What Keeps Coming Back


I am

Hot Dog Water.


You don’t drink the

hot dog water.

You pull hot dogs out

of the hot dog water.


Don’t touch the

hot dog water.

Grab a pair of tongs and

keep your fingers out of the

hot dog water.

If you touch it,

wash your hands.


I am

Hot Dog Water.

That’s not my name.


I am what I am.


I am

Hot Dog Water.

The punchline at

the end of a joke.

People love hot dogs

but they hate Hot Dog Water.


I am

Hot Dog Water.

I worry that

I smell funny

because no one wants

to take a drink.


What is wrong with me?


I am

Hot Dog Water.


Misery is a spectacle.

Like the sun, it is something

to behold but also something

that has a violent stare back;

A stare that turns even

the brightest light to dark.


Misery is an abyss that doesn’t

pull you in but instead,

holds you warmly

after you’ve made the decision

to jump in yourself.


Misery loves you.

Misery is needy.

Misery is a jealous god;

A god that sees everything you see

and knows just what to say so that

everything you see

becomes misery.


In the dead of night,

when you lie in bed,

misery will whisper to you

from the darkness,


You are lonely.

You will be lonely forever.

You don’t love you.

Nobody loves you.


Pull the bedsheets

up to your face

in the middle of the night

to dry your eyes.


Pull the bedsheets

over your head

in the middle of the night

to hide from Misery.



Misery is always watching.

Misery is always waiting.


And if you pull those sheets

too far over your head

and leave your feet exposed,


Misery will grab you

and never let you go. 


Are you able to look over?

Does it make you feel weird?





Does it give you vertigo?

When I look over, I feel like the room is spinning.


If I look over, I won’t be able

to concentrate on what you’re saying.


What do you mean?

Look over.


Whenever I look down like this,

my whole body feels it.


Okay, actually,

let’s not talk about this anymore.


Do you ever think of jumping,

like jumping off?





I do.

I feel like I always have.


One morning,

They found my body on the floor

of an exhibit in the Phoenix Art Museum.

While tourist walked by and

admired the mess that was my corpse,

my best friend wept somewhere on the 3rd floor.


Sometimes, it’s the guilt that saves my life.


One afternoon,

They found my body next to the school’s clocktower.

When they called my dad to tell him,

My dad shook his head,

heartbroken because he’d never understand why

I couldn’t just be grateful for what I had.


Sometimes, it’s the guilt that saves my life.


One evening,

they scraped what they could of

this momma’s boy

off of interstate 10.

My mother wailed at

the closed casket funeral

for her baby.


Sometimes, it’s the guilt that saves my life.


One night,

They found my body on 

the asphalt 14 floors below

an open window of a Hyatt hotel.

When the front desk called and told Her where they found me,

She jumped too.


Sometimes, it’s the guilt that saves my life.


Am I able to look over?

I don’t think I should.


To the meek and broken

made to feel less than

by spiteful strangers

and distant lovers,

you are beautiful.


Hear this when you

begin to forget what

I have already



Those who make you feel less than

are those who really are less than.

Ones who can only gaze,

from afar,

at your majesty.


A majesty so humble

it exists like flora and fauna:

oblivious to its true splendor.


Nature scorns the ungrateful,

the blind and the forgetful.


It rages with drowning typhoons

and destructive waves like

atom bombs that leave nothing behind.


There is nothing now.


I have forgotten

all of it,

all of me,

all of my majesty.


Nothing is left

but memories of peace and

happiness shared that were

only ever an illusion.


The water is rising.





















Drown me.


I am sorry that things did not work out.

I wish I could say that I did the best

that I could but I think

that would be a lie.


The truth is that I, your dad

(Well, the person who would’ve been your dad),

was not excelling at anything around the time

you not existing became a thing.

I’d worry that reading this might confuse you

but Caleb, you don’t exist.

At least not anymore.

And fact of the matter is,

I’m not entirely sure that’s a bad thing.


Let me back up a little.


Caleb, when a mommy and daddy

love each other very, very much,

they do some stuff and from that stuff,

a baby is born.

That baby would have been you.


The thing is though, Caleb,

when a mommy and daddy only think

they love each other very, very much,

they sometimes fail to realize that

they stopped loving each other

a long time ago.



in that long time ago,

you were born.

You were born as a thought.

One moment you didn’t exist and then

three lines later, you did.


What about Caleb?

I really like Caleb.

Caleb if it’s a boy.


And that was that.

Then, you grew beyond your name.

Conversations became longer

as me and your mother started

putting pieces of you together.


Well, what if he looks

more like you than me?

I think he’ll have your eyes.

I don’t want him to have my nose.

I want him to have your nose.

And your lips, he’ll have your lips.


I’m sorry to say this Caleb,

but the one thing we both agreed on

was that you’d probably have

an abnormally large head.

It’s funny maybe, but it also meant

that you now had a head

and a face to paint on it;


Then memories came.

Memories from the future.

Trips to Disneyland and

silver teeth that were

already giving me nightmares.

I cherish every memory

I’ll never have now.



You were a thought,

then a face,

then a child,

and finally,

you became a story never told

because another story ended.



I’m writing this letter to let you know

that I love you.

But Caleb,

I am also writing this letter

to say goodbye.


In another life,

I was chosen to

take you by the hand

and lead you through

the peaks and valleys but

this is not that life.


Maybe one day

I’ll trip and fall through

a tear in the universe

and see you on the other side.

And if that’s the case,

I’ll apologize for this letter.


But it’s time, Caleb.

I’m saying goodbye even though

I know you are a thought

that can never die,

and I’m also saying goodbye

knowing you’ll always live

somewhere in my subconscious.

But again, it’s time.


Goodbye Caleb;

I love you;

And I am so deeply sorry

that things did not work out.


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