my bed and walk downstairs, an endless descent accentuated by the numerous creaks of an old and dying staircase.
Suddenly, I’m standing in the kitchen staring at a backdoor with its shade drawn.
The outside porch light illuminates her silhouetted shape standing motionless behind the door.
My heart skips a beat and my breath quickens as my hand willingly reaches for the brass doorknob.
Although it’s summer, the brass knob feels like ice and I freeze as the door slowly opens.
She’s there in front of me, inches from the ground slowly rotating in space and time, like a maniacal second hand of a broken watch.
When the door fully opens, she stops and seems to glide towards me, raising the hair on my arms.
She’s buzzing like neon.
I take in her face, the colour of the full October moon, creviced like a web but somehow calm.
Her lips are of Jasper, her eyes like black opals with swirling clouds of candescent lace deep within, maybe her universe, maybe another world.

I search for something to say but I am (diametrically) frozen solid in the warm humid air.

“I know,” she whispers, “I know things. I know you.”

“What do you want?” I manage to mumble.

“The soul, your soul.”

Her hand reaches effortlessly inside my chest and withdraws a beam of white light which she gently places inside a black satchel, on it is written “acceptance” in small white letters.

I exhale a cloud of crystalline blue frost into the warm summer night that envelops her.
She nods almost respectfully and begins to drift carelessly away, almost satisfied.
I look at her so confused and ask, “Who are you?”
On the warm winds of a midnight past, I hear her whisper . . .
“Wysteria . . . ”


Darkness falls like heavy rain,
colouring the dormant landscape obsidian,
a pall upon the earth . . .
In lavender hues, the nightshades bloom
As shadows dance inside a room, where he sits in his deafening silence

Dropping his cares by the bed where he lays
he closes his eyes on tomorrow
Soon the nightshade will bloom
taking him far from this room
where he sits in this silence and prays . . .

Maybe the waiting is part of some plan, with ghosts of the past drawing near
but the signs of the dawn keep him lingering on, though he can’t remember the here
and now . . .
The nightshade will weep, the north wind will cry in a world he can no longer find
from the indigo heavens above, a solitary amethyst teardrop falls,
God’s healing salve for a father’s weary mind
And the nightshade will sleep . . .

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