Tuesday, June 30, 2009

poem of the day 06.30.09

the importance of being poetic

she rejects the poem

she said the poem



she said
it read more like
a story

than a poem.

she said my poem

poetic enough.

and when i wrote
her back
i asked her

to explain what poetic

so she wrote me

she used my poem
as an example

breaking up the lines
as i’ve done with

this poem.

she wrote that
being poetic was doing
things like this

line breaks.


getting the meaning across

i wrote her back

thanking her

for the suggestion

and for the definition of
what it meant to be


she told me that i was welcome


better luck placing the poem


Monday, June 29, 2009

poem of the day 06.29.09


i am out in this because of a dog
a goddamned dog from eight years ago
that used to sit on his porch until three or four
in the morning
and bark in our bedroom window while my wife
and i slept
i am out in this
eighty-seven degrees
to go and find a new fan
because one of ours broke and i need the noise
to sleep at night
and it started with that goddamned dog
and his barking
and his fat fuck owner, the one i threatened one night
when i was coming home from the bar
i was drunk and he was drunk
and there was the dog just sitting there waging its tail
like it wasn’t satan
and i knew all i had to do was walk up the driveway
and all hell would break loose
and it did
me and the dog and the owner
shouting and threatening and barking into the cold night.
but it did no good
my wife came up with this idea to get a humidifier
to help block out the noise.
i’d never had trouble with noise before until that dog, you see,
so i went and got the humidifier.
and it worked.
but i got addicted to it’s low buzz.
so i’m out in the eighty-seven degrees, on my day off no less,
four warm beers up on the day,
because one of our fans died and because of a goddamned dog
and a humidifier with a low buzz
and because of this puerto rican kid, in this brooklyn slum
we lived in
because he used to wait until eleven o’clock at night
to blast club music in his apartment.
it used to rain down us while we sat drinking in our
living room.
it rained down on us at night while we tried to sleep,
the little humidifier buzzing but not blocking out the sound.
my wife suggested we use a fan to block out the noise.
but i’d never had trouble with noise before until that dog
and the humidifier, and that puerto rican kid, you see,
so i went and got two fans out of the closet,
put them on chairs in front of the bed, and turned them on high.
they blocked out the noise beautifully.
but i’ve become addicted to the swirl of the fan.
spring, summer, winter, and fall they’re on in the bedroom
blocking out dogs and people and cars, and garbage men
smashing glass on tuesday mornings.
but today one of the fans died.
so here i am out in eighty-seven degree heat
a sweaty mess
to go to the store for a fan.
i buy this one called the cyclone.
but when i open the box there is a crack.
so i repackage the thing and i go back out into
the eighty-seven degree heat
all because of a goddamned dog and this fucking humidifier
and the prick kid that lived above us in the brooklyn slum.
and when i get to the store there’s this huge line for returns
and exchanges.
when i get to the front of the line the cashier tells me that
i need to go and retrieve the new fan myself.
so i get out of line and get a cart and get the new fan.
i buy a second fan too, spending ninety dollars
all because of this shit that’s gone down in the past.
the dog.
the humidifier.
the puerto rican kid with the club music.
the cars.
the people laughing on the streets.
the garbage men smashing glass on tuesday mornings.
and i get back in line at the returns and exchanges and the
cashier, she rings me out.
when i get home, i’m a sweaty mess again.
i put the fans on the hardwood floor and curse the past
as i go to the refrigerator for a beer that isn’t cold yet.
and i sit on the couch with the blinds drawn as neighbors
sit on lawn chairs in front of the apartment building,
laughing and gossiping, and bitching about all of my wine bottles
in the recycling bin in the basement.
and i look at the two new fans sitting there.
they look like salve owners to me, and i don’t turn them on.
i open up the can of beer in the summer sweat and heat
and i sit back,
hoping that it rains on the fourth of july this year.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

poem of the day 06.27.09


i go to the bars where they
all turn around when you walk in
because everyone who’s anyone is already there
and who in the hell are you
i go to the bars where crowds aren’t welcome
i go to the bars where jazz plays on lonely
saturday nights
as the bartender reads a day-old new york post
i go to the bars that don’t break my bank
where no one is hip because hipness died there
twenty years ago
where the television is god
i go to the bars where that might not be
booze dripping off the wood
i go to the bars with yellow walls and dim lights
where salvation hasn’t visited
where best friends bloody each other’s noses
before buying a round of beer
i go to the bars where there is no hope
and no women unless you bring one with you
i go to the bars that time has forgotten
where they hang christmas lights year round
so no one ever has to take them down
where you better know what you want
before you sit your ass down on a stool
i go to the bars that root for the opposing team
where they hate vegetarians
and people stuffed with intellectual artifice
i go to the bars where they eat plastic bags with
an old jar of mayonnaise
where i’m probably not wanted
where they haven’t bothered to learn my name
where they stare at me strangely
talking amongst themselves to see if i belong
i go to the bars where conversation is an ugly art
where talk means you are drunk
and where passing gas is customary
i go to the bars i wouldn’t step into otherwise
if maybe i’d become a better man
i go to the bars and it’s getting so old
that i hang my head
and pray for another idea
that mother of invention
to saunter up to me
take a pull on my stale beer
slap my face good and hard with her polished hand
then walk out the door with her fine ass
in a sunday afternoon breeze.

Friday, June 26, 2009

poem of the day 06.26.09

elegy for mj

tear stained night
and for once i don’t know
what to say
los angeles is head hung
and they are singing
pretty young thing at the apollo
in new york
the television is a comedy
of elegies
the same people that helped
put the pills in your hand
that sent you to saudi arabia
that pushed you toward vegas
that made you close the gates
on fantasy
and that gold plated home
the ones that hounded you
until you were broke
and turned your skin to paper
and your heart to dust
are sitting there giving us
the timeline of your life
as if we didn’t know
as if we don’t remember
tear stained night
and tomorrow we face the world
without you again
in los angeles
in new york
in vegas and saudi arabia
and everywhere
so here’s another elegy
right here in this bedroom
where i am suddently nine-years-old
holding that gatefold album
as the record player spins
the magic
over and over and over again.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

poem of the day 06.25.09

we are all animals, all of us

some guys moves his head
to music and presses against me
on the train
the ugly beat of the song infesting my ears
while she takes up three seats
and won’t move for anyone
as these kids laugh
and put their hands in the doorway
so the doors will keep opening
and closing
so the conductor will keep yelling
over speakers so old
and the train won’t move
as the guy across from me watches
some woman’s ass swivel
and keeps saying, “goddamn, goddamn,”
until he has the whole train
looking at him and the woman’s ass.
but she’s trying to act like
the comments aren’t pointed at her.
i cannot read or think.
i look around me
at the dead flapping their gums
going over files and essays
slobbering on themselves while they sleep
talking trash, reading trash
or playing solitaire on their phones
everyone’s mouth full of yellow, sharp teeth,
and i think
we are animals, all of us
it would take so little just to get us
to tear at each other’s flesh and bone
maybe just a few dollars
or an argument over a television show
i think about this and i smile
then i elbow the next man
who gets on the train, welcoming him
to this hell
i get him right in the gut
he moans but he doesn’t even look at me
just presses up against the wall
as the doors finally close
and we all move on in the dark.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

poem of the day 06.24.09

waiters, waitresses, and everyone else
that i have to talk to

i told her
i said

“the teller at the bank can’t say the word
librarian. she calls them lie-barians.”

“why were you talking about being a librarian
with a teller in a bank?” she asked.

“it came up.”


“well, i was taking the six-hundred out
for vacation, and i felt odd. she kept giving me
a look and i didn’t want her to think i was using
it for drugs or something.”

“you always do that,” she said.


“you give out too much information.”

“to whom?”

“waiters, waitresses, and everyone else
that you have to talk to.”

“they make me nervous,” i said. “i don’t like
people having to wait on me. so i get nervous
and i make conversation.”

then we walked down the street. we went to the grocery
store for some cheese, and i started telling the clerk
it was for pizza that night.

“you did it again in there,” she said, once we were out
of the store.

“i did?”

“yes, why did that grocery clerk need to know
about your dinner tonight.”

i thought about it. “christ, i don’t know.
what in the hell has gotten into me?”

“i can’t believe you’re just noticing this now.”

“i am. this isn’t good,” i said. “i don’t like
talking to anybody. hell, i’ve written poems
about how i don’t like to talk to anyone.”

“yet there you are with the waiters, waitress,
and bank tellers, telling them your life story.”


we walked on up the avenue. we went into
the bar and took two stools at the end, where
one of the drunks was reading a paperback novel
with a magnifying glass. the bartender came over
to us.

“how’s it going?” he asked.

“fine,” i said.

“the usual.”


he went and got the beers. “so how’re things?’

i just looked at him
and didn’t say anything.
i was done spilling my guts for the day.
i let her do the talking.
that way i could come back here
and write this poem
and not feel like an absolute fraud.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

poem of the day 06.23.09

audrey hepburn is in the garbage

four glasses of wine
sex in the afternoon
a glass of scotch
and three beers on an empty stomach
and audrey hepburn is in the garbage
she is resting on a pile
of black bags with flies moving
in an out of small tears
and she is smiling at me
and has one of those long
cigarettes in the corner of her mouth
and i want to say
audrey, baby, you got to quit doing that
because you and i know the cancer
is coming for you
and what about all that humanitarian
work you did
but audrey is just resting there
amongst the refuse of the miserable world
amongst the empty bottles
and pizza boxes
the receipts with ketchup smeared on them
and the cat shit wrapped tightly
in grocery bags
she’s just sitting there
like the world doesn’t matter anymore
she doesn’t even notice the rain
oh, audrey baby, i say
where’s gregory peck to make us laugh
when we need him, huh?
i tell my wife that we’ve got to save her
we’ve got to save audrey hepburn
from laying there in the garbage
but like all modern men
i don’t know how to help a woman anymore
so i don’t make a move
but my wife hands me the six-pack we bought
then heads over to the garbage
shooing away the flies
offering audrey her hand
as i finger a cold can of beer through the plastic
and look at the gray sky
wondering how long this storm
is going to last.

Monday, June 22, 2009

poem of the day 06.22.09

a new kind of gentility

sometimes my wife and i
wonder what it would be like
if we sold the books we wrote
and didn’t have to work regular jobs anymore
i guess we’re crazy like that
anyway, we’re walking down esplanade avenue
new orleans
having this debate
hundreds of good miles between us
and brooklyn and our life
and my wife is taking photographs
of ornate balconies
and an old wooden door with a lion head knocker
a few of the places still have
faded orange fema x’s on their wooden paneling
but she says she’d definitely
want a place in new orleans, you know,
if it ever happens for us
a place just off of the quarter
like in marginy or bywater
i tell her i like that idea
just a small place filled with colorful paintings
by local artists
and portraits of jazz musicians
and old maps of the big easy on the wall
in thick, black frames
and a farm, i say, for the summer
somewhere in upstate new york.
surprisingly neither of us mention
staying in brooklyn or anywhere else in the city.
my wife likes this idea too
and she takes my hand as we stroll along
this southern street
wealthy in our minds
famous writers, as big as faulkner with his head
in a bucket of rye
a new kind of gentility that exists just well enough
in the brain
that you think, yeah i can make it another day
thinking thoughts like this
another day ain’t so bad
when confronted with those dreams and fantasies
and a good woman’s hand
like this one resting in the palm of mine right now.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

poem of the day 06.20.09


“what do you think about this new machine
that you can read books on?” he asks me.

“not much,” i say.

“yeah, me neither. i still like to read books.”

“when they’re good, i like to read books too.”

“i’ll bet you don’t have one of them iphones
or ipods or whatever you call them things.”

“i don’t,” i say. “i’m sticking with cds.”

“i heard the sounds is bad on those ipods, like it jumbles
up the music.”

“you can’t listen to jazz on them.”

“you like jazz?”

“some jazz. but i heard those ipods just compress the sound
and make the music sound like shit.”

“you can’t listen to jazz if it sounds like shit,” he says.

“most people do.”

“most people just don’t know,” he says
then he tugs at a leather pouch on his belt, and says
“man, i hate this too.” he pulls out his cell phone
“but i need it for work in case the boss calls.”

“the phone was created by a very lonely and sad
person,” i say “i don’t pick up mine if i can
get away with it.”

he shakes his head and smiles at me. “we must be
the last ones.”


“you and me. we’re the last ones
who haven’t bought into all of this.”

“we’re in good company,” i say.

“a couple of dinosaurs,” he says, before shaking my hand.

“yes, we’re probably a couple of dinosaurs
and one day we’ll be mashed down into nothing but oil.”

“now that’s something that hasn’t gone out of style
yet,” he says.

“and it never will.”

then he winks and walks away
and i think, now there goes a guy i could probably
put up with for a little bit longer than most.
then i flip my tail, scratch my horns
and rub my scales off a tree
before i keep on in search of the smell
of fresh meat
blanketing this old landscape.

Friday, June 19, 2009


acrylics and oils

he says the painting
on the wall
above the bar
is $750 but there are
cheaper ones up there too
like that one there is only
$250 or something
i say they are very nice
and go back to my beer
as this nirvana unplugged cd
keeps on
and he says
yeah, they are very nice
kind of too colorful though
but he works in acrylics
and just kind of shits the paintings out
and that’s his thing
so i don’t want to rag on him
or anything
but, me, i like to work in oils
which is a slower process
full of dense layers
so while he’s crapping out paintings
at home
and making money off of them
i’m in here pushing beer
and brooding over my work
i tell him oils are nice too
he nods
then he taps on the bar
and goes over to a cooler
to get me
another beer
while kurt cobain plays
his phantom guitar
on this half-empty night
along frenchman street, new orleans
a kneeling city beautifully painted
in dark blues and blacks
with just a touch of purple
and green and yellow mixed in
for effect.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

poem of the day 06.18.09

just lucky, i guess

we’re sitting in this european-style jazz club
on the back portion of a wooden bench
and the band is playing the same songs as the other band played
the night before
so i am drinking a lot of scotch and watching the lakers
on a small television that the club has and my wife
is trying to pay attention to the band
but the waitress comes by and asks us every other minute
if we need a refill on our drinks, so she’s not really hearing anything
and i’m not really watching the game either.
there’s a couple in front of us and the guy keeps looking back at me
and when the band stops for a break he turns with his hand extended
and says “well, since we’re sitting together we might as well get
to know each other.”
i take his hand and we shake but i wonder who in the fuck
thinks this way
then his wife turns around and introduces herself and they
start talking to my wife and i about new orleans and how this
is their first trip and how they are from west virginia by way
of north carolina by way of lafayette, louisiana
and they have a baby and this is their first time leaving her alone
although they’ve been calling every other hour
and the wife she’s used to getting up at five in the morning
so she’s still doing that here, and so they end up in bed around nine-thirty
every night
and the husband is looking from his wife to my wife to me, and he’s
shaking his head and smiling, and all i can think is “you son-of-a-bitch,
if you would’ve just kept to yourself, none of us would be in this mess now.”
and of course when they are done spilling their life’s guts they want
to know all about my wife and i, so we tell them, my wife elaborating more
than i do, because i’m trying to flag the waitress down to get more drinks
because if i’m going to keep listening to these people i’m going to need
more drinks
and in no time two more scotches arrive while the couple are babbling
about their jobs in west virginia and not touching their beers
and i keep thinking “why me? why us?”
and when they finally leave the club to go back to their hotel and
call for their daughter one more time, before falling asleep to the
nightly news, i look at my wife and say “what the fuck?” just as the band
begins to play again and the waitress starts eyeing up our drinks
and my wife looks at me and says “we’re just lucky, i guess. it could’ve
been worse.”
which was true.
and it was worse, two days later, in a car coming back to brooklyn
from the airport
hungry and tired, and stressed from a plane ride full of
nothing but turbulence and screaming children
we had this driver who kept talking about beer and pills
his bad cholesterol, traffic on the belt parkway,
the mets, the yankees, his two divorces, his two jobs, bad credit,
missing his child support payments, how nobody is a good
tipper anymore, and about how the woman he’s living with
has money all over the country
and i guess we were just lucky to hear that story too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

poem of the day 06.17.09

real jazz

the play avalon
st. james infirmary
basin street blues
and at the end of the final set
they’ll probably do
when the saints go marching in
as a thin girl with no ass
strolls around the bar
pushing the tip jug at you
hocking the band’s cd
ushering in new people
and eyeing up your half-finished drink
we’ve been coming here for three days now
we used to come here a lot in the past
before katrina put new orleans on its knees
and some say this is the last joint
on bourbon street
to hear authentic dixieland jazz.
the thin girl shoves a cd in my face
as the trombone player says into the mic
“that’s us on the disc, the authentic, real
new orleans jazz sound.”
which is exactly what the clarinet player
in another band said last night
and the bass player from another band
said two nights ago
when my wife and i sat
in front of this group of anxious
jazz enthusiasts
who bought the cd then smiled at each other
as one said, “we needn’t look any further, man,
because tonight we’ve found it!
we’ve found the real thing!
real jazz!”
i remember looking at the man
and thinking it must feel good to have found it
something honest and true
the real thing
real jazz
tonight, however, i decline the offer to buy
the cd
but order two scotches and waters instead
as the band finishes up
when the saints go marching in
and everyone in the place raises their glasses
to toast the real thing
real jazz
while you and i wonder where in the hell
there is left to go
for something tangible
in all of this.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

poem of the day 06.16.09

i have some new NOLA poems coming once i type them up, but for now, here's a poem written after i passed through New Orleans in May 2007

carondelet street, approximately

catching moths in my hair
and mouth,
carondelet street, new orleans,
one year and nine months after,
as drunks stumble by
with dixie cups full of beer
and a brass band plays
michael “fucking” jackson’s

the footaction shop
across from me
is boarded up,
and surrounded by bums
passing a pint back and forth,
and the footlocker store
down canal street,
the one i saw being emptied
on tv,
is taped up and shackled with chains
like a ghost town saloon.

nearly every tourist
junk shop
in the french quarter
has a t-shirt celebrating
the arrival of katrina
and the folly of the geniuses
over at fema.

it’s healing via ironic statement,
the american tragedy
brought to you with a
palpable consumerist bow,
only i remember when we used
to celebrate our triumphs
over our defeats,
in this country,
so the saleable shit doesn’t seem
like such a deal to me.

but the scant returning masses
are eating this crap up
like rotten rice on an empty table
at a famine,
paying top dollar for commemorative
and a bus tour of the devastation.

i guess they wouldn’t have
this healing happen any other way
in america,
the kind that can turn red into
that digestible shade of
faded green,
the shade that makes us all feel so
safe and secure.

but new orleans is life rebuilding
yet still rerouted,
like everything else always is,
so i can’t blame it.
and this is a statement that
explains how i got to this place
to begin with,

a traveler in need of a second chance,
at a lowly bus stop
on carondelet street ,
as another king-sized louisiana moth
has its way with me,
and the band strikes up
another number by the king of pop
to the applause of a scattering crowd
moving on down bourbon street,
with their neck’s full of mardi gras beads
to pass out to all of their friends
back home,
once the illusion has been
completely glazed over.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

poem of the day 06.11.09

going to new orleans, so this is it until next tuesday because i don't have iPhones etc and will be unable to communicate with the digital world...thank the gods.

can’t be pleased

i sit on this couch
drinking a cold beer
with a week off from work
with brooklyn outside my window
in a gray gloom
and the cats asleep on the kitchen floor
trying to stay cool
and i am depressed
and i don’t know why
last night i drank four beers and five scotches
and i couldn’t even get drunk
i slept for shit
pulling every muscle in my body
as it stormed outside
as lightening illuminated the bedroom
and i wrestled with the sheets
poetry alludes me
literature alludes me
peace and beauty cannot be found
this morning i wandered manhattan
with the ghost of walt whitman
saddened by the closing
of a music mega-store in union square
walt and i disgusted by the people
going from aisle to aisle
picking away at the merchandise
like the last bits of meat off the bone
i asked walt who wails for conspicuous consumption
when ten percent of the people can’t even
get a job
and he told me to go and moan for myself
ah, what in the hell is the matter with me?
a day like today
and i don’t even want to go to the bar
a whole week off and i just sit here in the afternoon dark
watching the rain, brooding over everything
and nothing
i think i can’t be pleased anymore
that nothing is good enough for me
i’m worried that i’m becoming one of them
the dull and the trivial
the ones who need a constant entertainment
it makes me sick
i never thought i’d turn out like this
but then one of the cats comes into the living room
she stands in front of me and meows
i pet her
then rest my beer can on my chest
after i take another long drink
as the sun finally comes out over brooklyn
and the perfect family walks by
my window with a cooler full of soda
and music and frisbees
and loud kids, screaming about mcdonald’s hamburgers
and going to the park
so i get up and close the blinds
and i think
okay, maybe i’m just having a bad day here
maybe i’m doing all right
i mean it could be worse
i could be those assholes outside
smiling at each other like dumbfucks
wondering where they put the suntan lotion
and the bottled water.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

poem of the day 06.10.09

bond street

i can pass bond street
pretty easily now
just walk over the cobbles in the street
and meet you at a bar
or pick up a bottle of scotch
from the wine store
i can pass bond street
without thinking about that night
we drank half a mag of cheap chardonnay
four of those vodka and lemonades
from that russian bar
the whiskey shots
and all of that beer in mcsorely’s
yes, i can pass by bond street now
without thinking about
you falling over in the bar
and the sawdust on your shirt
the burmese dinner we never ate
and the way those fundamentalists
came over to us in ray’s pizza
after you spilled your coke all over
the floor
and i started shouting at you
the way they came over
and just handed us that card
which read jesus saves
and i told them that ignorance is bliss
and to fuck off
before i made them really need their god
but they just kept smiling at us benevolently
as we grabbed our shit
and staggered out of there, still hungry
i guess it’s that easy for some people
easy like passing bond street
without thinking about how
i made you give me back the engagement ring
or how i pretended to throw it down lafayette
the way we shouted back and forth
underneath the red neon of that parking lot
as people walked by holding hands
asking us if everything was all right
bond street is a cakewalk now, baby
you should try it out
i can run and jump over those cobblestones
i can hum a song or think about
anything that i want to
i don’t have to think about
how i called you a whore
and accused you of fucking dale behind my back
even though we both knew he was gay
i don’t have to think about you crying
in the ugly manhattan night
with your father in the hospital for cancer treatment
and your fiancé an ugly mess
bond street is all roses and daffodils for me now
and it took me years to get there
it’s amazing what time can do
when i see bond street now
i think only about you, darling
and the way love meanders
so beautifully as it ages.
i think bond street ain’t so bad

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

poem of the day 06.09.09

a companion poem to yesterday's:

drunks in the bar again

i watched her shout
at the bartender
and play with her smokes
and prod her old man
to drink his beer
and the place had gone dead silent
since they came in
and he must be her father
a moment ago i thought
she was going to attack me
because i’d stared at her a little too long
but all she wanted to do
was say hello
they’re really drunk
my wife says
i know, i say
it’s pretty depressing stuff
how come?
i just had visions of myself
getting like this
bombed out of my mind
no good
dragging my old man
into some joint like this
on a rainy wednesday night
my wife looks at me
while the old drunk begs
the bartender for a light
that won’t happen, she says
you’d never let it get that bad
i suppose, i say
then we finish our drinks
in silence
and get the hell out of there.

Monday, June 8, 2009

poem of the day 06.08.09


she grabs my arm
and says
i’m sorry but i don’t think
i know you
i put down my beer
and tell her
it’s fine
millions of people don’t know me
and she lets go
to sit back down with her old man
maybe her father
he looks eighty
she looks sixty
he has a beer in front of him
and she has a rum and coke
they were drunk when they
walked in this joint
can’t we get any music
in here? she says
can’t i smoke in here?
come on
come on
she keeps telling her old man
it’s fine
don’t worry
but he won’t touch his beer
just watches the floor
as she fiddles with her newport
digging through her purse
with the other hand
to find a light
anyone got a light?
she asks
but no one answers
they just watch jeopardy
or the yankees game
well, can you call us a cab?
she asks the bartender
and he dials the phone
quicker than i’ve ever seen him move
for anything
then says they’ll be here in minutes, darling
before going to the other end of the bar
to look for the cab
outside the neon-soaked window
come on
come on
she prods the old man
at which point he looks up
from the floor with sad, baggy
old man eyes
eyes tired of looking at the world
and grabs the sweaty bottle
just as she finds a light
and stumbles off the stool
to go outside
and have a quick smoke
in the summer rain
smiling my way
one more person out of millions
who knows me now

Saturday, June 6, 2009

poem of the day 06.06.09

red ears

in this place
the kids come up to me
and ask me why my ears are red
i don’t know, i say
it gets worse when the adults ask me
they come in and come up
to my desk and say
why are your ears red
the heat, i say
or the cold
a co-worker tells me that she knows
when i’m angry or hot
because my ears get red
this may be true
i don’t know
i never researched it
and i’m not sure
why everyone here is so
fascinated with my red ears
i think it might be because
i’m the only white guy
here most days
maybe black people don’t
see many red ears
but then i think this isn’t true
because when i was a kid
i was mostly
around other white kids
and they often remarked
about my ears being red
but that was years ago
i thought the world
had forgotten about my red ears
but i guess they haven’t
so i can’t
i have to contemplate them again
and notice them when they start to burn
put cold water on them
when i get tired of the questions
hoping they’ll just turn
back to their normal shade
of ugly pale, white
and i’ll be left alone again
but, shit, my ears are red right now
standing here
looking in the bathroom mirror
at my ugly face
my big polish nose
my two baggy eyes
and a tan line that ends before my forehead
my ears are red
and somehow i have to start my day
my ears are red
and they look like two flaming beacons of light
another conversation piece for the masses
on a miserable wednesday
one more fucking thing
for me to worry over
in this world
as we all cascade toward death
and futility.

Friday, June 5, 2009

poem of the day 06.05.09

what comes next?

the internet had it today
the papers will tomorrow
some old actor found naked and hanged
in thailand
done away with himself
and whenever i read about
one of these suicides
i always end up finding the person
to be of great strength and noble character
though others probably find them
foolish and pathetic
i am also amazed at how
they had the courage to do it
to give up all the shit, just like that
me? i’m such a coward
afraid to die
because i’m afraid of what comes next
i wake up and go to work
and pay bills and eat food
i’ve done it for years and probably will every day
until i die on company time
in the office bathroom after taking a last shit
but this actor
those brave people who end it all
what guts it must take to say no more bullshit
we look up to athletes and politicians
but these are the real heroes
the ones who’ve beautifully thrown it all away
the ones found hung in closets by their spouses
in cars with the engines running
in a locked garage
on the floor with a bottle of sleeping pills
the wrist cutters
the ones found with their head in an oven
these are the masters
the artists
our national treasures
the ones who’ve stood up against humanity
the ones we should be making statues of
or putting on postage stamps
instead of bob hope or ronald reagan
or some other fucker who danced and sang
and hung around this rock
much longer than they should’ve

Thursday, June 4, 2009

poem of the day 06.04.09

mountain lion

there is a mountain lion
in the basement
trying to get at me
and i don’t know how in the hell
he got there
but he’s brown and his breath stinks
and his teeth curl over his bottom jowl
and i’m not sure he’s even a mountain lion
but he keeps scratching at the basement door
he wants something
he’s going to eat all of my food
and read all of my books
i think he’s going to drink all of my beer
i know i’m going to have
to fight that mountain lion
because i’m restless and hungry
and devoid of words
because all of the cold beer
is in the refrigerator downstairs
in the basement
where the mountain lion is
and we’re getting on noon now
and i haven’t had a meal or a drink
and no goddamned mountain lion
is going to stop me from getting a beer
or some meat from the freezer
i mean i have beer upstairs but they’re all warm
i want a cold beer because it’s hot outside
but for some reason there’s
a mountain lion in my basement
all the steaks have turned gray
the pages of yellowed
and i don’t know who in the hell put him there
is this some kind of joke?
a government conspiracy?
a sign from god?
oh, christ, i can smell his breath through
the crack in the door
and i can taste his blood in my mouth
and i can feel the force of him against the wood
as he smacks and smacks and smacks
and makes me wait on beer and death
he wants my flesh
i don’t even know how to fight a mountain lion
do i use a gun? a knife?
can i reason with him?
can he be wrestled to the ground?
paid off to go away?
i wish hemingway were here
or mike tyson
somebody that has maybe taken on something
as big as this mountain lion
i know i sure haven’t
i’m a poet and i vote
and poets never take on anything bigger than a mouse
unless there’s a paycheck or tenure involved
and sometimes even a mouse
can make a poet turn yellow
i feel like this animal wants to devour
my soul
he wants to crack my ribs and pick at me
until there is nothing left
but dust and bones
i hate this mountain lion
i hate the way he rages at me
like he won’t stop
like he’ll never quit
and i guess i don’t care anymore
this has gone on too long
so i touch the basement door
and i grab the golden handle
i take one last breath
and then i open it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

poem of the day 06.03.09

fat clown

in those days
it was the best way for me to get by
acting the fat clown for the kids in school
mouthing off to teachers
fucking up assignments
and having them go home
for my parents to sign
poking fun at myself before
anyone else did
watching comedy movies
and memorizing the lines
becoming an easy mimic
i suppose it saved me a lot
of teasing back then
a lot less pain and suffering
than i witnessed the other
fat kids getting
although it never got me the girl
and it was easy
playing the fat clown for those fools
making them all laugh
and spit out their milk
every day from nine until three
it was so easy then
to just give in and be the idiot
to bide my time dancing their jig
they made it so easy to come home
and go up to my room
untethered by their dumb little schoolyard society
finally alone with books and music
and paper to draw on
hating all of those other kids in private
in ways they never knew
just sitting there as the afternoon turned into night
staring at walls
plotting, thinking
saving it
waiting on the right time for my world to explode
and for the last laugh
to come pouring from this pen
my soul
in ways their slow minds could never dream
after each cheap juvenile chuckle.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

poem of the day 06.02.09

call someone

it was always my mother
who wanted me to call someone

“give jason a call,” she’d offer,
seeing me wander around the house
on a sunny summer day, while other kids were outside
“or call marc.”

and having nothing better to do, i would.
i’d get on the phone and wait
until jason or marc got on the line
and i’d ask them what they were doing
and we’d go back and forth over that for a while
and i’d sit there on the phone
wishing i’d just stayed in my room laying on my bed
or that i didn’t have a bored look
on my face all of the time
and my mother would stand there
and she’d watch me on the phone
probably thinking about
how much fun i’d be having with friends
that i actually had friends
and feeling bad for her
i’d eventually ask jason or marc

“so, do you want to hang out?”

even though i didn’t want to
and had they wanted me around they would’ve called
in the first place
and either jason or marc would say
“yes” or “no,” depending on their day
but either way i would be relieved
no matter what they said
because i knew when i got off the phone
nothing else would be expected of me
and my mother would think i was
being a normal, healthy american child
and our little world could keep on spinning
on the same axis as everyone else’s
all those good people
trying to get through another summer
in the bland suburbs of pittsburgh, pennsylvania.

Monday, June 1, 2009

poem of the day 06.01.09

some motherfuckers

i’m on this train
we are stuck in this tunnel
only i’m trying to read larry brown
to block out the world around me
but these two black teenagers
are sitting a few seats away
and they keep yelling about something
so i can’t read
so i listen in
and the one is talking about how
these two he knows
got shot the other night
he seems excited about the story
he’s slapping his hands and shouting and laughing
he keeps getting up to show his friend
how the two must’ve staggered when they got shot
both in the arm
how one tried to run away but he got clipped
in the leg
and his friend is laughing too
because he knows them
he’s holding his mouth and stamping his feet
and making these “woop” sounds
as the train begins to move again
taking us all toward our own personal hell
and i watch these two young kids
laughing and cocking their fingers like a gun
saying “fuck death”
talking about how they’d take someone out
in a heartbeat
almost daring someone to try them
and one shouts
“fuck jail, them niggas deserved it.”
and then i think about van gogh paintings
and how museums are like prisons too
and maybe these two could become painters
or anything but the felonious morons
they seem destined to become
i begin to think maybe there’s hope somewhere
in all of this filth and flesh and violence
but then the one gets up again and cocks his fingers
bang! bang!
and the other howls and stamps his feet
the train stalls for the fourth time
and then i think
fuck them
it’s all just a big hollywood movie to them
life and death and everything in between
so i grab my book and open it again
but then i close it and stare at an ad
for storage space
featuring a beautiful blonde with dead blue eyes
that is posted up against a metal wall
thinking some motherfuckers just deserve
their six foot dirt bed
and the world is full of too many bad paintings
done by shitty artists anyway.