shepard fairey








gustav dore

our boys

death and burial


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

People Say

Baudelaire was left-handed.
People also say he drank. As one
who knows, I can tell you,
there's some truth to each of those
claims. But it's complicated, because
these two life-long compensatory
behaviors are like evil twins who
make their home in his breast;
beneath their pink and cozy
firmament, they squirm like
snakes, if snakes were made of
tar and wax; these devils twist
and braid their breakable bodies
together, and snare the ancient
sounds of what poor strands
of his own remain to him, in any
vague but somehow recognizable
shape that evokes memory from
the perforated, also twisting,
black eels that are all that's left
of his once really quite notable brain.
I can tell you that... and no one
else can, because I'm the one
who knows it. But just as he was fond
of saying when he found himself
near, or more likely already long
past, wit's end, he'd intone with
his crooked smile, but which
I'll forego: “Ah, but I digress.”
I'll spare you the bloody detail,
the grim lot issued by drink, a chit
redeemable only in Hell, one that
daily finds with freshened vengeance
even its lesser acolytes, men nowhere
near so loyal as Lairey. I can tell you
the secret to his effortless, even
graceful, albeit entirely assumed,
left-handedness, though. The simple
quirk of anatomical fact that's behind
that distinctive look he's got; and further,
has got it doubled, actually, that
universally recognized, one sure
give-away that even in silhouette
or shorn of the context of a mate,
still fairly screams: “left hand.”
Well, it's because both of his arms
end in hands whose palms, each
present their respective thumbs
as quite plainly emerging to the
immediate left of the palm's base.
Why, it's the very definition of a
left hand, the classic clinical description,
But, listen, Lairey has two! the same!
one on each side! So, and I suppose
this is the funny part, he could hardly
help but be left-handed, eh? Well,
I shouldn't joke, because actually, it's
far worse where his syndrome
has taken him. It began at birth.
Lairey was a twin, twin grotesquery,
they all said, because, as it happened,
his dominant brother, in the womb,
took most of the limited supply
of toes they'd been issued. Poor
Lairey's two feet, opposites, thank
the Lord, had to get on with but
a single toe, between them.
You'd drink, too, I think.
Plus, already his eldest son has arranged
that once the old bounder's finally
drunk himself clear through to death,
he gets the hands, and that,
free and unencumbered.

Grand Landing

I don't see why, in general,
big feelings are so important.
And I'm not certain entirely that
they are. But I will allow, in lieu of
countering argument passing
that this is not entirely unexpected.
that this would be introduced. I was
in the mean time hunkered down ...
in nasty billet, you could say,
waiting for something that would be
wearing its name on its sleeve, that
would allow me to enter into it
with no particular invasion of
its or her bodily integrity, nothing to
call attention to Mr. Slippery Damn Goose
and his private predations, nor their
patented predilections for the particularly
perverse, a collection I'd had a hand in
building. Well, you say, answer me
quickly, You say why am I not
wearing trousers? You're asking me,
that? Is that me to whom you speak,
so free, and by the way. would that be
your simple standard query, fleshed out
and flushed before lunch? Or something
more complex, perhaps, a rule-based
inquiry, say, something in your
maximal rhetorical flourish? Which-
would-that-be? Why, yes, I'm asking you;
do you see anyone else? If you see,
for instance, anyone at all, mucking about
who identifies as one preferring to come
straight to the point, where I'm going,
that is, that point, that singularity of all
singularities and associated sending units,
then just please, send them right along
to me. As per the inconvenient deficit
of any state of wearable trou, the
aforementioned, yes, well, simple fairness
compels me to admit that: strictly speaking,
I don't even have legs, so perhaps then
these thin vanadium cables, in this
sore pinch, must suffice. Yes?

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Good Mourning

It's no wonder I write so many
aubades (self-styled), staying
up like I do, till morning and
beyond, two, three, four nights
every week; until I'm weak,
and sick as well, with an exhaustion
not the least bit tired; but just plain ...
uncut awful; like snorting No-Doz
at 8:00 AM, somewhere along the
dirty corridor, Delaware, say,
tucked up tight beneath an interstate
on the narrow ledge above the crotch
it makes with the crossing roadway;
there's an acid bite you may or
may not recall, to the urine of the
slowly dying, and you aren't ready
to lie down yet (you've still got
standards, hey, old boy?) amidst
the pigeon shit and broken glass,
the discarded empty pints of
vodka, whiskey, rotgut wine, and
limp and crackling underfoot,
the drying condoms, coming from
god knows where. but furthest
beyond weird is the single shoes,
scores of them, abandoned, none
with mates. what the hell?
It looks like a lonely lot, my friend,
and can feel like you're having
your extremities singed away with
a rusting but serviceable
curling iron, and sometimes,
quite naturally, you (like anyone)
can get your eyes plucked out
with a red-hot rod (this to see if
you're paying attention). and all the
while you remain staid, unmoved,
erect; upright, that is, as if you were
fifteen, always fifteen, always on
the money, and your whole life coming,
and coming still more; always keeping
on with it, always more coming, as if
it will keep it up until you're quite
dead, which could come soon.


...............for James Davis
like, and not so much, in-house;
as much much more: the homie,
never so home in his swank abode,
his cush-crazy comfort crib, as when
loosed on the freed land, empty-handed,
beneath a mythic moon. Night moves
turning the ghost-white flora blue, ...
tucked in hard by a prairie named
Payne's. And don't we know it now,
know just what they meant, and who
they meant it for; it's only all too
well we know, just who got hurt,
and how that went, as well as
who might be saved. And fuck all
and hell no, we ain't forgetting
where and when, nor who
the red deer ran from, spitting
a blood-flecked froth, and breaking
legs of glass, all the night long,
from here to home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Drughounds of the Silver Basking Buddha

the SBB being a small  organization, one so demanding
in its designated qualifying talents, that no one member
is likely to even know any other, or if they do, they
little suspect that their everyday boon companion,

as well, like themselves, is an inveterate bounder
of the heaving main, a spirit quite as discriminating
as they, yet never would neither ever know it
in the other, though they pull quite side by side;

and the juxtaposed disacquaintance between them
is probably due mostly to this salient accompanying
indisputable fact: the more nuanced the strategy
one employs for getting at the heart of things,

the more likely it is that that activity will subsume
one's entire attention and mentational faculties,
if to do it well; moreover such missions, those consisting
mainly of paying very close attention are nearly

always conducted completely in silence, alone,
and utterly without any sort of distraction.
All to say, and what this then means is: it's
not the kind of thing you talk about, anyway,

things you actually take seriously, would be
willing to die for, say, these life-extending
heirlooms passed down to us, intact and
disguised in the homily of our native tongue.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Just Asking: Can I Be Serious

for once? Apparently not. I'm far
too set in my ways: locked into
a perspective of perpetual need;
what emerges from deep storage--

wet and snapping, biting itself on
the page—needs nothing so much
as an answering rhythm, a syncopated
triage to repair the tear left behind in

the mind. Well, it's an avocation; at least
in the short-term, it keeps me writing.
But wouldn't it nice once to write
something of value, that is, of value to

at least one other human being,
animal even; I'm not proud; or tired.
But that's not gonna happen.
How could anyone care about

this extreme self-interest but me?
There's just no way. Actually,
there is one; and its benefits
go far beyond the possibility of

someone getting value from your poems.
It's finding (and keeping) an actual
girlfriend. There's no more exalted
pursuit than that, anywhere. Plus,

they always get value from poems
pitched their way, especially
poems written with them in mind.
If they've ever been in love, most likely,

that's just how they were snagged.
Poets can rarely resist such, some
would say, cynical use of their
alleged gift; I mean, like making

a woman fall in love with you by
writing lovely verse. But, I would argue,
it's such a lovely result—not to mention,
its being poetry's main purpose since,

roughly, the beginning of time—
so it seems kind of sacrilegious now
to associate it with something cynical,
to suggest such behavior is selfish, or

call it manipulative, as some surely do,
to persuade another person--even one
of exactly those qualities you happen
to find so particularly attractive,

perhaps even adore--to get that person
to love you, too. But, so what? I'm not
writing poems for those skags, the
kind who find romance disgusting.\

'm looking for a woman
who can be had for, approximately,
a decent limerick. That's my type
o' gal, exactly; and we'll get on fine.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Being Tony Hopkins

Some days it doesn't even pay
to go downstairs; some days
they're already waiting. For what?
I think, but I don't say anything.
I just go get the ring rig and
the hoist. Around sundown, in summer,
it's time to walk the dog, or whatever
you call it, in your branch of the service.
In the metaphysics game, most of us,
haul down the ceremony before
even the holiday. That's just
the Crowfish in me talking. Yah,
you could say I had reservations.
I lived in Detroit; Albany, yes;
of course, that was a mistake. As was
the dancing, at least with the squint
that brung me. So what do you do then.
Call a cab? Call the law? Or just call it
a day? I actually prefer a bull gator who's
got some tits, if you come right
down to it. Ask me, the hard cases are
good for nothing but shoes, whereas
with that nice soft white underbelly
dragging the ground when they walk,
it keeps their tiny minds on business.
There's a scientific name for it. It's
some kind of syndrome, I guess;
not the least bit contagious. The biggest
drawback comes in laying out a suit,
but even a medium sized hand bag,
to get the zipper in straight, you have to
chalk the old biddy head to tail, then
all the way back again. It gets tiresome.
you better believe it; like drawing blood
with a pencil. I can never get a likeness
nor even pull up a vein. Then if
I say anything about it to anyone at all,
they send me straight to steerage
to mop up any remains of the day.

I Swarmed The River

All the big carp, like manatees with attitude,
moved right over. I reached to Lake Superior
and over to Champlain, and settled into
the grey woods of winter there. I watched
the trickle of glacial melt drip until spring.
When I loosed myself on the land,
my lack of age, my youth, the years
to come, ran before me like trembling mice,
waiting, hesitating to bury themselves,
each after my eventualities, which I prefer
to play close, if not hold dear. Once,
the land stretched out from between
my thighs and into the middle-distance,
which could hear me coming, and
laid before me like a new concubine,
trembling at the potency I reserved
for my everyday charisma, but that's
not to share. I managed to ignore her
allure while I sure could have used it.
When finally it was too late, and surely,
far too late, and thus, never coming
again; then, and only then, did I
swarm the river, as before.

I Knew The Great Ones

before they emerged from
their thorny beds, and stuck
themselves to my trousers
like burdocks, as if no life were
ever, nor would be, had elsewhere.
Who the fuck am I, to rate
these clowns' accompaniment?
Can I resubmit? Can I walk
from these settled claims still
engaged in and indefatigably
employed at this serious business
of pulling off my pants?
Ma'am, please understand,
I come bearing philosophy,
my signature work sings of
what we didn't, as well as of
what we did. Your name is pitched
there, beside the fall of our earnest
and earliest intention, writ indelibly
in bold italic, beside mine, held close
and tucked into this private, un-
discovered hand; this
cursive rune.

I Can't Tell When It's Too Late

for ordinary measures, or even
when my resources are entirely
expended, as in exhausted and
thinnish, as if lacking a certain
vitality, a je ne se quois, which
cannot be uploaded from anywhere
your teeth in their dark sockets
vibrate to the tune of mind-tearing
chemicals, bearing tablets of stone,
on which is writ where the planet
is headed; will it have a fate,
to burn and twist and starve
in consequence of heedless acts
of pulchritude, foisted before
our footfall and already trod
deep into our past? Or, will it
merely whiff off into thin air like
weightless cosmic pollen needing
a Higgs field to substantiate not
its existence, but its mass, what
small resistance we put before
our gods of spite, plunging to
our elbows in the given
wounds, those smiling apertures
we sustain in the ready
performance of our duties. 


The New Poem

It is in the interest of truth in advertising,
and to promote a world where you CAN
tell a book by its cover that this title
has been selected....

I think it's safe to say the world will not
be effected in any way by my “poems,”
and that right there saves me from having to
wind through the list: “won't be changed by...”

“won't even notice...”, “doesn't and won't ever
give the faintest shit...” and the rest.
Nor will it, nor should it, bring me fame
or fortune, or anything else. Nor is it for you;

regardless how many times I push it on you.
It's hard to explain; it's not exactly a
dysfunctional, exploitive relationship
we have, you and I, but, well, it's like

that tree in the forest...and no one around
to hear, so does it make a sound when it falls?.
I mean, we are just like that with my poems.
I don't have to spell it out.

And that's all I'm going to say about it.


I swore you'd never see such pretension
from me. I must be getting desperate.
In any case, you will recall that an 'aubade'
is a poem written in the morning, or possibly
written 'about morning,' we'd got that far......

but then, maybe, it was 'mourning,' actually,
like written while grieving, or possibly
written about the experience of grieving,
about which I can tell you next to nothing.

When my mom died, I got a good poem,
but that's pretty much it. I didn't get
any feeling that seemed in any other way
right. I found myself seeking something
that would inform me what was gone, or

at least tell me what loss really is. And
even then, and by 'then' I mean: with only
the poem's alleged quality to console me,
even in that, I was completely alone.

I'd written it for my dad, but he didn't 'get it,' not
until he'd read it a couple hundred times, and
by then it was a year or two later. Now, though,
nearly every time we talk, he tells me what
a stunning poem it was, that one I wrote the day

of Mom's memorial service to read there, and did
(it isn't quite that good, perhaps, but he's biased,
and doubly, although on the other hand, he was
an English major.). I do appreciate a lot what

he's getting from it--that's what I'd wanted, too,
part of it, anyway--it's just that, retrospectively,
it's not working for me for what I was hoping for
most, which is in no way abstract, as if it could
apply to any other moment or circumstance. I mean,

it can't do for me now what it was supposed to
do then; which was, tell me something about
the pang of grief, that most solitary endeavor;
of all experience, surely, the most personal and

closest to home; neither to be shared nor
turned away, but to bring me surcease of it,
this pain, the very one I couldn't muster,
I'd been hoping to somehow reverse engineer it,
to tell me I was alive.

Turnips and Toast

again. Lord, how I miss La Moulin Rouge.
Pipettes of the free market's finest
every morning for breakfast. By noon,
I was a man to be reckoned on, and with. And
by evening, by god, fit again to be tied ...
to the closest mast still standing; if none
could be had, then, just rolled from the curb.
With any luck, I'd be feted with, and fit for,
the Christ's living dancing bones. Admittedly,
if you want to get technical about it, those
had long been lost, right along with the sterling
beaches of the Tzarina's Crimea, but don't
tell these fools, else their stinking assembly will
send me home without my potato.

I Am Immortal

I Am Immortal
.................. for Paul Ryan
I might as well admit it. Nobody
gets out of here without the
rest of us. Which means we're
looking at a long goddamn haul. ...
On a more personal note,
that means in plain English:
we'll be dragging you, friend,
and paying the freight for it,
all the way. To keep accounts
current, as an update to the
cost/benefit analysis ongoing,
I should probably say: Paul,
I don't have the least problem with
that, uh, recent thing, the problem
“we” have in “our” inner cities,
you know, with those men, and
their “culture;” sheeit, man...
their lack of a deep and
meaningful involvement
with, you know, like, “work”...
it nearly equals my own. Even yours,
for that matter. But, hey, my brutha,
that is, homie, dude-ski, my man,
I gotta say it, if I were you, and if
MY bitches wouldn't or couldn't
bring home “bacon” sufficient to
the day, that is, stuff enuff to keep
the crib cush and cozy, I wouldn't
go around admitting to it. That shit
takes some real, well, it's not balls,
it can't be that, given,
I mean, due to... well, never mind.
But you know it, as well as any of us,
that's sure not the reason.
WTF, holmes, it must just be
the damn and downright simple;
and to be fair, I've got to give credit,
willingly, where and when it's due:
so, though it does for sure goddamn well
boggle the mind to consider it, I think
we've got to accept the facts when
they're plain. It must be, can only be:
you’re even dumber than you look.