Friday, April 24, 2015

poem of the day 04.24.15 ....and Hiatus time.

the dance

when the
six day
work week
full of the usual
ends with you drunk
and dropping
a wine glass
on the shitty cracked floor
there’s nothing left
to do but scream
and dance
on the shards
in your bare feet
like you’re

Well...that's it from me...for a couple of weeks.  Gonna go off and see if i can still function like a human being in the so-called real world. As always thank you for reading, and i'll see you again on Monday, May 11th.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

poem of the day 04.23.15

alcoholics anonymous blues

knee deep
into my fourth vodka

i think about the man
this afternoon

whom i gave
the alcoholics anonymous
pamphlets to

wonder what he’s doing tonight
to kill the pain

shake the ice cubes in my glass
before killing the dream in one gulp

then rise for a fifth

as beethoven shits out
another masterpiece
on the old static radio.

AND.....something for Shakespeare's birthday.......

american high school tour group
at anne hathaway’s cottage

was only
when he
this twenty-six year old
and then
left here
for london
or something
banged all kinds
of chicks
in london
for all
of these
and then
the most
of all time.

i told you
fucking cool
or something



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

poem of the day 04.22.15

to the girl waving at me from
the passenger seat in a big black car

or at least i think it’s me
i see your hand and hair and little else

you could be anyone or no one

i have headphones on so i can’t tell
if you’re calling for me or not

i’ve had a long day
and the idea of saying something else to anyone
fills me with dread

and are you shouting, hey! hey!
or my nickname?

there’s a park full of people behind me
but none of them are waving back to you
so it must be me you’re calling for, right?

this is so unusual though
i haven’t had anyone call for me
from a car in a long time

twelve years in a city full of eight million
and i’ve managed to make no friends

except maybe you
whoever the hell you are
leaning over and screaming into the driver’s ear

your goddamned face blocked for posterity

in new york city
we’re surrounded by everyone

still it can be the loneliest place in the world

so maybe i should be glad someone has found me
wave back even if i’m not quite sure or don’t want to

make that connection

but before i do anything
the light changes and you’re gone

the music fills my ears again
the street comes alive with its usual nonsense

dogs barking and kids crying
some chick in leopard printed pants
reading her old man the riot act

and i think thank god
thank the ever-loving gods

that i’m alone with everyone


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

poem of the day 04.21.15

brooklyn says

sixty degree morning
in early april

the illusion of
a ray of hope
after the mournful winter

i open my window
to the sound
of jackhammers and rap bass

dogs barking
defecating on the wet pavement

some fat bitch
screaming into her cell phone
about who she’s going to kill

and as babies cry madness

i go back to bailing out
the clogged bathtub

pouring gray sudsy water
into the toilet and sink

singing an old tom petty song

as more noise
permeates the apartment

house alarms and car horns

i daydream serenity
a small informal peace

genocidal rainbows

as all of
brooklyn says
to me

fuck you

Monday, April 20, 2015

poem of the day 04.20.15

emmylou harris

when i turned thirty
i told my wife
when i turn forty
i’m going to start a punk band
with some old warriors
with teenagers and kids in their twenties
we’ll be the fuckheads
last night she reminded me
that was eleven years ago
i told her time flies like time flies
plus kids in their teens and twenties
are dull substitutes for humanity
they know everything
and they know nothing
they always have their heads buried
in some device made in china
plus i always hated punk music
and i never learned how to play guitar
but would if i could now
i wouldn’t start a band
the idea of collaboration is so foreign to me
i’d just want a bunch of yes men around
to carry out my ideas
my each and every whim
or maybe i’d go it completely alone
record my old man jingles on a computer
give emmylou harris a call
and have her sing background for me
like she did for dylan and neil
and practically everyone else
old emmylou has to be pushing seventy now
but i’ll bet her voice is like a fine wine
more refined than
some twentysomethings
who’d spend their breaks in the recording sessions
smoking e-cigarettes and texting
looking up videos
of people cracking each other in the nuts
instead of coming outside
to get high behind the trash bins
with the rest of the fuckheads
in the band.

and here's an old marijuana poem for you, dipshit, wherever you are:

the reluctant pot head

we told calvin that
phillies blunt cigars
came pre-made with marijuana

just like all the rappers smoked

he didn’t bat an eye
when we bought a pack
and lit them in his car

as we drove around suburban pittsburgh
listening to a 2pac cd

and when calvin finished his cigar
and acted fucked up

we acted fucked up too

because no one had the heart to tell him
that you couldn’t buy pot
over the counter in america

besides he was a natural born citizen
and none of us thought he’d believe us anyway
about the cigars

but when calvin said that he was
coming down from his high

we all acted like we were coming down too

and later on when one of us said,
dude, would you like another smoke?

we all understood it when calvin said,

nah, i don’t want to become an addict
all in one night.



Friday, April 17, 2015

poem of the day 04.17.15

overeaters anonymous

my mother loved me

she fed me dish after dish at dinner
a heaping of pasta in three rounds
another hot dog coming out of boiling water

she kept candy and cakes
and potato chips by the dozen

the media loved me

i loved twinkies by the bushel
and shooting globs of canned cheese in my mouth
while i sat there like jabba the hutt
watching copious amounts of television

sat their contented with my evening snack
a cream horn, a huge piece of cake
a bowl of popcorn just for me

as my old man walked through the living room
singing, wasting away again in sitcomville
to the tune of a jimmy buffett song

the corporate world loved me
stouffer’s pizzas and hot pockets galore
mcdonald’s commercials and not avoiding the noid

a cocktail of sugar, salt and fat being cooked up just for me
in labs all over this great land

i ate pop tarts for breakfast every morning
until the doctor caressed my stretch marks
and went wild with rage

i sucked the heinz ketchup packets
and finished everyone’s fries

i was beyond husky
i wore sweatpants out of necessity

and those faded jeans with elastic waists

ate meatball sandwich after meatball sandwich
after meatball sandwich at christmas

because baby jesus loved me

until i heard my aunt whisper
christ, look at what he’s doing to himself

the kids loved me

a girl at school whom i liked
called me jumbo john
me and jimmy jackson played duck duck cow

on saturday afternoons
while the other kids played outside

i stood in front of my parent’s mirror
i looked at my girth, at my obesity

then i punched myself in the stomach
over and over again until i could barely stand

slapped my face
until i had red welts all over

then went and hid in my room

because more than anyone else
in this beautiful and benevolent world

i loved me

only i couldn’t yet figure out
how to express it best.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

poem of the day 04.16.15


brian collected toys
batman and teenage mutant ninja turtles
that he kept in the packages

they excited him
filled a void that women
and lifting weights couldn’t fill

at least once a week
he’d park the delivery truck
and run into the toy store to grab
the latest star wars or sport figurine

brian’s hobby often made us late for deliveries

once we were two hours late
for a shipment of doors and windows
to this condo development

because brian wanted a spider-man doll
and we had to hit three stores before he could find it

the guys on the construction job wanted to kill us

the foreman got in brian’s face
and threatened to quit doing business with his old man

i had three big mothers on my ass
as i carried hundred pound doors to each new home
without trying to fall over

but when we got back in the truck
all brian could talk about was spider-man

his old man never said word
i was sure these foreman had to be calling to complain

the old man just sat in his office
listening to talk radio
getting his two slices of pepperoni per day
as brian sat in the warehouse fingering his new find

some of the guys said he was a special case
a suicide gone wrong
and the old man had to handle him with kid gloves

that didn’t help me
when construction guys were kicking at my ass
over a hobbit doll

i tried getting off the deliveries with brian
go out on calls with some of the guys from assembly
but i couldn’t put shit together

all i was good for was grunt work
and not even so good at that

i dropped my share of things
and couldn’t back-up the truck to save my life

so brian and i were stuck together
driving throughout greater buffalo
with talk radio and dunkin coffee breath

making foreman fume and wait
while he hunted down the next great find

bearded thor or darth vader with a helmet that came off

these fabulous toys that brian did nothing with
except put in his bedroom, he said

waiting for their value to increase
or for his old man to retire and give him the company

where the sky would be the limit
and it would be like christmas morning every day.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

poem of the day 04.15.15

he is (almost) risen

you can hear the chickens clucking
from inside the fresh slaughterhouse

and the people outside waiting are so calm
playing on cell phones and smoking cigarettes in line

the day before easter on a frigid april morning

i don’t know how this works
do they just go inside and pick out a chicken
send it off to the sacrifice?

i hate my shitty grocery store
but walking to work this morning
i feel a soft fondness for it

the chickens there are already dead and cut and quartered
taking all of the murder out of the meal for me

a block away i can still hear the chickens
only faintly underneath the sound of christian music
playing out inside the compound of
an emergency food pantry

there is a long line of people waiting there as well

a little less cell phone playing
a lot more cigarette smoking

the benevolent church ministers are walking
up and down the line
getting information from the people
and passing out pamphlets

reassuring them that they don’t have to attend services
in order to get some food

god loves each and all of us one and the same, they say

even the guy sleeping underneath his shopping cart
between the enterprise rent-a-car and the honda dealership

he will be risen!
one of the ministers shouts to the crowd
only no one claps or cheers

and on cue the christian music rises to a crescendo
covering the sounds of the chickens and the people

jesus christ with his dull perpetual life of holy servitude
as the rest of us live this way and that

driving fancy cars off of lots
walking to work or standing in long lines
with starving bellies

spending our single short lives in cages
in awe or disgust of that tired crucifixion

apathetic to the whole bloody mess

but always certain that the slaughter will come
and round out the blank spaces of another year.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

poem of the day 04.14.15


to the ones sitting in suburbs
leafing through yellowing film scripts

to the ones sitting in office meetings
with no desire left to draw or paint

to the ones stuck in traffic
reciting old lines of dialog from long dead plays

the lifelong admin assistant still hungering for the stage

to the ones too old to dance
or take their clothing off for salivating men

to the ones whose hands are too shaky
to make anyone’s body their canvas

to the ones whose guitars have become statues
resting in corners in their homes

the ones thinking about getting the band back together

to the ones who are still cooking that novel up
in their heads while teaching a writing class

to the ones who write poems like this
in cold bedrooms as they turn another year gray

to the ones meant for five star restaurants
instead of backyard barbecues on the fourth of july

those poor fools surrounded by cracked bowls and candle wax

to the ones the ghost of rodin has shunned
or the ones pasting pictures of chickens
next to images of the moon next to car crashes

to the ones blogging about their neighbors
instead of getting it down for the new york times

for the crafty mothers and fathers rushing their kids to daycare
bemoaning the passage of time

as the anti-heroes of  their youth
are being given the keys to the city
or having dinner with the president

to the ones too self-conscious to pull a rabbit out of their hat
and the ones who watch dull buildings being built

for the stained glass artists and the folk artists
and the quilters and cartoonists put out to pasture too

and to the ones for whom getting up
and simply getting through another day

has become their last
and only tangible piece of performance art

that anyone here will ever see.


Monday, April 13, 2015

poem of the day 04.13.15

spring is here

and the asshole
across the street
is on his porch again
blasting talk radio
with that big dumb dog of his
who barks all day and night

spring is here!

the sitting garbage smells like banana peels
coffee grounds and rotten eggs
and the people are stopping
in front of my window
to scream at their loved ones on cell phones
or to smoke cigarettes
stop and watch a video on youtube

spring is here!

all of the beautiful children
are riding their big wheels and bikes
up and down the street
crying when they fall off their scooters
while their parents pacify them with hand-held video games
and bruised fruit in freezer bags
having inane conversations
about their jobs and the weather

spring is here!

teenage boys are bouncing basketballs
and talking about pussy
teenage girls are singing pop songs about love
wearing next to nothing
before the weather truly breaks
the man with the buzz saw
is letting her rip before noon

spring is here!

there is rap bass and club music
permeating from freshly washed cars
millionaires are hitting baseballs again
and the loud tinkle of the ice cream truck
parked for eons at the top of the block
is sucking my will to live

spring is here!
you dumb son-of-a-bitches!
you slap-happy capitalists!

open your windows
turn up your blinds

like the asshole across the street
turns up his radio to block out his barking dog
he ruffles his ny post and scratches his ass
farts into the echo of a sun-bleached street
as the joggers jog in stiff spandex
cursing their luck
whenever they step in the fresh piles of shit
that litter the sidewalk

smears of excrement
that’ll be here all spring
until the summer comes and it gets too hot
for anyone to want to step outside for anything

least of all
to walk their fucking dogs.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

poem of the day 04.09.15

forty one

i’m thinking of being forty one
rather i’m thinking about turning twenty one
which was twenty years ago

tonight i’m thinking about you, mary
all of those years back

how you sat scowling on the couch
watching saturday night live at the stroke of midnight
while i downed my first legal beer
with such good friends that i no longer have them

how i knew right then and there that we were through

remember you kept it going the whole next day
the standard rainy april in pittsburgh

moaning and bitching through some will smith movie
that they’ve made endless sequels to

my birthday and i didn’t even want to see it

christ, twenty years ago
and hollywood is still making the same shit

will smith still has a million dollar movie career
as i sit here turning old and gray

trying to make something decent of myself

forty one
it doesn’t sound so bad unless you’re looking in a mirror

but, of course, you’re older now too, mary
married and not even living in america

imagine if we’d gotten hitched
like you wanted to all of those years ago
when you connected our names in your notebooks

imagine the misery as i have

some suburban prison home
soulless jobs and passionless sex
two dumbass kids and a dvd shelf full of will smith movies

i hope you’re happy like i am that we got out

it’s been twenty years since we’ve seen each other
not even social networking
can fix what we’d damaged back then

what we never really had

mary, i try to think of you turning forty one too
i try to think of you happy when you were a girl

but all i ever remember
is the fight we had after that movie

some dumb argument over 2pac and rush
on the way to meet my family for my birthday dinner
a disagreement that escalated into madness

you told me i crossed a line
when i told you i’d rather have fucked a prostitute
than lost my virginity to you at nineteen

yet you still hung around for another seven months

ah, mary, the girlfriend of my youth
what can i say now but i’m sorry?

that i remember you fondly
sitting there crying in the car
the whole way to dinner

mary frozen in time at twenty years old

the first woman of many
who ever made me say out loud

jesus christ, i need a drink.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

poem of the day 04.08.15

here is where we all begin again

right here
in this bar that we’ve been avoiding for months
there were so many good times
there have been hours lost in the drink
that i don’t mind getting back
on a saturday afternoon that’s too cold for late march
the last two seats at the bar
motown playing like a portent of good things to come
a half block of rubble two blocks away
two dead bodies that they haven’t found yet
but will have by the night
when we’re already home and working on the wine
right here
with seth at the end of the bar pouring pints
for the same people that were sitting statues the last time we left
here is where the pieces fall into place
and years can slip back into common, tangible moments
here is where the storm ends and the sun comes out
another new york city story
another tragedy reaching for the light
two pints of dark beer
and a basket of greasy popcorn
seth now pouring us two chilled vodka shots as payment
for talking our ears off about his ex-girlfriend
just like he did all summer
when we and cancer came in here incognito
to hear his tales of woe and to forget our own
before we forgot here
right fucking here
with the neon reflecting red off the faces
of young women too dumb on their cell phones to notice
that right here
right in this moment
is where we rise
where we all begin again


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

poem of the day 04.07.15

mammogram after

it’s a shit morning in january
bright but it might be ten degrees out
i’m sitting on the edge of the coffee table
already dressed in my coat and hat
sweating as the radiator clinks
my wife is running around
she’s still getting herself together
we’ve made a pact not to talk
at least not until we’ve left the apartment
hoping maybe cooler heads will prevail
it’s the morning of the mammogramafter
the mammogram that sent us spinning
into six months of surgery, radiation
chemo threats, and a shitload of tears
i feel like we just got out of one war
and we’re about to enter another
really, we haven’t gotten out of anything
we get momentary reprieves in between doctor visits
i think i should be strong, positive
any other man would be strong on a morning like this
say something calming, soothing
say i’m sorry i’m not being there for you like i should
but i’m running scared and not moving
i’d hide underneath the couch if i could fit
i’ve run out of so many comforting words
that i’m going to have to start coming up with new ones soon
and my wife has heard more apologies from me for my negligence
then she’ll ever need in this lifetime
so i sit there on the edge of the coffee table
feeling bad for myself and only myself
dully watching our old, blind cat roam around the living room
in that same pattern that drives me nuts
take my hat off and wipe the sweat from my brow
as my wife comes in the room
with that ubiquitous blue medical folder in her hands
and says to me, you ready?
so quietly that it sounds like a bomb.


Monday, April 6, 2015

poem of the day 04.06.15

ass walk

it was the first
beautiful day in months
and i was walking down 5th avenue
with brahms on my magic music machine
behind this woman with an amazing ass
thinking, well, i love my wife
and the spring and brahms
and women with wonderful backsides
she was moving too quickly for me to pass her
she was moving too slowly for me to fall back
so i had no choice but to walk in the spring sun
letting brooklyn and brahms
and her wonderful rear end
bathe me in the celestial light of a thursday morning

it didn’t even matter that i had to go to work

but coming in the other direction
was some shit with his pants down to his ankles
his hat on backwards and big headphones
attached to his thick skull
he was such a dull, common pound of flesh
manufactured in sweating bedrooms by the dozen
i could see him staring at the woman in front of me
he had that salivating look of entitlement on his face
when the three of us clashed
he leaned in and said something that made the woman flinch
but she kept going
when he passed her he turned and checked her out from behind
shouting, damn! over my brahms and the sound of car horns

we made eye contact and he pointed at the woman’s ass
he said, yo do you see that shit?
like she was some great catch in centerfield
or a super bowl touchdown

we brothers in arms

when he was gone i kept going for a couple of blocks
letting the woman get further and further ahead
until i grew sick of myself and the world anew
and turned down another, dirty city street.


Friday, April 3, 2015

poem of the day 04.03.15

good friday

i used to drink in a bar
that was open at 9 a.m. year round

you’d find men in there
well, mostly men
sucking up the suds on thanksgiving and christmas

they looked happier than anyone i’d ever seen
shoving hunks of dry turkey or greasy christmas ham
down their throats with their sullen families

it was a good place
if you could tolerate some bullshit
and the arbitrary conversation here and there

like i said, the place was never closed

except good friday
the bar was closed from twelve to three

the bartender kicked the drunks out
so they could go and cleanse themselves in church
mumbling along to the passion of the christ
with the other hoodwinked

but around two-thirty
they’d all start to congregate

third shifters and unemployment boys
drunk dads and retired old farts

mona, who fucked everyone in the bar
but her boyfriend, benny

a convention of the neighborhood’s saints
shaking in their faded beer buzz

waiting in the gray
for the miller light sign to come back on
red and illuminated

and the wooden door to click open
like the pearly gates of heaven.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

poem of the day 04.02.15

vanity fair

the poet
had a display for her new book
up at the old squirrel hill barnes & noble

but that wasn’t enough for her

she found me working the circulation desk
in the midst of another hangover

contemplating my fourteen thousand a year salary
and the fact that no one wanted my writing

she said, there’s a display in the lobby
for black history month

okay, i said

i knew the poet from seeing her around campus
back when i went there and thought that college
meant that you’d amount to something in life

other than being a guy with a hangover
working the circulation desk for 14K a year

she said, where’s my book?
you have all of the usual suspects in there
baldwin, hughes, dubois, wright, douglas, and ellison

all men, she said

if you look closely, i said,
i think there’s some rita dove

the poet said, that’s not the point
the point is i’m a woman, a black woman

i’m an artist in this city and a teacher
i do readings, i sit on committees

i’ve written three books in twenty years
and none of them are in your display

i want to know what
you’re going to do about this?
the poet asked me

i shrugged
i said, lady, i think you’re overvaluing
my place in this institution

they check my bag when i leave here
to make sure that i don’t steal anything

oh please, the poet said
because she wasn’t buying my oppression

i wanted to tell her all about hangovers
and fourteen thousand a year
rejection letters and manuscripts fit to burn

but  she said, well, something has to be done about this

i said, why don’t you go
up to the barnes & noble
stare at the display of your book for a few hours

maybe that’ll help

the poet rolled her eyes
she said, this isn’t finished

then she stormed out of the library
into the bright cold of an early february afternoon

to go and teach people
how to become poets just like her

while i stood there and checked my wallet
found that i had three dollars left

almost screamed out hallelujah
then wondered what it was i’d do for lunch.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

poem of the day 04.01.15

the drum teacher

had me as his first student
at nine in the morning
after a friday night of gigging

his eyes were bloodshot when they were open
and he smelt of cigarettes and beer
which made me think of my grandfather

he never took off his newsboy cap
and his ginger goatee always had egg in it

when he asked me
why i wanted to learn how to play the drums
and i said, because of micky dolenz
he said, awwww, man, then slumped into his seat

the drum teacher had me do beats
on this piece of shit kit in a cramped room

i did fourths, eighths, sixteenths, whatever

when i stopped drumming
the man was still bobbing his head with his eyes closed
saying, yeah, man, yeah
to some great gig in his mind

i let him ride out the fantasy
thinking that this wasn’t anything like being on the monkees

the drum teacher excused himself a lot
maybe three or four time in an hour

he told me to hit the skins while he was gone
but i just sat there thinking about all of the girls
who would like me when i could play

i should’ve been out in the cold
jogging my fat ass down a size or three

the drum teacher sold me a pad and two sticks
so that i could practice at home during the week

i tried it once or twice
but the pad mostly sat on the floor
and the sticks, my brother and i used to sword fight with

i watched the monkees on rerun instead

the last time i went for a lesson
the old man and i sat in the car, waiting

we saw the drum teacher come staggering down the street

christ, my old man said,
he looks like some of the guys i used to loaf with,
as the drum teacher tried opening a door to the wrong store

he shouted, fuck it, before going to get a cup of coffee

i think i want to quit, i said
me who’d quit baseball, football and pretty much everything else

usually my old man rode me
for wasting money that we didn’t have
for not following through

but as the drum teacher came out of the coffee shop
trying the wrong damn door again
shaking it and shaking it with a passion
he’d never exhibited in two months of lesson

my old man just nodded
and turned on the ignition

and we waited for our old car to warm up
as the drum teacher stood waiting
for the wrong store to open

fumbling in the cold to light a bent cigarette