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Mike Essig Nov 2015
for Paul Brandt and Patrick Dunnigan

the choppers
still beat
the air.
  - mce
Mike Essig Mar 2017
Don't look back.* - Satchel Paige

Once upon a time, I
stumbled and dropped my life.
It hit the world hard
and shattered into a
myriad of sharp shards.
For years I struggled
to rearrange it
using the glue of
many helpful hearts.
But after I managed,
whenever I looked into it,
the life I saw was
never quite the same
as the one I dropped.
Mike Essig Jan 2016
Far too late now
to die young.

Mike Essig Nov 2015
Today I saw a blurb
that said: 20% off
on sheet sets
for all veterans.

Ain't that America?

The blood of millions
transformed into
an advertising opportunity.

Mike Essig Dec 2015
Wandering through
this electronic age
where no one offers
me sustenance,
I never give up
trying to feed them

Mike Essig Apr 2015
Why do I
always wake up
exactly where I am,
uncertain where
exactly that is?
- mce
Mike Essig May 2015
**** Norman Vincent Peale.
I will say it out loud.
There are mornings
when death would be better;
when you have slept but three hours;
when the dawn silence
crushes your damaged brain
into pea gravel;
when your 28-pound cat
disdains your company;
when you can feel your nerves
pulsing outside your skin;
when your stomach congeals
from unaccustomed food;
when you are nursing
a sixty-three-year-old hangover;
when the sunlight strikes you
through the ***** window
like a ten pound sledge
straight to the temple;
when the ghosts are
as thick as Nebraska stars,
but refuse to explain
why you are still alive;
when there is only one dream left
and she is a country away
and thinks you may be crazy;
when there isn't one
******* thing in the universe
to be positive about;
when you walk past the mirror
and see a landscape of ruins;
when birds and Mozart do not suffice;
and you finally know in your heart,
there really is no fool like an old one
and you my idiot friend are old.

Mike Essig Jan 2016
Women mostly like
to roll around
in the bushes
with Cain,
but they end up
at the country club
marrying Abel.
Bad boys win
the battle;
good boys win
the war.
  - mce
Mike Essig Apr 2015
On her breast, my lover wears
a necklace of abalone shell.
Iridescent, it shimmers
in the light of day
scintillating and luminous,
a whirl of colors, radiant as her face
shining in my heart when she is gone.
Mike Essig Apr 2015
I bought a beer,
for Richard Brautigan
in 1972
at Thomas Lord's bar
on Union Street
in San Francisco.
Each time,
he was already drunk:
this is what
the literary life
True story.
Mike Essig Aug 2015
Words, words, words, but powerful,
they dig deep into a boy's mind
and become the standard he comes
to measure himself by, who he is,
who he must be, must live up to.

Real men never cry. Real men never cry.
Never, ever hit a girl no matter what.
Bullies are all ****** little cowards.
Never back down. Never back down.
Always demand the most of yourself.
Never blame anyone else if you fail.
Never back down. Never back down.
Play fair but play to win.
Show no mercy, take no prisoners,
have no regrets, never complain.
Never back down. Never back down.
Be a man. Be a man. Be a man. Be a man.
Real men never cry. Real men never cry.
Pain makes you stronger. Life's not fair.
Don't be a baby. Stop acting like a girl.
Be a man. Be a man. Be a man. Be a man.
**** it up. It doesn't hurt. Be tough.
Nice guys finish last. Shed no tears.
A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
Be a man. Be a man. Be a man. Be a man.
Real men never cry. Real men never cry.

We believed deeply in all this ****
and when the time came, took it to war.
Very little made it back to the world.

Growing up in the 50s and early 60s. A very different world.
Mike Essig Sep 2015
"The greatest poverty is not to live
In a physical world..." - Wallace Stevens*

Craft it oblique,
nearly opaque.
English lacks an
****** vocabulary
and the merely
clinical or brutal
fail to convey
the delicate
butterfly kisses
two human hearts
caught up in
the dance of desire
hope to bestow
upon each the other's
fragile essence
as they briefly
touch, embrace
and release
in a physical world
that is so much more
than flesh and facts.
  - mce
Mike Essig Apr 2015
It is useless work that darkens the heart. - Rumi*

And what is work for,
beyond survival or
occasionally joy?

It produces surplus
which is bartered,
traded and sold
until it becomes money.

The dark alchemy of usury
piles it into the hands
of the few who use it
to oppress the many

who created it
in the first place.
Mike Essig Oct 2015
some chilly days
you feel like
one of Napoleon's
frozen soldiers
two hundred
           years later
still trudging
through an icy hell
  retreating from
           the cold
  simply longing
           for home
           for warmth

Mike Essig Apr 2015
holds the key
to paradise:
not the moment
of entry,
but the instant
- mce
Mike Essig Feb 2016
Only the worst poets
spoon feed their readers.
The rest sing it out
and let the chips
splatter as they will.
No one writes
to be misunderstood.
Spout your words
like a fountain.
Perhaps a few drops
will fall into
thirsty mouths
and satisfy.
Then again,
                  maybe not.
Mike Essig Apr 2015
I admit
that I pillaged
your Facebook page
for more
of your pictures.

Forgive me.

I couldn't
help myself.

Not doing so
would have been
like walking
on a beach
covered with
sparkling gems
and not bending
to pick them up.

Forgive me.

I am too much
of a pirate
to pass up
such treasure.
Should have asked permission. Oops.
Mike Essig Sep 2015
Grinning Death
who smiles and waits
holds a handful of cards
that never loses;
I am not ready to call,

Mike Essig Jan 2016
Random stones huddle
close as lonely turtles
in the morning rain.

Mike Essig Apr 2015
to your own
music," deaf
Beethoven said.

Good advice
and inevitable.

In the end,
you will
hear no other.

rings only out
of your heart:
sing along alone,
sing out loud
in silence.

Listen to your
private holy voice.

It wants to tell
you something

Do you hear it?

Mike Essig Oct 2015
The girl in the checkout line
ahead of me is dangerously gorgeous.
In the way of the very young,
she insouciantly wears next to nothing.

I imagine myself twenty-one.
I would finagle a way to meet her.
We would fall in love.
We would make love. We would make
even more love and so on.
I would buy her a house, appliances,
a minivan. We would have two
teenaged daughters who would loathe me.
I would take out a second mortgage
to pay for their braces, clothes,
educations and weddings and divorces.
They would move away and rarely see me.

I would come to rest in some
******* of a nursing home wondering
who I am and what the hell happened.

Then she turns and walks out of my life.

I pay for my frozen pizza and cigarettes
smiling about just how lucky I am.

Mike Essig Apr 2015
Not to worry, Doc.
Don't mean ******* nothing.
We are all dead men here.
- mce
"Don't mean ******* nothing" was the mantra of soldiers in Vietnam.
Mike Essig Apr 2015
A strange woman
dances in dreams
snug in bed
far to the north
in a kingdom
of ice and desire.
She is wrapped
in red velvet
and flowing hair;
her ample *******
rise and fall sighing
for the lost sun;
her hips recall
the warmth
of summer lovers.
Something stirs
between her thighs.
Wise otters
gather and chant
about her
in a charmed circle
intoning mystery.
She is at once
their priestess
and their captive;
a rosetta stone
not yet deciphered
for a language
as yet unspoken.
They offer her
perfect lake pearls
dripping light;
their fur glistens;
their tiny paws
clap out ecstasy.
Her world is cold,
but she is warm.
She does not see
as others see;
does not feel
as they feel.
She is caught
in the ceremony
she leads.
He feels
her body sway
across the boundaries
of man and time.
The gods of poetry
disdain distance.
Far away
in a south of hills
and waterfalls,
imagining her,
he knows
that she knows
what he knows.
  - mce
TN poem
Mike Essig May 2015
I do not think
you are as complete
as you say you are.

I do not think
that your
comfortable solitude
will provide you
with enough for
the vivid life within you.

You are a young woman,
alive, sensuous, willing.

Too alive for a hermit's life.

Life, love, fulfillment
are still yours to command.

Courage is the greatest virtue.

Take your life in you hands
Like clay or marble or paint.
Demand your desires;
Insist on expressing them.

The way is yours to find.
Risks are eternal.

Sometimes you have
no choice but to walk away
from everything you know.

Make a new world;
the kind of world
in which you want to live.

The kind of world
where you belong.
Giving advice can backfire...
Mike Essig Jan 2016
Most men notice
the perfect ***
of a 20-year-old
and feel lust.
All I feel
is the sharp nudge
of too late.
Age is a process
server it's best
to avoid.

Mike Essig Oct 2015
I moved to this town
fifty-four years ago
to live in a house that
was a two and a half
bedroom half a double
with two parents and
six siblings in a
welter of tumultuous
chaos and disarray.

Being the oldest, I
hated the confused
congestion and constant
bickering and fled
at every opportunity
to the houses of
friends who had their
own rooms, enough to eat,
and even peace and quiet.

At seventeen, having
graduated from high school
(barely), I was out
the door in a heartbeat
and on to hippiedom,
Europe, the middle east
the draft, drugs, Vietnam,
marriage and my own life.

Now, forty-seven years
later, I live in a small
apartment in the other half
of that same double house
with only a cat.

My parents are departed.
Strangers own their half.

It is quiet and serene
and all mine.
years of running to end up
a foot from where I began.

Even Odysseus couldn't
compete with that feat.

I enjoy living here now.

It is everything it
wasn't when I was a kid.

Still, the irony would
be apparent to an idiot.

Forty-seven years of
running in a circle.
Life, not so much a
journey as eternal return.

Mike Essig Apr 2015
Elegy for the Forgotten Oldsmobile**

July 4th and all is Hell.
Outside my shuttered breath the streets bubble
with flame-loined kids in designer jeans
looking for people to **** or razor.
A madman covered with running sores
is on the street corner singing:
O beautiful for spacious skies…
This landscape is far too convenient
to be either real or metaphor.
In an alley behind a 7-11
a Black **** dressed in Harris tweed
preaches fidelity to two pimply ******
whose skin is white though they aren’t quite.
And crosstown in the sane precincts
of Brown University where I added rage
to Cliff Notes and got two degrees
bearded scientists are stringing words
outside the language inside the guts of atoms
and I don’t know why I’ve come back to visit.

O Uncle Adrian! I’m in the reservation of my mind.
Chicken bones in a cardboard casket
meditate upon the linoleum floor.
Outside my flophouse door stewed
and sinister winos snore in a tragic chorus.

The snowstorm t.v. in the lobby’s their mother.
Outside my window on the jumper’s ledge
ice wraiths shiver and coat my last cans of Bud
though this is summer I don’t know why or where
the souls of Indian sinners fly.
Uncle Adrian, you died last week—cirrhosis.
I still have the photo of you in your Lovelock
letterman’s jacket—two white girls on your arms—
first team All-State halfback in ’45, ’46.

But nothing is static. I am in the reservation of
my mind. Embarrassed moths unravel my shorts
thread by thread asserting insectival lust.
I’m a naked locoweed in a city scene.
What are my options? Why am I back in this city?
When I sing of the American night my lungs billow
Camels astride hacking appeals for cessation.
My mother’s zippo inscribed: “Stewart Indian School—1941”
explodes in my hand in elegy to Dresden Antietam
and Wounded Knee and finally I have come to see
this mad *** nation is dying.
Our ancestors’ murderer is finally dying and I guess
I should be happy and dance with the spirit or project
my regret to my long-lost high school honey
but history has carried me to a place
where she has a daughter older than we were
when we first shared flesh.

She is the one who could not marry me
because of the dark-skin ways in my blood.
Love like that needs no elegy but because
of the baked-***** possibility of the flame lakes of Hell
I will give one last supper and sacrament
to the dying beast of need disguised as love
on deathrow inside my ribcage.
I have not forgotten the years of midnight hunger
when I could see how the past had guided me
and I cried and held the pillow, muddled
in the melodrama of the quite immature
but anyway, Uncle Adrian…
Here I am in the reservation of my mind
and silence settles forever
the vacancy of this cheap city room.
In the wine darkness my cigarette coal
tints my face with Geronimo’s rage
and I’m in the dry hills with a Winchester
waiting to shoot the lean, learned fools
who taught me to live-think in English.

Uncle Adrian…
to make a long night story short,
you promised to give me your Oldsmobile in 1962.
How come you didn’t?
I could have had some really good times in high school.
Indian/Native America/First Citizen (take your PC pick) poet of considerable talent and power.
Mike Essig May 2015
For The Record**

The clouds and the stars didn’t wage this war
the brooks gave no information
if the mountain spewed stones of fire into the river
it was not taking sides
the raindrop faintly swaying under the leaf
had no political opinions

and if here or there a house
filled with backed-up raw sewage
or poisoned those who lived there
with slow fumes, over years
the houses were not at war
nor did the tinned-up buildings

intend to refuse shelter
to homeless old women and roaming children
they had no policy to keep them roaming
or dying, no, the cities were not the problem
the bridges were non-partisan
the freeways burned, but not with hatred

Even the miles of barbed-wire
stretched around crouching temporary huts
designed to keep the unwanted
at a safe distance, out of sight
even the boards that had to absorb
year upon year, so many human sounds

so many depths of *****, tears
slow-soaking blood
had not offered themselves for this
The trees didn’t volunteer to be cut into boards
nor the thorns for tearing flesh
Look around at all of it

and ask whose signature
is stamped on the orders, traced
in the corner of the building plans
Ask where the illiterate, big-bellied
women were, the drunks and crazies,
the ones you fear most of all: ask where you were.
Mike Essig Sep 2015
How many poets,
by alcohol and despair,
choose to depart
this living air?

The muse can be
an evil *****:
she'll **** your brain,
she'll make you twitch.

With her it's not
a casual roll,
she wants your *****,
she'll eat you whole.

You strive to strike
the head of the nail;
one blow comes home,
but dozens fail.

Soon you despair
to ever succeed:
you open your veins,
commence to bleed.

You give to her,
and give and give,
until it's just
too hard to live.

Then in the bottle
you sadly seek
another day,
another week.

It isn't pretty,
it isn't fair,
and so you depart
this living air.
  - mce
Mike Essig Apr 2015
"A man must cast
his own shadow."
You learn this early enough
or you never grow up.
Homage to UKL.
Mike Essig Feb 2016
February a baleful month
dabbed with deep darkness,
the calendar's mortuary
nature's own Gulag.
Its window opens upon
possible impossibilities
none of which yield joy.
Crows plummet murderously
from the heavens
vainly trying to flee
into spring but merely splat.
Roads are crushed
beneath a carpet of ****.
Frosted blimps soar naked.
Boots refuse to stay tied.
Your parent's nightmares
freeze your sweaty sleep.
Snow falls like dead swans.
Eclairs crystallize into
lumps too solid to enjoy.
A month of undeserved
solitary confinement
that trembles the soul.
A deep achromatic terror
keening coldness
in a huge white wail
penetrating the ears
until march stops
the madness and hope
blossoms as crocuses,
apricity achieved,
small phosphorescent
dots of desire.

I hate February.
Mike Essig May 2015
I grew up in a country
now I live in a business.
America has been stolen
and morphed into
a fascist Disneyland.
Our women are told
if they don't look
25 when they are 60
they don't exist.
Our children are taught
not to ask questions
or defend themselves.
Our young people
are commanded to go
to college, get on
the endless treadmill
of the American Nightmare
or they are failures.
We warehouse our parents
at great expense
so we don't have to face
the reality of death.
Our men sell themselves
for money and power
they can't take with them.
Courage, thrift, honor,
all replaced with greed,
the last recognized virtue.
The only remedy is to say no.
Try to remember what is important:
protect your loved ones,
love your friends,
reject the latest and greatest;
turn off your TV.
You won't change America,
that is lost for good.
But you might change yourself
which is much more important.
The rich will stay rich,
the powerful will keep their power,
the business will keep on chugging,
but you will be yourself,
a sane person in a country gone mad.
Mike Essig Dec 2015
For my boys, now grown, but in memory still green.*

Sleep, child, the winter is long
and the harsh winds blow cold,
but in my arms you are warm.
The time will soon be here
when you will wake, grown and alone,
to find me passed from this lonely earth.
The years will fly and you will wake to springs
long after my arms have left you,
long after this lullaby is sung.
But  now I hold you as in a dream
and thank whatever gods may be
that we are here, just you and me.

Mike Essig Dec 2015
Get drunk any morning you like
or afternoon or evening.
Enjoy unlimited naps.
Never be a wage slave again.
Take up knife throwing.
Don't worry about climate change,
you'll be dead before you have to swim.
Learn to juggle just because you can.
Become a Professional Poet.
Forget the difference between night and day.
Get discounts on **** you don't need.
Squeeze the taxpayers for all you can get.
Never help anyone move again.
Stop worrying about dying young.
Act the curmudgeon; people expect it.
Revel in hypochondria; any pain could be terminal.
Begin every sentence with "Back in the day..."
Remember: there is no 'future,'
only the 'near future.' Act accordingly.
Don't worry about getting drafted.
Constantly forget what day it is.
Say "I'm too old for this ****" often as you wish.
I've forgotten: did I mention the unlimited naps?
Mike Essig Apr 2015
Dead people are no doubt bored, so I'm sure these folks would be happy for free food and conversation. Of course, this is just a partial list, subject to addition and deletion. Feel free to add your own in comments.

Buddha, but a light lunch.
Jesus, but kosher of course.
******, come on, who wouldn't.
James Joyce, just to mock him.
George Washington, to try to catch him in a lie.
Hemingway, but just for drinks.
Reagan, to deliver some Depends.
Bakunin, for mutual aid.
William Butler, my ancestor who survived The Wheatfield at Gettysburg.
Audrey Hepburn, but a date, not lunch.
Ingmar Bergman, just to cheer me up.
Ervin Schrödinger, about that cat.
Shakespeare, because I've always wanted to meet an extra-terrestrial.
Ezra Pound, to tell him he was right about usury.
God, to let her know how disappointed I am.
Richard Nixon, so I could drive a stake through his heart.
Julia Child, just to hear her voice again.
Lenin, because he was a self-starter.
Mozart, because he would be fun.
Emma Goldman, to dance.
James Dean, as we look so much alike.
Janis Joplin, because I might get lucky.

Come on, I'm sure you can add to the list. Don't be shy, try.

Who would you add? It can be anyone but Justin Bieber. I'm open-minded for a geezer, but not that much.  :) Anyway, they must be dead. That's the only rule.
Mike Essig Mar 2016
Give the suckers what they want.* PT Barnum

Vibrating condoms that stay hard when you can't.
Pigeons that don't ****. Invisibility cloaks.
Parents with a mute button. Happy nightmares.
Politicians with Pinnochio noses. A ******* app.
Self-repairing cars. Seduction lie detector.
A time machine. Mind reading headset. Hope.
****** pills. Portable STD scanner. Edible cups.
Gourmet cook robot. Sincerity meter. Honesty.
Gun gloves. X-ray specs, Teleporter. Laughter.
Anti-loneliness inhaler. Broken heart tape.
Complete do it yourself dental care kit.
Many other brightly colored useless objects.
Find an Angel. Do a start-up. Go public.
The American Dream: have more money than god.

Mike Essig Apr 2015
~ just the short list.*

Her words, her voice,
the way she articulates
her soul's depths.
Creativity, curiosity,
the things she needs to know.
Smiles and giggles,
a vivid sense of humor.
A mind that devours
what it needs to grow.
Jeans and T-shirts;
sundresses and sandals.
That she appreciates
what it means to be naked
and doesn't flinch.
The desire to touch
and to be touched, often.
The way she can
walk into any room
and fill it up with light.
The mystery of why
she chose me.
Her sense of possibility.
The way she is content
with just who she is.
Of course, this could go on and on...
Mike Essig May 2015
Affluence creates
distorted dissatisfaction.
It makes morons want
to be the Kardashians.
It makes kind people
ignore the world's misery.
It makes unkind people
arrogant and pig headed.
It crowds out those
who are really important to you.
Eventually, it becomes who you are
and then you are no one at all.
All that's left is your stuff and you.

Mike Essig Sep 2015
The wars, they will be fought again. - Leonard Cohen*

I am harmless now,
my anger long spent,
my bloodied hands
long dried.

I hurt no one,

But the wars,
the wars do not
know an ending

and the warriors
in anger
splash blood
across the earth

it is good
to be an old man
with dry hands.

Mike Essig Feb 2016
Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.*

Concrete instances of emptiness.
Blinds not drawn. Flowers do not arrive.
Bed made tight; no stilettos. Never sticky.
Doves alone coo. Pet names only for pets.
No need to shave. Last night's wine. One glass.
Coffee becomes ******. Condo not condoms.
Hands and knees only to fix sink. No position.
No lipstick stains the staff. Lingerie a catalog.
Flag always at half mast. Sleep soft, not deep.
A **** is a chicken; a ***** is a cat.
Fingers seeking ****** find nothing.
Blowing your nose becomes PDA.
Ghostly hands caress vanished thighs.
All embraces are distant. Hugging your sister.
Mysteries of faded flesh; sound after sigh
Not a trace of perfume or personality.
The orgasmically charged what isn't.
What is missing prevails. What was is missing.

Mike Essig Aug 2015
What doesn't **** you makes you stronger.*

What doesn't **** you
maims you.

What doesn't **** you
makes you an *******.

What doesn't **** you
makes you afraid of life.

What doesn't **** you
makes you afraid to love.

What doesn't **** you
makes you meek.

What doesn't **** you
scars your soul.

What doesn't **** you
should have.

Mike Essig Apr 2015
This morning,
looking at a stand
of broken trees,
fallen and strewn
randomly about
by the storm,
I remember
battlefields and
the futility of war.
  - mce
Mike Essig Dec 2015
so empty
and lonely
without a

cry out
to G-d,

The reply?

An echo
of nothing
to no one.

Mike Essig May 2015
Old as I am,
I often ache for you.
Mike Essig Apr 2015
for SJH

Even when most frozen,
the soil of the heart
contains the possibilities
of fresh and better life.
Water it; tend it; nurture it.
Wait for the warmth to return.
Many flowers wait to blossom.
New bouquets for new days.
  - mce
Mike Essig Apr 2015
Sit. Meditate. Forgive. Repeat as needed.
Forgiveness holds great virtue. Forgive.
Try to let your anger at the world,
even though it deserves it, melt away.
You will fail, but to try has great merit.

Use your body as it was meant to be.
Move or die. The choice is yours.
Even as you creak and hurt,
pretend that you are a supple leopard.

Spend time with the young.
Mostly, they won't understand you
and you may not like them much,
but they are only future there is.
Share with them what is possible;
don't expect them to listen.

Eat and drink as you like, moderately.
Ignore the shouts of the health nazis.
Let the ******* eat Kale.
Only you know what is best for you.

Ignore or break any rules that you
believe to be stupid and chickenshit.
For the most part, only you will notice.

The bankers and politicians
have already owned enough of your life.
Quietly, but firmly, tell them to *******.

Fall in love no matter what your age.
Being in love is the true Fountain of Youth;
it awakens things you thought long dead.

Act freely, but consider the consequences.
The only sin is hurting someone. Be careful.
Make kindness your constant companion and mantra.
It will return to you many times over.

Remember, no matter what you do or try,
no one lives forever and time is not your friend.
Get on with it. Live now.
A list poem that could, and probably will be, added to forever.
Mike Essig Apr 2015
Poems are messages in bottles
tossed into a sea
that does not care
if they be found or not.

Thank you for finding this one.

You can keep the bottle.

Mike Essig Apr 2015
The world worships nascence; only the young are seen as truly alive. The old become transparent and obsolete as ghosts. It is not the event of death we fear so much as the slow fading away that proceeds it. To be old in a world where the young no longer see you: that is one definition of loneliness.
~ mce
Mike Essig Sep 2015
I'm sorry but it's 5 AM
and all I can think of
is your warm soft hands
and deep wet mouth
leaning over my body
wishing it a good morning
with your talented tongue
starting the new day
the best possible way.

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