Thursday, April 28, 2011

poem of the day 04.28.11

red wine

there is
red wine
on my shirt
on my torn shorts
dried on my sneakers
red wine
on the tips of my
white socks
staining my teeth
red wine and old cat puke
on the scratched
wooden floors
blue ink
on the couch
red wine
stained on the ice cube
dried on the
kitchen counter
on the coffee pot
puddles in the sink
of red wine
on the toilet seat cover
on the bathroom wall
or is that blood again?
there is
red wine
smeared on my
on the
living room
the ones that i shut
to keep out the
yellow sun
to hold
the gray world
at bay

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

poem of the day 04.27.11


coming back
on the job
after only one day off
i tell her
that i daydreamed
the office burning down
with nothing left
but hot embers
in the fog gloom
to which
she told me
that hating your job
is a sign
of depression
which made
me realize
that i’ve probably
been depressed
ever since
i was a paperboy
and tossed that first
inside that first doorway
in the good old year
of 1987.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

poem of the day 04.26.11


i guess i’ll write
about the daffodils now

the ones poking out of people’s lawns
like some unholy apparition of spring

it’s the daffodils or nothing for me

i’m tired of writing about people

people bore me
worse than a hollywood film

i think i’ll leave my poor wife alone
cut the sad sacks on the bus a break

stop waiting on the people at work
to do something of literary merit

i’ll use the daffodils for inspiration

i’ll pull genius out of each and every petal

because i can’t get anything
out of the construction worker
who threatened to rearrange my face last thursday

or the guys in the bar
making love to pints of beer and hd television

for me it’s the daffodils or bust

the daffodils so erect on some verdant patch of land

the daffodils swaying in a light spting breeze



better than the stench of mankind
better than that cop running the red light

or those dead pigs
stacked up outside the butcher shop

it’s got to be the daffodils

the yellow ones

the cream ones

the white ones

whatever color daffodils come in

i’m done with flesh and bone
blood and cruelty

i’ll make my name writing about
the daffodils now

that is, until they let me down too

then i’ll be down on my knees
congregating with the robins

searching for earth worms
and that immortal next line.

Monday, April 25, 2011

poem of the day 04.25.11

paddy cake

she talks like
st. patrick’s day
hates the english
pours pints riding shotgun
with her irish brogue
tells us about her life
just outside of cork
how she chased an
irishman to america
in search of that allusive dream
we’ve been selling since 1776
how she took up with a yank
when it all fell apart
and had three kids
said she wants to go back
despite ireland’s troubles
has a house waiting for her
but her yank husband won’t go
doesn’t want him there anyway
but he won’t let her take the kids
and you know these
american laws, she says
throwing more beer in my pint
he’s threatened me anyway
has thrown a pitcher of water at me
in front of his own kids
the only thing i can do
is keep calling the cops
but you know the cops
they’re worse here than in ireland
and when she walks away
to fetch someone another
jim beam on the rocks
my wife leans in and tells me
that our little paddy cake
is also the waitress
at the diner we both like
and i sit there, finishing off the new draft
musing over this news
thinking what a shame
because i really liked their
egg white omelet
the one with the bacon
and cheddar cheese.

Friday, April 22, 2011

poem of the day 04.22.11

good friday (butcher shop revisited)

on the april streets
bob dylan whispering
in my ears
all the precious
little catholics
must be
locked up in church
the continuous death
of their savior

i stop
at a street corner
for something
for myself
but only find
two stray cats watching
the men
from the butcher shop
hoisting dead pigs
from the back
of a truck
onto three carts
lined with wax paper

Thursday, April 21, 2011

poem of the day 04.21.11

tough shit

the artist lays in bed
at five in the morning
listening to the sound
of the garbage trucks
the neighbors
he wonders what art is for
at that hour
the artist stumbles into the kitchen
stumbles into coffee
into cats trying to kill each other
for slaughterhouse scraps
he checks the window
to see if it is going to rain
to see if the world is still there
the artist then gets in front of the machine
collects the rejected poems
collects the rejected short stories
typically these things do not
bother the artists
as there are other places
to send out writing
the artist fancies himself
as a writer with tough skin
but the rejection of this particular story
hurts the artis
it took him months to get it right
it’s about a traumatic event
from his childhood
but the editors at the fiction magazine
didn’t like it
they were fans
but they felt that it simply wasn’t deep enough
the artist reads this rejection
and wonders just how deep one really
has to be in
twenty-first century america
he drinks some coffee
looks over the story
and wonders what he can do to make
his own life resonate more
the artist does this realizing that he
is wasting precious hours
of his morning
soon he will have to shut down the machine
fix an unsatisfying lunch
and join the multitudes
on their way to the gallows
the artist realizes that he has used
this allusion to work many many times before
work like a gallows
bosses like grand devils
co-workers like murder
and he wonders if that is
why the literary magazine did not
take the story that was close to his heart
had he become cliché? the artist wondered
to the point where his own life
has become redundant on the page
the artist thinks back less than
thirty minutes before
nostalgic for that bed
before the alarm clock went off
and the garbage men and the neighbors
before he had to stumble into the dark dawn
to play artist
because the warehouses and retail places
could never quite hold him
long enough.
and he was never good at
science and math
back in grade school, high school
and college

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

poem of the day 04.20.11

ready for war

in the hallway
taking the garbage out
i hear a neighbor’s television
their sound system
some asshole from the fifth or sixth floor
raining down his clamorous terror
on all of us
and i’m suddenly thankful
that i’m not the neighbor
above or below him
for great christ
i’ve had my share of battles
with these people
from dogs barking
to boomboxes at midnight
and while you might
look at your neighbors
with a sense of comfort and home
to me they are
pol pot
dubya bush
bin laden
and all of those other bastards
and when i see one of these cretins
in the hallway
going to work
or just coming home
when i look into their eyes
it is not to say hello
how are you
or to find a common ground
but to stare them down
and let them know
that i am ready for war

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

poem of the day 04.19.11

a.d. winans’ poems

reading a.d. winans’ poems
6 a.m. on the shitter
wrestling with last night’s
indian food
and cheap french wine
i realize that i really like
a.d. winans’ poems
only i wish that he’d write
less about all of those poets out there
with weak handshakes
worrying about where the next
publication is coming from
and more about the whores
in the tenderloin
north beach bars
or good old bob kaufman
but re-reading the beginning
of this poem
i’m reminded that my wife says
a lot of my poetry is
scatological in nature
so i guess i have to forgive a.d. winans
his small transgressions
as i hope those of you
reading this
will forgive mine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

poem of the day 04.18.11


missy is sitting at the end of the bar
swaying to 1960s protest songs
although she is too old to really hear them

the bartender is singing her the lyrics
in between throwing splashes of jack in glasses
and setting down pints of beer

her goes down to missy
bends over the bar
leans near her left her and sings

missy mumbles her approval
keeps swaying to the music

this is pure beauty, the bartender tells us
this is the kind of thing that makes your night

he throws us down two more pints
but doesn’t make us pay

because we seem understanding
because we listen

a few hours ago i had a pack
of the usual ignorant republicans in here

they kept interrupting me while i was talking

they kept calling me a nigger lover
because i voted for obama

the bartender looks at missy
her head is down and she appears
as though she may hit the bar at any moment

but she, he says to us,
she’s made up for all of them by coming in tonight

the bartender excuses himself
goes back down to missy
bends over the bar and takes her hand, startling her

he sings into her ear again

if you’re going to san francisco
be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

suddenly missy awakens
takes her hand away and claps
as the bartender looks down at us
smiling over the triumph of his glorious night.

Friday, April 15, 2011

poem of the day 04.15.11

shut me up

friday night
the wife and i on the couch
on wine

telling stories about the past

she goes into one
about an old boyfriend
and i stop her

careful, i say
men don’t want to know
we don’t want to know about our woman’s past

what do you mean? my wife asks

the number of men you’ve had
what you guys did
that kind of stuff

to men, all their wives and girlfriends
are virgins and porn stars, i say

my wife nods, downs her wine and says
look, you know who i’ve been with
and at least i don’t write poems about ex-lovers

do you know how many poems
i’ve read of yours
that have you going down on some ex-girlfriend
or her going down on you?

or you fucking some ex-girlfriend?

no, i say

many, my wife says

then she hands me her glass
and i pour us a couple more drops of red

and i don’t say a word
until it’s time to put on a relaxing movie.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

poem of the day 04.14.11

ghetto anthem

lift your feet to the
empty bottles rolling back
and forth on the floor
move side to side
to avoid the newspaper
blowing back
jump back because the back door
on the bus
ain’t locked
duck down
because those burger wrappers
are coming your way
bob your head
huff the scent
of the drunk with the empty
cat carrier
who keeps glaring at you
tell that bitch
with the fat, tan thighs
the one in the lycra miniskirt
tell that bitch
to start shaking her ass
if you can
but her man
looks pretty mean tonight
in his muscle shirt
and yankees hat
cocked sideways
scanning the bus
with his evil eyes
on the lookout
for any drooling inmate
who wants to know what shines
up there
between her legs
as the wheels on the bus
go round
and round
on another monday night
in the greatest city
on earth.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

poem of the day 04.13.11

poetry aisle

in the bookstore
walking the poetry aisle
on another
nothing day
congregating with the damned
i take random books
off of the shelf
read a line or two
searching for something
that i know i won’t get
before putting them back
where they were
thinking about
the authors of those books
those poets
sitting in front of machines
or notebooks
writing down the words
that i just read
wondering if they thought them
or simply passable enough
to fill a book
if they imagined a guy like me
reading their words
forgetting about them
in the next instant
the way one would
a stop sign
a red light
or a pile of dog shit on the street
and then i turn down another aisle
in the bookstore
where the history books are located
knowing damned well
that there never was
a cherry tree
for good old george washington
to chop down.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

poem of the day 04.12.11


the upstairs neighbor
interrupts our fucking

bouncing the springs on her bed
then pounding across
her floor/our ceiling
like a pampered little hussy

we wait her out until
her feet pound back across the room
and the bedsprings bounce again
a little louder than they had before

all i can think
before we go at it again

is poor little rich girl
who wakes up after noon each day
and gets to spend her saturdays in bed
doing nothing but her nails

i’ve heard you and your boyfriend
fucking in the morning, too

i’ve heard those pathetically tired squeaks
of the bedsprings bouncing

going steady for a moment or so
then stopping abruptly

before your muted voices
make tedious conversation
and the television set comes on
to his favorite sports channel

throw down a carpet or two
you jealous bitch

if the sound bothers you so much

because today is my birthday
and the wife and i got nothing
but time on our hands.

Monday, April 11, 2011

poem of the day 04.11.11


these are the gray april nights
where you give up and sit in the bar
after closing the office again this week

taking phone call after phone call from the boss

and you sit there
catching the dim reflection of yourself
in the bar wood

lost in the gray april night

watching the bubbles in your beer
as jazzy jim dumps dollars into the juke

mccartney and frankie valli songs

jim, who thinks that lucy in the sky with diamonds
was written by wings instead of the beatles

these are the gray nights of april
where there is no salvation and little remorse
for the common life

and there is no use arguing with another drunk

you will be thirty-seven soon

thirty-seven with the boss’ voice
ringing in your ears

you watch the beer bubbles
and think that the boss’ voice will always
be in your ears

for there will always be bosses

and bartenders who are young
who hate frankie valli songs

and turn up the television news
to drown them out

it is a cacophony of sound tonight in the joint

the odd mixture of middle east violence
government squabbling
and walk like a man

these unbelievable, unforgiving
gray nights of april, you think

life distilled to one big mess

and jazzy jim begins to ring the bell
on his ten-speed
as a protest to the loud television

but is doing nothing more than adding
more sound to the slaughter

the young bartender turns off the jukebox in disgust

you hear your boss’ voice over the din
and look around

you sit there in all of that noise

watching the last beer bubbles pop
before taking a drink

think that you might drown
in the nightly news and bells

in jazzy jim pounding the dead jukebox

in bosses and america

and you hate this gray april night

you have your first pull on the beer

the first of many tonight

and you hope to hell
that may is better
than this month seems to be
turning out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

poem of the day 04.08.11

the last poem of my 36th year

chicken wing
and hangover breath
i watch this spring’s
first fruit fly
circling around
last night’s wine bottle
and wonder
what in the hell
he’s doing
at this
ungodly hour
the day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

poem of the day 04.07.11

let downs

he comes up behind me
in the english restaurant

surprises me by shouting my last name
as my wife and i are putting back irish cider
and waiting on dinner

i didn’t even know that he knew my last name

he says he wants us to meet his wife

says it’ll be great because he
tells her about us all of the time

we know him from the bar
where we exchange conversation
while sucking down the liquid courage
we need to face the world

only his wife doesn’t let him
go into the bar much anymore

we don’t know why

we suspect it may have something to do
with their five year-old kid asking questions
about where his daddy is at on a wednesday night

my wife and i are not so sure that meeting us
will really make his wife’s day
despite what she’s heard about us

there’s a stigma when your associated
with a bar

besides, my wife tells him,
we’re a let down in the flesh

no, no he says
it’ll be good

besides she’s already drunk

he goes over to get her
we watch his table for movement
letting the ciders sit until this is over

shortly, they get up
our bar friend, his wife, their boy

he helps her with her coat
then begins pointing
and leading her over our way

when they are at our table
he makes the introductions
but forgets to name names
so we don’t know what to call her

my wife and i assume that she knows
our names by now

the five year-old gets between all of us
angling for attention

he trips the wife

she and the kid go flying into our table
knocking the irish cider pints
but not spilling them too much

we all sit and stand there for a few moments
making small talk

we are nothing special to each other

such let downs on this saturday night

his wife tells us again
that it was nice to meet us

we say likewise
having no cause not to believe her

then they leave the restaurant
and we go back to drinking our cider

wondering what it was
that we were talking about
before he came over and surprised me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

poem of the day 04.06.11

they have you

they have you
and they’ll always have you
holding you by your head
so that you cannot move or breathe
and they’ll squeeze away the life blood
like they were juicing oranges
the nagging wives and the husbands of gloom
the families with their yellow smiles
of torturous good will
the moron bosses with their weekend emails
the co-workers with their prime time conversations
the grocery clerks slamming the eggs
the neighbors with their unruly sense of self
the dogs barking in the dark morning
the cats scratching on cheap couches
the friends with their phone calls and need
the asshole stranger who says “hi” to you
on the sun-clogged street
the politicians with their bullshit rhetoric
the terrorists with their cable news fear
the actors and actresses with their
clowning make-believe bank rolls
the athletes with the cellophane confidence
the bookies with their vegas odds
the artists with the hardened paint and paralysis
the poets with their drivel words
the musicians simply playing music
the people stuck in traffic
with their death glares and coffee breath
the commuters dying on morning trains
reading digital newspapers of global sadness
the waiters and waitresses
with their spit-shine lunches
the bartenders with their kidney smirks
the police offers with the dull faces
the priests with their pubescent cocks
the grandmothers with their whiskey throats
and mothball hearts
they have you
and they will never let you go
until they suck the life out of you
leaving you prostrate on the pavement
one lost lump of flesh and bone and blood
and little else.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

poem of the day 04.05.11

36 years, 360 days….and counting

i don’t care
i sit here drinking cheap red wine
before the workday
and i do not care
i listen to the radio
read the fiction of peter stamm
and a biography on patrick henry
awaiting the late shift again
and i drink the cheap red
with exhaustion and resignation
and do not care about myself
or anything else
i think about the gray skies outside
and april showers bringing may flowers
for us to stand on
i marvel at the way wine burns
the empty stomach
and i have stories out there
useless stories written on useless mornings
poems easing down the information superhighway
seeping into third rate rags
like japanese radiation flowing into
the green ocean
and i drink the cheap red wine
just to feel the burn
and i do not care about the poems, the stories,
or the radiation
for i am hardly a man
hardly a poet
i am muted and hungry
i specialize in picking out lettuce and daffodils
on hungover sunday afternoons
i am no patrick henry
but i have a dumb, american confidence about me
that i just can’t quell
it shows on my face
and i have a new tube of toothpaste
to take away the wine taste
when my free time is all used up
and a sink that almost drains it all away
when i spit out the wine and blood
and peppermint flavor
so i must be doing something right
after all of these years.

Monday, April 4, 2011


hello all

i have a short story, someday man, that's up
now over at the Big Stupid Review.

also, please feel free to visit my fiction blog
blood drips from the drunken penwhere the Edwin Balder stories seem to be taking shape
into something, what i have no clue.

poem of the day 04.04.11


we stand at the bus stop
under gray skies
as the wind picks up
and kicks shit across 86th street

sal is cold he tells me

he’s dressed in an air jordan t-shirt
and denim shorts

is maybe five foot five

shaped like a bulldog

sal is cold
shuffling back and forth
in our glass bus stop cage

his dog tags swinging left to right

sal says he had to come down
here for office supplies for his girlfriend

but i’m trying not to listen to him

i have coltrane on and i’m beat

my feet are tired

my head is hurting

at the job another teenager
told me to go and fuck myself

and i still have another twenty-six years
before retirement

but at least i’m not cold

not like sal is cold
pacing like a gorilla

his hands in his denim pockets
goose bumps up his freckled arms and legs
shit, sal tells me
i gotta go back home and change

got two interviews

car service

night driver

i nod
put the coltrane on pause
then shut him off

because sometimes humans
just can’t escape one another
in this tight world

you can’t be too picky these days, sal says

i can do night driving
i’m so local i’m like the concrete

but this cold, man
sal stops pacing and shuffles closer to me

spits when he talks

i stay out in this cold dressed like this
and i’ll get sick

i got a son, sal says
if i get sick my girl won’t let me
anywhere near him

sal grabs his arms and rubs

i’m cold just watching him go at his flesh

i’m thinking about that teenager
the tediousness of life
and the futility of human endurance

when sal says, this fucking weather

spring my ass

but i could do it, you know

car service

night driving

friday and saturday night, sal says

it would cut into my time
with my kid
but you gotta do what you gotta do these days

yes, i say

wishing that i had enough warmth in me
for the both us

because sal has started to grow on me

but luckily his bus shows up

take care, buddy, sal says to me

you too sal, i say
because we’re like old friends now

then sal gets on the bus

i watch it pull away
put the coltrane back on

as another gust of wind kicks up
tossing fast food wrappers into the air

i’m glad that sal missed that one
because that gust was a doozy

and they say it’s supposed to rain
any minute now.

Friday, April 1, 2011

poem of the day 04.01.11

no peace

between the driftwood of flesh and bone
second shift america
between the two meat cutters
from the deli
smelling of dead flesh and coleslaw
bullshitting the evening bus ride home
i watch them banter
in their boar’s head hats
and greasy smocks
they talk the tired talk
of the eternal weekday
fuck this and fuck them
spreading their pent up ire
society at their mercy
after a twelve hour shift
because there is no one else left to serve
only monday they say
like there’s been a death in the family
but the rest of us sad assholes
know what they mean
and when they get home
bitch better have dinner
because i’m hungry
and them kids better be in bed
because i ain’t playin’ tonight
the way i feel, there’s gonna be hell to pay
my stomach is rumbling too
i want to tell them
or maybe it is something else
a fire or unresolved passion
but the meat cutters are talking about
mixing beer and tequila together
they are playing each other samba music
one earbud in each ear
the sound carries all over the bus
and there is no peace this evening
for any of us
the meat cutters
the lady with the pink hair
the giggling mexican woman on her phone
the jobless and weary
the gap-toothed union saint
asleep at the wheel
or the teenage girl, alone,
writing s.o.s’s
with her thumbs
on one of those glowing devices
meant to make our lives
so much