Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Don't Look Down

              for Chip Decker

It’s not a normal situation, so
   It’s normal to feel trapped or victimized.
When there’s just one direction you can go,
   Don’t look down. Don’t. You’ll just get paralyzed.
Don’t scream at God because you didn’t get
   A fair shake or a break that wasn’t tough.
Don’t waste your final moments on regret.
   Don’t look down. Breathe. You’ll get there soon enough.
And when you feel the hands of panic stroke you,
   And when your terror’s all that you can smell—
When tidal waves of smoke roll up to choke you,
   And hot flames lick you raw like hounds from hell—
      Don’t look down to the grave where it all dies.
      Look up—and watch that perfect blue sky rise. 


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Been That, Done There

              for Brett Gentile

I’ve seen too much to ever blame someone
   For going blind to save her sanity.
Sometimes reality is like a gun
   Every last bullet’s an atrocity.
Each one mangles the trust you have in life
   Till you see trap doors everywhere you go,
Assume warm smiles conceal a butcher’s knife,
   And realize we all live on Death Row.
What can you do to live with that but lie,
   Or drown yourself in drink, or run away?
We all endure what we can justify
   And serve the master we choose to obey.
      So how can I blame you for going wrong
      To make it right, when you’re playing my song?


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Monday, January 25, 2016

It Goes Without Saying

                       for Chantey Colet

There are as many kinds of truths as there
   Are tongues to lie about them, and that means
Being objective equals being fair,
   And even science must have in-betweens.
And we, whose job is to report the truth,
   Must answer to a dozen different bosses,
Give equal time to fools and the uncouth,
   And live with how we cut our moral losses.
The truth’s not cold and hard, but how it’s treated.
   It echoes what we need to tell ourselves.
When it becomes offensive, it’s deleted,
   Like unsold games removed from toy store shelves,
      Till all that’s left is all that we can buy:
      The cut-rate bargain of the well-meant lie. 


Copyright 2016 by Matthew J Wells


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Death and Remembrance

                The Breanna View

                       for Moriah Thomason 
It starts the moment that I lose someone—
   Memory’s car goes into overdrive,
Racing through all the things he’s said or done
   To find bright moments that keep him alive.
But it’s not how he shined—it’s how he lit me
   That guides my memory to make its choice—
Not what was done or said, but how it hit me.
   The echo’s more important than the voice.
We know the novel by our favorite scene,
   We love the movie for that one great line,
And keep the mem’ry of our loved ones green
   By building, from a photograph, a shrine
      That takes, from their life’s necklace, one bright gem
      That speaks to us more than it speaks of them. 


                   The Paula View

                          for Amanda Becker
We do our best to try to keep the dead
   Alive, so that they’re more than just a name.
At first we have a movie in our head;
   Time whittles down each scene into one frame.
We hear their voices sing and laugh and cuss;
   Time makes us deaf to everything they said.
We smell them on the pillows next to us;
   Time launders all the sheets and makes the bed.
The more we cling to those whom Death has chosen
   To kiss, the harder Time yanks them away,
Until what we remember has been frozen
   Down to one image nothing can betray.
      And when we try to give it life, Time laughs.
      The dead always turn into photographs.

Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells


Tuesday, January 19, 2016


                  for Emily Ramirez

I live like one mistake won’t last forever.
   I give my heart and then resent the taker.
I sail like there’s no anchor I can’t sever.
   When forms ask my profession, I write “faker.”
I chase the ones who do not know I love them.
   I run from every willing heart I see.
My curve balls are so wild, no one can glove them.
   My secret’s smaller than my mystery.
The only game I play is solitaire,
   The only peace I find is when I lose.
It’s not that I’m so calm—I just don’t care—
   And only panic when I have to choose—
      And never fail, in all my fro- and to-ing,
      To find the straightest road to my undoing.


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My End In My Beginning

The tragedy of life is that you never
   Live to see how the end of your own story
Takes ev’ry single path leading wherever
   And builds a highway to failure or glory.
It’s like a play—your life begins, and could
   Go anywhere; but when it ends, a chart
Is drawn that makes, by weighing bad with good,
   The finish a red flag that stains the start.
It’s always easier to classify
   A life that’s ended—it’s a bordered land,
A state whose boundaries will be drawn by
   Hemingway’s shotgun or Custer’s Last Stand—
      Till where you exit is the place you enter,
      And how it ends becomes your life’s dead center. 


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells


Monday, January 11, 2016

Thin White Duke

Time lights a cigarette and lets you bum it,
   And says: “You only get so many puffs.”
You blow a tenor sax till you become it,
   You use guitar picks to unlock Life’s cuffs,
And find new pearls in music’s oyster bed
   And glitter like a living lightning rod
Who always marches seven steps ahead
   Of those who think that last week’s hit is God.
It must be more than death that makes us care;
   So when there’s only five years left to cry in,
You dance through this godawful sad affair
   Until Time plucks you like a dandelion—
      Your final breath a whisper from the bone:
      “Be wonderful. Reach out. You’re not alone.” 


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells


Thursday, January 7, 2016

"Who's The Girl?"

A desert planet, an abandoned child, a cute robot, an experienced mentor, a cantina scene, a rescue that ends in death, a planet blown up, a dogfight with bombing runs—sound familiar? It should. The Force Awakens is like a remix of the original Star Wars (aka A New Hope), with all the Lego pieces of the original rearranged to create something that tries to be a remake and a sequel at the same time. And pretty much succeeds, if you don’t think about it too much, because for all its echoes (and it is indeed an echo chamber that sounds like it’s talking), the one thing it doesn’t feel like is a reboot. It honestly feels like a continuation. 

And the fact that it’s also a remake—the kind of remake that extends down to a fractal level, where every piece of this movie is identical to something else in the original trilogy—adds a mythic level to the story universe in which it takes place, a level that got lost (or was deliberately ignored) in the prequel trilogy.

So—by returning to the original trilogy and treating it like a mythical journey—the creators of The Force Awakens have tapped into what made those three movies so likeable and (yeah, why not) important. They’ve also made this one different enough to stand on its own, by mixing and matching the Luke/Han/Leia triangle into the Rey/Finn/Poe triangle—staging a rescue where the female captive is more than capable of escaping herself, setting up a fighter pilot with Han’s swagger and Luke’s skill, and (the best twist) creating an I-am-not-a-free-man-I-am-a-number stormtrooper who will (of course) find out and become who he truly is in the course of this trilogy. (There’s also the Hunger Games echo, with Finn as Peeta. Because it seems like whenever you have a Strong Female Character, one of the boys winds up being the damsel in distress.) 

The other big improvement is the dialogue. One can speculate about how much this is owed to the involvement of Lawrence Kasdan in the script-writing process; Kasdan (along with Leigh Brackett) wrote The Empire Strikes Back, which was parsecs light years beyond the script of its predecessor. (There’s a great story about the original movie, where Harrison Ford complained about the crappy dialogue by saying: “You can type this shit, George, but you sure can’t say it.”)  

Is it a great movie? I think it’s too early to tell. Is it everything Star Wars fans have wanted? Hells yes. Which is not necessarily a good thing, because if you satisfy your fan base without giving them a little something extra, or pushing them into a place where they feel surprised (and yet comforted) at the same time, then it’s not art, it’s fan fiction, and art always lasts longer. The weird thing about this universe is that the prequel trilogy, even though it was made by the universe’s creator, feels more and more like bad fan fiction as the years go by. 

This film doesn’t feel that way. Yet. Despite the fact that it’s a total dish of leftovers, and deeply and deliberately unoriginal, it feels fresh, it feels right, and—because it celebrates and loves everything that made the original trilogy work—it feels honorable. 

Even though it also feels like somebody at Disney is whispering “May the box office be with you.” 

Spoilers and stray thoughts: 

Ben dies in the original; Han dies in this one. Yoda trains Luke in the old second one; Luke is now Yoda, so he will train Rey in the new second one.  

If it’s a Republic, then what is the Resistance resisting?  Trade agreements from the prequel trilogy? 

Admit it—you secretly wish Adam Driver could play Annakin Skywalker in a remake of Revenge Of The Sith

"Trash compacter."

And seriously—there was so much fan service in this film that I totally expected Han to say: “I ALWAYS shoot first.” 

It sure is a shame when planets full of billions of people are blown up. Especially when they’re the heart of the Republic.  Oh well. 

Speaking of which. If you’re going to suck all the energy out of a sun, and you’re, say, about as far from it as Earth is from our sun, doesn’t that mean the moment you see the sun go out, you’ve had that energy for eight minutes? Because that’s how long it takes the sun’s light to reach you, right? Which means, not, “Oh no—we only have seconds to save the day!” but this:

I thought the direction failed at two crucial moments: Han’s death, and the final reveal of Luke. Rey barely knows Han, but all the attention was on her when he got skewered. That didn’t do it for me; it was too much of an echo of the original film, and it didn’t feel as earned as Ben’s death, which was a sacrifice. What I wanted to see was the growing awareness and helplessness in the one character who’s known Han pretty much all his life—I wanted to see a series of slow close-in shots of Chewy as it all goes down. That would have broken my heart. And that flyaway helicopter shot at the end totally took me out of the moment. I thought it was unnecessary, and a let-down. All you really needed at that moment was to hold on Rey and Luke, and then wipe or iris-out to the credits. 
Speaking of Han’s death. I really liked the silent reaction of Leia, but I have to confess that it made me anticipate a reaction from Luke. “This is it,” I thought to myself, “this is where we first see Luke—reacting to his friend’s death because he, too, felt it in The Force.” Wouldn't that have been cool?  We wouldn’t even need to see his face.  Just a hooded man in gray, walking on a cliff.  Then stopping. Looking up into the sky. And slowly lowering his head while his shoulders slump with grief.
So who the hell is Rey anyway?  Is she Luke’s kid with one of the trainees that Kylo Ren killed? (And was that trainee Mara Jade? Talk about fan service!) Is she Ben Solo's twin sister? Is she Palpatine’s kid? (That would be interesting, right? If chronologically impossible. She appears to be about Kylo Ren's age, which is more grist for the twin mill.) Or maybe somebody's clone? (Which would tie in the Clone Wars.) 

Whatever her history, Han knows exactly who she is. You see it in his face when she tells him her name.  “Who’s the girl?” asks Maz Kanata in the new cantina, and the movie cuts away before Han’s answer. I’m calling it here—we get a flashback to Harrison Ford revealing who Rey is in the next movie.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Report Card

Holy crap, that's a lot of Guinness!


Movies           74
Theatre          60 (counting Wolf Hall as 2 plays)
Play Seen The Most: Hedwig & The Angry Inch (4)
Readings (attended)           25
Music          22
Dance           6
Lectures       1
Art/Gallery/Museums          9
Photo Exhibitions           7
Book Award Ceremonies          1
War Correspondent Conversations       3
Hockey Games         1
Comedy Clubs          1
COMIC BOOKS                           153



Autobiography           2   
Biography                   4  
Crime                          2  
Elizabethan                4
Fantasy                     16
Fiction                       19
Film Criticism             6
Graphic Novel           25
Historical Fiction        3
History                        6
Horror                         6 
Humor                         1
Jack The Ripper          2  
Literary Criticism      11
Music                           2 
Mystery                       9 
New York                    3 
Non-Fiction               11 
Occult                          1 
Philosophy                  2
Play                           37 
Poetry                       19
Politics                        5
Sci-Fi                         14
Screenplay                  6
Shakespeare               7
Teleplay                      3
Theatre                       8
Western                      6
Writing                       4


Favorite Reads 

          The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files 6) – Charles Stross
          The Gospel of Loki – Joanne M Harris
          The Power of the Dog – Don Winslow
          The Cartel – Don Winslow
          Trouble in Paradise - Slavoj Žižek
 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can't Cross the Border – Juan Felipe Herrera
 War Music – Christopher Logue 

DVD's Watched       46


CDs                                       12
MP3 Albums (non-Techno)   8
MP3 Albums (Techno)         15
MP3 Albums (Xmas)            14  


          Music              4
          Film              15
          Poetry          17
          Theatre          8
          Literary        10 

Poetry Readings Given (headliner)                0
Poetry Readings Given (open mike)               

Plays I Wrote That Got Performed                 1
Plays I Wrote That Got A Reading                  2

Theatre Conferences Attended            1 (and it was fabulous!) 

Books Written                

Plays written: full-length          3
Plays written: 10 Minute           6
Plays written: one-act               0  

Stories written:         2 

Poems Written: Sonnets       225
Poems Written: Other               8
Poems Written That Still Need Work      13
In-Progress/Unfinished/Ideas      129 

Submissions          45
Acceptances            4
Rejections: received from 2014 Submissions     9
Rejections: received from 2015 Submissions     6
Responses Pending          39 


Guinness          126
Sam Adams Summer Ale    26
Budweiser              23
Bengali Tiger 18
Blue Moon           8
Brooklyn Lager         8
Sam Adams Winter Ale          7
Sam Adams Tap   7
Sam Adams Oktoberfest      6
Murphy's Stout          5
Nitro Stout             5
Abita Amber          4
Bud Lite          4
Miller Lite          4
Oatmeal Stout          4
Victoria Cerveza          4
Pilsner Urquel          3
Porter          3
Stella Artois          3
Tecate          3
West End Brew              3
Brooklyn Brown           2
Dos Equis            2
Goose Island IPA     2
Greenport Harbor Ale          2
Hexagon Black     2
McGee's Ale    2
Model Especial          2
PBR     2
Peak IPA          2
Sam Adams Cherry Wheat          2
Viceroy Irish Stout          2
Victory Donnybrook Irish Stout          2
Yngling          2
Amstel          1
Captain Lawrence IPA   1
Coors          1
Founders Porter          1
Goose Island IPA          1
Harpoon          1
Jonas Bronck Chocolate Egg Cream Stout          1
Mother's Milk Stout          1
Sahai          1
Trench IPA     1
Tsing Tao          1



Pinot Noir Glasses          33
Patron Shots          21
Jameson Shots    19
Lucy's Behind-The-Bar Polish Vodka Shots          11
Cabernet Sauvignon glasses          10
Champagne                 10
Rosé glasses          10
Malbec glasses     10
Sake bottles          7
Vodka Tonic          6
Frozen Margarita          5
Strawberry Margarita     5
Pinot Noir Bottles          4
Sangria glasses          4
Strawberry Jello Shots            4
Captain Morgan and Coke     3
Chardonnay Glasses          3
Hemingway Daiquiri          3
Oban glasses      3
Rolls Royce          3
Talisker glasses      3
Corner Creek Bourbon          2
Hibiscus Margarita          2
Irish Coffee          2
Jello Shots          2
Margarita (no salt)          2
McGee's Ale    2
Chilled vodka shots      2
Vodka Cranberry          2
Vodka Soda           2
Bloody Mary 1
Fireball shot  1
Gin Sidecar          1
Gin Smash          1
Mojito          1
Powers shots          1
Spanish Coffee          1
Valpolicello bottle    1
Sangiovese Toscana bottles          0.5
Shiraz bottle          0.5 


Cannabis Sativa:   5


Bowling       0 (I know; sad, huh?)
Neurotic Attractions    0 (I know; I'm as surprised as you are)

Pre-Teen Birthday Parties      1 
Adult Birthday Parties            3

Resolutions Made:     3
Resolutions Kept:     

All-Nighters              4
Days Lost After All-Nighters       4

Working Days of Drinking (8 hours plus)           7 
Hangovers     3 

Weddings            1
Divorces              1 (pending)
Regrets                I've had a few

Nights On The Town With A Fetish Model      2 (counting Mother's Day) 

Nights On The Town With My Australian Soul Mate And/Or Her Parents   6

Close Friends Who Up And Moved To LA, I Mean Really, WTF      2

Monday, January 4, 2016

Our Love

My love’s a pen that won’t run out of ink.
   Your love’s a page that words can never fill.
My love’s a swaying bridge across the brink.
   Your love’s a car that always drives uphill.
My love is all the stories that I’ve told you.
   Your love is all the secrets you don’t say.
My love’s a hand that reaches out to hold you.
   Your love’s a pair of eyes that look away.
My love is like a mountain with no summit.
   Your love is like a sea without a shore.
Our love is like an endless hopeless plummet
   Down to an empty room without a door
      Where Love’s a horse that tramples us forever
      And only answers to the name of Never.


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

Make peace with changes that I can’t control.
   Don’t take old ways for granted; plant new seeds.
Don’t look for love or lust to make me whole.
   Water the flowers and pluck out the weeds.
The virtual wins when I think it’s real—
   Less phone/device time and more face-to-face.
Thinking is armor—strip it off and feel;
   And when it’s pain I feel, meet it with grace.
Don’t lecture so much—look, listen and learn.
   Lose without bitterness; love without fear.
Give without expectation of return.
   Laugh till the world laughs. Be the buccaneer.
      And when dark clouds fill my soul with foul weather,
      Remember that we’re all in this together.


Copyright 2016 Matthew J Wells