I Am Santo

Fiction, poetry, music and mindscape pictures by creative artist Jason Santo

Kicking the tires

So begins three months of nothing but what I want to do. I’ve worked diligently for well over thirty years, and now – finally – some time off to concentrate on things I want to do. It’s an incredible feeling that I’ve been writing about or describing in conversation to people every day since I was awarded this sabbatical.

What happened? I wouldn’t say I “broke down,” but I would offer that I’d had enough of the status quo and living, it seemed, for everyone other than myself. We get one life, and I was spending mine worrying about making everyone happy while giving my own happiness and well-being little mind.

We were in Spain, I was on a day off and yet I was on my phone – always the damn phone – and arguing with a co-worker about the approach to something technical which I took way too damn seriously. That’s me, though, taking everything as serious as a car accident. But this time, it wasn’t a car accident, to me whatever it was we were in dispute over was a train wreck of epic proportions. A train hit by a plane that somehow fell into a football stadium. I just was so worked-up. And why?

The truth is, I was – and am – burnt out. I’ve spent the last ten years at the same workplace diligently pushing whatever I could across the finish line, putting productivity ahead of most everything including the birth of my second child. That’s not my employer’s fault. That’s my fault for not knowing when to say when.

The cup runneth over. I’ve taken on so much for a role that I hoped would expand in scope and title – my great play for getting to a pole position in the rat race. And for the last three years, it went unchecked. So I crashed and now I’ve been allowed to reevaluate, rethink, and decompress. Pole position is likely lost, but I’ll accept that. I’m not sure I’m corporate success material; perhaps the cut of my jib is just not right for the suit-and-tie brigade. But I am a good employee who works damn hard and solves the problems without a Hell of a lot of overhead. And I’m fine with doing it at my current place of work for another ten years, providing I can find a balance in my day-to-day life.

Part of that balance is making time for writing. And the first thing I did was start cracking the journbal (my affectionate name for my daily reflections that resulted from a typo some thirty years ago) so I could clear my mind. Next was getting this site’s damn SSL situation taken care of. Unsure of why I took the approach I did with my personal website, but I find it hilarious that I’m responsible for at work was languishing in my personal life. The landscaper’s lawn is always the worst in the neighborhood and all that.

Now it’s on to writing, specifically copy-editing and compilation of poems and short stories. I put the number of books I have sitting around here at five. Can I put all five together by the end of my time off in early December? Doubtful. But maybe I can get one or two of them done, and oh what a relief that’ll be.

Because while I may be a web professional with mad organizational skills and a knack for becoming proficient in most anything I touch, I’m first and foremost a storyteller. And that identity needs proof now. What is a writer that doesn’t write? What is a writer that hasn’t anything for anyone to read? Not much of a writer at all, in my estimation.

Time to change that.

The Will and the Way

My life changed drastically in August. It was for the better – it remains so much for the better – but like all huge changes, it takes time to assimilate all those stray pieces of your existence into a new and durable routine. As a result, I’m still playing life-Jenga and it’s a little frustrating, even as it is awesome.

The upshot is I’m in love. And man, let me tell you, that one was a huge surprise. It’s no mystery to those that know me – or those who have read a lot of my writing – that when I split up with my son’s mother, I went into a hard spin that involved lots of dating and conversation with people who, while incredible in a number of ways, simply were not “right” for me. In a couple cases, I thought maybe love was a possibility, but almost always those were intentional non-starters due to practical factors like distance, marital status, or both. It was self-sabotage because I wasn’t ready. I simply couldn’t be ready.

Then I met the lady who changed my world without even trying. She stepped into my life and she listened to me. She showed me care and thoughtfulness. She showed me her vulnerabilities, admitted her own imperfections and exhibited passion I’d never encountered in person. And she did it all effortlessly. No agenda. No deceit. No rule-bending or fine print. She simply presented herself as who she is, warts and all, and I fell in love despite the grave belief that I simply had no love left inside.

I did. I had a seemingly endless supply. And I continue to find more and more as we embark on new adventures in this life of ours.

It hasn’t been easy. The cracks in this here ticker are fierce. As big as I love, I hurt. Not others, although I’ve certainly been the cause of some terrible pain which plagues me with guilt, but more so my own hurt. Love and hurt have been in equal measure within this internal matrix, a yin and yang of delight and solemnity that I’ve rarely seen in anyone else I’ve met. And I look too. Very few seem to both love and loathe life the way I do.

Maybe that’s part of the reason I write. Maybe that’s part of the reason I struggle even when I’m living a truly enviable life filled with love and incredible, almost astounding good fortune. A concentrated effort to pay more attention to the things for which I am grateful has helped offset my frustrations with the incongruous parts of my current routine, but those frustrations do persist.

And so I must sort it all. The websites, the blogs, the journal, the poetry, short-stories, podcast ideas… all of it needs sorting and time. But most of all they need to be made a priority, by me, and understood as essential to my happiness. Life is full of obligations and it always will be. There’s no way around that. But they cannot, and will not, be allowed to once again overshadow the things I need as much as I need air.

No one is telling me I shouldn’t write. In fact, the woman in my life is demanding I do so. She sees me struggling now and it breaks her heart. I have to honor this fact – this support – through action. Get this routine straightened out. Get this life’s path paved. Walk hand-in-hand with the idea that my creativity is as important as everything else.

This has to happen now. Before too long, I’ll be a dad for the second time and life will put a very hard stomp on my ability to carve time for myself. But I must. And I must bury any thoughts that I’m doing anything wrong by taking time to create.

I’ve made the mistake once before putting obligations and allegedly more important responsibilities ahead of my personal happiness by burying my creativity. No one told me to. I chose to because I believed it was what I *had* to do.

Truth is, the only person that can really ever demand you do something is yourself. And I’m demanding one thing: stay balanced not with love and hurt as that’s as natural as breathing, but with what creativity brings and what responsibility demands.

La pluie qui est Tombée

Throaty saxophone warble, the punctuation of this ru(e)mination is distaff, an open embrace to nurturing breast and plumbed womb; seed dripping down thighs as refuse shatters outside tall windows. Day’s broken. Hours coagulate, gumming up the works of released agonies, veins popping, heads rolling with 18th Century aplomb; tasty petite mort lurking behind edifice edges and shuddering shutters. Exuberant filth. Stormy dejeuner. Thoroughfare stumbling and chimney phalanges flexing, what wide gray felicity this crowded air brews, drowning voice with lazily tapped high-note piano. On the beat, bleubloods bandy bawdily about bureaucratic brethren, their toe-tapping syncopated, their high note whirring shrilly like longing trumpets – ah oui, how this town jives jazz, lives lust, gives greed. Rain’s coming, awnings out, rivulets to collect, streaming dreamy bliss that puddles on age-old concrete and cobblestone, an ocean’s worth of rhetorical surmising grown iridescent in the cruel spill of leaky mopeds. May there be plenty of rainbows as these bodies tar, little prisms stinging from diamond hearts pressed from coal soul curiosity. Plenty of invaluable memories to be had, all set to the thrumming of a stand-up bass, a stand-down baton, a drop-spattered window and shaky-legged moan. Drip, drip, drip each lovely history during this longest day. Because la lune’s lunacy leaked lures in every eyeful of sea, the bounty to be drawn from tears both infinitely joyful and miserable; lives as quiet quartets playing in smokey, dark cafés. Some ask who’s sitting in the front row. It doesn’t matter, as long as He forgot His raincoat.


Sea Through

Are we flawless? No, windows dirty just as skin blemishes and thoughts corrupt the way lead paint chips. Death ensures imperfection yet we rage on with wild presumption and hand to mouth eagerness, our feasts a staggering display of gluttony awarded long ago only to the clergy conscripted; the divinely ordinanced few now have to share. On these pebbled banks, marine histories awash with salted avarice, the taste of yesterdays spilling like seed from stroked cock; it’s here where lovers leap and quarrel, where intentions reef and coral. The sea claims, rejects, reclaims, our brine mirror muddied with the push pull of these throbbing, misgiven hearts. What a bore, bronzing bottoms and bobbing breasts before barbarous breakers. Play along, creaming steaming skin seething to cancer, gambling health for beauty, longevity for youth. Garish desires suckle at the tit of this paradise, mother’s milk a constant yearning culled collectively by the tight grips, the pursed lips, of progress. Build, build, build into oblivion, dance, dance, dance among Phrygian spit gilded by Midas touch and Stygian row, collapse now, breathe and bare. Sunstung, radiant, smoothed, the beholders are many, sated, soothed, eyes lovingly fed, will neither here nor then but ebbing and eddying, pooling to make deep marks on forever shifting sands. Allure is the blessing of a moment, locked into long memory by first tastes and yearned for by all this dying, the cracks in our glass marring our transparency. Looking glass why do you promise anything more than what was? Because incarcerating time for all it has stolen is an addiction.

(at Barceloneta)

Open Streets (Carrer del Tiradors)

Come on all you ghosts. Lurk not in shadow, but sing wild requiem in an ethereal throat that echoes like moonlight off the weathered gray stone of Godhouses. Dreams wither and bloom in the clear dry of evening, reason expiates action, a deft caress, a tongue lash, a glimpse of softer flesh; the weight everlasting a measure of tranquil patience. Greedswirl, lust calderas bubbling under the surface of igneous calm, denizens softshoe their Vulcan urges, dragging on sweet hand-rolled tobacco and draping limbs on chipped benches, voices searching for the breeze, the moon. It’s been this way since Luna began her distant waning, spinning tales of wretched dieties to answer the hungriest of our motives, their great whimsy and folly mirroring the soiled graft and bliss that dirtied hands and souls then, now, forever. Greed keeps bloodlines strong, determined to pass on sinstrength and oh how the night has seen it all on these sweating cobblestone streets. Oh how the scent of our filth sweetens the air, the dog in our ancestry baring teeth and piss-swollen cock to silentscream dominance, only to be caught hollow in the damp of laundered cloth hung above to dry, secrets in the open. So much fire. So much memory. Symbionts culled from the calloused feet of almighties too distracted to reign with terrorflood, desires bathe in little acids, eating away at a world of progress despite those evening whispers. Brick and stone, flesh and bone, fathers intone, our ears deaf to their lessons, our souls drunk on their clenched fists.

at Barcelona, Spain


Whine by the bellyful, the sanguine press of a bleeding heart wreathes like those thorns across the forehead of a savior, spilling forgiveness. There’s none to be had. Hands filthy, the ridges of identity choked with grime and guilt, it’s nothing compared to the blemish of those actions. What’s done, so much louder than words, countless excuses, gods, heavens to mitigate the stain of that charred soul rub, rub, rubbing itself to ecstasy despite the wretchedness of such vinegar thoughts. Sour cock, why search the hatefields to sow your seed, threading dry needles with unsheathed traditions and presumed clemency? Letter opener, thighs unmercilessly spread with the forced grunt of psalms echoing in the chaotic sharp heart searching not for words, but resolution, climax. Those envelopes, sealed shut by tongues, how they’ll be claimed by the richly deserving, the scion of faith in hard work and publically clean noses. Verse chorus versus the rhythm of that pump, pump, pumping bloodrush, demand crushes supply every time. And tears mix with goblin globin, the anachronistic shedding of remorse that gleans sympathy from the buttersoft when it should be like tears from granite. Oh, precious and glorified fuck, how the world was owed you! Now robbed of full pallet, the screeching of debasement is a shallow sip of sediment-heavy vintage; what weight decisions carry! For the taking of what’s not permitted is within His acceptance. But the legacy of shared cork-tainted nectar leaves blessed lands fallow, a grape left to raisin on the vine.


At Your Smallest

Tiny things,
That first breath taken with morning eyes
Or the way both arms reach to the headboard
In a satisfying stretch,
But specifically the smile
The way it crests with sunny realization
That there’s love in this bed,
This house,
This air.
Spring can have its opulent blooms
And Summer can pull hair,
Wild with its thick air
And stuck faceside by sweat.
Fall will endear with its poignant color
And Winter will hide secrets in plain view,
Its melt and shed layers seducing.
All those seasons strive
To capture the breadth of meaning
Latent in that lazy first glance
Across the continent of down
And mountainous pillows
Threatening apart;
How those little worlds crumble
At dawn’s assurance,
Glints of fresh sun
Spilling gold, gray.
It doesn’t matter.
Nature swoons whoever gives her time
A chaotic blush aggressive beauty
Grown envious
Of the smallest of gestures
The frailest of sweet,
Shared moments.
Let it all go green,
Startle back with imperious naïveté
Then close circle again
With the stamen’s reach,
The soft open petal,
The sprinkle of pollen lust.
It’s a whisper drowned
By the silent poetry of this subtle waking.
Try try try
All you songbirds,
You gregarious orange cloud bottoms
And creamy, seductive mists.
Plenty will mistake such arrogance
For a standard,
But four walls,
Tangled hair,
Rumpled sheets
And an inelegant yawn
Are where beauty lay,
Where every other miracle
Earns its measure against.
My love,
You are not as gorgeous
As ocean dusk
Or any season’s demand for attention.
They are only as Heaven-sent
As effortless you.


Cherry Sin

Cherry-dipped sunsets soften with their grenadine punch, calliope keys pressed, whistle-blowing off steam. Truth wins every time, a revolution glowing brilliant as each note played, steam crowding unprepared skies with demand. Be seen, heard. Satisfied melodies ripping through golden hour haze, dripping longing in the boughs of bent tree stems caught in eerie silhouette; how that red tantalizes as a Pamplona beast set loose on comfort, China shop securities shattered. So many pieces left aglimmer, sharp edges hungry to lacerate and spill hot lusts, pried open mouths, thighs. Dreams saunter safely as hands stay pocketed, poise like loose change jangling. It’s a quarter ‘til day’s end, murky beauty seizing light and across the sweet horizon skin cools after the blush. Hush. Unfocused passions are a stain on better faiths, so push that lens west, turn it to hone the burn and walk away while the world’s caught. Fire purges. It’s the only thing hungrier than reason. And the drift of ash lilts in waltz during settling evening, a nocturne under the stars falling like black snow, a hint of sweet stinging air and memory.watch Annabelle: Creation film now


Kicking and Screaming

Let’s break what’s cordial,
Snap its little weak neck
And let these wild thoughts
Scream like banshee song
In our rancid, beautiful pulse
That stammers at this view
Like words on the awkward tongue
Of a boy nowhere near manhood.
Don’t it feel polite
To glance away, down, elsewhere?
Cowardice is propriety
In any other place,
But here the yellow up that back
Is pure denial;
An instinct shot fleeing
While the body aches.
Soothe it on this softness,
The spill of curls
And the rise of breaths
Hitching at the dream of strong hand knowledge;
There, let this strap fall,
These fingers play
And the chorus of ardor
Harmonizes in the fresh hues
Of surrender.
Moan and wail,
Trace those magnetic contours
With iron filing will
That knows nothing
Other than how to come.



Folly is the rakish thought,
The waved saber at entropy,
That growth would permit
A gentle or linear path.
These shades of today
In their antediluvian assertion
Stretch pallid beliefs
Like worn out skin
Across bones aching from experience
And each limping step
Into tomorrow
Quivers with unattended reason,
A dogged journey through dust-stained gales,
Where turns are inevitable,
Chic is the unflappable ballast
Of a storm-tested heart
But oceans drown even the most revered,
The dedicated flailing
In undulating agony,
Choked by the churning salt
And white-cresting brutality
That spills from predictability.
Oh they’ll fight,
Those intrepid hands hardened
By rain-slickened rope running
Raw and hot,
Loosed by sideways seas.
But forgiveness lay
In the corner of passivity,
Where strewn survivors litter
Tide-smoothed sands.
The path veers
With passion or placidity,
Each a knuckle in the tangle
Of our striving.
And a sun lurks above
A beacon of straight-line promise
And refracted, bent reality.

 download film Rings