Friday, December 30, 2016

My Celebrity Death Hoax Hoax

My death came as a surprise to no one, a shock
to some and no doubt, a relief to others (be fair:
in Life, not everybody is going to like you, let alone
love you; everybody has always got to hate some-

one without reason, or logic. And I'm not special).
But mostly it fills up television air time on a day
where the news is dead slow, if moving at all. First,
will be an tsunami-level outpouring of loud grief;

a great and mighty, "Aw, God damn it! Not another
one!" except it won't be in 2016, but later. Clearly
my sense of timing is/was as bad as ever. But that
is just the kind of rogueish detail that'll blossom

as an endearing part of "Portrait of the Artist" lie
that death seems to invoke for us. Folks fall over
themselves in a rush to sanctify or else throw mud
clumps at others' grief  in the sudden sharp impact

death owns. I hope my death will be no different.
Let there be equal mouths selling sweet stories
of golden heart and a wisdom never appreciated
when it was still paired with  breath; and also

someone not even close to me to start the autopsy
of my every short-coming. Talk about all the drugs
and drinking and bad behavior. Do not forget
the mental problems; these all make great fodder

for arguing my legacy, one way or another. Be sure
to mention sobriety, in passing, maybe shaded too
little, too late. That's not a bad title for the movie
now that I think on it. Especially, re-read my poems

in the editing light of "It's all he left behind for us."
Please- take a line here or there and make a meme,
a t-shirt; I want to trend in the afterlife. Al Pacino
(if he is still alive) for the bio pic, although miracles

happen all the time with CGI, so anyone could be me.
That's another great title. See how, even dead, I write
my own story in a way I never could, alive? And please,
please, please, make up a story of how I kicked a puppy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mickey Mouse in Black 'n' White

There were dogs, and then there were dogs, I guess,
I don't know. Back then I didn't think about it
that much. Goofy was my friend, Pluto was my dog.
It was just how the world was. It was the 1930s.

America was in the toilet of the Great Depression,
and you were grateful if you were lucky enough
to be working. There were a lot of things back then
we never questioned. I wore pants. Donald didn't.

Minnie had a full dress with panties and shoes;
and Daisy made do with the feathers God gave her.
Goofy lived in a house, and Pluto was chained
outside. I want to say I knew something was wrong

in my cartoon heart, but I didn't ever have words
for it, even when the Talkies came. We didn't
stop to think, didn't consider the implications
of Donald carving the Thanksgiving bird, or why

everybody was drawn in such broad, narrow strokes.
I'm sure Walt meant "Song of the South" as a compliment
to the Colored, like "Hey! The Reconstruction, right?
Not so bad, and wow! Do you have magical stories!

And, oh those singing voices!" Of course Walt was racist.
Everyone was back then, just Walt was worse than most.
We Toons were hungry for success. The only tune we heard
was what put food on the table. I just drove the steamboat,

I didn't want to rock it. But in my dreams, I ask Walt,
"If you wanted us to live in a brightly- colored world,
why wouldn't you hire Black people? But the only color
I worried about back then was the green of the money,

and how best to keep clean my white, white hands.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Only Place to Go is Here

This world is lost,
but the last thing it needs
is a sense of direction.
We can't trust maps anymore,
not when we put them and the table
and they just lie... there.
It's time to think outside:

pretend you could fly--
if you flew east as hard as you could, far enough
to circle the world, would you ever come home again?
Yes. But from the West.
If you go North enough, over the pole, and you are
heading South, until you fly over the pole,
and you're heading North again. You're spinning in circles

because this world is bipolar
and maps are part of the problem.
It's not that they don't lead us places,
but there are things we think maps are telling us,
like, here is better than there, so
we must be better than them. So we have wars
of North against South, and East vs West,
as if Right and Wrong were just
"location, location, location..."

Maps trick us into believing
we don't belong to the land,
that the land belongs to our territory.
We've forgotten our hearts know what home looks like.
We keep fighting over real estate.

And we're just as confused about "Up"...
we mistake plans to conquer space for spiritual ascension;
think if there's a perfect place
we'll only find it in our Heaven,
but then we will find it, map it and it will be ours.

But if someone else, even
from a culture I'm told is my enemy,
sought their own Heaven,
following different cartography;
even if they took off from the other side
of the world from us, guess what?
They'd still be heading "up".
So it won't matter who wins this race.
Once we're out there in space
the only place left to go is "farther away".
If we humans can't agree,
not on where we came from, but why...
the only perfect place we could have reached
will be lost.

This is how maps lead us
off-course, and their promises of a home
we can call our own, will only trick us
into losing our way if they get us to forget this:
That person on the other side of my world
is just like me: another human being, just trying
to find their way home.

It's time we think bigger than maps
and treat the words like Us and Them,
Me and You...
as gradations, not absolutes.
We'd see the differences between us
are false illusions, like the borderlines
on a map or a globe: they're not really there

unless we choose to see them,
and treat them as more important
than the maps we carry here. In our hearts,
we are already home
where "X: marks the spot
because you are here. Now,
where ever else you go in life,
here is where you begin.

If the world can discover this someday,
it won't be maps that save us.
What will matter is that, if we follow one,
we treat it as a guide
not another Bible God gave us.
What matters if the people who believe,
even if we don't know where we're going  yet,
we can all get their, together, if we all try.
Crazy right? Crazy like people who believe
that people could fly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I Wrote a Letter to Myself at 17, It Came Back Returned to Sender

By the time I receive this letter,
it will be years before I start,
because time-travel is a lie.
Writing to one's younger self
probably won't change anything
that made me want to write this
exercise in begging my own past

to forgive me, in the first place.
Forget the usual time travel tropes;
assume nothing I do to the past
is going to radically alter anything.
Never mind re-written futures;
never mind fractal parallels;
There's plenty I can screw up

in the time period where I live.
I warn 17-year old me, "Avoid
romantic anythings with women
named Amy or Ann or Jennifer."
But I'd likely make very similar
sad story mistakes, just different
names carved on my soft inner-skin.

I worry 17 year-old me, receiving
this time-traveled letter, and surging
with youthful sureness, might re-write
me as a paladin of romance , doomed
and too beautiful. I worry he'd worship
that. Better he shred the letter, "Forget
you old man! I'm gonna be an astronaut."

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

I Don't Don't Like Mondays (Nov. 30/30 #1)

(prompt: There are seven days of the week, and one of them hates you.  Oddly enough, it isn't

Everybody hates
Monday; the punch-
line to working class
humor; buttered bread
of comic strips. Grin 
and bear it wisdom.

Me? Too busy lost
in always incoming
tides of dedication
to the drink; gasp
at the air and sink
down willingly.

Washing my wounds
in salt-water. Self-care
for those dead-set
on drowning; knowing
which way is up, but
swimming in the other.

Throwing-up daily
on the harsh and brutal
shores of Living
On the Rocks; always
scared, always thirsty,
always, almost always,

I didn't know how
else to live. Never
feared a Monday,
per se; but instead,
any day of the week
that ended in "y"...

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Never Peace

Here, in the country of Never Peace, deep
inside where the heart inventories its hauntings,
I found love, just not the kind you get to keep,
just the sighting of, the hoping, and the wanting.

Love like a trick question, love bereft
of any stable landscape, any anchor mooring.
Love in the guise of someone that left.
Love like a love poem, or something as boring.

Here in Never Peace, the streets are a mess-
awash in tides of undelivered confessions.
Cupid's Ok when he manages to stay sober,
which is never. One drink and it's arrows all over.

Love like a tax audit, love like debt
without the chance of a repayment option.
Love like collateral damage that I caused.
love like unmothering and false adoption.

Love like an exit sign, that rhymes with done;
Love like a weapon with a hammer and spike.
Love like a planet where gravity has won.
Love like failed similes- like, like, like...

Here in Never Peace, the streets are a mess-
awash in tides of undelivered confessions.
Cupid's Ok when he manages to stay sober,
which is never. One drink and it's arrows all over.
It's been raining love's missiles for years in a row
how he keeps missing me, fuck only knows.
there are wounds all over Never Peace, big as the Moon.
I hope to be leaving Never Peace soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Awful Potential

Don't tell me the sins of the Father will be
visited on the son. I know this already. It is
my story, full of hatred and frightened villagers.
They have howled of my Awful Potential,
and called me "Frankenstein's Monster"…

... they are liars. They lie.

My name is Adam, and I know I am
not lovable. I am too unsettling to gaze
upon. My skin is not like yours
of the living, and I’m a stitched puzzle to God.
My flat skull, they say, is because 

God looked down at me and said "Man
is capable of both right and wrong. But this?
This is a sin so original in its arrogance
that there was no plan for its punishment.
"This," God said, "Is NOT Mine!"

Well, let God hate me then, I never asked
to be born. But assembled into this world.
all I wanted were the same answers, same
questions as anyone: Who am I? Why am I
here? I was no miracle of motherless birth,

I was a mistake; stolen into being, lightning
in my blood. My Father was hailed "The
Modern Prometheus", but look deeper within
the myth: Prometheus was a thief. Rejected
by my father, by God, I wandered by night

or deep forest. No one would believe me
if I told them about the young girl I found
kneeling in the field and picking flowers.
My heart was moved. I did not know I could
feel it. Absolutely unafraid, she smiled at me

and all my strength went weak before her.
We threw flowers in the stream and laughed
as they swirled... until someone in her family
screamed! Then out came the villagers,
every torch and pitchfork one of them. All

howling of my Awful Potential, of these arms
that could break them, a body that doesn't bleed,
a creature that feared nothing...except for fire.
So it was behind fire they found their courage,
and as they drove me back, I stared them down

and saw the truth in their eyes: when they dream
it is of miracles and immortality, but awake, they are
sons of Caine, they kill because that is what they
do; even murder their own dreams. But then
these are people who worship a God who allowed

his own son to die horribly, just to prove a point.
A God that named every Angel He ever burned.
In great irony, the villagers drove me back home
to my father's castle, in the shape of all his sins
revisiting, come back as my hand at his throat.

I look at the villagers: all torches and farm-tools
of hate; I look at my father and all that came about
because of his Science and mad resolve; and I look
straight into the eyes of God. I know there is Awful

Potential behind all of this... but it is NOT in me.

One Moment, Replaced By Another

(after Yusef Kombunyakaa's "Thanks")

In his poem, the soldier describes the bullet
that didn't kill him. How it happened to miss
it's chance, mere inches to one side of dead-
center, hitting a tree that grew in that place,

He wonders what it was- Wind-Drift? Grass
Rustle? Light-Glint off Gun-Metal? Any one
of which might be the angel that saved his life.
He barely mentions another story of survival,

this one, a grenade that failed to explode. I think
we can only come close to Death just so many
times, so we assemble A Story to Tell, including
all the other almost-times. I won't dishonor him,

thinking I know anything of what it's like to be
someone who has served. My story is different
altogether, except it too is a ghost of "What If?"
Young kid, I was visiting relatives in Florida,

swimming off of Grandpa Frank's boat, close
by the Gulf of Mexico. I don't remember
the charter fishing vessel, the people aboard
shouting at me; I don't remember any sound:

just the wet weight, as I pulled myself out
of the water, looking over my shoulder at
the hammerhead, furious at the fishhook
in its jaw, how I didn't scream as it burst

from the water, big as Death. What I remember
was the fishing line, marking its path towards me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Any Given Bottle of Beer, 1981

(after Sharon Olds)

Fully informed about the vintage
of my parents and how they failed
to be even that, I decided, as a teen,
to never follow in their footsteps,
never recreate their mistakes. Meaning

I wasn't going to drink. College soon
put paid to that, (the best camouflage
is fitting in). So, I learned a great deal
about the glories of excess, and how to
make any tick o' the clock happy

hour.  In fact, it wouldn't be for years
to come that I would fall into the deep
end of the glass and not be smart enough
to know when to stop sinking myself.
Three decades decayed away my hope

of ever feeling normal around alcohol.
I try to forgive the dumb kid now. Pride
in my sobriety is tsk-tsk-ing a beer radio
commercial at 8 a.m., while humility is
admitting that's not the earliest I ever drank.

If I were to blame it all on the missteps
of that self-made stupid student, I would
also have to admit he never set a foot
to print that wouldn't lead straight here
to the shoes I put on, one at a time, today.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Diameter of Things That Are Not Circles, or, Sleep Relaxation Tape No.2 "A Strange Bed"

As with anything else in the world, begin
right where you are: the floating, fixed-
point that is the center of the universe that is
the inside of your head. You. Now circle

the bed three times like a dog that does
things not completely understandable
to itself. This should make you tired, or else
you may start mourning a long-lost pet

from your childhood. Either one
is pointless because what you want
is to sleep. Not to be selfish, but sleep
is simply too personal to believe

what works for everybody else fits
your needs. You are far from home,
tired in a strange bed, lonely in the way
you always are before sleep arrives

to join you. Think of something else.
What is the diameter of a square?
A triangle? Rhombus? Parallelo... stop it.
Diameter is something about circles.

You remember that from Math class
in the 8th grade, where you sat behind
your ex-girlfriend and the new boyfriend
she found after you. At least you think

it was after, but then you remember
the angles of her face the last week
of your relationship. The way ripples
don't build from nothing. All of a sudden

you two were no longer you two, just
another two people after a love that turned
the corner to ruin. Ever since, nothing
has changed- corners are still things you fail

to turn and instead, find yourself backed into.
Come back to this bed. Listen to the circle
of your breathing. You turned the coffee-maker
off, before you left on this trip, right? Yes.

Of course you did. You always do that.
There is every reason to believe you did
this time. Sure you did. Remember, circles
are things with no ends that mean nothing

other than exactly what they seem: lines that are
endless in their ability to turn on themselves; more
cutting edges that startle you awake; places
with no corners where you can find sleep.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Impromptu Haiku

Thinking back to one
year ago. Weird. Memories
are weird. I forget why.

Monday, July 25, 2016


Sometimes I think I don't mourn things that are gone,
I mourn absences-- the empty spaces between words,
graveyard of nowhere, only the gut-cold stomach-fall
remains, each time I panic for evidence of anything

ever being in that space. That it ever was nameable as
"hunger" or "promise" or "that touch I knew you by".
When I told myself words were not worthy of you?
We both know that's not true, but also, probably not

in the way we think the other imagines. I still look
for the right un-word for you: that perfect sound
of words being taken back from the air, if I could.
Words get caught on paper. I used to think that was

so they could last, so they could stay in one place...
no, it's so we have something we are able to erase.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Only Machine You'll Ever Need

There were fascinating details; that's what entranced everyone about The Machine, when they
first encountered it. Endlessly resplendent with small craftings, and layers of appreciation, it  made the very clever feel clever all through their bones, while not making anyone feel stupid, the way some people feel, when facing mechanicals.

Whoever made it had a deep love for hidden riddles, clever double meanings, and details so breath-staggeringly gossamer, you could scarce exhale for fear of interrupting a moment. Different people will tell you they absolutely heard what they heard (it doesn't matter what anyone else claims, even were they in the room at the same time) and they would swear upon what ever what most important to them as proof. And everyone of them would be right, or at least honest.

Because The Machine makes the noises you need it to make. It appears in shapes it hopes you like, as long as that happens to be cube-like. But it can touch-interface, or if that's too presumptuous, too modern, it can fine meshed-gear clockwork, it can piston and hammer, it can simple lever; it wants to  you to be satisfied.

The architect, with heart of Bauhaus, the Steam-Punk hipster with their Victorian wish, the Futurist with the wired smile, they would all be pleased with what they saw. Lovers would weep, and the Terribly Alone would follow its humming (they hear it as a kind of melodic humming) and discover themselves impossibly found.

The Poets wait until everyone else is gone, before gathering up the words left underfoot, with their fingers busy listening. When they are done, each goes home and attempts to knit soup for everybody.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Suggestions for Being an Ally

Pretend you have been invited to someone's house.
for Dinner. When you arrive, knock on the door,
wait to be invited in. Don't kick in the door , even when
expected, and demand them to explain the forks. Or
the food. To say, "That really looks amazing! May I
ask if you'd be willing to describe it to me, please?"...

That is polite. "What the hell's that? Don't you got any real
food? Do you have pizza wherever it is you come from?"
is not. Don't be an ass. In fact, forget the inside of the house
for now; forget even the front door, stay outside, quietly.
Just take a minute and look around, observe, witness
what their immediate country looked like. certain trees

they, or someone, planted; those gardens, tendrils tended
into vines and green after green after more green; more
life from this simple work with the soil.  Next, houses,
all around tree-lined streets that lead to businesses, big
and small: bakeries and sidewalk cafes next to the street
markets; friendly neighbors on their way home from work,

maybe the other way around; or maybe they were leaving
for the cinema, the theater, the outside world, universities
in America. Feel the life that was here, before civil wars
and western munitions; drones that taught children to fear
blue skies; death by approximations made half a world
away.  Victory by assumption. Destroyed cities and survivors targeted when they want to go somewhere safer, like
where you come from-- that place of confident rooftops
where blue skies & sunny days are taken for granted. Not
cities shown in media as if they were built like that, all
fallen; the refugees suspected of being the very killers

they want to flee from. If you want to be a good ally, don't just ok
demand the bombs to stop; then open your safe homes.
Share meals, feed hearts, indulge their polite questions,
be generous as they would be, were their houses still
there, and they had any food. If you want to be an ally
ask if they have anything they want to share, then listen...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

How to Set Up Your Relapse

Believe you are immune after
all these years, damn invulnerable
if you do say so, yourself. Yes.

Believe that lightning won't strike
the bold while they're in motion;
misunderstand the limits of prayer.

Walk through dangerous places
inside your head after 11 at night,
when nothing is a good idea;

forget bad thoughts aren't friends.
Remember good times. Miss the taste
of a poison that wasn't your story;

wonder if... wonder maybe if only
this wasn't this and you weren't
you and everything was different;

consider the drink. Lose count
of the reasons why not. Believe
you're invulnerable, bold; a man

of reason and prayer and Yes.
Forget your own story. Celebrate
resentments. Consider the drink.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

My Disabled Body, My Car

One almost interchangeable with the other;
when either isn't working, the other suffers.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Philosophy Smack-Down

I’m not being obsessive,
but it was, by my rough estimate,
the two thousand, seven hundred and eighty-fifth time
That someone tried to console me, assuring,

                                    “That which doesn’t kill you
                                    will make you stronger!”

That- to use a philosophically rough,
and nitrogen-rich technical term- is bullshit!

You know that man that said it?
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche…
And you know what else?
he’s dead. And what killed him,
took its damn time. He died, raving,
ravaged, bankrupt, with syphilis,
which, at no time, made him stronger.

Furthermore, when he died? I bet
he had some explaining to do
regarding another of his famous quotes:
                                    “God is dead”
which he said to the one Supreme Being least likely
to see it as clever metaphor or precocious outburst.
I like to think of Nietzsche, standing at the Gates of Heaven ,
and the first words he hears after, “Yeah… don’t unpack, Fred…”
are “Hey Nietszche? Who Da God? WHO DA GOD NOW, BITCH?”

Given this historical context,
maybe that which doesn’t kill me…simply missed?
Maybe it was on a mission of reconnaissance,
testing weak spots, reporting back to a main force,
waiting for night…

Or, maybe that which doesn’t kill me,
knows all it has to do is wound me,
and let blood-loss and exhaustion
do the work for it… and then it can make
a trophy out of my skull.

Or maybe that which doesn’t kill me is a sadist.
And thinks, “Why stop after just one beating?”
until I start to like it. So maybe that which doesn’t kill me
makes me a prime candidate for spiritual Stockholm Syndrome?
There is a good chance that which does kill me
is vast… unknowable… that it doesn’t intend to kill me
any more than I count amoeba casualties
while stomping through rain puddles…

…that’s the one that really scares me.

Maybe all I have is that that which didn’t kill me… was yesterday;
and that which isn’t killing me…is today;
and that which won’t kill me tomorrow
is a giant Hello Kitty, and no,
I don’t want to talk about it.

Perhaps that which doesn’t kill me—
through accident, bad aim, circumstances,
or dumb luck simply doesn’t kill me.
And the “only makes me stronger” part?

That… is all up to me.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Man on a Corner, with iPod

I've been waiting here since the afternoon,
There's no more denial that I can consume,
my stomach is too full of empty already.
She would've telephoned if she was coming.

My earphones in,  Nina Simone
sings "You'll Never Walk Alone"
and I hope she's singing to me.

I wrote all my love letters in the dark.
I don't think that any found their mark.
I dream of love with a perfect fit
& not having "Hopelessly" as prefix.

My earphones in, The Cure
describes Love as a force majeure
a tragedy we all still carry

Music hath charms this beast was told
but this yearning heart shit's getting old.

I don't wait on that corner anymore
there's nothing good to wait there for.
My heart is empty, but my head is clear.
My body clock says it's time is for leaving here.

My earphones in, Linda Thompson sings,
how one clear moment can change everything,
change everything

Self-Defense for Empaths

Your heart made you a target for the Hungry
Narcissist. You've been to this ill picnic before:
they know just how to serve you those words
you've always wanted to hear; they'll whisper
you're special, just like you always dreamed

you could be. They're good at that. You aren't
even paying attention to the pedestal building
slowly under your feet. You don't realize how
far from your friends and family you've been
removed. This is classic predator behavior:

separate you from the herd, chain you down
until you require their praise just to breathe
right. Now they bait the stick with everything
they once gave you freely. Now they expect
you do the trick on demand. I made you, 

I can break you They tell you this. Didn't
you know how wrong, and helpless you are,
if not for them? Or this:, wouldn't you want
one more chance? You would, You owe them.
And this is where you lose the battle before

it's even started: Once they get you to engage,
they have won. You will never be listened to;
they're too busy adjusting gas-lamps, changing
the argument out from under you, twisting up
your words; anything but let what you say be.

But you have power here: to win, shift weight
from their words to yours. Like verbal Aikido,
you use their force against them, letting it fall
behind you, uselessly-- just like them. Unless
they are violent, you have stolen your power

back. And if they are violent, you do whatever
you need to protect you and yours. But mostly,
Narcissists are like parasites, and denying them,
you will starve them out of your head and heart.
You are equal of their pedestal, on your own level.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Things That Rhyme with "Alone"

A shell to the ear produces no sound;
oceans found dried up long ago. Blue
sky that is just someone else's opinion,
not true for everybody. Songs speaking

directly to you: capital L love in one
small hand; the word "no" in the other,
loss all over your face. A dozen phone
phone calls made to voicemail, thick

with nothing. Bird cries from outside
describe the dimensions of the room
where you reside isolated, can't escape
can't hide. Doors that weigh too much

to open from the inside. When you cook,
there're always leftovers, always, because
you still can't help but cook for someone
else that isn't there, hasn't been, or never

will. Sleep as escape. Romantic films
as stings to the face. The way you ache.
How someone's absence has so much
weight. How you wait, the way you wait.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Daring Self-Love, I Risked Learning to Cook

When I first suspected this might be the case I stopped,
hardly able to taste the word I'd prayed for all my life.
I imagine floating, whole and golden, in mid-air, sound
surrounded by what contented angels sound like, sighing.

Music becomes food through a series of simple magicks

Having exchanged smudged forests for individual trees
that exist, I started to see possibilities I had missed,
(so obvious, this): just start with premium ingredients;
know how to allow them become their own eloquence.

Cooking is like Comedy, like la vie; timing is everything.

There is power in small details that gets lost in the dreary 
catch-basins of generalities: it is all the same, does it matter?,
hide everything under garnish... all these words want to do
is weigh-down, and take all the fun out of cooking for one.

I am not the magic, but I can know how heat conducts.

Try to learn the real names of the people who bring the food,
their families and their farms; savor the names of vegetables;
how flavors are layered; the best sources for everything;
and how the turning of the year sets different dinner tables;

how that simple, nutritious meal is my first act of self-love

Monday, May 9, 2016

How to Be Alone for the Rest of Your Life

First you must believe you have
telescope eyes that can smell
the future. Next, you populate
that time- not-yet with absences.
Name each one and give them
faces of people who have left

you already. Build this city,
this lonely city, from skin cells,
old love letters never returned,
and the memory of phone calls
you will not get to answer again.
Stir the wind up with this dust;

stir up all the dust that is dust,
that is what ashes become. Yes-
lay there in your sad bed, imagine
every bad thing, possible or not,
that is going to happen to you.
That you most certainly deserve.

At this point you have cursed
yourself enough. Bone links
and blood links; subconscious
making consciousness; bricks,
mortar, but not in that order.
A lonely city falling upwards.

You have presented yourself
with the key to this ruin inside;
you are sitting in a graveyard
of things that have yet to die.
as if a small, cold room could
be trusted to tell your future.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

19 years of pain, both fresh,
and wounds that linger on
way past when they stopped
being scar-tissue. I miss you
Mother. Some years are better
than others. This year isn't
one of the good ones. You

would tell me we should
pull ourselves upright, show
up to work; let that be structure
when your heart bones break,
your legs are tired of years,
and photos holding nothing
but symbols and keepsakes

for loss. I wish she had lived
to see me rise up from crisis,
finally alive, human, present.
She died knowing I was adrift
and she could no longer help.
She tried to give me apologies
from her deathbed. I refused

to let her feel she hadn't done
her job. What mistakes were
mine, were mine; I absolved
her as an adopted child should
(were they as lucky as I was),
"Mother, you were always just
like a mother to me, every way

that mattered." I don't believe
in Ouija Boards; I don't feel
we should assume the dead
yearn to do anything else but
rest and move on to whatever
is next. Mom, I'm ok. Missing
you just reminds me I'm alive.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

New Poem up on "Drunks in a Midnight Choir"

... which is a stellar site and you should go there and read everyone's stuff.

There... there is NO bad stuff there... at. all.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The End of Things #12/30

(Another song which our Author seems to be channeling Early Black Sabbath, maybe Dio. Then again, maybe Uriah Heep, so let's keep things in perspective, eh? Odd, me'thinks)

Lights are falling.
Heaven's come undone.
End of the universe,
or maybe just this one.
Either way, unsteady legs
knocked out from under us.
Turn off the radio,
I need someone else

that agrees with me.
Endings, beginnings, both
had little to do with this,
we just ran out of rope
when we got down to the end of our coping skills.
No need to hang ourselves,
just let go of everything.
Turn off the radio in case
the sirens start to sing.

Bloody skies overhead.
Beautiful, fiery red.
Apocalyptic myth.
But all I can think of
is your goodbye kiss
to all of this...

We can watch the falling,
cities into wreckage, ruined.
We can wave at horsemen
joking "How you four doin'?"
We could enjoy little deaths
waiting for the big one.
We could swallow Jesus,
and wait for Him to come.

Bloody skies overhead.
Beautiful, fiery red.
Apocalyptics predict.
But all I can think of
is your goodbye kiss
out of all of this...

Heaven is unraveling,
you can wear it like a wreath
The universe is being consumed
out from underneath,
and from the inside out.
entropy at the end of things.
If we could find a whole radio
we could hear the angels sing
goodbye to everything

Bloody skies overhead.
Beautiful, fiery bright
In the end, unworthy
of Apocalyptic hype.
Still, the only place
I want to feel safe
is your goodbye kiss
to all of this...

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Real Life Story: Trying to Be an Ally #11/30

Pardon the formatting. I cut/pasted this from a FB post I made that seem to resonate with a lot of people, shared many times. I share it here, again, not to be the hero of the piece, but merely to show how easy it is to try and be an ally to POC (and not just appoint yourself the title) and also, just how mundane and common systemic racism really is.

"So, earlier today, a group of young black women (teens maybe?) knocked on my door and said "Hi, we're a group of kids that have rented out the space next door. We're going to have a party and wanted to say we might get a little loud if that's ok. We won't be here later than midnight."
Very appreciated. I've lived here for over two years and no-one has ever, ever politely informed me (or anyone) of their presence beforehand. And they were hardly that loud, even when groups of them were hanging outside. There have been heavy rock shows there that were much louder, with drinking outside (and bottles left on the lawn of my building) and none of them ever went around, introducing themselves to local residents as a courtesy.

I'm surprised later (and probably shouldn't have been, after all these kids were CLEARLY GWY&B-ing* (Gathering While Young & Black) all over the place they rented legally), when I see police cars show up. I see the young woman outside, talking to two cops who were acting as if they'd never seen the Mediator before. "Do you have permission to be here? You seem kind of young to sign a rental agreement. Is this an abandoned building? Is there electricity and running water in there?" You could tell he was kind of playing with her and/or trying to get her to blurt out enough info so he could have cause to shut the party down. He looked like he'd put in some years in the police force, so his claim that "I thought this place was abandoned" was pretty suspect as, The Mediator Stage is rented out nearly every night and a few times during the week (Also available for function rentals and I hear it's cheap. Guy who owns it is a nice guy. So... shout out to The Mediator Stage (who were not there and had nothing to do with this story, save renting the hall to the people.)
So, I go outside and say, "Officers, these fine youth actually went door-to-door earlier today, politely informing us of their party. This building is rented out frequently for a number of uses, among them open mic nights and a regular Sunday morning worship group. This is actually a Unitarian Congregation, and they are registered, as is the building, with the Unitarian Universalist Association, in Boston, MA."
Afterwards, I gave the woman my name and number and told her to call me if she needed a witness to that interaction, or if the police arrived again.
Later, when the night was over and youth were waiting for their rides, I heard some of them yelling at others "Get off those steps! You don't know those people!" so I went down and told them I lived there, and they were welcome to wait there, out of the rain. I understood their caution, but I was stating they were welcome to wait there, and if anyone asked, they could knock on the door, I'd be up for a while.
All this is not about me being the hero. I'm saying that it took so little to see something not right was about to happen and no real effort to help, and when I took the cops' attention away from her and other organizers (and where their line of questioning might be going) it was nice to be able to use a little of my white privilege to confound the system. Organic Judo, whatever.
But do you see America, how easy it is to be ok with each other?
So easy, a crippled old white dude can do it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Heaven of Starfish and Coffee #10/30

"I think when anyone dies now, we just say Rest w/Prince bc...Prince"
                                                                                        - Rachel Wiley
There are deaths that merely cease
a life, and there are deaths that change
the whole shape and cloth of living.

I wonder was the word genius easy to wear;
it would have to be, right? So many
people throwing it over your shoulders.

But you knew it is better to be naked &
those shoulders of yours smoldered molten
as you guitared, the way u sing, everything

you held in your hands given exact magic
you wanted it to become. Your mystery? Magic.
Every instrument quicksilver blessed;

how your throat caressed every sexy part; 
your heart was orchestra, your vision rocked
in every purple shade of praise and fire.

The first time I heard your music, I didn’t
know what to fall in love with first, I was
too busy shedding tight hetero-normal,

and dancing like a Kinsey 3. I don’t know
there’s another artist that was something
to everybody and everybody got something

My friend said your passing should redefine
the afterlife, and now, when someone we love
dies, we should say “Rest with Prince, bc…

Prince.” I agree. We can say “Dearly beloved”
we can say “Electric Word: Life” we can say
“They’ve gone to a better place, a place

of Starfish and coffee, of maple syrup and Jam…”

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Eulogy #9/30

(In-class assignment: suffer through writing a villanelle...)

In the end, everything comes back to us.
No one wants their end to come this way,
ashes to ashes, mortal dust to dust.

Hypothetical God, in Thee we trust.
We pray this life is not a false charade.
In the end, everything comes back to us:

prodigal sons, bad pennies, dangerous
chances we worried would turn out this way:
ashes to ashes, mortal dust to dust

in the wind, scattered by sudden gusts
and false summer calms that mask hurricanes.
In the end, everything returns to us

as if we placed good intentions in a trust.
Now the terrible dividends are paid:
ashes to ashes, mortal dust to dust.

Life is a wheel; Karma, is a wheel. Trust
all things will be balanced; all debts get paid
in the end. Everything comes back to us--
ashes to mortal ashes, dust to dust.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

All Points Bulletin #7/30

(in-class exercise: the Simile)

Calling all those concerned,
be on lookout for a suspect
in several criminal complaints.
The culprit identified as “Life”
is described as “something
as empty as mystery; green
as a bird’s dream; personal
as blood; regular as midnight;
reluctant as a swollen cloud;
nervous as bad dreams caught

peeking; smooth as silence;
quick as already; as certain
as sure; pretty as a possibility;
as lonely as mercy; willing
to do anything imaginable
as one drowning should, slicker
than owl shit; desperate as
a second youth; crying like
November; pale as pale as pale as...

Should you see Life, please,
be cautious as blood-letting;
careful as cats; and quiet
as real rain. Be as certain
as heartbeats; call for help
like wind changing direction,
then be as gone as last
night, when you were not
able to even voice similes;

it was like…like…like…

Luscious #8/30

(Class assignment: alliteration; word given to me - luscious)

Like almost all words, it is rooted in Latin;
delicere, meaning, to entice by attraction
or charm; its mouth-feel, liquid like satin;
a warm lullaby, a promise of satisfaction

for the senses; loving, lazy mouthfuls
of umami and cream. Litanies lifting
luscious languidly, lingering; doubtful
there is a better reason for our existing

than moments lost to lust and laughter,
and layered cakes of chocolate. Look,
let Luscious! be our call to action. After
sifting lore and legend from every book,

Mastering the Art of French Cooking
or Karma Sutra, both are lush tomes
of all the Luscious we are looking

to learn, so we can really cook at home

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Prayer for Imposter Syndrome (#6/30)

It's the back-of-the-head voice that says, "Congratulations! fooled them again, you fraud." after anything good.
The surety that the only thing close to commendable
is our illusionary juggling skills, keeping so many pieces
of utter shit we call "anything" from falling to full failure.

We are the things that lie to us most, more than mirrors
and the way they hiss...hideous; more than happenstance;
even when we win we are sure we are not worthy of Good.
Things. We feel the need for caveat as much as confession,
but we can never apologize for ourselves enough.

Here is to the wounded, here is to survivors, to those
weeping over broken mirrors, a finger's edge from falling.
Here is to the ugly ducklings, and swans of every possible
color; to flaws that blossom from mirror shards, and weeds
that are amazing for the way they feed us medicinal

gifts. Here is to the lonely, may you be met. To the broken,
may you see  through that illusion. To the isolated, you live
in a time of instant communication, you don't have to be alone.
To those who never before dared whisper "I am beautiful"
to their reflections 'til they used a mirror they built themselves

Friday, April 8, 2016

Summer SAD Sonnet #5/30

(This was a class assignment to unleash yet another sonnet on an unsuspecting world. I guess Shakespeare didn't make enough, or something. Summer SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a rare sub-group of the rare sub-group of people who suffer seasonal depression due to lack of sunlight. Which makes Summer SAD especially ironic because the main thing prescribed to those afflicted in the Winter is getting sun (whether real, or ultraviolet light therapy). For Summer SAD the prognosis/treatment is pretty much "Don't leave your house until night, or rainy days, or maybe October.")

If I compared thee to a Summer's day,
it means I do all I can to avoid
long exposure, which will wear me away,
leaving me exhausted, hot an annoyed.

You are like the merry crowds at the beach:
a too-loud, terrifying pale thing
that smells of coconut; gaudy, bleached;
picking sand from the awful lunches they bring.

Yes, I compare thee to a day of Summer,
(the Winter of my Discontent). Diagnosed
with Summer SAD, Summer is a bummer;
I stay in, air-conditioned, curtains closed.

To paraphrase these three quatrains' intent:
You're like Summer. That's not a compliment.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Vertebrates (#4/30)

It runs in the family. So goes the legend
about all vertebrates. Maybe it was steel
resolve that evolved to become this gift,
maybe we all just had a stick up our asses
that eventually grew these arms and legs,

or front legs and rear legs; or wings and legs
or many fins because fish can't seem to agree
on shit, with anybody. You see why our family
can't seem to unify, despite all our shared,
and closeted skeletons? Exoskeletons mean

not having to say, "I am soft and touchable."
But we wear all our vulnerabilities outside.
Our cowardly bones chatter, "You got this,
I'm right here, inside you. Got your back,
face!" There is a reason fish are not birds,

reptiles are not mammals, and amphibians
just want the privilege of not choosing to
be defined by one element or another. This
family: phylum chordata, united in bone,
we disagree about almost everything else.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Die By Your Pleasure 30/30 #3

(An Erasure Poem, using lyrics to The Smith's "There is a Light That Never Goes Out")

out tonight
there's music people
who are
driving in your car
I never
I haven't

Take me
because I want to
and I want to see
your car
please don't drop me
it's not my home
it's their welcome

And if a double
by your side
both of us
by the pleasure

Take me
take me anywhere
care I
in the dark,
my chance
gripped me
I just

Tonight, I don't
I don't, I don't
never never
because I haven't

double crashes
by your side
both of us
die by the pleasure
die by the pleasure

there is light
it never goes

Absences 30/30 #2

With the weather clearly gone
off its meds, traded half-hours
of snow squall, then sunshine,
snow again. It's hard enough

when crazy is just in my head,
I don't need it quick-translated
into Barometer. Cheap-ass sky
couldn't cough up a rainbow.

Wouldn't change anything,
really, but we crazy people,
we may not look for them,
but we sure feel it when

they're not there. We read into
the absence of things, chase
paragons we think will heal
us; we are sensitive people

underfire from our own sense
sensitivity. This is a loud world,
you hear it through the walls
where I live, which is inside

my head. It is loud, then snow
is falling in my head, covering
sound the way snow does,
cooling off raging feedback,

letting night fall in my head.
Shush of snow, brings sleep
where the absence of things
is very much the whole point.

A Janitor Write A Eulogy for "Richard Cory" 30/30 #1

(In class assignment: riff on famous "Richard Cory" poem
by Edwin  Arlington  Robinson)

After Mr. Cory famously blew out his brains,
He was duly eulogized into immortality.
But the guy who has to scrub out the stains,
Repaint the living room? That would be me.

I'm truly ecstatic he was a man of acclaim--
He was a gentleman, from sole to crown--
He certainly was gifted with a lot of brains.
You notice these things as you hose down

That small part of his kingdom where he fled,
And failed, and saw no avenue of escaping
His fate. So he wedded a gun to his head.
May his tortured soul find some safe haven,

And all. Still there's this earthly mess to erase,
And I mean no disrespect to anyone involved,
But it was weeks before we got this case;
Some of these stains won't be so easily solved.