Good Morning Wednesday

Join Francis and his thoughts every Wednesday morning

as he wraps his perception around reality.


Mainly focusing on the events and happenings of Dana Point, California, the home to bydeadfacePress. Read, week after week, how one man's day-to-day visual engagements manipulate his perception about larger questions that life has to offer. Originally sent as an op-ed to local papers, we turn our efforts inward, supplying a home for the entire collection and offer all weeklys here; past, present, and future.

AUGUST 29TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        The soul of a place isn’t made of wood, drywall, or paint. It doesn’t consist of laminate flooring or vaulted tresses. Anatomy has nothing to do with what it can possibly contain and hold within itself. Like a dumpster with a genie inside, the magic is in the making.


        When I came to Suite 230 there was nothing in the front room save for a large squared wooden table with a mini fridge on it and an old couch that was falling apart. Bernardo had been using the room for pacing and laying around and using spray adhesive to make books. For months I came and went using the room only as a place to lay my head when I needed one. But out of necessity the room began to come to life, first with a desk, a big broad walnut colored desk with double side drawers and a bronze desk lamp centered over my typewriter. A real detective's desk, one any true gumshoe could be proud of. And at night when the office was quiet and all the drunks came clamoring down San Juan Avenue from Stillwater or Hennessy’s and the bums cursed the gods for cigarettes or solipsistically howled for god-knows-what, I’d write. I’d hack away at the keys for the word and the music they made.


        “Stop that tap dancing up there!” the old man had told me one night when I went down for a request, only to come back up with his complaint.


        I lived in that dark world and the soft yellow light for a year before I signed on full-time as the writer in-residency at what became bydeadface Press, and then pictures crawled up onto the bare walls and bookshelves stacked in long straight rows behind my desk and on the adjacent walls. Long draping curtains parted just below the cathedral-like windows and framed the bookshelves in. The scroll of 200 Feet On Eureka Street hung like a dead rat with all its words (A successful attempt at being honest in Elsinore) . . . With Bernardo’s help the room breathed in a tune of its own, and the song of Suite 230 was made modal through and through. If you happened to walk along San Juan Avenue, day or night, you might’ve heard it. Even our failures played in it piled on the floor in the corner, a thing to which we regarded as something sacred and spiritual. It became a ritual where all our experiences and creations were thrown into the conjuring of something else. It was potactic.


        At night, some time ago, when the world was dark and Bernardo and I would talk late with that song playing on, he’d say, “This is it. Look around you.” And sometimes he’d say, “I wonder how long this will last.” Not really questing but as a wonder of inevitability, as all things must pass sooner or later. I, too, knew it someday would end. But I knew what he was doing, then. He was marking the moment so as not to be forgotten. If we stop, right in the middle of a happening and tell ourselves, “This is it. This is all there is,” we will never forget it. And I never will.


        Fall is coming soon and will bring the grey skies and rain to the coast and this harbored town. The blue neon light from Harbor House will still electrify the night as the drops of water come pattering down on the houses and office buildings and streets. There will still be the drunks and bums and high school kids on weekend nights bringing a din to quiet San Juan Avenue. The old man downstairs will come out of his office in his dirty clothes and walk to the bathroom or check the stairwells for riffraff or water his garden there just beside his door. But there won’t be any papered bodies strewn across the soggy asphalt from POETREE like the year before, and there won’t be the song coming from Suite 230, as the time Bernado spoke of has finally come.


        “If you see Mooney, tell him we’re looking for him.” I told the old man downstairs as I packed the last of my belongings into my car.


        He looked at me with a blank expression. His brows furrowed with contemplation and then rose in a questioning manner.




        “Marvin K. Mooney,” I said pointing to the tree where POETREE had once been and where the little library and white picket fence now lives. “His name’s written all over it.”


        Then I got in my car and drove off down the road.


        This life, with all its undulating variances of cosmic rubble cascading down the highway of entropy, gives way to new, if not brighter horizons. We have to stop and measure our own lives one mile at a time, and know our bodies are just along for the ride.




- Francis Rourke

AUGUST 22ND, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        No Mooney sighting yet, but that doesn’t mean he’s not around. I imagine he’s in some dark corner now, plotting his next move. Or maybe not. Maybe he’s laying on his back at Lantern Bay Park pulling out handfuls of grass from the earth and letting the blades fall to watch them move in some capricious way without a care in the world. He could even be down at the harbor barking at seals. Who’s to say. With a man like Mooney there’s no telling. Everything is done without reason. Although, the reasons are usually reasonable enough.


        He has removed his own cardboard catalog from the little library just behind Harbor House and brought back the books. I assume to return us to a regular broadcast network . . . He had to. It’s what keeps people coming back. It's a home for bibliophiles to come together without ever saying a word. Each book taken and each one replaced is a connection. A link within the community to share a common interest with a myriad of variations to peak curiosity, inspire ideas, and provoke thought . . . Literature used as a means for a larger conversation. To keep the word alive. To keep books alive.


        So if you’re into the Romantics, the Greeks, the Classics, if magical realism is your thing, or you’re down for Gonzo journalism; if you’d rather read in a stream of consciousness with an existential objectivist, don’t you worry, there’s bound to be a book just for you! Stop by between Harbor House and Paragon Salon on San Juan Avenue and keep an eye out for the white picket fence. You can’t miss it . . . And don’t forget to grab a bookmark while you’re there. Mooney hates dog-ears.




- Francis Rourke

AUGUST 15TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        When I heard on the radio there were mandatory evacuations in Elsinore I was out on Highway 76 headed for the 15 freeway in less than thirty minutes. If my parent’s home was to go up in flames, I was going to be there to help in any way I could.


        Ortega Highway was shut down due to the wild fires and commuters were forced to take the 55 to the 91 or go south and then head east from Oceanside. The slow train of cars moved like a slug across the land in all directions. There was no escaping it. But I wasn’t alone. I knew there were others in front of me, behind me, beside me, hurrying to get to their families, to figure out what steps to take in order to preserve whatever they could of their livelihood and lineage, if it was still there at all.


        From a distance a dark tower of smoke rose into the sky and smeared out over the lake and mountains. The sun was a flare of red light struggling to pierce through the grey-brown smoke, and as you approached the city and the burning hills, it was Hell on Earth. It was war. The winds violently ripped down through the valley from high elevations in the Santa Ana Mountains sending the great flames along the ridges towards innocent homes like an army on fire.


  My parents house was still one piece when I pulled up. I climbed to the roof and watched flames lick the sky. Sirens sounded in the distance. Choppers thundered overhead. Their propellers whirling with might and purpose. For hours, one after the other, they formed a circuit of aid and relief to stranded houses on the north side of Grand by sucking up water from the lake into their tanks and letting it rain down onto the hissing flames. The elements were against them. The air was hot and dry. The earth below was tinder, waiting to burn from lack of winter rains. An ever-present gasp hung on the lips of bystanders as the impending destruction circled the accumulation of their hard work, ready to burn it down it vehemence. In the gloaming hours, before darkness could settle over the lake and the flames intensified and whirled in flashing spires of red and orange, a final assault was made. Two DC-10 Tankers soared through the dark clouds and splashed a flash of red glory on the hills. One final attempt to relieve the engines on the ground.


        As night approached, the flames became a spectacle. They stirred certain innate emotions. Partially as a symbol of light and warmth like looking into a campfire in a world of darkness, which, for many, drew them from their homes to the northwest side of the lake to watch as the flames crawled southward. And the other half as an evil thing which compels us to take action, to fight or flea, to protect our homes and our families, and to bind us as a community from a common enemy. We were not sure what would remain when the morning light came. There was no way of knowing. All we could do was wait as the embers flickered on the dark hills like looking down from an airplane on a city of lights burning in the night.


        When morning came the air was calm and the once snarling flames have been reduced to soft streams of white smoke on the hills along Grand Avenue. With every burning breath there was an olnosto of subdued campfires, of tranquility amidst a ravaging landscape. The smell of charcoaled sage and chaparral stained the soft morning. Ash blanketed the streets. It lay like a thick layer of grave snow on the silent houses, trees and parked cars. One could almost hear the trumpets call for triumph and tragedy, like an immemorial song ringing out from our blood and bones.


        Each of us lives only now, this brief instant. There is no past or future. Those lives have been lived already, or are impossible to see. The span we live is small, no longer than a stretch of highway compared to the distance it takes to reach the burning surface of the sun. And it is in those moments of flashing brevity, when we choose to take action and cast worry and doubt aside, that define us in our small corners of the earth.


  This is a salute. An applause. A bow. A gesture of gratitude to the men and women of action who responded without hesitation, and those who stood against the wall of flames and extinguished the possibility of disaster.




- Francis Rourke

AUGUST 8TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        At first I thought it was the end of another good thing, only it wasn’t. This time all the City of Dana Point wanted was a bit of bird seed and a few overgrown limbs from the tree as a letting to appease the landscape gods. They were gracious enough to leave the little library and remnants of Mooney alone. After that, it was quiet on San Juan Avenue for a couple of days.


        The office was a sweatbox so I decided to go take a dip in the shallow end of the Pacific. When I got out, the cool water felt good as it dripped from my hair, down my face and neck and shoulders, down my chest and stomach and my wet shorts clinging to my thighs, down my legs and then then finally mixing with the hot sand at my feet. In front of me, over the east hills of San Clemente, out beyond the stale cities of Ladera Ranch and Rancho Santa Margarita, a grey-brown plume of smoke billowed into the clear blue sky as if a bomb had been dropped and erupted somewhere in the Cleveland National Forest. The ominous cloud smeared out over the Santa Ana Mountains towards Saddleback as it rose to higher elevations. I looked around me; at the lifeguard in his tower sitting coolly in Ray Bans; at the swimmers ducking under rolling waves or tumbling in the white foam; at the young families huddled under umbrellas with coolers and beach chairs; at their children testing their bravery against the rushing water, screaming with laughter as they ran away before it reached for their ankles. There wasn’t the slightest look of concern anywhere. There was no sign of fear or panic. In fact, all eyes faced the horizon, at the bright flash of sunlight reflecting off the crisp aqua-colored water of the sea. Each one of them with their attention directed towards the world they wanted to see.


        This is how it works, I thought. Why should these people worry. Why should they care if the forest is on fire, that a great conflagration is wildly burning the open landscapes of California behind them. It doesn’t concern them, or their lives. Someone else gets paid to extinguish those dark clouds of thought  . . . Hell, let it happen if it wants, I said to myself in the same stream of thought. Let the flames slither across the land and burn everything in its path. One could say it’s only an interpretation anyway.


        When I got back to Suite 230 I crossed the street to see if any new books had arrived at the little library behind Harbor House. You never know what might be there. Sometimes it’s Asimov or Dostoyevski and Bukowski. Sometimes Henry Miller or Lewis Carroll. Paulo Coelho. Steinbeck. Burgess. Sometimes it’s Howard Zinn or Chomsky. The Dialogues of Plato, or Aurelius’ Meditations . . . It’s good to always check. Just in case.


        When I opened the door there were no books at all. They had been removed. In their place on the empty shelves were two large sheets of cardboard, and drawn on the brown surfaces, in black sharpie, were long sloppy rectangles. And inside the half-assed shapes were titles of books, all in the form of a Mooney. There was "We Want Mooney!", and "God Bless You, Marvin K. Mooney". Another one read "Mooney’s Over My Yammy". Or "Mooney Was Here". A few others had no reference to Mooney, but appeared to be written by the man: "Color Me Words" by Marvin K. Mooney, "Hi! I’m Tortoise Bunsen" by Marvin K. Mooney, "More Books, Please!" by Marvin K. Mooney, and "I Hope You’re Not A Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliaphobic" by Marvin K. Mooney.


        I went back upstairs to get Bernardo so he can have a look. We stood there staring at the cardboard books, and laughed.


        There’s a new man in the world of literature, and he’s seriously having fun interpreting the written word in his own way . . . Should you by chance come across one of his books, let me know.




- Francis Rourke

AUGUST 1ST, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        When we busy ourselves with work, with sleep, with all those instances in-between, the world never ceases. Neither do those who dwell in the moments when no one is looking. They slip into existence when your back is turned, and vanish before you can catch a glimpse of them out of the corner of your eye.


        A white picket fence has now been constructed around the tree behind Harbor House, and a bird feeder full of seed hangs from one of its limbs.  Was it him? Was it Mooney? Bernardo and I aren’t too sure. But everyone is a suspect as far as we’re concerned. Even the old man downstairs, or the umbrella woman who walks around with a dog hat on her head. Same goes for the Harbor House employees. Oh yes. The bums too. They’re all guilty as far as I’m concerned. A Mooney is among us, that is for certain, and we have to keep our eyes wide or else he’ll sneak up on us from the shadows and turn our worlds upside-down.


        This kind of character has no rules. No limits. Should you box him in he’ll only set the box aflame and call it by another name. To him it is a new thing burning with purpose . . . His own. It is a game. A satisfying one. Like popping a zit, or picking a wet one from the left nostril.


        So keep your nose clean and off the ground when a Mooney is around. You’ve been warned.




- Francis Rourke

JULY 25TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        Who the hell is Mooney?


        Maybe he’s a madman cut lose from a literary looney bin, and he’s come to stake his claim over the little library just outside Harbor House. The thing has only been there a week and he’s already carved his name into the side of it to make his presence known. There is no doubt in my mind he’s pissed on the tree for good measure.


        I thought about it all week, really. The library that is, and this Mooney character, and whoever it is looking for him. This whole scene smells of old dust jackets and dirt stained pages . . . Was the library meant for Mooney? Did someone go through the trouble of making a shrine for used books to entice him to come around? To draw him in? . . . Surely there is something to this. Bernardo and I keep a lookout from Suite 230 just in case he comes back, although we’re not too sure who it is we should be looking for.


        During the day the library sits silently attached to the tree while people pass it without so much as a glimpse in its direction. The sun slants down San Juan Avenue and a breeze lulls in from off the coast in sporadic intervals and twirls the dangling piece of paper above the library. And yet, there is not a curious soul in the lot. But when night comes and the string lights spiral up the trunk of the tree, only then does the magic turn on, as does the curiosity of those passing by. Like moths they approach it. Circle it. Open it. They pull out a book. Flip through it. Put it back. Some not sure if they should touch it, afraid they may taint that which has brought it into being. Bernardo and I have even taken notice of the strange behavior people have with it. Few men acknowledge it. And if they do it is only because a woman drags him to it. Some will stop to pose with it for a photo. To pretend to be flipping through books to portray themselves in a way they want the world to see. Much like the girls on the jetty some months back, they are feigning an existence, to appear to be experiencing something rather than experience it in that moment. With a quick flash of their phone’s camera, they’re gone, without ever letting themselves be affected by something so mystical and placed right in front of their faces.


        Are we, as a culture, more fascinated by the idea of reality as virtual, and not tangible? Is this what it’s come to? Is that where we’re headed? Would we rather glorify ourselves to a broader audience with false interpretations of our lives than to cherish the pure being of a present moment? It seems that is the case. Bernardo and I have witnessed it from our window. And there is truth in what we’ve seen.


        We wondered if any of these graphosuccaesthethesiacs might’ve been Mooney, but shook the thought when a piece of paper appeared, nailed and stapled at random to the tree, as if the person was frantically eager to put it up without being seen. The page, obviously ripped from an old book, was written in a mixture of typewriter and pen and red crayon . . . This was no act of a grapho.


        The page read as follows:






        Don’t tell HIM I’ve contacted YOU. . .He’ll think it’s too much, the fool! . . . But what does he know . . . He’s all wrapped up in the story of it all . . . Life and such and all that fuss . . . Ha! . . . Half-life living . . . Part of him dead, the other blind . . . Oh well . . . BOOKS! . . . Yes . . . Books . . . That’s why I’ve contacted you . . . There aren’t enough books in the world . . . Well . . . Not the world . . . But here . . . This harbored place . . . Surely there is some way, some day, some chance, some say, that books will be like leaves from a tree in Fall where someone, anyone! can rake them up with their arms and feed the tree in THEM . . . Knowledge that is . . . We need to bring books back to life! . . . In the mail . . . On a snail! . . . Books with a tail that wag little happy ideas and imagination into the day . . . That’s what we need! . . . Not little screens and dream-sucking machines . . . We need thoughts! Round thoughts spiraling into each other. Merging. Blending. Trans-mutating . . . Deformed monstrosities of thought raging with grace! . . . But give them some space . . . Let them breathe a bit . . . Like you, they too need watering and time and inspiration like fleas . . . Don’t you see?! We need more books, please.


- Marvin K Mooney



        Has anyone seen Mooney? . . . No, but Mooney was here, I’m sure of it.




- Francis Rourke

JULY 18TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        And just like that, there is magic in the mundane.


        I had climbed the stairs to Suite 230 after a long day of work and sat my tired body in this chair and stared at the wall for some time, thinking or not thinking, flipping through books, or just spacing-out. Hours passed, and then it was dark in the Lantern District. The old man downstairs made his rounds, watering his plants and making sure there were no homeless sleeping on the stairways. Slow moving groups of people made their way along the predicted path to the Harbor House. A man on his bike road quietly down San Juan Avenue. The river of cars on Pacific Coast Highway swept along their natural course . . . Everything was at it ought to be. Then I heard a voice yell out.


        “I knew it! It’s the POETREE! This is what I was telling you about.”


        I spun in my chair and looked out the window.


        There was a string of lights spiraled around the tree where POETREE had once been, only in its place was a small black box with small white letters on the front of it. Bernardo quickly came into the front office.


        “Did you hear that?” He asked.


        And together we watched as the group inspected this curious happening before moving on to Harbor House. When they were gone we went down to get a look for ourselves.


        Screwed to the tree was a well-constructed Pandora's box. On the door was a scrambling of white letters, and if you stared long enough words began to take form. The roof sat at a slight angle with flat shingles on it and a small solar panel sticking out the top. When we opened the door, the inside was painted white and the string lights illuminated a strange mixture of literary works on two small, simple shelves. There was Whitman and Steinbeck and Kant. Hemingway, Asimov, and Seuss. There were books I had never heard of, and some I’ve already read. And dangling above this little library was a small piece of paper, much like those that once hung from the POETREE itself. It read:


Dedicated to




the written word


Has anyone seen Mooney?


        Bernardo and I threw curious glances at one another. Confused and excited at the same time. Something was happening, and we weren’t quite sure why. There had been no auspicious winds blowing in from off the coast. No druid cult erecting monoliths to calculate celestial movements. This wasn’t some grand act to explain the mysteries of life. It was a small gesture asking nothing in return. Another gift for the word and its bound form.


        We closed the door.


        As we headed back up to the office, Bernardo and I both asked the question: Who the hell is Mooney?




- Francis Rourke

JULY 11TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        Summer is here and the world seems to be alive with that golden chariot burning across the southland skies. From San Clemente to Laguna Beach it is a sea of umbrellas and beach chairs and coolers; little islands of leisure to escape walls and familiarity. Even the homeless are on a vacation of their own, taking the free trolleys along this route as far north or south as they possibly can go.


        Yes, there is plenty of movement here. Life on its due course. Living for living’s sake. The working class is getting a bit of sunshine to forget about debt and healthcare. They sit and stare out at white sails faintly cascading on the blue water, their minds presently clear. They laugh as the white foaming waves come talking upon the sand, telling the timeless tale of loss and gain. They build sand castles with their children knowing no amount of money can buy back simple memories of joy and relief...Worth is formless to them in this temporary oasis...The children of the sun are too busy living to worry about political weather. They leave the tumult of that raging storm somewhere beyond  the horizon for another day, another time...Not now...Not when the swell of this season rises to meet their bliss. The water is too fine for anything else.




- Francis Rourke

JULY 4TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        Since my residency began here at Suite 230, I have witnessed some strange and curious events that have fallen unnoticeably between the cracks of everyday life. This may, in part, be due to Harbor House’s 24 hours of operation and those who visit, in passing, this long-standing establishment of Dana Point...Or it may have something to say about the characters who lurk all hours of this waking life.


        My office window overlooking San Juan Avenue has framed it all: from the POETREE, to drunks cursing into the night, to the flocks of high school students migrating long past their curfew and making-out in cars, to hobos parking their lives on the bench outside to get a break from transiency.


        For about week sometime not long ago there was an old man, balding, with a tall thin frame, who slept in a brand new convertible Mustang just outside. Every night he passed out with his windows down and his mouth hanging open, tongue sticking out like a corpse. In the mornings I’d find him coming out of the bushes, what little hair he had in disarray, and his pants halfway around his chicken legs, as he synched the four-sizes-too-large pair of pants with a braided belt...One day he showed up with his front bumper held together with red duct tape. He was on the phone for over an hour with a stack of credit cards in his other hand...Not long after he got off the phone a tow truck showed up and towed him and his car away for good.


        Then there was the time a car hit a row of choppers in the Harbor House parking lot. A moment later the owners stormed out of the diner like a thunderous mob, hurling their accusations to no one in particular, ready to wage war over an accident.


        One of the women of the group yelled, “Someone better get their credit card ready!”


        “Look!” Another one called out. “I bet it was that Scion getting ready to leave!”


        The group moved in on the car, ready to strike with furious rage.


        A sweet young girl got out of the car and respectfully accepted all responsibility...By the end of it, the whole ordeal blew over with so much as a mouse fart, and the bikers went quietly back in for the rest of their fries and milkshakes.


        Yes, there have been fights and cries in the night here near Violet Lantern. There has been struggle and strife and degradation. There have been times when I’ve wanted to blow up parent-bought cars for overly privileged kids who blast obnoxious vibrating noise at all hours of a day...But sometimes it is peaceful here, too, and there is only the metallic sound of chefs cooking from the diner late in the night, or cars passing on Pacific Coast Highway with their slight humming song...There is even beauty here. Or one’s admiration of it.


        You may have noticed from my previous letters, references to the old man downstairs...Maybe you haven’t. But nevertheless, he is real, with short, thin white hair and almond skin, large fake teeth, and a gold chain around his neck. He is almost always wearing a fedora and a loose collared shirt hanging open. He’s a Pennsylvania boy, Bradford, I believe, who used to own a nightclub up in Ventura with his brother and rolled joints with one hand to impress the ladies. He’s a lonely old man, now, looking for love in all the wrong ages. A romantic at heart. Pure. Only wanting to feel the warmth of love in return...And when he’s not paving asphalt or watching old movies in his 200 square foot office, or watering his succulent garden in the planter just outside his door, I’ve watched him secretly tuck flowers in the driver-side handle of a certain car in the parking lot outside. Sometimes lavender. Sometimes roses. But always fresh and blooming. It is a small bouqueted gesture of appreciation. A simple kind of love. A one-sided Harold and Maude kind of affinity...And sometimes I’ve even seen the remnants of these articles of love drying out on her dashboard. Proof his appreciation has not gone in vain.


        There are happenings in the small world around us if you stop and take a look. Little instances of human behavior and solipsistic howlings that reveal the true nature of this thing going on...It’s such a beautiful mess.




- Francis Rourke

JUNE 27TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        As I get older I have found a certain freedom in that ever-frightful term feared by those who lack a firm resolve of commitment: Routine. It is through consistency and a constrained way of life I do not wonder and aimlessly wander through ideas of how one should live. I simply live. . .And for the first time in my life I am squeezing the importance out of every moment of every day. The pressure is great. . .And the perception, refined.


        What is freedom if not an arbitrary term used to define our own versions of walled limitlessness. Are we not free to drive down the road but are forced to stay between the lines and follow all rules and regulations that apply?. . .We can make a left at an intersection, but ONLY if the light is green. . .Like a belief, we willingly shackle ourselves to this concept in order to relieve worry, stress, and fear. . .Fear we may get hurt in an accident. . .The stress of having to pay any debt from the damages. . .And the worry of leaving those we love in dire circumstances. . .In other words, the weight of anxiety is lifted through funneled freedom.


        For the last ten years of my life I have attempted to live an unbridled existence. I went from job to job, from place to place, with no plan of ever staying long. I’ve been a custodian, a salesman, a marketing manager, a produce clerk, a delivery driver, a carpenter; I’ve been a vagabond up the California coast into Oregon. I’ve grouted tile in a hotel on Maui. Lived as a wino in Paris. I have found every excuse not to attach myself to anything and everything. But all it did was cause anxiety. . .Until now.


        Now I wake up at 6 AM, Monday through Friday, make coffee and breakfast, then drive Pacific Coast Highway towards San Clemente with the morning breaks curling towards me. I watch the sun in its daily ritual, climb over the Santa Ana Mountain range and illuminate concrete and earth. I use my blood and body to cut and hammer and build up little boxed worlds. And after, when the day is done and all the sweat and toiling of my labors have been washed clean, and I am renewed by an honest days work, you can find me reading at J.C. Bean Coffee House among those, who too, are living in their lanes.


        Does absolute freedom exist? I don’t know. But to be absolutely free, to me, constitutes freedom from the physical laws which our souls our bound. And until the time comes when our bodies breakdown and we are free to flow through eternity unbound by limitation, what we are free to do is choose our own slavery. . .To be a slave to love. A slave to existence. To life. To ideas. To humanity. . .Find freedom in constraint. Box yourself in. And like my good friend Bernardo always says to me, “Give me less, and I’ll give you more.”


        So stop drifting. Write-off your hopes, and if your well-being matters to you, be your own savior while you can.




- Francis Rourke

JUNE 20TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        A thought crossed my mind the other night and has lingered ever since...From birth man is marked by a dark shade of life. It stains his existence like a shadow at his heels, and is there whether he turns to face the light or not.


        Though a child doesn’t understand this, they recognize it in their small quivering realms. They can see it on the face of some passing stranger on the street. Or in bed at night waiting for the Boogey Man to creep out and snatch them by the ankles and drag them to a darker world below. They feel it when they are left alone and cry out for reassurance that someone else is close at hand...his feeling, I think, becomes more present as a child wanes in age.


        What is it that gives power to darkness if it is not the fear of losing light. So man clings to light. Feels its warmth upon his skin. Watches it burn before his very eyes. All the while a cold thought glowers from dark corners waiting to enter the weak mind of its prey...And when the light is gone and man finds himself alone in the late hours of a day, month, year, the thought comes curling out with malice in hotel rooms, in bathroom stalls, behind a desk. It consumes him in a dark emptiness of despair and wretched purposelessness; an unknown so vast it swallows the sun in man.


        The following afternoon I went down to the harbor to read and sat on the jetty facing Doheny. After a couple chapters I put down the book. I looked up. The sun was at my back and before me the coastline was brilliant in the failing light. A lush greenery filled the space of Capo Beach with tall palm trees spread in panorama over low cliffs that stretched along Pacific Coast Highway towards San Clemente. Saddleback mountain was painted softly against a pale sky. Capricious clouds smeared just above. Below, the ocean was metallic and flat and surfers sat patiently for the tide to bring a new set of waves in. Cool afternoon winds swept in from off the sea. Soon the buoys bobbed showing signs of premonition. The surfers paddled out to meet the coming waves and then leaned back on their boards to turn towards the shore. With quick, flipper-like movements, their hands and arms propelled them with the motion of the water and soon they were standing, riding the curling waves. Cool mist wisped off the lips, and white foam frothed as the waves crashed and sent a last and final breath of magnificent force upon the shore. I turned to look toward the north. The golden sun gleamed with perfection casting a silhouette of the bluffs below. A flock of seagulls flew across the skyline. The Cachalot’s large black hull lilted against its dock. Some boys came walking from the far end of the jetty with fishing poles in their hands. There was no sign of any fish, but they had certainly caught a few smiles along the way.


        It was then I remembered the thought from the night before, and I couldn’t see a single worry in the world around me. There was still enough light. Enough so to feed the furnace of our souls and keep the darkness at bay. At least, for now.




- Francis Rourke

JUNE 13TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        I took a walk around the Lantern District the other night. I had been staring at the screen for a few hours and my thoughts were becoming a vacuum. There was no gravity in them. Nothing pulled towards a singular idea.


        The night was quiet. From Violet Lantern I could hear a seal belching with purpose down at the harbor. I headed in its direction.


        At the corner of Del Prado and Violet Lantern I saw a man come out of Luxe and get into an Escalade parked just outside. A woman followed a little ways behind him. She was wearing a short dress that revealed most of her thighs and she was barefoot with a pair of high-heels in her hand. She was screaming at the top of her lungs as she got in.


        “Oh my God, Victor! What the fuck! I can’t believe these pieces of shit broke. They’re fucking seven hundred dollar Christian Louboutins! How cheap! I’m never buying his crap again!”


        The car pulled out and they were gone.


        Thank God that’s not my life, I thought, as I continued on towards the Bluff Top Trail and the lookout there. No piece of ass is worth that much of a headache. And if it be love, I’ll be damned. How it is possible for a person to subsist in such a black hole, from a thing that sucks life out of existence, I haven’t the slightest clue. But it is done, and done more often than gratitude.


        At the lookout I leaned against the railing and looked out over the harbor with its soft glowing lights and all the quiet boats silently rocking in their slips. It was peaceful. Not a soul was about. A breeze swept in from off the coast and blew upward against the cliffs. Now and then a car drove by on the road below and I could hear the soft hum from the engines and tires against asphalt. Out on the sea there were a few boats with faint lights pointing towards land.


        I find myself wandering aimlessly more often these days. In a way I exile myself to my own personal Corsica. It allows my mind to let go. The thoughts drift at their own pace. There is no attachment. It is a time of reflection and understanding. And sometimes there are thoughts good enough to look at and roll around a bit to see all sides of it.


        My mind came back to the woman and her high heels. The scene had affected me so much that it wouldn’t leave. There are quasars out there consuming the mass of our sun every two days and she’s complaining about a broken heel on an overpriced pair of shoes. To me that way of life is dark matter bending light away from everything honest and pure. Yes, there may be a good heart in there somewhere, and she may have good intentions, but there is an ugliness there that eclipses anything bright and shining. That kind of complaining is a privilege that costs more than its worth and can make a gorgon of a goddess.


        After a little while I left. I walked back the long way past Stillwater and the drunks in the alley blowing smoke into the night. I rounded the block and made my way north on PCH past Hennessy's where a band was playing someone else’s song. I crossed the street towards Harbor House where newly graduated teens were laughing with a false sense of freedom. I climbed the stairs and opened the door to Suite 230. I sat down at my desk. Flicked on the lamp. The words began to flow through my fingers. I had nothing to complain about.




- Francis Rourke

JUNE 6TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        It is good, isn’t it?...The morning...It is the beginning of a new day...A fresh chance to fall flat on your face...To be laughed into humiliation...To play the fool...To be ridiculed...Offended...It is an opportunity to fail...To do the wrong thing the right way...Wait...Strike that...Reverse it...Move forward with every misplaced step...Step on cracks...Don’t miss an opportunity to break your momma’s back...Trip...Stumble...Fumble for the right words...As a matter of fact, stagger...Stub your toe...Eat dirt...’cause God made dirt, and dirt don’t hurt. (But it’s hard to chew)...Wear your shoes on the wrong feet...Relish in defeat...Welcome it...At least then you’d be resolved from the start, like the sun that welcomes the morning overcast with clouds in this harbored town, knowing by noon the sky will be blue and bright and clear...Unless of course it rains and you’re without an umbrella...Then you have no choice but to go about the day soaked through from mop to sock...Or buy an umbrella...It’s up to you.




- Francis Rourke

MAY 30TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        Got the call from Kodak Hayes and the Yip Boys again. Their aim was to bag Deerhorn Peak still covered with the residue of winter. At first thought the idea of frosted weather will give you a chill, But knowing the boys and the way things go most times, you just have to get in the car and live in the happening.


        At 4 AM the long stretch of Highway 395 slurs past like a dream and before you know it those intrusive giants are on your left cascading northward with the sun now clear over the White Mountains.


        In Independence you turn off toward Onion Valley and park below Keasarge Pass and begin the ascent up and over and back down again past half-frozen lakes with chipmunks scurrying across alpine rocks as the trail goes deeper into the green forest where Mountain Chickadee’s sing “cheeseburger” in the tall Foxtail pines along gurgling streams.


        At the first junction you get a good look at the peak and the route you’re supposed to take. Only the approach is thick with snow. Too much to hike up and into and still summit in time before hiking out and heading home. . .Fortunately for you, the route you seek is never the route intended. It is a divergence, and the answer is always in clear view before you, even among fast sweeping gray clouds and small beads of snow falling on your head.


        East Vedette, like a Phillips-head screwdriver ready to tighten the distance between the heavens and earth.


        Somewhere along Bubbs Creek you might even rest right there in the dirt on pine cones and stones, your back against a tree trunk to let your mind roll through timelessness for a bit. You take a swig of water. Snack on some trial mix. Then get up and move on again. All the while your eyes on the east ridge, mapping your route. Looking to see where you’ll make camp for the night before summiting in the morning. And when the day breaks and the glowing dawn is upon the white world, you rise with it and up onto the steep snow shoot with crampons and trekking poles. . .It is the quickest way up with both, and the quickest way down with neither.


        When you finally scramble to the summit the landscape that surrounds you will be divided by sharp edged spires in all directions piercing the clear blue of the morning. It is here, at this point, you should remember, while others are getting over Memorial Day hangovers with aspirin or another beer, forgetting the meaning of the day and why they celebrated at all, you’ll be the only one on that mountain breathing the crisp fresh air of mortality.


        It was Marcus Aurelius who said, “I am composed of body and soul. Things that happen to the body are meaningless. It cannot discriminate among them. Nothing has meaning to my mind except its own actions. Which are within its own control. And it’s only the immediate ones that matter. Its past and future actions too are meaningless”


        Choose to break down the body for heaven’s sake. The reward can be laughter sliding down a mountainside with your friends, and the memory lasting a lifetime.




- Francis Rourke

MAY 23RD, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        It's good to get a little drunk after a long week of hammering and digging and cutting under an indifferent sun. It washes away the physical strain and lets the mind go blank for a bit. And then, in that pleasant state of relaxation and care-freeness, one is able to be completely present with their thoughts loosely coherent.


        On Friday I sat down at The Little Kitchen like I do every payday and ordered a tall hot sake. When it arrived I poured one and threw it back, then quickly refilled my shot glass for another. The heated rice liquor filled my soul with warmth. My body sank into the booth. My head fell back and rested against the cushioned backing. I felt good, and there is no feeling like knowing you are free from dispassionate work for the next couple of days...But it all adds to the experience anyway.


        The place was busy. Every table was full with friends and families and couples eating amidst white-noise chatter and the chefs' banging woks in the kitchen just there with the sounds of Mozart or Saint-Saens or Brahms softly permeating.


        I looked the menu over for something new to try, as I do every week, and when the server came back around I ordered Hot Braised Shrimp...Why not...I can't decide which dish is my favorite until I've tried them all (this is true).


        While waiting for my food I idly watched girl's softball on the television and contemplated the conquests of Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Genghis Khan. I wondered if anyone in the restaurant had what it took to be a ruler. To kill for the sake of expansion of territory. To stake claims of things naturally given...I know I don't. I've never had the want to control the lives of others. In fact, I've always turned away from it. I don't trust anyone who's greed goes beyond the well-being of their own lives and that of their loved ones...Everything else is superfluous and out of avarice...It is a sickness with no remedy.


        The more I drank the deeper my thoughts went.


        I looked around at all the people shoveling noodles and rice into their faces.


        "If there are those who seek to control, then are the rest of us slaves of some sort, busying ourselves to forget our position in this world? ...This life?" I wondered. "Or are we all not all slaves to some degree? ...We are the slaves of our own choosing, that is for sure...Call it what you will....Whether it's fear or alcohol or sex...Money...Even power has its chains...And what is freedom, really, but a word with arbitrary meanings...But above all, isn't freedom the liberation of restrictions and limitations, a transcendence to help us grow and evolve into better versions of ourselves? If so, then is it not better to play the man according to the nature of our lives and praise that which is found in men and women, and not by what they hold around themselves?


        I shrugged. Who am I to know. But it made sense in that moment, feeling good, with the rest of the place seemingly in good spirits.


        By the time my food came I was too buzzed and thoughtful to finish it all. I happily took the rest with me back to Suite 230, as there is no knowing where the next food for thought will come from.




- Francis Rourke

MAY 16TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        I had a terrible dream the other night. . .Well, it was more like a nightmare, really. . .It started with the belief that I was awake laying on my couch with my eyes fixed on the cathedral-like ceiling of Suite 230 and pale beams of light being cast down from the small windows above that slowly moved in my direction.


        A sudden chill came over me as if a cold breeze had swept through the office. I got up and went to the windows to close them but they were already closed.


        Strange, I thought.


        I went back to the couch and laid down again. In no time at all the chill came on stronger and I began to shutter in brief fear-stricken convulsions. Soon the chill became a fever, my whole body covered in a cold sweat. . .Then came a knock at the door.


        “Go away!” I yelled to the visitor. “I’m fine! Just let me be! Everything is okay!”


        The knocking continued.


        Must they pester me with their persistence!


        Only then did I realize that the knocking seemed to be coming from many hands. Many hands pounding to different rhythms. Some with fists. Others with opened hands. Little taps in-between.


        “Leave me alone!”


        In the next moment the door flew open and standing there were holy men and women from every sect across the globe. There were priests and pastors and brahmans and monks. There were nuns and Imams and rabbis and dastoors. There were shaman and all other sorts of spiritual leaders from indigenous cultures like Aztec and Mayan and Cherokee and Sioux and Zulu. They all flooded in and stood around me holding candles and little books of God, little trinkets of holiness, each to their own right: The Torah. The bible. The Quran. The book of Mormon and the like. There were monks in long colorful robes, heads bare, bowing beside me in prayer. Some held out the cross. Others whispered their holy words upon me. In unison they were collectively fawning over my ill-fortune. I heard a Hail Mary or two. An Our Father. Amen. Some things I couldn’t make out from the language, but I knew what they were saying. Some of them were pointing their fingers in my face.


        “He’s cursed!”


        “He’s a non-believer!”


        “Look at him, plagued by his own doing!”


        “That’s what happens when you live for yourself. When you are not your brother’s keeper!”


        “The Devil has him!”


        What is this? Have I gone mad!


        I pulled a blanket up to my nose. I shook my head at them.


        “No! Truly! It’s just a cold!”


        But the more they crowded around me, the worse I got. And it wasn’t because their blessings or prayers or any holy spell. It was something else. Something worse. . .Something. . .Human. From which a terrible violence is born. . .And before I could tell them this, they turned on each other with sharp snaps and snarls. Accusations and condemnations were hurled around the room, each claiming their path to righteousness. . .A priest showed his teeth like nails and bit into a Brahman’s neck. One of the monks eye-gouged a nun. They were all clawing and biting and kicking. Someone found a fresh pot of coffee and dumped in on the head of a Mayan chieftain. An atheist sat boiling in the corner shaking with rage. His fists clenched. His face like a pomegranate. Steam coming out of his ears. No one seemed to notice him, or care. . .Next thing I knew there was blood everywhere. A great tumultuous massacre took place. Blood covered the walls and my desk and desk lamp. Blood covered the scroll of Sketches of Eureka and my records. Blood stained the wood floor. . .And then in a brief flash amidst the madness, the ceiling gave way and I was able to see a clear dark sky. In it a golden lotus bloomed at the center of Venus’ celestial movements. It illuminated and flowered outward with a new lotus growing at its center, and another one at the center of that one, on and on ad infinitum. Each one with proportionate petals. . .I was hypnotized by the symmetry and perfection of chaos. . .Some grand design in the stars and us and everything else.


        When my attention was pulled back down to the horrific scene that had taken place just a moment ago, there was nothing and no one and my fever seemingly vanished without a trace. All that remained were piles of bones laying motionless on the floor around me. . .The air was tombstone still. . .It was peaceful and I had a feeling that’s what death contained.


        Am I dead? I wondered.


        Another chill briefly slithered up my spine.


        I shot up in a panic just then and quickly looked around the office. Nothing had changed. There was not a drop of blood to be found anywhere. No screaming voices and madness. No bones. Only the street sweeper calling in the day outside and the early morning commuters on Pacific Coast Highway.


        I looked up at the vaulted ceiling. It remained as it was.


        I sat there and took a couple deep breaths. My heart beat. . .DAH’DUN. . .DAH’DUN. . .DAH’DUN.


        Yes, I was alive. . .But I got the feeling that what I’d seen wasn’t much different from the way things are.




- Francis Rourke

MAY 9TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        I am...A noun. An adjective. A verb...A quality of life...A demand!...A truth...A conscious statement affirming existence in the now...I am? ...Yes...I am.

        You see, I am something other than nothing, or the other way around...I am a bit of this and a little of that, and probably much more, if not less...I am mind, body, and soul with a heart and lungs and blood coursing through my veins....I am light...I am rage! ...I am all the colors they contain...I am pensive if not capricious. Coherent, yet confused. And most importantly, lost, not sure where to be found.

        I am a child under the sun. I am a man who ties his shoes. I am a son, a brother, a friend. And I am certainly uncertain about the news...I am the accumulation of moments, a mere imitation of my inspirations. I am borrowed words, for better or worse, from those I’ve heard and read. I am a mumbler who gets tongue-tied on syllables and trips over his own tongue...Yes, I am a doer who thinks more than he does, and a fool with an optimistic view...Wise? Not necessarily. But I am a wino. And there is truth in wine...I am also a mathematician. Not one of equations, but of rhythm and a way of being, one who solves calculus and physics walking down the street...I am a time-traveler who doesn’t own a watch...I am of a certain species who inhabit spaces, who take wood and metal and concrete and builds upon an emptiness to confine and seclude yet can’t get away...I am a caged space-monkey...I am an alchemist...A madman mixing elements; a conjurer of potions made from extracted abstractions, to mold and hold and fold if I so please...I am so many things...I am an epicurean when my pockets allow me to be, and I am a stoic disproportionately...I am a cosmopolitan who’s been around the block (mainly Violet Lantern to Del Prado). Although I have been to Paris! ...Once...But that was a long time ago.

        So it may seem to you that I am an admirer of the past...I am...and I don’t have expectations for the future...I am a dreamer, and that’s about it...Oh and I guess I am a writer, but I don’t really have much to say...Good day.




- Francis Rourke

MAY 2ND, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        I woke Sunday with a pale light already in the day. The morning air of The Lantern District reverberated with a low metallic voice, “They’re really flying now!” It rang. “Look at ‘em go! They’re like cheetahs on the Serengeti!” It was the first thing that entered my ears, before I was able to peel my eyes open and drag myself out of bed.


        When I finally did, I turned on the coffee. Then stood looking out the window at the bare tree across the street that’s more like a tall bush than a tree, now, like an awkward shrub with a long thin body struggling to hold it’s head up. And to think it’s almost been four months since The City killed the POETREE. Four months since they cut its limbs and removed every poem and dangling piece of twine. . .Four months!. . .San Juan Avenue lacks a quality of life now. The bums seem to lull past Harbor House without as much as a fart in them. There are no more midnight threats and curses for cigarettes. Even the old man downstairs has been sedated. He no longer throws a questioning eye at Bernardo and I. He moves along as if one foot is in the grave. The voice broke called out again, “There coming around the turn!”


        I poured a cup of coffee then went out to see what the commotion was all about.


        It was the Dana Point Grand Prix. Del Prado was blocked off from Old Golden Lantern to Amber Lantern and back around past Lantern Bay Park. There were all sorts of sponsored tents and small groups of people huddled along the fences. The voice bellowed again through the loudspeaker.


        “What an exciting day here in Dana Point! We’ve got a lot of great races ahead of us! We have some of the world’s top athletes ready to hash it out for the gold!”


        I stood at the railing and watched as a group of cyclists whirled past at high speeds only inches apart. The slightest mistake could’ve thrown the huddled mass down against asphalt like a colorful mosaic of bike and helmet and spandex.


        Now that’s exciting! I thought.


        I didn’t care who they were. Or who won. None of that mattered to me. But the action! The possibility of a pile up! Yes, that was well deserving of my attention.


        The riders pumped and grunted and sweat. Their whole bodies working.


        “Come on!” I wanted to yell. “Take ‘em out!”


        My heart was doing its job. I could feel blood flowing through my veins. Was it the race? Or the coffee? I didn’t know. But there was life for once!


        I took a table on the patio of Bonjour Cafe to keep an eye on the action. If someone went down I wanted to be front row. Not that I wanted anyone in particular to get hurt. In fact, I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. But! because of the possibility, it made the whole thing that much more fascinating and exciting.


        The waiter came over. I ordered Eggs Benedict with Andouille sausage and potatoes and another cup of coffee. I leaned back in the chair, waiting. The food soon came. I put it down. Threw back the cup of coffee. . .Nothing. . .I paid. Got up. Walked around the block. Never straying away from the course. . .Still nothing. . .Some bystanders screamed as the racers went by.


        “You got this!”






        I walked the whole course. The crowd had grown. The sun was now clear in sight in a bluing sky. The metallic voice echoed exaggerations. . .And still nothing happened.


        When I got to Violet Lantern I crossed the street and headed back to Suite 230. Once inside I put Harmony of Difference on the turntable and sat at my desk.


        “Now what am I going to do?” I wondered, a little disappointed.


        I put my mind to work. There was nothing else to do. I picked up Meditations and flipped through it.


        “If you’ve seen the present then you’ve seen everything,” Marcus wrote, “as it’s been since the beginning, as it will be forever. The same substance, the same form. All of it.”




- Francis Rourke

APRIL 25TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        There’s something out there just as magical as an ethereal world performing like a fantasia of waves beyond our field of vision. It is warm and vibrant and pure. It’s true. I’ve seen it, here, among the concrete reality we’ve built.


        I remember I was tired. The day had been long and I spent most of it digging a trench under the California sun. My body was stained with sweat and dirt and I’m sure I smelt like the inside of an old shoe. The sun was still high enough when I got off so I drove to Lantern Bay Park to read before getting cleaned up and heading to Suite 230. When I got to the park I sat at the cement benches there under the pine trees of Doris Walker Lookout. I had Steinbeck with me. Cannery Row.


        Steinbeck, that dirty sage, surely knew how to whip up a wondrous tale full of human life and worldly understanding. The man got it. I opened the book. Mack and the boys were foolin’ like they always do at the Palace Flophouse, Doc carried his two quarts of beer across the street from Lee Chong’s back to Western Biological, and the mysterious old chinaman flip-flapped his way up from the sea and disappeared before the hour of the peal was upon them all again and the world continued to spin the way it always does. After some time I looked up from the book for no particular reason, really, but to give my eyes a rest and stare blankly at the blue sky and white clouds over the harbor to think about the world and everything it contains: It’s truth of viciousness and grace. Our purpose within it. Love. Hate. War. Avarice. Beauty. The way it all fits together like symmetry in a maelstrom. Just then, during my state of reverie, a young couple caught my eye as they walked past on the outside path towards the far railing of the lookout. They talked quietly as they moved. I watched them as they made there way, their hands intertwined. There was an awkwardness to them. An air of insecurity. It was new to them, this thing they were a part of. You could tell by their pace. Their lack of eye contact. But it was something and they knew it.


        A cool breeze swept in from the ocean. I could smell the pine and salt. A curious combination of earth and sea. The two somehow came together quite nicely. The young couple was leaning against the railing then. They were smiling at each other. The boy said something to make the girl look away bashfully. When she looked up his lips were on hers. The two kissed as the sun descended over the horizon where East and West become one over a great and terrible sea. They held there like that as the failing light illuminated them in that moment, shining outward from the edges of their bodies. Such is the way of young and innocent love. It ignorantly rages against a violent world with tenderness and beauty.


        Between myself and them, I noticed a plaque on a large rock in the planter of the roundabout. It read: Home Port of Romance.




- Francis Rourke

APRIL 18TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        I went to the Dana Point laundromat Sunday night. I’d gone long enough without underwear. Any longer and I would’ve had to bathe my boys in baby powder.


        The laundromat is a holy sort of place, though, one where even the dirtiest can be made clean. It is a temple reserved for those poor souls who hang from the poverty line like an old pair of socks with holes in the heel. Here, the machines whirl and hum and whistle to a solemn tune, and the bright white lights reflect off the white walls and white linoleum floor. And it is here they congregate in quiet humility, all of them, each to their own load, and none is light.


        On any given day you can find little Mexican women stacking the clothing of their families in tall neat piles, one on top of the other, shirts and socks and pants and sweaters and underwear. And they talk amongst themselves in that latin loquaciousness the way they do, as if each sentence was a word and the word a whole story in itself, containing all the history and worry of the women of that culture. Beside them, their niños stand quietly in stained shirts and stare curiously at strangers with their big dark eyes, all-knowing in their innocence. Then there are graying couples with long faces and half-hooded eyes who carry more weight than cotton or polyester. The wife is short and round and pale of skin, and the husband is tall and beer-gutted with a full beard that covers his tired face. She walks around the place picking up fabric softener sheets off ground and throws them away, while he fills the machines with complaints and expectations and lewd thoughts of lustful women. They have never been apart for more than half a day as it is better for them to suffer as one than separately wonder what could’ve been alone. But they are better off then their younger counterparts who lack silken virtues and are too caught up on life-subscriptions, living month to month beyond their means. They too find themselves here before the whirling machines, stoned-dreaming of what could be. Occasionally a hobo will appear at the threshold like a dirty sage in tattered rags among the white world, and they’ll dig through the trash for cans or plastic bottles, and they’ll claw their way to the bottom of all the filth and soiled refuse that’s been cast aside in search of a simpler way to drag their flesh across the earth, knowing all the while that grandeur gets thrown away as well. And if by chance any two of these characters should make eye-contact passing each other among the narrow lanes of the machines, they will flash a common smile of acknowledgment and respect, for truly there is no other class more courteous than the one with nothing save for lint in their pockets, and the hard-luck of their circumstance.


        When I was done, and all my clothes were stacked cleanly in the laundry cart, I rolled it outside into the night. It was quiet and white stars coruscated against the black sky. The cool air whipped silently down Del Prado. And as I loaded everything in my car, my shirts and pants and underwear, my feelings of doubt and judgment and contempt, I thought of all those who hold an unkempt heaviness within themselves, who fail see the raging world around them spinning in a violent air of chaos, and I remembered then, the words a wiser man than myself once said, “Fuck it. It’s our first time.”





- Francis Rourke

APRIL 11TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        It’s all a struggle. That’s all there is to it. You can either go through it wrestling false notions of grandeur without sacrifice, hurling blame at others for your failures, or you can quietly accept every obstacle that comes before you as a means of moving forward.


        A friend of mine once told me, “Struggle beautifully, or shut the hell up.”


        The difference between a life lived according to Nature and one that bangs its head against the wall expecting riches to fall from its skull, is Grace. . .So be weary of any loud-mouthed persons with large tumor-sized lumps on their head; they may be the kind who mistakes Ego for Wisdom, and masturbates to the sound of their own voice.




- Francis Rourke

APRIL 4TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        I’ve found you don’t have to escape in order to get away from the mundane. In fact, you don’t have to go anywhere at all, really, so long as you have four walls to confine you. I only suggest you do your best to   contain your thoughts, or they’ll burst through the ceiling and be lost.


        They are such fickle creatures, thoughts, always escaping you when you think you have them within your grasp. Dissipating or changing into something else like elephant dreams and mezzanine schemes. Such are the ways of airy things. Lofty, yet lovingly mingles with the dirt. No low too low, or high high enough. Capricious, abstract, surreal. Beautifully divine in tumultuous obscurity. Veiled and then revealed, provoking objectivity. Just enough to wet your lips, but never enough to fulfill your gut. Similar. Never the same. They are dreary in a waking slumber. That’s why it’s important to have enough space to breath and pace around. The body needs to be worn down. Lethargy is good for mind wandering. And vaulted ceilings, too. There should be room for thoughts to coalesce; a cathedral with porticos and painted windows of pastured memories blooming into bright new scenes, where rejected ideas collect dust in the corner like rusted ships lost at sea; hidden relics of a certain space. Yes, there is an ocean in this place. It harbors words and symbols and an infinitesimal amount of gestures, all undulating to a certain rhythm. Everything has movement. You hear reason try to slip beneath the door, “Never dream with your hand on the wheel!” But Love and Rage hold the reigns to this vessel. They’ll drive you mad towards the sun, then further into oblivion. Burning. Bound by limitlessness. A book with no spine written with furious soul. Pure. The universe articulating in braille. Can you feel it?


        Then when you awaken and return to yourself from this sleepy state, stepping out once again to greet the world, now, no longer asleep, knowing they were only dreams, clear-headed again, treat everything around you as a dream.


        This is Suite 230.




- Francis Rourke

MARCH 28TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        I’ve made it another year around the sun on this haloing mass. I’m right here, vibrating along with it, sending frequencies into the dark. And I don’t know why, or for what purpose. But maybe that doesn’t matter.


        What I do know is that it all seems familiar, this moment, now, sitting here, writing at this desk with my lamp on and the Youth For Christ Choir singing into the empty space of Suite 230. I’ve felt it before. As if I orchestrated it outside myself like a conducting ventriloquist. Call it the subconscious mind at work forever laying down an eternal moment like staring at your reflection between two mirrors, creating the effect of infinite selves in one instance. An impression of some sorts.


        Maybe that’s all this is; an impression. Maybe life is the accumulation of impressions. Our character. Our personality. Interests.


        Bernardo recently told me about an article he’d read on quantum physics. In the article scientists proved multiple dimensions happening at the same time and that they have a relationship with the 12 tones of the musical scale, each dimension acting like that of a singular tone.


        “You’re a musical note,” he told me.


        “Ok. So if everything is energy, and my soul is energy vibrating on a certain note within this scale or “dimension”, then what happens when I die?”


        “You’re ‘out-of-tune’ as they say.”


        He went on to compare life to that of modal jazz, where a single note is droned-out until it’s done being played. . .I liked it. I liked it a lot.


        We are resonating to a vibration. And if the comic music of our lives is imprinted from birth, then maybe that frequency is what we are attracted to as we flow along with it. If someone or something rubs us the wrong way, we say we don’t like the vibe. It is a feeling. Something outside our limited visual spectrum happening at every instance. Even now.


        So what is this all for then; this toiling, bleeding, suffering? What purpose does it contain? Am I a piece of the eternal trying a new tune?


        It made me think about the old man downstairs, and the Nepalese workers at the gas station across the street. They are musical notes playing over and over again to some grand scale. All the people in their cars hurrying north and south on Pacific Coast Highway, they too are vibrating, playing out their musical lives.


        And what about the rest of the world? If I’m thinking about this, and thought is energy vibrating, then is someone resonating with this in Yichang, China? Do they understand in Borba, Brazil? What about Nukus, Uzbekistan? What’s happening on Sirius A and B? Is there life on Mars?


Are they, too, experiencing an eternal moment on a cosmic tune? And you, what about you? Have you had a mise en abyme dream?




- Francis Rourke

MARCH 21ST, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        When I wake in the morning, I tell myself: Some people you deal with today will be inept, unruly blunderheads. They will fumble, stumble, and ignorantly bumble about, testing your mettle with their floundering unconscious existence.


        They are like this because there is no other way for them to be. They are like this because they cannot help it. And there affliction upon me is not their fault. In fact, their nature is related to mine. Not of the same blood or birth, of course, but that of the same mind (more or less) and the same body (bone, tissue, and all the innards to go with them). Like me, they too are conduits of divinity; a carrion vessel connected to the ethereal world. I cannot feel angry at my relative, or hate them for this. We were born to work together like hands and feet and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, like heart and lungs. But this understanding, this. . .meditation, is easily cast aside in the tumult of daily life.


        I was headed north on Pacific Coast Highway, delivering groceries for a customer of mine when the car in front of me decided to make a quick right without warning. No blinker. No gradual declination of speed. Nothing. Just bright red break lights flashing in my eyes.




        I slammed the breaks with a quick glance in the rear-view. Everything on my front seat was hurled to the floor: a container of oatmeal cookies, a bunch of bananas, three cartons of milk, Moby Dick, and an empty coffee mug.




        I looked at the car to my left. A young boy sat in the passenger seat staring wide-eyed. He had undoubtedly never witnessed a man vomit absurdities like a bulimic with tourettes.


        I turned down the next street, parked, and looked at the mess on the floor. There was not a drop of milk spilled. No bananas were bruised. My mug unharmed. A white whale did not eject from the pages of the book. Everything was still intact but the cookies. The plastic container they were in broke open free and the cookies were tossed everywhere.


        “Dammit! Why are people so fucking stupid! They never know where the fuck they’re going. Fuck! I’m gonna have to go back to the store now.”


  I surveyed each cookie. Not one of them crumbled. I placed each one back in the container as neatly as I could, cussing under my breath the whole time. My blood still boiling through my veins, I noticed the bottom of the container was cracked open.


        “Look at me. I’m an ignorant piece of shit who doesn’t know where the fuck I am or where I’m going. I think I’ll turn here at the last minute. Why not. Seems like a splendid moment for a quick right. Lovely weather today. Huh? There are other cars on the road? Nonsense. I have no concept of such things. It’s just little ol’ me driving in great big open world. La la la la laaa.”


        When the cookies were all neatly back in rows with the container lid snapped back on, and after I picked everything off the floor and put them back in the bag, I pulled back on the road to finish the job, cussing the whole way until I knocked on the door.


        A feeble old woman answered with halo gray hair and pallid skin. Her whole body was convulsing. She welcomed me in to put her groceries in the kitchen. I showed her the bottom of the cookie container and apologized for the crack.


        “Oh that’s okay. I saved my last one.” She said sweetly, not a care in the world with Death’s arm around her shoulder.


        When I left I sat in front of her house for a moment before driving off. I took a few deep breaths and thought about the meditation from early that morning. Why did I blow up like that? What good did it do? I thought about the old woman. Her body on its way out. Her soul content with all eternity. I could feel my blood cooling. My heart rate slowed in pace. I was serene once more.


        I headed back down the road towards all humanity.


        To do anything coolly is to do it genteelly. . .I’m a work in progress to say the least.




- Francis Rourke

MARCH 14TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        This thing is moving; beneath, around, and through us. There is no stopping it. All one can do is move along with it as it’s happening, whatever it is.


        When the rain finally cleared it left a perfectly bright blue sky over the Southland with little skiffs of white clouds sailing off the coast without a worry or care. It was too pure of a day to be sitting indoors staring at a screen, so I left Suite 230 and Bernardo to his work making Pieces of Remember and I walked out into the clean light of day to make one of my own heading south on Pacific Coast Highway towards the Lighthouse Thrift Store.


        After many worlds rolled past me in BMWs and Toyotas and Mercedes and Subarus, blue and white and silver and green, I finally made it. But the store was closed. I looked through the window at all the clothes and picture-frames and dusty records and knick-knacks and books on the shelves and I wondered who’s memories they were and if they had forgotten them or if they had lived in them. I wondered if there might be any gold in those pieces of someone’s past. I’d have to come back and find out another day.


        I stood on the corner there for a minute looking north and south and not caring which way to go. A breeze passed and it felt good on my face in that shining moment. Then I walked a little further to Party Time Liquor and bought myself a tall beer before heading back up the hill towards Suite 230. Only when I got to San Juan Avenue from Golden Lantern I kept going, the brown bag in my hand. I continued to Del Prado and through the overhang of trees that led the way to Lantern Bay Park where there were families on the grass hill and dogs barking in the salt air and children laughing in the sunshine. There was a large group of people standing around at the roundabout talking and looking out over the harbor. Too many to sip cold suds from a brown bag. I leaned against the railing and looked out over the harbor myself. The sun was slanting down over the water and boats and rocks on the jetty.


        That’s where I need to be, I thought.


        With the warm sunlight on my face I sat on the rocks facing out towards the expansive ocean and opened my beer. Looking to north at the coastline bluffs, the same place Richard Henry Dana declared as the only romantic place in California, soft light reflected off the ocean’s mist and illuminated like sun beams.


        Three young girls beside me were taking photos of each other in that direction.


        “Did you get a photo of the light on the coast?” I ask one of the girls.


        She looked at me with a smug and disgusted look as if I had farted and the smell crawled up her nose.




        “Did the light reflecting off the mist come out like that?” I asked again, pointing to the north.


        “I don’t know.”


        She turned back towards her friends.


        I realized then they were taking contrived photos. The one being photographed had a camera in her hands but the lens cap was still on. They were capturing a silhouette of some feigned moment for social-media. A mock instance to portray a certain way of being without being it.


        I thought about the world in that moment, and how we are on it and in it and how it’s heading towards an autonomous future where there will be no need for photos and memories and instances, and the only thing that gives us validity in existing at all is our ability to capture and hold and treasure true happenings as they are happening and to store and take out whenever we want for ourselves, because in no time at all we’ll be no one, and nowhere. Like the things you see now. All the people now living.


        I sat there on the rocks as the sun made its way to the East and I enjoyed my beer in the failing sunlight. That’s all there was to it.




- Francis Rourke

MARCH 7TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        It’s good to be home after moonlighting the Big Easy for a couple of days. Waking to the sound of cars on Pacific Coast Highway and Bernardo walking through the door with a random song on his tongue. But I know it won’t be long until I’m gone again, on to some new wanderings in a strange land. Are we not always arriving and departing from one moment to the next?


        It was only hours ago I was being chased by a troll in downtown New Orleans. She was screaming at the top of her lungs, “Get dat mo’fuckin’ camuh’ruh outta my face! You son’of’uh’bitch! I’ll whoop yo ass! You can’t take my picture! That’s wrong! You don’ even know me! I’ll cawl duh poh’lease on you!”


        The little creature swung her bag of garbage at me and missed.


        “What the hell is wrong with you!?” I yelled back as she made advances, unleashing her insanity on me.


        Three busboys from a hotel restaurant were smoking cigarettes on their break, laughing and slapping their knees as we passed. When we reached the end of the alley she finally gave up and returned to her cave of blankets and trash until the next poor soul wandered down the wrong street.


        Now I’m here, peeling the skin of an orange. It’s zest filling me with a bitter sweet feeling, that another adventure has ended and another is on it’s way.




- Francis Rourke


Good Morning Wednesday,



        I made it out alive. I slipped through the earth like water through a clenched fist and danced across Moapa’s blade to its summit.


        And from on top of the world I could see it all. Snow covered peaks to the West. Pink mesas to the East. Red rock landscapes below. Tiny dust trails dissipating off in the distance. Slow moving semi’s on the 15 freeway like white ants in the desert. Metamerical mountains cascading in all directions. And while everyone else was getting busy, I was as silent as Time, resting on Eternity.


        You have to break your body for that kind of meditation, the soul demands it.


        And now I’m back in the land of overpasses and coffee shops. I’m back in harbor city and Suite 230, where there’s always something cooking in the corner.




- Francis Rourke


Good Morning Wednesday,



        I left the Lantern District Thursday night to meet Kodak Hayes and the Yip Boys in Corona. They were headed for the desert at 9 and I didn’t want to miss the ride. I had no idea what they were going to get me into and it didn’t matter, they were getting me out of suburbia for a few days and you can bet your ass I’d never forget it.


        When I pulled up The Sandman and Weaver were loading their packs into the cargo box on top of Kodak’s wagon. Inside each one there was no doubt a sleeping bag, tent, headlamp, stove, cooking pot, water-filter, first-aid kit, gloves, wool socks, jacket, and quick to eat foods like oatmeal, trail mix, protein bars, chips, dried fruit, pretzels, canned soup, ramen, and cookies. On the ground around the car there were harnesses, rope, wetsuits, trekking poles, trad-gear, and everything else needed to crawl through the curiosities of this dusty earth and be peaked by all possibility.


        Soon we were on the road and Kodak gave us the lay of the land as we made our way towards the high desert.


        “Alright boys, we’ve got the Bloomington Caves, Zion, and Moapa Peak. I suggest we do the caves first because we have to get a permit from the Bureau of Land Management and they’ll fill up fast on Saturday and Sunday. We can hit the peak on the way back from rappelling canyons in Zion, if there are any dry ones left this time of year.”


        No one questioned him. We all knew each day dictated what would happen to us, and there is nothing more exciting and dangerous than submitting to the unknown. By the time we made it through Cajon Pass, The Sandman was fast asleep. Kodak and Weaver discussed possible routes in Zion and I stared out into the dark world and wondered what might happen to us. That's all I could do.


        We pulled out in Moapa Valley and chased a rabbit down a dirt road. The cold wind bit at our flesh as we slept, reminding us we were no longer in the world of clean streets and social-media. And when morning came we woke to find the isolated peak we’d be climbing in a few days time. The jagged crags formed long slender ridges from the main body of the mountain giving it the shape of a wicked tarantula in the dusty morning light. We all stared up at the looming peak as we made our breakfast, wondering what sacrifice would be made to reach the top.


        The boys and I piled back into the car and headed further east on highway 15 following the Virgin River through the Virgin River Gorge, a portal to a natural cathedral where a giant river once carved the red rock and flagstone into plateaus and mesas as far as the eye could see into Arizona and Utah. We got off in St. George and parked outside the BLM office. An old man stood behind the counter. He had pursed lips between a neatly trimmed white beard and large fake teeth that flashed each time he opened his mouth. His name was Mil.


        “What you want to do is drive out here on Dixie Road towards Sunset Avenue, then make a left at the Albertson’s. Follow that for some time until you wind up into the hills. Don’t miss the dirt road or else you’ll find yourself clear into Nevada.”


        The pale landscape had dried him out. Each word flowed out like a monotone stream. After his long speech he gave us our permit. We thanked him and left before we too became like the dust of that land.




- Francis Rourke


Good Morning Wednesday,



        There are evil men among us who play God for some. They walk around with smiles and good deeds branded across their appearance for everyone to believe. Only, if you watch carefully, they will reveal themselves to you without ever saying a word.


        I went to Starbucks to get out of the office the other night. The old man downstairs has been throwing a fit about me being here late, afraid I’ll ruin the only good thing he’s got going for him. I told him I’m writing, that night is the only time I like to write. But he swatted his hand at me as he turned to leave and said, “I’ll let it go for now,” as if his word had any authority. I stepped out for a while so he’d keep his mouth shut.


        A thick fog rolled over the Southern California coastline and covered the Lantern District. I bought a cup of hot mint tea and sat down with Shantaram at a table facing west towards Pacific Coast Highway. Headlights floated by the large wall-paneled windows like orbs of white light glowing in the hazy gloom, softening as they were smeared by the cold mist, then disappeared into the night. I put earbuds in to drowned-out the place as the world slurred past the window. Brad Mehldau’s Don’t Be Sad gave it a mood. I opened the book.


        Lin had been thrown into the underground world of Bombay. He was given a new home in the slums amongst the thousands of poor and sick and maimed. They had taken him, a foreigner, into the low-quality way of life, into a sea of straw and plastic huts, where one dealt in the black market by selling hashish, clothing, food, medical supplies; anything and everything to survive. Just then a man sat down at the table in front of me. He was clean-cut with slicked-backed hair and wore a long zipped-up winter jacket, dark denim pants, and new brown leather boots. He had a service dog with him, a German Shepherd mix. The dog laid at his side while he sipped his drink and thumbed the phone in his hands. I smiled and went back to the book.


        As I got into it, three figures passed the window on my right. I looked up from the book and watched them walk to the corner and stand like a group of odd phantoms. The figure on the right was wearing a white tank top with a children’s cotton blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He bobbed up and down in a spastic rhythm in an attempt keep warm. In the middle was a woman who looked sickly in a bright pink sweater, her face was sad and cratered with large grey bags under her eyes. The figure on the left was dressed in baggy sweatpants and a large black hoodie. He looked around aggressively until he made eye contact with the man in the winter jacket. He nodded his head slightly.


        This is going to be interesting, I thought, as the man in the hoody came in and sat down across from the man in the winter jacket. I took my earbuds out to hear what they were saying.


        “If you were to walk into Wal-Mart right now, and could only buy one thing, what would it be?”


        The man in the hoodie thought for a minute.


        “A basketball.”


        They went back and forth like this for a while. The two men apparently knew one another. I got bored and went back to the book to see what would happen to Lin next.


        There was a great commotion in the slums. A man was drunk and beating his wife with such fury that no man dared to intervene. Qasim Ali, the overseer of the slums, and a few other men finally freed the woman and proceeded to get the man even more drunk and high on hashish until he could no longer remember his own name and passed out. They woke him and he raged for water, but they denied him by pouring more liquor down his throat. When he was about to pass out again, they beat him wildly, just as he had beat his wife. The people in the slums took matters into their own hands. There was no need for police or government intervention. An eye for an eye. The man would think twice about causing anyone harm again.


        The door opened and the sickly woman in the pink sweater started flapping her arms like a penguin. I put the book down again and watched. I could see it on the face of the man in the winter jacket that her presence disturbed him. The guy in the hoodie understood and got up to leave. They shook hands and a piece of crumpled paper fell to the table. The guy in the hoodie quickly snatched it up and left with the girl. No doubt amphetamines or cocaine. The guy in the winter jacket stayed for some time thumbing his phone. He was playing cool. After a while his dog got up impatiently and moved towards the door.


        “Come here!” I heard him tell the dog through the music in my ears.


        It meekly walked back to him.


        “Sit,” he commanded sternly, pointing down towards the ground.


        It obeyed.


        He motioned for the dog to put its head on his lap. The dog stubbornly looked around the place. The man motioned again. And again the dog looked around. With his right hand the man pulled out a large remote control from his pocket and shocked the dog into submission.


        I realized then, as I watched this man control his dog, that he liked the idea of controlling men too. He got his fix on being able to manipulate those around him. That’s why he has a “Service” dog. It acts as a symbol to others. No one would question whether or not he does good. They would only have to look to the dog and assume he’s a citizen of goodwill. A holy man. A blessed being who toils in the light. But there was something sinister about him, though, as I watched him. The air of coolness about him and the way in which he never looked over his shoulder. He knew he was successful in fooling the world. Only he never fooled me. I saw the lost child beneath his winter jacket, behind the facade of “Honest Joe”. The poor boy who was denied another go at his mother’s warm milk.


        I thought back to the book and wondered how the people of the slums in Bombay would deal with him. They would do as he had done to those junkies, those poor decaying souls who could be fathers and a mother, who could be living bright shining lives had it not been for the needle or the pipe or the white lines running them towards insanity. The people of the slums would no doubt give him a double-dose of his cruelty, to shame him and rid him of his wicked heart. And I couldn’t agree more.




- Francis Rourke


Good Morning Wednesday,



        There’s been a murder on San Juan Avenue. A blooming thing was cut down in the warming light of Winter, and not a soul did anything to stop it.


        Bernardo and I watched as the Harbor House lunch crowd gawked for a moment at the POETREE’s limbs being heartlessly hacked to the ground, before they grew bored and moved on towards overpriced nostalgia, fries, and a shake. But they’re not to blame for this premeditated and unlawful act, and neither are the two city workers in orange vests who threw the branches into the chipper. They were only doing their job, what someone paid them to do. A duty which provides food and shelter for themselves and their families. How were they to know the importance of such a thing in this world? How were they to know its value without dollar bills dangling from its limbs? I suppose any man who lives to work for a paycheck will blow up the moon if you tell him to, so long as he gets paid to do it.


        Yes, the POETREE no longer blooms on San Juan Avenue. Its quality of majesty and magic is gone. It no longer dances in the ocean breeze with its lights and twine dangling words of rage and light like a carousel of wisdom. It’s picket fence has been smashed to pieces and indifferently tossed into the dumpster. It’s mailbox addressed as 34157 1/2 Pacific Coast Highway has gone missing. The POETREE sign that hung from its trunk has most likely been stolen or trashed with the fence. Now it’s just a tree. Another Australian willow like the rest of them that line the street. One more piece of the city’s plan. However, the POETREE did blossom for those curious enough to approach it and take a bite from its mysterious fruit, like the lovers who swooned and kissed beneath its branches, the high school students who shared their poems over pie and coffee and social-media, or the young girl who filmed herself twirling under the hanging garden of words. It became hallowed ground for outcasts who found solace and comfort by its light and warmth in the night. Not even the homeless with their untamed aggression harmed the tree. Some even took it upon themselves to take care of it by fixing the fence or re-stringing the lights if they came lose.


        Bernardo and I, curious ourselves, watched from our office window at the many who took pictures to brand their existence and stake their claim over the moment, as if to say, “I was here. I saw it. Me!”. We even saw the old man downstairs urge people to take a poem or two. And on one occasion I caught him, reading a piece in the failing sunlight, enamored by its wonder.


        It is a sad day on this earth, when a gift of love for the word and all that it inspires is erased without warning. I would’ve lost all hope in humanity then and there as the two men continued to dismantle an organic blessing, had it not been for one of those men, who, with subtle and surreptitious movements, swooped up a piece of TREE from the ground and scribbled on it without his partner’s knowing. And like the child in a cardboard world, he shared in the making of something beautiful and sacred, then casually went back to work. When they were gone, Bernardo and I went down to see what he had written. And we weren’t disappointed.


        “Life continues to rotate.”




- Francis Rourke

JANUARY 31ST, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        The dull growl of dumb aggression clambered against the buildings of San Juan Avenue and raged into the Dana Point air.


        “I’ll fucking kill you! Die bitch! Die!”


        Good God! I thought. It’s not even noon yet.


        I turned in my chair and looked out the window to get a good look at this monstrosity. An ogre-ish being in a torn red shirt and dirtied jeans, its face like pancake batter, laid stretched out by the garbage cans behind Paragon Salon, slamming a can of soup against the asphalt.


        “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! You fuck! You fucking fuck! Eat dog shit!” It screamed, possessed by a voracious appetite, smashing and clawing and spitting.


        That was a person once. Someone’s child. Brother. Husband. What the hell happened? How did It get like that? What turn of events produced this? The choices we make, I suppose. Or maybe some have just been more fucked since birth. Who’s to say. Bernardo would call this sub-species a “mongoloid”. A thing born into the world defective and lopsided. God’s creatures are not perfect, after all. Not even the Pope.


        A piece from Mediations came to mind just then, “The gods are not to blame. They do nothing wrong on purpose, or by accident. Nor men either; they don’t do it on purpose. No one is to blame.”


        And I wondered if Marcus was right as I watched this beast snarl at a tin can, its anger rising as each attempt at opening it came up more dented and damaged like the thing attached to the hand that held it. If the words he wrote are true, then this thing is not wrong in its actions. There is no fault in the way it stumbles and crawls and spits bile brought on by compulsions beyond the smack and schizophrenia. A lesson for others, perhaps. I can only imagine Diogenes taking it a bit further, maybe too far, by whipping it out and extinguishing his hunger in a different way, to prove man is not living according to Nature’s law.


        I watched this creature for some time as it continued to vomit absurdities at anyone walking by.


        “What the hell, you fucking bastard! You all got it backwards! Shit!” It snarled at two guys vaping outside Harbor House.


        The two guys puffing away from walkie-talkie sized boxes ignored the beast and went on comparing plumes of smoke that dissipated as quick as they were produced; no doubt a metaphor of some sort.


        I shrugged at the scene and swung back around, kicked my feet up on the desk and continued to light the joint in my hand. I had work to do and the day was just getting started.




- Francis Rourke

JANUARY 24TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        It started last night, the cold sheets of rain slashing against the asphalt.


        “You’re all beautiful!” A voice shouted out from the wet darkness.


        I tried to looked out the window to see who would say such an absurd thing in this raging world, but the window pane was a mosaic of droplets stained with fog and dust. I couldn’t make anything out past the blurred reflection before me.


        I shrugged and went to bed.


        When morning came, a little light revealed a Seattle day in this California beach town, and out on the street, poems were strewn across the darkened concrete like sad confetti, their twine homes dangling from the POETREE, empty and waiting for new worded-fruit to bring it back to life.


        I heard the old man downstairs making his routine trips to the bathroom, the door slamming shut and shaking the walls of this saltine cracker of a building. I went through the usual motions, too, like a devoted bikkhu does with his daily rites: I put on the coffee, opened my laptop, put down ten minutes worth of scribblings and other wordly writings, poured a cup of coffee, and sat, waiting to hear Bernardo Soares’ footsteps and the rattling of his keys as he makes to open the door to Suite 230. I knew when he arrived there would no doubt be something on his mind.


        “I think we should just kill all the morons. There should be a law. If you don’t have common sense, BOOM! you’re gone. Just line ‘em all up against a wall and start shooting. Fuckin’ degenerates. . .” or something with a similar sentiment. And there is good reason for his passionate hate and pessimism for the mundane, but I’ll refrain from going into it at this time. When he is all settled to his work I head out into the fading gray of the day to send off the last orders of my new book.


        The post office was unusually empty. Only a couple people stood around the white-walled room. Two clerks stood behind the counter. A man with frosted white hair talked amiably with one of them about the upcoming lottery and that ageless dream of winning BIG.


        “I’d definitely buy one of those new Teslas,” the older gentleman said. “And I’ve always wanted a place up in Tahoe. That would be nice.”


        “Did you know that in other states they make you go on television when you win? Everyone gets to see who you are. They see your face. They know your name. . .It’s crazy!”


        The old man laughed trying to finish his business and moved on with the rest of his day, his dream out there waiting for him. He walked off as the clerk was still talking. I placed my envelopes on the counter. The mail clerk was still going at it.


        “Can you believe that? Everyone knows you have millions of dollars. Soon they’ll come after you and your family and hold you up at gunpoint and take all your money as ransom. Or just kill you.”


        “Most people who win the lottery end up losing all the money anyway.” I replied, with a smile and a nod.


        I didn’t quite understand how he got on the subject, but it changed from the lottery to the sexual harassment cases in the news.


        “It’s a crazy world. . .Look at the news. How can you claim something 30 years after it happened? They should make it illegal after so long, you know? It’s ridiculous!”


        He was scanning my books into the system as he talked. I looked around the room. There were only women in there. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t care what he thought about it, or anything for that matter, and that he was talking out of his ass. He should have a little more respect for women who have gone through traumatic experiences, and who felt they lacked the power to do anything at the time. But I knew if I were to confront his opinions, he would surely find a way to damage or have my books get “lost” in the mail. I smiled.


        “I don’t think they’re in it for the money,’ I said, nodding to the woman to my left.


        “It’s just absurd, really. How can they do that? They should just get over it.”


        I wanted to tell him to go sit on a rusty nail, that his little image of the world, skewed from corporatocracy and capitalistic propaganda, means less to me than a penny in the gutter. Neither of us were in those rooms with those men and women. Neither of us, as males, know what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s playground. But I didn’t want him to ruin my books before they were in the hands of the customer. I wanted them to arrive in perfect condition so they may have the chance to weather it with their own hands.


        “It’s just so ridiculous!”


        I knew better than to wrestle with stupidity.


        He handed over my receipt and I walked out of there, back to the office for my second cup of coffee.


        When I got back I sat down and grabbed a book on Greek mythology. I flipped it open to the story of Phaethon, who, wanting validity in being the son of the Sun, requested the highest order of wearing the big boy pants, driving the Sun’s chariot led by a team of brilliantly burning horses, and in doing so, lost control, scorched the Earth, darkened man’s skin, and then was struck and killed by a thunder bolt to the back of the head hurled down by Zeus.


        I thought it was a nice lesson on learning one’s place, and that some things of great importance are best not left in the hands of those who are incapable.




- Francis Rourke

JANUARY 17TH, 2018

Good Morning Wednesday,



        I hope the new year finds you well, and that opportunity becomes a light shining with new possibility and growth. That’s all we can hope for, I suppose, as we move along with this thing, a light pointing us in the right direction, much like this city of ours, which seems to be reaching for the sun from a deep hole in the earth between Violet and Amber Lanterns.


        I’ve had a light out above my desk for some time now, and the other day I finally made a conscious choice to do something about it. So I left Suite 230 and made my way up Del Prado past the post office and the old lighthouse building, now being gutted and stripped bare to become a new version of itself. I moved on towards Dana Point Hardware with the warm afternoon sun up there working the way it does, even on a winter’s day, and it felt good with a slight breeze sweeping down the street.


        When I came to Amber Lantern I stopped to find a hole in the green tarp lining the fence and I pressed my face against it to look into the future of Dana Point. It was empty. A perfect place to begin. Not a soul or piece of machinery was in motion, but there were signs that inhabitants had once been there. Thirty feet or so below it looked like byzantine conduits or that large carpenter ants had their way with the dirt forming it into abstract grooves and a large ramp to climb up and out of, proof that the toiled earth can be formed any way we choose. I moved on with the solemn California air around me.


        At the hardware store I took three steps towards an aisle before I realized it would be easier to ask directions.


        “Light bulbs?” I asked the kid behind the counter.


        “Aisle three.”


        I looked down the aisles and found the sign “3” and headed towards it. Nothing but copper piping and “U” shaped joints. I moved on to “4”. Eureka. I scanned the shelves to find the proper wattage and shape. Soft White. 25w. Got ‘em.


        I set them on the counter.


        “Aisle 4.”


        “Huh?” The kid responded.


        “Light bulbs are on aisle four.”




        I could tell by the look on his face that it didn’t register. Either he had smoked too much pot that morning, or his mind had been overstimulated by all the social media activity happening from the tiny screen in his hand. He counted out my change with difficulty, exchanging nickels for dimes, then re-counting them in his hand before giving me the confused handful of coins. There was no use in checking, I thought it best to save him the embarrassment of correcting him twice within a matter of two minutes. But then again, it wouldn’t have made it past his ears if I did.


        “Thanks.” I said and walked out of there with two light bulbs in hand. One just in case of a blackout.


        Not ready to go back to the office I made my way further north and crossed Pacific Coast Highway at Ruby Lantern by the large pine tree that casts a shadow over the empty building there. I thought about going south past JC Bean but my curiosity turned me north again past Craft House, back around to San Marino.


        On top of the hill there, before you head down the back alley of San Marino, there is a courtyard closed in by more hollowed structures, small studios with adobe shingles and alabaster walls, and in the courtyard, dirt and lumber are thrown disheveled over aged and cracking concrete, the doors of the studios stripped from their thresholds, and insulation showed from behind bare walls. . .I wondered what they would make of this empty space, this a place where there was once movement and beautiful moments of ideas coming to fruition. But it’s all too easy to have your watercolored daydreams bleed out into the hard surface of reality before you. Which it did as I passed and I was left staring blankly at the open street before me. I moved on, this time up into the residential area of Ruby Lantern.


        I moved on with Time by my side as I admired the uniqueness of each house and duplex and triplex, their facades weathered by the salt air; some painted new, brown and green and tan, some telling a story about those who lived there, an old sail boat in the driveway or utility RV on the side of the street, and as I climbed the hill, the buildings grew larger and larger, no doubt to see up and over the rest of the city to catch a glimpse of the California sunsets (as if they could ever run-out), and between these housing units I found narrow alleys with staircases leading to the street above. Curious, I walked up one for the hell of it. The wood soles of my shoes echoed off the walls and when I reached the street above, looking left and right, finding nothing unique about that street, I turned and headed back down to hear the echo once more. It was a nice change in sound-color to say the least.


        I did find, however, that you can walk as slow as you’d like, stop and curiously look at each house for long periods of time, and no one will question you so long as you are walking with light bulbs in your hand. Anyone passing will think nothing out of the ordinary. And if they were to think about it, perchance, they would probably only say to themselves, “That person is on their way to give light to a dark place.” Little do they know I could be a modern Diogenes seeking an honest man! But that is certainly not the case. . .Resolved and my curiosity peaked, I made my way back to Pacific Coast Highway.


        Outside houses and establishments I saw signs that read “Do Not Pick Our Fruit”, which I felt was even more of an invitation to do so. These places are no doubt written into the hobo guide book of Southern California, and nothing can stop it save for uprooting and moving elsewhere. Or if it is such a problem, why not build a huge wall to keep the pariah from reeking the benefits of those proprietors who so aggressively stake their claims within the imaginary lines of “private” property (even though some of these plants happened to be planted in public sidewalk planters). I almost picked a lemon outside a house but realized I had no use for it and moved on. Instead I stopped at Circle K and bought two beers, even though I told myself I wouldn’t (a slight moment of cognitive dissonance on my part). Two vagrants were loitering outside. One of them gargled his words from a nicotine stained throat. They were no doubt plotting a lemon heist. I bid them good luck and continued on down Pacific Coast Highway.


        At Violet Lantern I crossed the street, the sunlight still warm on my face as everyone else hurried north and south in their own little worlds. Some headed home, others passing through. I turned down San Juan Avenue. Teenagers were huddled by the POETREE just outside Harbor House. They got a kick out of a piece they read and laughed about it. I climbed the stairs to my office and closed the door behind me, opened up one of the light bulbs, screwed it into place, and waited for night to come.




- Francis Rourke



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