On the Road reflection

a little cycling and tolstoy

(photos taken on my iphone, near Offchurch)

I dusted the cobwebs off of my mountain back yesterday and went for a ride in the countryside. It’s amazing that when you look closer, you can find all sorts in your own back garden. There isn’t a need to travel to far off places to find and experience things you’ve never done before.

Anyway, it was nice to get out and ride. I did 16 miles altogether. (I went out for a short ride today. Boy, my butt bones ache!)

I’ve started reading Leo Tolstoy’s Family and Happiness and it’s got me thinking about literature. More specifically I’ve been brooding over the questions of why literature is important and what purpose does it serve? When I read literary works like Tolstoy’s I directly experience the intellectual gravity of literature. His exploration of the nature of love inspires me. It challenges me to think about what it means to be in love and what it means to be married. Reading Tolstoy reminds me why I want to write. I write not for fame or fortune, but to explore questions and concepts that plague me.

“Happiness is only to be had in living for another.”


wanted: a drummer with a different beat

Go for it is the mantra that is banging around in my head at the moment.  I can make my own way through this game with a little effort and a no fear attitude to forge my own path and not be hell bent on following the path laid by others or to do what the herd is doing…in short, I can do this thing if I am willing to march to the beat of my own drum.


jane doe

it’s cool she said,
put your hand on
my thigh

ordinarily I would
comply, but you see
i don’t know her name

she smiles, shifts in
her seat, asks: ˜how
about my toe?”

i say, “I don’t know
is this a game?”

you’re cute, she says
but just the same, can
you massage my back?

she moves her hair
aside to make room
for my hands

before long we’re
in the sack, i still don’t
know her name

she came just the same
called me a girl’s name

shannon i think it was
or maybe heather

i forgot when she
broke out the leather

the things she did
with a feather made
me come like a cannon

the sun chases
the moon
from the sky

she slips on
her dress, kisses my
nipple and says

i beg for more

too late

she closes
the door

i try to call her
but i don’t know
her name

now I see her
everywhere, the
bus, the train
the crowded shops
and playing fields

she even turned up
once at a school recital
in a black bridal dress
made of leather with
strips of feathers
around her waist

now every girl i see
that looks like her i
want to run and ask:

are you the one
who left me in bed
rummaging through
every female name
in my head looking
for on that would fit

they shake their head
no and scurry away
in haste,

no wait, don’t go
are you my jane doe?


10 things i want to do before i die

1. Climb the 7 summits
2. Change the world
3. Have something I’ve written or created in every home
4. Spend a year wandering the planet as a poet and storyteller
5. Build an island sanctuary for wanderers, seekers, nomads, vagrants, misfits, poets, artists, musicians, and philosophers.
6. Invent something.
7. Make emotionally moving and inspiring documentaries.
8. Spend 3 months on a deserted island with access to all the world’s books.
9. Build a huge personal library with thousands and thousands of books.
10. Become an enlightened being.


every morning

Every morning in suburbia I wake knowing I better get my ass in gear make some money or loose my house and starve to death.  Every morning in suburbia the advertising man wakes up knowing he better get his ass in gear and convince me to give him my money or loose his house and starve to death. You see it doesn’t matter whether you’re the consumer or the advert man, when the sun comes up you had best get your ass in gear or loose your house and starve to death.


new questions

For most of my life, I’ve been a seeker. The trouble was I could never quite figure out what I was seeking.

As is typical with a lot of things in life, we find the answers we are searching for in the most unlikely of places.

I was wandering around Philadelphia, PA looking for nothing in particular when I stumbled upon a very small bookstore. It had funky new-age presence that was attractive.

On the stacks I found a book titled, That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek, by Cheri Huber.

It has taken me 14 years to figure out what that means. I would like to say that I spend my days in endless bliss now that I have figured out the riddle.

I’m reminded of a poster I saw a few years back. On this poster was a monkey scratching his head and looking very perplexed. The caption underneath read: “Just when I figured out all the answers, they changed the questions.�

That is where I find myself at now in this great adventure called life, standing on the threshold.

And the quest continues…


everybody’s free to wear sunscreen

I love this essay/song/advice.


brecon beacons feb 2008

Here’s the video I put together of our little adventure in the brecon beacons last month. Enjoy.

short fiction

first time

He would come for her she knew.  He was a sweet boy, innocent in a naughty kind of way.  But she liked them like that, unspoiled, eager to know a girl in a carnal way for the first time.

Why can’t they wait to meet someone special?

They were born bastards, all of them. Better to use them and hurt them before they hurt you.

Still he was tender.


I’m afraid of me. I’m so bitter I’m afraid of what I’ll grow up to be, of how twisted and inhuman I’ll become. I have more than a handful of sins to my name, but nothing twists the knife like the hate I have for my mother.

She’s been working on a screenplay for about a year now, and she was watching TV and they had a commercial for a show debuting next season, which is basically the same plot as her screenplay. This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, this happens to her almost every time. I don’t know why the hell it happens. And a normal person would feel sorry for her. But I guess I’m so goddamned tired of her sadness that I don’t feel anything but hate towards her now. She complains about being overweight, and then opens up a new bag of Doritos. She complains that people are stealing her ideas for screenplays, but won’t listen when I remind her that everything is derivative. She can’t manage to see the beauty in anything she does. I feel like I’ve given up on her. But she’s given up on herself.

My mother remarried when I was fifteen.  It wasn’t until I was sixteen that her new husband started coming on to me.  At first it was the way he looked at me.  Always staring at me.  He never looked me in the eyes.  Always his eyes drifted down to my breasts and they would linger there longer than is decent for a father…even a step-father to be looking at his daughter, even a step-daughter…maybe his daughter’s friends but certainly not his own daughter.

What my mother could see in such a scrawny black bastard I’m not sure.  She seemed to have a thing for black men.  My mother really was a real slut.  My father found out that she was bopping a black guy and he left straight away.  As it turned out later, he was also seeing another woman, so my mom just made it easier for him to leave.  Because she got caught first, my father had the grounds he needed for a divorce.

Shortly after my father left, he moved in and my life began to change.

The first time he physically touched me, I was in my nightshirt standing at the kitchen counter pouring a bowl of cornflakes.  He came into the kitchen.  He was wearing his bathrobe open.  Underneath he had on boxer shorts.  I didn’t think much of it, but then on second glance, I saw his thing was hanging out of the little slit in the front.  He must have known especially when he saw my face go red.  He came up behind me and pressed against me under the pretence of getting a bowl from the cabinet.  I could feel his thing against my back.  I scooted underneath him and took my bowl of cornflakes to my bedroom.  I kept the incident to myself.

It got worse after that.  We started this goddamn bowling league and every time on the way home he would park somewhere dark and start saying things to me like how pretty I was and how he couldn’t help wanting to be near me because I was so pretty.  He would feel me up. I would beg him to stop and try to scrunch myself up into a tight ball.  He would paw me and kiss my neck until I started to cry.  Then he would say he was sorry and begged me not to say anything to anyone and that he wouldn’t ever do it again.  But every week he did.

He started coming into my room late at night.  The first few time he just stood and stared at me.  I pretended I was asleep, but I could see him standing there in his boxer shorts.

Then one night he climbed into my bed underneath my covers.  His kissed my neck and cheek and pressed himself against me…feeling me…rubbing me, touching parts of me that wasn’t proper.  I wanted him to stop; I begged him to stop.  In the end I would just lay there like a cold dead fish unmoving, no moaning, not even a protest.


“Jen told me you’d be here,” he said.  She caught his reflection in the mirror.

What a sweet boy.  I like him.  He’s a black kid.  I must be like my mom because I like these black boys, their dark skin.  There’s something primal…something exotic about it all…

She turned to face him.  He tried to look her in the eyes, but her lame eye looked eerie.

He had to avert his gaze.  She was too hard to stare at.  Instead, he let his eyes rest on her breasts.

Look me in the eyes you bastard.  They can’t even look me in the eyes.

If only my breasts had eyes, things might be different.

I doubt it though.  They’re all bastards, no matter how innocent they look.


some things should not be forgotten

Earlier this week I was in Snowdonia. As regular readers of my blog will know, I spend a lot of time in the mountains of Snowdonia, as they are, in effect, a spiritual home for me. This time I was there for a different reason. I was being interviewed for my thoughts on leadership. The producer of the film, Tim Clague, thought it would be great to capture my thoughts on leadership, while actually leading a group up the mountain. I was up for the challenge.

While packing for our little adventure, I was rummaging through my bedside table drawer looking for my pen knife. I saw the blue case that holds my West Point class ring. On a whim, I opened it just to take a look at the ring. I don’t really wear it anymore. But on this occasion I felt compelled to put it on.

There is a power in collective talismans.

In our West Point class rings the principles of West Point are embedded as well as the memories of our cadet days.

And those days did indeed flood my consciousness. To deepen the connection, I found my Bugle Notes and flicked through them. And things I should not have forgotten, I felt compelled to remember.

Duty, Honor, Country are words we lived and breathed as cadets. They are small words, but the power packed into them is staggering. I could never do justice in explaining them so I will share with you General Douglas MacArthur’s eloquent words:

Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Unhappily, I possess neither that eloquence of diction, that poety of imagination, nor that brilliance of metaphor to tell you all that they mean.

The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.

You can listen to or read the full speech here.

I have started wearing my class ring again and I feel humble. I also feel a sense of renewed strength and idealism. The world suddenly seems much brighter and my footsteps more solid.


kirk’s mad tv

Kirk Nugent continues to amaze me with his passion for spoken word.

short fiction

The consequences of a kiss

Words are innocent.  They stand neutral until people get in the way hiding connotations between inflections, meaning between gestures.

“I’m going to ask you to do something for me,” she said, “but you can’t ask me to reciprocate.”

He stood beside the bed looking down on her.  The room was dark apart from the low glow of light escaping from the half-shut bathroom door.  It was enough light for him to see the smudged mascara around her eyes.  Had he done that?  She was still in her red dress, damp and clinging to her body.  Her perfume, soft and spicy, mingled with the smell of musky clothes made wet from the autumn storm they had walked through to get to here.

She didn’t belong here in this room with him.  But she had looked lost at the party like a wild animal that suddenly finds itself trapped inside a house, confronted by the screams of a frightened wife.  He had stepped in like a man full of courage and indifference to shoo the scared beast out the back door.

“Take off your shirt,” she said, “I know I have no right to ask you this, but you invited me here and I want to know how your mind works.”

Words can build bridges across chasms of incomprehension and chaos.  But as she shifted her position in the bed to make room for him, he could only comprehend the thought of her naked.  She was the real thing, sexy, hot, and ambitious.  She was also not his wife.  But then, the idea of marriage and a wife were only social constructs to legalize the transference of property. Marriage was nothing more than a legal transaction.


Morality is for the meek, a concept that exists in the mind and free for interpretation. None of it is real.


She was reality.

And he looked forward to getting to know reality in a way he had never known reality before.

“Where does your mind go when you are not here?” She asked.

“As far as I know, if your mind is not in the present, it goes in one of four places, either in the future, the past, subjective-me, or objective-you.”

He slipped her dress off.

She didn’t protest.

“Give me example,” she whispered, nibbling on his ear.

“A moment ago, when you walked into my room dripping wet from the rain, immediately my mind jumped to an imagined future of you naked and in my bed.  I trembled with excitement over something that was not real.  And all things considered, should never be real.”

“It is real now, no?”

“Oh yes, if we’re defining reality by what we can see, taste, touch, hear, and smell.”

He kissed her small breasts.

“Our minds can take a walk into an imagined future and fill us with excitement or dread depending on what we imagine the future to be like.  Or our minds can take a dip into the past and fill us with either nostalgia or regret depending oh how we choose to remember the past.”

“I only think about the here and now.  I care nothing about the past and even less about the future,” she said.

“That’s a good place to be if you can pull it off,” he said.

She kissed him hard. And in that moment of her hot kiss, he forgot about his past and his future.  He forgot about his obligations and responsibilities and the promises he made.

He forgot about…

The consequences…

Of a kiss…