Author Archives: theonlyjoe

About theonlyjoe

I am Joe. This is a collection of my ramblings, poems, stories, afflictions, victories, and the picture of my mind. Make yourselves at home.

The 13th Floor

There is something alluring about putting yourself in a place where you might be noticed, but staying so still that you slip past the idle glances of those passing by.

It’s grey and cool for a summer night. It’s almost stormy, lightning flickers harmlessly in the distance. The ground is hard from weeks of drought. I’m sitting by the highway. Out in the open, but no one bothers to notice me here.

Behind me is a dismal rectangular building, maybe 12 stories high. It has a parking lot that is big enough to invite the notion that people should inhabit it, or at least visit it occasionally. I’ve never seen a soul there. It’s brick for about 5 stories, then the rest is big ugly slabs of limestone. It looks like the architect ran out of stuff to stack in a big pile.

There’s a little ladder that creeps up 3 stories, so I climbed it. There was no way in so I climbed back down, found a cinder block, and knocked out a window.

Its hard to tell what it was meant to be. It is difficult for me to imagine that it had no destiny to begin with. It’s obvious someone built it. And people that create purposeless things don’t build buildings, they write blogs. There is a lot of open space. There are walls too, but no doors. Its pitch dark, but I don’t bother to try to light my way. I just walk forward. I bump into a few walls but it doesn’t slow me much. I happen upon the stairs.

They are complete. In a world of low ceilings in the DMV and canned beans, this is the stairway straight to heaven. I begin going up. There is a handrail, but I don’t bother to touch it. I’m moving very slowly, listening to this grim tower. It doesn’t have much to say.

Ive counted 11 floors. I might have been in here for half of a lifetime. My foot seeks another step but finds nothing, and I stumble, nearly falling. The 12th floor. No one is there to see it, its funny and I could almost laugh. It reminds me of a song.

The few that remained
Were never found

All in a system of down
Down, down, down

I’m just standing around now. I wander towards a window, and from the corner of my eye I cath a glint. A ladder leading to a hatch. I climb up. There’s a padlock securing the door, and my heart nearly sinks. But… It’s unlocked.

It’s pretty high. I move to the edge of the roof and look down. The wind which was gentle on the ground is now iritated. It pushes past me in it’s self centered way. I’m looking out across the little town. It is almost beautiful. A few lights twinkle below. I have to remind myself that they are just flickering streetlights, bulbs near the end of their lives. It’s still grey and almost stormy. I listen to the Grim Tower.

Still nothing. I’m bored now. Even the wind has moved along without noticing me. But in it’s silence, the Tower reveals it’s destiny to me.

I step off the ledge.


There was something unnerving about the way he stood there.


He was calm and quiet; a relentless specter, bashing my forehead again,  and again.


How could someone who was so violent be so silent? How could someone so desperate be so compliant?


I spoke and he listened. Without so much as a tilted head, he accepted my decree, and slipped away.


Why did I expect more? Why did I desire more? Why did I need more?




I had never loved before. I would not again.


I had never deserted myself. I would not return.


I had never surrendered. I had whispered foolish things in her ear. Wisps of eternity, lies that I had thought to be true.


She spoke and I listened. Without so much has a tilted head, I accepted her decree, and I slipped away.


Why did I surrender? Why did I retreat? Why did I need more?


His foot taps against the piano.
I hear it, on this old record. I don’t miss a thing.
It’s a cold day today, snow is pushing its way through
My state, and its put me in a grey state.
A grey blue state, I feel blue and I do not know
What to do.
The words wind through my head, and I listen to him play
That old record runs on
The ivory keys, each touched gently.
He thinks so quick.
He thought so much.
So much harmony, so much nobody got.
But I think I get it,
Thelonious had the old blues,
The ones I got too,
He put them on the keys,
Each finger striking a tone and
Bringing new melody and harmony
To life.
Part of me envies him. Even in death.
Part of me pities him.
I hear that sad old song of winter skies so grey,
Marching out on the keys.
Its sad to think so much and speak so little,
Too love so few so much,
And then to lose.
It’s sad to have a beauty you never can share.
Empty chairs mark roads of despair,
Love ones lost were once found there
Eyes once saw that fell into disrepair.
Lost them all, one by one, lost summer skies and sun,
And the grey came, and the blues too, and the beauty no one could view.
Well I’m a monk, just like him,
Alone where the room is dim.
I have four feet of brass and no where to shine
And all the time in a world that’s mine.
I’ll be a monk.
I’ll settle down
Into the dirt and dust,
I’ll bleed and rust
And curse the old sun who never comes,
And wish I wasn’t so blue,
But know that I need it too.


One of my plans was put into effect today. A battle plan that is. That’s what I do. My job. I work for the military.

On TV, on the news, you always see all those guys running around, tanks going here and there, aircraft swooping to and fro. They never tell you really, but those things don’t happen on their own. Every piece on the board, from pawn to king, has a direct designated place he goes and thing he does, everything is scripted. Really all you see out there is a theater production on some grandiose scale. The tricky part is scripting the guys on the other side.

The show must go on, they always say. And yeah, it always does go on. At some cost though. The show works a little different out there. It isn’t just for fun, or for a review, for ticket sales. It isn’t just to entertain an audience or inspire a thought or aspiration. It is about lives. If you respond the wrong way, if you get “stage fright”, if you miss a line and have to improvise, it doesn’t just mean you’ll be in the paper the next morning, mentioned in a poor review. You’ll be in the military obituary instead. They will say you were “struck down in your prime by a foreign menace”, They will say you died “bravely in combat” or “in service of your country”, but that’s a sugar coat. That is an easy answer, that is the easy take miracle pill. It isn’t the truth. The truth is that your son, your daughter, died because of me. I killed them. Their script told them to go to Point A. They went to Point A. But Point A was under artillery fire. Or there was a tank at point a that was pointing at them. Or a pilot missed his mark on a bombing run, and Point A is nothing more than a crater. People make mistakes, right? Life is all about learning from our mistakes, isn’t that it? Continue reading


We slowly crawl
Onto the field.
Nervousness tracing
Every foggy breath.
Our eyes are shadowed
By the night
We stand and wait,
For the coming fight.

Our focus is singular,
It is everlasting and ever present,
It does not waver to the crowd,
Calling voices,
Friends and foes,
Princes, beggars, saints, and villains
Are all the same before us now.
Our focus is eternal,
Immortal like the artificial green
Beneath our matching black soles.

We wait for the call,
For the word,
We are restless,
We are anxious,
Yet not a muscle moves among all of us.
We are patient.
Our eyes are glued to those who await
The coming fight.

Sound is muffled,
Cold irrelevant fact
Pushed aside,
For our time
Is coming now.
She is there, before our eyes,
Across the field she glides.
She floats to her throne,
Upon it she stands,
Her hands at her sides.
We wait for them to rise.
We anticipate the word.
We dread it,
Yet it is all we want.
Our damnation and salvation in one.
Our hearts pound,
Our lungs expanded, lips wetted,
We remain statuesque.
We await the word.
And then.

Detail, ten-hut.

And then we are One,
We are together,
The lines are drawn and weapons raised,
The audience cheers and our fears are razed.
We earn our glory, and make our name
We show the world how we play our game
On our battlefield
As One we fight,
We march as One this Friday night.


She is across from me, seated in the terminal of an airport, waiting for nothing.

Her eyes are fixed on me. A screen far over their heads illuminates her mouth, her eyes.

They are cold and insterile, swimming with decaying life and forgotten love.

“You did this. You did this to me.” I hear her voice over all other noise. The airport is silent, it it still. Only those eyes move, only those eyes speak.

“You did this to me. It is your fault. It is your fault.” her voice speaks in the same solid tone, an even tone that gives so little, and hints at so much.

I  try to speak but I cannot, my mouth is glued shut by guilt and blame, by hurt and words that have fermented in my guts for too long. I do not speak.

“Your fault. You did this to me.” The twisting scars appear on screen. I feel them on my own arms, I feel them grasping my insides. I try to look away, but I cannot.

Red glistening scars, that are forever long and wide on a pale canvas of flesh. The pain is almost unbearable. Physically, it burns and stings and screams, eating at my flesh, at my own body as I feel what she has endured.

And I feel it biting at my heart, and it hurts in a way that is far worse than on the outside.

I feel my insides quaking and my eyes stinging as cold tears splatter my face. Her words shake me, they take me by the throat, they pummel me endlessly. The scars wind on forever, peeling off of the display and into reality, tentacles of bloody red raw flesh reaching for me, green hints of infection vandalizing the perfect red around the edges. Her arms are gripping me now, her eyes are strangling me, her lips are peeled wide revealing the razor sharp tongue that has cut me for so long.

“You did this to me! You did this to me! This is your fault! Your fault!”

The scars hold me in submission, the words blot out the light, her stare cuts through the prison of my mind. My fortifications fall like flimsy paper walls as her hell consumes me, setting me alight, putting fire to my spirit and broken wholeness.

I cannot move, I cannot breathe, I am emolated for her vengeance, I am a victim of her wrath, I am at the unbearable mercy of her unforgiving eyes and the shining blade of her words.

I cannot bear the pain, and yet I do. For the longest time I do. And then suddenly, I am released.

The terminal disappears, the chairs sink away into the floor, the floor becomes the earth, and the earth is swallowed into nothingness.

The sky above me and below me becomes no more, the atmosphere dissolves, the stars blink away, the sun hides his face and the moon fades away as her mate turns from her.

I am left alone in a dark place that speaks of no comfort, of no torture, no pain or joy. It is a place that only knows of nothingness, and I sink into that world of nothing.

Very far away, I hear her whisper. As my body melts away into the void, as I join the expansive entity of emptiness, I can still hear her voice. It calls me back to the living world, it calls me back to torture and death.

But death is no more. Life is no more. Pain, fear, regret, love, hate, and longing are no more.

I bond with emptinesss, and I disappear.

Laurum Hills, Part 4: The Unwalking Old Man

(previous chapter can be found here:

“Hello most decrepit and foreboding gentleman of small stature and startling, crippled appearance,” little Giuseppe Gustavio Jr. cried with glee upon gazing at the wheelchair-ridden stranger behind the heavy oaken door, “Please do wheel yourself in, we would be most grateful to make acquaintance with someone so advanced in age and misfortune as you. You look ill sir, and perhaps a tag angry, would you like me to fetch you some water, or perhaps a bottle of peppermint schnapps? We aren’t quite sure what it is, seeing as we are nothing more than a ragtag conglomerate of less than well-fed, bathed, civil, or even remotely endearing orphans. But we do have an excess of this schnapps stuff if you happened to…”

And at that very moment, the wheelchair-ed mister scooted his way into the orphanage. Silence fell upon the impoverished entourage, as the highly vocative Giuseppe Jr. fell to the floor in a fit of deranged sputterings and spasms in a manner most similar to his older namesake. The unwalking old man, or Unwalking Old Man as he will soon be called, or the Old Man for short, or The Old Man if you are fond of capitalization, slowly crept forward, eyeing the blue onions. The multitude of orphans made not a peep.

After the lengthy persistence of an agonizing silence, apart from the raspy whisp of a breath that barely extended past the lips of the Old Man, and the muffled sobs of a now-seizing Giuseppe, The Old Man spoke.

“Your dwelling place is most quaint, most quaint indeed. However. You must leave. At once. You must come with me, it is time.” 

The words seemed to float from the Unwalking Old Man’s mouth, they were soft, but empty like a less-than-perfectly inflated air mattress. The words seemed to drift throughout the interior of the orphanage, grazing the walls in slow motion. The air gently hummed as the words touched it, or rather, it shuddered. His voice was one of great authority, but more like the authority of a possessing spirit. The way he spoke demanded cooperation, it demanded action, but it crept along your insides like the slender arms of a wraith, chilling and consuming. His voice was that of the cold, and the orphans reacted as such.

“Bring what you can carry, and we will depart at once…” The Old Man remained frozen in place, waiting for the children to respond. There was a slight shift of the crowd, yet the children did not know quite how to respond. They looked to one another, as their minds were slowly enfeebled by the grasping tendrils of a very scary adult’s command. And just as they had almost made up their minds to go gather their less than humble belongings, a tenor ranged male voice piped up, and a boy stepped forward.

“Gee sir,” John Rillos said, “Not that we disrespect your sudden authority in our lives or anything, but isn’t it a bit strange that we should bend to your rule uncompromisingly? I mean, we have done quite well without adult influence in our lives.” He gestured to the rotting walls with blue onions nailed about, the collapsing ceiling, the shallow pools of tears collected in the corners, and little Giuseppe Gustavio Jr. exquisitely convulsing next to his wheelchair. “We have really done well for ourselves. You can’t just expect us to follow your bizarre and unexpected leadership on a whim? How can we trust you, most gracious and aging mister of less than stellar physicality?”

“Perhaps I should show you a magic trick.” The Old Gentleman said, and at the tip of a hat, he tipped his hat, which was previously unmentioned.

A vortex pounced from the darkened underside of his top hat, and consumed little mister Rillos in a flurry of furry white, twisting doom. The child’s scream was only audible for a moment, as it was instantly drowned out by the high-pitched squealing of the twisting doom tornado. John, the child of moderate height and width, was lifted into the air, and crushed as easily as a grape, and the vortex swallowed him up into the depths of the Old Man’s now mentioned magical hat. Then, as suddenly as it appeared, the vortex receded. He jovially popped the cap back on his head, gave it a good spin, lifted it back off. With a cartoonish and endearing pop, a tiny head that mildly resembled John, but not quite, popped out and rolled across the floor, followed by the distinct scent of bacon grease and some currently undubbed hot beverage. All of the children applauded, with the exception of John Rillos, who was now quite dead.

“Now pack your things at once children, and we will be off.” The Old Man hoarsely whispered in italics.

The children all obeyed without hesitance, even little Giuseppe Gustavio Jr., who had just slipped the little head of the person who was not quite John into his little pocket. Soon, they would be off.

%d bloggers like this: