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

in 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 to 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