Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Joey



"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,

"...counseling..."

"...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
slip
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
                                            really?


Monday, October 5, 2015

Goodnight Honey



"Hey, honey."

"Hey, darlin'."

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

"You alright?"

"Yeah."

"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?"

"Yeah."

"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.

“Yeah.”

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.

“Thanks.”

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
                       you?



Sunday, September 27, 2015

eXpo



My body is a white board,
                                         dry-erase.

                                         I collect everything
                                         you write,
as if I could hold it -
a sacred text,

unencumbered
by six days dust.

But nothing lasts.
Perhaps

I roll too much in my sleep,
or my dreams, too much.

I wake
                      blank,
                                empty,
                                           wiped

clean,
until your hand
finds me

Write me a song,
make me art, scrawl my margins,
because nothing is marginal.

All that it takes

is
your name.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

On into the silence



You tried being sneaky, the last time we were together
- in Miami, on vacation. We drove forever
looking for Italian - and it wasn't
that we couldn't find a place,

but it had to be authentic,
cause how often do you get to treat a friend
that lives 926 miles away from you.
Three times,
I guess.

You had
the biggest plate of spaghetti & ate it all, leading
to a visit to the bathroom, where you tried
to pay the bill by slipping your card
to the waiter

but I beat you to it.

You didn't bring
your wife or your fiddle, but there was always music
around, when you are. Even if it was just in your head,
or in the stories you told -

about guys you had sponsored. Some seeming
hopelessly lost in their own fictions. We talked about why
you always wear pants, and laughed in the parking lot
before you left - about something,

I can't remember. You drove around
the parking lot on your scooter, because you couldn't
remember

the way you came in. What an odd couple
we'd make - in Starbucks, drinking Black eyes.

Maybe they thought you were my dad,
instead of two guys that met on the internet.
You could have been. I am sure you were to some,
even if you weren't.

I hate writing in past tense.

It was so warm the day we walked
the trail, where the train
tracks used to run.

So cool in its tunnel
cut through the mountain.

I will keep watch
now my friend - in the silence
here after the music.

You rest.

About the best I can do, after hearing about the death of my good friend Steve Elaesser in Naples, FL. Thanks for being a real person, Steve.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Shooting eggs with guns


photo by anna


My doctor says I need to change my diet,
maybe gluten-free, to curb the toxins, of too much
artificial, over-processed
                                          life,
cause we like that,
                       maybe feel that

the flavor
is not good enough, won't last long enough --
so we have to find ways to sustain it,

until coal rims our sockets,
a night-shade deeper than shadow, like a lioness
with belladonna in her eyes

My psychiatrist says "There is a pill for that."
Like an app. Apps and pills, perhaps
there is a correlation there.

My friends say, "That's fucked up."
and are not too far from the truth,
no more than any of us are.

Some days
it seems we need maps, like the ones at malls,
with big yellow dots.

The yellow dots say, You are here.
Of this we can be sure,

the heart makes the simplest things
so damn complicated.

A lost love found me, in you - like it followed
a dotted line across the ocean to the island w/the 'X'
put a spade to earth of my chest
                              until it hit a treasure box,
and opening the lid - flooded me
like a lone streetlight amongst the darkness

I am not content --
                           to be here,
                           a dot on a map,
                           doped up on a pill full with denial,
                           lost in an app, over-processed
                           or artificial,

There is no choice to the madness
that makes me see your face in every scoop of mash potatoes,
lay willingly down on the tracks to feel the hum
along my body as the train
                                         is coming,
build houses of poems to bed down with vowels.
I search license plates for secret messages
to leave on your pillow.

When it rains, my feet get wet    in you
& the sun are your finger tips, (or should it be is?)
I am tipsy,
          I am drunk,
                    I make no sense ---

Then again,
that is this,
love.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Morning Glory




If you get real quiet, you'll hear it
there is always someone singing

as sure as someone
just breathed their last note,
just wailed their first,
is suffering the riff of a broken-heart,
lost in the ledger lines

I am keeping time under a palm tree in Miami,
by the way the dapple of sun that leaks between frond fingers
moves like spilt paint across my stretched legs

Ain't no one awake, 'cept service workers,
skimming pools, refilling ice coolers behind wood board bars
for shaving later, wiping last night's tears off the loungers

Ants build whole cities, one nugget of dirt
at a time

Ten stories up, only a corner of a small cotton sleep shift
peeks beyond perspective's angle / but she is getting it
in some hybrid Spanish / cryin' like the first bird
to catch the morning's affection

I don't speak the language well enough,
but know the tune / an old spiritual penned by a psalmist
back when Jesus was mo' hip to pipe organs than guitar riffs /
and she's getting it / on

A lizard pauses on a trunk & cocks a head / the ice scoops cease
to scrape the next load / even the salty ocean breeze stops
stirring the trees to dance in the sacred moment,
a door shushes as it slides---

"Hey! SOME OF US ARE STILL TRYING TO SLEEP!"

echoes off coconuts unfallen & between buildings
packed with tourists and all their I been here t-shirts /
& she's gone

the dapple has brightened to a flare,
a great rumble of bodies & bedsheets / plans made to keep,
the ding of elevators / ants

nip at the edge of my legs /
they build whole cities, one nugget of dirt
at a time,
                      another couple hundred years,
                                                           maybe,
                                                               we'll see.



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Citizen 0


photo by leland francisco


I find two cents on the storm drain
which beg permission to hear someone's opinion.

There is no irony
lost, in it being the same toll charged by Charon
for a trip across the river.

These small deaths
to self, add up to homicides & chalk

lines on the sidewalk,
the corner shopkeeper washes off
easily with leftover mop water,

wet spot,
steaming in the early morning air,
no longer a stain
                     on the concrete.

We
really
should
tombstone

these moments, to remind us that listening
has a cost / measured in lives,
450-500 milliliters,

bags of blood,
donated by those willing to lay down
on their backs.

Even if some look away,
when the needle
                         slips the skin.



Poet,
sometimes it's best
if you just shut your mouth.


How in love we are with ourselves. With our voice. With our verse. In a rush to publish, because that makes us - what? A poet. An artist. A writer. Something tangible to justify our sense of self. Which came first, opinion or truth? We've gone from Nirvana's "Entertain us" to thinking we are the Entertainment. If you "Like" us, leave a tip. Leave a comment. If you are really good, you can do it in one word. Brilliant, is over used. Four words is stretching it. Eighty can be just as shallow. But that assumes, you're listening to anything but your own voice. Who gives a fuck? Only a few. I will tell you, that much. We become martyrs to our art - so alone and un-understood. Imprisoned by self. Eventually, when we have to produce more to keep the feeling of being - it all tastes the same - because it's mass-produced. Spit out like a half formed child & expected to live. Everyone is a poet. Everyone is a poet. Pass the crayons, I am going to start calling myself Picasso.

~ Citizen 0(zero)


Friday, September 18, 2015

Champagne supernova


photo by Dana Berry, SkyWorks Digital, Inc.


Of all the stardust in the universe

to settle in the cradle
of my hips,

there is you.
There was you.

Always
you.

Parting your lips
that we might speak,

in tongues.
You bid me
come

to an
understanding;

this is how stars are born

gravity presses in
until fusion pushes back
& as long as the forces are equal
the star remains

stable.



Thursday, September 17, 2015

Buy one, get one




I am a conscientious objector to Jesus toasters,
of burning the Savior
                                  face in bread like the backside
                                  of cattle
                                              branded
                                              to express
                                              ownership

& communion marketing 
that forgets its a gathering to remember,
this is for the many
                             not the elect
                             the strips of flesh flayed from the back
                             of Christ are not woven
                             into a whip,
                                               which when deftly swung
                                                will beat the sin out
                                                of anyone ---
                                                                     someone ---
                                                           ourselves---

I can never live up to what you expect,
the picture you have placed over the mantle of your heart
& look up to,
                   I look up to

I will fail

walk through the garden alone,
fall & feel every thorn on the way
down.

The gravity of this. The thorn in the flesh.
The ink stain on the wedding dress.

I don't trust anyone
who says they are not a mess, whose faith was not tested
today. Since lunch. In the last hour.

I don't want to look hip,
be accepted at a Starbucks church,
overpriced, overcooked, over -
easy & runny

I don't want a 1000 flavor shots of syrup
I have to pay extra for to stomach the taste
nor need another espresso shot
just to feel the spirit.

I am sick of entitlement

& want to nail poems to doors like theses
that say:

YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN ART THAT ISN"T
STAYING WITHIN THE LINES OF MASS PRODUCED
COLOR PAGES

We
spend too much time boycotting clinics with pictures
of fetuses, while aborting God's children
that will never bless a pew
with its presence

When my time comes,
I want to be so busted up they need boxes
to pick up the pieces & them still not being
able to find most

A shattering,
leaving slivers people step on,
not in, like bullshit, which may be warm in the moment,
but follows you around where ever you go.

I am not going any where, yet,
but you won't find me in places I need to pledge
allegiance -- where community is only a name
we call ourselves, that makes us feel good about how we treat
each other
                   We don't sell ourselves
                    nearly well enough.




Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shellfish Aphrodisiac



Let your song be delicate as that
of the dock,

The ships are in! The ships are in!
Unloading the day's catch, the hum of the crane.
Mongers with ice chests. Pink belly fish.
White aprons. Air thick with salt
& conversation ---

The gnarled hands, of the jovial man, gripped tight,
as the knife slips the seam along the lips
of the shell. The violent rasp of the shuck,
unveiling delicate flesh.

The opening of the mouth, taking it across the tongue,
with that little bit of ocean. Drips off the chin.
A scavenging of seagulls overhead.

The wet slap of waves on the pilings,
a boat chugs, as it pulls off.



Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Clink




I keep change in a mason jar by my bed,
because it is inevitable
                     & if it is going to happen
                     I might as well embrace it, like a long lost friend
                     not the one that keeps coming around
                     after stealing your lover,

which is fucked up,
cause you still smell them on your pillow,
but try to picture them & all you get is that friend's face,
going down on them,
                     wash your sheets all you want,
                     it's not going away & one night stands
                     are momentary placebo pills

Every day I find pennies in parking lots,
cast off as worthless, in mud puddles & those slick spots
where oil drips on the way to overheating
our engines.
                     We don't like small change.
                     Pretend it doesn't mean much. Don't want the weight
                     in our pockets, to throw off our walk
                     & there are so few wishing wells.

They clink
in my jar all the same & build up, to big change,
over time. My father once filled one of those plastic water jugs
people lean on at work and it was almost a thousand dollars.

I learned the value of common sense,
of saving what no one else wants.

On Saturday,
I found a buck - fifty in dimes & quarters
on the asphalt

"Didn't you see this?"
I said to a group of younger strangers, twenty feet in front
of me.

"Yeah, But."

We don't like change. Perhaps that is why we capture moments
in digital grandness, so we can remember what it was like
before, but every time we look at them
it is evident -

Your hair was longer then, had more curl,
our bodies were sun kissed, moon kissed, dusk & dawn kissed,
and everything in between // before autumn came
like a wind you can't see but pushes

you

There were rocks we sat on,
so big & unmoving, and the trees still had leaves
that were not leaving

I like to lay on the roof of the building
because the stars are ever moving & every once in a while
they wink out - I don't want to miss them,

I don't want to miss anything,

but I do,
it's a ritual,

each night I put my shoes away,
take my belt off & empty my pockets.

I put my daily change in the jar,
listen to the music of it falling into community
with all that came before it

before the lights go out
& I crawl into bed,

my head sinking deep
into the pillow.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Saturday's wait



"There is no money in doughnuts,"
the old man explains,

as the paddles turn the golden side up
out of the grease, on the way to the avalanche
of icing.

We are twenty people deep
in line, with another twenty behind us,
out the door, down the sidewalk.

"My son had a shop once."

He doesn't dwell on this,
just hits the highlights - of near bankruptcy,
housing their family and the benefits
of grandchildren.

He was in the Navy,
a far cry from the pink shorts his thin legs
poke from, the yellow golf shirt
& grey comb over - but not
quite. He loves his wife

but she doesn't do doughnuts.
These are for the grandkids -
"But if I get a few apple turnovers
they won't touch them,"

a guilty pleasure, afforded a gentler life.
A baker hooks hot doughnuts off the conveyor
into a box - rejecting a few

to make the last trip, off the end of the belt
into a large trash can.

"I wonder how many they waste that way,
each day."

"You'd think they could find someone
to eat them."

"I would."

"Or a soup kitchen."

"Yeah."

A baker carries out a tray of fresh bear claws
to placate the ever growing mass of humanity
salivating in line, hopped up on sugar thick air  -

"No, I am fine."

"Oh come on. Hold up, my son here wants
one."

Evidently, I have been adopted.

"You could use some more meat on those
bones."

"Can't we all?"

Maybe not. Maybe so.
For a lingering moment, he holds my arm
and that is alright --


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The things we do




I've built a circus out of bellybutton lint,
little lions with a hint of yellow mane in the grey tuft
with BIG teeth,
                             roar, RoaR, ROARing!

some red from the shirt I wear under the plaid
button up, you got for my birthday, is the proud,
full-voiced ringmaster,

an elephant's trunk keeps getting stuck
in the teeth of a paper clip, bent into a ring,

Unruly monkeys, an amalgamation of grey and blue,
rattle the bars & throw poo
                                          at those who pass
                                          my desk
                                                 in judgement.

The big top is held up by a tower of Bic pens,
& acrobats walk a stray string pulled from my sleeve
duct taped to the file cabinet

                             they throw themselves
                                     through the air
                                     without a thought

in hopes of reaching the stem of a green pin push pin
in the cork board, all the clowns are smashed in a ball
ready to fit in a car, a mix of upturned grins & droopy
faces //

The freaks are my favorite, lurking
in the shadow of all the things I would rather not do,
but should & will,
                              but right now, the spotlight
                              through the windowblinds is creeping
                              toward the next act.
                           
                                      

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Forget this



photo by Daniel Dionne


We forgot the moment of our creation.

We forgot the feeling of winning the race,
even if only for once in our life,
of piercing the egg

We forgot the feeling of two hearts beating at once,
no matter if it was love or rage or madness that drew them
together, and restarting -- in sync

The horror of losing everything
that brought us comfort – the warmth of living
in a hug, of constant sustinence, voices speaking to us
from beyond –

how cold it was
how bright
when we were pushed out// the first time we were
pushed out //disconnected

How falling felt
when we taught our mothers how to give birth
because no two are the same

We forgot our uniqueness //
like unwrapping the candy we put the sweetness
in our mouth to suck / discarding the wrapper
w/its list of ingredients

Our list of ingredients as refuse
Refusing to believe / because you can not create it,
it just is

And we are more, but settle for less,
perhaps because the first time, we fell off the bike,
our fathers left / our fathers wouldn’t leave
no matter how tight we held the blankets to our bodies,
because we trusted the first boy that thought we were something
else&the first girl to invite us back to birth,

because we could never replace what we lost,
& there was nothing in the found box

We forgot our purpose,
when nothing felt meaningful & we were overcome with
so much / sensation / We forgot feeling
when numbness held us like a friend should
but didn’t

We forgot the world is not a stage,
real people don’t need scripts, actors get paid
& there are no stunt doubles when life gets messy,
you have to take a chance
                             or love is concerned,

but concern our whole lives with
                                             how we will be
                                                                  remembered.

inspired by Loyce Gayo and Grace

Monday, September 7, 2015

The fat sizzles as it drips into the flames; with gratitude




photo by daBinisi


The mother deer is back with her young, herding them with more than silence. One dead eye dangles, out of socket, on her cheek; a living reminder --- of near misses & parting shots by those going too fast to stop. Their heads bow in prayers of tongue&teeth on grass & leavings; fallen pears, over ripe or gone soft. A promise kept so mundane we seldom notice, at worst take for granted; it will snow when we least expect it. Twenty feet, ten - she knows I am there, behind the grape arbor; out of season now, a tangled, dry mess. We know one another --- by smell, not comfortable enough to touch; just appreciate each other's transience. I finger the scratch of my chin, she hooves the grass -- the kids dance a little freer than all of us. A lawnmower, a couple doors down, tames a small patch. A mantis tests each foot before taking a step; halfway up, it rests.

The cloud mountains laugh,
looking down on all of us;
a little higher than yesterday.


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Why the moon smiles


photo by dwight sipler


The moon is a sickle
in Saturn's hands, a fish hook
in Pisces throat

The moon sickle circles Saturn's hand
and all the masks have fallen
just in time to dance

The grass is wet but my bare feet find purchase
in the turning. This poem will never say everything.
I whisper each revision in the shell of your ear,
as a song guides waves to the shore,
ethereal as the light I hold
                                          loosely.

The moon crosses the night
on a hill between two thieves,
I know what I stole from you,
but what have you stolen
                                         from me?

A sickle?  
              I am reaped
A hook?    
                      I am caught
A dance?   
                            Sharp as well.

But the moon?

She's just as deviant as the rest of us
a pruriently prying person;
                               one who likes
                                             to watch.



Thursday, September 3, 2015

Immortality's Chain of thought (Oh, Castilleja)




Ms. Mary Joe Castilleja has hair like a prairie fire,
          lives alone in a second story apartment out back
          the 7-Eleven
                              & every morning can be seen
                                      walking out of town
                                                 on the edge
                                                       of the street,
                                                     merges with
                                                   the shimmer
                                              on the surface
                                        of the desert

Some say she was married once,
           but now all she has is an indian paintbrush
                 she keeps in a back pocket
                     of her just right jeans & a bucket
                          of discount terra-cotta flower pots
                            she bought on sale at Jim's
                                  one holy day

while all the prim roses were coming
down the crooked steps of the little white church
full of God & gossip;

she's more a roadside tangle,
a wild flower that knows a pew can be just
another windowbox, on a mortgaged porch

she has a place,
a wood crate turned on its side,
out among the cactus - where she ties her shirt up
& paints

                  wetting the tip with her tongue
              & dipping it in wildflowers,
for the natural color,
no one notices
as they pass,

but she collects woodie stationwagons
& minivans with license plates
                           from far away places like Alaska
                            or New Hampshire,

all the vacation weary drivers
flock like checkerspot butterflies just wanting a nip
of a petal or cream sac,
                                    promising affections
usually reserved for Spanish botanist, promising to whisk her off
to exotic locales like NW Russia,

for the climate of course --

she just laughs
                    and smashes another flower pot
               gathering the sharpest shards
        to give them life,
             in purple, red-orange
                                 & on cloudy days,
                                             green - dark as her own
                                                                                roots

with a hint of
                       immortality
                                         some say,
                                                 some say
                                                                  sacrifice.
                

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Balloons & other crap I left behind




It begins with a small prick, not enough
to burst the balloon, or warrant a name like BIG BANG,
but creates a slow leak

& we think,          if I just squeeze the air that is left
in the right direction, I'll no longer limp
on half inflated legs or ---

Then end up naked, ass up, on the floor,
sucking scant oxygen into lungs hung like lead weights
around our neck,
                          watching the small circle of light
                          diminish.

This is how my roommate finds me,
                                                             flat,
still stretched from all that was once
within me
                 & I want to
                      say,

"What took you so long?"

But that would take
too much.

For three years I tried to forget,
fill the space an empty room affords, when everywhere I turned
I took up too much, patch bike tires with an epoxy of anger & hate,
as if every mile I pedalled was further from the feel of her breasts
on my lips & the look in her eyes
when I found them together, holding my guts
in hands like prayer beads I could no longer count
which looked strangely like bottles, ash & panties
torn from too many legs I pretended
                                                weren't hers,

until --

The night I got out of the hospital,
it was snowing, so hard there were no longer roads
but ruts
            all leading to another home
            where I did not belong,

            & a whole bunch of white space, like fresh margins
            pushed to the side by a chaos of words

            that were someone else's.
            I left my balloon there on the curb,

if you find it,
            feel free to toss it
                      in the trash.
                                            



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Track 3 // Voodoo Child





I am the infant wearing holes in knees & paths
        in a cosmos of carpet,

        an awkward adolescence learning to dance
        the circumference of puberty's circumstance,
        on the cusp of & falling

        on two feet, on the way to six,
        somewhere in the middle where you take dreams
        off at the door, like shoes, so you don't track
        mud in

        the old man hugging a cane at the turn of the river,
        where all the maidens leave the water,
        about to pull out

I am the watch
          man                      telling time with my hands,
          like a blind man.         I keep them in motion                  
          collecting faces                               in circles
          of our loco/motion
                                  

I must re-wind regularly
or lose minutes, never ours
to begin with

wrist worn
where the leather sweats and tightens,
that is the thing with time -- it never stretches
beyond its contractions & our actions
only quicken the knotches on the frame of the closet
until they are tracks - the train pulls out
& the conductor's checking tickets
to punch the clock
                               of our arrival
                               of our departure
                               of our occupation, by occupying
                               forces.

Time is money, money is time
& no one ever feels they are paid enough;
what we are worth.

What are we worth?
They put pyramids on our dollars to remind us
we are all a slave to something,
                 pick one. It's                  multiple
                                choice.

I bank mine in an account
for when I am asked to give an account
for it & don't count on interest.

At the bookstore, I watched a man,
lockpicked his life with my pen & stole three minutes
of his meaning. Time is of the essence.

He laughed & took ten back,
in a race between Walking Dead & Batman,
from who will win the Super Bowl to where I bought my shirt,
as an investment in human capital;futures
in a stock, not store bought
or auctioned off.

Watch long enough, the truth will walk
across the field of your vision - running fingers
through the wheat
                             both sold 4cheap 2often
                                                   to make bread,
                                                   to make cheddar.

What was it the joker said to the thief?

Watchman, what do you see?
What do you see?

                                                Who do I have to pay
                                                to get out?



Monday, August 31, 2015

Castilleja


photo by sbwildflowers


You are the fire on the prairie,
the indian paintbrush,
the flower I consume,
                 but only just enough.


       ~~~


I pick seeds of roadside wildflowers
from the dust on my jeans
                                    & plant them in the neglected,
dry pots
around the office, on bedside tables
                                     & barren gardens;
a floral terrorist of owl's clover
                                     & broomrape,
                                         of fire spread,
like the shaman's voice
                                    on the prairie
                                                            wind.

      ~~~

My feet are butterflies.
Yours are hemiparasitic - able to create,
but taking life, to sustain itself
                       from the grass
                                      & forbs - it's how you survive
                                          the desert
                                                      of our middling.

     ~~~

Your petals on my tongue
are life & death - too much/too little,
how much is enough?


        ~~~

If you can live on the harsh exhaust of our coming
& going
                          you are stronger
                          than I am.




These are really notes, scribbles in my notebook in preparation, as I was researching for a poem that I was writing - I will post the final poem on Thursday. I have had a few people express interest in my process of writing - and there are a few of these that I think could stand alone with a bit of massaging.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

3.14159265





Pressing an ear to my belly button
I listen
            to all the wild within me

how it gathers
in a raucous writhing
beyond the pucker
of my birthing

"What is my name?"

the wild asks,
as if I am Adam,
this Eden,
& apple pie
                  has replaced
                  any thought of dinner

"You,"                                 (her,
I answer                                mine - more by choice
                                              than any kind of owner/ship)
& wait

for the smile
that is coming

like sunday morning whip cream
waking
              breath.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Joy & Pain, like Sunshine & Rain


photo by holmes palacios



It is not so much the birthing,
which in the stretch of muscle & contraction
as being, the parting of bone, spine bent
as question marks, the tear
of flesh
                        makes you curse the one who
                        put this inside you

On the day my son was born,
he died six times
                                until I wept dry riverbeds
                                that roared like rapids of lost heart beats

Or after,
exhausted, hearing that first cry,
lips trembling & angry hands flailing
when released from the swaddle - when you well
up, in sudden realization ---

I had a hand in this.

Or even,
pushing them out the door
& closing it - knowing they will find a way
or won't
                  There is only so much
                   you can do

And at worst,
being the one to administer their rites,
preparing first a last meal & enduring uncomfortable
conversation prior to their execution ---
                                           pushing the button,
                                           being the barbituate, parallytic
                                           & the potassium // all at once.

No,
It is none of this.

I have broken far too many
pencils / torn too many pages, howled & spittle,
curled knuckles on the steps my temple, took to my knees
before fields of unmarred snow
& promised far
                    too
                    much // I can't keep

For the moment // ink
                              spills

from the pen tip,
marauding & pillaging in hungry "words"
cannibals falling upon themselves
lips wet with syllables & eyes
reflecting a fragile sanity

(in reflection of their creator?)

until all that are left
is as they should be - versed
                                   &re-versed

& I take them in my mouth,
to womb again in the texture of my lungs,
knowing some will die / & heart beats lost
be baptized and reborn on my tongue before this mic
tonight //
                 as poems.

                 yes, ladies & gentlemen,
                 there is still joy to be had
                 in poetry ---





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

(n) a song, as of praise, devotion, or patriotism; a piece of sacred music





It makes sense our anthem is about a battle
ringing with the birth pangs of a nation

Especially since the first six years
of my son's life he sang it ---

Jose' can you see

And I wonder if he can,
or if he fears the storm troopers might bust in
and question his immigration

                                     status:

Is there ever a point we out-grow our anthem,
like clothes that no longer fit, in our gluttonous adolescence
become too tight,
                            or no longer express
our ideals?

What was lost in cutting off the last 3 stanzas,
adding
                PLAY BALL!
                or
                GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES!

When was the last time you heard it
outside a sporting event?
                                          Why is that?
Does it not have a context
outside of conquest?

Is this the land of the free & home of the brave,
or the cow-ed & complacent,
hidden behind the rockets red glare
as it detonates civilians
in the vicinity of suspected terrorists

& the ramparts we've built
around the houses of our politicians
with our taxes

How many backs have born the weight
of our anthem
                                     "when the cause is just"
                                     "then conquest we must"
                                       for
                                      "in god we trust"

How much blood does it take to purchase
a grace of such a sweet salvation?

As much as the oil we ingest?

what glory.
what glory.

veiled as Moses,
to blind us from its diminishing.

"Their blood has washed
out their footprints
pollution."

Our veins are black.
Renamed.
Pipelines, where freedom rings
with each hammerfall,
                                     putting them in place

to protect
our pursuit   of happiness,

at the expense
of what our children believe,
each morning as they pledge allegiance
to something
                      we can no longer articulate
                       the meaning of ---

Is this our sacred song? our anthem?

Jose' can you see?





Sunday, August 23, 2015

Nuts



photo by christoph repprecht


Her lips are two squirrels
fighting over a nut - knowing it
might mean survival

thru the coming   season.
I almost want to dress myself
in shells & pretend to be
a nut.

Who am I kidding,
I already am ---



Saturday, August 22, 2015

Q&A


photo by katie tegtmeyer



I used to believe
love was the answer

to all the questions,
that put us in bed with insomnia,
legs Y-ed & birthing, victims
who change the channel to keep from seeing
images as disturbing // as flies on the eyes
of malnourished children, or beaten
                                                         animals,

to fears that made us walk big hand on little
to school bus stops & build bomb shelters
in place of family rooms in the basement,

As if love could cover the bruise of your attention
as well as mother's make up, bind back hands
behind the back of men, unclench fists
& knit busted lips into scarves
to keep our neck warm
in winter,

could fill stomachs with sustenance
so men, women & children would not line up
hours before the soup kitchen opens
& put more than a hand-full of rice in a bowl,
bring back fathers from wherever they went
on Friday nights only to never be seen again,
or turn alcoholics wine to water

That you could strap it like bras to bombs
to retard their releasing, keep Republicans
from being so damn conservative they seem
inhuman,
                      Stop the spin machine!

& play records backward
unspooling hidden messages, unriddling the terms
of our separation
                                   like race, like gender

LOVE IS NOT THE ANSWER

                                                    it is the question,

we must keep asking

ourselves,
as if each heart
                beat
                              begs
                                                      an answer.



Friday, August 21, 2015

Hesitation marks



 
 
"I see you,"
 
she says in a way I know her 
care is intensive,
                          
is beyond the tangle of blue jeans & t-shirt or the angle
my smile makes, as if I were a Chinese take out box
which come flat /// 100 to carton
 
& if folded right                      can be filled up
                                                 to be
                                                 emptied
 
I use chopsticks,
for nothing else than the illusion of authenticity;
 
which if you learn on the piano is a step away from "Taps"
 
&the sound rain makes on the windows,
or pebbles at two o'clock in the morning
 
I keep mine open /                 / hoping

for something more than status updates.
 The scars on my heart match the ones on my hands
& if I ball up
                       a fist, tell a hiStory
                       greater than the lines on my palms,
                       anything I can write
                       or what's read between them

I have been known, but unseen, as faith is
like the bench, on the sidewalk, ever waiting
for the bus // so those who rest their weight on it,
can be                            leaving
 
my first bleeding
came at ten / a crimson exodus
assuring there would be no Passover -
un-damming my bloodstream
                                    to river
                                    on the tile floor

It's the hemoglobin that gives it the color, an iron-protein,
we are iron rich, owing our abundance to fusion
in high mass stars & proverbs

Iron sharpens iron,
even if its strength comes only through its impurities

"I see you,"

she says, & I reply

"Sharpen your knife on me
so that when the time comes

                 ~ it will be quick,"

I want someone to open my box,
look at the mess of noodles, sauce, undecipherable meat
& vegetables,
                       and sigh

as the aroma fills the room,
let the rain wait tap-tap-tap-ing in the eaves until dinner
is past --- i'll curl over, bent as a cookie,
kneeling at the altar of your palm.

We are so fragile,
but it is the cracking which releases
the fortune ---

                           don't close your eyes

when you kiss
                                 me.