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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 19, 2008

just hang on

When I find my camera I’ll download the pictures that tell the story of this envelope and half eaten stamp.
The envelope was in this barn. And I’ll tell the rest of the story when I win the lotto and have a god damn minute to myself.

March 17, 2008


I thought I’d write about this photo a second day in a row…

Danger stranger. This is not your average hardware store. You can’t bring in your broken venetian blind and ask how to fix it. They don’t speak English here. They have memorized the names of their inventory like it’s the French line in the lyrics of an old disco song we can all sing but have no idea what we’re saying. Voo lay voo ku shay aveck moowah…rocker with dimmer, six gang box with a four gang cover…is the song in their head. A whole section of our native tongue most English professors would need a handyman to help them understand is firmly in the grasp of these native Mandarin speakers. You can even ask them if the building code requires hardwire detectors with battery back up or if it’s just a recommendation. “Building code for remodel,” he’ll answer, but if you are looking for something to get water stains off the hardwood floor you’re shit out of luck. “No English,” he’ll tell you. Then point when the guy behind you asks for wire nuts. You feel lied to, don’t you? Try Home Depot.

March 16, 2008

I’ll drink tea instead

Go in and out of supply companies all day long. U-Save Discount Affordable Plumbing Lumber. Seems to be a lot of Chinese running these run down cement floor shops in San Francisco. So the Irish guy is repeating himself in some county brogue no one else can decipher about presha-trited two-be-fars to a wee little Chinese fellah who is thinking in his mind, “Speak English, dammit.”

Pressure treated two by fours? Oh. I get it. It was a Russian guy who finally acted as interpreter. Here among racks of pipe fittings and electric outlets are the working class louts of many nations. The last to lose their accent, the first to throw a punch. We stand in line and size each other up. The short guys in t-shirts from south of the border built like bulls, the taller Russians with dark hair on their arms peeking out below the cuff of their button-up shirts, the Irish guy with a futball jersey on, you look at these people and wonder where the Pharoah is that has enslaved so many races to build his pyramid.

These shops lack the feminine touch. Tradesmen with dirty hands buff a brown lacquer across shelf fronts. Hand written signs about return policies are missing key prepositions. And there is always a pathetic coffee station. This is what depresses me the most. In a nation in the throes of coffee fetishism, the minions are offered stale crystals of Columbia’s coffee factory dumpsters set to boil for hours on a warming plate. There is never cream or milk, let alone a non dairy option like soy. Oh, bite my tongue, there is a non dairy option…this powder made from cholesterol scraped out of heart surgery patient’s veins. Top that with a few packets of processed sugar, throw it in a styrofoam cup and give it a daring stir with that plastic stir stick and enjoy, while you and the environment careen towards systemic failure.

The trades can be an exciting place with opportunities to earn a fair living and feel a connection to your work. But whenever I walk into U-Save A 1 Heating and Roofing and see that coffee station, I feel a true sense of failure.

March 15, 2008

Harold Norse the beat poet went into a home. His books were on the sidewalk this morning. I picked up Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, a Herman Hesse novel, some Scientology pamphelets and Moby Dick, which I’ve never read. There was a line in there, something along the lines of “if you’re gonna write a story about fish, you might as well make them talk like whales”. I like that one.

March 14, 2008

the government sends him a check once a month as a thank you. For fighting.

Welcome to Carlsbad, California – an unassuming So-Cal beach town with chopper shops and cheap taquerias on the boardwalk, boys in flip-flops riding beach cruisers balancing girls on the handlebars rolling past surf shops playing reggae into the perfectly still air that holds the clouds in place overhead as the waves break onto white sand just past the seagull shit flecked erosion wall. Shouldn’t have rushed that…Carlsbad goes slow. That one long sentence fit the whole town in it.

That one long sentence can make an old man feel young, too. Jimmy ended up here. 62 years old, ex-Marine who’d been in the shit. The shit handed to 19 year old black men who went to Vietnam. Front lines shit. Carlsbad made him feel young and it was quiet. The lack of urgency in a dime sized beach town was just what his troubled mind needed.

He had one daughter, Florida. She was the one who would be canceling his cable, gas and electric bill, telling strangers over and over again that her father was dead, no, she didn’t want to put the cell phone, the newspaper, or canceled reservations in someone else’s name. Jimmy was gone. He didn’t leave anyone behind. Not recently.

Florida lived 500 miles away. It had been 29 years since she’d seen him. The occasional phone call. Once Jimmy was ashes in an urn the last chance of them having a relationship went up in that smoke. So, no, thank you, she doesn’t need to receive his daily North County Times.

Imagine not seeing your father for 29 years. Imagine that call that says he’s gone. So you go down to see what your father left you, what’s left of him, what little bit of earthly crap might solve the puzzle of why he wouldn’t make a relationship, even after phone calls and letters from you.

Jimmy had a one bedroom in the Seabreeze complex. The Pacific Ocean broke gently two blocks away. Apartment H. Last on the right, second floor. Neighbors noticed he’d left his car windows down for a few days and the North County Times was piling up at the door. The apartment manager was notified. The police came and broke in. Jimmy was dead on his bedroom floor. Blame it on the heart.

In the war, he was sent to recover information from the bodies of dead soldiers. The bodies of the enemy were unimportant, it was what they carried. Pieces of the puzzle. Explanations. We judge people by what they leave behind…Jimmy had mail order bride catalogs and DVD fuck movies. His apartment was full of clothes in plastic bags, the refrigerator had beef marinating in Tupperware and cases of salad dressing. Nothing else. Steak knives everywhere: in the bedroom under the bed, in the vanity drawer, between cushions of the couch. Loose steak knives. Plastic convenience store bags stuffed full of greasy used Jheri Curl caps piled in front closet. The whole closet loaded. But most of all there were porn magazines. Pictures cut out and taped to the walls. Piles of them covering the love seat. On the floor by the bed. In the bathroom. On the kitchen counter.

Florida turned around and went to Walgreen’s and bought garbage bags, rubber gloves, a scrub brush and Spic and Span.

It wasn’t much of an estate sale. A toaster oven. A Fry-Daddy. A new King Size bed. That and the psychiatric evaluations from the V.A. that showed he no longer knew how to interact with people. That he woke up screaming with nightmares…people trying to murder him. He killing people with his hands.

His daughter dragged bag after bag outside, down the steps, across the little parking lot where her fathers car sat, the windows still down. It rarely rains in Carlsbad. Perfect weather. Very pretty. The dumpster was behind a neat little fence. Homeless guys came by in the evening and took as many magazines as they could.

There was a knock on the apartment door. It was Tammy, the apartment manager.

“I just wanted you to know you’re father wasn’t hiding out here, he made friends. One time his kitchen pipes burst, he hollered for me to bring towels. My daughter and I came up with towels, I couldn’t believe all the magazines around. I told her that it doesn’t make him a bad person. He was alone, that’s all. He was a really great guy, at least to me. Always smiling. Always happy. Jerry didn’t tell me he had a beautiful daughter…”

“I know, I look just like him.”

“No, no, you’re beautiful. Jerry wasn’t ugly, but he was close. You are beautiful.”

“Well, thank you, thank you. He’ll be laid to rest Tuesday, Fort Rosecrans Cemetary. On the Marine Corps base in San Diego. I hope you can make it.”

“I’ll really try to. How are you doing?”

“Walking bags of his clothes to the dumpster was the only time I felt a connection, an eerie sense of taking his body parts to the trash. Have you ever thrown a person away?”

The apartment manager, divorced, a story of her own, put her hand out and rested it on Florida’s arm.

March 13, 2008


I was walking by Pancho Villa’s, a taqueria in the Mission yesterday evening and looked through the big plate glass window. An older man in a brown vest playing a gut string guitar was walking among diners at tables singing and playing. It reminded me I’ve been in San Francisco a long time but once, years ago, that was an amazing sight. I considered it as a career, going back to New Hampshire and playing my guitar to folks at Warren’s Seafood as they cracked open lobster claws. I was teaching myself Hank Williams songs at the time.
I got to thinking back to how magic this city seemed to me when I had fresh eyes for it. Tagging was inspirational to me. People taking the alphabet and making it look totally new. I loved the asian character a lot of people wrote with. It was english but looked foreign. That was the melting pot for me. I came West to be a writer and here on the wall in front of the laundromat were writers. The burn to create was everywhere.
Of course now I hate tagging. I’ve seen too many things get ugly from it. It attacks the poor. It isn’t a place of freedom, it is just another set of rules. Formalized.
This city used to be so big to me. I don’t love it any less for letting me get to know it.

March 12, 2008

kissing mountains

Do you see colors when you close your eyes and kiss? Tractors pulling rose bowl floats? When you kiss someone you love and your lips mingle and the tip of one tongue follows the tip of the other like two starlings chasing each other inches apart in the air swerving circles and flash flash flash they can swivel like a Knievel these two tongues concentrate your bodies into a single mountain top. Now open your eyes. Once I was drunk on a train, passed out. The conductor woke me, shaking my shoulders. I stood up but my left leg had fallen asleep. I had missed my stop, disoriented, unable to stand on both feet, my eyes hurt from the glare of the lights. This is what your kiss did to me.

March 9, 2008

prima vera

it’s springtime and this mural is huge. like seven feet tall and someone added a mustache to it. i mean why not? love is in the air. the Spanish call it primavera. not love, but spring. apparently it is considered a sauce to them. it comes on strong, i’ve been in a wonderful mood all week. like the good part of a romance novel. giant red murals and people taking the time to paint mustaches on walls, and women in skirts for cryin’outloud, dogs sniffing and peeing with mucho gusto like big news broke all over town – bitch is in heat – i’m in rut, hardly more evolved than an orangutan but I wake up singing some bob dylan song involving stones that keep on rolling, that’s how it is this time of year MY GOD IT’S GOOD the rain has quit and the clouds don’t come around no more so let’s go swimmin’ or something – it’s like it’ll never get dark again…


let’s take a peek in the funeral home’s garage…

mad hatter

The man in my neighborhood who makes hats – panamas, fedoras, the old time stuff – bent our ear off talking about the demise of the independent shopkeeper what with the ten lane highway being built to allow Mexican truckers to dump Chinese goods on us from Texas to Canada and destroy our markets…he was mad as a hatter. He also pointed out the demise of a tradition: the hat box. I think it could make a comeback with the right marketing.

So here’s the priest feeding the meter on his mercedes with coins from the collection plate.

March 7, 2008



March 4, 2008

worse than cops


notice the parking enforcement vehicle left unattended in a crosswalk blocking a fire hydrant.

how biotech works

start with a blank frozen brain

these haven’t been stripped. you can see the veins.

suck the ice off.

run it through this machine. you just invented a drug.

make a necklace

0208nail.jpg In the antiques business people always say, “make a planter out of it” when they have some strange/broken thing they don’t want to throw out. My fingernail is too little for that, but I could make a necklace out of it.

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