Poetry Slam

The past several days have been a whirlwind–and I ain’t even talkin’ about the whole driving to Fargo, getting ready for Robbye’s big debut (which went swimmingly, thank you very much), the friends’ wedding on Saturday, the visiting Grampa Lee on Sunday, and whatnot thang.

No…I am talking about my journey back to STAGGERFORD. For the purposes of fulfilling a lit. agency request to read the script, I revisited my old friends for the first time in about two years.

It’s been insane. In the past 3-4 days, I have completely deconstructed and reconstructed the thing, cut scenes, added scenes, rejiggered scenes, and hacked nearly 17 pages off the script. Yes…it was quite bloated. The result, however, is a working script that finally feels like a movie. Finally feels like I cracked the nut. At least, that’s the feedback I’m getting.

So…off it goes. Happy, happy.

But about the poetry. One of the additions to the script is V.O. poetry, ostensibly authored by the main character (who is probably a pretty good poet), really authored by me (who is probably a pretty lousy poet). It was the most fun part of the rewrite, though…taking some poetry I’d already written–for Robbye, for Pastor Herb Brokering, for a musical about the apostle Paul I will likely never write, for the hell of it–some things from this blog, and some crap right out of the air and crafting it into verse I thought might come out of this character’s head. It gave me a new understanding of Mr. Miles Pruitt.

All that said, here’s a sample. Thought you might enjoy it.

Once upon gazing
At the too glorious sky
Blinked I
A flash
An instant
Thence upon,
Left alone to gawk
Am I
At the sky too late
What has happened?
Why is there a hole
Where the sun used to be?

If we could live in parallel
We might share a separate life together
Fabricate a home complete
A good roof, from the elements to protect
Accomodating walls, for our history to keep
Each room, by our mutual existence to adorn
Building to blessed increase
Toward faces beaming
Our finest yet to mingle
Preserving, rejoicing in
A life well-made
If we could live in parallel

I ache to draw you close
Yet I know that’s not the man
You need me to be
As you, thus, step beyond my reach
I stand in my place
I give you room to spread your wings
Words I yearn to say
I stuff inside this aging case
It’s best this way
You probably know them all by now
By heart, anyway

Last night
Sheets wet
With delirious stirring
A fever broke
And cast me into
A bottomless pool
Look up
I heard
An Heavenly urging
First to stir
Again to labor
Finally to rise
My face
Broke the surface
Gulping open air
First to live
Again to breath
Finally to witness
The milky coming of the day


Now, I need to head off for a run and take a shower. …And put on clean clothes–apparently, for the first time in three days (though I changed shirts yesterday…I think). I have been existing on another plane almost entirely and forgetting the basics of living on this plane…like eating and sleeping and hygiene. Robbye’s gentle nudging (not to mention my mounting B.O.) woke me up to this fact over coffee this morning.


Dear anonymous commenter,

I do not who know you are because you didn’t identify yourself. What’s up with that? Just so you know, I deleted your comment for that very reason. No offense. One piece of advice, anonynous..? If you’re gonna try to get through to me..? Have the respect to go through the front door. Please..?

That said, thank you for your comment, because it gives me an opportunity to set the record straight on a couple of things. Gives me a chance to tell the real story.

Here goes.

My family and I–all four of us–have been handed bigger challenges and bigger changes in the past few years than most people get in a lifetime. We have, one and all, met these challenges and changes to the best of our abilities. And every day we’re growing. Every day we’re working to come together. Every day we’re living and loving and walking our paths.

I am proud of all of us…beyond, beyond imagining. My wife, my daughter, my son…they are amazing people. Their capacity to love, to accept, to be resilient, to thrive in the face of adversity that would bury another person. It blows me away.

Every day we’re healing. And we’re figuring stuff out. And we’re putting the pieces of our collective life together…well, together. And that takes time. And effort. And it’s rarely pretty. And, by the way, the people who really know us and really love us..? They know this, and they are bursting with pride on our collective behalf.

And they support us. Which, I have to say, looks nothing like your rather abrasive comment. Ikes.

Put yourself in my shoes, anonymous. How would you like it if your life was public domain like mine has been? How would you like it if one day, through no fault of your own, through nothing you’ve done wrong, you completely lost control of it, and the only way you could keep anything together was through the charity of others? How would you like it if, though you sincerly appreciated everyone and everything, all you wanted was your life-your life, not anyone else’s–back. And how would you like it if, though everyone said they understood your need to get your life back, your every move was, nonetheless, under constant scrutiny? Well, it’s okay if he puts his life together, so long as he does this, this, and this…but not that, that, and that. Why doesn’t he listen to us? Certainly, we know what’s best for him.

I’m sure you’d hate it. I know I have, but for awhile I accepted it as coming with the territory–the path I was called to walk.

But there comes a time, wouldn’t you agree, when everyone–me included–deserves to strike out on a path of our own design?

My family…how we move forward together… How we walk, how we run, how we stumble, how we pick ourselves up again, is none of your damned business. It’s no one’s business, in fact, other than ours. And if I choose to share it–or parts of it–with you or anyone, that’s my call. Not yours. Or anyone’s.

Did you stop to think that, perhaps, stories about my daughter’s graduating and going off to college–though I am proud of her to the absolute extreme–are simply too pregnant with emotion for me to adequately comment? Or similar stories about my son? Did you think, perhaps, that I don’t share every aspect of my life because I am still processing it, and I have a complete right to do that? To talk about it at a time of my own choosing? When I am ready to do so?

Because this is my blog. This is my life. Not yours.

There are tons of stories–about my wife, my son, my daughter, my dogs & cats, my friends–that I could share, but I don’t. Sometimes because I am lazy. Sometime because I don’t have time. Sometimes because they are personal. Sometimes because they are special..they’re my stories, and I wanna keep them to myself. And that, too, is my call.

And, by the way, what’s wrong with talking about my wife, whom I love ferociously, till I’m freakin’ blue in the face, if that’s what I wanna do? It took me 40 years to find her. I’m a little excited. Wouldn’t you be, too? Moreover, in a world where half of first marriages and up to 70% of second marriages end in divorce, don’t you think it’s a good thing for me and our kids that I spend all the time, energy, and effort toward it I can? Makes sense to me.

Judge me if you will. That’s up to you. If I am about to stumble, feel free to point out the pitfall. I really appreciate it when people do that for me, as I know they appreciate it when I do it for them. But this anonymous thing..? As an old boss of mine used to say, “That don’t feed the bulldog.”

At least I have the courage to live and love, to fall and rise, out loud and in the open, and I make no apologies for that. Ever. Because I am all about living the ordinary life in the unordinary way.

It is, I firmly believe, the only way to fly.

About as proud as I can be…

Hell yeah, I’m bragging.
Hell yeah, this is a blatant plug!

If you happen to be in St. Paul, MN next Friday, stop on by. I’ve seen the goods, and they certainly will not disappoint!

If you can’t make it on the 21st, her photos will be displayed through October. Otherwise, check out her website: www.robbyelossing.com.

I’ve had more fun watching Robbye prepare for this than I’ve had in a long time. Today, we picked up a slew of large format prints. They were all packed up in cardboard and bubble wrap, and uncovering them felt like Christmas morning…with Robbye as the lucky duck that got the bestest present in her stocking.

How fun to see her giddy. To laugh unabashedly. How cool to see her so excited.

And this from the girl who, a mere year-and-a-half or so ago, answered my query about whether she was a photographer with, “I guess I take a picture or two.” Yeah…I guess so, too.

Congrats, my love! I can’t wait for your big debut.

Watch it!


Today (Monday the 10th) is a HUGE day for my friends, Al Klingenstein and David Viola, at Filbert Steps Productions. Their new movie, TRUMBO, premieres at the Toronto Film Festival. I am very excited for them. In fact, I’m not even in Toronto with them, and I have butterfiles in my stomach on their behalf!

The pic’s a documentary on screenwriting legend and Hollywood Ten Mccarthy-era stand-up-and-do-the-right-thinger Dalton Trumbo, based on the popular off-Broadway play by the same title. They got involved with the project right after RUNAWAY won at Austin, and it has been quite the ride for them (but well worth it, they tell me). Even better, it sounds like it’s all gonna pay off, as the tea leaves are reading well for TRUMBO. There is already considerable interest from distributors, and it’s already getting, like, Oscar buzz.


So…if you suddenly find yourself in the greater Toronto area, run, don’t walk, to the Varisity Theatre, screen 8 (which, oddly enough, is where RUNAWAY premiered in Toronto…heh). I think you’ll be glad you did, eh?

Here’s the info for TRUMBO at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Good luck, Al and David. I’m really proud of you guys. I know you made a good movie. And I think you did a great thing by bringing this story to the movie-going public.