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My Robot Is Pregnant theme song!

tough guy poetry and manly stories of loneliness
all contents copyright Jon Rolston 2004, 2005, 2006

March 31, 2008

point reyes


It’s a tiny northern California town, close to the cliffs that drop into the Pacific. There’s no straight road there – you put in time handling the vehicle, snaking across the faces of hills that create one side of Sonoma Valley, through cow pastures and scrub pines, live oaks clustered in the crotches of gulches, past a splayed deer carcass with the limpness of death in it returning to earth in the short grass on the high side of the road. Dirty brown little mule deer knocked fucking dead with a car like you’re driving as you worry about sliding over the low side and rolling, rolling, steel crushing. Then the road starts to straighten and a market with two gas pumps is up ahead and now it’s a straight shot called Main Street for three blocks with a neon Lagunitas Beer sign in the window of the Old Western Saloon and a lawnmower with a paper price card dangling from it outside the door of the Hardware Store. The bloom is gone from the trees, everything is its own breed of green for a few more months. It’s a tiny northern California town called Point Reyes.

My friends played a show in the Saloon and we drank some beers there, played a few games of pool against the locals. Cowboy hats and mustaches leaning against the wall taking us in, us with long hair and tight fitting dinner jackets, but the music was good, our boys played their best and those cowboy hats decided we were all right. So we all drank some more beers.

After the show we caravaned four cars through the madness of twisting back roads to an empty house waiting for us. The place looked like a box car, low and long with board and batten facade sitting under trees. The front door opened up to the outside…it was an illusion…the house was split in two. Kitchen and living room on the left, bedrooms on the right. We were standing in an outdoor patio with a sturdy ping pong table in front of us. This was California. Northern California, with Douglas Fir and Redwood, lots of windows to let in the light; just by looking at the house you knew Ohio was a million miles away, and beyond that was a fable they called New England.

Someone had brought a bag of mushrooms and we drank Modelo and Tecate until the sun came up and so we went inside to put our bare feet by the fire and dry the dew off of them and off the cuffs of our pants too. We slept on the floor with a fire crackling and the mushrooms winding down. It’s been a long time since I’ve been with a group of people that made me feel like part of the gang. Maybe this California thing is working.

March 30, 2008

it’s just a war, another one, you won’t remember all the little stuff about it

Portsmouth New Hampshire. Photo by Ken Hawkins

You said “I’ll go to another country, go to another shore
find another city better than this one.
Whatever I try to do is fated to turn out wrong
and my heart lies buried like something dead.
How long can I let my mind moulder in this place?
Wherever I turn, wherever I look,
I see the black ruins of my life, here,
where I’ve spent so many years, wasted them, destroyed them totally.”

You won’t find a new country, won’t find another shore.
This city will always pursue you.
You’ll walk the same streets, grow old
in the same neighborhoods, turn gray in these same houses.
You’ll always end up in this city. Don’t hope for things elsewhere
There is no ship for you, there’s no road.
Now that you’ve wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you’ve destroyed it everywhere in the world.

C.P. Cavafy

This poem has haunted me since I read it in high school. “There is no road,” it says. I can’t leave Greenland, New Hampshire? I wanted to believe Kerouac in “On the Road”, but I secretly believed this poem to be truer. There is no road. No liberation. No redemption. Kerouac lied.

It’s going on 8 years since I’ve lived in New Hampshire. I spent ten years on ships and on roads looking for a place that felt better than New Hampshire. I have come to learn that the world is on fire. Right in the earth’s center the air is molten. How can we have a stable existence with an unstable core? People claim to be cold and lonely, never hot and lonely. They’re too far from the center. I’m not only getting older, I’m getting smaller too…the earth’s center is molten, I can’t make a decision. Mirrors reverse words and images left to right but not up to down…is that because of gravity? Some things, even if we understand them, we can’t change.

March 28, 2008

Frontlines New Hampshire

I put a call out for ideas last week and Ken offered to write a story for me about New Hampshire. I asked if he could check in on Darlene’s, an old favorite sub shop and one of the few that hasn’t been lost to progress. Here’s what he had to say…

photo and story by K.C. Hawkins

I stopped in at Darlene’s to get some lunch. There was a man in his early fifties sitting down to the left wearing suspenders and rubbing his beard. If I took a guess, I would say that he was tired. If I took another guess I’d say he was a carpenter because of the fine sawdust that was trapped in his hairy arms. I wanted to sit down and ask him why he wasn’t getting a $23 dollar chocolate caramel mocha cinnamon latte croissant at Starbucks. The one that just went in the Pizza Hut on Woodbury Avenue…I guess some people are happy with the way things are.

The same old oven to cook pies and toast subs was standing tall. Darlene wasn’t there but there was the girl we call “Service with a Smile”. I remember her from high school when I went back. I think she was in band or choir. I was 21 when I graduated. I’m no dummy. I went to high school for seven years. It’s scary when you think about dating one of the lunch ladies.

The cook on duty, Lonnie, she wasn’t smiling, she sternly said “Hello”. You never want to make a cook mad, especially when they have your lunch in their hands. They have a lot of choices here up on the plastic menu. American Chop Suey, meatball sub, calzones…my mind starts arguing with my nose and my stomach. I chose pizza – it looks so appealing when it is under the heat-lamp in the small display case. The grease reflects the light and sends a message to my salivary glands and in order to make it stop I jam the slice in my mouth burning the roof of my pallet and getting the burnt skin confused with the cheese.

Todd, a motorcycle mechanic from town, says he eats there about 3 times a month. His favorite sub is steak, egg and cheese. He’s been going there since 1987. I asked him if much has changed with the place.

He said, “No, just the prices…probably to pay for the brand new Cherokee she has.”

I think you should never change something that works, that’s why Darlene’s is so consistently busy. Alongside the sub shop is a Grecian Salon, old ladies go in with their hair flat, and come out looking like Marge Simpson, but that place is just as busy. It’s a testament to tradition. Sometimes people have a hard time welcoming change. How can you truly cherish tradition if you have your legs open to change all the time. Huh? Nevermind

As fast as I eat the slice Cookie Cutter Condos are being assembled around town dressed with shiny copper lanterns that will turn green in little as a year. I was thinking of Lyle’s comment about where the old Portsmouth went. I was saddened by this thought. It seems like yesterday we were all ramping up for the weekend, egging, hanging out on the apple farm waiting till it closed to ask Drunk Jerry to buy beer for us then drinking under the bridge, throwing perfect rolls of toilet paper up in the trees to add color to the boring lives we thought we had. I miss the stench of Pabst soaked into the carpet in the Elvis Room. I miss the knockout fights at Gilley’s and the cheap conversations had by all.

I was told by Mr. Celli that the chimney I had taken down in the Olde Mill Fish market had to go back up because the Historic District Committee attorneys said it needed to be preserved. I hope they settle for a plywood facade with New England BrickMaster tiles. I wish the HDC could preserve the whole town as it once was, with less people less government. When the Hysterical District Committee approved the Hilton Hotel there was a stipulation stating that the structure could not exceed the height of the parking garage and it now towers over the Hanover street location. It is all about revenue.

The parking meters are no longer in the view of the fading Wyland Whales mural. Now you buy time from a debit/credit slot machine. You have to go to the kiosk, buy time, walk back to your car and display the ticket on your dash. No more leaving your window cracked when it is hot or a breeze will knock it off and you’ll get fined. I’m not sure if the city wanted to kill the labor of collecting the coins or they were tired of people sliding in the parking spot on someone else’s time.

Last summer I was at the Gas Light (outside) and I saw this woman dancing to the bands lucky music. I overheard the doorman say, “I am sorry ma’am but we don’t allow dancing.” He mumbled something about not having a license or a designated dance floor. Art galleries are gone and so is the raw live entertainment…now we have drum machines with rounded chords being strummed by the numb has been. Not sure what the next step for Portsmouth is. Hopefully the city won’t put their hand over the last 5 letters of our town.

March 27, 2008


I suppose every city with a Chinese population has these people out collecting bags of aluminum cans on a shoulder pole. In a California History class at SF State I was taught the City banned these poles in the 1800’s. Supposedly they were dangerous to pedestrians, but it seems more like an attempt to destroy Chinese culture.

This is an ancient tradition, as the following photo shows:
image courtesy of this site

cat butt

These are dried and sweetened hibiscus flowers from Trader Joe’s. They taste great, but according to Sonja, they look like cat butts. She and her boyfriend Jhase sent me this drawing after I entreated them to eat some.

Primavera time in Paris

Isn’t it funny how when you learn a new word, suddenly you see it everywhere? There are many things out there we can’t see simply because we have not learned of their existence.

March 25, 2008

correspondent from the NH Front


Mr. Hawkins has offered to send updates from the granite state. I’d love to know what’s happening back there. Perhaps a little talk with the ladies at Darlene’s sub shop?

I must be boring because I’m bored as hell.

I’m over my creative peak and looking for inspiration. Does anyone have any requests? Are you interested in an uninformed opinion on something? Would you like to hear me tell the other side of an old story? Shall I mash up your favorite authors? I’d appreciate a friendly push to get me out of this slump.

March 23, 2008

i’m talking about bringing retards to orgasm

I don’t have all kinds of time to write this stuff, I’m a blogger, not a novelist. An hour a day is a luxury, and that involves color correcting photos and waiting for this shitty wi-fi to hook me up. So I’m gonna talk fast and honest about something that’s been on my mind for ten years. Everything is sexual. Women don’t want to be sex objects? Ladies, if I could get it in your ear, I’d love you for your brain. But it don’t work that way.

Take a look at our fag brothers. They’re like monkeys, touching and sucking and fucking each other. I don’t happen to be very gay, so I want to climb all over women. Big tall ones. Fat ones. Women skinny as a rail that want to whip my ass. It doesn’t matter. In church I’m thinking about it. God knows. He must know. He created me in his image. Women were an afterthought born of my rib. Rib like a bone, I’m constantly trying to get one more in. Aspiring to Godhood.

I have a new girlfriend. The last one totally wrote me off. The new one wonders about me. I don’t get this world. When I was younger I was very compassionate. I used to work with developmentally disabled people. I also worked with accident victims. There was one guy, Ron, in his 50’s. He crashed his truck with his date by his side when he was 18 years old. A big accident, broken glass, the truck out of control and off the road. She got out of the truck and stood there in shock. The pickup on it’s side in the weeds, two wheels spinning. She walked back to the truck and Ron was still inside.

“I can’t feel my legs. I can’t feel my arms,” he said. “I’m scared.”

He remembered it so clearly. Laying in a bed in government housing in Dover New Hampshire. I got paid to physically push him onto his side and dress his bed sores and wipe his ass. Then I rolled him up on the other side and took care of that stuff. Your skin turns white when it’s dead and moist. Six inch rings of blood on the surface. Change a pad. Rub on ointment. Bizarre. The blood pools right beneath the surface of the last layer of skin.

Unplug the catheter from the bag and hook it into a fresh empty one. They were clear plastic bags, like a giant Capri-Sun. I’d jam the tube in. One end went into a hole in his stomach. It was important to note how much he’d evacuated. “Don’t let that get dirty,” he’d say, “or it could kill me.”

His dick atrophied. I’d never been so intimate with one. It was tiny.

“I got so embarrassed in the hospital the first year. Pretty nurses came in and I had a boner I couldn’t control. It was automatic. But I got older and it never happens anymore. Not that I could feel it.”

His doctor prescribed him a penis pump. Purely psychological. Ron told me it was in the bottom drawer of a file cabinet. I asked him I if I could use it in the bathroom.

A penis pump creates a vacumn, so that everything stretches. It was the biggest my dick had ever been. I came out and showed Ron.

“You’re like a hoss,” he said, in his Dover accent. But as soon as I released the tension it went back to normal. I got a staff infection on my balls a few days later. Everything sexual is repercussive.

I just wanted to say that we are living creatures and things can go wrong with us. What we call wrong. Things can become more difficult. But we want to have sex. Or talk about it. Or listen to stories. Or wonder. Or try to get away from it.

March 22, 2008


My roommate cut the tip of his finger off at work peeling an orange for a cocktail.

March 21, 2008


Big Jim got robbed by his ex-girlfriend last week. She wanted some money and he wouldn’t give it to her so she clocked him with a coffee mug. Big Jim lives in West Oakland. It’s more than any of us on the internet can understand. She won’t leave his house either. So he stopped paying the electric bill hoping to drive her out. Really, I can’t begin to explain it.

counter guy

This is my favorite guy at U-Save. He wears that Rams sweatshirt almost every day.

March 20, 2008

Go Go Bordello (expanded)

Port Costa, California –

The rear end of my pickup is much lighter than the engine-heavy front end; as we motor down the potholed backroads she kicks her hind legs up, pitching the four of us in the cab hard against the seat belts. The one speaker fades in and out. Dust comes up out of the dash vents. We’re heading north into the country.


Up ahead behind these rolling hills we’re winding through there’s a shoebox of a town whose main drag dead-ends at the railroad tracks. That’d be Port Costa. Not even a port no more, just two pair of steel tracks, one East bound one West bound. Beyond these four steel rails is the Carquinez Straight, a stretch of water not so wide you can’t see the houses on the far hillside, but not so close you can see in the windows. Ships and rail cars parallel each other but nothing stops here. This town don’t work no more. We’re here for the only show around: a biker bar with an old hotel across the street and no one cares if you drink anywhere in between.

The bar is a stone warehouse with a bronze plaque bolted on by the door that boasts of all the fires it survived, starting way back in the 1880’s. No one is storing wheat here anymore, just a huge selection of liquor beer and wine. There’s a pool table with enough space even a long drink of water like me can line up a shot from any rail without bumping the butt end of the cue into a wall. Try to find that kind of real estate in the city.

This was the town where the grain from the fabled Central Valley passed through on its way to the docks of Oakland where it was loaded in wooden ships that set out to sea to sail beneath the entire continent of South America, round the horn and head to Europe. This town used to be somebody.

The outlands of San Francisco are snaked with large rivers and riddled with bays. The grain trains couldn’t float so ferries were built that loaded an entire line aboard and brought it over to Port Costa from Benicia where it choogled on down to New Orleans, so to speak. You heard trains don’t stop here anymore. Nope. They scream through at night blasting their horn long and loud enough to wake the drunks who stumble from the bar out to the tracks. And anyone trying to sleep in the hotel twenty yards away.

Carquinez Bridge. Both of them.

They built a steel bridge over the Carquinez Straight in the thirties and it was like kinking the water hose in a desert garden. Everything died. Progress had its revenge – even that killing bridge is outdated now. It stands like an old Erector set next to a modern cement suspension bridge.

The Burlington Hotel

Nowadays Port Costa hosts about 200 residents, two restaurants and our old hotel, The Burlington. The front door was locked when we arrived, even though we had reservations. Then someone remembered we had to check in at the bar across the street.
The paint was peeling off the eight foot tall wooden front door. It was just a dead bolt. No plastic card swipe system.

Stepping inside was like walking into an abandoned farmhouse. There was no front desk, just two closed doors and a stairway up. We climbed. Holes in the carpet patched with duct tape of a similar color. Thrift store prints on the wall. Wooden wainscoting with hundreds of layers of paint. The red flocked wallpaper still felt like velvet but the mirrors had lost their silver lining in most places. They say three things about this hotel. It used to be a bordello, today it is haunted, and you should bring your own sheets. I believe all three. While inspecting the mattress for bed bugs I found a suspicious hole in the box spring that appeared to have been chewed by a rat. The best thing to do is put your bags down and go next door to the bar. Come back when you are ready to pass out and you won’t mind this place a bit.

The author playing make-believe in an abandoned barn – photo courtesy Annessa

Oddly enough the best part of gettin’ away is coming home. The windows are down and it’s past noon. Bags in the back and plenty of diesel in the tank. This beautiful old barn comes into view up on the crest of a vivid green hilltop, dilapidated unpainted fence rails look like lines of malnourished cattle desperately struggling back to their stable.

Rather than run their barn boards horizontally or vertically, these barn builders sent them across the face in a V pattern. A dirt road pokes out between the shade of two drooping pines as we round the bend…”no trespassing” signs nailed to the trunks. We forgive those who trespass against us as we take the hard left off the county road and head into the pines. The pines quickly clear and turn to oak and there sits a little red house with plywood nailed over all the windows. Guess no one’s home. My old truck is like a lazy horse when we pull up and park…hardly moves, just shifts its weight to three of the four tires and waits while we climb over a locked gate that leads uphill to that fantastic barn.

There are small outbuildings along the way. According to a person’s temperament it is either spooky or inspiring. Take this little shed here. Is this where the children were stripped and locked up when they misbehaved? Is this scrap of iron something Father heated up and branded his children with, promising to hunt them down and gut them if they ever tried to leave? And this scrap of rope…he was breeding his children with his children, hoping for legless offspring that could never run away…

Okay. Some people think like that. Other people see these old trembling boxes as security…a place to pack away broken chairs and scraps of aluminum in case the economy collapses and someday money is worthless and all the world needs stacks of Good Housekeeping magazines, slightly mildewy, and will trade food and guns for them to help them remember the good times that used to be.

There are four of us and the opinions are evenly split. We step into the barn and it is like Aladdin’s cave…benches with piles of nails of every length and shank imaginable, shovels and rakes with their handles broken at odd lengths, coils of steel cable necessitating a tractor to move, dust and hay, a boot with plenty of heel left…I’m ready to move in. Send the rest down the road with their thumbs. I’ve got a truck and a barn now…

We find ourselves outside, laying in the tall green grass, small white bugs jumping from blade to blade to pantsleg. Hills, a river, blue sky, an oakfilled dale yonder, cattle in the distance. Someone won’t stop asking for lemonade and none comes so it isn’t heaven, but we’re close. It feels like there is nothing to do. I mean, nothing needs to be done, which is a feeling I’ve never had in the city. Twenty minutes goes by…no one speaks…the grass in the wind goes from green to silvery and back so that it gives the impression of a school of fish or that one side of the stalk has scales that flash us.

I pull out three large rusty hinges found in the barn. A debate ensues about taking anything from this pristine and holy spot. I happen to need three hinges for a shed I’m building, so I believe this barn will burn down in a hobo fire soon.

“I’m preserving the spirit of this place.”

It is a hollow argument, so I throw back the rustiest of the hinges to appease the gods.

With the conversation comes restlessness. We really need lemonade now. The dearth of the stuff makes the barn ugly, the hillsides annoying. Our eyes and minds have been hogging the titillation, our throats and stomachs are making loud demands so we rise up out of the swaying grass and turn our backs to the slumbering relic we recently stood in awe of and we walk back into the oaks towards the old homestead with the windows boarded up and my truck stands there patiently while we climb in and she was good to us and knew the way back to the main road without me hardly touching the reins and it wasn’t long before we came out of the wilderness and into a town and at the very edge, as there always is, a building stood straight with vigor and “Market” was painted on the frontside and my truck came to a stop and all that stuff was behind us now and we thought nothing of it. Before us was lemonade and we were ready to drink.

March 19, 2008

big jim

Notice how Big Jim holds the Skil saw. The thumb of his right hand just over the blade. “Don’t do it like me,” is one of his favorite sayings. He was wearing sunglasses just before I took the picture. He is cutting into a stucco wall with a diamond tip blade on the saw. The crushed diamonds band the outer edge of the blade and will cut through cement. Each blade costs $50.00.

While the ground is still too frozen in New Hampshire to dig a grave for the dreams that died over the long winter, in San Francisco G-Sale season is in high gear.

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