Rob had an oak tree face, eyes a meld
of gray and sky-before-a-rain-storm
sort of blue, burlap sack jowls
shook when he hacked up his lungs
like Betty's droopy mouth--the 16 year-old hound
who never left my neighbor's front porch
"Bernie, Bernie, my, my Bernie," Ack Ack Ahem
"Phew 'scuse me!"
"That's alright," I said
"Bernie, when I first came here I tell ya people
ask me the color of the walls, I'd tell 'em cancer, the
floors tiled with cancer, ceiling lamps glowing
fluorescent cancer, the mural you see when you first
come in--in it I saw the dad, the mom with cancer, the
little boy in his sailor suit had cancer, there was cancer
down his fishing line, in the water, and inside the fish
he'd catch and eat, the young girl had cancer and she
blew cancerous tunes out her cancer flute, the cafe
food tasted like cancer, the spinach, the mashed
potatoes, the steak, those tiny apple juice cups they
give you...but it all comes back, you'll see..."
Carl was wheeled in, asleep, with wires and tubes
up and down his arms
"Why Carl looks like a 73 year-old bionic man!
He's gonna interfere with the radio frequency,
we won't be able to hear the ball game anymore!"
Carl swatted at Rob, still half asleep
"Now what was I sayin'?"
"How's your dinner tonight, Rob?" I asked
"Oh! Five-star Bernie, Linda dropped off a whole
pot roast, sweet potato fries, and peas under cooked
just the way I like 'em."
"That was very nice of her."
I took a bite of mine--
with a hint of romesco
I went from picking weeds in the valley
to leaving footprints in the mountain's
but the elevation was so high that I couldn't breathe
yesterday I declared myself born again
to find today that I wasn't
I passed my fix to a sad man in a pinstripe suit
in an alleyway darker than the devil's muse
'cause hell I don't need it
I repeat that
like looped mantra recordings
sublimating my mind's subterranean province
penetrating through its satin slip
to a pink rosebud underneath
unscathed and honest
but otherwise monarchical subconscious
don't be too concerned with your fears
getting the best of you
but be very afraid of
we can fall into complacency
--a good friend's wisdom
I'd rest my head on his shoulder in times like these
but he's not out of prison yet
"I think that's what did me in," he said
you could argue both ways
that my romanticism has saved me
or been a detriment
standing two feet between life
my mind reels and recharges
the air starts to smell of second chances
and the sky poses all
those anti-suicidal questions
how would you
feel if the sun broke
through the clouds
right before you suckled down
the undertow of the river's belly?
Oh how the lows disease me
while the highs mislead me
I haven't figured out which is more
just this evening,
could it be?
Is this a dream?
Is this a dream
where I am dependent
on no one and
this idea swells inside my mind
during lazy sunrises,
those coy sunsets that hide behind clouds
like an 18th century courtesan before
her corset is undone,
on nights when the stars are running faster
than a stampede of cattle
or at least they appear to be
I feel I am breathing
a parade of blood pulse
a torpedo of adrenaline
that flickers first
like the ceiling lamp in my grandfather's
then lights up the place
I often think
of the dock I was too scared
to jump from last summer
I would do it now
I would close my eyes,
and let the sky
let the water come over me
you know the mundane and the sublime
share property lines
they can smell each other's pies cooling
from their window sills,
and those at peace
live amongst the same junkyard raucous
as those beset by insanity,
they're just better at covering their ears to it
that damn alarm clock
resolute and shrill
like an orphaned
it pulled the sheets off
of my dream,
revealing the greatest nothingness
I had seen
the sun wasn't out yet
but the rain was
and I ran the usual route
unlaced my shoes,
drank some water,
and sliced a grape fruit
the newspaper spoke
of somber things,
we don't have money,
our enemies are angry,
he was a son, a brother
his girlfriend's lover,
died at 23
in his chevy on Route 38
I learned that the sky
is not looking back at me
that when I see
in a bluebird's eye
it is a figment of my creation
"Hey baby, why don't you come on over?"
my chest sinks
reminds me of a
life I am indebted
"Sure," I said
Tommy took everything he knew
of Emerson, Kierkegaard,
his mother's stories,
and the seven sutras taped to his refrigerator,
he wrapped it all in two-ply
and swallowed it inside
a telephone booth
grow a large enough
colony of ambition
and it can mature into
a disease. my father,
my uncle, know this
to be true. but my
motivation flickers in
and out like black spots
in old projector film.
without a predetermined
summit of potential,
or other-worldly propulsion
towards a course
I could coast--
that render my existence
would be indifferent.
he pulled a felt-tipped pen
from his pocket
on a diner napkin he wrote:
I am inferior to the reeds that rise from
stagnant marsh pools, to the mosquitoes
injecting their straws into the nape of
I am outdated, out of fashion,
I am a plastic bag adrift in unforgiving wind
I am a tin can kicked along a sidewalk
by an important man in haste
of this much I am certain,
my fear is consuming me
while time chips another tile
off of Lenin's mausoleum
feels like it is being graized
by blades of warm
like the ocean water
needles we felt when
we jumped inside
her this past
I fear if my heart
gasps once more
it will forget how to beat
and the next time it leaps
it just might leave
my body behind,
flopping and flailing
on the highdive
you light a spark
at the base of my spine
it travels upward
then blows my mind
into a fantasia
and I must say,
looks so much
he threw lamps, plates, forks, spoons
Rolling Stone, medical bills, water bills,
quite a few advertisements
the pages fluttered like
landing on kitchenware littered hardwood floors
"Easy, easy," I said. "This stuff happens."
he sat down
I pulled a chair opposite
air thick like mud
boiling pot of stew
his shoulders sagged
like sad business suits
sliding from their hangers
he would search for meaning in a pollock painting
and when there wasn't any he'd seek it out
he would wait for night to settle to yell at gods
bang on street car windows, beat his chest atop lightposts,
trashcan lids, traffic signs, parking meters
just to let the universe know he wanted answers
and I find myself
a year out of my mind's madhouse
wanting to retreat back inside
suffucating from everyone elses' feelings
looking forward to the doc's radiation
so they'll stop consoling
stop hugging, stop touching, afraid
they'll grow two heads or a penis out their elbow
I'll welcome it,
I want some time alone
or at the very least a warm blanket,
a hot cup of tea
a nice breeze
I mythologize you because I don't know you and yet I do, so well.
While the house is asleep, he lights a smoke on the
stove top. There's a window in the front room that
if he places one of the parlor chairs just so, he feels
like he is sitting outside, and on some nights when
the moon's spotlight is positioned just right and the
sky is submerged in indigos and sapphire blues, his
street is a ballroom floor on which he'd ask his lost
love for a second dance, because the first went horribly wrong a long time ago.
A long time ago he says aloud to himself on the brink
of sleep, on the blurred border between reality and
dream. He sees his childhood, running barefoot on
woody trails before all his pillars fell in torrential
debris around him, piles of insurmountable rubble
towers, chemically beguiled and vials of blood drawn
during his darkest hours.
He grew so tired that he could go no where but
further inside his own mind. He wrote of demons,
madness, sorrow, and joy. And it crackled like
leaves and snapped like the branches beneath his
childhood feet, rejuvenated like his slumbered
cheeks awakened and washed in cold-water streams.
He regained a sense of direction
and all I can say is,
Keep gunning for the mountains
you belong on their shoulders
and promise to write of all you see once you reach the peak,
I hope you reach the peak beautiful, beautiful boy.
julian was a human spool
of braided blonde hair noose
he slid into the cannon's bore
said, "fire toward any cloud
within her view."
and when the newspapers
misspelled his name
it rained for seven days
margaret cunnigham wrote
her dear friend jane,
My deepest sympathy for your loss.
He was a good man, but these things
happen you know.
Have you been to the new café
on Cobbler Street? You must try
their macaroons and tea.
Meet me Sunday at 3:00?
and don't you know?
jane never showed
for the fourth time this week
I woke from a suicide dream
with a fever
a coldsweat and
an insatiable need
how many more ways
can I do myself in?
how many more plays
will the joker win?
I stood along ben franklin's bridge
to my left was julian
to my right was jane
outside my window
I see it, feel it,
the world spinning on its kiln
is an artifact before it's even finished
progress moves like this:
cancels itself out leaving the +1's,+2's,+3's,+4's...
I taste it, hear it,
cover my mouth
I rather be here
saying prayers on your pelvic bones,
then dismissing you
for my other weekend lover
the antithesis moves like this:
you both cancel out
leaving me +guilt,+lies,+filth,+satisfied,+hungry,+pretendpretendpretend...
and when his eyes,
sometimes wander to the cracks in my blinds
pay no mind,
keep that hand
on my thigh
when you're pouring
I toke on Dali's brush strokes
beautifying the beasts,
glorifying the damned,
tying my soul in an organza smoke bow
packaged, and so on
I am a pronghorn skull choking
on desert sand,
I am tonguing the barrel
of the gun in my hand,
I am wading loins-deep
in liquid clocks
and these harlequin patchwork painted
yet the Basilica
echoes my thoughts
wake me from sleep,
I feel,I feel,I feel,I feel
but the cold marble floor
walt thinks he's a prototype:
among the bottom dwellers on bar room floors
perusing for legs like Monte Carlo
and a warm cunt,
feigning interest in marquee lit
dialogue with diazepam queens, fumbling $5
short, intentions par for the course,
blood-shot eye soliquies,
midnight revelations found
at the hem of mary jane's skirt, then replaced
in the after-blaze
by flashbacks of ex-girlfriends, cherry glazed
on top of it all
Happiness doesn't exist. It's a scam, packaged
and marketed to us as needs we don't need, wants
we don't want, dreams that are nothing but.
Created by them to keep us in line, baited by
gilded promises and white picket fences. We are drowning
in a well; the last thing we'll see before we die are all the pennies
we tossed into it.
what a tagline!
for dinner parties, on train cars, between bus stops
he would hold his brows, gins, and cigarettes
at calculated angles
and they'd gush, oh walt, so wise, so deep,
so charmingly cynical, so profoundly pensive!
walt, troubled by his own inadequacies,
applied a commutative principle of self-worth:
when praise is unattainable, pity will do
I didn't know which part of walt's
happiness exposé was more sad, the fact that
a) whether legimate or false, it did not matter,
and never would
or b) he actually believed there was an us
and I can't be sure
if this was the reality, or just how I remember it,
and which is of greater importance... The sun came up.
I shrugged and all those stones went rollin'off my back.
warm breeze and road beneath my feet,
"Lord knows where I'll be in two weeks."
I tied my bandanna around my forehead
and waved from the train window.
The night before you asked to come with me.
"No," I said, drawing the door frame beads to let you in.
I wanted to be preserved in your memory
some day you could mythologize what I had become.
that way I could fail
and it would never matter to you
and that's all that matters to me.
so on our last night,
rolling in bed as the acid
told us the world's deepest secrets
we put the first thirteen seconds
of The Byrds'
"Turn, Turn, Turn"
and lay there for
a long, long
no. 1 "mmm...
it's like after peeling an orange,
you wash up, but that citrus lingers
for the rest of the day
every time I smell my fingers,
I think of my lady..."
no. 2 "...Margerie?"
no. 3 "hey yeah that's Margerie alright!"
no. 1, no. 2, no. 3 [unison] "you too?"
no. 1, no. 2, no. 3 [unison] "did she say she loved you?"
admittedly, I cut it short
numbers replacing names, I didn't explain
how their shoulders wilted like thirsty tulips
how pride took ego passenger side for a cliff-dive suicide drive
needless to say, the mood had changed considerably...it didn't matter
I came here distracted
Earlier at an old neighbor's funeral, the preacher's God talk [and presumably the moment] came over me. I felt Him shake His heavy head and say How 'bout a little faith?--something I had abandoned years ago. I thought back to my childhood, never able to bring myself to put my stuffed animals away. When I tried, I'd see their plastic eyes swell. So they all stayed on my bed. It was all in my mind and now I wonder. Is this the same guilt that I felt today? Or am I asking the wrong things? Is it "What is the meaning of this feeling?", or rather, "Why am I feeling at all?"
and then it got interesting
she walked over to our table (to meet up with no. 1 I suppose)
thick lips, big breasts,
heavenly thighs Margerie
Margerie, blonde hair
carried by the wind
Margerie, the only thing
I believe in
annually, after Christmas
a friend throws a party
on the fire escape outside
his apartment in Brooklyn
the wine is left over
garland and multi-color
lights straggling behind the calendar
look a little less sad
across the street a man
kisses a young woman goodnight,
another woman sits by her window
like an obedient dog
"Mind if I watch too?"
It was Bobby, a good friend of mine.
"Hey Bobby, suit yourself. Did Walt come with you?"
"No," shaking his head, "he's not feeling well."
the street man was now
in the window,
he kissed the dog woman's forehead
"Have you ever?" he asked.
some questions require an answer
plus supplemental answers
to act as preemptive strikes against
follow up questions or worse yet,
"Yes, smoked it only once. A year ago."
Bobby now with his elbow on the railing
head in his head,
posed like an unqualified
"I watched Mad Men the other day--" "Good show."
"Yeah. Well it was the episode where Don sees Midge
again and her life is so sad now and Don asks 'What
does heroin feel like?' and she says, 'like drinking 100
bottles of whiskey while someone licks your tits."
"Mhm, I saw that episode."
"Is it true?"
"Her description, is it true?"
"No I'd say it's more like being touched by the Virgin
Mary while someone licks your clit."
"What's with all the questions, getting ideas?"
"No, no, I wouldn't. It's Walt, he's a real mess man.
Why do people do it?"
"I don't know," I said.
"Why did you try it?"
I took a sip of the wine
someone started hollaring,
"I HATE HIM! I HATE HIM!"
we didn't bother turning around
there was always
a girl in over her head in drinks
then the opportunist
at her side
hoping for a blow job
in return for his kindness
things you can count on,
like geese flying south
for winter or
a lumpy toad belching during
the cricket chorus
somewhere in a Louisiana
I step out, the passenger to an unholy district
it is a catalog of transgressions,
human silhouettes in mass procession--
of fragmented people
I ride the blocks and bends
strolling over decapitated steeples and large sums of money
that do not harbor here but visit frequently
misguidedness, the pinnacle
yet the buildings stand shameless anyway
it's a hell of a view
downtown pitch-black, I take a drag on the signs, the lights
it's still mesmerizing,
though the neon's run out in all the vowels
there's something cathartic about 1000 P.I. lamps in my face
demanding answers to questions that
no one's really asking, except me
which ego-generated self am I tonight?
I can't tell
and won't for now,
postponing the grand reveal
as I knock on your front door
there were two deaths
a) a light bulb b) Gatsby
Floyd had sent a mass email:
New medium folks, send me any dead light bulbs.
the glass browned indicating the tungsten
filament evaporated, I put it in a plastic bag
Gatsby's was an easy autopsy
He was found in the tank's electronic filter
His eyes still wide
floating belly up in my toilet bowl
I took some petals from a potted daffodil
sprinkled them over him
I hadn't slept in three days
with both hands against the tiled wall,
I looked down into
the shower drain wanting
to slip inside it
I ride my bike into autumn. Trees blush before
removing their clothes.
People rush and buy new sweaters to circumvent
Walking in the park, I see your face inside the lake.
I caress your portrait in the water, but it vanishes away.
I guess I was too late in asking you to stay.
The world got in the way.
Everybody on the sidewalks seems to stare in one
direction, fixated on the picture
eluding me since I fled the scene,
vying to run faster than the revolution speed.
I tried to blame the desktops, the parents and the pastors
then the chemicals came after.
Wisdom is graffitied on the building walls,
on the streets, and on the benches,
on all the men and women sleeping on them.
The breeze sweeps bits and pieces,
exhales into your face. Some days I can taste it.
The black rabbit who stalks my dreams,
diffused the membrane into reality.
He's standing right in front of me.
He's standing right in front of me,
his overbite less friendly. He's honed them
I am blind man's buff in a room crowded
with past identities I've tossed, groping for
the one that feels like sunshine.
The television's static noise has grown hypnotic,
buzzing black and white granules launch a
The studio in green glow from the shopping
district's signs. Toxicity waged a war against
Her Tyrannosaurus shriek echoes through
the night, reverberates down my spine's
A plight so fruitless I could cry,
but laugh instead.
You are the treasure in this wasteland.
I want your help but it's not what I need,
I know that is difficult for you to believe.
Tonight, we'll let our minds secede
and play into the pain. The dynamite capitulates
to its impending flame.
For his last reprise: The black rabbit
frames my body in a chalk outline;
at least my catastrophe will be of my own design.
He sucked night's wind gust
on his rooftop.
Moon dragged metallic
curtains over his face
wrapped in color paper lanterns.
My hair is down to my buttocks
but it wasn't
when I saw you last.
My hands are down at my side
but they weren't
when I saw you last.
Words crack my bones,
a pin drops and pops
in two deflated balloons.
Rewind to red wine, red lips,
a sequin dress. Snow covered
countertop, green and purple
blotter art hung on the walls
of your mind,
creatures swimming neon
currents having a good time.
The room heavy with a
disoriented fuck, you taste
like a familiar song,
in the hotel tub
chastised by the honesty of dawn.
He said, "I've been lost."
I said, "Me too."
He held me in his arms,
my head resting on his belly.
We fell asleep
and stayed that way,
until Sunday forgave us.