There is Something to Be Said for All This Heat Coming Off My Bones

by Serge Bielanko

I drank a couple beers last night and that never gets me anywhere. I've past the point of a couple beers mostly. Nothing comes of it on my end. Anymore lately I drink one beer. I told my brother the other day that I've started to look at the whole thing like a cigar.

"I drink one beer, same as you might smoke one cigar. You don't smoke two cigars in a row. That's stupid."

He didn't say anything. A lot of times when I'm talking so much jive to him, trying to find my own rhythm in this world by bouncing random shit off his head, my brother doesn't respond. It's a beautiful thing too. Most people want to come back at you with their own incessant crap. People love to respond to things that you say by heaving their own stuff back at you. It gets so old so quick. I love the idea of the art of conversation, but I have to finally admit here at this point in my life that when it comes to the real thing, I just shove my head in the oven.

There are parts of me that think I might be done with talking all together. It'd be nice if I just shut up and I know it. It's exhausting to speak. Everything I say comes back to haunt me when I fall asleep at night. What the hell was I even saying to so-and-so? What were we trying to say to each other? All I remember of any of it is just blabbering on and on.

I know so-and-so would have shot me in the eye if they had seen a pistol just laying there on the table or whatever. I can't blame them either.

I probably would have put one in their neck if I'd seen the gun first.

My brother doesn't talk as much as me and I'm thankful for that. I tell him my whole beer idea, with the cigar thing thrown in and right away I can tell by the way he is dumping the coffee out of the can and into the top of the maker that he isn't paying me much attention.

It's a relief, to be honest. It feels good to talk to someone like him, someone who loves me and doesn't listen to me until he absolutely knows that it's probably the right thing to do, which is only ever like maybe 20 per cent of the time at best. The rest of the time I'm just making noise. The rest of the time I'm sixty central air units humming away back behind some skanky apartment complex somewhere.

I got home from the bar last night after my four beers and sat down at the kitchen island and got out the acoustic. It made me laugh even as I was doing it. Here I am, buzzed, getting out the acoustic. It's all a lark. It's all so comical after a while. I'm a little tipsy. I'm playing the guitar. It feels good because there is nothing going on here.

I played this David Allan Coe song called 'Revenge'. It's a good one. I played it like nine times in a row and pretended I was playing it in a coffee house or something like that. It was a small joint with a real attentive audience made up of pretty women out by themselves to wash away their recent heartache with a little does of whatever anybody hopes to find in a coffee shop at night. It felt electric to me at the time. But looking back now I have to assume that was the beer coursing through my system and nothing else. 

Whatever. I'd never go to a coffee shop at night, myself. I just don't give a rat's ass. But there I was playing in one last night.

I guess it was an open mic sort of deal because I only played the one tune. I don't know that I even played it all that well either. I'm sure I didn't. But I did play it nine times in a row, so I suppose it was a success. You don't get that many encores at an open mic night typically. Not unless you're really blowing the roof off the place. Well, that or it's a tragically slow Sunday evening.

After maybe the fourth version of the song I was feeling a little underwhelmed by the whole experience for some reason so I took out my phone and began to record me singing the song just in case people might want to watch a recording of me singing a song after I'd had a couple. I didn't get it at the time, I guess. I didn't grasp the fact that there was no one in the world who would want to waste three minutes of their time watching me do what I was doing.

But that's the rub, you see. Anymore, I crawl out of certain bar room conversations back into my cave and I forget all about the reality of things. I guess I end up pretending a lot of what is going on. Sometimes I pretend to eat entire meals that I haven't even eaten. Then later on I understand that the sharp hunger bolts shooting across the front of my head are there to remind me that a lot of this isn't pretend at all. And that I need to remember that even if it's a drag.

I recorded a bunch of versions and then I tried to upload one of them to Facebook but I don't where that ended up. More and more, I find that I try and post a video to Facebook and it shoots out into deep outer space, sometimes for a couple of days on end, until I forget about the whole damn thing. Then, boom, a few days later there it is, crashing back down out of nowhere onto my Facebook wall.

It'll probably show up one of these days. I'll delete it with the quickness.

I got hungry and put the guitar away and turned on the frying pan. I made some quesadillas and ate them at them at the coffee table with some olives and a bottle of beer.

I watched the TV. I watched Guy Fieri. A lot of people hate him but I don't care. Fuck them. I like Guy Fieri. I like liking him too.

I just played a song nine times in a row at my kitchen island and I am deeply alone at times and I am absolutely fine with that. I don't need anyone to tell me about Guy Fieri. I don't need anyone to tell me about anything at all. I need everyone out of here right now, is what I need. And I've got that too.

So I'm fine. I'm back to one beer a night, if that. I'm back to skipping the coffee shop gig and heading straight for the Diner. For the Drive-In. For the Dive. I'm writing a lot and I'm watching the rain fall as I water my hanging baskets out on the porch. I'm thinking about things. I'm celebrating the fact that there is so much left for me to figure out.

I am soaring through outer space, my face jammed up against the steamed glass of a runaway iPhone video racing across the stars. I'm singing David Allan Coe to twenty million Martians. I'm falling back to Earth in my own sweet way.

I'm falling back to Earth and I'm making good time.


Father's Day

by Serge Bielanko

Henry hardly ever stops moving while he's awake. He wastes nothing when it comes to muscle and bone. He uses it all, all the time, constantly in motion, until there's nothing left but the temporary paralysis that comes along when a four-year-old boy is entirely spent. Then he goes catatonic, his eyes on the TV/on the Sponge Bob or the Peppa Pig, his body still as a stone laid out there on the couch.

Right now though, the juices are flowing. And it's cracking me up. We're at the fair up the street from my house. It's the first night of the thing and the whole town is here tossing dimes at old coffee cups and ashtrays, throwing money at the fire company for the chance to pick up a plastic duck with a fat dot on the bottom or win a raffle prize like a $10 gift certificate to the small engine repair joint. Henry, though, is all whirled up in the fiddle.

Fiddle music will fuck your head up in all the right ways if you're up for it, you know. And because it's the kind of thing most of us don't hear coming down in real time too often, I think fiddle music, the real stuff, the bluegrassy/hillbilly/hoppin'/turkey-in-the-straw stuff, it has this ability to reach inside of your body, to slither it's gnarly Appalachian hands all up under your skin and wrap it's fingers around your liberty and to uncork that shit for a little while like almost nothing else in the world can do except maybe getting laid or taking that first sip of cold beer after you've just had that first bite of a damn good pizza.

Henry spins around maybe twelve times in a row as soon as the young kid up on stage breaks out his fiddle and starts sawing away. We know the player. And we know his younger brother back there in the drums, too. They're both young and ultra talented and they play music together in a way that most people will never play music together, bound by blood, all tied up in something very very rare that no one else will ever be able to tap into with them.

Tonight, however, Henry could care less. Tonight, as Gus starts in on the fiddle and Huck starts in on the drums, Henry loses his shit and begins to dance the dance of million-year-old mountains. He spins around and claps his hands and makes herky jerky spaz moves with his arms like David Byrne or something. I watch him from the side of the massive outdoor stage where a bunch of local kids have commandeered this far corner as a dance floor.

In a brief moment of clarity, I feel so much love for my son right then that I want to pick him up in the middle of his trip out to some other world and pull him tight to me and sniff his kid hair. I want to breathe my boy in like sausage sandwich smoke and let him fill me up with everything, with all of his existence in this world. I want to kiss my kid like I used to kiss a goddamn bong is what I wanna do. But I don't, of course. He'd freak the hell out if I tried to stop him now. He'd bite me right on my arm and he'd have every right to and I know that. You don't stop someone from fiddle music dancing.

Not unless you want to get punched in the face or kicked in the balls anyway.


Here where I live, June brings along a lot of thunderstorms. Humidity is part of us, part of our world. There are lakes in the sky and they don't wanna be up there. They want to be down here, with all of us, like the unsatisfied dead clawing at the bars on the windows of Heaven.  Tonight the dark clouds had been threatening the parade that kicked things off, but for whatever reason they backed off in the end. The whole firmament could have could have easily popped open and ruined everything. The rain was up there. The lightning was up there. You could feel it breathing down your neck the whole time all these volunteer firefighters and local Republicans were chucking Tootsie Rolls at the rows of kids on either side of the street.

We lucked out, I guess.

The rain retreated and the funnel cake wafted up my nose and people came from miles around to be here, to stand together in a crowd and smile and laugh and spend money they are happy to spend.

I'm easily amazed by so much useless shit. Two crows swooping down out of the sky on any stupid dark November day; the way an old man walks through the post office door I hold open for him and has to turn his entire body my way to see my eyes because his neck doesn't even work anymore from lifting so many tons of hay for the last 800 years; the sounds of kids on a school bus that first week back in September; some woman in the cafe talking to some dude/the way a slice of her hair is laying on her cheekbone/love can be momentary/we have to let go of so many things even in the very moments that they're born.

But all this small town fair business floors me more than anything, I think.

The world can go to hell.

We're having a fair, you know.

We're knee deep in magic over here.

Or we're knee deep in something very friggin' close, I'll tell you that.


"Dude!" I'm yelling in Henry's ear above the music, "Do you want a burger or a hot dog or something?!"

He looks at me, the faint traces of a blue magic marker mustache he'd decorated himself with earlier today now mostly washed away by his own kid sweat.

"DO YOU WANT TO EAT?" I try again.


He screams this at me, like a only major dick would scream at someone offering to buy them a sandwich, but I understand my boy and I know what's up. I've called him out of his trance and drug him off a fiddle soaring across the sky to ask him if he wants to eat a glob of crap. It pisses him off that I would do that. He knows that I can see that a few seconds ago he was doing his clunky Moonwalk across the stage. Why would I try and stop him from doing that? That's the only way he can possibly see this. And I get it. 

I snarl at him and he knows what that means. It's me saying I fucked up. It's me telling him to climb back up there and suck on the fiddle pipe again.

Which he does.


I watch my middle child start back in, trying to find his groove again. He whirls around and kicks out his legs and then he does something pretty awesome. My son walks over to this big farm boy, probably 10/11 and he just reaches out and tries to take the kid's hands in his own.

Oh snap.

Henry wants to dance with a Brutus and he isn't even up for asking him, he's just going for it. The kid yanks his hands back, freaked out by Henry and his fiddle fever.

I laugh out loud.


His loss.

That older boy would have likely been swept up off his feet by my boy. He might have just been swept up into the stars and all. Hell he'd have probably fallen in love with my son in a very pure/green/innocent way, even if only for a few seconds there, if he'd have just gone with it and taken the dance. But it's rare to be able to let yourself go like that. I understand the way these things go down. You hit 6 or 7 and something really good you've been carrying along with you since the day you were born starts getting hammered down by some kind of Earthly jaded sense of shame and fear.

Henry ain't there yet and I'm glad I'm noticing. Henry doesn't give a rat's ass. He dances away from the kid still standing there frozen solid by such a swift flash of life.

I smoke a cigarette, look out at the crowd.

I close my eyes for a second or two.

And I let the sound of this fiddle wash over me like ten trillion acres of midnight ocean swallowing me up forever and ever and ever.




Riot Heart

by Serge Bielanko


There's always a siren, sending you to shipwreck. - Radiohead song


There's no one here now, no kids crying or leaving toys and sippy cups scattered all across the damn floor like buffalo chips out on the prairie.

I look down at the kitchen island and let out a movie sigh. I know I'm letting it out, it'a not even natural. I let it out because I'm the star of my own movie and the sigh is premeditated, dude. It's not a lovely little sigh.

Fuck that.

This is a big fat fake sigh designed to get people to like me and I'm not even gonna lie because I don't eve give a damn: this sigh could potentially get me laid if I get it right. A sigh can get you laid, of course it can. Anything can get you laid if you look half-decent and exude a little confidence and you're not interrupting people all the time and you listen to the shit that people you might want to make-out with are saying to you. It isn't rocket science unless you pretend it is. But you start pretending that it is rocket science and then you're never gonna feel the feeling again, I know that much.

You have to take whatever it is that you might have within your reach, whatever little weapons of mass horniness that you might have picked up along you trail and you need to polish that shit with your best spit. And if you do that, if you feel as if you are coming across with good and clear messages about your desire to be desired, then you can use a sigh or a laugh or the way you thump your ash off of your burning cigarette at the exact moment that this one is looking at you/ and you can feel it in your bones/ and by the time the ash flakes down to the ground never to be seen or heard from again, you could have the whole thing sealed up like some kind of Frank Sinatra wearing a human skin mask, and it's your face, too. 

But whatever. I'm out of it this afternoon. Out of the game.

I sigh my artificial divorced single dad doing the best he can to make ends meet sigh just at the same time that I look down at the island and see those six or seven lightly faded magic marker lines that ain't ever coming out of the wood and I see my son Henry, the Magic Marker criminal, and I can feel a whoosh of hot air coming out behind me and blowing past me and heading out the front door.

That's my game and it's gone now, you see. I fucked it all up. I wasted one of my sighs when there was no one around. Whatever. You have to practice. You don't just blow people's minds with a sigh or whatever without practicing at home. That never happens, trust me.

The island again and I see what looks like a glump of pancake syrup drying up in this humidity (Violet). I see a note to myself that I wrote to myself to remind myself not to forget to pay somebody else some money I owe them.

I see the purple flowers I gave my daughter when she had her little kindergarten graduation last week. The petals are starting to fall off now, nothing's gonna stop that. The whole gang of them will be dead soon and I'll probably wait a day or two too long before I pull 'em out of the stinky water and chuck 'em in the garbage.

I need a smoke. But I want a little coffee to go with it so I figure I'll make that first.

No one can stop me. No one in the world is here right now but me and that little fact makes me smile for a sec. There's what, 87 billion fucking people jammed up on this planet? And there's only one of them standing inside this house at this exact moment in history and that's me. What are the damn odds? We take it for granted, but what are the odds that we're ever standing there alone in house?

I don't know.

Who gives a shit anyway?


Inside of my heart I think there is a city unfolding. It's been happening for years but I can feel them down there now picking up the pace. I have no idea how I know this, but I'm like ninety-percent certain. At night sometimes I put my hand on my side and right where other people have rib bones and cartilage and muscle, where other folks would look like a nice side of beef if you fileted them up nice with a sharp ass knife, I don't think I have much of that left.

My veins have been replaced with streets. It's a long process obviously and it's still going down, but I can feel it happening. My veins/streets. My heart, replaced with City Hall. It must be a beautiful building too, pink dogwoods all freaking out in the spring, office fuckers eating salads and tuna wraps from plastic deli containers under sparkling 12:40pm skies on a magical May day.

Kids ride bikes where my love used to hang out, right there in the shadow of what used to be my main pump.

Homeless dudes piss in the bushes that used to be this tractor trailer of hope I had parked out there at the loading docks to my soul.

Cops walk across my old spine. It's a sidewalk now. It's covered in old gum and dog shit smears and the dirt from a million kicks walking all over it.

I'd pay money to have a day and a night to explore the place, I swear to God. Who wouldn't? You'd have to be a real jackass to know that they're building an honest, upstart city down inside your body and not be curious about seeing it.

I'd ride the subway right through my old piss pipe. That'd be cool. I'd grab a slice or two downtown where I used to kick up a lot of hot jizz, wherever that is. I'm not even sure. I'm being serious. I guess my balls? Whatever. It doesn't matter. I'd hop in a taxi and act like I know where I'm going by talking real quick and with authority like all the other fake city people do.


Sheep pastures and Golden Gate Bridges and skyscrapers and brownstones with sad pathetic secrets smeared all over their guts and leafy streets that lead out into grand boulevards and wine bars and designer boutiques and murder alleys and suicide stains and Vietnamese joints open all night and bands playing everywhere you listen and horses pulling tourists in carriages for money and trains and buses and long-haired young hipster school dudes walking to get an ice cream with their dad's new girlfriend and sirens blowing your fucking head off and straight-shot mid-town winds blowing your fucking head off and hordes of muggers with .38s lowering themselves down off of shadowy West Side Story rooftops just to step out of the darkness and blow your fucking head off, I've got all that going up and going down inside my body where I used to just be manufacturing the standard shit, the same old fluids and dreams and whatever that every other mortal bastard is sloshing around down in there.

"Hand's up, motherfucker! Don't move or I will shoot you in your face THREE TIMES, bitch! Give me everything you got. All of it. Don't hold nothing back from me because that just ain't right, you know."

That's you, by the way. I'm sorry but it is. That's you walking around acting all urbane and cultured and bullshitting yourself after a couple of overpriced microbrews in a local's only place in the cool hood.

You're an idiot, do you know that?

You know it now, don't you? Walking around down where my ribs used to be, trying to find a 'cool bar with bands' at 1 in the morning.

Guess what.


He shot you.

I'm so sorry.

You just got wasted under the gaze of a hundred tired pigeons shitting Purple Rain down where I used to dream of owning my own home and sharing our lives and blah blah blah.

Christ, man.

You are bleeding blackberry water ice syrup from inside your face all over my brand new sidewalks.

None of us saw this coming. But I've got a city inside me now, dude. A living breathing city. And these things are gonna happen. It ain't all art museums and glitzy galas, you know.

This is so whack/I'm really sorry.

Just close your eyes and remember the good times.

Just try and have a little dignity here if that's at all possible, alright?

Jesus. Be cool for once.


I keep imagining that somehow somebody's gonna find a way to replace my all my asshole blues with something grandiose and awesome. I want all my sadness replaced with a hubcap rolling off some Saturday night car movie-screeching 'round some ghetto corner.

Sometimes I feel like I want to die, you know. Don't patronize me. We all feel that way sometimes. If you've never ever felt that way I don't ever even want to meet you. I really don't. I don't even ever wanna walk past you on the sidewalk. We walk through separate galaxies. We're alien enemies and that never leads to anything good.

I'm the kind that has thought dark stuff. Like there can't be a way out of what seems so unforgiving and brutal right now. You close your eyes and you just picture stuff, picture the world without you, you know?

But I don't dare. I can't die. I'm too lazy to die. I'm too cool to die. I like living enough to keep things rolling. Hell, I've got these kids, bills piling up, 4th of July in two weeks. I got this sigh I'm perfecting. I've having my insides replaced with a major metropolitan city, whatever that means. I'm unkillable. I'm underneath every stupid shitty stone sleeping in the big park dirt.

I've got a Riot Heart.

I've got a Riot Heart.

I've got a Riot Heart.

Now move along. There's nothing here to see, people.

Go back to your hotels.

Go back to where you came from.

He's not dead, he's sighing.

It's just a guy sighing, people.

Everything will be okay.

Now go.