In Memoriam of the Still Alive Cody Clayton


The parking lot is mostly empty. Plenty of spots. It doesn’t feel good. Neither does my head. I tried not to drink too much last night, but we all know how that goes when you work behind a bar. The clo-pin. It’s a right of passage in a way, but I miss my bed.

My feet carry me up the back steps, clomping heavily on the rain worn wood, pulling my weight on an unreliable hand rail. I take a deep breath as I clock in. I don’t know why, but I need it. I hope it will give me energy or a more positive attitude. It doesn’t.

I begin setting up the same bar I broke down several hours ago. Uncapping, unwrapping, refilling, washing, wiping, all that shit. I try to suck down a terrible cup of coffee just to keep going. My body craves water, but I don’t usually listen. Why the fuck am I here right now? I won’t get a customer for hours. I’ve been here too much lately. Fuck this place, fuck work. What kind of life is this?

I burp and fart my way through the set up. No one else is happy to be here right now either. It’s the morning dregs. We all get them. The evil eye that says just leave me alone for a while, let me set up in peace and get this coffee in my system before I have to be civil. I curse the existence of the restaurant, for not paying better attention in school, for the failures of a city that owes me nothing.

I wander to the back to get ice for my well. The dish washer is one of my buddies and he looks as bad as I do.

“What’s up man?” he says, spraying a dish down.

I shovel a scoop into the ice pit and begin loading up my bucket. I groan as he talks, “Ugh. You’re looking at it.”

“Yeah,” he said, his smile slowly fading as the realization of where we are and what we are doing set it. “Yeah,” repeating, much more solemnly this time, going back to washing another dish and I continued shoveling ice in silence.

We were where we were and there was nothing at that moment that could change it. We could dream of a fire burning the building down, giving us a free day, but it wouldn’t happen. It never does. Our day would go on and we would quietly hate the world for a while, hungover and miserable, shoveling ice and washing dishes in one way or another until it was time to punch the clock once again.


The Carnival


Light streaks upward
from the bottom of newly planted trees
reaching for the moon
falling well short

in the night of new Nashville
the ghosts of old have been paved over,
built on and forgotten
houses that owners can’t afford
rent that I can’t
it’s a goddamn travesty
for us with little money
in a valley where dreams once sprang
turned into a mecca of asphalt and falsified realities
of a soap opera TV show
more interested in money than story lines

it’s a carnival or a circus
where a bottle of Bud costs $8
and it’s fucking sad
it used to be so cool, I say,
trying not to sound like an old codger

it’ll come crashing down one day
and I’ll be far away
hoping my new city
doesn’t follow this path
hoping that I’ll be in a better position
to appreciate it
or fight against it


Speckled dots among the dim light,
the strongest from the bathroom
that says Men’s.

We are scattered and together and solitary
each song brings something that no one else feels the same way
we hope for someone that understands,
someone that feels something from it as well
and sings along to the songs we know.

The crowd ahead, hats and hairdos
melding in the heat of bodies stacked together
silly jokes, only we will get, from the microphone
we won’t be able to repeat them
or remember them
they’re not really funny anyway,
only because we were there.

Pucker and Breathe


I see it all in a three second glance through the ivy covered fence. Locked knees and stiff bodies around the picnic table lead to tales of too much confused testosterone and words that can’t hide it. There is a card game being played and no one is saying too much, not that they ever do…

Where is Tony with the bottle of Fireball? He never shows up at the right time. Maybe that’s his super power; the inability to recognize a situation and act accordingly. 2 A.M. is a terrible time for Fireball. Or the perfect time. Damnit Tony.

God my ass hurts from this seat. And I can’t fart or I’m never getting laid from anyone at this party. I’ve taken that risk before and there’s no fucking way I’m doing that again. I’ll suck it up. Pucker and breathe, that’s the key, pucker and breathe.

Damn Julie looks fine. I wonder if she likes me. I wish it was easier to figure that out. I need to slow down, I’m getting too drunk. Drunk is okay, but I can’t get sloppy. Nothing kills a night like a guy falling into everybody and nodding off mid-sentence.

What’s the right thing to say and when is the right time to say it? I always think of it too late. Maybe that makes me seem more thoughtful and wise. Or maybe they think I’m stupid. Maybe I am since I never have the right thing to say. Maybe I…

The scene fades as it often does through the rear view. Our not-so-saintly hero may escape his neurosis long enough to pick up a girl, or pull a number, or he may end up passed out in a corner getting permanent marker penises drawn all over him. All from three seconds through a fence hole, voices battling a car stereo for prominence. All waiting to tell their own story in short bursts among the confusion.

Dancing in the Night

car view

The whir of the open air dances through the window. Lights tickle the sky, scattered from street to car to building. The engine hums under foot and the stereo tells me to ‘sing like you think no one’s listening’. It feels like something I can never quite escape.  And maybe I don’t want to.

There’s nowhere to go, really, but it doesn’t much matter. Not when the warm air hugs the back of my neck. Not when the energy of night is simply alive.

An arm drifts out the window to let the wind brush down fickle hairs. Bats swoop by to fill their bellies with the ample supply of mosquitoes above the Colorado River. They fly by the thousands, millions, feigning their blind bat eyes for screeching echoes. Fling a rock into the light and watch them dive, but they always pull up in time.

A kid on a bicycle paces his own private lane in clothes bright enough to resemble a far off star. A police car flashes its reds and blues behind a black Toyota and I hope they find nothing wrong in there.

The thick and sweaty night drives me as much as my foot and arm. Still, there is nowhere to go, but the fireflies of commerce illuminate my vagrant voyage. One day the open road will be too much to ignore. One day it will be time to just go. Leave it all and go. Let the whole sad scene disappear in the rear view. No goodbyes, no final beers with friends, just gone.

But that night is not yet here. I swing the wheel left, then right and find a familiar road to lead me back to where I started. For now, at least, this is where I belong.

An Open Letter to General Motors About my 2006 Chevy Cobalt


Dearest General Motors,

I bought my 2006 Chevy Cobalt in the winter of 2007 with roughly 25,000 miles on it. It now has approximately 117,000 miles on it and, let me say, it’s amazing that it’s still allowed on the road. The engine has performed amazingly well and kept me driving for the past ten years, but the rest of the car has caused me so much frustration that I have fantasized about driving it off a cliff, like in an action movie, watching it explode as it hits the ground.

Over the past ten years Chevy has sent me recall notices for seven different recalls. Seven! That’s an impressive number of recalls. Chevy has to fix these problems at no cost to the owner because they built things so poorly that it is unsafe to drive and they could or have been sued for a lot of money. At one point they attempted to fix one problem by using the exact same parts, leading to, you guessed it, another recall. What leadership! It’s not unusual for cars to have recalls, it is unusual for a car to lose money on the entire line because of recalls. Notice, Chevy no longer makes Cobalts.

To go with this impressive list of recalls, I have my own list of cosmetic and functional problems with my car. As cars age, they usually need work as some things will naturally break down over time. With that in mind, these are the things that have gone wrong with my car: the door actuator broke, meaning the lock slips off its track if the door is opened while locked. You would be amazed how many times you try to open the door without paying attention if it’s locked. This led to my key faub burning out because the only way to get it to work after that is to hit unlock over and over until it catches the sweet spot and unlocks. And the only way to program a new key faub is to take it to a dealership and pay them a lot of money. What a great company strategy! If this wasn’t enough, it is impossible for me to lock or unlock either my driver’s side of passenger side doors with my key. I have no idea why, it just does not work. So I no longer lock my car.

Over the last few years the rear defrost went out because I clean my car occasionally, the spring in my turn signal broke so I have to turn it off by hand each time, the driver’s side window track bent randomly and completely slips off it’s track if the window is rolled all the way down, the physical lock on the driver’s side snapped off at the top, the horn only works when pressed in exactly the right spot, the cruise control works when it decides it wants to, turning the air conditioning on makes the car idle to a point where it almost stalls and the overhead lamp only works with a jiggle to make sure it’s in the right spot.

As I said already, there is a natural amount of wear and tear that happens to cars and none of these things on their own are all that outrageous. It’s the combination of everything that makes me call my car things I would never call a human. The crazy thing is that the car still runs pretty well. The engine is likely the only part of the car that will still work in the next year or so. So, for that I say thank you Chevy. For everything else that is wrong with the car I want to applaud Chevy and General Motors for making one of the worst cars in American history. For all the frustration I have experienced on your behalf I would like to present a trophy of a big, bronze middle finger, because that is what you gave to the country when you released the Chevy Cobalt to the masses.middle finger


Adam Simers

Dance to Nowhere


Small smiles, playful flirting, educated souls. You’re not the only one on the list. I know I’m not the only one on yours. But you are beautiful. Red lines dance through your hair with an unspoken confidence and rest on the tip of my tongue. Today’s moment will pass faster than I would hope, but it’s another line of brick and mortar going up.

I feed your friend the same lines that never sound as smooth once it exits my mouth, but my eye still rests on the crook of your nose as you drift past. Give my spring animal a chance to howl and it’s going to be a fun ride.

Your face and figure change with the moon, like my mood, and we begin this dance to nowhere again. It’s too safe here, among the idle chatter beneath too bright fluorescent lights. My god you are beautiful. If I could only say that and let it settle into existence it could be what it is and the world would make more sense. But it’s never been that easy. Not when it matters.

You walk away with a smile that I return and I think of something I should have said thirty seconds too late. We will do this again; call it a dance if you like, but not soon enough.