cail writing

MINOTAUR 

The curse of a thousand plagues

Death knell to a million men

Cursed by Icarus

Trapped by Daedalus

He walks in black

With the scents of those who have passed on before

Fallen to His sword

and His horns.

Nobody knows

He has seen His future

Through a gypsy glass

His beheading

and the tales of His death

That will last for eras.

History will remember Theseus

As an avenger

But they do not know He had one wish

Death.

Better to die

Than be cursed

With a hunger for man’s flesh.

He drags his sword against the brick

And waits.

PUT YOURSELF IN MY SHOES

   I was trying to walk off a hangover. It was New Years Day and I hadn’t slept well. The sun was white against the sky, showing off the city’s scars from the night before. Any damn fool could do what he wanted last night. 

   I saw a man appear on the horizon.  He shambled forward with a gait that was not desperate or hurried. He was a stout black man, wearing a white jacket and blue jeans that were too big for his frame. I put a hand to my eyes to get a better look and keep out the glare.

   He caught me looking at him. He held my gaze and slowed down as we approached. It was morning and I was tired and I needed a cup of coffee.

   The man spoke.

  

   “How are you, friend?” he said. There was a smile on his face, genial and wolfish in tandem.

   “I’m well, thank you,” I said. “I guess a ‘Happy New Year’ is in order.”

   He took a deep breath of the cold air.

   “Would you be able to,” the man said and grinned and did not finish.

   I laughed. His expression was awkward and amusing. I pulled out a cigarette.

   “My friend, I have just moved here from Haiti,” the man said. “I am a Christian and I am living with my pastor. I have a wife and two daughters and we just had a new baby boy.”

   The man spoke with a strong accent. He certainly sounded Haitian. His smile was strong and he rocked on his feet as he spoke. We could’ve been in his living room.

   “My friend, I am a welder. I have been welding for seventeen years. I have my certificate in my jacket. Let me show you.” He pulled out the tattered piece of paper, as if he sensed my obvious doubt. It had his name on it, stamped in black. TONY, it read.

   “I am starting a job next week,” the man said. “But my pastor is gone this week and I have no money.  My baby is hungry and I need to buy formula.”

   I stood, smoking my cigarette.  The man clasped his hands together like a prayer. I wanted to believe his story. He was childlike, naïve in his need. If only my head didn’t feel like it was stuffed with cotton.

  “Okay,” I said. “Okay. Let’s get your baby some formula.”

  The man brought his hands to his mouth.   He smiled, eyes closed.  He leaned back and threw his hands into the air. “Praise God for you!” he said. “You are a good man.”

   His face was full of joy. I made the right decision, I thought. Helping this man was the first good thing I would do this year. I felt warm.

   “My friend, would you be able to go with me to the grocery store?” he said. “I need a certain kind of formula and we can buy it there.”

   “I’ll go with you,” I said. “We’ll find the baby formula and I‘ll buy it for you.”

   He shook my hand. He had a strong grip. Must be from the welding, I thought. He wore strong cologne with an unpleasant smell. It stung my nostrils. That couldn’t be good around a baby.

   We started across the street.

   In the grocery store, I looked for signs that would tell us where to find the baby formula. I wondered if this man could use other food. Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I thought.

   We found the aisle with the formula.  “Which one do you want?” I asked. I couldn’t really tell the difference. One box had a baby on a blue background, smiling and holding a rattle. Another brand spelled out its name with toy blocks. That’s cute, I thought. That’s really something.

   The man put a finger to his lips. He frowned.

   “I do not see the formula I need,” he said. “I need a certain kind of formula.”

   Why the fuss? It’s all baby formula, I thought. How much difference can there be?

   He looked at me with sad eyes. I sensed what was coming next.

   “Could you give me the money for the formula? I can go buy it myself at another store,” he said. He was still smiling but his eyes were hungry. I felt guilty.

   The formula at the grocery store was fifteen bucks. I asked him “how much is the kind you need?”

  “Do you have twenty dollars? Could I ask you for twenty?”

   I checked my wallet, discreetly. I had forty, but I did not tell him this.

   “Sure. Twenty is fine,” I said. I handed him the money.

   “Thank you, sir,” he said. His eyes were little pools of gratitude.

   We shook hands outside the grocery store. He asked if I had a piece of paper and perhaps a pen. I had both. He took the pen and wrote down his phone number for me.

  “You are welcome in my home anytime,” he said. “You call this number and my wife will make you a fine meal.”

  “Perhaps I will. It was good to meet you,” I said.

  “Watch and see. I will pay back your kindness.”

  The man walked down the street and I waved goodbye. He ran a hand through his kinked hair, as if it held loose change he’d forgotten about, and then he used his hand to wave. I reached into my jacket for another cigarette and brought it to my lips. I could still smell his odious cologne on my hand.

   I needed a cup of coffee.

   Months later, I was having drinks with a friend at his apartment. We were smoking cigarettes in his living room because his landlord never bothered to visit. He said:  “I wrote a song about this guy who came over to my house last Tuesday. I bumped into him on the street and he won me over with his story. He was hungry and so was his family. He had just moved here from Haiti and he didn’t have any food. I invited him over, nice guy, give him all the change I had on me, like $7.50 or something, and I’m pulling all this food out of the cupboards—”

   Hold on, hold on. I stopped him.  I asked if this man said he was a Christian. Did he show you his welding certificate? Was he starting work the next week? Was his name Tony? My friend nodded, puzzled.

   The light donned on us both. We looked at each other, stricken. Damn. We’d been had.

   “I’ve been riding on that good deed for the last three weeks,” my friend said. “I guess this ruins the song, eh?”

  

   As I walked back home, I pulled out my wallet.  I still had Tony’s phone number tucked in with some receipts. I looked at it and wondered if I should call him. What would I say? Would he invite me over for lunch? Did he even have a wife and kids?

   It was a cold walk. The moon hung over the city like a sinner’s prayer.

–Cail Judy

Salt Water In My Bones (London, It's Been Swell)

London has treated me well the last few months. There is something incredibly freeing to have so much time to yourself when you arrive in a new country. You learn to read yourself better than you could back home.

London has given me time to reflect on my life, where I’ve been and what I see coming down the line. It’s been swell but baby, I’m coming home. London has given me what I’ve needed the last few months, but Vancouver is where I want to plant my roots and settle for a good long spell.

My plan? I finish teaching in the next three weeks, then I’m off to explore Europe for a month before my sister’s wedding in New Hampshire at the end of June. After that, I’m either going to drive or hitchhike across America. Eat at roadside diners, explore small towns and slowly make my way back across the USA and up the coast. My goal is to be back mid-July. 

I wanted to let you know because I’m excited. I will explore and travel for the rest of my life. However, my bones are calling me back to the Pacific. Europe is great, but it’s not home. And the best part of Vancouver? The goddamn beautiful people I’m lucky to call my friends. I’ve met a lot of great folks in Europe, but friends, you take the cake.

Vancouver, I’ll see you in July. For now, I need to pay the rest of Europe a visit.

I have a new book getting published this week. Newly minted by Ryan Romero from CLOU, we have a fresh logo, crisp cover and the interior layout is dynamite. 

You are going to want this. 106 pages, brand new stories and poems. Tons of badass Americana ramblings and heartbreak. There’s also a section of macabre, Bradbury-esque narratives in there.

Email me for a copy. They’ll be rolling off the presses later this week. 

FORMULA

This is a story about a guy named Tony. It’s his real name and it has not been changed. Screw that. This is a revised version of “All He Wanted Was Baby Formula”, a story I posted on here last year. 

 

    I was trying to walk off a hangover. I hadn’t slept well, due to an overwhelming amount of whiskey from the night before. The sun was white against the sky, showing off the city’s scars from the night before. Any damn fool could’ve done what he wanted last night. 

     A man appeared on the horizon.  He shambled forward with a gait that was not desperate or hurried. He was a stout black man, wearing a white jacket and blue jeans too big for his frame. I put a hand to my eyes to get a better look at him.

He caught my stare. He held my gaze and slowed down as we approached. It was morning and I was tired and needed coffee.

    The man spoke.

    “How are you, friend?”  He smiled, showing off white teeth like a friendly lion.

    “I’m well, thank you. I guess a ‘Happy New Year’ is in order.”

    He took a deep breath of the cold air.

    “Would you be able to,” the man said and grinned and did not finish.  He was so damn sincere. I pulled out a cigarette.

    “My friend, I have just moved here from Haiti.  I am a Christian and I am living with my pastor. I have a wife and two daughters and we just had a new baby boy.”

    The man spoke with a strong accent. He certainly sounded Haitian. His smile was strong and he rocked on his feet as he spoke. We could’ve been sitting in his living room, having coffee.

    “My friend, I am a welder. I have been welding for seventeen years. I have a certificate in my jacket. Let me show you.” He pulled out the tattered piece of paper. It had his name on it, stamped in black. TONY.

    “I am starting a job next week,” the man said. “But my pastor is gone for a few days and I have no money.  My baby is hungry and I need to buy formula.”

    I stood, smoking my cigarette. I wanted to believe him.  The man clasped his hands together like a prayer.

    “Okay,” I said, after a long pause. “Okay. Let’s get your baby some formula.”

    The man brought his hands to his mouth.   He smiled, eyes closed.  He leaned back and threw his hands into the air.

    “Praise God for you!” he said. “You are a good man.”  His face was full of joy. 

    “My friend, would you be able to go with me to the grocery store?” he said. “I need a certain kind of formula and we can only buy it there.”

    “Sure, I’ll go with you to the grocery store.” Why the hell not?

    He shook my hand. We had made a pact, he and I. He had a strong grip. Must be from the welding, I thought.

    He wore strong cologne with an unusually pungent smell. It stung my nostrils a bit. That couldn’t be good around a baby.

    In the grocery store, I looked for signs that would direct us to baby formula. Does this guy need anything else? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I thought. One good deed at a time.

    We found the aisle with the formula.  I asked the man which one he wanted. I couldn’t really tell the difference. One box had a bucktoothed baby with a rattle. ALL NATURAL, it read.  Another spelled out its name with toy blocks. That’s cute, I thought. That’s really something.

    The man put a finger to his lips. He frowned.

    “I do not see the formula I need,” he said. “I need a certain kind of formula. It is not here.”

   Why the fuss? It’s all baby formula. How much difference can there be?

   He looked at me with sad, sad eyes. I sensed what was coming next.

   “Could you perhaps loan me the money for the formula? I can go buy it myself at another store.”  He was still smiling but his eyes were desperate, glassy.

    “Well, how much is the kind you need?”

    “Do you have twenty dollars? Could I ask you for twenty, sir?”

    I checked my wallet, discreetly. I had sixty.  I could spare a twenty. Hell, he  already got me to the grocery store.

    “Sure, okay. Twenty is fine.” I placed the money in his open palm.

    “Thank you, sir.” His eyes were two simple stars in a dark sky.

    We shook hands outside. He asked if I had a piece of paper and a pen. I had both. He took the pen and wrote down his phone number.  That surprised me. Seems like the real deal, I thought.

    “You are welcome in my home anytime,” he said. “You call this number and my wife will make you a fine meal.”

    “Perhaps I will. It was good to meet you.”

    “Watch and see. I will pay back your kindness.”

    I waved goodbye as the man walked away. He ran a hand through his kinked hair, as if it held loose change he’d forgotten about, and then he waved. I reached into my jacket for another cigarette and brought it to my lips. I could still smell that goddamn cologne.

    Months later, I was having a couple whiskey sours with a friend at his apartment. We were smoking cigarettes in his living room.  His landlord didn’t care. He reached over the couch and grabbed his guitar. 

    “I wrote a song about this guy who came over to my house last Tuesday. I bumped into him on the street and he won me over with his story. He was hungry and so was his family. He had just moved here from Haiti, all outta food. I invited him over, nice guy, give him all the change I had, like $7.50 or something, and I’m pulling all this food out of the cupboards—”

    I stopped him.  Did he show you a welding certificate? Was his pastor away? Was he about to start working? Was his name TONY?

    My friend nodded, puzzled.

    I shook my head. Goddamn. Just goddamn it all.

    I pulled out my wallet.  I still had Tony’s phone number tucked in there. I looked it over and wondered if I should call him.

    I threw away the paper and asked for another whiskey.

Best Albums of 2010

In no particular order, here are my top albums for 2010.  It was a great year for music and a lot of bands who I wouldn’t have considered for this list at the beginning of the year really won me over, namely Girls and Caribou. I highly recommend checking out every album on this list if you’re not a fan already.

Grinderman  - Grinderman 2

Raw, powerful and disturbing, Grinderman pulled out all the stops with their second album.  Nick Cave and co. are true architects of the damned. Recommended for walks in the rain.

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No Age - Everything In Between

I’ve been a fan of No Age since I saw them perform a couple years ago at the Sub Pop 25th Anniversary festival. This album is a Molotov cocktail of punk, electronica and shoegaze.

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Beach House - Teen Dream

This is the album you can make-out with your girlfriend to, enjoy on a sunny day or when you’re angry at the world.  Polysporin for the soul.

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The National - High Violet

In a year that had many highs and lows, this album came out at a key time for me and summed up my emotional state at the time.  It’s been a great year for the National.  Click on the link above to see Mason walking down Main St to the tune of “Terrible Love”. Simple, yet epic.  Just like the National.

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The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that my top ranking album for 2010 is American Slang. Not only do I consider this album to be a step forward for TGA musically and lyrically, but this has been my soundtrack for the past year.  I have listened to this album dozens upon dozens of times. The songwriting is stronger and more uniquely their own and the songs are tight. I’m inspired and encouraged by this band every day.

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The Tallest Man on Earth - The Wild Hunt


I truly became a fan of Tallest Man after hearing his cover of “Graceland”. This album is a folk masterpiece and hints at the direction Kristian Matsson will go in his later work.  Amazing that a Swed could pen an album that feels so uniquely American.

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Caribou - Swim

I didn’t think I was going to like this album as much as I did.  “Odessa” drew me in every time and I couldn’t stop listening.

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Girls - Broken Dreams Club

This album has been a recent addition to my playlist and it has made me a true fan of Girls. Friends have been singing their praises for the last year, but it wasn’t until I heard this soft and tender ep that I was drawn in for real.

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Bruce Springsteen - The Promise

The boss released an album of b-sides from the Darkness sessions. Proof there is a God. Highlight tracks: “Racing In the Street (‘78)”, “Ain’t Good Enough For You”, “Spanish Eyes”.

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Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart

East Van rockers raise the stakes and record their best album yet. It snarls, smiles and dials into that part of your soul that loves to rock the fuck out. Great for walking around Main Street and feeling tough, even if you’re wearing skinny jeans.

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*Pink Mountaintops - Outside Love (2009)

This album came out last year, but I’ve listened to it so much I feel it needs to be mentioned on this list.  From the hive mind that brought you Black Mountain, Stephen McBean and Amber Webber crafted an album that lives in harmony between passion and melancholy.  

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