• lacrosse •

Spent yesterday with the boy at a series of international lacrosse competitions. His team won one out of three, and even it was close; these youngsters were so good, it was amazing how well they did, in freezing rain under gray sodden skies: far better than I, under a plastic mack, in my inadequate lawn chair, singing quietly to myself, “Show me the way to go home, I’m tired and I wanna go to bed…”.
The funniest moment for me came when a referee advised a player, at a turn, that he had to allow his opponent five yards before play could resume, and the bon vivant retorts, “What’s five yards, I’m Canadian, eh?
~ Tim Burchfield
10/30/16

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• bobby daniel’s old man’s cold dead arm •

Bobby Daniel. He had us all scared shitless. Rumor had it, he had already killed a kid. And nobody knew about it. He had buried him that deep. Story goes, Bobby had punched him in the stomach, after school, and the boy had thrown up on his shoes, and, that was it for the kid, the poor bastard, and that’s how it usually went, with Bobby Daniel. And we knew for any of us, at any time, for no reason, even, it could go the same, with Bobby Daniel. You did not want to be on his ‘shit list’, no way. And you never knew what it could be that would put you on it. It could be anything. Anything. You didn’t have to ‘deserve’ it. When it came to dying at the hands of Bobby Daniel, we were convinced, as he had said many times, when threatening death to us all: “Deservin’s got nuthin’ to do with it.” For many a boy (we were completely convinced), that was the last thing he heard on this side of eternity. And then, ‘the big sleep’. The ‘dirt nap’. Most definitely. In any case, you did not want to fuck with Bobby Daniel, believe you me.
Now, we come to, Bobby Daniel’s ‘old man’. Bobby Daniel’s old man, was the kinda guy, that’d kick a dog, yes, even his own dog. For crappin’ on the lawn. Even his own lawn. We had never seen him do it, but then, we didn’t put it past him. He was just that mean. Bobby Daniel’s old man was a real hard case.
In fact, we were pretty sure that Bobby Daniel’s old man was so mean, that even Bobby Daniel was scared of him, and Bobby Daniel didn’t get scared. At least, we never saw him scared. But his old man got his own way. On everything.
Oh, and he only had one arm. Did I mention he had only one arm, yet? I meant to, but, you know, just the mention of Bobby Daniel’s old man, and my brain gets numb, and then, my teeth, and then, I start to shiver, then I lose the feeling in my arms, and hands and feet. Needless to say, I don’t like to talk about it. Still, ‘might as well, get it over with.
Bobby Daniel’s old man drove this truck that had a knob on the steering wheel, so he didn’t need two arms. With Bobby Daniel’s old man, one arm was enough. That, and, from what we heard, by the way he did his own dog, we figured him to be the sort, if you pissed him off, who’d just to kick you to death. But, of course, we kept our distance, and answered everything with ‘sir’, and, ‘yessir’, and like that, and stayed as far away from him as possible.
‘Story goes, he lost his arm, in the war. Which war? I dunno, Korea, maybe? Nobody knew for sure. At least, none of us kids did. And we weren’t going to ask him, that’s for sure.
(Jugglin’ grenades, the way we heard it, how he ‘lost’ his arm, I mean.
Then, ‘way we heard it, one night, while slogging knee-deep mud, in a rain storm, in the DMZ, it accidentally got ‘stuck’, in a ‘tank track’ or something, and got practically, ‘torn off’, at the elbow. And what was left of it, he cut it off, himself, with his own Buck knife, or chewed it off, with his bare teeth, or something, and then, ‘way we heard it, under withering machine gun fire, with the bloody gristle of what was left of his mangled limb between his teeth, and mightily pissed, through the mud, and piss, and shit, he crawled all the way back to base, on his belly, expecting the medics to ‘sew it back on’, and when they couldn’t just sew it back on, ‘good as new’, he beat ’em with it. He beat ’em with his own dead arm, can you believe it? Put three of ’em in the hospital, ‘way we heard it, Army medics, I mean, and I’m pretty sure it’s true. And then, when he got tired of pummeling the poor bastards, cursing God, and the Army, and Korea, and all things animal, vegetable, and mineral, he threw the thing in the mud, and just walked away. His own dead arm. Man, oh, man, oh man. I mean, Jesus.
And now, every time Bobby Daniel’s old man comes out of his house, across the street, and I see that scarred stump sticking out of his rolled-up sleeve, my skin crawls, and then, I picture that muddy, bloody, abandoned arm, in the night, in Korea, and I get the creeps, all over again, and I can’t get it out’a my head. ((And then, there’s a lightning flash, and with it’s wedding ring, and all, gleaming through the grunge, and all, it flexes it’s formerly cold, dead, fingers, now, animate again, and crawls across the ground, of it’s own accord, seeking murderous revenge.
‘Way I hear it, it’s still out there. ‘Way I hear it, it crawls up on a sleeping victim, in the night, on it’s powerful fingers and thumb, real quiet like, up the back of the couch, where the guy who was somehow responsible for the tragic accident, the tank operator, maybe, where the guy was sleeping, and then, it wraps it’s fingers around his throat, and chokes the guy to death, throttling him, in his sleep, and ‘next morning, they find the poor bastard, with his eyes bugged, and his purple tongue lolling out.))
I used to think about that. At night, when the wind blows, and shadows dance on the ceiling, and branches scratch on the glass.
But, I never lose much sleep over it, even if Bobby Daniel’s old man does live right across the street. The way I figure it, even if his dead mangled severed hand was to be out for murderous revenge, I’d had nothing to do with it. I’m just a kid, after all. I’ve never even driven a car, let alone, a tank. And then, any way you look at it, you gotta admit, overall, it’s a helluva long crawl, from Korea.
~ Tim Burchfield
10/31/13

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• colonoscomedy •

Just before my procedure, I asked Dr. Bauer if he wanted to hear my colonoscopy joke. He did.
“You should meet my gastrointerologist,” I say. “He’s a nice guy, a good doctor, and tops in his field. He could use some work on his ‘bedside manner’, though. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, only, being a bit reticent about such things, I think I should prefer if he didn’t come bounding into the examination room, his finger in the air, with a resounding, ‘Resistance is useless!”
He laughed, the attending nurse, too. We all did. It was catharsis, short and sweet, all around. There was love in the room.
They had just then infused my saline drip with ‘the good stuff’, as they call it. I was feeling pretty relaxed, better, in fact, than I’ve felt in years.
“That’s funny!” enthused the good doctor. I could tell he meant it, something about his eyes. When he smiles, they smile too. What a lovely man. The nurse now had angels’ wings, and a glow about her head.
I looked around the spare operating theatre. Small, but still bigger than my first New York apartment, I reminded myself. Cozy…but dimly lit, which surprised me, so I said, “We’re really doing my procedure in here? Kinda dark, isn’t it, Doctor Bauer?”
“Not to worry,” he assured me.
“We work in the dark,” he said.
~ Tim Burchfield
10/11/16

• re: the d •

Seldom have I seen, in a man
(especially, in one who aspires
to the highest office in the land),
such a blatant disregard
for the feelings of women
and unconscionable, universal
cultural insensitivity,
or, as my ‘kid sister’ used to say,
in her inimitable way:
“What a weenie!”
~ Tim Burchfield
10/10/16

• hurricane •

Feeling a nameless, helpless compassion, for millions of human beings, today. In my little corner of Texas, on August 3, 1970 came hurricane Celia, to the area of Corpus Christi. I remember it very well. I was, what, twelve, and it was, ‘memorable’, shall we say. Oh, okay, it was scary as shit, (as we say,) ‘there’s no two ways, about it’.
I saw things you would not believe: roofs being torn from houses, crashing into the roofs of my friend’s houses, and whipped-to-bits, in mid-air.
When the ‘eye’, passed over our house, we all came outside, the neighbors, all around us, even those we never talked to. “Are you okay?” was the most of it, everything was bent, none of us could fathom it. Believe me, we were talking, then. And then, the ‘eye’, moved away, and, with a fury, the horror came back. (Imagine having a 747 with it’s engines at full, blowing over your house.) Shrieks, framework bending, racking, shifting, seemingly, deciding your fate, second by second, and that second, seemed to last forever. Things broke, with a BANG!! but you couldn’t tell, from where. If you looked out your window, things that could not possibly fly, were flying out there.
(I’ll spare you the blood, and near-death, as things, as normal, can be trying enough, but, there was that, and heroism, and tragedy.) Let’s just say, it finally ended. With no water, or electricity, or passable roads, and salt-water, dripping from everywhere. Our house remained, but next street over, all over, were former addresses, where neighbors once lived, with nothing to show but a flat concrete slab, and here and there, astonishingly, something like, untouched, a phone on a chair. Spooky. Inconceivable. Incomprehensible, and yet, undeniable, as I was there.
I can feel them, today, millions of people whose lives have been changed, forever, out there. If you were to see them on the street, years from now, you’d never know what they carry inside of themselves: something of what Nature can be, (as well as beautiful,) and a not-conveyable knowledge – of scale. I’ve tried to tell people, believe me, in writer’s workshops, and in ‘acting class’, and they just shake their heads, and laugh.
“That boy, I swear.” Yeah.
But those who were there, well. We see each other in the store, and say, “hello”, and without a word, we know, that, both he, she, and me – we’ll never, can’t ever, feel big again.
Have a thought for those millions, today, if you will. Beyond that, I don’t know what to say, except that, for the survivors, I hope they’re okay.
~ Tim Burchfield
10/8/16

• nature’s balancing act •

It occurs to me, that for our ancient ancestors, that as to deciding whether (and, best, how) to walk, ‘upright’, there came a day, when there was a ‘split decision’, in the community, and, hence, the first, ‘splinter group’, was formed. Some, seeing the example of the meerkat, thought it best to lift the head above the tall grass, so as to best see the lion’s approach (as well as the gazelle, so as best to catch and eat one), and for most, I suspect, the wisdom of the ‘heads up’, approach, must have seemed obvious. But then, for every conformist, there’s the ‘oddball’, who can’t quite feel all is well with the world, unless things are turned upside down. So, naturally, (or, unnaturally, if you will) came, ‘the hand-walkers’, on that fateful day. Yes, everywhere they went, from then on, on their hands, if they must be, ‘upright’, so as not to be like the others, “Those, ‘uptight, squares’,” they meandered, with heads down, and legs flailing.
Of course, things became a bit awkward, for the, ‘heads-up’, crew, as all they could ever see of the ‘hand-walkers’, above the tall grass, was genitalia. Not great for conversation, you might say. And, of course, that ‘hand-walking’ has certain disadvantages on the African savanna, (as you “can’t see past your own elbows,” as the saying went), was indisputable. Needless to say, the saying soon went out of fashion, as the hand-walkers soon became meals for the indigenous cats, and so forth. ((Sheesh, some people, from their uninformed opinions, no matter how you reason with them, or how you inundate them with information (that pesky divider), they simply cannot be swayed. Or, as dear Mr. Vonnegut used to say, “So it goes.”))
So much for that, you might think, and then, there are the ‘throwbacks’. Yes, from time to time, they do still crop up, those who wish to lead with their dicks.
I shouldn’t worry, though. There’s always a need to, ‘trim the herd’, and the good news is, given enough leeway, they almost always do it to themselves. Call it, ‘Nature’s balancing act’.
~ Tim Burchfield
10/8/16