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a pretzel is 100% better than an empty stomach
ten minutes of sleep is better than no sleep
one kiss is better than no kisses
100% better
what the hell, 500%
you see where this is going
a little is a lot more than none
since you can’t have it all
a sip of water is a fountain to a parched throat
one listener an audience to a singer
a flicker of light to a blind man
a small breeze in the desert
warm breath on a frozen night
is 100% better than zero
a chuckle to a comedian in a crowded club doesn’t cut it
maybe none of these things do
a touch of lucidity to the insane only makes it worse
he sees the **** he’s lying in
i could give him ten breathing treatments
he’s still 84 years old
struggling to breathe at 4:45 in the morning
i could give him twenty treatments
he still has CHF
jamming the right chamber of his heart
flooding his lungs
he’s not drowning in it, not yet
but every breath is a squat ******
i sit with him at 4:45 in the morning
administering useless medicine
watching ice truckers, shooting the ****
it’s not lasix, which is what he needs to flush the fluid
but i’m good company and so is he
and that will have to be therapy enough
at 4:45 in the morning
the dirty poet Nov 2018
there are no stupid questions
only stupid answers
simple answers to complex questions
torpedo the invaders
school shootings?
arm the gym the teacher
very satisfying ***** solutions
they'll get you elected
my father died when i was 14
presenting me with an unsolvable calculation
and a bleak though accurate view of reality
my wife and i didn’t die when the kids were kids
and that was a gift to the children
which we took back a bit by living
and the drinking, a mixed bag
but no divorce and no funerals
you’re welcome, kids
the dirty poet Aug 2018
a sad racial incident
i’m at a sidewalk cafe
i take my phone off the table and put it in my pocket
i look up and a black teen is passing my table
i didn’t even notice him and he’s staring at me
"i ain’t interested in your phone, man"
then he walks on
the dirty poet Sep 2018
rich folks can do whatever they want
and it’s illegal to be poor
that’s connotation, not denotation
but slap me if i’m wrong
all men are created equal
and women are free to jump off the boat
and find a dolphin to ride
i’m taping a poem to a lamp post in my tiny city
and a dude comes running – RUNNING!
across the street waiving a $20 bill
"i’ve been reading you for years
i wanna give you this"
i thank him and tell him to keep his money
"the transaction is i put up this poem
you read it, you like or hate it or shake your head
and if we meet we talk about it"
but come on
once again i beat t.s. eliot
you think anyone ever ran up to him
with 20 bucks for The Wasteland?
yeah right
the dirty poet Sep 2018
i see the flyer at starbucks

"are you caucasian?
without mental health
and drug problems?"

i don’t know the answer to any of these questions
is a jew a caucasian?
is the occasional naked, ****-slamming drunken rampage
a drug problem?
as for mental health
i’m a deadbeat poet and unpopular pop musician
i’ve got a job fighting death and boredom
and i just changed my facebook password to "eat ****"
my frustrations have driven weaker souls to homicide
but are these PROBLEMS?
was baudelaire right and everyone else wrong?
was baudelaire wrong and everyone else wrong?
when you’re fed up forwards and backwards
when you realize your life isn’t a game of chess

it’s simply checkers
almost preordained
in its lack of options
we all have embedded GPS systems
gallantly navigating through the days
some work brilliantly
some less so
we depend on them
and they’re undependable
they get us so far
but invariably lead us
to the end of the highway
going 90
everyone puts his best foot forward
only to stumble off the edge of the earth
you can’t win forever
you lose it all
but **** a duck
i’m going to redefine victory
one bottle at a time
like baudelaire
her life spliffs in a series of luminous crescendos
culminating in a bassinet and bottle for a porcupine
spewing tears and spittle while the man she married
commits ping-pong with the video and her friends
television around the world as the hours go drip drip drip
the dirty poet Sep 2018
my god, the love for billy joel here
it’s touching
"is it billy joel night?"
"is every night billy joel night?"
the dirty poet Oct 2018
being a poet is like being a king
but ******, it takes all my time
seducing the ladies
and corrupting the youth
it’s a full time job
the dirty poet Oct 2018
gotta love the scientists
with the weak attention spans
who get the job done
the frustrations of biff are a technicolor epic
his bottomless thirst to be coronated king
of film, music, literature, performance
when will the world recognize genius?
reward genius?
worship genius?
******* genius?
he’s the id for all us artsy types
art, chix & wine are fine
but artchix & wine are divine!
the dirty poet Sep 2018
boring, useless and impossible
i understand why these are not the first listings
in the job description
but they should be somewhere on the page
just because something’s for sale
and you bought it
doesn’t mean you didn’t steal it
isn’t that why prostitution is illegal?
of course, stealing is fine
if you couldn’t purloin the life
of a sirloin or banana
you wouldn’t eat
just because you can buy a porkchop
doesn’t mean that the pig
placed himself on the market
not to sweat it though
when the earth digests you
it all evens out
the dirty poet Aug 2018
it’s not about you at all
you get swept up in people’s definitions
hung on the wall in someone’s frame
you’re artifact on the edge of their radar
to your family, you’re a son daughter sister brother
and technically yes, your mom bore you
(and still does)
but must you accept all that goes with it?
you were born in new jersey
must that make the sopranos and bruce springsteen
your problem?
artists paint you as lame and superficial
the boss works you like a crossword puzzle
to the government, you’re a fraction
to the rich, you’re money to be spent
to the cops, an obstacle
to the bartender, a lousy tipper
they convince you, they’re persuasive
but must this be your face?
it takes a lot of energy to break free
you escape once to find yourself in another cage
it’s a russian doll of captivity
maybe it's not worth it
how many times can you wake up
and say **** it?
the dirty poet Nov 2018
look at this:
"adobe meat-free beef jerky"
subtract the beef from beef jerky
what remains is an edible toxic dump
and that’s not a bad idea
drop the masquerade
erase the window dressing
from now on the only commodities in my kitchen
will be vegetables and a bowl of sugar
a plate of salt, a platter of caffeine
a dish of alcohol
the dirty poet Aug 2018
from the shower across the dayroom at shaver psychiatric
naked as the dawn, a spring in his step
his nuts hanging, he’s a happy man
until he slips in the doorway to his room
falls and hits his head
he wakes up to find eight of us staring at him
"are you with us sir? we need to assess you"
he’s still stark naked
"yeah yeah, ok, hold on a second"
he grabs a towel and starts buffing his nuts
"we have to get your blood pressure sir"
"ok, ok, hold it a second," he says
continuing to polish his testicles with ambition
the scene goes on unchanged for fifteen minutes
he’s way clean and dry down there

now every time i take a shower and wash my crotch
i have to smile
the dirty poet Nov 2018
i'm a curator of all that dissipates and evaporates
not only memories of my grandparents, my dad
now my mom
but the flesh tonsillectomy i performed on the rocks
in maine when i was 17
my wife's heartbreaking smile
and "come on down to my boat, baby"
a happy 60s tune no one remembers
how did it come to this?

scurrying to "work," participating in this "economy"
plugged into abstract patterns of baroque behavior

well, complaining is easy -- it's just one of those days
when the larger perspective seems alien

you can put quotation marks around any concept
to yank it out of context for examination

bad?  good?  pathetic?
“bad?”  “good?”   “pathetic?”
the dirty poet Oct 2018
as i was playing my ***** at a sidewalk cafe
three bums who’d monopolized a table for an hour
exchanged belligerence with a guy boarding a harley

i don’t know how it started
i was busy with my unfinished symphonies
but i felt the violence in the air

"get off the bike," said one of the mooks at the table
the biker jumped out of his seat and took off his helmet
a hollywood handsome moviestar stud

"come over here," said the seated blowhard

"oh, i’d love it if you took a swing at me"
the biker announced to the whole street

staredown; poseoff
the fools at the table didn’t rise
no thanks
the biker was winning just by standing there
bragging about how he’d love a punch in the nose
he didn’t have to approach
only wave his arms in bring-it-on jerry springer motion

then he overplayed
"my lawyer would love it if you hit me"

a roar went up from the table
"the guy rides a harley and when it’s time for a fight
he hides behind his lawyer"

it was a complicated macho standoff
an intricate defensive moment
the bums had backed down
but the biker had blown it

he climbed back on his bike
"yeah you’re real tough guys"
while the table which had stiffened in NO
taunted him with his lawyer


***** music incites violence
the dirty poet Dec 2018
one of the mellower insults of the aging process
is that things that were cool in your prime are utterly forgotten
if they’re pulled out of the attic everyone chuckles
and giggles at you for thinking you were cool to like them
even if they WERE cool and you WERE cool to like them
the facts tell one story
my insanity tells another
occasionally i wake from my delirium
and realize how far i’ve drifted out to sea
then i’m dragged underwater again
it’s like driving a GMC pickup
from one whiskey rendezvous to the next
floating high above my memories
and way below my desires
i’d love to get back to sober ground
so i propose a toast
sometimes a pretty girl is a cheap trick
and i’m not falling for it
"**** right i got the blues"
a buddy guy signature tune
it’s tattooed on the patient’s shoulder
the words embedded in buddy guy’s polkadot strat
i can’t get him to wake up from sedation
which is necessary for me to pull the breathing tube
he’s almost there but not
after an hour i drag a computer into the room
and play the song
thinking what a cool way to wake him up
it doesn’t work
but he comes around eventually and i pull the tube
"you play guitar, right?" i ask once he’s with us
"he tries," says his wife
we all laugh
ruth buzzi lay dead on the lawn
ruth buzzi, star of rowan & martin’s laugh-in
dayglo spinster with a hair net
like a spider web on her scalp
foil for arte johnson
remnant of a comedian
lay stiff on the lawn
my wife placed her there for decoration
she thought it was perfect
well it was perfectly disturbing
our friends were uncomfortable coming over
i reasoned with her
"we can’t have kids here"
but my wife thought it was a cool garnish to the house
she laughed, fixed herself a tito and tonic
and plomped down in a chair on the porch
admiring the lawn
the dirty poet Sep 2018
maybe you've been running hard
and you still have more in the tank
but no destination
so you floor it
and that's your destination
playing the ***** at a puppet cocktail party
couldn’t be an easier audience
but my check is still in the mail

saving a skinny woman with chest compressions
single-handedly so-to-speak
i wasn’t alone but i’ll take the credit
the others were weak, i was going heavy
and that’s when she came back

resurrecting my villain for the TV series Heroineburgh
an afternoon shoot with 3 young ladies in tight spandex

saving another woman with team compressions
went on for 60 minutes before her heart reignited
a christmas miracle
though i unplugged her 2 days later
continuous seizures

getting 3 of my 4 bands on one compilation
that and a quarter would give me a quarter

falling off my bike twice in 5 minutes
car ran a red light, then got doored in the bike lane
today was the first day my sprained wrist allowed pushups
(helps with those chest compressions)

making a money hat for the video i’m shooting for the Dumplings
they’re the Rolling Stones of my favorite bar

went to a hypnotist at the Fringe Fest
failing to get hyponotized
"you were obviously resisting," said my wife
i don’t know
i think i’m just obviously me

playing my ***** on a movie stage
for 8 second segments with the movie
don’t ask
we made $96 and bought tacos for $95

now i’m listening to my swinging new louis prima album
reflecting on this groovy month of spring
the dirty poet Sep 2018
i bought a chevy impala station wagon
off the fire chief of hackensack
it was safety yellow and glowed in the dark
had a ball on top but the chief took it with him
still a switch for it on the dashboard
way cool
until the master cylinder snapped
on my way down a steep viaduct
with my two kids in back
no brakes all the way down
splashing into a busy intersection
at the bottom of the hill
sure wish i’d had that siren

cooler still was the car before
bought for one dollar from my uncle
who’d inherited it from his oddball best bud
a scientist/author of a popular cosmology of the universe
it was a 1973 gold dodge coronet
the name conjures ancient cop shows
a huge sporty firebreathing beast
eight mighty pistons and an oil leak
i drove it for two years
until the vital fluids gushing out like the mississippi
forced me to abandon ship

the greasy kid across the street found a buyer
we waited for him one saturday morning
around the corner sailed the identical car
same color gold, same year 1973
couldn’t have shocked me more if two statues of liberty
came crashing into each other in hudson bay
the four cuban dudes driving up were thrilled
cannibalism in their eyes
my car was stripped for parts as they disappeared

now i have a new minivan and ball-busting car payments
nobody gets cooler as they get older
on the one hand
i missed every boat
on the other
they all sank
the dirty poet Sep 2018
alienation isn’t profound
it’s the nation we live in
but my alienation is epic
i’m alienated from the hepcats in this dive
the ladies who ignore me
the god who hides from me
the cops on the street
the politicians who “represent” me
the managers who “manage” me
the hicks i work with
the patients i work for
myself for eating meat
the motivation that abandoned me
the technology that sidetracks me
the music i’m commanded to enjoy
certainly the dart players
the capitalists, the communists
the smokers, the foodies
the carpenters, plumbers, electricians
rats, tigers, lions
the trolls who hate anyone who does anything
i do love cats and dogs
alcohol agrees with me
i’m popular with bartenders
i dig commercials
and the people who read these poems
thanks for listening
when i was ten years old and we were moving
i recall those sessions with the real estate agent
i was suffering and she was happy
i was watching my world disintegrate
leaving my friends, my school, my home
my sister and i would never feel comfortable again
and this real estate woman was having a ball
enjoying the transaction, making a few bucks
digging life
i remember wishing we could make an even switch
i could be her, happy and whole
she could be me, losing so much

now i work in a hospital
and as i treat the weak, wheezing and dying
spending time with them and their families
and their desperation, resignation and grief
while for me it’s just another workday
punctuated with lunch and coffee
i see they too wish for an even switch
they’d leave me languishing in the bed or waiting room
while they hop on my bike listening to the beastie boys
on their blissful way back home
the dirty poet Oct 2018
exile is our fate
looking for a way home
even if we’ve never been home

exiled from my pulitzer
from my place at the algonquin roundtable
barred from the scotch of st. james 1966
john lennon’s holding my throne for me
but i can’t get in the club

exiled from our world conquests
our lives of leisure
exiled from the parents of our past
our children and ourselves as children
from the summertime of youth
and in the end
exiled from this ****** earth
exit interview
with the manager
you’re both ******
he opens his trap and you snap
"shut up phil, and do what you do best
sit down and do nothing"
he was combative, strapped to the bed
but he could still express himself
he spit a tooth at his nurse
“and there’s plenty more
where that came from, *****”
the dirty poet Dec 2018
imagination is my best drinking buddy
i’ll always pick up the check
on this prison planet, fantasy is the liberator
it pulls down every cloud
undresses the ladies
expunges adultery
pulverizes the patriarchy
obliterates mommy
flattens fatty tissue
bulldozes boredom
annihilates procrastination
decimates iron-poor literature
gobbles up poverty
overthrows the workplace
abolishes taxation
liquidates profit
exterminates capitalism
confuses the cops
torpedoes certainty
trashes common sense
wrecks mortality
exterminates the divine
fantasy, the one-stop shopping mall
of freedom
sadly we’re all born to play supporting roles
but the prisoner by subtraction
is free to imagine anything
he can make you and me zombie slaves
concubines to his fantasy
he has that right; it’s kosher
while we wear chains of responsibility
shackled to the civilities of liberty
exercising our right to spend money
on **** we don’t need
he can steal it all
he can dream us to death
when you have the blues
when you lost something
you’re never gonna find again
you might have the inspiration
to write a sad song
but why would you ever sing it?
the supergenius' race-baiting strategy
is gonna bite him in the ***
his base (in every fragrance of the word)
will still boogie down with its war-dance
but he's gonna motivate a lot of people
to put a brake on the fascism

things didn't end well for mussolini
the dirty poet Aug 2018
a wacko version of hamlet

the patient came up to us raving
a naked swollen giant
his basketball *****, his endless belly
every system failing
we prepared to put him out
so we could stick a tube down his throat
plug him on a ventilator
and insert lines for safekeeping
he tried to lean off the bed
take it easy man, i said, restraining him
who’s susan? asked the nurse
good night, sweet prince, i said as we gave him the drugs
we intubated him and took him down to the OR
where he passed twenty minutes later
the dirty poet Sep 2018
i worked christmas and the day after
both time-and-a-half days
unless you worked christmas
then the next day wasn’t overtime
that’s ok
i wouldn’t wanna break the “nonprofit”
with my unbridled greed

if the company you work for
says tuesday is wednesday
unless you have a union or quit the job
tuesday is wednesday
the dirty poet Sep 2018
our better natures have much to contend with

we want the chinese to be slaves in factories
so we can buy our crap for cheap
we want fracking to poison neighborhoods
so we can heat our homes on a budget
we want to torture cows and poultry
for a chicken *** pie and a roast beef sandwich
we want the suckers in the middle east
to knock each other off with their bonkers belief systems
(*** slaves are kosher) so they leave us the **** alone
we want the old to be sick and the young to be broke
so we feel like we’re sitting pretty

this is what we want
this is why we’re so happy
the dirty poet Aug 2018
i bang my head against the wall for a living
and it’s no coincidence
that’s what i do with my free time as well
i must love it
(for my fellow dharma bums)

why is this backpack so heavy?
chicken & country cole slaw
forks & knives & spoons
a bicycle helmet hanging off
a sketch pad
          the next 100 years
          how the beatles destroyed rock’n’roll
a walkman & cds
          the soundtrack to the darjeeling limited
          faust’s first two albums
          tom waits & alan holdsworth
          compilations of local prog rock
          modern blues & albert king
old newsweeks
a black t shirt & blue scrubs
a folder with poems & instructional material
          the brain death protocol
a stethoscope
but why is it so heavy?
must be the hot sauce
my coworkers bristle
when i say i’m a poet and composer
and that slaving in a hospital is just a hobby
"no," they insist, "the hospital is your PROFESSION
music and writing are just HOBBIES"
so for vincent van gogh
he who never sold a canvas
painting was a hobby?
thank god i'm married
it would all be too easy if i weren’t
and in the end, too boring

ironic when you consider
that marriage is a still life
with the paint flaking off

but when you're alone
it all breaks down

marriage is like college
you're not sure it's necessary
but if you don't go
you feel like you missed something

and the truth is, my bride
i would have missed everything
without you
the dirty poet Aug 2018
years ago i spent a winter in san francisco
living in a mission hotel when it was cheap enough
i met a charming young lady
and we kept company for a couple of months
we went out, we stayed in, we had fun
and one night she said "man, you’re so cool
about going out with a black woman
it’s like it makes absolutely no difference to you"
and i thought, she’s black?
that might explain why when we hit the clubs
the black men were staring razors at me
let me ask you

you’re sitting in a hospital room
visiting a friend or mother or son in a critical care bed
an alarm is triggered, an ominous warning
you nervously step outside looking for a nurse
you tell the nurse there’s something beeping
the nurse comes inside and fixes the occluded line
you nitpick about the time it took
you question procedures as the nurse is doing them
advocating for the patient
the squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?
yeah but guess what
the nurse doesn’t want to come into the room anymore
whether you’re in there or not
the vitals will still be seen to
but other patients suddenly need more attention
and by the way
every time you ask me if i washed my hands
(like the posted signs advise you to ask)
i think:  if you’re that worried about infection
i’ll just stay out of the room; that much less exposure
that means painful bedpan delay for your loved one
or lying in filth a little longer
waiting thirsty minutes for that sip of water
staying in one excruciating position half an hour more

so have you done your friend or mother or son a favor?
i know why
you ******* around on your wedding night
it was a great party
the girls were all dolled up
and you were the center of attention
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