Tuesday, October 6, 2015


"It's all a choice,"
he says,
             in his best t-shirt & jeans,
across the long table from me,
administrators, psychologists
& law enforcement,

the dime bag of weed, some pills
in an evidence bag, several subpoenas,
witness statements, tests ---

Everything has a weight
to be measured.
Even his mom,

"This is the third time this year ---"

smuggling controlled substances into a secure facility,
into school, court
takes effort & planning,
choice, surely ---

but until we understand them,


"...various levels of detention
haven't worked..."

we slide further,
               and further                                   (from the truth)
into the black hole, pulled by the gravity,
our own inertia
                     &  his fingertips
until only our last knuckles touch
                                                in all the noise
between my hope
& reality ---

"It's all a choice,"
he offers, as if a gift ---

to clear our consciences or to say "Hey teach,
something got through,"

at least the word, if not the ounces
that come with it,

with the name
everyone knows,
a cop-out

what's left of the little boy shouts
from the corner
of his eyes,

as they lead him out --- what
choice do you have

Monday, October 5, 2015

Goodnight Honey

"Hey, honey."

"Hey, darlin'."

-- is how it starts. A quick check-in, over jogging pants.

"You alright?"


"No you ain't. You sound like shit. And you don't look good either."

One woman loads the check-out conveyor, the other is on the way out. The cashier smiles at the rest of us, waiting behind - with nothing to do, but read how Hilary has brain cancer & Trump has the model family. The one already done, finally draws the stretchy top of her pants up a bit, and saunters out - two white plastic bags swinging at her knees.

"You two best friends?" the cashier, obviously, has not had enough - or realizes small talk is customer service, but only to the one currently unloading 57 items, one at a time.

I have chips & salsa.

"No. Not no more. Maybe once."

She looks back at us, at the cashier, at us again, then whispers,"There was this one time -- I was on the porch with my kid and she pulls up. My boy goes running over, and she's like 'Uh, uh.' and I'm like 'What's up?' and she says 'I got no pants on.' I mean, what the heck?"

She takes a breath. The Cashier smiles, eyes wide. She swipes food items as fast as the little red eye will let her.

"So I go grab my boy before he can step up on the side rails and take him in the house. I come back out and go to the truck, and yeah, she got no pants on. She tells me she been making money. How are you making money with your pants off?"

This is a rhetorical question. The cashier realized this, hits the total button. The lady swipes a card, pushes a few buttons.

Finished she leads across and cups hands to her mouth, and goes even quieter. This time it really is a whisper. The cashiers jaw slackens. Her skin whitens a bit.

"Yeah, darlin'. So we ain't friends no more. I try to avoid her ass if I see it coming," she winks&wheels her cart out the automatic doors.

My chips& salsa ride the conveyor, sit for a moment at the end.

"You alright?" I ask.

"Yeah," she shakes her head, rings them up.

"There's just some things you can't un-know huh?"


"Have a good night."

"You too, sir. Come back again soon."

In the parking lot, sweat pants #2 loads 57 items into the trunk of her car, in 8 white bags.

"I'm sorry if you heard all that. Sometimes, you just got ---"

"I'm alright. Good night."

"Goodnight honey," she says through the window, as the engine starts.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Flood stage

photo by joan sorolla

Out the back door of the hotel, rain slashes at awnings over shop doors. I can’t be contained any longer. The Shakespeare Theatre is dark, all the actors huddle in the back; some lovers, some tragic, all humorous. They are no different than any of us. The streets are empty, but for rows of parked cars devoid drivers. The storm is here. The flood is coming.

The grocery store shelves newly vacant. Running water chatters out gutters on building corners into streams along the curbs. I cinch my backpack a little tighter, blow a rim of rain off my lip. The bricks speak of slavery, dead brothers and sides forced by birthpangs of a nation. I slip by a dumpster in the alley behind a first story tavern – Thursday night’s remnants, in brown glass, heavy on the hops.

Ghosts in a ghost town. Spoons on cereal bowls. Sips of coffee. Shadows are waking in windows & moving. They pay little attention to me. A patrol car slows, letting me cross - corner to corner, then rolls on. Weather babble on the police band radio loud enough to hear through the door glass. A wedding planner. A coffee shop. The post office.

 “Can I use your phone?”

She surprises me, tucked between places. Her pups, big and white stretches his leash, leaping at my face. She’s messed up – probably meth, by her rotting teeth. Blond hair knots matted to her head. Starter jacket soiled&slick. She was pretty once, before using; before being used. Over-used.


I thumb the password&hand it over. It’s a quick, hushed plea for help, a ride – a little argument, promises of last times& she hands it back.


We make small talk, smaller. She’s nervous. I have no cigarettes. Her pups name is Gage&she grows silent. The rain makes up for it, takes our place. A truck pulls up. A thumb motions to the bed, behind the cab. Gage jumps up on the tailgate&she follows him in. She draws him close; hugs his neck – getting wetter, as the truck pulls off.

I skim the edge of the college, the empty truck bays out back a furniture store – returning to the hotel. The rocking chairs on the porch wiggle with the wind. I drip on the tile. The doors shush closed – keeping the city’s perfume at arm’s length.

I carry a little, on my collar – past bellhops in stiff jackets, into the elevator.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Understanding the void

In the Window

My new kitten's eyes,
swollen shut with cold, still
Face the sun.


The Void

I live -- in the still,
small, ever-changing space
Between raindrops


A Taylor Swift album title rip off

The bike chain,
rusted and unmoving, says enough,
For all of us.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Under/water basket weaving

Three days rain
runs down the street, a raucous group of children,
freshly released from school.

Some leave their names
carved in the earth in letters ---
                                       like Y & X.

The deluge is static on the roof of the car,
a lost signal of the radio station.

The tones
of the Emergency Broadcast system cut
through the speakers.

Birds keep watch on the wires above,
periodically doing a shimmy-shake to remove the excess.

It builds up.

A young lady on the sidewalk, in dress, too nice
for a day like today, soaked through & clinging
to her body - walks with purpose, head up,
unwilling to let the rain deter her.

We are going nowhere fast, the wipers can't
keep up. Drunken drains back up.
We sit, move a bit, sit.

The walking woman disappears
behind a curtain of falling
rain& headlights, rain& ---

Someone cuts up the volume.

Nothing looks the same in a storm.

Solid lines blur.
Everything stretches.

Saying nothing of truth ---

Red & Blue lights bloom bright,
explosions in every drop that bursts in circles
on the windshield.

A plane passes overhead,
above the clouds - unseen.

We move on,
a little at a time.

The flood is still to come.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

An open letter to a friend

I am sorry it took me three days to text.

You probably thought I ran, like the rest,
seeing the front page of the paper & all the inglorious
mess you made---

It’s what people do.
Afraid of being caught in the shit storm,
pretending they don’t step in their own daily.
I can’t say I condone what you did,

but I won’t leave you alone.
It feels like shit doesn’t it? Knowing everyone
knows your darkest secrets,

because they look away,
stare, point, talk ---
make jokes,                   laugh ---
assuming guilt, without
ever even asking.

My excuses are no better than your own.
I won’t pretend I wasn’t tempted to let you slip
back into my past.

But it felt too much like leaving the lame 
to be devoured by the lions, knowing the herd is safe.
That is the easy way out. That is the shallowness
of too many relationships,

and the press, camped on your street.
It’s fucked up. You fucked up. I can’t imagine
how cold the coffee is on your lips, as you look
across the breakfast nook & lock eyes
with your wife, how your kids
are dealing with this.

With all of this
and what people do.

So text me back, man.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Concerto numb3rs - Sheet music Origami

I fold the moon into a crane
that would soar across the sky with 999 kindred,
if let,

but slide it into my back pocket,
in the place reserved for love notes & old photographs,
a 1000 words
                               in a pale reflection
                               of the one

Which sounds a lot like math,
as if we could just find the right formula, isolate the right
variable – it all might make sense.

Gravity is so misleading,
you would think it was human, holding us
in invisible arms,

keeping us
from spinning off & perhaps that is why they never find life
out there // but it’s perfect,

too much and we’d be crushed, slouch,
crawl along on our stomachs. I hear music, when my lips
trace the bridge of your neck.

It’s classical.
Something with strings.
So unlike what drives me to work. The moon in my pocket pulls
at the water inside

me, the crane
wanting to escape, across the waves.

Or is that