Poetry

“There is poetry as soon as we realize we possess nothing.”

John Cage

 

writing

wherein we
welcome words arriving we
nurture them and
love them we
make them sleep regularly we
let them grow
strong
independent
make them think and
live and
speak as
subtle as
this

 

 

 

foolish pride

i want to be able
to say butterfly
for no good reason
or hummingbird
just because
share the moment
before they fly a
way

 

 

 

we all hold swords

in joy we give them to the sky
in pain we turn on each other
in faith despite we sharpen them
in love we learn to stay our hand

 

 

 

strip poetry

one poem for each piece of clothing
she says so i read her some carver
the first poem is short but poignant
off comes my shirt tossed to the dogs
i count the many poems she requires
i quickly pick another poignant piece
and i am curious about socks after all
they are identical … now two poems
she says this is harder than you think

 

 

 

sheba and bathsheba

drinking coffee
smoking cigarettes
and giggling
girl talk
in the palace
n the desert
in the morning

 

 

 

revolver

were my horoscope to be believed i should be sitting pretty practically instantly upon
reading that plucky venus is apparently making an epic love connection with neptune
today i presume on my behalf instead i sit with my roommate on beat up white plastic
folding chairs in front of our house discussing with disappointment these mushrooms we
were given really johnny says suitably amazed i always thought magical mystery tour
came after the white album nope i say extra emphatic back

 

 

 

A Burden of Worry

What I know to be true is that
daily we come out of ourselves,
peeking from under our shells like
turtles, mere puddles of nerves
determined to test the waters of
worry, deserving of answers.
And daily we muddle through the
muck, sometimes so nearly stuck
in our fathers shoes, confused
by the awkward fit and wondering
at the need to wear them at all.
Some days its all I can do to
convince myself that fathers are
no less human than me or you,
or my son, or the man next door,
that we re all diamonds slightly
flawed and the burden of worry
is merely a jar sealed too tight.

 

 

 

the americans came in the middle of the night

we heard them on the roof in kabul
we thought they were the taliban
they dug the bullets out of my family
with their knives

 

 

 

There Are Babies in our Tree

They swing from branches
and cling like crab apples
swaying in the breeze

My wife believes
we should wait nine months
for them to ripen
before we pick one

Impatient
I climb up to see
but they scatter and avoid me
eyes tight and flustered
I muster my strength
and shake the tree wildly
then slide down to gather what falls
but my wife snatches the pieces
swallows them and crawls inside
plump from the feast

Later she tells me

blue eyes
your fingers, your toes
your neck, your nose
but no sex yet

 

 

 

the serenity chair

every day i look at it
folded up so cleverly against the wall
the gray metallic sheen
reflecting blue sky and clouds
it says with such brash authority
SERENITY in magic marker
across the bottom of the seat
if this insistent creepy little chair
could really i mean really talk
i for one would listen

 

 

 

The Mistaken Master

He sits and tests the water’s depth
so very near his father’s love.

He gingerly dips first one foot
and shortly thereafter the other.

And he moves his feet like rhythm
sounding a certain heartfelt beat.

His childish feet pound thunder
and he wonders, whether this
is what a big boy does.

 

 

 

come together

come share the dream everybody
turn on
turns out
peace and brotherhood
bring us goo goo eyed to the trap
we are dazed sheep
standing at the juke box
we dont know
we are at war with somebody
we dont know
we are at war with ourselves
sticking it to the little people
sticking it to the man
sort of like falling
within love
without love all over again

 

 

 

after a restful sleep

i walk outside
torn between porch light
and the dark seduction beyond
smoking a cigarette in its entirety
i watch the frosty eyed moon and orion
when a van roars to life
in the darkness
in front of the house
and squeals down the street

the wind suddenly ferocious and threatening
swoops in hysterically thrashing my hair
until it stings my face and my heart races

it is difficult to pinpoint exactly
when paranoia became my friend
how exactly i encouraged it
to move in gradually on a premise
to stay and mooch indefinitely

 

 

 

something

what once grew wild
amoung jacaranda aloe and baobab
has no desire to be civilized
no will to be caged
no chains
dont domesticate me

 

 

 

ignoring history

we choose to do this
as a society
as a race
we clamber for bread
and circuses like romans
already corrupted
lounging in our spas
barking orders
throwing undesirables
to the lions because
we dont really know why
we do it anyway
we live for it somehow
it comforts us
to wield this power
like crafty would be gods
creating chance
and circumstances
handing out candy
lording over life and death

 

 

 

five minutes at a time 3

i stop the car under
neath an electrical line
do you hear the buzz
do you feel it
i look up thinking
ill jump as high as i can
i know i can do this

 

 

 

Daddy’s Boy

Daddy’s boy doesn’t want to hunt
or fish
or wish for the blunt and
crushing strength of manhood
like daddy does.

He doesn’t want guns, knives,
fire in his eyes, to take
lives for the sake of sport,
blood on his fingers
or death by his hand.

Daddy’s boy wants peace,
freedom for all
and laughter,
release from the steel image
of what a real man should be.

He wants friendship,
respect, poetry
to share photography,
the written word, music
and the love of a good book.

Daddy’s boy wants daddy’s love.

 

 

 

octopus’s garden

no one has seen the octopus
in sometime and
the garden is unkempt
peering through the murky
brewing underworld
of mud and poison and oil
we see the old bone yard
skeletal remains of old feasts
and bloated half-eaten fish
that nothing will touch

it looks like there may
have been a struggle

 

 

 

mothers intuition

over maxwell house coffee
and all the fixings
and toasted cinnamon raisin bread
sagging under heaps of no salt butter
i knew i was dying she said bluntly
as she sawed a piece of toast in half
like a butcher attacking a carcass

 

 

 

thief

i go to capture some spirits
in a box i filled with cellulite
mirrors of shadow and light
stealing private essence of
images sky tree flower dog
and keep them frozen here

 

 

 

munchkin

suddenly she appears out of nowhere
her miniature fingers grip the counter
her big bambi eyes peer over the desk
her head an umbrella of sky blue cap
she asks i am looking for mr strong
my uncle please has he checked in yet
she cocks her head like a dachshund
but the little childs uncle is not here i
am afraid not so sorry and i tell her so
perhaps he is at a different chain then
she smiles twirls marches out the door
flip flop flip flop in shoes as big as god

 

 

 

Cherry

Said to be
Red
Sweet
With seed
Once in a lifetime
Treat
Firm
Ripe
So certain
Like love
Then lost
Forever

 

 

 

7

today there are tubers
i mean there are almost tubers
they stand in the water
in a circle very stonehengish
but they look damn silly
if you ask me holding
their inner tubes looking
at each other like children
i wonder who will finally
light this candle
and they stand there
and they stand
around
just stand
they stand
standing

 

 

 

King of the Manure Pile

How can we possibly match him for
wits, pure muscle or determination,
or ever hope to entice him just once
over to what has become of our side?

And we stand so nearly knee deep in it
squinting from the acrid scent
as he crouches to meet us and grins.

And we circle, like birds of prey
edging our way to his throne, his
trampled mound on the old side
where grass grows green and strong.

 

 

 

because

i am a man of the world
i am hip to buying the essentials on occasion
i glide up and down the spacious aisles
i pause before a trillion trillion rolls of toilet paper
i must figure the cost now you see
i know this because
i am thrice divorced and
i can cough up a thrifty budget if
i must so
i crunch the numbers

469 one ply sheets on each roll for 3.50
these are obviously the septic safe mega rolls
and then there are these … 1100 sheets for 3.49

this is whats called a no brainer

 

 

 

in part

we are collectors
you and i/we
collect people/fans
admirers of our talents
and our eyes
and our smiles
people who grow to love
our big angry hearts
earthly sex
appeal
and agony of silence

 

 

 

If Only for the Sake of Secrecy

To be at odds with Einstein, one
must wrestle with such heavy baggage.
Somehow we know this.

Or more simply
instead of threat of sleight of hand,
picture the heavy doors of the universe
thrown open wide for all to gape
at what so far had been missed.

Picture the man some call a mystic.
The physicist without socks, whom
we suddenly find ourselves in awe
of, for surely he knows a secret.

Imagine what that secret might be.

And its’ a curious thing to watch
as he leans across the table to say
the secret of this mystery is that
there is no secret at all you see.

 

 

 

accomplice

he shoves a rusty crowbar into my hands
i want you to climb up on the roof
tear up some of the shingles
make it look like storm damage
he guides me to the battered
aluminum ladder leaning against the house
hurry before a neighbor sees you

 

 

 

candle light

your poems
dance and quiver
by candle light
the words flicker
little heart beats
little campfires
of shadow and light
of darkness and life
i am drawn to the flames
the rhythm of the glow
i warm my hands
and sing softly
by the fire

 

 

 

there are more horses asses than there are horses

its the waiting thats killing me
day by day
feeding my imagination
brick by brick
surreal expectations and horse
shit

 

 

 

an apache

bursts through the door
her eyes wild cactus flowers
she breezes through the room
turning hearts our heads
we watch her paint her flawless face
she smells of fresh yellow roses
she takes us for granted somehow
she takes us by surprise
her wind ripping through us/out
of us
we re about to give in
we re about to drink a toast
to geronimo or to jesus
or to the pope
but by then she is gone

 

 

 

do not disturb

the discretionary sign
hung from the doorknob
of the door to the room
in dallas in a holiday inn
untouched by your hand
for three long dog days
it waved to the house-
keepers like a wind sock
come clean another day
give me time to neatly lay
plastic in the bathroom
compose a goodbye note
load the pistol with only
one bullet or reconsider

 

 

 

fifteen minutes

of fame he said
andy warhol one
weird-ass-dude an
artist who
said everyone gets
it whats coming
to them
i mean ive
already had mine
up to here so
no biggie no rush no
pressure
thanks all
the same

 

 

 

five minutes at a time #16

there is this squirrel
lurching hesitantly towards me
closer and closer
he stares me down
and moves closer
he stops about six feet away
he is so shy
i can appreciate his dilemma
but i have nothing to offer
but cigarettes and pepsi
he runs away

 

 

 

dancers

so my father placed third in the
ballroom dancing world championships
nineteen fifty something the man was
smooth he simply took command of the
floor like a master made it his own
as a child i remember dancers stepping
off the floor to watch their eyes
glazed over with some certain
satisfaction at falling witness to
this magic as for me the waltz
is a waltz is a pleasure to share and
i do favor a good two step fox trot
and swing but with my rock and
roll heart i want mostly to rip it
up work up a sweat burn off the
ol’ dancing shoes but good
somewhere in between up close
i mean touching feeling the beat
together ive decided is the place to be

 

 

 

of poems and people

never satisfied
the whiners
always primping
looking in mirrors
screaming for attention
always wanting
to re-invent themselves
rise out of the ashes
presto
you know
go phoenix

 

 

 

real-

ity

rock
paper
scis-
sors
cock
cunt

 

 

 

sylvias mother

listens outside sylvias door
what is that girl doing why
wont she come out
for dinner why
wont she talk to anyone she
doesnt understand

 

 

 

forgiveness

is a gift we can only
give to ourselves
it cannot be coaxed
or demanded
or expected
never borrowed
it knows no guilt
it knows all things

 

 

 

per-spec-tive

caught
in a dali moment
just outside of wichita
just after dark in kansas
a ballerina of the cornfield
not far up ahead
the hot red hail of tail lights
just up ahead
a white tail deer pirouettes
in a puff of steam
just like this
as the hot blood trips
the frigid air
in my headlights
a beautiful arc
of crimson red

 

 

 

63 oysters

she tells me as we smoke outside the back door
the glitter on her eyelids twinkles in the street light
she inhales deeply
it was his birthday
63 years old she says
that fool ate 63 oysters
one for every year
she starts to take another drag
but doesn’t
…how can anyone eat 63 fucking oysters
i dont like oysters
i had them fried once my gawd
cant you get food poisoning from
eating that many oysters

 

 

my compass

lies broken on the floor like a wine glass shattered tossed
into the fireplace as if in celebration of something i cannot
comprehend the cold needle is stuck due west north west
not magnetic north where i want to explore the wilderness

 

 

 

robert

before this
before the workshops
before the readings
before chicago
before the critics
before love
before vows
before litigation
before my son
i cut my teeth
on fire and ice
on the road not taken
on mending wall
in the sixties
in eisenhower elementary
in the heartland
before africa
before shakespeare
before shaking all those poets hands
before erica
before carolyn
before gwendolyn
before all the others
we learned about him
we watched all the films
about his life
his poetry
his story

 

 

 

sun king

im running up the mountain
stopping only in the moment
dont want to dwell on
where ive already been
running up the mountain
suddenly i can see
so clearly where im going
crashing through creeks
jumping from rock to rock
squeezing through vicious
barbed wire fences they
are snagging my clothes
scratching my skin
biting me
nipping at me
trying to hold me back they
are trying to slow
me
down

 

 

 

day one

today i feel like an angry pit viper not
to be trusted my heart is dead empty
ALA dracula as black as coal as cold
as an iceberg as barren as arctic due
north i mean i want to strike out draw
blood some hot cabernet burning my
tongue boiling in my mouth swish not
swallow this spit poison into the eyes
of strangers as they shiver and cower
today ill dare anyone to fuck with me

 

 

 

things i found while cleaning out my jeep

ts eliot the waste land and other poems
two cameras
another ee cummings
amoskeog journal
anne mcmillen mind static vol 1
the sandhill review
sojourn journal
rio grande review
an unopened and stale
chocolate chip medical marijuana cookie
ghost ranch 2010 course catalog
tadeusz nalepa polish blues
takas quartet Beethoven string quartets
kenneth rexroth lawrence ferlinghetti poetry
readings in the cellar with the cellar jazz quintet

an indignant sock

 

 

 

i slept with your book

lordy
lordy
like a romp
through my life

 

 

 

here comes the sun

shes dusting the dust away
and cobwebs of spiders
shes sweeping up dirt
mopping the floor
straightening books on book
shelves putting them back
in alphabetical order
she gently runs her finger
down the spine of each one
thrilled to be thrilled so
thrilled by the touch
shes so fucking heavy

 

 

 

stiletto

i love to swim
with blossoms in the stream
air alive with sunlight
and drink the tale of years
i would tell you dear beloved
i grew before time was worth mine
alone
with the sun to soothe my feet

i traveled
country through country
sea upon sea
in a land where daylight
is shadowed with dragons and kings
blood and bone
i built a fortress
stone upon stone
and built myself in

 

 

 

who let bukowski in

now the bastard wont leave
he sits at the kitchen table in my mind
like a sous chef swilling the cooking wine
he is cleaning his nails with a fork

you dont know what love is

 

 

 

a mother

my next customer is a mother
she trembles like a little wet poodle
as she hands me her cell phone
my son is threatening to kill himself
dont let him hang up i wonder
is this a joke but before i can speak
she produces another slim phone
which she scream into get the guns
out of the house now this must be
a daughter perhaps or a husband
i guess what can i say to this boy
i know nothing about or who he is or
why does he think he wants to die

 

 

 

five minutes at a time 19

the bench im sitting on
is dedicated to the memory
of larry k arnett
while i have no clue who this is
baffled as i am
i do however
appreciate his righteous bench

 

 

 

History

History tells me to
beware of an impertinent sea,
bread and circuses
and angry sisters,

that sometimes such the
intelligent being, I’ve yet
to get the damn thing right,

that most certainly someone
will do this thing again and
I’ll be none the wiser for it.

 

 

 

fire starter

because i give birth to silence
because i think
and because i feel
because i know fear
because i know bliss
because i have seen
the birth of stars super novas
meteorites
because i am inspired
because i ignite
because i lied
because i love the light

 

 

 

Jester Rejected

There is nothing easy about it, at
least nothing to start them laughing,
and I am nervous at how they fidget
as I lean from foot to foot, or
how they cannot look me in the eyes
when they know damn well this is funny.
So I look at them, one and all
smiles as cold as mercury and silence
and I have to believe they’re wrong.

 

 

 

fear of deadlines

in doing this again i
stew on submissions i
fret over selections i
listen to music i
smoke and i
smoke i
edit poems i
chew them one at a time i
make no excuses i
wrestle i
write i
re-write i
read commentary i
indulge myself i
take my own
sweet time

 

 

 

five minutes at a time #35

lenny and i spoke of seasons
tonight the seasons of ones life
while nick was a podium seasons
came and went through my mind
i recognized one after another
i understood something of importance
but couldnt quite put my finger on it

 

 

 

Watching Daddy Die

Something weighs heavy on the man
lulled to sleep deep in the recliner.
Something has cut his taut line
and slashes age across his face
faster than I’ve a mind to see.
And something makes me wonder
why death deals a winning hand
then shouts foul play across the table.
I could say I’ve seen for years
his lively eyes grow slowly dim,
his love of hunting birds at dawn
turn to birdseed across the yard,
or simple tasks become frustrating
like hands shaking through a shave.
But I have to question who this is,
and wonder where daddy has gone.
To be sure, I know it’s my father
who’s grateful that I’m mustached
and not to be mistaken for a woman,
who says ‘hurry home for Christmas
I want to meet my grandson,
‘ who calls to tell me once again
my son is the prettiest baby he’s seen
and he’s proud of the father I am.
But who is the old man silent behind me
so nearly a shadow in the back of my mind,
so resigned to the speed of his flight?
Who is sitting weary on the carpet
staring absently over my shoulder,
curious to see how I tend a fire
like my father taught me years ago?
And here it is that mother reminds me
of the many years I’ve spent away,
and asks me to move my family home.
We don’t know how long he has,
her eyes appeal to the son in me.
But they are Tulsa, and I am Chicago,
and it’s far from boredom to adventure.
But it’s not just that exactly,
my life has seen enough of both.

It’s more that…

I don’t have the heart to tell her
I’m afraid to watch mama cry,
I’m not strong enough to watch daddy die.

 

 

 

i ate the apple

the core
the stem
the seeds and all

i licked the juice
in front of you
in front of god

 

 

 

Poets at Thirty

Poets at thirty learn to hide well
under the cover of book stores,
thirsty for a glimpse
of those who might buy their work.

No one sees them,
hesitant shadows behind Sandburg
as they count
and recount their books.
Wipe off the dust,
check for a pulse
then slip a few on display.

Reluctant to leave,
they are swept out the door
at closing time
like unemployment lines,
afraid
wondering how the rent is to be paid.

 

 

 

the love pool

drained for the moment
of instinct and reason
i surrender to the season
i am cold
i am empty
i am battened
down under canvass
and cord

 

 

 

all things

that we are given
are not ours to keep
all we get is the moment
a minnow of time to borrow
and soak up sunshine days

 

 

 

unequivocally

and he wakes from his morphine mist
looks up to see my sisters
and my mother
and me
all standing around
in a room suddenly thick with panic

am i dying?

and all eyes turn swiftly to me
of all people like my mother
likes to say

and being what it is
that it is in moments like this
above all others where
the truth is all we really need

yes you are

 

 

 

green tea

did i tell you about the tea

its green
as green
as fresh green weed
in little flow-thru baggies
one hundred percent natural
one hundred ninety nine milligrams
flavonoid antioxidants per serving
oh honey it beckoned to me
like green candy
i let it steep forever
it seemed like the right thing to do

i would rather drink water

 

 

 

the fog

the fog has cleared now
its ambled off like a sleepy child
in search of a place to lay its head
and i see the trail stretched before me
as though in a dream something forgotten
laid out like the yellow brick road
and i know this is the way i must go

 

 

 

thin line

i dont understand this business
of anger i just
dont get it
i dont understand
the heat of this language
hateful words bang
bang gotta blame
somebody
anybody
anyone
anyone but
ourselves anyone but
us us
mean mister misters
gone and
done it again
i dont understand
the purpose of
this
this is my dilemma
and i find no comfort here

 

 

 

I’m Happy to See You Smiling

for Joan Baez

As a child
I was indifferent to your fame,
who can blame me
I was indifferent to life.
The strife simply passed me by
like a motorist avoiding the hitch hiker’s eye.

But looking back
I can’t deny your treasure
singing loud     ringing proud
revered!
I think Dylan would have said that
had he not been distracted
by your disarming     alarming charm

And looking ahead
with millions waylaid     underpaid
stricken with AIDS
afraid,
we are grateful for a smile.

 

 

 

coming moon

it begins
tugging and pulling
a coy woman
behind the clouds
brilliantly teasing
like you
a master potter
with crackling
wet fingers
spinning
molding
and shaping
a vessel
from
my red clay
heart

 

 

 

dont interrupt now

we are in the heartland
she is riding a fresh horse
waving her sword about
riding up to his door… look…
she is knocking… he is coy…
glory… glory… the shoes fit
she sweeps him off his feet

 

 

 

top this television moment

i sat at my desk in school
like all the others
gorging on the greatness of it all
on this spectacle of vertical
liftoff from the earth
this reaching beyond ourselves
this voyage of all mankind
happening before our very eyes
we were mesmerized
by the seduction of the beast
the saturn five series rocket
the behemoth we
held our breath we
held on to each other
were speechless in
fact in awe of it
of everything
every one of us
everyone wanting
to cheer out loud oh
cmon lets light this candle
lets do this and
lets do the other thing
lets soar to the stars
and beyond
lets seize the glory
we fucking rock
watch us walk
on the moon

 

 

 

angst before sunrise

my bed becomes a battlefield
of smoke and dust and
terror in my head
running through the onion fields
where i must take a stand
fighting back and forth
my boots squishing across
the bloody red sheets
slicing and yielding
ducking cutting and stabbing
what business do i have
with such business as this

 

 

 

The Host

Trickster hosts an open mic
once a week in Chicago.

One night I’m there,
excited to be out
and anxious to read a new poem.

Trickster tells me I’ll read last.

In time he says
…and next, our last poet tonight,
but first
let me read my new piece…

and he reads my poem.

 

 

 

the tangerine dream

dark orange skin conceals
sweet juice dripping like raindrops
from a burning sky

 

 

 

i believe

in love at first sight
in the power of words
in the differences
in our sexes
in passion
in pain
in no
in yes
in hope
in perhaps
in whatever
is left

 

 

 

Mary Jane Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

But her sweet guttural scent
permeates through the house still
like dull shafts of sunlight
hung dusty in the windows.

And I remember her in that chair
staring at the books for hours,
electric moments under headphones
giddy from the white album.

And she was a lover to be sure,
quick to excite and comfort,
quick to entice a lonely man
with a smile and soft afternoons.

And I imagine her some night
blowing in on the arm of a friend,
blending into the party easy,
teasing me with the love we once had.

 

 

 

 

 

sprinkler

boxer shorts
barefoot 3am
tulsey-town proper
a cigarette
dangling from my lip
setting up
a virgin sprinkler
a riot of water
up to my knees
and i smell dog shit
over there

 

 

an assassin

and then she takes my hair
the apache i mean its
a trick she learned from a man like me
after she befriends me
after she melts into the fabric of my life
after she kisses me
and lets me sleep in her teepee
she paints herself s war face
of such frightening beauty
i hesitate
what a cruel and messy affair this becomes
this steaming scalp dripping blood from her belt
her eating my heart
her licking
her fingers
satisfied somehow

 

 

 

day four

today i lean into the wind it is strong
the strength of a hundred tornadoes
grips my arms and spins me around
and around ive lost all direction and
im like a leaf tossed to the ground
gripping the asphalt by my bleeding
fingernails but i cannot hold on very
long and then i swoop up to the sky
drawn up to the sun and then i burn

 

 

 

Trickster’s Theory

It’s relatively easy really…

everything is made up of one
one of everything,
no two the same.

Everything is related.

Related to me, you see
not him (the one you call God)
He’s too busy
to bother with the likes of you.

I, on the other hand
have nothing but time on my hands.

I tried to teach this
to that fellow Einstein,
but he never did get it.

He was such an idiot!

 

 

 

four fifteen am

i am preparing chicken salad
and while meat cools
in the colander
in the pocket of the sink
i am cutting grapes
in half
another act of love
in the den
just off the kitchen
i sit with an orange bowl
in my lap a bowl
of screaming half grapes
such panic
i have never seen before
i have never
witnessed this before so
i coo to them
my little green sacrifices
my offerings
i coo to them like
i do to babies
and i think about
the women in my life

 

 

five minutes at a time 39

today i find courage in the grunt work
the big behind the scenes tinkering
that most of us miss in the kitchen
things like rationalizing my desire
things like strategy and trying not
to overthink something pretty basic

 

 

 

Cigarette Break

i stand outside with two tourists
they are watching me smoke
as i inhale and hold the smoke
deep in my lungs with purpose
one talks about amish carriages
back home in pennsylvania he
asks have you ever seen them
damn things get nailed by cars
every now and then he drawls
yep all black nothing but black
and his brother nods in agreement
sometimes they get drunk and pass
out and the horses know the way
home but they dont know to stop
for traffic lights and WHAM the
brother smacks his fist in his hand
i can tell they are brothers they
have the same peppered beards
the same blue eyes of conviction
the same ironic believing smiles

 

 

 

gulagguantan amo

gotussome people weve
gotussome foreigners weve
gotussome prisoners weve
gotussome terrorists weve
gotussome nasty little critters
gotussome leverage now weve
gotussome col-lat-er-al

 

 

 

mean mr mustard

really he isnt mean at all
hes just a writer
an artist
insufferably shy
perpetually preoccupied
hiding behind cameras and glasses
and pens
taking it all to heart

 

 

 

last night

say i had my way and
i had the green in my pocket
i would have left the highway
last night i would have
stopped at the diner
ordered a dreamy three egg
and cheese omelet oh
and a cup of sugar
some lipton orange pekoe
and hash-browns yeah
actually served by somebody
biscuits but no gravy
real butter melting
i would even have chanced
an onion or two
just to see you smile

 

 

 

con-trary

having known desire
having drank of pleasure
and purple pain
i stand in front of the mirror
a ghost stirring inside me
inside my musty mind
a hand and
suddenly a razor
rushing through me
one
day someday
one never knows

 

 

 

cold

you sit by the creek
water flowing through your fingers
the sun circles above
just another star strung along
she will never
ever return

 

 

 

eating pterodactyl

tastes like beef jerky
a stretch of barbed wire
a whiff of gasoline/honey
suckle/rain
all because of this

 

 

 

outside the emergency room

at least the sun is forgiving today
the warmth makes me think of you
and there are birds chattering but
i worry about you and your mother
and grandma is fine considering 90
pneumonia and a bladder infection
she tells me i should be a doctor
and asks what they say in her office
i think she means the nursing home
i tease her to make her smile and
then she is lost and then i am lost
all these lost people here together
it occurs to me i am watching a girl
who cannot stop crying her eyes so
red and swollen something very bad
has happened to someone she loves
a weary woman pleads on her phone
this is the worst time to leave me…
and a cute little boy climbs the back
of my chair only smiling when i look
into his eyes we are all lost together
and i hear a little girl talking about
puking in a car thats why shes here
i hear a baby boy crying behind me
there is no happiness in this room
not in the woman in the wheelchair
broken because shes out of zoloft
not in the couple patting each other
not in the old woman who just stares
not in my mother who waits with me

 

 

 

five minutes at a time 43

i press my
fingers hard against my
closed eyelids my
VOILA
a kaleidoscope

this is how it is

 

 

vienna

ive never been to scandinavia
but i think of vienna again today
the old baroque city dark with
fascination and those monstrous
cathedrals on every corner and
there is the hapsburgs palace
with gold leaf trim in every room
this is the europe i remember
as an apathetic fourteen year old
i remember the trim how i stared
at it wondering how many people
died in order to afford its existence
ill bet there isnt such decadence
in scandinavia i cant imagine that
not like vienna or rome even or
in america with our decadent fast
food cathedrals on every corner

 

 

 

what matters

is that she is with you always
tucked neatly in your breast
a nebula of love blazing forth
warmth against the chill of absence
light in the depths of darkness

 

 

 

life

i pinch some of what is life between my fingers
it boils down to the seasoning i think
maybe
a rush of curry might be in order
or sea salt or peppers or something of considerable
import
perhaps
a little sage to go with that
perhaps
some articulate accidental fire

 

paramount to my problem

is the them/her/you of it all i
know no other way to say it
i am burned by the passion
of such fire over and over it
means i become a prisoner
of love willingly i search my
soul for solutions reasons i
cannot bring myself to love
myself realizing this curses
me/you/them/all i hold dear

 

 

 

ocean

because i have this mad desire to see
the lay of the land as a whole i will
always swim farther than anyone expects
and having swam so far from shore
there is nothing i can do now but float

this is what an ocean will teach you
in the end
how to float only

 

 

 

piano lessons in the heartland 101

three years on that old bench in that house
curtains billowing like parachutes around me
the keys of the piano were ice cubes dripping
through my hot fingers sizzling onto the floor
each note a drop of water each drop a note

 

 

 

golden slumbers

i reach into my magical bag
digging for white socks
to wear to bed you know
over my cold cold feet
i pull out
a sock with a grey toe
i reach in and grab another
a sock with a gold toe
these socks are stubborn
i reach decisively for a third
with a toe both grey and gold
these socks are clever

 

 

 

father and son

and so i carry you this last time
to your exhausted bed of death
where words of hope faith fear
lock our eyes in a final salute
silent thoughts and old wishes
driving us to a familiar silence
no need to speak these words
the private ones never once
uttered in our lifetime together

 

 

 

dino

party dolls and scotch
on the rocks
smooth
on the stereo
in the background
and on tv
all my life
in black
and white
surrounded
by pretty women
gold diggers
pretty much sauced
every time
chain smoking
flirting but oh
so syndicated never
the less

 

 

 

five fingers

you tell me
you would sacrifice for my talent although i know
you wouldnt really its just the passion talking
you want me writing drawing blood easy
you want me exercising this power
you covet

 

 

 

red bedding

i sleep
in an antique bed
i sleep
between crisp
crimson red sheets
i sleep
in a spill of red blankets
red bedroom linens
as red as blood
rose petal
red
as red
as red
red wine
i curl up a
dead red possum

 

 

 

appreciation

i worry about being taken for granted in an unappreciative kind
of way i think this says many things about me and i gather i am
unapproachable judging by the reactions of others/ sometimes/
i feel invisible people looking right through me into nothingness

 

 

 

fear and loathing in the holding cell

(in memory of Hunter S. Thompson)

i too am chilled to the marrow
sleepless
longing for rest
relief from these chains
and shackles
and scared of the darkness

i hear you outside my window
vying for my attention
cat-calling and cackling
throwing rocks
i hear them plunk and clink
against the steel bars

 

 

 

bonfire

that day i torched all the poetry
i was a sick but determined man
i was looking for liberation like
the great bra burners of the 60s
in pajama bottoms at high noon
i dragged out the olive trash can
gathered up 29 years of poems
every one i could lay hands on
doused them with liquid starter
struck a match and tossed it in

 

 

 

across the universe

spending my energy these days
taking stock calculating
the distance between us

 

being that the earth is only one
astronomical unit from the sun
149,597,870,700 kilometers i mean
to be exact and the gaussian
gravitational constant value of
001720209895 it would take a life
time to reach the indifference of pluto

where does this leave us

 

 

 

five minutes at a time 46

i think i need a new battery
a spanking new battery
an energize
me
for my keychain
my thankless fucking keychain
where
the panic button
wont work worth a shit

 

 

 

finalities

your life is like a sweater…
she wheezed weakly between
stolen gasps of oxygen from
those god-damned plastic tubes
pull a string and you never
know what will unravel and
then i found myself laughing
there never was a time
when i didnt love you she
said as if i didnt already know

 

 

 

after the rain

we sit alone across the table
unable to account for the storm
driving through our lives like tourists
slowing to point at the sight of us

 

 

 

solitaire

so if fascination is terror
and terror is excitement
and excitement is confusion
and confusion is distracting
where does that leave hope