Friday, February 28, 2014

poem of the day 02.28.14

beautiful thump

she made a beautiful thump
off of the back of my car
i was young
i thought, oh, how poetic
then i thought about jail
when i got out of my car
she was already trying to get up
she must’ve been eighty years old
and to make a beautiful thump like that
her daughter looked at me
she said, you hit my mother
i said, but look she’s getting up
the daughter implored her mother
to stay on the ground
because the old woman kept bitching about her knee
my knee
my knee, she said
like it was some kind of goddamned mantra
people came out of their homes
business owners came out of their shops
carrying cordless telephones
someone shouted, i called the ambulance
and sure enough you could hear the sirens
i wondered how i’d get along in prison
i thought how she made such a beautiful thump
but the ambulance came
and the cops came
the ambulance took the old woman and her daughter
the cops asked me if i was on drugs
how fast i was going
i told them the old woman was crossing behind me
when i was trying to back up
i didn’t tell them how beautiful she sounded
when she thumped
the cops made me come to the hospital
the docs already had the old woman in the bed
she was sitting up and shaking her knee
the one that had hurt so bad before
the cops made me apologize
which i meant…at first
but then the woman started calling me a menace
she wanted my license taken away
she wanted me to have a record
she told me that she was going to sue me for everything
for loss of enjoyment of her life
i thought about all of the people that i could sue for that reason
my friends
the girl i was dating at the time
i told the woman that i was sorry a second time
although by then i didn’t mean it
she said, sorry isn’t good enough young man
i’ll see you in court
then i left and went and sat in my car
i thought telling my parents about this
about the girlfriend who would bitch me out
because i’d be too hours late
getting to her house
i thought about the beautiful sounds that people made
even when they didn’t want to
then i lit a cigarette
and thought the whole world could go to


Thursday, February 27, 2014

poem of the day 02.27.14


the doctor told my girlfriend
that she had porphyria
i don’t remember which doctor
because there were so many of those quacks involved
checking her blood and her urine
digging through her bloody stool sample
the same one she’d made me view that morning
while she writhed around in pain on her bed
i’d never heard of porphyria
i was worried that it meant pregnant in greek
i was just twenty-one and i was going to bars with my friends
i knew what alabama slammers were
i knew who sold watered down drinks
i knew that a club full of women gyrating to tainted love
was the closest that i was ever coming to heaven
my girlfriend was still twenty
this porphyria outbreak seemed to coincide with my birthday
it kept me from going to more bars and clubs
it kept me in her bedroom on friday and saturday nights
listening to her horrible music
as she and her mother read medical brochures to each other
like they were reciting wordsworth
porphyria caused my girlfriend to quit her mall job
so i was back to paying for mexican dinners and shitty movies
porphyria never seemed to affect her appetite or bad taste
to me the disease meant selfish bitch
at least in english
i wanted to get the hell away from her
but i felt like such a heel leaving in her time of need
so i stuck around
as did porphyria
the sickness lasted all spring and summer
then it seemed to magically disappear that fall
right around my girlfriend’s twenty-first birthday
on a night she met me at the door
full of color and glowing like she hadn’t in months
to announce that she was cured
and would soon be able to come to the same bars and clubs
with me
the porphyria is gone, she said
yes, yes, i answered, hating her anew
and soon baby, soon so will i.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

poem of the day 02.26.14

this is a "best of" poem...sort of.  wrote it in 2010 and then forgot it.  totally re-worked it.
hope you enjoy

everything in the coffee

we were immature
had nowhere to go in the city

we had nothing to do but drive around in cars
waiting on the night to end

driving around killing american hours
which was sometimes all there was to do

we went to a diner along mcknight road
in the northern suburbs

it was where everyone went

we drank coffee
and hoped that the high school girls
at the tables surrounding us were taking notice

notice of what?
we were immature and we knew it

we took it out on calvin

calvin liked his coffee more than anyone
he liked to sit in the diner drinking his coffee
looking at high school girls

the rest of us would put things in calvin’s coffee
when he left the table to take a piss

we would put salt in his coffee
pepper, ketchup, those little packets of jelly
whatever we could get our hands on

we mixed it up very well
then we waited on calvin to come back and take a sip

it was the same show every week

calvin would come back to the table
he’d take his coffee cup and take a good pull on it

his face would contort
he’d swirl the stuff around in his mouth
the coffee, the salt, pepper, ketchup, and jelly
then he would spit it back out and look
at the table of us in disgust

of course we’d laugh
it was funny to us because we had nothing else

calvin would curse and make a big deal
the girls at the tables around us would look and laugh too
because they had nothing else to amuse them
on a saturday night in america

the waitress would come over and give calvin
another cup of coffee

she would pray for us to leave a decent tip
she would pray for none of us to hit on her
she would pray that we left soon enough

good old calvin would guard his new cup of coffee with his life
he’d sit there hunched over the drink
as if guarding a rare jewel

we’d laugh at this too

calvin would laugh because he knew he was putting
on a show for all of us

he was putting on the greatest show
one where he was the star

the night wasn’t so lonesome and drawn out
we had something to talk about and it sustained us

at least for a little while.


My first novel The Librarian is available for purchase HERE
A review of The Librarian is now in the March issue of Pittsburgh Magazine 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

poem of the day 02.25.14


there is no heat in this building
fourteen degrees and three winter storms later
and there is no heat in here
the cat is crying
she’s lifting her paws off the wood floor
like she’s been stepping on hot coals
i’m wearing two pairs of socks
and it’s still not good enough to help me feel my toes
i know that millions have it worse
but in moments like these you wonder
what you’re paying for
living in new york city
where most days it costs an arm and a leg
just to step outside your door
but there is no heat in this building
no hiss coming from the radiator
no brain cell killing smell of oil from the basement
and there is no hot water
we are boiling water to wash dishes
forgoing showers and sex
embarrassed by our own filth
my wife and i are drinking scotch and wine medicinally
instead of for a laugh
the booze is a false warmth but a warmth all the same
the weather people on tv keep saying it’s cold out
brrrrr, they say
stay the hell indoors
but they are still dressed in short sleeves and sundresses
it’s a balmy seventy-five in the studio, one of the assholes says
and i think of murder as a cheap compromise
because there’s no heat in this building
the cat is still crying
i wish i could give her a shot of whiskey
to warm her or to shut her up
boil some more water and dunk her ass in it until she purrs
but i can’t because i can’t feel my fucking fingers
i’m thinking of putting on a hat and gloves
going outside to warm up in the ice and wind and snow
jog around the block until i find a mailbox
send the rent check out
with a little note to the landlord
who’s vacationing in miami this winter
just to ask him
how’s the heat?                                    

Monday, February 24, 2014

poem of the day 02.24.14

portrait of the artist
as a bloated borderline alcoholic

i always think
that i look better than i do in pictures
younger and healthier
my hair is always looking decent
on the street when women look at me
i like to think, yeah, they’re onto something good
but then someone takes a picture of me
my wife or a family member or someone else
and the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming
the quasimodo hunchback
the face bloated from alcohol
the stomach like a barrel from beer and too much pizza
the hair flat and ugly blonde
the beard gone gray and white and wiry
when i see photos like these i think
christ, is this really what the rest of the world sees
when they look in my direction
i think this walking abomination can’t be me
but he is
i start making those terrible plans
kick the booze and kick the pizza
start up jogging again or log more miles on the walk to work
avoid sugar salts and fats
the problem is my memory is short
it must be all of the lost brain cells
and some days are just too long and hard
to forgo a stiff drink or three
sometimes pizza is my sole joy of the week
and i always thought that jogging was for assholes
i forgive and forget myself
allow for that vain amnesia to settle in again
i start to think
hey, i’m young and i’m healthy
i’ll bet my hair is looking pretty good too
i think i’m a golden god lost on the streets of brooklyn
and when i pass a woman in the street
when she stares a little bit too long in my direction
i think to myself
take a picture baby because it’ll last longer
just don’t send it my way, sweetheart
because my ego can drop like flies
at the blast of the flash
at the click of the shutter and snap.                                           

Friday, February 21, 2014

poem of the day 02.21.14


i often wonder why
there have to be so many of them

so many of us at times

idle people
full of idle chatter
filling up the hours until death
with pointless and mundane
unrewarding tasks

morons are we
are they

stalwart and shameless in their ignorance
reveling in our stupidity

a lot of them seem to go out of their way
to know as little to nothing at all

i’ve often thought of leaving america behind
and getting away from this sort

from myself

that isn’t to say
that imbecility is an american disease

although it sure seems like one

i’m sure there are morons
in spain
in germany

swimming in their foolishness in la belle france

yes, thousands of parisian natives
talking the kind of idiot talk
that passes one day into the next

only i don’t know their language

but sadly they sure as hell
know mine.                                                       

Thursday, February 20, 2014

poem of the day 02.20.14

viviane smith played football

viviane smith played football
with us neighborhood boys in her backyard

it was a compromise we made

viviane’s family had the biggest backyard
in the neighborhood

it was the only one you could play football in
wide enough for slant patterns or to go long

all the soft grass made it easy for us
to play tackle instead of tag
like we had to do out there on the street

there were no cars in viviane smith’s backyard
to stop playing for

of course, her old man didn’t want her to play

he’d sit in the backyard with a beer
he’d yell at us boys to be careful for christ’s sake

she’s a girl, he kept reminding us
as if we didn’t know it

as if none of us had discussions about the tits
that grew over night

the braces that came off that september
the curves that had developed out of mortal flesh

and the new haircut that viviane got
that made her more of an anomaly
doing button hooks or hiking the ball

we did our best to keep her safe
we put viviane in for the soft plays
the kick-offs and punts

the running plays where she only had to block

we tried not to tackle her
but if some wise guy had her go long on third and ten
sometimes we had no choice

then it was a battle of the sexes
male pride in bloom

viviane smith running for her life downfield
with one, two, three of us in hot pursuit

forgetting about those tits
forgetting that haircut

or the fact that when she sunbathed that past summer
we made it more of a point to come around
and sit in the backyard with her

sipping ice tea or cherry coke

imagining less than football glory in those moments
and much more than we were sure to get

from this strange new creature
who’d just bloomed right in front of us

without our knowledge or consent.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

poem of the day 02.19.14

the new hitler

the young girl comes over to me
with the newspaper
she looks concerned
she puts the paper down so that i can see it
and says, what does this mean?
it’s an article with a picture
of the fat, baby-faced leader of north korea
under the heading the new hitler
usually this heading is coupled with a picture
of someone of middle eastern decent
or russian or african or a liberal politician
it’s nice to see the press branching out
in their declarations
still they like to anoint a new hitler
in the way the music folks liked to call someone
the new dylan
i’m sure this north korean kid has done his worst
since rising to power
killing his uncle
informing on his mother and brother
starving millions
committing tons of other deplorable acts
while his fat ass downs drink and food
and laughs with has-been basketball heroes
but to call someone a hitler….
it probably means he’s a bad artist, i tell her
the young girl looks at me
like she doesn’t understand
my guess is she doesn’t know
as many bad artists as i do
then we look back down at the paper
at the new hitler
looking over his feeble regime
a self-satisfied smirk on his face
lost in his own bubble
the world by the balls
the big, bad wolf of our day
until the next great villain comes along.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

poemS of the day 02.18.14

hello all

instead of posting here i'm sending you all over
to Stephan Jarrell Williams' awesome online journal
DEAD SNAKES to view two of my new ones.

just click this LINK


Monday, February 17, 2014

poem of the day 02.17.14

chain smoking cigarettes at dee’s café

the air looks purple and hazy
the weather man on the big screen tv
keeps telling me it’s going to snow again and again
a book on the beatles open
reading like ancient history
on brand new tables that don’t wobble
the way that they used to
four pints of bud in my stomach
another in front of me on the bar
the memories of this place
a tidal wave of long lost nights
pool sticks and puking vodka on porches
lemon drops licked off the thumbs
of available young women
pitchers of beer poured over heads
the nicotine hair
the nicotine clothes
my nicotine hands enveloping her nicotine fingers
they say the older you get the more things change
the more they stay the same
and the places that you used to go
clean themselves up or they go to shit
they rot
they fade to black
they become indifferent new strangers
any way
they no longer belong to you
and i realize this
as i sit there contemplating this new draft
rolling years off of my tongue
like brittle yellow parchment
a stranger in a strange land
that i used to call home
one of the oldest men in this joint tonight
waiting for my wife
while these kids keep sitting here
talking over the ghost of me
chain smoking cigarettes
at dee’s café

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hiatus Time Again

hello all

so soon?  but yes
taking a break from the blog this week
to do some fiction work (and hopefully get some
new poems going)
and will resume WineDrunk SideWalk on monday
Feb 17th.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

"best of" poem of the day 02.06.14

boxing match

fragile babies
work deadlines
five short stories
and dozens of poems rejected
fights with the wife
fights with strangers on busses and trains
bad bowel movements
dying cats
broken cable boxes
cockroach infestation
dead computer router
loud neighbor fuck-a-thons
rusted air conditioner
cancer diagnosis decade
city to city life
bad novels
bloody feet of jogging doom
pimple forehead
micromanaging idiots
blabbing their holy terror
heart palpitations
and fungi chest
undercooked chicken and burnt toast
student loans and electric bills
traffic sprawl
night sweats and stomach pain
bum cock and dirty asshole
endless wars
co-workers of conversational rage
holiday season blues
tax season on the horizon
beethoven is still dead
life like a boxing match
that you just can’t win
throwing punches in a nightmare
against an opponent
who just shrugs them off and laughs
who keeps coming at you
the worst kind of flesh sludge
you’ve ever stared down
in this long
unsatisfying life.                                     10.12.11

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

poem of the day 02.05.14

poem in which i’m mad at the world

i’m mad
because it’s five o’clock in the morning
and i’m sitting here trying to make art
with the rest of brooklyn asleep
when i’m not even sure that i believe in art anymore

i’m mad at myself for feeling like that

and for drinking yesterday
when i said i wasn’t going to

but there was shit with the bank
shit with my parents
shit with my wife’s parents
shit with the refrigerator that i punched

there’s always shit that makes me mad

so i drank the poison on another sunday
and it felt great

so i’m mad at that
and this brutal winter
slipping in the snow and cracking a rib
falling in the shower and bruising my ass
catching a cold and staying up all night coughing
moaning over my ribs and ass

this winter needs to go the fuck away

like this government needs to go the fuck away
packs of privileged, splintered, whining rich diplomats
who’s forgotten the plight of the common man

i don’t even have enough room in this poem
to talk about how mad they make me

let’s just say i’m mad at america

for tossing people away like garbage
for bootstrap bullshit and runny egg dreams

i’m mad because i’m losing my mind
for eight hours a day five days a week
stuck doing nothing but counting
the months, the years, the decades until this ends

i wish i’d learned a trade instead
but what good what it do me in post-industrial america?

i’m mad because without this job
i’d be asking some asshole
do you want fries with that?
like millions of others have been forced to

i’m mad because here i’m considered
one of the lucky ones

i’m mad because i’m almost 40 years old
mad when i fall asleep at 9:30 on the couch
mad when friday night feels like a wake instead of a party

i’m mad because i’ve always hated parties

something about sitting at tables with more than four people
that always makes me feel like christ at the last supper

i’m mad that a 40th birthday
is something worth celebrating to begin with

you’re on your way down at 40
no matter what the self-help books and celebrities say
no matter how you think and feel

because all the good shit has come and gone
and the small pleasures you have now
have probably taken too long to arrive

if it were up to me they’d take us out
and shoot us once we hit the big 4-0

i know i’m ready are you?

but no one listens to me
when i tell them this

they think i’m being foolish
they say dumb shit like lighten up

which, of course, just makes me mad                           

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

poem of the day 02.04.14

the girl in the parking lot

i still think about her
from time to time

that chance
that “what if” girl

who pulled up right next to me
in that strip mall parking lot

while i was waiting for my girlfriend
to finish work at the dollar store

so that she could come out smelling like potpourri
so that my car could smell like potpourri
so that we could go back to her parents
and fight or secretly fuck in her bedroom

the scent of potpourri still choking me hours later
on the ride home

i still think about the girl in the parking lot
twenty years removed

sometimes she’s brunette
sometimes she’s a fiery redhead

oh, the way she just pulled right into that spot
cigarette in her mouth and another behind her ear
hair tussled like she’d just woken up

while i sat there on the hood of my car
my parent’s car, really
waiting for the dollar store lights to dim

dreading the scent of potpourri

there’s something about the way she leaned
out of her window that i’ll never forget
the way she said, gotta light?

and i had one if i never had anything else in this life

then watching her smoke just sitting there
the two of us in some unreal suburban strip mall
on a warm july night

with the dollar store lights still on
and my girlfriend running around fixing shelves

how she said, so, what do you do around here for fun?
how instead of showing her i shrugged and said, don’t know

because i had a girlfriend
because of july nights and the choking scent of potpourri
because i didn’t know what i wanted in this life
because i no longer had any conception of fun

i shrugged and said, don’t know
like a goddamned fool

continued to sit there on the hood of my car
my parent’s car

while she smoked her cigarette to a nub
before lighting the new one off of it

saying, that’s cool
before she started up her engine

saying, you take care now
as if she’d just said, get in

forget the girlfriend
forget the scent of potpourri
forget trying to find the fun in a humid night
and just come along

that girl in the parking lot
in the confusing summer of 1994

how i watched her taillights slide away from me
out onto  route 19 and then moving further and further
like the best thing in my life was going for a ride

and then the scent of potpourri and cigarette in the thick air
as i turned around to see my girlfriend
standing by the passenger side door

who smirked and said to me
you better not be smoking again.                                               

Monday, February 3, 2014

poem of the day 02.03.14

television sets in bars

friday afternoon
and we’re surrounded by cancer
yet this bar is no respite

there’s a television at one end of the bar
another directly across the room

they are playing this medical show
with some floppy haired doctor
telling everyone in earshot and beyond
that caramel coloring could give you cancer

i can’t even enjoy a beer because of this guy
because of the way the televisions echo in the bar
like we’re in a club full of old degenerates

i can’t even hear myself think, i tell my wife
then i start my shit where i just close off and sit there

i don’t know what i wanted
a quiet friday afternoon for me and the mrs.
to get drunk on beer and talk movies and books
forget cancer and this unforgiving winter

if only for a few hours

but now i got this doctor blaring in my ear
about carcinogenic gases from soda and from frying potatoes

maybe next he’ll talk about how the air
can give you cancer

i down my first pint
i have to get the out of here, i tell my wife

it’s these television sets in bars
they weren’t so bad when they were small and tubular
and hung off into the distance

now every joint has some sixty-inch monster
that we’re stuck with
that permeates every nuance of the moment

i feel like i’m in an electronics store instead of a pub
it’s background noise, my wife says
these people are used to it

it’s giving me an aneurysm,  i complain
while the floppy haired doctor tells us
how cleaning supplies can give you cancer too

he’s a smiling angel of death

he’s raising my ire
and this echo off the dueling televisions is raising my heart rate

i’m playing music, my wife says
because she’s better at salvaging things than i am

i grow too content with the rot and the decline

she gets up from the bar to slide dollars in the juke
she asks the bartender to turn the televisions down
and he acquiesces with glee

because maybe he was looking for an escape from this malaise

life is really that simple at moments, i think
even with it being cancer all the time

then it’s the opening of street fighting man
and another round of beer

old men are doing their best mick jagger
talking about the old times

it’s like we all woke up

on the television, the floppy haired doctor
is holding up an apple
that’s probably going to give us all cancer too

but we wouldn’t know it
because we can’t hear him

and ignorance like this
is finally bliss.