Saturday, February 28, 2009

Poem of the Day 02.28.09

We take the sweet with the sour in art. i'm not a fan of this poem. but i don't shy away from my failings as a writer. so i put this up as an example of what one writes in the waning moments of a wasted writing morning.

can’t write this

can’t write this
because the opera music
is too loud
i want to tell the dj
that opera music is never
a good choice
at five in the morning.

can’t write this
because there are too many
emails
to answer
and web sites to view
because the tea is hot
with just the right amount
of sugar.

can’t write this
because i’m hungover
and hungry again
because i have to shit
but don’t want to because
i’m not ready to hear the neighbor
pound on the ceiling
because the neighbor doesn’t want
to hear the sound of my toilet.

can’t write this
because the mood is not right
the stars are not aligned
and i’m becoming a primadonna
because i am thinking about
the novel again
and can’t get up the courage
to attack the poem

can’t write this
because i read elizabeth bishop
and now i’m fucked up
and i read james wright so
what’s the point
in me putting down the words?
and this week has been such
a mess
work and death and pain and wind.

ah hell,
i can’t write this
i should’ve stayed in bed
where i was thinking of the past
and it was warm
and the cats were sleeping
not crying for their food

can’t write this
because poems don’t exist in dreams
and the dj was playing something soft
in my bed
without the horrid ring of human voices
before the pale of morning light crept
through the curtains
and made me get up
to write this.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Winedrunk Haikus

the third in the "anticipated" batch of NYC haikus circa 2003-2005

too tired
my belly hungry from
the smell of 6th avenue

long day
another manhattan girl
smoking without a care

brooklyn twilight
a dead rat drowned
in a spring puddle

68th street
the stink of acrid piss
perfuming the subway

oh manhattan!
your beauty
like a trick on my tv screen

thursday! 2 pm.!
just another dirty block
wednesday afternoon

in the periwinkle dawn
same gray shirt slung
over my labored back

another heart morning
collapsing at the sight
on uncaring gotham

bored cats
lost, watching the void
like me

old tabby-headed stray
moaning through piss gloom
luquer street

another rain
another gray doom
over times square neon muck

poem of the day 02.27.09

nothing new...too caught up in the misery that is writing a novel....so here's an older one:

borrowed time

typing poems with the door shut,
i hear one of the cats
scratching and meowing.
then my wife calls to me
from the living room
to let the beast in.
and even though i am enjoying
the solitude
and the old r&b music,
i get up and open the door.

but the cat does not move.
she looks at me as if i
wasn’t what she was expecting
on the other side.
so i prod and pet her,
i do my best to coax her in.

nothing works
so i shut the door
and i sit back down at the computer,
take a hit of my scotch
and begin making symphonies
with words.
that is,
until i hear the scratching and meowing
again.

this is a game, i realize
and the cat can do this all night
because she has no conception
of time
or work
or poetic duty.
her life is ruled by my schedule,
by my drudgery,
and her madness is simple:
a taunting bird in the tree
a squirrel jumping from branch
to branch;
the distant wail of a cat fight.

suddenly i feel bad,
and i play along.
i open the door
and the cat stares at me again.
i am foreign and she is foreign.
however, this time i’m smarter,
and i pick her up and carry her
inside the room.

together we sit on my chair
as i sip scotch
and try to remember where i left
off on the poem.
suddenly the music picks up,
a breezy, up tempo song
that reminds me of the past.

and on cue the cat jumps
off of me
and heads for the door.
she cries and meows again
and i let her out.
then i sit back down
and listen to the rest of the song,
as the poem i was typing lingers
on the screen,
the meaning forgotten.

i listen for the cat again.
i know she will cry and meow,
and my wife will call me to let her
back inside the room.
this is fun, i think.
the most fun i’ve had in a long time.
it’s better being on the cat’s time
for a change.

09.12.06

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poem of the Day 02.26.09

things are tougher all over

the first one
that i know of
who’s getting his ass
raked against the coals
in this current economic collapse
is an old friend from pittsburgh
whom i’ve recently reacquainted
myself with in new york city
which means
we’ve met for beers.
now, this friend is an old friend of mine
he’s an artist, a musician, a comic writer
of some small merit
and to make a living he does
framing work in a family-run joint
on the upper east side.
the pay was good.
good enough to keep my friend in beer
and in an apartment in one
of the more fashionable sections
of brookyn.
the problem is, at least now,
that while he is a damned fine artist
and a damned fine framer
no one is buying any art now.
people are holding it all away
banking on the storm blowing by them
even though more of us will be going under
as this year bends to months and death
once again.
but i think of my artist friend
right now
what he might be doing alone in his apartment
playing his personal video game system
and drinking tallboys of beer
hoping the government is good on its word
to help the needy
because he sent everyone an email today
asking if we knew of any leads on jobs
when i told my wife that he sent the email
she asked me if i got back to him
i told her i was figuring out what to say
as if there were any words to be said
right now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

winedrunk haiku

i know everyone has been waiting on more NYC haikus (ha ha), but i found something interesting while digging through a box of old, yellowing writing. i found a notebook containing haiku from 1994 and 1995 that i didn't even remember writing.
this is probably the first haiku i ever wrote, circa, late 1994/early 1995:

the bus don't come
my loves in chicago
i'm alone

humble beginnings?

poem of the day 02.25.09

sometimes you wonder what right you have to feel a certain way about things. i got some news about someone yesterday. i knew her decent enough but we weren't close. shit, i don't typically preface poems here, but i feel like i need to this time. anyway, here's what i was feeling, right or wrong, justified or not.

everything is dead

everything is dead
and i watch the dead
choking on bags of potato chips
on stalled rush hour trains
thinking about someone i knew
in buffalo
who died suddenly at age thirty-three.
everything is dead
and i email one friend
and he tells me that she was sick all week
and died in the hospital monday night
which is all the information he has
another woman, a woman who
hates me,
writes and says she was sick all week
and collapsed in her apartment
dead
before the cops could do anything to save her.
which is it?
i wonder
goddamned, we live in such an era
of technical excess
a digital fantasia of useless information
and i can’t even get a simple answer
about simple death.
ain’t that the way it always is?
and everything is dead today
this train
these people choking on cholesterol
and cell phones
buffalo and everywhere else too
today’s sun is dead
setting over the ruins of brooklyn
and in the atlantic avenue station
they have art work plastered where
nike ads used to be
but for a limited time only.
it is supposed to be beautiful and inspiring.
i understand this.
there is a van gogh and a picasso
a basquiat and one by c├ęzanne
i recognize them.
they are artists to me
and little else.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

winedrunk haikus

these are not a part of my NYC 2003-2005 haikus but two i wrote in Buffalo in late 2006.

midday
saw a tree
thought it was god!

midday
saw god
thought it was a tree!

poem of the day 02.24.09

pulse

i keep
putting hands
to my chest
and neck
and wrist
to feel my pulse
is it too slow?
too fast?
then i have
my wife do it too
one hand on my
chest
another on hers
waiting on the beats.
she says we are
the same
we are fine.
but then she says
she’s not sure
and i wonder
which is it?
we got to bed
a lot like this
our hearts beating
too slow
or too fast
but never quite right
her head on my chest
easily asleep
while i’m awake
listening to the whirl
of the fans
the night
egging on that
motherfucker
death
for one more day.

Monday, February 23, 2009

BONUS poem of the day 02.23.09

i thought i'd be short and sweet today...but alas.

rudy’s

i said we were walking maybe four hours
but it was probably two, three, if you add the hour
we spent running around downtown brooklyn looking
for a coinstar machine or something to take the baggie
full of change that we had on us.
but it was more like two hours
over the brooklyn bridge, dodging the tourists,
and then up hudson street as far as it would take us
commenting on things we
remembered about this city over the years
like that bar on vestry that we’d never been to
but had watched so often from the
window of the old dodge neon
as we sat in holland tunnel traffic
waiting to go back to pittsburgh
for a weekend back in 2003 and 2004
how we hated that bar!
or not knowing how to pronounce duane reade
or houston (how-ston) street
or finding the christopher street
path station, the one we used to take
all the time to get back to jersey for an escape
a change of scenery
something other than the prison
of glass and steel and concrete
new york city could become at times.
they say this city belongs to no one
and i believe that is true.
anything you could say or write about new york
has been said or written about better by someone else.
new york city isn’t a city you own
the way pittsburgh or buffalo or cleveland might be
those places most people don’t want to escape
or can never escape
so they simply sit back, throw up their hands
and make them their own.
i like not owning a city because when you leave it
there seems to be less of a mess left in the wake.
i like pointing out the things of our past, here,
knowing they belong to millions of others
that the background of our moments
may belong to someone else.
and that fact doesn’t make the moments
any less significant, just different, from my point of view
something you always got to work for to remember
as your own.
like today, the first decent saturday in february
when we said why don’t we walk all the way to central park
because we hadn’t been to central park in almost a year.
but we only made it to 44th street at 9th avenue to rudy’s pub and grill
a bar that saved our lives when we first moved here
and didn’t want to go back to our cockroach
ghetto apartment in brooklyn
after working the two worst temp jobs new york had to offer.
we walk into rudy’s and the memories come flooding back
the tears, the fights, the stolen kisses and beaten red, vinyl booths,
getting drunk watching a staggering indian dance by himself
as his friend told us to call the bronx the “boogie down.”
we take a few stools in the back, because the joint is crowded
early on a saturday afternoon, full of people doing their best
to escape the beauty of the day, and their own memories.
we order two drafts of rudy’s blonde ale and decide
on the next round we’ll get a couple of those free hot dogs
for old times sake
the ones we used to eat out of necessity when we were hungry
and broke and clueless where to go next
when we thought this city would eat our souls
on a daily basis and send us running back home
and away from each other.
then we clink glasses and decide that it’s okay we didn’t make
it to the park that day.

poems of the day 02.23.09

leaving my love, 4th avenue, brooklyn

parting, she makes me feel real
but when she is gone, i am left with nothing
but this day, the sirens, and the winter wind.



february after dinner

winter wind howling
she cries and speaks of
an unjust world
as i take her hand and the wine bottle

Saturday, February 21, 2009

poem of the day 02.21.09: more winedrunk haikus

another batch from NYC circa 2003:

the new york night
teasing
an unforgivable mess

blue morning
gotham thumping
my heart adrift

fat musky cabbie
singing and operetta
at rush hour!

a new month
gotham like gold in the rain
but who cares?

friday morning
the city
an anxious, glaring bull

tonight
brooklyn sings
its loud chorus

my old heart
lonely, kicked around
on the sewer street

screaming!
a rickety bum
at the city's mercy

gloomy monday
times sqaure swirling
with stink

f train
like death
pungent, stale with misery

cold wind
dirt stinging my bloodshot eyes
52nd street

Friday, February 20, 2009

poem of the day 02.20.09

late train again

some days you
just breath in the bullshit
and i hate this guy
i’m standing next to
hate the way his forehead slopes
over his eyes
and how he’s unshaven like me
thirty-minutes waiting
for the train to show at 59th street
wondering why trains
always run so well
in the mornings
on ugly weekdays
when bosses are watching the clock
and a little bit of money
is to be made.
and i can’t help that
i hate this guy
standing here waiting
as big a fool as i am
duped by the system
his eyes closed
his hands fiddling with an ipod
maybe thinking of something else
dinner or a stiff drink
a hot piece of ass waiting
for him in a bar
or he could be standing here
with a simple and precise hatred for me
for my hat and jacket or my dull face
this pen and yellow note pad
because i’ve been here for thirty minutes too
thirty-five now
in his life, in his line of sight
and i probably remind him that some
minutes are longer than life
and sometimes trains take forever to arrive
and there are just days like this one
where you breathe in the bullshit
a little more than you want
because your face has grown so long
that it rests too close to the soiled ground
the ground littered with so many turds
and missed moments.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Poem of the Day 02.19.09

sometimes you choke down
the bile and do the right thing


jesus christ, she said, when
i came into the laundry room
in the basement.
i didn’t say anything.
well, you could’ve said hello
she continued
what?
hello.
why would i do that? i asked.
because you snuck up on me.
this is a public space, lady.
but still.
still nothing. i’m just checking my laundry.
but you could’ve said something, like hello.
i don’t need to announce my presence.
all you had to say was hello.
i don’t have to say hello to you, lady,
i don’t know you from shit.
it’s only right. this goddamned laundry room
people always sneaking up on you. you
could’ve done the right thing.
like hell, i said. i checked my laundry
and it had 5 minutes to go. so i made
to go back up to my apartment
instead of waiting it out with that lunatic women.
learn some manners, she said, as i left.
if you don’t like it complain to the landlord,
i answered.
i got to the elevator. i pressed the button.
you could’ve been a rapist, i heard her shout.
then the elevator came. but i waited.
i thought about my wife doing laundry alone
in that basement.
or my mother by the side of the road, at night,
with a busted car and no cell phone signal.
and i went back to the laundry room.
mam, i said.
she didn’t answer but just looked at me.
i’m sorry, i said. my name is jay and i live in 1r.
i’m a librarian.
she looked at me for a second then smiled and shook my hand.
i’m martha, she said, and it’s good to meet you too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

winedrunk haikus: new york city 2003-2005

this morning i finally managed to do something i meant to do 4 years ago--i typed the haikus i wrote in NYC from 2003-2005, which pretty much show how i felt about nyc at the time. thankfully my opinion has improved, probably because i do not venture into manhattan nearly as much as i used to. in truth, i think i stopped writing them around the end of 2004. hailku and senryu, and certainly not too traditional as i was probably more influenced by Kerouac's haikus rather than Basho, Issa, Buson or any others at the time, although i'd read them. I'm going to print them in batches. so here's a first batch:

f train
the yawning blonde
a bored bardot

manhattan
you’re as old and gloomy
as the falling snow

byant park
shop girls behind the windows
vacant, faceless

down and out
down and out in manhattan
all i did was cry

brooklyn
another gray dawn
falling over the BQE

oh lost!
my new hobo beard
to the east river

6th avenue at dawn
the round eyes of
latino girls, sob-filled

dead, bloodied pigeon
at 5th and 42nd street
without a chance

midday
the 6th avenue subway
rings with tenor sax

tuesday!
times square!
another mirage

carrying the world
a restless bum
on 44th street

poem of the day 02.18.09

metamorphosis

i don’t like to think
of you seeing me
like this
stooped over a commode
filled with bile
and morning tea.
it isn’t right.
i don’t feel like a man
thinking of you
seeing me like this.
like a victim.
six scotches last night
two bottles of cheap red
the night before
valentine’s day
four scotches
two dark beers
a carafe of red
and then a bottle at home
before we made love
and fell asleep.
and then these two days of terror
or burning stomach
and a burning asshole
stomach cancer?
pancreatitis?
a fluttering heart
food passing through half eaten
my mind runs the gamut
me on the bathroom floor
6 a.m.
with tears and sweat
and declarations that i’ll stop drinking
when i should be writing poems
and worried the next time this happens
i’ll be spitting up blood
from a ripped and dying stomach.
what a life i’m leading?
what wasted promise?
i’m not longer a man like this
falling here, you can’t see a man.
no, i’m suddenly something else
a beast, unnamable
something forever changed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Poem of the Day 02.17.09

leon

leon liked to drive
the delivery trucks in the snow
and barrel them down 219
while listening to conservative talk radio
and spitting snuff juice all over the cab
because it kept him from smoking.
he smelt of sawdust
and built countertops for a living.
he was one of those assholes
who loved their job
and for fun he liked to aim
the truck at animals crossing the road
just to try and get a rise out of me
although we never hit anything.
leon loved to test a man’s metal
but i never gave him a wince
even though i found most
animals to be above most humans
but that was okay to leon
because if he couldn’t hit a live animal
he’d just run over a dead one.
it was all the same to him
to collision of fast rubber and flesh
and usually after we smeared some already-dead
animal along the pavement
leon would laugh, turn up the bile
on the radio, and tell me how he
had this vegan girlfriend for awhile
and whenever he got bored they’d go
out riding on his motorcycle
and just to get a rise out of her
he’d aim the cycle at crossing animals
usually missing them
but enough that she’d squeal and cry
and make him pull over the bike
on the side of the road
vowing to never get on the thing with him again.
then leon would console her and apologize
and that typically lead to them heading
back to his apartment
where he’d lean back and watch her
suck on his cock
while he thought about not smoking cigarettes
having rare steak for dinner
and all of the wood he’d have to cut
the next day at work.

Monday, February 16, 2009

poem of the day 02.16.09

gonna stop this shit

i helped blue out once
with this dime he had
from 1898.
i looked it up and told him
i think this might be worth
something
but i’m not sure.
i gave him a coin collector’s guide
and sent him on his way.
well, blue stopped in today
drunk on colt 45 and hennessey
and told me his dime was worth
approximately $14
and that he wasn’t selling it
just has it at home wrapped up
in tissue
i told him coin stores would have
something to put it in and keep it safe
but blue just laughed
took a hit on the colt 45
and told me he don’t need no
coin protector ‘cause he’s from the ghetto.
then blue gave me his wallet
the second time someone has handed me
their wallet in two days
and i just held it until blue took it back
opened it
and showed me his i.d.
also something that’s happened to me
twice in two days.
i must look like a cop, i thought.
blue’s i.d. was a learner’s permit
what do you think of that? he said.
driving, i answered
shit yeah, blue said, slapping me five.
he was probably 50 years old.
i’m gonna drive
got a job coming to me
and when that all happens, i’m
gonna stop this shit, he said
pointing at one of the bottles of colt 45.
then he had a drink.
can’t be drinking and driving.
no, that would be bad, i said.
blue laughed and slapped me five again.
then he stopped talking
to check out one of the clerks who
was bending over to put books away.
did i tell you i can make
a mean thing of fried chicken? he asked.
no.
burn your mouth off.
that sounds good, i told him. but, listen,
blue, i have to get back to work.
i understand, i understand, blue said.
he had some more colt 45.
i just wanted to thank you for helping me
with that dime.
you’re welcome i said.
here. blue reached into his pocket
and tossed me a brown pear
with a steam that bent nearly to the middle.
then he grabbed his stuff and left.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

poem of the day 02.15.09

how old am i?

46 i tell him
you don’t look a day older
than 46.
how old do you think i am?
he asks ally
i’ll say 47
what did you say?
no 46
what?
i’m going with what he said
ally says, pointing at me
so you both think i’m 46?
yes
he turns back toward his drink
well, how old are you? i ask.
i don’t want to know
i just want this done
so i can finish my beer
and order a pizza.
i’m 60.
no shit?
no shit.
here.
he hands me his wallet.
his whole wallet!
i give it back.
what are you doing, man? i ask.
fine. fine.
he opens the wallet and shows
me his license.
what’s it say? he asks.
1948, i say.
i’m 60.
almost 61.
well, how old are you.
35.
and you? he points at ally.
31. i’ll be 32.
then he goes back to his drink.
you want to call for that pizza now?
i ask ally.
sure.
so she does.
i watch the bar lights
and the full bottles of rum
that no one here seems to drink.
that’s when he turns back to me.
did you know i was
in ‘nam too?
no.
no?
that’s what i said.
yeah. well, guess what years
i was in ‘nam?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

winedrunk haiku

somehow
a fly
in mid-winter

Poems of the Day 02.14.09

happy valentine's day, you bastards.

first the sour....

seymour

i was new to the school
after having suffered a shit year
in wellsburg, west virginia.
my folks brought me back
to pittsburgh
and we moved to the suburbs
and i landed in this catholic school
where i couldn’t take my eyes
off of tara jones.
i was nine but i already
had a thing for women,
a passion they would rarely return
to me.
anyway, tara had this friend, barb smith,
who used to catch me staring.
she’d make faces at me
or laugh
or she’d get tara’s attention
and then i’d have two of them on me
during a spelling or math class.
then valentine’s day came
and our teacher made us decorate
kleenex boxes in red and pink and white,
so that we could set them on our desks
and all go around
dumping valentines in each other’s boxes.
the teacher gave us cupcakes
and let us open our cards.
i didn’t do too bad.
but going through them, i noticed
that tara never gave me one.
barb did, however, and when i opened hers
it read
“knock, knock.”
“who’s there?”
“seymour.”
“seymour, who?”
“seymour reasons to like you all the time.”
except barb had scratched out “like”
substituting it with the word “hate.”
hate knocked me a little,
but truthfully i was surprised barb
even cared at all.
and when i finally looked up,
i watched tara and barb eating
their cupcakes and sharing
each other’s valentines.
they looked so innocent,
like little girls should.
i took another glance.
then i put my head down
and thought about something else
to pass the time
in that school
until i could go home
and sit in my bedroom.

....and then the sweet.

allyson

if it wasn’t
for you
i would be nothing.
you know this
and are thankfully
modest.

Friday, February 13, 2009

poem of the day 02.13.09

when we were kings

the kings of pittsburgh
the kings of campus
the laughing cats of jazz
honing our skills over coffee
and chinese food.
you taught me
chicken fried rice
and frank o’hara
but i don’t know what
i ever gave you.
i guess i was good for
a chuckle or two
the way i chased
chicks all over the green lawns
like i’d never seen a woman before.
i was always one
for fawning over all of them
of falling down steps
and getting my heart broken
in big yellow houses
on north craig street.
i want to say you were
always the sensible one
but then again
you had your heart smeared
all over a wall in shadyside
plus i know that isn’t true.
perception is just another lie.
but anyway
we were the kings once
and i wanted to remind you of that
the kings of pittsburgh
the kings of campus
the kings of poetry
and old bookstores
and syrupy pancakes
on warm march afternoons.
now you write me about
your back hurting after
shoveling snow
and i have this letter here before me
telling you all about my gas pains
and how high the electric bills are
in new york city these days.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

another day another poet

my wife emails and tells me that i always
seem to get published in the same journals
with this other poet named jason hines
and she jokes with me that maybe mr. hines
and i should go out and get a beer together some time.
i write her back and tell her that i don’t make
friends with poets but i’m curious who this guy
is so i scan the net looking for him.
sure enough he and i are in a lot of mags together
and he’s in some that keep sending me back
very kind and thoughtful rejection slips
and others that don’t even care to respond at all.
there is a picture of him on one web site,
cropped black hair, giving the finger to no one, and below it are
a number reviews of his book, his bio,
his influences, and, of course, his poems.
i start reading them and they are good enough
no better or no worse than anyone who spends a lot
of time in front of the machine or behind a pad and pen
or in a bar thinking the whole thing is shot, the world is mad,
and all you can do to try and hang on is strive for a little immortality,
preserve a little piece of yourself that’ll linger once you’re cold and gone.
after a while i quit really reading hines’ work,
and i simply scan the poems for a line or two that might
stand out.
none do
and i’m not surprised.
it really isn’t mr. hines’ fault, or the fault of his poetry
it’s just that us humans aren’t very smart or original in anything we do
art or love or hate or defecating or making conversation in a loud room.
we’re mostly just simple and dumb
but i guess i’ll keep checking mr. hines’ stuff out
humans are repetitive after all.
plus we seem linked in a sense, like two birds entangled
over a worm
and heading down toward an ugly, quick death.
we are both “poets” as it is.
however, in the meantime i think i’ll check my email again
to see if my wife wrote me back some joke about me being anti-social
or some anecdote about her job, about how she needs a stiff scotch,
or where she might want to go out and get some dinner
this coming saturday night after we pull
six straight days at work again this month.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

poem of the day 02.11.09

self image over morning tea
and an empty stomach


losing the plot
losing the meaning
i am discussing things
i never thought i would
shackled to uncomfortable chairs
uncomfortable livelihoods
and a city with smoke and shattered glass,
and pigeons smeared on the sidewalk.
i cannot commune with nature
this long winter
i cannot pick out all the individual
instruments
of this sad overture
but just know that combined
they all make a horrible clatter
that i have to cover over each night
with drink after drink
and thoughts that suddenly trail off.
i am so silly.
such a fool.
derailed.
i am such a goddamned dunce
and nuisance to myself
that i’d be better off if i up
and quit me.
but i can’t let you go baby
and you know that to be true
so just give me time
give me a little space
let me rub out the blur
on the mirror, spit out the blood
from the gums
and let the dandruff fall on another sleeve
as the garbage waits to go out
another night
and the antacid pills do their magic
let this cry for help fall hollow
and pretty soon
you and i
will all be doing a little waltz
into the arms of another devil
with a smiling face and warm handshake.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

poem of the day 02.10.09

the worst waitress in the world

my god
i finally found her
the worst waitress in the world
she just sits there letting some
hispanic barfly tell her about his tricked
out car and brand new cell phone
while my lunch sits on the counter
getting cold
and i grow tired of watching the beer
lace evaporate in my pint glass.
the worst waitress, after all this time.
i love the way she crosses her legs
in jeans she shouldn’t be wearing
the way her ass crack shows each time
she bends over to touch
the hispanic’s hand
or answer her cell phone
or turn up the goddamned rolling stones
on the jukebox.
she is a vision.
the worst waitress.
the way she keeps looking back at me
and my wife
but won’t bring us our food
won’t ask us if we want another beer.
i’ve waited so long for her.
years, in fact, sitting on bar stools
and in booths across america.
i’ve waited for the world’s worst waitress
in dallas, frisco, denver, chicago, and cleveland
never knowing that all of this time
she was right in a bar on 4th street, manhattan
talking to some hispanic
and shaking her ass to the stones
while my french fries begin to droop
and the pickle gets warm.
i feel dumb.
the worst waitress right under my nose
and i didn’t see it.
well, congratulations, bitch
because you’ve done it.
you’re the worst waitress in the world
and i guess i’m just another unsatisfied
customer
another fool who will sit here, dumbly,
eating cold fries and a glossed over hamburger
drinking his own backwash
while you talk and laugh and turn up the music.
congratulations, worst waitress in the world.
you’ve earned it.
just like the fucking tip you’re not getting
this afternoon.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Poem of the Day 02.09.09

trying not to write a poem

i go online
in this modern world
intent not to write a poem
checking my blog roll
looking at places where basho rested
in old japan
i learn that i missed
bill burrough’s birthday yesterday
due to all day meetings
and the cold.
i am not trying to write
a poem here, you see,
but instead am wondering
when it is too early
to have a drink of red wine.
i don’t want to get drunk
just have a little something
to take off the edge
to warm the stomach
and hands and feet.
ah, this winter has been
so miserable and long
that i checked the branches
on the small oak trees
lining bay ridge parkway
trying to find one single bud
but there were none.
and this is not a poem
even though it is written
and laid out like one.
i might even read it to you sometime
if you can catch me in the right mood
maybe when the weather is nice
and the wine is flowing
and there is some green for us to share.
i will read you this
and you will think it’s a poem
even though it is not.
and hopefully after that we’ll sit quietly
and let whatever music that exists
between us play on and on
like a favorite symphony
or radio song you just want to hear
one more time.

Friday, February 6, 2009

poem of the day 02.06.09

there are worse things
than staring at a blank page


like getting cancer
or getting into a car wreck
and having your neck hurt for days
like finding out you’ve been
made a cuckold or a fool
or having someone drain
your bank account
like losing a pet or the big game
like finding out your job
has been replaced by machines
or isn’t being replaced at all
but you’re still out of a job
like having your favorite
bar or restaurant close
without notice
like genocide or going blind
like getting a vd or being ignored
by a beautiful woman
or being cornered on a dark
street by that guy who’s
been hanging around
the neighborhood too long
like the wet ends of pants
in another snowstorm
like death or scurvy
or having someone break into
your house and steal all of your
shit while you’re at your lousy job
like not knowing enough words
or listening to conversations
on cell phones or in meetings
like being in meetings or at a job
like being sober when everyone is drunk
or finding the liquor store closed
when you really need a drink
like bad music or bad film
like politics and people talking politics
like war and recession or having
your neighbor win the lottery
like noise through the wall
on a quiet night
or the sound of babies crying when
you are hungover
being hungover on not enough to drink
growing gray hair on your face and hair
and chest
having a small prick or one
that doesn’t work the way it should
being the town whore
having small tits
taking it up the ass all of the time
like getting caught in traffic when
you have to piss like a racehorse
like vomiting in a crowd
like finding out some asshole has
the same taste in books as you do
or having your fly down while
you are trying to make a point.

yes, there are many thing in this world
that are worse than waking up
and staring at a blank page on the screen
but most days i’d take any of them
over having that electric glow glare back at me
mute and impotent, just dead
just motherfucking dead.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Poem of the Day 02.05.09

hungover and staring at the morning
computer screen in the dead of winter


i think of anything but poetry,
i think of last night in brooklyn

with us coming home in the
snowstorm holding hands,

and you slipping along the pavement,
and me telling you to be careful the whole time,

and how we both talked
about getting in the apartment,

getting off the wet clothes,
the wet shoes, and fixing ourselves a stiff drink.

well, here it is twelve hours later
and i am at this machine again,

hungover and shaky from five scotches,
a glass of water at my side,

and the windows open to the hilt,
hoping for just a little bit of winter wind

to touch me, a little bit of snow to
cascade inward and cleanse my soul.

and i wonder if you feel the same, or if you are
anxious to attack the barren drifts again.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Poem of the Day 02.04.09

so sick

it feels like there
is a bubble in my stomach
waiting to burst
and the snow and ice
look like sheets
of fondant on the lawns
of america
but i can’t sit still
and i have the shits
and they are brown rivers of disgust
coming out of my soul
coming out of my ass
i can’t think of food or joy
or anything
two days of this
in the dead winter
and i feel dirty
and worse than i have in years
the closets are stocked
with food that i don’t want to eat
and there are bottles of wine
that i’m too sick to drink
everything burns my stomach
all i can think about
is shitting and sleep
and standing up to vomit
all over the mess
tasting the bile
and when will this winter end
when will this sickness end
when will the snow and ice
melt on the lawns
exposing brown grass
and the new season.
this is as optimistic as i can get
sitting here
waiting for the next gastric rush
the deluge
the purge
another snowfall to come
and coat the lawns
like powdered sugar so sweet
i can already feel my teeth
begin to rot

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Poems of the Day 02.03.09

resigned to paper

resigned to paper
as the overture to the
marriage of figaro plays
on mozart’s birthday
resigned to paper
six o’clock in the morning
plotting a novel
i’ll probably never write
waiting on the sun
resigned to paper
with hardly any sleep
with a sick wife passed out
in the bedroom
and me in the living room
trying to remember how to write
on paper
resigned to paper and mozart
a book of yellow sheets
with blue lines
just waiting for me
to assault them
with the fire
with the nerve
with everything that i got
as the sports and weather come
on the radio
resigned to paper
resigned to it, to you
married to this life
of shitting out words and ideas
like a madman
like some kind of houdini
like some kind of fool
resigned to paper
choking on the pulp
of another poem laid to rest
in a pauper’s grave
before the amber of the next
streetlight fades
to ozone and the day.


an answer to li po

li po wrote
we bustle around,
looking for what?
so i answered
why, for a way out.
always for a way out