shepard fairey








gustav dore

our boys

death and burial


Saturday, October 30, 2010

I Just Don’t Think Like A Portable Unit

all my ergs are potential; my legs are grown over with vine,
my scruff of beard is shot through with a dull and agitated
gray, and, theoretically, I think sex is too much trouble. Once

you’ve been one with another, burdocked, the two of you twinned
for all time, mated for lust, branded, burned down, thrown back, and
thrown over for love, eternal, people start having expectations.

Felicitous Results May Be Obtained

by compression of the occipital at the
Vandenberg Gate while excavating the
desiccated plug from the neck of the

venal medulla with a 150 cc.
chambered lancet; mop with
graduated hygrometer and sea

sponge, and try to forget.

Death-Screws Through My Baby

and my head doesn’t feel so good. It might
be time for a soothing neural bath. Coffee to boost,
perhaps a quick hit of extreme power yoga.

7:07, it’s starting to get light in furthurance (sic!)
of my nefarious (via shiftless) aim to ease
my passage through today.


me included, is exhibiting the self-same symptoms:

viral patterns of exponentiation from a central-most
interior seed lit by the fire of the stars; all the while,
we, it, they, them, shine with a light from within

to match the brilliance of the morning.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Last Will And Testament

of Pancho Villa was recently unearthed
beneath a bus station. Apparently,
it confirmed the outlaw was flush.
He left misbegotten gains to his
first wife, Maria, and their son, Paulo,
to his mistress, Esmee, his chauffeur, Raoul,
and as well to his poet biographer.
I live on the spoils.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

His Way

I’m writing my autobiography, you might
not be surprised to hear; however, the truth is
this comes as a surprise. This woman I know,
she’s fifteen or twenty years younger than me,
and we became friends because I was friends
with her father, who was probably thirty years older
than me. He was a prince of a man. Which wasn’t what
he saw in me, unless he was overlooking an awful lot,
which was his way. When I read of his passing,
I also read that she was his daughter. So, I approached
her to tell her how much he had meant to me, and why.
Then we became friends. It’s been maybe five years
since. She recently approached me and asked if I would
write up the things we had spoken of between us
about her dad, as something she could share with
her family. Well, being sort of long-winded in general,
I told the story of the sometimes fierce resistance
we hippies faced invading this fair valley, the point being
the way her dad treated everybody like they were somebody
that deserved to be treated with joy and kindness. Also,
I had to tell of our survival problems of food and heat,
which her dad had a hand in helping us solve for a few
critical years in the beginning. For a while there,
I saw him several times a week. At both of his jobs.
But after I’d poured out six pages or so from these twin
perspectives, I realized that neither of those interfacings
was why I was grateful to him, although, it was clear,
I'd tapped into the sure beginnings of autobiography.
I could see right through the long trail of years still
stacked before me, their unruly crew of mixed destinies
dark to me, but eager to get off, willing their cues
from the not quite interrupted dark of those freezing
mornings, as we gassed up the green truck, stamping our feet,
and smiling back and forth, beside a man only destined to
change the futures of every one of us who knew him,
and loved him.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It’s That Time Again

I’ve returned from the forests of death,
I’ve come through this wood before.

Nice how no one noticed I was gone.

Apparently, you can put the truth
right under people’s noses,

but I guess Dorothy Parker was right:
you aren’t going to make them think

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Lowell George and Steve Earle and me.
We are, is what I want to say, willing to
undertake any task, persevere through any
adversity, and suffer any losses in order
to complete our mission.


A deep breath. I got away from
the Beekeepers. I think for good
this time. Someday, I’ll go back.
But for now, I’ll just say, damn,
that’s some powerful shit.

I’m Good With Accounting

We settled, and since, things have been better.
I never was one for denying me or mine, or
keeping up after. I blame that imbalance on

growing up in a military family. To get money
I had to steal it from Mom. Although, they did give me
a clothing allowance that would have draped a lord.

I had sixty shirts, which is when she taught me to iron.

Here We Go

I’m letting out all the stops in a commemorative poem celebrating
the birthday of Bill Knott, which I don’t know when that is, but this

poem is for him, and also Paul Muldoon, Jack Gilbert, and C.K. Williams,
not to mention Mark Strand, Bill Olson, Mary Ruefle, and Galway Kinnell.

But for Knott, the one poet I should single out for praise and
bestowed affection, above all others, BK included, is Norman Dubie.

He’s my all.

Meant To Be

Well, some things are, I guess. It’s looking
pretty predictable so far. The world is headed
to hell, and I won’t be there to see it, unless it

comes soon. Not that I’m looking forward
to the sun zooming in, or anything; it’s just that
I so love bad weather, I hate to miss it.

Meant to be decapitated by a flying sheet of
plywood in a hurricane or twister, for instance;
or simply drowned ignobly in a rise of sea; however

it’s intended.

Having Downed Both

the ups and the downs for the day,
I’m freelancing for two more days.

I’ll entirely disappear then for two weeks,
then emerge in a new skin, with re-weathered

mind and exhausted, hard-tested, inextinguishable
spirit. I’ll catch the standard just as it dips;

then won’t we take the field again
in all our mighty numbers.

Like I Said

for whatever reason, I have no trouble exceeding myself.
So, what’s the brass ring? Where’s the beef? Where
has it gone?

Rest Your Weary Eyes

what the horizon holds at bay is too large
for the rating of your presently assigned
contemplative vessel. Application to the

Chief of Sensing Units will cause the active
status of your projection to be temporarily
withdrawn from any environment it populates.

A tag “No image Available” will hold your places
until a notice of successful adjudication is obtained,
and is submitted to any channels specified. If permitted

a return to active status at the applied for rating, one
will document, for a period of six months consecutive,
observation levels exceeding eighty percent in

eighty percent of projections.

You Look Like Someone Else

I mistook you for a friend,
and lover. Someone who could

be depended upon to never leave me.

I’ve decided to make the above
into a form, for ease of reuse.

Some blank lines below can
sentimentally enumerate

on a case-by-case basis
the best times we ever had.

Along About Evening

we took a walk partway around the lake.
The sun’s wake echoed its smudge of pink

across every scale of a mackerel sky. I proposed
a room. You suggested we lie under the trees.

I’m Overcome

at last; what I live for.
Lay me down in potter’s field

or toss me clean away.
Either way I’ll be gone.

One To Another

our column stretched from Ford’s Crossing
to Falls Church. We all wanted the killing stopped.

But then the police came among us, infiltrating our mass
with their distinct blue lines, poisoning our spirit as

surely as if they were the veins of our delicate leaf,
and we gorged in acid rain.

The Sum Of My Skills

might mount to near acceptable levels, if allowed.
I keep things in check so I won’t get carried away,
which is something that does happen.

But when they are carrying me away, when the song stops
and they lay me in place, I’ll be humming the opening chords
of Freedom. They’ll close the freeway.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Other Music

is just too weird, too frenetic.
I was only away an hour or so,

but when I came back I could tell
she knew. They both did. The guitar
player, too. He looked away.

Guys, I was checking out some other stuff,
for my mental health. I mean, this is
eight days straight . . .

But things with those other things didn’t work out so well, and . . .

Look, I was wrong, but I’m back now,
and everything is fine, right? Let’s
get back to it.

A Dissertation On The Use Of The Colon

Things to the right are resident members of
things to the left. Elaboration flows, as we would expect,
from left to right. Now, interestingly, in the Orient,

everything’s reversed. Things to the left are
contained by things to the right. But, alas, they have
no colon to designate such implied parentage.

That sucks for them.

It Has Been Suggested

Oh, me. There ought to be much to say here.
Let’s see. You’ll eat your vegetables
or you’ll stay at the table all damned night.

And, Hit that bully, Richard. Hit him
in the face this time. Of course,
Don’t touch that thing and You can’t

speak to her that way, that woman
is my wife. Last, and this was
good advice, targeted to me, but, alas,

like the others, never followed, Don’t
wear your heart on your sleeve.

My Life

should be seen, if inspected, as a series of
mounting conflagrations, each ending in

the loss of a girlfriend and the gaining of
some new piece of sore wisdom.

At these junctures, I feel like my mind
has been wiped of evil, which due to

the spanking has entirely fled. Sometimes
he spends years sneaking his way back in.


I’ve got the knack. We moved nine times by
my senior year in high school. I’ve moved

thirty-four times since then. I’ve left all my stuff
in other parts of the country, and started over,

at least three times; and once had it all burned
to the ground. I’ve lived in tents and cars and

shacks and condos. Houses, cabins, A-frames,
buses, lofts, and under the stairs. Attics,

basements, back rooms, closets, apartments,
jails, and frat houses. And everywhere,

dragging all this stuff.

Charging Motorcycles

and general mayhem were the rule at
The Hut. It packed a Friday night crowd of

miners, bikers, and cowboys into a five-room
shotgun shack pitched about a quarter mile west,

outside the city limits of Cody, Wyoming.
She was there. Why was I here?


is fun; metaphysics, too.
I while away the hours

speculating on what’s
burning right through my lap.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

So We Walked Along

beside the water shimmering with the last red sun
anywhere. Hereforward, we are about to wink out.
As has been predicted: the end is near. It is suggested

that anyone wearing a prosthetic device, step
to the side of the line. An assistant there will
help you to remove it. Where we’re going

there won’t be any need.

The River Only Takes

Far from here, away over hillock and stream,
beyond the divide between worlds, I planted

a stake with your name on it. When I return,
when the moon pauses in its circuit, they will

turn and call for me. You’ll be with me then.

Trolling For Adverbs

I was out the other night, nosing around. These streets
could use a hard rain. Dignity’s rainbow has fled.

Of course, my calling has gone silent, too. Where is
the art? At least, when the rose curls and drops its hips,

the world is set aright.


I was called from my callow and wayward youth
to a position far beyond my idea of why I came.
I abdicated eventually. Let too-eager fools beware.

Just the chestplate, the helmet, and this sword,
limned with lead, set me back seven mules,
the hoe I was carrying, and the damsel I had with me.

Then, to boot, they set you to watch on the northland frontier
for shirtless, bearded men in the throes of kill-crazy frenzies.
It’s true. You can’t miss them.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Truth Is

you can start anywhere; with anything.
I mean, it’s fine to have an acceptance

of death, but that doesn’t mean you
have to lie down. That there’s time enough
for that right enough cannot be disputed.

I therefore put it before you: Is man meant
for the stars or the ash heap? (trick question)

One Finds That

instead of being astride an age,
one is immersed in and defined

by it. I lived through these things.
I tell these tales, remembering

the stories full as much as
what they’re about. It’s been

the best of all times to be alive.
Glad I early accepted.

Writing Poetry

should probably not be thought of as
a matter of life and death.

That would be hyperbolic, would it not?
Thus, unpoetic, thereby, by definition.

Having Written Poetry, however, has been,
no joking, the sore death of many.

That It’s Not Difficult To Exceed My Former Achievements

could be seen in either of two ways. One, the obvious,
that I’m a consistent under-achiever and always have been,
and so on—or, two, that I’m so quick on my feet, that

I exceed myself as a matter of course, whatever the situation;
which I’ve seen ample evidence supporting both positions,
so I’ll just claim nolo contendre. Right? Is that how it goes?

You Never Know, Richard

when lightning will strike, my mother used to say,
which had me kinda anxious early on to make sure

it did; which it did, early and often. I don’t think I
peaked too soon. This being ordinary business is

really quite challenging. My hat’s off to all who
manage it. Being great when you were young is

kind of like being popular in high school,
not entirely coincidentally.

It Is In Fact Possible That The Best Poems Are Written

on Phenethylamines, but we’ll see about that. In the meantime,
who cares how good a poem is to anyone? My intimate relationship
with the author allows me to state as fact that his most keen interest

is in seeing himself thrive. In his eyes, that is. He stresses
again and again the importance of this satisfaction with one’s life;
as one is gifted to the extent of being able to carry it out, that is.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Other Day

I saw this girl I used to go with. She looked
so good, I just wanted to be all over her. She
kept resisting, which was hard to understand;
no mistaking the current between us. What
was holding her back? Probably it was because
we were in the middle of the store parking lot
in broad daylight; but I just thought of that now.
At the time, I simply thrashed to this primal,
fated, foregone connection between us. Now,
you could say I’m just another male idiot,
and no argument there; but, that said, man,
she looked fine.

Bon Soir

the very last glow was gone like that; dark
came on us like a long and costly siege.

Now for half a run full around this small
fitful planet we’d be unguarded, blind,

and still. Was it time for The Milk of
Human Kindness or the Knife of Truth?

I couldn’t say in the dark whether
I held one finger or two. Ask at

The Dispensary of Just Rewards
for a full accounting, they said. When

you are scheduled for apportioning,
demand representation by stout counsel.

In their faces, like; that way, when
they come to harvest your head

it won’t surprise.

There’s A Rumor Going ‘Round

that my supernatural powers derive
from unnatural substances, that some
studied alchemy engineers ambrosia
and imbroglio alike; as if they weren’t
carved from my flesh.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I’m Carrying It, But It Ain’t Me

Just like I don’t claim to be God,
I don’t claim not to be. I’m kind of

caught here in-between; not knowing what’s what
but my life is on the line, at least. It seems

serious to have such exquisitely refined sensors
yet not really know what to make of their input.

Sub-Topical Transmissions

can be redundant, what with the
adrenaline of emergency already
coursing every other minute anyway.

But, at least then I can mull them over
in an appropriate state. Like this morning,
I took off work, gave up trying to counsel

my waywardly progeny, and
am finding reason after reason just
to stay put in my chair.

Busy people mystify me. I’m beginning
to think my urge to lie down is counter-

Is It Genetic

that my younger daughter’s head is full of rocks,
that only her super intelligence allows anything
to fight its way through the mass of stubbornity?

Her mom certainly thinks so. But, that’s good,
we must believe, that some of the ill effect of
the geologic assay reverts to me, who,

we must suppose, should have no wish
to stint for sake of slack, in supporting
his loved ones.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Progress Of My Addiction

I didn’t enjoy hearing it around
other people as much today,
but here at home, I’m tying off.

Mortification Gulch

is not that far from here. A couple bends will
take you right there. While you’re around you
should probably take in Desperation Flats. I

knew a feller, he heard what was cracking
just outside town, he lit out of here like
Old Scratch was going for him door to door.

But I didn’t come here to tell you that. No,
you’ll grow accustomed to our unique geography.
It’s rather the local populace presents a problem.

Around here, a man takes up with a women,
they don’t give him a decade or two to figure
things out. Nothing less than exemplary, or

short of entirely energetic will do for output,
right from the first. This would have to be
a knowing commitment, naturally. You

couldn’t happen on what’s demanded by accident.
Guide books do exist, but they are a well-kept secret
among gentlemen of the road. I could perhaps make

inquiries. Cigar, sir?

My Copy of MS Word

is not genuine, says the popup.
Do I want to turn myself in now,
or “Remind me later?” I chose “b.”

I’m just that kind of guy. I’ve been trying
to put off paying the freight forever. I’m
not stopping now. But when it’s due,

I’m flat; sayonara. The world’s full
of chiselers. But I never worked at that
either. When something presents itself,

I just choose “b.”, do nothing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In Deep Water

paging through my libraries, I accidently clicked open
a Wilco playlist, and just like that I was free of
my obsession. Yet, still, by the second track,

I was gone and back. I’m happy like this.
As long it fills my ears; let everything else
take care of itself. I never said I was anything special.

Not lately, anyway. Actually, I think it’s an earned
alchemical transformation. I’ve finally developed
a huge and longing habit for something

I can have as much as I want of.

Angels With Bad Guitar

I’m caught. I can’t conceive of any other song.
Four days now with this one. It’s all I ever want.
That said, I suppose it’s up to me to tear myself
free somehow. Which brings tears to even to
think of. I can’t stop.

I’m Gonna Run

for Undersecretary to the Sub-Assistant
of the Noble Record. It’s time to get involved.
Time to raise the standard. I’ve been slack
at times in the past. But I’ve got my butt
in gear, finally. I just follow her shadow,
hands ready, mind willing. It’s like a cult
mindwash, except I feel deprogrammed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Out There

is the answer to all my dreams. I hie
her hem, and we start off. We ride
the bony pony all the way to town.

In the metro, it was done, for good.

We slept beside a pond, but when I
awakened, she was gone. In the dark
dripping glade, there was only me.

I found a well-stocked cabin nearby
and settled down to wait for conditions
to change. They never do.


to hell in a hand basket is not just a job;
it’s an avocation. If I weren’t carrying

all this weight, things would be a hell
of a lot smoother. I’d dance myself to

death, if it would help.

The Riverside

I bow my head. I am not worthy
to bear this. Surely this were meant

for better than me. I don’t think
I’m the one.

My Own Face

went walking out. Last I saw
it was overtaking me. Meanwhile,

back at the farm, the hippies were
raising the roof. The moon was high.

As was I.

The Rain

ran over me in rivers. My feel sloshed
inside my boots. That Two Egg cop
was still cruising fifty feet behind me
as I walked. Just as I was about to turn

myself in just to get dry and warm,
this guy in a big blue Chevy pulls up
and throws open the door. He was going
to Gainesville, too. Praise the lord.

The guy was big. He looked like an
Aboriginal Jimi Hendrix to me.
Nothing eventful about my ride, except
I was dry and warm, and he saved

my rugged ass from the law.

The Water

along my cheek was acid. My hair was on fire
with a great green burn. I knew this instinctively.
At pains to deal with this development, I sped
faster than I should go. I soon began to flag.

Again, instinctively, I knew my hair had
burned clean away, and that I was balder
than a new fig now and for a while to come.
I brushed away the grit, my breath heaving,

laughing to have my life, gulping the
beautacious air. Never again would
I seek in the devil in his lair. Let that
sucker be, is my credo now, I think.

The Tall Grass Grows

my mind floods. I pull up
my pants legs and ride it out.

later, I was thinking, was for sure
on its way; what can I do in

this very instant given?


like a duck. It’s a position. One I long held.
However, my term is up, apparently.
I got a buddy, he’s laying in with the
best he ever knew, even as his wife
is leaving him for reasons unrelated.
Now, there’s a shortcut. That’s
the way it’s done.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Discorporate Tendencies

never did a body good. I shiver to think
where I’ve been. The Las Vegas of the Soul
welcomes you in. Have a blast. I thought
I’d settled some, but the other night

I couldn’t speak, walk or hear. It took me
three hours to find my car. And I knew
where it was; and it was there, too, and
I was, too; still, I couldn’t find it.

Eventually it found me. I ran smack into it
in the pitch dark. I recognized the grill.
Later, I was going to go home, but I couldn’t
find the pedals or ignition 'cause I was in

the back seat. Good to know the old survival skills
are still sharp, but damn, I might be getting over this.
It might be time to park the Lotus; time to find a chair.
Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted how it goes.

That Place

is dim and deep
in my mind, ringed by
flashes that look
like glass. How did
I get here? Why is
everyone I know
ringed around me,
looking in?

My Mind Is Numb

my feet are too. Does it ever get easier?
Does it ever get so you get slack? Yeah,
I know the answer to that. But I mean,

never mind. Always the high wire.
I was ten years old when I came back
to the US of A, from fifties Germany.

No TV there, but great radio. And the juke box
at the AYA; Elvis. I saw Jailhouse Rock
when it came out. I was shook hard.

Then we came back here.
And it’s been great since.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I’m Going Down

what words aren't taken? I'll say this,
feature me on starlight, splay me over
that dark terrain where the rocks
are in your head. I know the place.
I know the combination that frees.
Oh, by all means, ask me. Well,
I would say, of allowed,
this dump ain't
fit for a king.


I really fucking did it this time; shot myself
In both feet; then, what else? I came to my
bleeding senses, of course. Imagine my horror,

if you will; there I was, dick dragging,
a bombed-out future the only thing left,

well, what did I do, you want to know?
I put my nose to the ground. I crawled around
a couple of days like that. Then, I deigned

to beg. I would say, it seems, my lordess
has mercy in her heart for such a poisoned
and tainted pilgrim as me.

I’ve got my mind right
this time, promise.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Prove It Every Day

I’m not looking for accolades, or
even thanks; I just want to stay close;

if ever, anything stands in your way,
it will move. Our time is long gone,

but there’s still some things can be saved.

My Orbit Spun

out and I took a crazy track.
baby, all I want is

to do your will;
and that other thing

someday, again

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bad Things

I got to thinking about you,
and you, and you; you all
burned me down again, and again;

I gave up the wild life and
everything else to raise
those children; I do remember

giving it all up for love. So,
if you’re in the neighborhood,
stop in; we’ll have a go; when you

come, I’ll bet you still cry like a baby.

Love Comes Along

dragging its knuckles,
jaw on the floor;
the air, it gets heavy.

I looked across the room and into your eyes;

words won’t say what goes in where,
and won’t what goes in here; but

we never backed from
that first eternity
we’d dropped into.

And, later, that night,
our mouths telling
tales to our tongues,

truth you could never take back...

By god, we were something new,
under the sun; smoke that one,

The Cry Of Love

breaks from the heart with unmistakable
violence, leaving, broken at your feet,
the shards of what you thought was sure.

I was born reluctantly, I can tell you.
I put up the same kind of fight; knowing
what was coming, I’d as soon have

just dreamed it. No offense intended
to any persons living or dead.
I’m gonna go ride my bike.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Baudelaire, Rimbaud, And Dylan Thomas

might want to weigh in; unfortunately,
that won’t be possible. In their stead
we have Ruefle, Strand, and Kinnell.

A good trade, if you ask me; those dead guys
would be a bit naïve for so complex an age:
where be the irory, where be the jive?

I Am The Ocean Of Life

Slung so in space, we can barely locate
ourselves, although surely we’re always
right here, and this moment just keeps

extending its coil, and the manifest corpses
of our plans trail behind us like hair; don’t
turn to their entanglements; keep silent

keep moving; we have a long way to go.

Celebrations Of The Sensuous

can no doubt grow tiresome to
those in the hinterlands of alone,

but my message today brings hope.
In every shire, from the dew of dawn

will emerge a sheen shalleen, a lass
fit for every lad. And their golden days

will fill our minds with
the gray mist of the lost.

Our Love

I moved to you
without hesitation
without thinking

we were indeed
the intended was
made visible

in our bodies
tangle of limbs

seeking the purchase
to drive home
our love

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Less Saying

more doing is my new credo, you
should be first to know. I have to
catch up a bit, lay into the flesh
a ittle more, bring it all to my center
and disappear into my actual physical
body, thereby inverting the natural
process and (a side effect) ensuring
immortality. I set time aside already

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Reason I Do This

is plain; the living just lies there
aching to be taken; like fresh fruit

seeking the tongue. Art is all,
health, a poor second; joining

parades is ill-advised;
keep silent, keep moving;

eschew public demonstrations,
pretend it was just a lucky hit.

Having Done Justice

to all fates, near and far, and having
committed every last jot of the energies

given me, I do hereby testify to the ages:
if ever man rose on his own two feet

and did less, I don’t see how.
Given such a priori prejudices, I’m surprised,

I ever found a dance. Yet they all held my card:
a six, of hearts, of course. I threw out the joker.

There’s Never An End

to dark. Never an end to pain.
Never the lilied path. Never the sword,

never the wisdom, never the love.
Never, in this starry span did I hold you.

What was the use of coming to this
ill-conceived and desecrated planet?

Monday, June 28, 2010

People Are Put Off

by great shows of affection, as well. Once,
I knew a girl who came in from the prairie,

looking thin and hungry. I fed her grits
and eggs from the stove left me by mama.

She took a shine to me, which was understand-
able, but still not acceptable in these precincts.

I Keep On Coming

People get ready to be swarmed,
Lady Gaga is my soul sister, I’ve

eaten the bony grits from the kiln,
wiped the smile from my face

and died willing. I can skin a gator,
stare down a fisher, and let a

panther going slow pass by. Direct
any inquiries to my consecrated estate,

to be administered by my capable
antecedents, and interested parties.

I Paused For A Moment

in my black heart was brewing
a plan; a way to get to her; of course,
the laundry chute, the dumb waiter,
the Spanish Prisoner! before dawn,
she would be mine; together we’d
climb these silver stairs, locked
together like burdocks, forever.
God help me.

It’s A Good Day

for whatever’s coming,
a good day to meet it

head-on; a good day for
letting out the rope,

a good day for reeling it
in; in the caves of doom,

will we find our fire there?

At our feet, our remains
assume corporeal form again.

It’s a sight for sure to
see those knock-knees dance.

I Looked Across The Cliffs Of Dawn

and into the face of pure love; she took me
where clouds surrounding our ascent
whispered into disappearing tunnels, all

leading back in. I awoke on the plain of grey;
corpses to the left and right, and in the middle,
a place for me. I stood beside it

a soldier for love; she pulled me in,
how we fell through the ages, one, if I can
grab on, two, if I can’t, three,

God help me fall through.

Later That Night

the stars were pinwheeling
through the pregnant dark,
I slipped a hand beside you
I could feel your warmth
and your pulse and hear
the song start in your throat.
It turned to a groan as you
stretched across me; your tongue
tattling your tale to mine.

Tempus Fugit

like a hammer; fruit flies, a banana.
A tossed skewer never rights,
but falls like an arrow.

I’m writing what I call
extended verse; it’s where
even though some great fish

breasts, one foregoes lashing
the endsprits down, and taking them
in iron jaw, tries to catch right

the angel’s tone beneath.


it don’t come easy; well, it would
but you keeping dashing it at my feet;

which has me drawing up short,
before going through it again.

They say that before the song is
ended, we’ll all be transported;

that on that 12th of Never, Johnny Mathis
will replace Buddy Holly in the pantheon.

I fucking hope that day never shows.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

So Close

I came, before the last
really brought me low.

I can barely raise my head
to bow; touched by the saints

for this office unbeknownst;
still, I look the deep in the face.

I speak my name in measured tones;
what can one do, but die willingly

I Know This Much

I know when to
put the axe aside.

I know when to quit.

I know when life is
coming up roses,
watch for a fall.

I know how all this started.
I know how it went.

If I don’t know yet
how it ends,

forgive my ignorance.

Nothing Else Matters

but this: as you scratch for purchase
keep headed to the wind; keep faced
for the rogue wave that will take us

over these plains of regret; past
these shoals that write our names,
our age, in sand tossed through with

oil; in cubic miles of floating plastic
buried facing seaward
bearing our children’s names;

bear us beyond to that far glade,
bear us to that undying peace, trailing
our waste like wedding garments.

Is It My Turn

to be humble? I’ve been practicing;
the lord’s work has lain me here,
legs in the air. I was no

volunteer, I might say
in my defense, never once
claimed anything; yet

I recall some kind of magic
I could have sworn to
at the time. Now, I scratch

my head that same old way,
where you can see right through
to the scalp he nailed to the door.

I Keep Returning To

certain themes: the rack; women who go,
the hard way; failures by the score, lost
near-captures of infinity’s inhabited man.

I walked through years of days that were every time
the best of our young lives; our thinning heads

now bobbing go to the sound coming
across the breeze, our shout
whispering to this rock of ages.

I Haven’t Found The Key

to this; or else I’d share it
like everything these days
it’s not so bad, a girl I met
before dark pulled the hood
over my eyes; heroic doses
make the man strong; make him
weak; make him crawl
on his belly, but not in any
reptilian way, please

A New Hope

the best rise from within
the worst shrinking
into their shriveling hearts

our trembling fingers
reach our secret weapon
already igniting

fond hope again

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Specialist

did his work; it was that simple. You want
a sestina, you’re in a rough neighborhood.

A while back I took down a catholic saint
from up the road; by the river, against

a young maple she had her way with me;
before that, sprawled among the presents

beneath the christmas tree, in the bathroom
twice, the kitchen, the shed, the porch,

anywhere to be alone. And
I don’t do end-rhyme.

Sunlight Calls

through the window; already I want to
lie down. Yet it moves, the earth, I mean,

against us; and all will perish in its sea,
reaching for a neighbor’s hand.

An Aubade

you’ve heard me mention
is a poem written in the morning;
need it be about morning is a
fair question I won’t answer here;
critical thought ranges in opposing
directions. I will say this: it’s
a damn fine morning to
rise and shine.

Days We Never Rose

from your bed marked me;
wherever I went they would
say: there he goes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Brain Damage

is not difficult to inflict
on you or I, by either of us.
That said, is there an apothecary
in the house? Your random
remedy will raise us armies,
which unthinking brutes
we may deploy as we wish,
in service of our rule.

Shadows From A Former Life

crossed my black heart and
were just reaching out their arms
toward the light; then
you swooped in.

In 1799, in Kursk, a mid-sized Russian
town for the time, three dalmations
spawned cod. I only report it because
I was there.

In the same vein, out the other
I always say when asked
for my bona fides, I’ll be here
when you get home.

I Used To Write Poems

in the dialect of the Assyrian,
who swarmed from the sea, only
to fall to the Spartans’ stout-
hearted defense which was
to burn the galleys and their man-slaves
to the waterline, but I gave it up.
It was too hard to get gigs.

Monday, June 7, 2010

I Made My Bones

being a wiseacre; but I have
my sensitive side; along these

ribs have grazed the nails
that trimmed the christ. Of

course I’m exaggerating, we’re
separated by a few more

degrees than that; I have his
profile however, in the right

light that he’s always so
careful about, we could be

brothers, not a hair of
difference between us;

MOMA tried.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Write My Best Poems

about nature, but women keep horning in;
perhaps I should begin my opus “Women
of the Psychic Caucaucus—An Entry on
Insoluble Dialectical Differences
Encountered in Reproductive Interactions
Coupled by Love.” It will probably be a
tear-jerker, depending on your gender.

That Girl

never showed except in my dreams
extended auditions availing nothing;
the gift of gifted children by
difficult women kept me from
my long-time longing for you
please come to me then
go as I please

A Day Like Any Other

broke across my disappearing body
dawn was to my knees when I jumped
up and began waving my arms in the air
trying to raise the gaze
of that far off figure of
a man fading into the near distance.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

This Is Serious

I’ve sprouted a head on my neck,
and toes on my feet already;
when do I get to rest?

Changing The Subject

to women in general; they will speak
for themselves, but I’ll say this:
across your back, their names were
not written, however, their initials
were penciled in.

Now I’ve Admitted

to being multiply eviscerated multiple times
by Irish Catholic Geminis, hell,
let’s broaden this to Geminis, one and all:
if any are listening, I just want one to
step up and make it right; if possible,
a redhead.

Irish Catholic Geminis

simply must be experienced;
mere text can neither simulate
the five G whip between
craven lust and disjoint fear
nor fathom the depths cored
from the soul every turn

Choose Life

what the hell. I wasn’t doing
anything better; and there isn’t,
anyway, anything else,
much less, anything better.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Johnny Too Bad

too bad about Johnny, too bad about his girl,
but I tried to warn them both. Mucking with
the monster never furthers. Lose a leg to
save the other, Leave the tracks of their
innocence where they lie.

I started collecting references to yesterday
this morning. I’ve got nine bags full already.
During the night, when today first came
slinking in, I was tempted to tell her where to go
but remembered how sensitive she is about

her low beginnings; which I for one never
considered in choosing her to queen
the festival of my lost heart;
who else ever could?

The St. James Hotel

historic digs, where Bobby D. penned Blind
Willie McTell, tell me a different story, one of
woe to come; your bustier over the lamp, the
open window, speak to me in a fractured voice,
of your lack of faith, your wild ambition for more,
as if there were.

There Weren’t Enough Clouds In The Sky

to hide you there, kneeling at the throne
of God, the piker, the favoritist, the cheat;
he had your black shifting Irish heart, I
couldn’t hold it but for fleeting hours,
and hard-fought was its regaining for
another bare few; your roseate cheek,
musk-bruised lips, and bright eye
tell him, beloved, where you’ve been.


I took down her silver locket. I took down
her crew with one look. I took down her number.
See ya, sweets, I called to her as she disappeared

out of the Steak and into Carl Nelson’s ’63 Sattelite;
the roar of its straight pipes gunned the night
right down in its tracks.

New Day

no new way had presented itself,
so I continued meandering along
the deepened track, thinking that
it would come to me, what was
would come to me. And if I’d
forgotten my original instructions
I won’t ask directions.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

How It Works

this nice DNA water planet is just setting here. the alien intelligence (that's what it is) comes along, marries (like really integrating) with all this nature stuff and its power to proliferate, and together they are responsible for this production, this ever-breathing NOW that continually reproduces itself every instant! and so while it's shocking at first to find out about the alien invasion part (because something in us (our hearts, actually) still identifies strongly with the home planet nature part), despite that, one quickly realizes that one is, and has been all along, every moment of our lives already--half-alien. so, yeah, they're shockingly cold and thoughtless in their purpose (whatever that is), but we are it, too; we are a mix, a strange brew of each element. I think at least we can all agree, we are glad of their unholy union in us, which produces this vast Las Vegas of the soul. basically, DNA meets DMT.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Among All You Angels

there’s a hole. you should have been filled by Saint Agnes and Saint Joan.
As it stands, we have vacancies for our two top novitiates to be elevated

to host. I’m Charles Rattner, and I’m facing God right now. He’s right here.
He’s combing his hair. I can see a tattoo of a red devil and some tumbling

dice on his left arm, his right is hidden. Now he’s playing guitar.
He’s playing Stairway to Heaven with his nails.

I want to return to the coast. Only LA can rescue me.
I have stuff in Indiana, Texas, and Taiwan. I’m moving west,

but more slowly than that deathless sun.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Did I Say Re-Rock

I meant tearing it all up all over again,
as if space could be put back in time,
and time to beginning before Elvis
went in the army, before Don and Phil,
before Buddy died, before
Bobby Fuller even started;
spot that child before
he goes wrong, before
he’s heard the news;
and that radio all damn day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I’ve Decided To Go For The Goblet

le Trompe de Reigne would look good
on my résumé. I always liked medals
commemorating service, I think

it’s something you just can’t have too much of;

so in that tradition, I’m now accepting
whatever damn thing is due to me. I can’t
possibly keep track what is owed

and to tell you the truth,
I’d just as soon call it even.

Frankly and Cher

had been there; they hooked up in Tulsa
before the fourth war, before the rocking
public was trussed and drawn up and sent
into the ozone, replacing Chuck Berry, which
people, can not be undone! What if
it had been Buddy Holly?!?

The Poetry Public

is easily handed a mackerel
masquerading as cod, and you
a limp fish for anybody but me

So I Said

is it alright to fight toward the light,
or do you have to relax? I hope not.
All my mares have foaled. I’ve not
the strength to get up and answer
the door; much less open it. If time
were a slide to hell, then dig in
your nails; they look smashing
with your car.

Not Love

You made it perfectly clear where you were going
with this, but I don’t think I’m ready for a long-term
commitment. How about ninety days?

My Long Distance Is Getting Turned Off

but I think of it as a lucky accident; one less to pay.
I’m trying to minimize my footprint on the American
debt market, something I was less drawn to in times past;

we would go along the boulevard, you in your shine,
me in mine, lord did we love and live
barely by our teeth; crazy for love.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Getaway

I fathered three children by three women,
all better than I. I lived like a god. It seemed
at times to quite overcome my civility,
not to mention my aversion to heroics;

glad I made a splash when I didn’t know
any better; these days find me under a hole
somewhere out of sight, no more flaming
freakness dripping light from every finger.

My tests were these: eight weeks of hell week
in high school, for that thing; going
before the board of admirals; my MFA;
and my shodan test; and those three kids;

and their mothers. The truth is that it was the
romantic deaths that killed me beyond all recourse
a dozen times or more; desperate doomsday love
that can survive anything except a new girl.

But once you really get your teeth in it,
nothing beats living alone. I’ve got ten
good years now without being drawn around
by someone else’s predilections, The peace in

that solitude is not a woman
but it’s not too bad.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jesus Said

lay your thin harvest at plenty’s door; strip
your garments from disease’s kiosk. And
before you die, be kind to an embittered tyrant
and/or spouse. Write your good deeds
on the back of a hand, or scrawl them on
an unlifted finger with the diamond stylus
at the bench. When you come before the post,
raise the left eyebrow if you will be keeping
your corporeal form; the right, if new, or
applying for reissue. The number for help with
totaling worldly credits is unpublished
in the paradisiacal general record, but,
for corporeal retainers, can be found, with
public assistance, tattooed subcutaneously
beneath the perineal seam, along with various
disclaimers and warranties that may or may not
apply. Let it be noted: the ethereal peasantry
may only petition His Lord of Wants and Needs
en masse and that by appointment only.

That’s Entertainment

I stole my looks from Montgomery Clift,
my mind from Aldous Huxley; from Albert
Schweitzer comes my oft-described kindness

to animals, and this despite my revulsion
at their paw to mouth existence, their drab
sexual practices and their uninteresting diets.

I’ve bent way over to accommodate these habits,
even stopping on the street to help would-be
faunic procreators find and mount a mate.

I’m strictly an amateur, sure,
but I know my work.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Baudelaire Didn’t Hit It Off With Haag

which relieved me somewhat, even with
half his face gone, he outshown me,
a poor servant boy with hidden quills,

trothed at three to Haag, Great and Glorious
Never-Ending and Far Seeing Queen of
the Giant Black Dung Beetles. At the

awesome hinging of her knee, always;
she pampered me into submission
with the soft down beneath her forques,

lay me beside fountains of nectar, and
watched me come to age, come to know
her treachery and her lies. Baudelaire

didn’t care, no, he did not. Not a whit.
I tried to tell you.

The Way We Used To Be

we’d rather steal than buy, rather
run than hide; rather call out all night
our love, and whisper into the hours.

You grew away; some day
will return you on silks
and cashmere, feathers

against your bare skin; your lips
still cherry. These are the days of
recollection; the nights of dreams.

My Bike

seems like it has a hairline crack on the impact bar
of the frame. It’s likely been there since I was jumping
but I never noticed. Spring’s fresh eyes still
turn up a thing or two still at the edge of field,
a smudge against the wind, hair swept into air,

I could see you recognized me.

So, I Could See Where This Was Going

all create made Jack a dull boy
in the end. He just had to get off
those tracks imprinting the known world;
the unknown, or unsubstantiated,
was fresh as, well, blood

Sunday, April 4, 2010

There Ought To Be A Law

against people making rules.
It should be illegal to
restrain the will
of a fellow beingthing.

In The Weeds

is all manner of foul found; just
the other day I came across

a queen being ravaged by birds
who when put to flight

encircled my head briefly,
long enough to hear one say,

we’ll be back

It’s An Aubade

if it’s written in the morning.
probably an Etude if in evening.

In any case, it’s a poem about
dismemberment and death. All

hell breaks loose upon
the protagonist, in the end,

it drives him into dirt.

I Can’t Draw

my heart is wound so tight;
I don’t hit stride till night.

I start to settle when daylight goes
and quits its infernal calling;

evening settling in around,
each thief seeking to gain

the other; there it stands.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Light Of The Moon

beneath these vaults of glory
sports a cheating coward

we go hand in hand
up the golden stairs

People Take Themselves So Seriously

it’s hard to break through; everything means
exactly what it says, but that’s not

the native tongue,

I Wrote A Poem Once

it concerned a certain female person,
I won’t name; but its intent was

unresolved. It ended with
a kiss.

Facing The Page

coldbloodedly; you sucker,
your ass is mine. All I can say is

sayonara, my imprint goes here
on your face.

Anyway, Where’s The Meat

in this thin salad? Do I have to do everything myself?
Take this one word: elegy; write it in letters that

mount to the sky. Come with me where our hands
find purchase in each other; where I can claw from

these simple ways some big song, some aria to
go with the storm of our days. Remember when

you called my name out of hell’s dry foundry,
and met me with your lips. All I could say

was caught on the sticks we brought under cover,
and crushed so with our young and pliant flesh.

A Last Shot At Glory

aiming at something close; just beyond
my sight; there where the forks lay down

with the spoons, the cutlery carves
my name in without a date; nothing else

says I was here; your unmentionables
still burn in my barn of cares.

Take This Goddamn Summer Day

and send it back where the sun don’t shine;
give me rain; give me a long hauling of the

winter’s ashes; give me grace; give me punk,
the hard way; give me a going over,

and spit me back along the river, where
we pulled nothing from something;

this cursed heat had me blinded then, too,
and full with the last faith I could find;

you looked at our makings with
eyes wet with heedless love.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Almighty God

rain down on me
thy bounty
your tread
crossed mine
and wroth
wath god

Some Stuff Just Writes Itself

some pulls scab onto the page;
either way, I’m down. I was noticing where
the other day went skipping. I was seeing
how delighted a man could be.

It was just an experiment, but I’d like
to report its findings. It says here that
when all that’s written happens again, we
will step free

I Should Take This Seriously

I’m starting a career; avocations are a dime a dozen.
So, for a nickel a pop you can have
a poem dedicated to you. Although I fully
support all worthy causes, this one is strictly about
the one cheese.

Still And All I Have To Say

life is a fucking grand piano.
And, on that you may count;

lifting unto the usual stratuses
where we spread our cloth and fare,

my brothers and sisters, we ride
a great galleon, whereunto

we are all set

I’ve Got To Write Some Poems

but it’s not for the usual reason,
I just need a dummy; some plastic
shape to square up and plunk in here.

I promise I will return to my usual
practice hereforward, until further notice

this will be for the ages.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


6. The Real Thing.

Jen went away to boarding school the summer after I met her. It was tough watching her go. I had spent virtually every minute with her that spring and summer, and I had grown accustomed to her companionship. She wrote me often though, and came home or to Quarry Hill on weekends if she could. Occasionally, I would take a bus to Albany to visit her and check out hardcore shows.

The scene in Albany was very rugged with a lot of fights at the shows and a lot of scene conflict. That’s how it felt to me, at least, being an outsider. Somehow it seemed to reflect the character of the city itself, bleak and ripe with despair. We managed to have fun though, and I made some friends there who are still friends today.

At home in Vermont I counted the days until Jen’s return. I thought of nothing but her on a daily basis. I lived only for the coming summer and the day she would come home. She was back for maybe a week before she dumped me. Within two weeks after that she had a new boyfriend. I was devastated.

I was good at being broken-hearted back then. I would sit on the street sulking for hours, just hoping she might walk by so that I could give her a hurt stare. Sometimes I would see her at a party or a show and I could do nothing but sit alone and stare at her, sulking, feeling sorry for myself. If she spoke to me I would usually say something poetically pathetic or ridiculously dramatic, and storm off in mock disgust. I tried everything to make her feel as bad as me. I wanted to know that she hurt too and that our relationship had meant something to her, at least. I wanted her to feel how barren I felt inside. Usually she seemed not to notice and I just looked foolish.

I saw less and less of Jen as the weeks went by. She slowly faded away, but her ghost remained, nagging at my soul and stabbing at my heart. I was lovesick for the first time and it was high-quality pain. Somehow I was unable to muster any anger with her though, which is unfortunate. It’s easier to be angry than it is to be hurt.

At this point I was staying at my friend Simon’s place, on College Street, in downtown Burlington. It was one room with a small kitchen and bathroom attached, and a single window that looked out onto a back porch. It was generally hot inside and in a state of disarray. Normally I would crash at Jeffrey’s house when I was in Burlington but he was too crazy to even deal with at this time. He was determined to drink himself to death and I had given up trying to stop him.

Despite the conditions of Simon’s place, it was not all bad. He was pretty good company and always had this killer hash that his friend brought down from Canada. He was also a good listener and had some good advice from time to time, although I was usually to stubborn to take it. He had a pretty high tolerance for my lovesick complaining and we would bounce stories off of each other all night long, paying little attention to what the other was actually saying. So it caught me off guard when he appeared to have some sort of revelation about my situation.

“You know what you need?” he said, with a thoughtful look. “Another girl, that’s all you need and you’ll be fine.

“Fuck you,” was my only response.

I knew that there was no way he could ever understand what I was feeling and his naivety insulted me. In fact, he understood all too well what I was going through, maybe better than I did.

“I saw this new punk chick today,” he continued, oblivious to my anger. “She was so fucking hot, and just your style.”

I didn’t care what he was saying. I knew it was all lies. I knew from my seventeen years of wisdom that I would never love again, and that no girl could ever compare to Jen. I just wanted to wallow in my own misery and experience every second of the pain in my heart. At least I could still feel.

“Shut the hell up,” I groaned at last. “You’re hurting my head.”

The next day was savagely hot. I awoke crumpled up on Simon’s couch, wrapped cocoon-style in a thin sweat-covered sheet. The breeze coming in the open window did little to cut the heat. We quickly got showered and headed out to Church Street to meet Dana. I was covered in sweat again before we had reached the bottom of the stairs.

The sun beat down unmercifully as we made our way up the street, squinting into its glare. It was nearly intolerable after the gloom of Simon’s dungeon. I felt like a vampire or some other creature of the night, caught out of its lair at the break of day, and now forced to brave the burning, stabbing rays of the sun. I was relieved to find Dana waiting for us sucking a blue slushy out of a long curly straw.

Dana was the youngest of Junior’s eight brothers and had therefore been raised on punk rock since day one. I could see his bright red Mohawk gleaming from a block away. It stood up ten inches above his skull and showed no sign of withering in the heat. He wore acid-washed jeans, braces, and fourteen hole Doc Martens in blatant defiance of the summer sun. His long face broke into a grin as he spotted us.

“What’s up boys?” he called. “Ready to make some noise?”

Simon and I had been working on a band with Dana and his roommate, Shan, who was a fairly decent guitar player. Dana was the drummer and Simon screamed his guts out like an angry drunken pirate. His deep growl sounded unnatural coming from his scrawny form.

I was terrible on the bass. I couldn’t even tune the thing. I had another hardcore band with Nick but I was the singer and this was my first time attempting to play an instrument. We jammed out in their attic almost every day despite the sweltering heat. Our sound was a terrible and chaotic noise, but fun is fun until someone gets hurt. We called it the Champions.

We played our four, two minute songs again and again until I couldn’t feel my fingertips and Simon’s voice had decayed into a horrible raspy croak. The sun had retreated into the west, leaving a tolerable warmth to the night as we headed back to town, feeling mentally and physically drained and yet content.

Church Street was not so hectic now that darkness had fallen. The shoppers had all gone home and the shops had all closed. Soon the night crowd would be out in force trooping downtown to hit the bars, but for now it was quiet, the hour of the changing of the guard. We sat on “punk rock”, Dana, Simon and I, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, just talking and watching the people mill quietly up and down the street. Maddog showed up before long to join us in our somber meditation.

I used to enjoy the little things a lot more in those days. I guess it was because I was a kid and everything still felt new and exciting to me. Even when I felt broken-hearted, at least I felt alive. I was battered, bloodied, and beaten, but alive to savor that experience and consciously seeking strength in that hurt. My thoughts were clouded by the hatred, happily married to the misery, and yet secretly my heart clung to some shard of hope, keeping it hidden in the back of my consciousness, lest it be stomped to pieces by the despair.

“Hey, check it out,” said Simon at last, breaking the comfortable silence. “It’s that girl I told you about, and she’s showing some leg this time.”

Down the block a slender young woman stood near a phone booth, apparently waiting for her shorter, stouter friend who was making a call. She glanced our way briefly and for a second I feared she could hear us talking about her, even from all the way down the block. It was difficult to make out her features from the distance, but it was clear that she did have attractive legs.

“What’s so great about her?” I snorted derisively, still clinging desperately to the despair.

“You’ll see. And then you’ll learn not to argue with me.”

Her features became clearer as we slowly approached. Desperately, I searched for some flaw in her beauty, hoping with each step to prove Simon wrong. Her friend completed her call and they moved to a bench behind the phone booth, out of my view. I still had not gotten a good look at her but I was now fairly intrigued, although I would not have admitted it. Our plan was simply to walk by and check them out, but as we rounded the phone booth, somehow we ended up standing around their bench staring at them. She really was a sight to behold. I could no longer deny her beauty. It struck me hard, like a blow to the face, and I stood gaping unable to speak.

She wore a black mini-skirt that revealed a good portion of her tanned thighs, and an army green v-neck shirt that clung to her ample breasts and slender waist. A red bandana covered her short-cropped auburn hair. Her eyes were mesmerizing, gleaming blue and filled with warmth, and her lips were full and red. A silver dog-tag hung between her breasts reflecting the sun’s rays.

“Hi,” she said, looking me in the eyes and smiling.

Only then did I realize I was standing directly in front of her, staring and not saying a single thing. Luckily, Maddog began to speak to her friend and it snapped me out of my daze. She was listening too but her eyes were still fixed on me.

“Nice shoes.” She smiled.

At first I thought she was fucking with me or something but then I noticed her shoes. They were three hole, ox-blood, Doc Marten shoes just like mine. I quickly regained my composure.

“I like yours too,” I replied, sitting down beside her.

I felt encouraged by her warm smile and the sweet sound of her mouse-like voice. My hopelessness empowered me, after all, I had nothing to lose. I experienced a sudden surge of coolness, and before long I was acting foolishly suave and flirting shamelessly.

“Let me scope your tags,” I said snatching the shining piece from her chest and bringing it closer to my face. Her soft flesh brushed against me as she leaned towards me to give me a closer look. Her fragrance made me want to bite into her like a piece of exotic fruit. I longed to just sink my face gently into her white neck and run my hands all over her body. I dropped the tag back to her chest as I realized my hand was shaking.

“I’m Elizabeth.” Her eyes burned into mine.

“I know…..It says so on your tag.”

Our friends had all gone and nearly three hours had passed and still we sat and talked, Elizabeth and I, utterly absorbed in each other it seemed. Our conversations flowed naturally and continuously, and I became unaware of anything but her. I was surprised when she told me that she was only sixteen. I was only seventeen but somehow she seemed so much cooler and so much more down to earth then other girls that I had known, and it made her seem more mature. At any rate, I was completely in awe of her. If there was any doubt it disintegrated when she told me that her favorite band was The Clash. My heart was set, I had to have her.

When we finally parted it was reluctantly and I had promised to call her the next night. I felt like I was glowing on my way back to Simon’s place. I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was and how into me she seemed to be. I felt recharged by her brilliance. My friends laughed at me and busted my balls about it but I could tell that they were relieved that I had someone to snap me out of my depression. It was cool because no matter how much shit we gave each other and no matter how much we enjoyed torturing each other, at that moment I could see that they really cared about me. That, or they were just dreadfully sick of my whining.

I awoke before eight AM the next morning, anticipating the fated call. I could not stop thinking about Elizabeth and I was way too excited to sleep. I over-analyzed the situation from every angle until I had whipped up a cloud of doubt in the back of my head. What would I say to her? What if the connection we had made was only in my head? What if I had only imagined the fire that I had seen behind her eyes? She probably had a hundred guys a day asking her out. What made me different?

It was mid-afternoon before I finally got the guts to call her. There was no answer. My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach. Ridiculous doubts began to nag at my heart. I started to wonder if she had caller ID and was avoiding my calls. Perhaps I had come on too strong and frightened her off. Maybe she even had a boyfriend. Finally on the third call she answered.

Upon hearing her voice all of my fears of that moment were put to rest. Once again her warmth and sweet musical voice put me at ease, and I felt like I could tell her anything, regardless of the fact that I had only known her for one day. I felt foolish for having doubted our connection. She told me that she would like to see me but that her parents would not let her go out that night. The uncertainty nagged at me again and my heart began to sink. My insecurities strove for domination of that part of me that is confident, strong and fearless, and the conflict left me speechless, at least momentarily. I quickly regained my confidence.

“Sneak out the window,” I joked. But that was exactly what she did.

Elizabeth’s parents owned a small piece of land in Colchester on Lake Champlain. They had recently separated and her dad now lived in a small cottage no more than a stone’s throw from where Elizabeth and her mother lived. Across the street was a long stretch of beach. They owned a small portion of it, she explained. Summer cabins, all with decks and docks, lined its expanse. Elizabeth instructed me to wait for her on that stretch of beach. Conveniently, Maddog had hit it off with Elizabeth’s friend, Nicole. I arranged for him to deliver us to Colchester. Elizabeth promised to deliver herself and Nicole.

The cabins were all dark as we pulled off the twisted, battered main road and into a small parking area that was little more then a dirt turnoff. The moon was nearly full and was casting gray shadows that leapt and flailed in a primal dance with the thrashing windblown trees. The breeze was wild and warm coming off of the lake, bringing with it a feeling of excitement, yet also a hint of the sorrow that comes with the changing of the seasons, especially from summer to autumn.

A female voice rose in laughter as I stepped onto the sandy beach. Momentarily, it was drowned by the roar of the wind. A branch snapped and I turned just in time to be tackled by Elizabeth and Nicole who struggled fiercely to knock me to the ground.

“Boo!” they screamed with little conviction, and drifted into a fit of giggling that trailed off into silence.

“Um..Hi!” said Elizabeth, sounding shy despite the fierce attack of only a moment before.

“Hi!” I replied unwillingly grinning, and looking her from head to toe with a greedy eye.

We walked up the sandy beach for some time, the four of us, talking and joking, and just gazing at the stars. Elizabeth removed her shoes and walked barefoot through the sand, stepping and hopping lightly to avoid patches of washed-up seaweed and piles of broken timber. She moved slowly but with the grace of a cat, swaying along in the wind and the moon. I reached out to wrap my arm around her as we walked, but she squirmed free and sprinted ahead of us, tramping through the now open sand. I longed to chase her down and capture her in my arms.

But then she had halted, and without warning, unleashed a shrill cry of terror, and came tearing back down the beach at us. I braced myself for whatever horror pursued her, ready to jump between her and an enraged grizzly bear, without a moment’s hesitation, if need called.

“I stepped on a slimy dead fish,” she screamed, kicking up sand as she ran halfway into my arms only to quickly break free.

“Kill it!” she shrieked, seizing a long stick from the ground and thrusting it into my arms.

“I thought you said it was already dead.” I was trying my best not to laugh.

“Ah, quick,” she snarled. Before I could locate my enemy, she had reclaimed her weapon and ran up the beach, impaling a dark, unmoving shape and pushing it off into the lake along with her spear.

Maddog, Nicole, and I could only watch in wonder, struggling not to be overcome by laughter. All of us were thoroughly amazed by her ferocity, even Nicole who was most familiar with her antics. Now, as she turned back to us, smiling with a look of innocence, I could see her embarrassment, red even in the hollow moonlight.

“I hate those things,” she said quietly and we continued to walk.

We came to a weather-worn stone wall, and rested on its cool bricks for a time. It cradled a blackened scar that could have once been a beach cottage, long ago swallowed by the earth or washed out to sea by the rising tide. We sat and talked in the darkness, laughing without care, and ignorant of any worry or hurt. In silence, we simply reveled in the perfect summer night.

At last, Nicole and the Dog resigned themselves to walking up the beach in advance of us, as scout for our imminent adventures. The moon, too, abandoned its vigil and retreated to the clouds, leaving us alone at last, with only the stars as our witness. Before long her hand was in my hand and our lips met, kissing gently, silently, and passionately.

Elizabeth murmured something unintelligible and yet sweet to my ears as she bit my neck softly, sending a shudder down my spine and into my feet. Her moist lips brushed over me gently and her breath was hot on my skin. I could feel her heart beating through her chest as she pressed against me, and her hands shook as they caressed. The scent of her perfume made my head spin, as I kissed her again just to keep myself from gnawing on her shoulder.

Too soon Maddog returned arm and arm with Nicole, emerging from the darkness to spoil our moment. Still the connection had been made. Now there was no denying that she felt that same spark that had ignited a raging fire in my soul. I wanted to fan that spark into a flame and drown it in gasoline until it burnt the whole town into a blackened cinder.

We sat together in the back seat of Maddog’s car as we were chauffeured back into Burlington, arms locked firmly around each other, eyes shining in the darkness. We barged into Simon’s dungeon to find nearly a dozen kids drinking and joking, and sucking down hash knives out of a long plastic tube. They shouted rowdy greetings as we entered, and thrust their wares into our faces, demanding that we join their debauchery. I introduced Elizabeth to the room, then sucked down the best hash hit of my life and sank into the couch.

The dungeon was unbearable with that many people packed into it, and so we were forced to move out onto the back deck. It overlooked two dark alleys that met in the form of an L. Two other buildings with back decks were adjacent. One was short, its peak being level with our deck and directly across from it. Old looking wooden stairs that also served as a fire escape for the entire building, led up and down to the decks of the above and below apartments. I wondered briefly how their occupants felt about our evening’s revelry.

Elizabeth had me utterly charmed. I felt as though I could listen to her voice all night long and only crave more of that sweet sound. She seemed at once very social and outgoing in her conversations, warm and excited, not at all shy or reserved. Her wit shined, rivaling her dazzling smile, and she seemed to dominate everyone’s attention. She definitely had mine.

Now I wanted her more than ever, and again doubt raised its ugly head. I wondered if I could truly make her mine, or if the connection I felt meant less to her than it did to me. After all we had only kissed a few times, and it had been hours since I had even touched her hand. Her conversation had not been centered on me at all for the last hour or so, and she seemed engaged by the rants of one guy in particular who was clearly engaged by her appearance. I still remembered the taste of her lips and the feel of her body pressed against me, the beating of her heart. I wanted to steal her away and gather her in my arms again. I wanted to scream to the world that she was mine.

Still, I didn’t think she wanted me touching her in front of so many people that she didn’t even know. We had only known each other for one day and I was pretty sure that she didn’t want me acting like she was my trophy or something. I could only watch and admire her work.

She moved quickly to squash my doubt. Had she heard my thoughts, or was it written on my face? Regardless, she moved to me, still in conversation with her admirer, and leaned her back against my chest, her hand grasping mine firmly. My arm encircled her waist and we locked together like two pieces of a puzzle. It was hard to believe how perfect it felt. Still, something gnawed at the back of my mind telling me that it was all too good to be true.

“Freeze!” a loud voice called out, stunning us all momentarily.

On the deck of one of the adjacent buildings stood a man, cloaked in shadows, and brandishing what appeared to be gun, waving it in our direction.

“Freeze, Police!” he yelled again. “Stay right where you are.”

The darkness kept him well disguised but he didn’t seem like a cop to me. But we did as ordered and sat in place drinking our beers, until his backup arrived. There were three of them and they came up our building by way of the back steps. They had guns drawn but quickly brought them to bear on our captor, when they spotted him. They shouted orders and moved to apprehend him as we watched, still sipping on our beverages. He protested loudly, cursing as they threw him to the ground and cuff-locked his hands behind his back.

It turned out he had not been a cop at all but only an over zealous security guard from the neighboring building. Somehow he had mistaken us for burglars or vagrants or something, I’m not quite sure how, and had called the police before going vigilante on us. We explained our situation to the real cops, and “rent-a-cop” did his best to explain his. He had a rough time of it and also got a sound verbal thrashing from us on his way out. We heard later that he ended up jobless, with charges of impersonating an officer against him.

Though it was amusing and mildly exciting, that incident kind of broke up the party, and the girls decided that they needed to get home. Elizabeth was quiet on the ride back to her house. In fact, she said almost nothing to me, but still her hand grasped mine with her tightest grip. It was hard to watch her go as we dropped her and Nicole off in her driveway. She kissed me goodnight and disappeared into the darkness as we drove away.

We talked excitedly on our way home, Maddog and I, unleashing all the thoughts that we couldn’t in their presence. It seemed like Maddog and Nicole had actually become a couple now, and he was quite pleased about it. It was slightly amusing because she weighed more then him and was larger than him. She was not abnormally large either; it was just that he was abnormally small. Whatever, I was happy for him. I wished the same was true of Elizabeth and I.

I had been hoping to see her again the next night but when I asked she informed me that she would be busy. She didn’t specify what she would be busy with, and I managed to control the urge to ask, not wanting to seem like I was nosing into her business after only 48 hours in her life.

Again my mind roamed in circles of doubt, running through a multitude of possible reasons why she could not see me the next day. The most horrifying of course, was the one where she would be busy with another guy, perhaps a boyfriend. Yeah, speculation is a bitch.

I only needed to know if I could see her again, and yet she refused to, or was unable to, offer me that contentment, choosing instead to leave me desperately, though secretly, yearning for more. The next day passed without word from Elizabeth and her face lingered in my dreams as I slept that night.

The next morning I awoke to a liquid trickling sound like that of water splashing steadily onto a tile floor. Perhaps the sink was overflowing, I thought with dismay. Perhaps a pipe had frozen and burst and we would soon be wading through six inches of freezing water. I remembered then that it was summer and unlikely that anything would be frozen beyond the barren, empty, wasteland of Simon’s refrigerator. I wiped the grog from my eyes and dragged myself to a sitting position to peer into the kitchen. At first it was hard for my sleep-clouded brain to process the strange sight in front of me.

On the floor in front of the apartment door was an ever-widening pool of yellow liquid. It spilled from what appeared to be a penis poking through the mail slot.
“Arg…Bastard,” growled Simon leaping from his bed to confront the defiler.

We charged for the door and flung it open just in time to see “rent-a-cop” disappear around the corner, heading for the stairs. We pursued him in nothing but our boxer shorts, shouting insults and demanding that he return with a mop. I seized a large bag of bottles and trash that was sitting in the hallway and hurled it down the stairs as he fled.

“Yes, guy! Nice shot!” Simon screamed as it struck the defiler in the back, breaking all over him and sending him sprawling out the door and onto his knees on the sidewalk.

We were then overcome by fit of laughter that nearly brought us down to our knees, mulling over what had just happened. Only then did we notice that all of the apartments on Simon’s floor had emptied into the hall to witness the action.
“Oh. Hello,” Simon called politely to Mr. Davis, an older man who lived next store, and who now stood eying us suspiciously. His two 10-ish daughters peered carefully from behind his back. “How are you?”

“You have stupid underwear,” the smaller girl challenged from behind her old man’s guard.

“Settle down, kid.” Simon barked back in a deep, bellowing voice. “Don’t make me come over there.”

“I don’t want you to come over here,” she snapped back.

“You got that right, missy.” And with that we retreated to the apartment while Mr. Davis’ sense of humor still held and before the little hellion could retaliate.

The day had started out pretty bad but I had the feeling it would get worse. I badly wanted to call Elizabeth, but again the uncertainty was twisting a hole in my gut and withering away my confidence. More so, because I had not spoken to her in more then a day, and because she had not told me to call her or anything. I really didn’t have any idea where I stood with her. Finally I gave in and called her, and my worst fears were realized. She informed me that she was hanging out with her friend Erik that day and could not see me and that she would be really busy all week long. I presented her with many openings in which to offer an alternative plan but she avoided them with casual skill, and I didn’t press the issue.

Dread began to set in as she dropped me further into the ground with every sentence. Erik was obviously a male friend, perhaps her boyfriend. Perhaps he just wanted to be. I had only known Elizabeth for a few days but still the jealousy welled up inside me, turning my thoughts and words as purple as my heart. I pretended not to care and told her to call me sometime if she ever wanted to hang out. I felt utterly defeated and I hoped she could tell that I was bruised.

A couple of tortured days passed where I thought of her nonstop, twisting myself into a dismal mess with thoughts of her lips, and her eyes, and of her breasts. I realized with a shock that she had obliterated every thought of Jen, whom I had dated for over a year, in only a matter of days. I longed to hear her voice again but I was too proud to call her. Sometimes I would focus all my thought on the phone, thinking that I could somehow make her call me by force of will alone. She never did.

One day I ran into Nicole downtown and she seemed surprised that I had not been hanging out with Elizabeth. She assured me that Elizabeth was indeed interested in me and encouraged me to call her as soon as possible. When I finally did it was a brutal disappointment.

She told me that she had a guy at her school who she “sort of” had a thing with. She claimed that he was not her boyfriend but that they hung out a lot, and liked each other a lot, and had known each other for awhile. I imagined that I could hear regret in her voice as she explained that she could not see me anymore because of what was happening between the two of them. Again my heart was crushed under her heel. My fragile hopes shattered against the wall she had raised between us. All along it had seemed too good to be true. Now I could see that it was.

I was hurt and deeply disappointed then, but more than that, I was simply angry. Not so much angry with Elizabeth, but mad at the world, and angry with the way things were. I was literally fuming over the way I had lost her. In a way though, it felt righteous to give in to the anger, rather than fall victim to the hurt. I didn’t give a shit about anything anymore and the hopelessness empowered me in some ways, although it made me reckless as well.

The next few days were littered with drinking, shit-talking, a lot of near fights, and some generally unruly, occasionally criminal behavior. I gave up trying to reason with the rednecks and jocks on the street, and I gave up reasoning with my friends who wanted to murder them. I didn’t give a damn about right or wrong anymore and, with that care abandoned, there was no end to the trouble you could find. I tried everything to get Elizabeth out of my head, but all to no avail. She had infected me with her poison and I was lovesick again, this time for a girl I barely knew.

One week had passed since I had last spoken to her and I was out on the street, carousing with Dana, Simon and a few others, looking to stir up some kind of trouble. We walked downtown as a unit, not quite sure of our destination, but discontent with what was laid out before us.

We turned down College Street towards Simon’s building, thinking to maybe make a pit stop for hot knives but the idea lost all appeal as I spotted Elizabeth walking towards us. I could tell it was her from way down the block and my heart began to pound in my head. I feared it might leap from my chest and run away at any second, if only to avoid the beating it was surely about to receive. She was with another guy, chatting happily as they walked towards us. The jealousy tumbled inside me again, threatening to consume me, and uninvited visions trampled into my head, visions of The Grudge and of his Shining Knuckles, and of broken teeth on the sidewalk.

“Settle down, guy,” Simon pleaded, although I had said nothing.

Her lips curled into a smile and her face lit up as Elizabeth saw us coming towards her, but it only deepened the frown which was already wearing a track into my face.

“Hey,” she called, smiling at me. Her friend was smiling too, with large rows of big, white, perfectly unscathed teeth.

“Hi,” I replied in a dry tone, with a brief glance, and continued past her without looking back.

The hurt of my brutish dismissal was evident in her dazzling, blue eyes as I passed. A dark cloud had come over them, and somehow they had lost their brilliant shine, if only for a moment. With one brutish word, spoken in anger, I had stolen a piece of her innocence, and bruised her fearless spirit. I regretted it immediately. I wanted to turn around and tell her that I was sorry and that I hadn’t meant to hurt her, that I loved her, and wanted to be with her, something…..anything. Instead I kept walking.

Simon hung back and talked to her for a minute as I stalked off. I couldn’t hear what was said, but the distress was evident on her face as I glanced back once, unable to resist one final look. I was glad. I hoped it meant that I at least did mean something to her and that the bond we shared was not wholly in my head. At this point I had forgotten every other girl I had ever known and I needed her to feel for me in some way or I would go mad.

Apparently, she didn’t. She turned from Simon and walked off down the street, before I could think of how to stop her, fading away, perhaps forever. I wondered if I would ever see her again or if she would disappear as Jen had, and become another “what if?” kicking around in the hollows of my mind, forever nagging at my soul.

The next few hours were torture. I followed my friends blindly not caring where they went. I had finally abandoned that last shard of hope and given myself over to the despair. I knew that eventually I would forget her and continue on with my lonely existence, but I didn’t want to forget her. I wanted to know everything there was to know of her and to find out who she really was at the core of her being. I needed to see her again, even if I could not have her.

Again we were on College Street. Heading back to Simon’s now, we passed the same place where I had seen Elizabeth earlier. The moment replayed, uncomfortably, in my head. I could see her smiling face as she approached. And then the hurt in her eyes as they scanned over me, searching for the warmth she had previously found in mine, only to find cold and defensive orbs avoiding her wanting gaze. I wished that I could do it over again. I wished that I could take it back and make it right. I wished that she would be there as she had been, walking up the lonely, deserted street, talking and smiling, free from the burden of the pain that I had passed to her. And then she was.

At first I thought it was my imagination. A mirage, like the hallucinations of a man lost in the desert and dying of thirst, who sees a plush oasis dripping with moisture just ahead, where there is only sand and dust. I rubbed my eyes to dispel the illusion, but still she remained, walking slowly towards me, alone this time. The hurt in her heart was still apparent on her elfish face. She ignored my friends this time and walked straight up to me.

“Hi,” she said quietly, looking more at the ground than at me. “Can I talk to you?”

“Of course.” I motioned for the others to go on without me. “What’s up, Elizabeth?” I imagined that I sounded neutral.

She didn’t answer immediately but paused for a second as if searching for the proper words. “I miss you.” Her eyes still focused on the ground beneath her feet, as if it were some great puzzle to be organized.

“I miss you too,” I said, lifting her chin until her eyes met mine. They were moist and shiny, as if tears might spill from their brim.

“I’m sorry,” she said, with undoubtable sincerity.

“Why?” I knew why.

“Because I hurt you.”

“I was asking for it,” I replied, finally committing to a brief, half smile.
Elizabeth was hard to stay mad at. She was so real and so beautiful inside and out, that it made me want to melt. To see her hurting this way was almost too much to bear. But my heart hardened at the memory of the jealousy that I had felt upon seeing her with another man. I remembered the emptiness that I had felt in the pit of my stomach, and the teeth, and again my thoughts turned to murder.

“So where is your friend?”

“He went home.” Again she looked down.

“Is he your boyfriend?” I asked at last, dreading to hear the answer.

“No.” A smile flicked across her face momentarily as if she found some amusement in that thought.

“Where is your boyfriend?” It had sounded ruder than I had intended.

“I told him I couldn’t see him anymore.” She sounded sure.


She looked up at me then and a tear rolled down her cheek. “Because, I can’t stop thinking about you.”

I was frowning still but inside I wanted to jump and scream.

“I was confused before.” She started to cry. Her slender body trembled as I pulled her close, wrapping her in my arms. She smelled sweet and her skin was cool, my neck damp from her tears.

“I can’t stop thinking about you either.” It felt good to drop my guard at last.

“It’s been driving me crazy these past few days.”

“I know.” She was smiling through her tears now. “It’s terrible. I miss you so much.”

“So what are we gonna do about it?” I asked, smiling back at her.

She didn’t reply. Instead she lunged into my arms again kissing me passionately and repeatedly. I held her tight to my chest and was lost to the smell of her hair, and the softness of her skin, and the taste of her lips. All of a sudden, things didn’t seem so bad anymore.

I Can Hear This Song As Many Times As I Want

and no one will care;
but I will.

Leonard Cohen

says everybody knows
lonesome town was
written in Hollywood;
that a near suicide
hoisted his unworthy
caress hence, and so
was anointed.

The Right Bleeding Edge

such as it is,
is committed to it,
at that point where
things come to
a point.
a whittling never hurt,
many times over shunned
whipping; those lessons
are carved into
my torso,
such as it is,
wax for the ages

The American Night

stretched out between my legs, my
strides marked the ages. Later,
I turned. I looked back. I
forgot to burn like
the last match

Aiiieee, My Soul Is On Fire

am I some lucky Gypsy after all
that? Well, all I can say is
well come, welcome, indeed,
pull up a chair, ma chere ami;
now, where were we?

Is This Where I Came In

last time? I know I should remember,
but the facts have not presented
themselves to me on their own;
no, it’s a fact, um, facts,
for me to remember so
can we go through this again?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Crypt

was laid out fine. I could spend some time,
I reckon, here. From such vantage, possibly,
had I been given the vast vision of
our bodily saints, and, too, the courage
we cut from their hearts, then, possibly,
I, too, could contemplate the ages, as
did these our own risen brethren,
better men than I . . . and like them,
choose to stick it here, choose to
forgo fertile valleys tilled by fancy,
and take it cold. Come on, give me
six, the hard way.

Some Days You Just Have To Grab

yourself tight. How good can it get?
It seems there’s no effective ceiling.
Doing the work, minding the store,
remembering to be kind, if
you’re the sort that needs reminding
of such. Be omnivorously
creative, multi-genre, if possible; but,
above all, do the time, the time,
long time, do it on purpose.
Seriously, where’s it going?
Must I, ever, come down,
get dark again, cruel
to loved ones, thrash again.
If I must, still,
I will always return, always
look to light. I will
be good. I will be true.
I will return, if
I must crawl.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Napolean’s Notable Lack of Stature

possibly played a role in his diminishing.
I don’t know what might do it for me.
Nothing so far is up to the task of
undoing my works. My progeny
cling like burdocks to the curving
surface of the world; my feet coming
loose, I cling by my nails;
my knees could only wobble away.
I lay down, a memory of beginning
in a story I can’t remember
the stance I once had, where
I stood is gone and
not left a mark.

Somewhere In The Swill

of lies and manipulations is a heart of
pure love for her mission: standing up
for fun, where found, a nose for it,
close to the ground, always

leading away. She disappears into what
draws her away from what was, away
into some kind of glory, the way of her
life leads away from me;

I lay the table for her return.

Bury Me Standing

too. My pants and knees are both worn;
sideways comes the bird of paradise

bearing fruit for the queen. Ensconced
in her bed like that she looks at least

approachable. Should I assume too much?
I don’t know; too little comes too late.

That horse she rode in on scares me.
His eye is baleful and gleams in dark.

Last night I held her against the coming
light. You could see right through

into her designs. Her unmentionables
gathered at her feet, saying little;

as I understand is best.

Old Friends Die Hard

and ugly. Sometimes the flag
dips below the surface. Sometimes

you can’t recognize their mark.
Sometimes you don’t know

what to think. Is this where I came in?
Is this where I get off? Get off. Don’t push us;

if we’re hot we’ll arrange a taxi
to the funerary, make our way

on our own. It’s a long way
to Bethel, a long way alone.

So, I'm reading this piece of fiction in The New Yorker,

it's got a great period photo of perfectly-clad punk. Which is right because it's about a young crew of wannabes who have a band, and it's written by Jennifer Egan who's got four novels, so it's a real surprise when almost every throwaway cultural reference is off--hasn't happened yet by that point or just isn't right--not to mention the voice sounds exactly like someone channeling Junie B. Jones at thirteen. So anyway, all this is getting so annoying I'm about to put it down and I look at the cartoon on that page and it's a couple riding along on the back of a dinosaur, and the woman says (no shit): "Can you stop complaining about the historical inaccuracy and try to enjoy yourself for one minute?" And OMG, this is a true twilight zone moment, and really, The New Yorker ought to hear about it, but I can't be bothered--I just wanted you to know.

Wine And Roses

hold the wine; its allure gone,
excepting those priors, no fault

like the present. Chasms I can’t look
into, so deep did they run;

splintery forms, still locked onto
sheer concretized walls, clipped

rebar running rust; here and there,
inexplicably unbound, a tie-wire

rocks on any pickup of the wind,
barely breathed, and silent,

the thruway no longer closed.

Deep In The Mind

of the witchaway resided
an appallingly specific attraction

to the hellmaid: of the order
the strain most difficult

of all on which to impose
even preservative ordinance,

much less the least regulation,
a condition, nonetheless,

to be striven for; in hope’s
pure absence, are dreams born,

after all, escaping?

That Leopards Do Not

in fact, change their spots, is
perhaps true; I‘ve no way to know.

I do know you can’t roller skate
in a buffalo herd—or, should say,

rather, I have it on good authority.
Of this much, however, I’m certain:

each of us will crop the same horse
to the grave as we’ve flogged

getting here. Such nag
might suffice some to glory;

I expect not, but those silks,
be they tailored of pig’s squeal,

or ear, will flap the breeze with
recognizable distinction.

Baudelaire Didn’t Care

when my youth went. Not even where,
nor with whom, when the lone goose of what
little seemed to remain of his memory
first flew into its thicket of cloud. No,
falling through night and recounting
that tale falls to me; he won’t speak. Or
can’t string the words now, slipped wings
muffling his honks at my breast.

It’s Difficult To Take Death Seriously

a good death, I mean. smooth
passage; mind a sieve
leaking everything away;

heralds announcing the dawn,
if you got ‘em.

That's all fine,

just not the heaving fight
of lung collapsing in
on a mind clawed naked.

Dutchman’s dice;

agony’s rim,

Had There Been Even One Way Out

I would never have become gigolo
to the Queen. She was well-known to be
quite cruel and overbearing to those
pledged to her service, and in any case,
she wasn’t my type. Give me the
back-stabbing brunette, the
cold-blooded blonde, better yet, once
before they claim me for sod,
a redhead; preferably catholic.