1. We will become mature, responsible individuals with a great capacity for joy, fulfillment, and wonder. Though we may never be perfect, continued spiritual progress will reveal to us our enormous potential.
2. We will discover that we are both, worthy of love and loving. We will love others without losing ourselves, and will learn to accept love in return.
3. Our sight, once clouded and confused, will clear and we will be able to perceive reality and recognize truth
4. Courage and fellowship will replace fear. We will be able to risk failure to develop new hidden talents.
5. Our lives, no matter how battered and degraded, will yield hope to share with others.
6. We will begin to feel and will come to know the vastness of our emotions, but will not be slaves to them.
7. Our secrets will no longer bind us in shame.
8. As we gain the ability to forgive our families, the world, and ourselves our choices will expand.
9. With dignity we will stand for ourselves, but not against our fellows.
10. Serenity and peace will have meaning for us, as we allow our lives and the lives of those we love to flow day by day with God’s ease, balance, and grace.
11. No longer terrified, we will discover we are free to delight in life’s paradox, mystery, and awe.
12. We will laugh more.
13. Fear will be replaced by faith, and gratitude will come naturally as we realize that our Higher Power is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.



Sometimes when I take the bike out I head up Main to Robinson, then bank east down Monument Avenue and open it up from there. For some reason I don't really care how much noise I make going down a cobblestone road punctuated with sculptures of Confederate generals. My favorite thing to do in the whole city is to make a complete circle around the Lee monument. Once a Starving Students moving truck got half into my lane on the southern half of the radius, so I throttled past him, finished the circle and then smoked his ass for the second time just before Jeb Stuart. This summer I started leaning the bike up and hanging my body into the corner like one would on a sport-bike. I've found I can run it a little faster this way. Last night, once I got a good line established, I reached down and let my left glove skim the curb. I've wanted to do that for three years.



Sometime Last Week,

It occurred to me that every bad thing that has ever happened to me has been a gift.

I have no way of explaining this.

Laid the Fuck Off


At seven fifteen I am the first one on the job, smoking and still in the truck, insulated and waiting for the music to atomize. It is the beginning of my nine hundred and fifty fourth day sober. The sun has not yet cleared the trees, and there is no one back home sleeping warm in my bed. I realize I do not want this job anymore. The mason hasn't shown up yet, his mortar would probably freeze today anyway. The guitars shatter, the music comes apart again, I squint through the light coming through the naked trees. I am doing everything I need to be doing at the moment. I do not even roll the window down for the smoke to escape. I'm only writing this because I'd like to show you how it is.


Margin Walker

I got outside her building and stood there on the stoop in the pale orange street-lit dark, fishing my cigarettes out of the breast pocket of my jacket. I really didn't need one, but it was cold again, and I was still sick. I got it lit and hearing a dog bark, looked up. There was a woman sitting on a porch in the stacked row bungalows across the street, looking at me. I suddenly felt marked, filed away in a catalog of whoever else came and went from the quiet dramas of that building- "Lanky Construction Worker." I got down the steps wondering myself what business I had here.

I had done work around the corner, so this block was known to me, but not on a sidewalk level of intimacy. There was a big filthy white 80's era caprice that was mostly always there, covered in anti-abortion propaganda. I tried not to notice the black and white images of fetuses lining the dash. It was mid-winter in my city, my boots conspicuously loud on the sidewalk in one of the few times I had been out of doors in three days. I pulled on my cigarette and tried not to appear skittish.

This block was the new marginal, pushed further away from downtown, tall buildings filled with one-rooms, Victorian porches replaced with treated-lumber decks, packed with bicycles and reckless debris. I marked each alley as I walked. Down one I heard the low guttural roar of a big diesel, and glimpsed a yellow tow-truck dragging someone out of a far lot, orange lights skimming the periphery. I avoided the memory of getting my own truck that morning out of a ragged lot under a too-big cold blue sky, and the money that I didn't have for it. I tried not to think about work.

The side streets punctuating the long blocks there had small one-story shops in them. I walked the length of one, wide windows open to a wide room, pregnant with opportunity. I placed a work bench in the middle of the space, in late-day sunlight, covered in thin purple walnut shavings, or else a crowded room encircled with bright canvases, children chasing each other around a maze of grown-ups.

I crossed the street to the closed laundromat and the Korean grocery I had been making for, pulled on the cigarette twice outside the door, and left it burning, cherry end off one edge of a newspaper box.

The man, mid fifties, greeted me in the empty store and went back to his paper. The shelves were plywood and thinly stocked in that stripped down 50's grocery kind of way. I tried to imagine what I could bring back that she could keep down. I noticed a bag of Chips Ahoy and remembered, suddenly, my mother microwaving them so that they were soft and the chocolate slightly melted. I decided against it, that would be for my kids, next time I saw them. I imagined them sleeping, miles across town. I considered how much of my daughters left-over anti-biotic I had, and whether I should be sharing it with the girl. I settled on a box of Ritz-crackers and a bottle of Ginger ale, the same thing that had gotten me through the last few days.

The Korean man's dark eyes were friendly but hard to read as he rang me up, probably because I myself felt suspicious. He asked, "Cold outside?" and I responded, "Yes, sick. Stomach," gesturing at my purchases. He said, "Ah, yes, going around." I got some money out of my wallet and handed it to him, wondering about the last time I had washed my hands as well as the next time he would wash his. I tried not to think about the money.

He had on a navy baseball hat with the same Blue-Ridge Parkway patch I had stitched on my leather jacket some months ago. The emblem of a tall pine next to a road. He bagged me up and I got out the door, thinking of high country in North Carolina and running it fast and alone. A country were not much else grows except mountain laurel and pines. I decided I did not want to run away.

The street was as empty as ever, and quiet now. This was not home anymore, it was suddenly Brooklyn except I was not strung-out tonight, I was merely sick. There was no reason for me to ever go back to Brooklyn anymore, and that I probably wouldn't for a long time. No bridge, no tall narrow channels of avenues, no dirty open water where they ended. There were bricks underfoot here and more trees and that was good enough. It was not a grim feeling and did not make me sad. I filed it away, my purpose that night was to get back to the girl I had left on the couch and care for her if I could. I picked up my pace.

She had blue eyes that were different from mine, neither the blue-green of a turbulent ocean nor the steel gun-metal blue of the sky in November. Startling blue, they flashed and were quick and hard to lock on to. They were more blue than anything I had ever seen before. They sometimes frightened me with the thought that anything could happen. I rounded the corner onto her block and considered once more the abortion car. It's Virginia plate said "ALL GOD," and the owner had carefully filled in either side with black letters, so that he carried more of his message across the bumper. It read "We are ALL GOD's children."