shepard fairey








gustav dore

our boys

death and burial


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withdrawn from any environment it populates.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.