Wednesday, July 30, 2008

poemS of the day 07.30.08

girl in the blue dress

she is tan with long brown hair
she is walking through
the atlantic avenue station
in a blue dress that cuts
jagged and left
the top has only thin straps
and she is not wearing a bra
she has on these celebrity-style
so that you cannot see her eyes
you do not want to see her eyes
because it ruins the illusion.
and she is walking so slowly
men are stopping
men are turning 180s to get a look
some are screaming things at her
trying to peer into her soul
or at least look at her nipples
she does not pick up the pace
she is deadly and deliberate
other women hate her
one man declares his love
another asks her how much for it
she doesn’t answer
i watch her go down the steps
my steps
and on the train platform
it is the same thing
cattle calls as she moves slowly
down the aisle
the world in her palm
the world ripping her apart
and when she gets on the next d train
two more guys slap each other’s chest
and speculate about her bedroom prowess
then they look at me and smile and wink
and i think that the world
will never be ready for anything
beauty, madness, or death
then i get on my train
to go the hell home.

chopin’s heart

chopin’s heart
is nestled in a column
in the holy cross church
in warsaw, poland,
bathed in alcohol.
and the scientists
want to pull it out
and cut into the flesh
and do dna testing
to find out if freddie
had cystic fibrosis
instead of the tuberculosis
everyone thought he had.

we seem to never stop
testing our technological
becoming less human in
the process.
and while i guess it is good
that there’s a public interest
in chopin again,
a want for insight,
perhaps those scientists
should simply listen
to the man’s music
instead of piercing
a piece of flesh
all of their talents
and combined knowledge
could never surmount.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

poem of the day 07.29.08

i must attract them

i get the nuts
the lunatics on trains
who pound on walls and laugh
at nothing.
i get the staggering fools
the slobbering messes
in need of a buck.
if there is one person
who cannot shut up
in the grocery line
or waiting for the doctor
i will be the asshole
standing behind them
or sitting by their side.
i even get the crazed
conspiracy theorists
in the library
disputing darwin
and telling me we never
landed on the moon.
i honestly don’t know how
this has all come about.
me and all these madmen.
my wife says that i’m too nice.
that’s fine.
i just think that i’ve run out
of a certain kind of luck.
the kind that let’s everyone else
get through the day untouched
leaving them to eat
and watch the television blankly
while i suffer fools
and drown in night sweats
and tear at my sheets
like i’m ripping open new flesh,
dreaming the debauched
thinking they can smell
the decay of the mind
on me, as we fester in insanity
and the city’s heat.

Monday, July 28, 2008

poem of the day 07.28.08


i wonder what is worse
sitting at this desk
and fielding questions from the dead
as children run around
wasting the best years of their lives
on video games
and virtual second lives,
or the years that i spent in the
employment wilderness
hauling windows and doors in the buffalo cold
hauling cases of wine and scotch
for an overweight, micro-managing maniac
hauling used toys in a warehouse full
of black mold
pulling out paper clips for eight hours a day
while reading pieces of harold norse
on the shitter
xeroxing invoices, xeroxing receipts
in this squat, hellish building
trapped in the snow-covered suburbs
processing books and magazines
under ultra-violet lights.
murdering myself in so many places.
which has killed me more?

and my wife,
she writes me to say that she feels
we’re disconnected.
i tell her it is the week at hand beating
on the both of us.
it is the summer heat and no vacation for a year,
the ominous fact that we are both
desk jockeying away our time to public service.
but i don’t know.
maybe it is something else,
some kind of trap we’ve both been shoved into
for forty-hours a week
for 50 weeks a year
for four walls and a roof
for a steady check and the occasional
restaurant meal
for the same dead smiles the rest of them have.
maybe we’ve just come to expect
the runny shit aspects of life.

but still
it hurts to read that she feels distant from me.
i feel like i want to save her
yet i’ve found no plausible way
to save myself.
so, therefore, i guess i’ve failed overall
in some respects.
and i am used to failure as a matter of course.
but in some other respects, i think
it’s only a matter of time
until i take her hand
and we drop out for sure to walk and hit the road
like whitman’s naked children
and i will laugh as she explains the sunset
and she will smile when i show her the sea
and no one will feel any disconnect
and no one will need a drink or ten minutes alone
to let the work day go
or to prepare the body for the impact
of the next.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Poem of the Day 07.26.08

my soul is singed and the day
is a cheap investment that never
reaps any returns

we wonder if the lead singers
in our favorite unsigned band
are bankers in their spare time
or if the drummer is stuck all day
in the murder of a cubicle.
they are probably all unemployed
i say
or they are hedge fund babies.
it’s the only way they could make
the kind of upbeat music that they do.
no job or no worries.
if it were me, i’d probably write a dirge
or a blues.
i’d write a symphony with no
middle or end
or i’d skip the music and move
to florida
to drink daiquiris
and pretend that i was hemingway
in key west bars.
she laughs at this and we walk on,
watching the homeless pick through garbage
and left over beer bottles
while fools wait at green lights
or drink coffee at bus stops
and the plastic owl hanging in the
junkyard by the overpass
finally turns its head to the left
because it can’t bear to watch the next
piss on itself and call a truce
with the day
before it really gets going on this block.
then we talk about
and something else happens

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poems of the Day 07.25.08

these two were just accepted by the Kennesaw Review. And even though I know you are all avid readers of it, i decided to post them here anyway:

san francisco, 2004

in vesuvio’s
we drank with kerouac
and hoisted pints
of anchor steam
with the ghost
of james joyce,
who i’m not even sure
was ever in san francisco.
this was after we snuck
our books of poetry
into city lights,
and i bought a knut hamsun
but i believe this
before we got into
a pointless argument
on green street,
and maybe it was
the day before
that we fucked like
animals in
the hotel room
as trolleys belled
on powell street.
later on we would look
at the pacific ocean
one last time,
and then take a walk through
when it was empty.
of course this all happened
three days after we left
and a good three months
after we got married,
which just makes
san francisco the icing on
the cake
in a peaceful year
sandwiched between two
pretty shitty ones.


one of the cats is laying
on the floor next to me
she has vomited four times this morning.
i took away her food
but then she just vomited up the water.
everything she puts in
comes out her mouth in chunks.
everything i put in my mouth
comes out my ass in burning swirls.
and it is 90 degrees again
in new york.
the cat and i are both suffering
only we don’t know why.
she has the vomiting spells for days
and i have the shits for days
and the back and neck pain
the shoulder pain
and the left chest and arm pains
that burn and get tight
whenever i get tense.
i’m thinking about death again
is it soon or sweet or sour?
i’m thinking about quitting the job
quitting the apartment
taking the wife and both cats with me,
and just walking america stress free
like modern nomads.
but i will probably do none of it.
i’ll just sit here drinking rum with iced tea
at 9:30 in the morning
until it is time for the afternoon shift.
and i will probably clean up
another mess made by the cat before i leave,
get nervous about it and tense.
i’m afraid she will die more than
my own demise.
and i will think these pains in the chest
will lead to my death,
and i imagine my wife coming home
to find us both in a pool of bile and hell
we are both suffering here, this cat and i
we are all suffering
but there is no one to complain to.
no one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Poem of the Day 07.24.08


there is so little
left of me
to get up
i feel as though i am
scattered like birds
being kicked around
on the pavement.
everywhere i turn
i see another piece
of me
another poem
in another journal
on a web site
another memory
lost to art.
and if this is the way
i end
then it should be.
after all
i worked for it.
i am too tired
to stir things up
attempt something new
at least i am right now.
all the poems written
seem like drivel to me.
all the world is sadness.
and i am sitting here
talking a child
through her boredom
thinking it’ll be
three days
until i can drink
the wine of the gods
and get myself
a little taste of life
in this wretched
you philistines
call july.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

poem of the day 07.23.08


we sit in the heat
the beer gone
awaiting madness.
the beer had done us
no good anyway.
then i rise.
i got to the refrigerator for water.
the fridge doesn’t
feel cold enough
but in this heat
cold is something
i believe
i can no longer understand.
but still
i take the water out
and place it on the counter
then i put my ear
to the side of the fridge
letting the cool
beaded plastic touch my face.
i listen for the motor
as sweat rolls
into my eyes.
i’m convinced this machine
is dead
and $200 in food will spoil.
i lean heavier into the fridge,
treat it like i’m listening
to a bad heart.
then the fridge kicks on
and i smile like a manic scientist
although i’ve done nothing.
when i look up
my wife is standing there
watching me,
pouring a glass of water.
she looks at me like she
finally understand madness
and me,
i feel like i’ve done it
and finally gone
completely mad.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

poem of the day 07.22.08

children’s stories by hemingway

and then the seven year-old
came over to my desk.
what are you doing? she asked.
nothing, i answered, even though
i was sitting there thinking how bad
most other writers are.
i have to write a story using
my spelling words, she said.
what are the words?
can you help me?
yes, i said. we’ll do it like hemingway.
you’re crazy.
yes, and here is the first line.
she grabbed a pencil.
it was daytime.
a butterfly was in the sky.
i was in the park with my grandparent.
we were having breakfast.
it was a cupcake.
how’s that? i asked.
the seven year-old wrinkled
her brow.
that’s a story?
no, that’s a good story.
it’s solid.
like hemingway would do it.
i don’t think my teacher knows
hemingway, she said.
then your teacher should hang it
up, i said.
then the seven year-old grabbed
her math book.
now, we have to do my math, she said.
okay, i answered.
who’re we going to do my math like?
you ever heard of pathagorous, kid?

Monday, July 21, 2008

...this is just where i came in.

i have this silly little thing that i do. i like to read blogs that piss me off. not a ton of them. well, i read one in particular that i can't stand. i won't get into specifics except to say that i used to work with this person for a brief period of time, and she is one of those new age types who is a radical vegan, listens to trendy music, thinks she's better than everyone because she bikes and hikes, is a wine snob, reads popular, topical books, uses hip hop slang, and belongs to one of those hippie communal churches that maintain no set beliefs other than "spirituality." I don't know why i read this blog. I don't even dislike this person. i do dislike everything about her. but the blog gets a rise in me. it's like....have you ever caused yourself a modicum of physical pain because i felt good. say, pressing your toe really hard into a hardwood floor. it hurts but you keep doing it. this is what it is like reading this woman's blog. it is like causing yourself personal pain, but doing it over and over again for some masochistic reason that the subcockles of your mind haven't quite worked themselves around. the sad thing is, i can't get one fucking person to read this blog. but i'm a dedicated reader of hers. i can't stop. i take in every sip of expensive wine she lists, every vegan casserole she bakes, and every frishizzle she puts in quotes. and i like it. like slamming my head slowly off a wall.

think my death scare might be over. for those of you who don't know, i spent the better part of june and early july thinking i was having a heart attack. not every day, but about once a week or so i was getting these tight pains in my chest that would get worse because, thinking i was having a heart attack, i would go into total panic mode. the funny thing: every time my chest would hurt and i would clutch it, i would think of Redd Foxx and his Sandford character and every time he clutched his chest to say he was having a heart attack...the big one, as he called it. it's nice to know i can find some humor in my possible demise.

the truth in all of this is two fold. 1) i'm accident prone, and after a night out of beers and such, i managed to fall out of bed, get up, fall again, this time slamming my left shoulder into my dresser, while my right bicept slammed into a chair. 2) i don't eat a lot of fattening food, but i am a sucker for the hot and spicy. so my diet tends to consist of anything covered in hot picante sauce or garlic. what happens, if you have a diet like this, is that your body eventually says "fuck you." and you get a ton of gas you can't control. so you take wounded muscles and a bad digestive sytem, like mine, and you end up with world class heart attack least according to my doctor who did a bunch of heart tests and came up with nothing. so he took me off spicy foods and stuff like pizza (which i've managed begrudgingly), and booze (which i failed at after 3 days of madness and torture), and i thankfully haven't had a chest pain in over a week, not since last sunday when i got all worked up and almost punched my neighbor who was blasting shitty mary j. blige music up and down bay ridge parkway for all of us to hear.

saw Batman...i mean, The Dark Knight. Loved it. couldn't ask for anything more from the film. my only issue is that it was a bit bloated. that said, i'm concerned for the future of the franchise. not liking many movies, i want to keep the ones going that i do like. But it seems to me that Christopher Nolan shot his wad with this film. I finished watching the Dark Knight, and while I was excited, ignoring a nearly 95 degree NYC day as the wife and i excitedly walked down 2nd Avenue, and began immediately worrying that this would be the last good film in the series. where do they go from here? replace Ledger? no. The riddler? The penguin? catwoman or poison ivy. Mr. Freeze. no. no. no. and no. If they continue making these Bale batman movies, please go to the new comics and use someone like Hush. we need a villian who can stay within the adult-oriented tone of the film. or just stop now.

Lastly, i don't get out much. But i'm going this thursday to Connolly's near the wretched epicenter of hell (times square) to see my favorite band, The Icewagon Flu, play. The Flu are simply a fun and engaging band and over the years have increased about 3-fold musically. It'll be a good time. I also like the Flu because when i first moved to NYC in 2003, everything was shitty. I missed pittsburgh. I felt like i was a fraud because i talked a good game about leaving but then i was like a scared child. i pushed old people on the subway. i was drinking too much.

One night we were invited, Ally and i, to see the Flu play at a place called Paddy O'Briens. Well, before we left i was acting like a prick, made ally mad, and stormed off to the local publican where i had about 4 beers as my old hometown Pittsburgh Pirates played the Mets. when i finally got home and admitted what a douche i was, Ally and i went over to the city to meet our friend Dan and see the Icewagon Flu. Even though the beers in that joint were $6 a draft, i had a great time sitting back and hanging out as the Flu played and dance around, and made geniuses and jokers of themselves. I was, in a sense, having my first good time in NYC since the move. And whenever i see or listen to the Icewagon Flu, i still get that vibe. So i'll be at connolly's having a pint or 5 on thursday night.

Poem of the day 07.21.08


judy said she had a tattoo
of calvin and hobbes
on each ass cheek
and she had dirty blonde
hair and almond eyes
that looked at you, pierced you
in a way that said you could
really learn to understand
each other when you weren’t
too busy fucking.
when she spoke she said
stupid things, but who didn’t.
she said things like
we really see eye to eye
and aren’t weddings the best
or beer will make me fat.
and when you took judy
on the dance floor
she laughed every single time
you dipped her
and when i pulled her close
she breathed heavily on my shoulder
that is, until my friend, colby, cut in.
judy came to the wedding with colby,
and afterwards he was going
to take her to a hotel and fuck her
in order to get back at his girlfriend
for getting pregnant.
i’d forgotten that part.
i really wanted judy
but colby was like family
and he said isn’t she the kind
of woman your friend should really be dating
and how could i argue with that?
but more than everything else
judy could nuzzle a man under
his ear just right,
and she was a master
at playing one fool off another one.
her kisses tasted like roses
and hell, after all of these years
i wonder where judy is
on this ugly earth tonight.

Friday, July 18, 2008

poem of the day 07.18.08

gates of hell

i get off the subway
i get off into hell
with the new york city weather
hitting ninety
and the smell of garbage
and human shit
and madmen already huddled under
dark awnings
with quarts of beer
and nothing but time on their hands.

on the corner of nostrand and president
there is a woman passed out
on her side by the curb.
she is wearing a purple blouse
a flowing black dress
and her legs are crossed as if
the world is nothing but hers
and casual.

maybe she is drunk.
maybe she is debauched beyond repair.
maybe she is dead.

people are walking by her
stepping over her to go to work
or into a bodega.
i am thinking about li po
and my high cholesterol
how i’m not making it
and the taste of a tall boy of natural ice
that my doctor told me not
to have.
i am sorry to say this
but the woman is circumstantial to me
while caught in the cusp
of my little world.

and when someone finally stops
and calls to the cops at the corner
to come and check the victim out
and the cops move slow as cops do
as if they didn’t choose their own death,
their conversation about
nfl training camps suspended for
the moment
i see firsthand the kind of company
that i’m starting to keep.

the cop and i make eye contact.
we are two white men in the
black brooklyn neighborhood
on a hot, endless july day.
he rolls his eyes at me and smiles,
saunters off toward the woman
who is still comatose on the concrete
while i stop at a red light
waiting calmly to cross
another of hell’s streets
off toward fate
collecting beads of sweat on my tongue,
looking down the next block
toward my crooked, stinking

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Poem of the Day 07.17.08


thirty-four years old
i sit in the bar alone
with three dollars left
enough for another draft
but not enough to tip
the bartender
for his work.
another poem accepted
another rejected, too,
and apparently the novel
is just too sprawling
for one agent.
thirty-four years old
i sit in the bar alone
waiting for you
as bad jazz fusion plays
on the juke
and the world’s news
is muted
by the television
and by the mad drunks
all shouting about their days
at the bar,
as the bartender laughs
and pours someone another


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Short Story of the day 07.16.08

The Glass Apartment

They put up this glass apartment building right across the street from Grand Army Plaza. It was probably fifteen stories. I thought it looked like an eyesore, a big, erect penis waving toward the future in otherwise brownstone and brick Brooklyn. But Kat liked it. The place came recommended by her assistant, Denny. And since it was her choice to live there, I was keeping my mouth shut about the place. I liked Kat. We hadn’t been dating too long, maybe three months, and I didn’t want to ruin it with my big mouth. My big mouth ruined a lot of relationships. Plus Kat was a great fuck and she made decent money as a publicist in Manhattan. I was a librarian with a studio apartment. I didn’t want to give the sex and money up either.
“What’s the rent?” Kat asked the broker as we walked through the place. It was open and wide, like a loft with undefined rooms.
“He’s asking twenty-five hundred.”
“Does that include utilities?” I asked. I looked toward one of the glass panels. You could see a lot of Brooklyn, and beyond.
“Includes heat.”
“What about these windows? Can people see in?”
Kat gave me a look.
The broker smiled. “Only if you want them to. This building is designed with a simple voyeuristic ideal. They are all over Manhattan now. Basically if you want people to see your lifestyle, you can let them. The designers want people to see your lifestyle. They want people to be envious. It’s the wave of the future. However, there is a switch that tints the windows and doesn’t allow anyone to view inside.”
“Sounds disturbing,” I said. And there went my big mouth.
“I’ll take it,” Kat said.
Again the broker smiled. “Great. Let’s just head back to the office, and we’ll get the paperwork going.”
Two weeks later I helped Kat move in. It wasn’t hard. The building had a wide foyer and large elevators made to haul couches and furniture. The apartment was actually nice, too. I mean it was all glass, but there wasn’t a glare and there wasn’t the feeling of reflected heat. It had central air, which Kat turned down. The place was actually too cold.
“So what do you think?” Kat asked. She was sitting on the edge of her couch, her blonde hair tousled, hanging just above the shoulder.
“It’s nice,” I said.
“You don’t like it?”
“I feel observed.”
Kat got off the couch and went over toward a glass panel that served as the window. She hit a button. Nothing changed inside. “That’s the tinter. You hit it, and people outside can’t see what’s going on inside.”
“That’s a good thing,” I said, going over to her. I grabbed Kat and kissed her long and hard. The sun was setting over Brooklyn.
“Don’t you want to shower first?” she asked.
When I awoke the next morning, there was a note slipped underneath the door. It read:
Great show, guys! Any chance for an encore?
Then Kat came out of the bedroom. She had no clothing on.
“For Christsakes,” I said. “Cover up.”
“The window is tinted.”
“In here.” I pointed toward a long, sheer, white drape that served to distinguish the bedroom from the living room. “That room wasn’t tinted last night.”
“How do you know?”
I handed Kat the note.
She blushed and then laughed. “Whoops.”
“That’s all you can say?” I asked.
“What’s done is done,” Kat said. Then she kissed me. “Don’t sweat it. So we’re good at what we do.”
“But why didn’t that panel tint?”
She shrugged. “Maybe it has a different tinter.” Kat began walking away from me, toward the bathroom. “Don’t worry, I’ll check it.”
Work was long and hard. It was amazing how busy a library got. Everyone had questions that needed answering. I felt like a knowledge whore.
When I got done at work, I took the 3 Train over to Grand Army Plaza. I stopped at a liquor store and picked up three bottles of decent French red with money Kat gave me. When I got to Kat’s she wasn’t home yet. I scanned the apartment. I hit the tinter in the living room and then checked the bedroom. It’s not that I didn’t trust Kat; I just wanted to check for myself. I felt-up the wall but there was no button to tint the room. Then I heard the door unlock.
“Hello, sexy,” Kat said entering the apartment.
“There’s no tinter,” I said, coming into the main area.
“I know.” She put her bag down. “I asked the super and he said the window should’ve naturally tinted along with the living room.
“If that even did.”
“It works,” Kat said. “I saw from outside.”
“Couldn’t see a thing?”
Then Kat smiled and came over to me. “We can be as kinky as we want to be, tonight.”
“We just have to do it in here.”
Kat kissed me hard on the mouth. I didn’t care who saw.
When I woke the next morning my head was beating. It was too hot in Brooklyn, and I’d had too much wine last night. I went into the kitchen for aspirin and a glass of water. There was another note slipped under the door. It read:
Next time massage the tits more when you have her up against the glass.
I took the note into the bedroom. Kat was up.
“We got another one,” I said. I handed her the note.
Kat smiled as she read it. “I can’t figure this out.”
“So the tinter doesn’t work in the living room now, either?”
“I saw it from outside. It does,” Kat said. “You didn’t touch it, did you?”
“Why would I?”
“I don’t know.” Then she laughed. “You really should’ve massaged my tits more last night.”
“I know,” I said. “But I hate being coached.”
Then I went to work again. It was torture. Someone wanted to know about New York State taxes, and I just about died. Why didn’t anyone ask about anything good or decent, anymore?
When I got to Kat’s there was another note. It read:
Take her from behind.
“What do you make of this?” I asked Kat.
Kat glanced at the note then had a slug from her wine. “I think he or she wants you to take me from behind.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
“That’s a shame.”
“Come on, quit being strange about this,” I said.
Kat shrugged. She got us more wine. “What should I do? Sit here like a prisoner? Not fuck?”
“No. But this isn’t right.”
“You pay for the lifestyle.”
“For how long?”
And then that night I took Kat from behind up against the glass of the living room. She seemed to be more into it than usual. She moaned a lot. She came more than usual. She even let me put a finger up her ass.
“That was amazing,” she said, after we were done. The two of us were leaning against the glass, naked. We had more wine.
“Was the tinter on?” I asked.
“As if it matters.”
When I woke up the next morning there was a fourth note slipped underneath the door. It read:
You’re getting there. But you need one last lesson. Meet me at the arch at eight.
“Let me guess,” Kat said, coming out of the bedroom. “Another note.”
“I’m getting sick of this guy,” I said, handing Kat the note.
She read it. “Are you going to meet him?”
“It’ll ruin it.”
“Ruin what?”
Kat smiled. “Don’t tell me you’re not turned on.”
“I couldn’t be less turned on. It scares me that you are.”
“It’s interesting.”
“It’s fucked up. And if this is what the world is coming to, glass houses, voyeurism at any hour, I don’t want any part of it.”
“What can you do?” Kat asked.
“Nip this shit in the bud, tonight.”
Man, I was blood thirsty at work. I didn’t want to answer a single question. When people came up I growled at them. Then I took the 3 train back to Grand Army Plaza. I didn’t go to Kat’s. Instead I walked down Flatbush and had a few beers at Rooney’s. I thought a lot about meeting our voyeur and what I would say and do. I thought a lot but I really had nothing. Then I got up and left.
It was nearly eight but there was no one at the arch in Grand Army Plaza. It looked around. It was just me. Then I looked over toward Kat’s building. I looked at her floor and I found her apartment. Everything was illuminated. Then I saw Kat. She came to the window naked. Behind her was a guy. He was bald but had decent build. He was naked too. Then another woman came into view. She was thin and brunette with straight bangs and hair that went just below her ears.
The three of them stood there for a minute. Then the guy grabbed Kat and kissed her hard on the lips. He massaged her breasts and then got behind her. Kat bent a little bit. She waved but I don’t think she was really waving at me. The other woman got between Kat and the guy then she kneeled. The guy reached an arm up and touched the tinter. Soon the window panel got black and you couldn’t see anything but a faint, dim light, and shadows undulating against the moon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

a short story

this is currently up for a small prize consideration on chris o'shea's wonderful blog

A Midday Snack

He was confused. His chest felt tight when he got up. He grabbed his empty wallet. “That fucking whore,” he said. He went to the bathroom to vomit, but noticed that the bowl was already full of brown water. “What the shit?” he said, looking at it. But then the gusher of pain came. He leaned over the sink and let her rip. He could feel the chest tighten worse with each thrust. “That fucking whore,” he moaned in between each session of vomiting. It was like a mantra. Whore. When he was done, he looked at himself in the mirror. His hair was greasy. His teeth were yellow. He hadn’t shaved in weeks. He was probably dying. Whore. Whore. Whore. But this time it didn’t help change things.

Then he went into the living room. The television set was on, and some blonde noon anchor was reading the horror off a teleprompter. He stood and watched the television. He liked the noon newscaster. Many times he spent the lunch hour jerking off to her while she read each tragedy and success in the region. Such was life. Today, he felt a small tingle for her, but she’d have to wait. He moved a few paces away. Saw the green glass of the scotch bottle, smiled, and staggered over to it.

But the goddamned thing was empty. Next to the bottle was a note:

Dear Pigfucker,

That’s the last time you get drunk and call me a whore. If you want your scotch, it’s in the bathroom, mixing with the toilet water in the bowl.

He read the note again. Fucking whore, he thought.

Then he grabbed the empty bottle. He went into the bathroom. He looked at the sink full of his vomit, and the toilet bowl, stagnant, cold and brown. He sighed. He felt his chest tighten. Then he leaned over the bowl with the scotch bottle, put it in, and tried humming a song while the bottle filled all the way to the top. At least the bitch hadn’t flushed it down, he thought.

Monday, July 14, 2008

poems of the day 07.14.08

the sheriff

i am trying not to drink
doctor’s orders,
but i came home last evening
and some asshole was blasting rap
into the street.
we usually live on a quiet street.
i went for the bottle
but said no, it isn’t worth it.
my wife says i need to develop
other calming mechanisms.
so i shut the windows
even though it is eighty-eight outside
and make dinner.
the music is off in minutes.

the next day, i read the sunday paper
and think i’m really going to make it
through the day
without having a fit over booze
and having my chest tighten again
on me.
but the asshole across the street starts in
with his loud music,
so i put on my shoes and head outside
thinking i’m going to kill this fuck.

i get across the street
and some guy is on his porch looking
down at the noise.
i ask what are we going to do
and he shrugs at me, looks like
he wants me to handle it
and this is about the time the anxiety flares
about the time i’m starting to feel old
because everybody says pain comes
with being old,
so i take it upon myself to knock
on the door.

inside is an older white woman
who sees me but doesn’t answer
and instead
she runs into the back
to go and get her old man,
who comes racing toward the door
shirtless and in these suburban yellow shorts,
and i think, christ, he’s going to barrel out here
and attack me
and my heart is racing now
to match my sore chest
and i feel the anxiety coming on.

but he stops short at the door
and asks me what i want
i tell him i’m a neighbor
i tell him to turn the goddamned music down
and he says why, because he has to hear
my music, and everyone else’s shit
and i say i live across the damned street
and he’s not hearing a damned thing of mine
and a light goes off in his head
and suddenly maybe he doesn’t want to be
the neighborhood prick
in the middle of july on a ninety degree day.
he tells his old lady to cut the music.
she does.
he looks at me and says are you happy?
i say far from it.

by now
i’m clutching my chest
and my wife is across the street
to make sure i’m all right.
we walk back into the apartment.
i pop two ibuprofen pills to ease the ache.
my wife asks me if i’m all right
because she knows her hands are shaking.
i say yes
but my chest is still going
and i feel weak and useless.
i say someone has to take care of this
goddamned neighborhood
and she says i’m like the sheriff of bay ridge.
i nod and leave it at that
but i don’t want to cop anything.
i just want people to start using
their fucking brains
like i’m forced to do every day.

three days

buy juice
because juice has
a tart bite to it
put the juice
in the scotch glasses
and sit back
with the radio
like it isn’t
ignore the chest pains
when angry
the doctor says
it isn’t the heart.
at least you
don’t have
the shits
right now.
drink the juice down
as mozart’s 4th
turns into beethoven’s
try to enjoy
the juice.
the juice is no
but at least it isn’t
like all of the food
you have to eat.
only thirty-four.
finish the juice.
have another.
sniff the scotch bottle
while you’re in there
pouring another
only another 10 days
of this.
if your lucky.
try not to get angry.
being docile keeps
the pain
in the chest
and neck
and shoulders away.
happiness keeps
the air passages
pour another juice.
pour one for your wife.
sniff the scotch bottle again.
close it.
take the juice
into the other room.
drink it and smile.
repeat often
the whole weekend.
the next week
until you get to be
yourself again
whenever and wherever
that may be.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Poem of the Day 07.11.08

going to the doctor

he came recommended by my wife
a down to earth guy
doesn’t get too riled up about anything
so i went for it
because i’d had these chest pains for
three weeks
and couldn’t help thinking what it was anymore.
so i called him
with the chest pounding
and he was down to earth
and even told me he’d open early the
next morning,
which was nice.
so i get there and after the paperwork
he has me piss in a cup
then sit in the room and we talk about
my family history
and the pains
and i tell him they are all over the left arm
and in the chest
and the chest gets tight
and how i fart and shit too much
and drink too much
and he asks what
and i say scotch and wine and beer
and he nods like a doctor nods
then we do the blood pressure
and i’m 130/90 in one arm and 140/90
in the next
i’m borderline he tells me
and that works because i thought i’d
gone over the edge years ago.
we do the lungs next and then the stethoscope
then he checks my piss and it’s fine.
then hooks me up for a small ekg, as i lay back
and look out his glass ceiling
where the sky is blue and a plane goes by
carrying people all over the place,
and i think this wouldn’t be such a bad scene
to die looking at.
then the doctor is done with the ekg and tells me
that my heart is fine
but that i’ve got really bad and twisted nerves
and muscles
compounded with irritable bowels
which is most probably causing the chest pain.
i ask him what i should do
and he tells me i have to give it two weeks
on a bland diet.
i think okay most food is bland anyway
i’m in the clear
but then i ask about the booze
and he tells me in a very down to earth way
that i cannot have booze
for the two weeks either
and like a machine i say okay
but really i know that i haven’t gone a day
without booze since last year,
and a part of me wishes it was the heart
and that there wasn’t much time
then i’d just lay back down
and watch the blue sky and the silver planes
with a cold case of miller or bud
until everything ran its course
but i know that isn’t what i really want
so i get up and shake the doctors hand,
pay my bill,
then open the lobby door and see my wife
sitting there
nervous, watching me,
and looking at her, i know i’d never need
another drink again
which is kind of like telling her i love her
and that she is the world to me
but in my own peculiar way.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

poem of the day 07.09.08


one of the cats is laying
on the floor next to me
she has vomited four times this morning.
i took away her food
but then she just vomited up the water.
everything she puts in
comes out her mouth in chunks.
everything i put in my mouth
comes out my ass in burning swirls.
and it is 90 degrees again
in new york.
the cat and i are both suffering
only we don’t know why.
she has the vomiting spells for days
and i have the shits for days
and the back and neck pain
the shoulder pain
and the left chest and arm pains
that burn and get tight
whenever i get tense.
i’m thinking about death again
is it soon or sweet or sour?
i’m thinking about quitting the job
quitting the apartment
taking the wife and both cats with me,
and just walking america stress free
like modern nomads.
but i will probably do none of it.
i’ll just sit here drinking rum with iced tea
at 9:30 in the morning
until it is time for the afternoon shift.
and i will probably clean up
another mess made by the cat before i leave,
get nervous about it and tense.
i’m afraid she will die more than
my own demise.
and i will think these pains in the chest
will lead to my death,
and i imagine my wife coming home
to find us both in a pool of bile and hell
we are both suffering here, this cat and i
we are all suffering
but there is no one to complain to.
no one.
you have yourself
or the pale acceptance to step away from one life
put on the clothing of the dead
and head out to work,
where you know they are gunning for you,
hoping to christ you make it home
in one piece
and the cat is cleaning her claws with a full stomach
as the wife hands you a beer with a smile
and good music is on the radio.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

poem of the day 07.08.08

those girls on the bus

we were in rick’s car
heading toward another dance
where i would do nothing but stand
against the wall with the other losers
while couples kissed and groped on the
dance floor
away from the eyes of catholic chaperones

“who do you like?” she asked me.

she was rick’s girlfriend, cheri.
rick had been dating her for a few months
and he liked to tell the guys how she moaned
during sex,
and we all ate it up because the rest of us
weren’t getting any pussy
and by the looks of us, none of us ever would.
for my part, i was fat.
240 pounds fat.
i knew my place.

“i don’t like anyone,” i said.

cheri looked at rick. “is that true?”

rick shrugged. “how should i know?
jay is a closed book.”

then cheri turned back to me. “you can
tell me, right?”


“come on.”


cheri turned around and slouched.
she had a way of pouting that i hated
and that rick tolerated because he was getting
the sex and the moans.

then rick looked at me in the rearview.

“okay,” i said. “there’s a girl on my bus
that i think is all right.”

cheri spun around. “who?”

“veronica cross.”

“veronica? ronnie?”

“oh, you know her,” i said, knowing
this was all going to go to hell for me.

“yes! yes!” cheri said. “ronnie and i are friends!
we sit at lunch together! oh please, jay, let me put
in a good word for you. you two would be great

i laughed. “are you kidding? look at me.”

cheri grew dark. you could tell she was violent.
i wondered what she was like in bed. “just because
you’re overweight, doesn’t mean you can’t
get someone. look at me and rick.”

and it was true. rick was thin. cheri was overweight.
they were as bad as sprat and his wife.

“all the same,” i said. “i don’t want you to put
in a word. it’ll only ruin things.”

“fine.” cheri spun around and slumped again,
and rick looked at me through the rearview
but this time i figured, fuck him, i had my own
ass to protect.

and monday came
as mondays do.
and it was miserable.
and the same assholes were still in school.
and the same asshole teachers did the same thing.
and i waited on escape or death.

when i got on the bus, cheri was there.
she was sitting a seat away from veronica cross.
veronica was with her two pals.
one of them had gold-whore ringlets in her hair
and the other had a big nose,
and i was sure no one was fucking her either.

“hey, veronica,” the big nose one said.

“yeah,” veronica said.

“i hear you have a new boyfriend.”

“oh you’ve heard.”

“i haven’t,” ringlets said. “who is it?”

“it’s jay grochalski,” veronica said. “isn’t he
just the sexiest thing.”

“unbelievable,” big nose said. then she laughed.

“if you don’t do him, i will,” ringlets added.

and then the bus exploded in laughter.
the cool guys in the back shouted shit at me,
and all of the girls snickered and creamed their pants
with joy at my embarrassment.
even the guys i was sitting with laughed.

then i looked at cheri.
she was facing the window and looking out
at the ugly suburban landscape.
her face was red, and she had a hand over her mouth.
her eyes were tear-streaked.
i wanted to go over to her and tell her it was
all right,
that somehow we get though it.
but, of course, i didn’t believe that shit for a minute.
and anyway, when cheri removed her hand from
her mouth,
i could tell that she was laughing too.


Monday, July 7, 2008

poemS of the day 07.07.08

photographs of artists

doing keg stands at backyard parties
drinking beer out of plastic cups
smearing cake on each other’s faces
as guitars sit alone in corners
taking candid shots in bars surrounded
by empty beer bottles
doing heroic poses in bowling alleys
on 1980s nights
sweating with beer eyes against a backdrop
of red brick and sand
mugging on roller coasters
looking pensive when they pick up the guitar
standing solo at poetry readings in front
of their whole washed up world
writing nothing that could save a snail
wearing vintage clothes and hanging
in red, leather booths in vintage bars
having their hair turn gray, going bald
while trying to stay young
seeing ancient rock bands play ancient songs
on worthless weeknights
seeking out new bands full of kids
doing the same banal things
posing for pictures on sculptures, on petrified limbs
of trees, making me sick with their careless smiles,
with their dunderheaded group-think,
without any originality,
with the sin of actually waking in the morning
and plaguing the day
with apartments in the right parts of the city
without debt
without worry
i look at these pictures of artists,
as they sail through a life of ease, of hours
with no strife,
without the knowledge of suffering,
and i want to burn the pictures
burn their scene in effigy
create a funeral pyre out of all the nonsense
because if these are the artists, my friends
then i fear for art, or it is already dead
and, i guess, so what.

marc chagall’s birthday

here i am
battling another morning
and, yes, i know it is the same
old story
so i will spare you the dj banter
the lines about my hangover
and the box scores
and all of the news about gas
and murder in zimbabwe.

it is marc chagall’s birthday
and i am listening to one of bernstein’s
conducted marches
the dj is talking about monday morning
again, as he always does on monday morning
as if we didn’t know.
i’m a little out of it from the mix
of beer and scotch yesterday
and the pirates got swept by the brewers
and are in last place
but the yankees split the series with the red sox
so that’s all right
gas prices hit $4.11 over the holiday weekend,
and in zimbabwe
they have ushered in the same old sham, murderous
government that they had before.

yet here i am
battling another morning
trying to make a go of it like we all are.
and, yes i know it is the same old story
and, yes, i know i lied to you
about the dj banter, the hangover,
the box scores, and all of the news
about gas and murder in zimbabwe.
but think of all of the things i spared you from
like lines about my sore shoulder and back
or the misery of the work week
or hot the heat in this apartment might make
me go mad.
yes, think about all of those things that
i didn’t tell you,
but that it was me who told you today
was marc chagall’s birthday.

my looks

she said
your hair is turning gray
and there is white in your beard.
you have one red ear
and the other is white.
your nose
is red.
it has pimples
and i think that’s a rash.
you have a cut on your neck
and one on your cheek.
you haven’t shaved.
i think i liked you better
when your hair was
are those earrings?
only girls wear earrings.
no they don’t.
she asked her sister.
her sister agreed.
so you dress like a girl,
she said.
if you say so.
what’s that on your shirt?
cheese powder.
cheese powder?
because i ate cheese doodles
and i’m hungover
and i vomited in the work
a nice mix of mountain dew
and bread.
is there anything else?
i think we covered it all.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Poem of the Day 07.02.08


the pigeons
at st. marks avenue
are fighting over
a piece of chicken wing.
one is carrying
the cold flesh
in its beak
and the other is
trying to swat it away
with gray, dirty feathers.
they make such
beautiful cannibals
in the rainy spring
but something about
the carnage
sickens me,
or maybe i’ve just seen
too many species
tear each other to bits
and eat each other up
right there on the pavement,
that i’ve had my fill
for one life.
so i kick at the birds
and they take off
toward a telephone wire
and wait for me
to move on
so the blackness in
all of our souls
can shine anew.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

It Must Be Summer

Assholes on the pavement, outdoor concerts, morons sitting at outdoor cafes with their banal conversations and stinking, unrecognizable meals, the smell of burning meat on a grille on a 90 degree day, bass at all hours, rising electric bills, idiots carting ice coffees,scotch, beer, and wine hangovers....christ, it must be summer.

i'll skip the formalities here and say that i'm already anxiously awaiting the fall. i don't like the summer. i don't like the heat. i think people who walk around talking about how great the summer is are common assholes and philistines with nothing better to discuss. I've had left arm pains for two weeks, let's discuss that instead shall we? it's much more interesting then what fucking band you saw playing their shitty songs at an outdoor festival. schools have been out for less than a week, and i'm already sick of seeing children. i'm a public librarian. you'd think there wouldn't be children in a library. i know that when i was a kid i stayed the fuck out of the library. but they are here. every single day. and in droves.

why? 1)Air conditioning. 2)internet video games. check the average american street these days. do you see kids out playing? i sure as hell don't. if i see kids outside playing i feel like i should congratulate them for not being sucked into the playstation, nintendo, internet, disney, nickelodeon, iPod world we adults have been shitting on kids for the last decade. i want to give them a dollar or a beer from my sweating six pack and say "good job, sport-o." look, i'm going to sound like an old man here, but in the summer we were outside from about 10 or 11 in the morning until dinner, and then back outside until 9 or 10 at night. we didn't do shit. maybe we played baseball, wiffleball, or smoked our dad's cigarettes and chewed tobacco, or we played with star wars action figures or traded baseball cards. no matter what we did, we did it outside. and if it rained, you did it on the porch.
if you went inside, you were a pussy. plus i've had at least 4 kids say they were bored this summer already. BORED. i was a lot of things in the summer, but bored wasn't one of them. Let them work 40 fucking hours a week. I'll stay home and jerk off to the girls in High School Musical for them. but kids these days.....

Food in the summer makes me sick as well. not my own food. my own food is good, except for the fact that salt content might be killing me. but i like it. and i keep it to myself. this means i don't grille. i don't take raw meat or veggetables, and put them on a grille outside and make it so that every person in a 5-mile radius can smell the dead flesh or over-priced corn you're going to put in your stomach and shit out the next day. i hate sitting in the apartment with the blinds drawn, and smelling someone's fucking meal coming through the window. it makes me ill and angry, and really i should make the people responsible for the offending odor come over and pick up the smashed beer bottles and dead bodies off of my floor.

but there is a greater enemy than grillers. these would be the people who feeling it a necessary summer right of passage to eat their restaurant meals in the outdoor section of restaurants and cafes. personally i'm happy for the food and gas crunch if only that it'll mean less morons are spending their money out at restaurant stinking up the public space with their meals. there is nothing worse than having a fine saturday and then coming across a cafe with an outdoor section and a table of 8 people all eating and laughing. if you are one of these people here are a few points i'd like to make 1)seeing and smelling your half-eaten food is gross. 2) watching you chew and laugh as you have banal conversations about music, books, or television raises my blood pressure. what if i walked by your table and vomitted? or i took a shit in your backyard? it's just like tha 3)if you need, and i mean really need, to spend your time in groups of 4 or greater, you really need to check your own level of independence at the door, or go searching for it because it isn't there. Eating your restaurant meals doesn't add ambiance to your life or mine, it just makes me think you suck.

bass. i love the winter for the simple fact that i dont have to hear bass. listen, i love rap. or at least i pretend to so that i seem like a decent and well-rounded guy. but when someone pulls up in front of my apartment and all i hear is the thump thump thump of bass for 5 minutes while the people inside fight or fuck, or plan world domination, i get a little bit pissed. I get pissed when i'm sleeping and some asshole goes by at 3am with bass going. and two fans and a/c and 2 asshole meowing cats can't cover up the sound. there's bass everywhere in the summer. this must be the reason why everyone i talk to says "huh?" more than that, these fucking iPods. if you are spending $150-$400 to listen to your crappy music on the street or on the train, could you at least invest maybe another $30 on a pair of headphones that'll keep said shitty music in the realm of your ears and not mine. I'm sure the Hold Steady, lil wayne, paramoure, or whatever crap it is that people listen to these days is just fine for them....i'm just saying i don't need to hear it. maybe steve jobs should create the iFones that'll keep all the shitty iTunes inside the iPod.

what's worse...the 4th of july is coming up. my least favorite holiday. while most of you will be partaking in the above mentioned sins, i will be sitting in my apartment drinking warm red wine with the blinds drawn, finding the least American food that i can eat for dinner. of course, I'll be doing this after i go see the new documentary on Hunter S. Thompson.