August 2, 2018 § 17 Comments

In the beginning, Facebook was magic.

A campfire around which we could gather

to tell stories and find old friends.

Then, one night, someone with a different opinion disappeared.

Apparently the dingoes got them.

More people vanished. And those left around the campfire became more like me.

Somewhere in the forest, fat dingoes howled under the moon.

I spoke less. The stories were less colorful, more careful, less true.  Sometimes they weren’t stories at all.  Sometimes they were just my way of shaping myself in the dark.

I think I’ve had enough.

I’m going to join the dingoes.

I don’t want to be a connection. I want to be a littermate.

I want to be in a pack.

I want to sleep in a pile of bodies for warmth.

I want to hear the howl of my own true voice.

I crave the taste of being wrong.

So good-bye, friends.

Wish me luck.

And tell everyone the dingoes got me.

Shelter Dog Gunman

March 1, 2018 § 4 Comments

He was quiet

And kept to himself

Yes, he was unwanted



He had missing things inside him

No one loved him

Although he deserved all the love in the world

After the spree

He was famous

His face all over television

And although he did not have a name

The press named him

When he turned his head to the side

For the mug shot

He looked like he was about to catch a Frisbee

Ironic, because he’d never been thrown one.

It’s strange, people said

Shelter dogs don’t usually lash out

They make no headlines

They appear in no opt-eds about how we could have stopped this

They just quietly go on being dogs

Who need a Frisbee

Who need a human voice.

Usually they keep to themselves.


The Heart

June 26, 2017 § 28 Comments

Your dog died,

And I’m sorry,

because you loved your dog

He had a horrible high barking yelp

And one time he nipped my ankle so hard he drew blood

And left a cluster of tiny scars, like a Braille tattoo

Of the name of my worst enemy.

So I gave you a heart online

Because it’s easy to do

It’s not conflicted

It doesn’t explore the cognitive dissonance

Of me loving you and feeling your pain

And yet hating that asshole of a nippy dog

Who is dead.

Hearts are great

And so are smiley faces

And likes

Except when they start replacing things that are hard

And I’m afraid one day I’ll get sick

Or my mom will die

Or a friend

And I won’t get a single card

Or call

Or visit

I’ll just get a thousand hearts

That go dark when I turn off my phone.

And so, as usual, this is about me

And it’s for me that I go to your house

And knock on your door

And tell your red eyes I’m sorry

In person

About the loss of your douche of a mutt

Who is probably right now nipping the other little dogs

Off the rainbow bridge.

And you say, I know you hated Creedence Clearwater Revival

Which is the name of your stupid dog

And I agree, and we have a fight, and drink a beer

And that’s friendship

Sometimes it’s hard.

Hard as a set of tiny fangs

Going into the flesh of an ankle.

But I’ll keep trying to do what’s hard

Even when the temptation is to do what is easy

Because Love is hard

And buttons are easy.

And I’d rather be liked than get liked.

I’d rather have your heart

Than have you press a button

And give me one.



Hey Little Girl

February 14, 2017 § 20 Comments


I’m going to find me a little girl, one with at least two bandaids on her shins and a book in her hand

And her hair uncombed in the back

One who has already adopted a spider and the lonely neighbor who still gets the paper

And I’m going to sponsor that little girl

In her eventual run for president.

I’m gonna find that girl in a place where the waves meet the beach

And I’m going to say: Reject that device that will let you see a pretend ocean

And a pretend beach

Build your own sand castle, little girl.

And when the waves take it.

Build it again.

I’m going to sneak into her class and whisper things to her things like:

Hey, sometimes the best people feel the worst

It’s the way things are

but keep on feeling.

Until the teacher says, Can you please leave? You are disturbing the caged parrot.

And I’ll leave but from the corner of my eye

I’ll see the little girl open the window

And free the parrot and the teacher.

And when the little girl runs for playground Senate

And she is pelted with water balloons by her detractors,

I’m going to tell her,

Little girl

Sometimes to make a difference, you have to get your hair wet

And then I’m going to get a sack of water balloons

And hunt down every one of those kids

And spend time in prison

Because no one pelts my little girl with water balloons.

And when it comes time for the little girl to like a boy

I’ll say

Not that one

Not that one

Maybe that one.

And if she says:

Actually, I prefer girls

I’ll say

Not that one

Not that one

Maybe that one.

And when that little girl turns 35

And still has bandaids on her shin

And a book in her hand

I’ll say now it’s time to run

And if she says

Actually I’d just like to raise children

Or own a goat farm

Or paint on walls

I’ll say,

Well, the truth is,

Being yourself is a form of running

So run



The Patient

December 15, 2016 § 21 Comments


Patient: Everyone hates me. They tell me they wish I was never born. They tell me they wish I would die in a fire. Explode into tiny little motes of existential failure. They say my mother was a jackal.

Psychiatrist: I wish I could tell you that was just paranoia. But everyone does hate you. I hate you too. I too wish you would die in a fire. I too think your mother was a jackal.

Patient: You seem unprofessional.

Psychiatrist: What can I tell you, 2016? You just basically sucked in every way. I mean, go find one person who says 2016 was his year.

Patient: I just saw someone the other day screaming 2016 was his year.

Psychiatrist: Was he running in traffic?

Patient: Yes, come to think of it, he was.

Psychiatrist: Then that was sarcasm.

Patient: But I can’t help being born 2016 anymore than a snake can help being born a snake, or a paid-off congressman can help being born a paid-off congressman, or a sack of heroin cut with deadly rat poison can help being born a sack of heroin cut with deadly rat poison.

Psychiatrist: The sack of heroin cut with deadly rat poison at least came with the beautiful dream of heroin. You are just the rat poison.

Patient: I’m not feeling any better. In fact I’m feeling worse.

Psychiatrist: Let me prescribe you an overdose of antidepressants.

Patient: I’ll see myself out.

Psychiatrist: You killed Prince.

(on the way out, 2016 sees the next patient, 2017)

2016: You look so sleek and new, 2017. Like Justin Bieber when he was playing for street money and doing YouTube videos. What are you doing here? Everyone loves you.

2017: I’m scared. There is so much riding on me. I’m the shiny gold coin at the bottom of the dumpster fire of you. And gold is probably a good idea, since you wrecked the economy. Any advice for me?

2016: Stay off the internet.

Rich People Just Bought Saturday

July 1, 2016 § 6 Comments


And that’s kind of a bummer, since I liked that day a lot. But the good news is, they are leasing it back to us so that we can enjoy Saturday too. Thank you rich people!

8AM-11AM You enjoy sleeping in, don’t you? This block of time is yours for a mere $250/month, except on the months where there are five Saturdays, which will be $285.

11AM – 3 PM: This is great time for going to the beach, having family barbecues, or merely shaking a pale, angry fist at the sky while your cat, who was a filthy rich pharaoh in a previous life, silently mocks you. For a cat, every day is Saturday. $410/month.

3 PM – Midnight. This is really the best value. At a mere $555 you can get the nine hour package. And with a Diminishing Middle Class Groupon, you can get $75 off your first Saturday, try it out and see if you like it.

I know a lot of you are complaining right now that Saturday used to be a basic human right. But hey, so did water, fellow pawns! What can you do? At least sunlight is free.

UPDATE: SUNLIGHT IS NO LONGER FREE. Please allow an 8 hour window for the technician to come and install your sunlight. Which is next to impossible in the dark. Take it up with your local sunlight monopoly.



May 12, 2016 § 8 Comments


Ok, I know everyone and their dog is writing a book. I know that this increases the competition and the battle over the only resource that Nestle isn’t sucking out of the ground: Readers. I know all that, but I was comforted by the fact that dogs lack the passion and commitment to write a book.

But now someone’s stupid dog has written a book. Not only written one, but gotten one published, by a major publishing house after a heated auction. (The stupid dog tried to hump all the publishers in the heated auction until it was explained to him it wasn’t that kind of heat.)

A fellow writer frenemy, who loves my pain and quietly celebrates my failures, as I do my writer friends, calls me to tip me off.

FRIEND: The book is called BALLZ GONE and is just a series of paw prints.

ME: Please tell me this is a joke.

FRIEND: (imagining the sharpness of the razor blade I am currently selecting): I’m not kidding. It’s already 73 on Amazon. What was your ranking on your last book again?

ME: (lies) I have no idea.

FRIEND:   Well, of course it’s a male dog. You know female dogs wouldn’t have the same shot.

ME: Listen, maybe the book is all the talk today, but tomorrow it will just a memory. (much like this conversation, I think to myself, breaking out the tequila and benzos.)

But the next day, BALLZ GONE is number 8 on the New York Times Best Seller list, not with a bullet but with a Frisbee. That’s the kind of humor that is in my book, which says a lot.

The stupid dog appears on Good morning America. George Stephanopoulos says “Man Parts” instead of “balls” on the air because he is a polite twelve-year-old from a defunct school of manners. The dog pants. Everyone claps.

I see Ballz Gone everywhere, in the local independent, in the airport, in the supermarket book section where only the hottest authors reside.

The next author’s conference I go to, of course the idiot dog is sitting next to my signing table while his increasingly rich master, a man with a goofy grin and hairless arms, presses the dumbass’s paw into an ink pad and then presses his “signature” into the books of an eager line that stretches around the corner. I have seven people in my line. One of them is seeing-impaired, and is tipped off that she is in the wrong line when the idiot, lucky-ass dog spies a squirrel through the window, and lets out a high, primitive yelp.

I’m not bitter. No, really. How well my books are selling compared to a dog’s is no function of my value or my worth as a human being. You know, Xanax tastes a bit like chalk and Tang.

Three weeks later. Reese Witherspoon picks up the film option. John Malkovich will play the moody, emasculated protagonist. Angelina Jolie will go against type to play his mother, a lean and saintly Tibetan Mastiff who will murmur things like: You must one day face the vet, my son.

Another seven weeks pass. There are now 3 million copies of Ballz Gone in print.

Where was I? Oh yes, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine. I write my first memoir, THIS WORLD IS UNFAIR, PUBLISHING IS RIGGED, AND I’M GLAD YOU LOST YOUR BALLZ. My mother buys it.

Slowly, finally, after three years, Ballz Gone creeps back down the bestseller list, falls off and plays dead.

And I can live again.

Until I hear about the sequel, HIGH PRIMITIVE YELP, which is just the stupid dog yelping on a loop when he sees a squirrel.



O Stars

October 16, 2015 § 10 Comments

author photo copy

Once I was on a party boat in Acapulco

And halfway through it I found out that by some amazing coincidence

Everyone on it had given me a one star review on Amazon

Including the bar boys

And at first they were polite, saying things like, It just wasn’t for me

Or it started good and dragged in the middle

And then they drank a bunch of cheap tequila shots

And started saying meaner things

Like your novel sucks

And you suck too

And if I could have given it zero stars

I would have.

Furthermore, I’d like to murder everyone on your acknowledgment page

With a club made from the wood of the tree that died for this thing you call a book.

They formed a conga line and shouted you suck! you suck!

To the beat of Taylor Swift

And the bar boys shouted Usted suckoste! Usted suckoste! Dirty whore!

Which is guess is a kind of spanglish.

Anyway I also saw

A couple of dolphins.

Jesus Would Take The Middle Seat

September 7, 2015 § 44 Comments

I’m on a plane right now

Houston to LA

and I’m thinking

Jesus would take the middle seat.

He’d give me the window so I could see the clouds.

Maybe clouds bore him.

Maybe he sees his own face in a cloud

Or on a wall

Or a muffin

And he thinks it’s a miracle.

Jesus doesn’t put his seat back.

Because there might be a Roman soldier behind him with bad knees

And Jesus forgives everything.

Jesus listens carefully to the flight attendant’s instructions

Jesus asks for water, but when he touches it, it turns to wine.

The stewardess says, that will be five bucks and Jesus pays for it without complaining.

I don’t know what to say to Jesus

But I need to say something because, Jesus.

I say he looks considerably darker

than his likenesses on Etsy watercolors

And he says, there’s been a bit of pigment revisionism going on in recent centuries

Which sounds cool when Jesus says it

And I say, you know they darkened OJ Simpson on the cover of Time Magazine during his trial,

And Jesus nods

Because maybe he’s followed the trial

Or maybe he’s just being polite.

I start rambling on about how impressive it was to me that he forgave douchey mankind

And ask him what happened to the lamb on his lap in the paintings

And if he took that lamb to heaven

Where it is currently still young and still cute.

A bead of sweat rolls down my face because I’m sounding like an idiot.

I almost ask him if Mel Gibson is like the embarrassing friend you have to invite to parties,

But I stop myself and say instead, “Kanye West thinks he’s you.”

Jesus smiles.

He has a nice smile and he smells like a feather would smell

If lambs had feathers

Flying like Jesus is like flying with the biggest celebrity in the universe

like, three Oprahs

I want to ask him if he’s mad that I never could quite commit

and if dogs and fish see him at the end

and if he always flies American.

I always pictured him on Jet Blue.

And I don’t want the plane to land

Because I never quite believed.

And now I do.

I believe I believe I believe.

Scared Straight For Cats

November 5, 2014 § 11 Comments


Sonny Boy, a sleekly pelted purebred douche with a horribly entitled disposition, has driven his mommy and daddy, two humans who trumpet their mental instability to the world by calling themselves his mommy and daddy, to the brink of insanity.

His demands have grown incessant and nothing has worked, neither cat whisperer nor Feline Calming Spray nor Douche Camp.

Now it is time for a visit to the Ventura County Last Chance Cat Shelter, where Sonny Boy will be introduced to their hardest cases in an effort to scare him straight.

First he must complete the intake form:

Which breed do you bring dishonor upon?




___No one know what the hell you are or from what boiling witch’s pot you hoisted yourself as the witch screamed and renounced her sins.

___ How many times in the past month has your name appeared in the same sentence as the word “divorce?”

____ Is the shoe thrown at your head usually thrown at night or in the morning? (trick question)

Has your fixed, contemptuous stare grown

__less fixed, more contemptuous

—more fixed, less contemptuous

___more fixed more contemptuous

___less fixed less contemptuous yeah right then you wouldn’t be here asshole

When did you first realize that you had driven Mommy insane?

___She cried when cleaning litter box.

__Pupils became unnaturally large.

___Diagnosed with “exhaustion.

___ Began to use heroin

___Became a prostitute

When you drag some poor innocent creature you killed for no reason into the house, what are you thinking?

___Here’s a gift for you, Mommy and Daddy!

___I hope it was magic and would have brought great blessings.

Which part of your owner’s body would you eat first upon their death:

___ Hands



____Adrenal Glands

____Back of Neck

___ Would not wait until death.

What is your most frequent nickname?

__Senor FurryDouche *

__ Entitled Bag of Fleas and Evil

___Shut up!

If you could reverse your neutering and populate the earth with millions of you to destroy civilization and every single baby bird ever fallen from a nest, how many heartbeats would it take you to embark upon this diabolical path?





After completing the intake form, Sonny-Boy is taken to the showers, where he is encouraged by a snaggle-toothed old Exotic Shorthair not to drop the soap.

He is de-flead and paw-printed.

His mugshot –One to the left, one to the right, one straight ahead — takes five hours.

He is led into the main chamber, where the hard cases live.

His back is straight. Head high. Pelt sleek.

He has no idea what awaits him.


* copyright Linda Birkenstock

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