Friday, July 31, 2009

poem of the day 07.31.09


that man
with his bag sticking me
in the back
the woman to my right
smelling of garlic
her mouth a mess of
low fat cream cheese
her little son
kicking at my shins
and the woman
in the seat in front of me
who keeps stepping
on my infected toe
while reading a paperback
and listening to something
god awful out of her ipod
there aren’t even scantily clad
teenage girls
to ogle on this train
just a woman with sweaty armpits
smashed into some mexican laborers face
and an old hag clutching
her bag
made to stand
while the young and still-employed read
folded copies of the wall street journal
as the air conditioning keeps
kicking off and on
and the smell of coffee permeates
some are going to work
some are in remedial classes
some are just passing the time
with a dose of humanity
in the morning
and some of us
are just standing there quietly
while someone’s umbrella handle
jabs off and on,
like a dagger to the nuts,
waiting on the next great plague
to strike.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

poem of the day 07.30.09


you always wanted to do
the big thing
be the guy on stage
the one who has all eyes on him
when he walks into a room
a man, who when he speaks,
you can hear a pin drop otherwise.

but you know it’ll never be that way
all those thoughts are just hyperbole
something to keep you warm
when there’s no one around
and the world just keeps getting colder
and everyone’s stories are always
just a touch better than your own

the adoring crowd
the fawning girls in the sun
with the light casting on their faces
on their sparse, lanuginous hairs
waiting for you
the dream friends in dream cars
the big nights of victory
on neon drenched streets
full of endless hours

sometimes you’re so noir, it hurts

the thing is you never had
a gauge for what success really was
surrounded by all the failures of the hoi polloi
success was what you saw on television
or what existed in your head
on those dark, december evenings
along the paper route
in those juvenile bouts of insomnia
dreaming the perfect future
with the walkman piercing the night

you never realized that it could
be right here in this cluttered room
surrounded by four asylum walls on a hot street
scotch dizzy in a wine-soaked t-shirt
with no end to the drought
where the stained windows give everything
and elegant tint
and no one even knows that you’re alive.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

poem of the day 07.29.09


i enjoy the silence
the way we can just sit there
with our drinks
studying the music on the television
or the radio
and i like when you laugh
reading the paper, even though it
breaks up the mood.

i enjoy the nyctalopia
that i get in the bedroom at night
trying to make out the doorway
and the shape
of your things while you snore lightly
on my chest
and the insomnia sets in

i enjoy a beer
in an afternoon bar
on a sunny summer day
while the rest of them are outside
in the heat
figuring out ways to smother each other
all the while becoming a better citizen

i enjoy books that are heavy
because they hold the windows open
better than a paperback

i enjoy the daily newspaper
for there is no greater comedy
than that which the world creates
on its daily stage

i enjoy quick sex
in the morning, the surprise kind
where you kind of grab my cock
while i’m holding your ass
and then it’s a go from there.

there isn’t much better than
quick sex in the morning

i enjoy unwrapping a new wine bottle
and smelling the cork
before i pour you a glass
as if i were an elegant sommelier
in one of those fine french restaurants
we’ll never go to

i enjoy
football and baseball
even though i tell everyone that i don’t
and i occasionally enjoy
conversation with a random stranger
but only if it sticks

i enjoy looking down women’s shirts
or checking their ass when they
bend over
to see if a thong or the hem of a lacy pair
of panties is sticking out

i enjoy complaints of all kinds
i take on all comers
and movies that can keep me awake
i enjoy rock and roll and rap, and some jazz
and classical
and everything else that has a pulse
and can do something to me other than

i enjoy the old poets
and the old novelists
but i enjoy staying away from my peers
out of fear that they’ll taint my worldview
with trivial lines

i enjoy a lot of things
this and that
me and you
and even some others of you too
but try getting the joy of out of me
on a regular basis
and i’ll show you a task
that’s never been so hard.

so sit back and enjoy this poem
as i have enjoyed writing it
and we’ll leave it at that.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

poem of the day 07.22.09

good samaritan

he’s laying on his back
on bienville street
probably down and out
from a night of drinking
and people are passing him
screaming, trying to wake
the guy
but no one is really stopping
until we get there

“well, we have to do something,”
my wife says

and i look up and down the street
hungry and hungover
it is already almost ninety degrees
in new orleans
and i think
i’d rather have a po’ boy and a beer
than help this guy

“do what?” i ask.

“call 911.”

“the cops? i only like calling
the cops on teenagers and senior citizens
with their televisions too loud.”

but my wife takes out the phone
and dials
she doesn’t get anyone
says the phone keeps ringing
so i take the phone and dial
while i keep looking at the guy
on his back
he hasn’t moved
not even his chest

“look at those animals,” i say
pointing at another group of people
hovering nearby and shouting. “humanity
gets it wrong every single time.”

then someone gets on the phone
the usual overworked distress call operator
who couldn’t care less
if a man is dead or being robbed
at gunpoint
and i’ll tell her what’s going
on here on bienville street
as a group of aging frat boys
drinking beer before noon
because they are here without their
wives or girlfriends
stop and hover over our guy
their beer cups tipped like they
might pour some suds on his face
before walking off toward the next bar.

“what’s going on?” my wife asks.

“they’re sending someone,” i say

“should we wait?” i can tell
that she wants to.

“yes, we’ll wait,” i say.

but then a miracle happens
our man suddenly heaves his chest
lifts his head for a second
and then rolls over on his side.

“now can we go?” i ask.

“okay,” my wife says, although
she doesn’t sound so sure.

then we turn the bend onto decatur street
looking for a place that serves
red beans and rice before eleven
just as sirens wail
and the first cop car appears out of the mist
of a louisiana morning
near the tail end of our
little american world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

poem of the day 07.21.09

exhaustion and such have overwhelmed me lately. not a new one, per se,
but i've never posted it here

moment of clarity

busted lamp
busted television
warping the screen
cat hair moving around
the room like tumbleweeds
caught in the whirl of
the dying fan
caught in the patches of dried
hair ball and vomit
that i can’t scrape up
empty pockets
empty stomach
empty scotch and wine bottles
in a row in the kitchen
beer cans on the nightstand
stained wine on the coffee table
stained wine on my t-shirt
wine and blood and dirt
and come caked into
the grooves in the hardwood floor
tartar glossing my teeth
gums swollen
gray hair on my face
unshaven the whole week
mosquito bites looking infected
and red
cat liter embedded in my flesh
the lamp snaps off again
and the electric bill came today
how did it get like this?
oh shit, when did it happen?

Monday, July 20, 2009

poem of the day 07.20.09

monday’s blues

i walk with no rhythm
i think with no mind
my heart an adust landscape
of black bile bubbling out
of my mouth
oozing along the sidewalk
like a tar river
and i think,
“there, you son-of-a-bitch,”
there’s melancholy for you,”
in the most archaic and true
sense, of course,
that someone can be down
every time this motherfucking day
rolls around.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

poem of the day 07.18.09

this is why i hate dreams

some kind of seminar
some kind of bonfire
with wooden chairs and dancing
anyway a mix of the worst
of both kinds of worlds
and rows of women
that i’m in the middle of
reaching my hand up casually
to scratch my forehead
she accuses me of trying to assault her
beat her?
force myself on her?
i don’t know
she’s big-eyed and blonde
looks like a hollywood actress
and she’s screaming and yelling
and the other women get involved
as the bonfire rages and morons dance
and they begin to mock me
so i rise from my chair and walk toward a lone fire
where charles bukowski is coming toward me
dressed in brown pants and a red flannel shirt
hank looks like he did in the 1970s with the
long, slick-backed hair and the beard
his face a mess of old pock marks
he’s holding a plate of fried chicken
and french fries and these hot pepper ringlets
and i can tell that he’s drunk by the eyes
i hope that i am drunk too
but i gather i’m not
and buk keeps dropping pieces of his chicken and fries
shoving the pepper ringlets down his shirt
while i’m on the ground trying to pick everything back up
and now the row of women are starting in on the both of us
hank and i
i’m trying to stare them down
but hank just laughs at them
then he falls on the grass beside me
and we put all of the food back on his plate
as a voice comes over the loud speaker
and people cheer
but we ignore it all and begin to eat.

Friday, July 17, 2009

poem of the day 07.17.09

i think

about van gogh in his last field
with syphilis and a revolver
because gerald locklin wrote
forty poems about his life
and work

i think
about the next meal the moment
that i finish the last, still that
lonely fat kid mistaking sustenance
for comfort and love

i think
about baseball and my pirates
on the way to seventeen straight losing seasons
and it makes me think about Pittsburgh
old friends
my family
and how there is really nothing left
in that city for me

i think
about guts and glory
and cowardice in a poet’s eyes
and about words like obdurate
and sanguine, and egalitarian,
and others that i’ll no longer need
to look up

i think
about how i am rarely sanguine
but often times obdurate over the dumbest things
and what effect that has
on those around me

i think
about the past a lot
old homes and pets that are gone,
the girls that i swooned over on school buses
or in my hot bedroom listening
to sad or romantic r&b music

i think
about how pretty and untouchable
they were back then

i think
about hemingway in idaho
with his breakfast and his gun
or hamsun being tossed in with the nazis
because he liked to work the land
or kerouac spitting up dark blood in florida,
brautigan with another gun looking
over the pacific ocean before he pulled the trigger
or the way bukowski’s wife
described his last breaths as tiny little puffs

i think
about the way i might go out
one of these days
and i hope it isn’t painful
then i think about my wife
and i hope that i don’t make her a widow too soon

i think
about taxes and politics and popular culture
all those people trying to find the next big thing
the madness of the work week
and the folly of humanity
and they make me laugh for a moment
and then i don’t think about them anymore

i think
about the future
you’re damned right i do
about the tech savvy kids who still can’t read
the teachers who still can’t teach
the leaders who can never lead
and how the world will never see another mozart

the world doesn’t need another mozart

i think
about how this poem has gone on too long
and i think about how to end it
because i could go on forever thinking
about things
i think therefore i…well,
you know the rest.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

poem of the day 07.16.09

i wonder what they do when the
party is over

i’d done nothing but eat their jello shots
and drink their wine
but she pushed me on the bed.

“i’ve been watching you,” she said.
“you’ve been so bad tonight.”

and then she kissed me.
i could smell the stink of her in my mouth.
the cigarettes and onion dip
and cheese and fruit from a platter
in the middle of the room.

she came up for air. “now don’t go
anywhere. i’ll be right back.”

when she left i just laid there,
my hard-on betraying me.
then the door opened.
it was her roommate,
and ugly redhead.

“i was wondering where you were.
i looked all over the place, but i couldn’t
find you.”

then she hoped on top of me
and started shoving her tongue down
my throat.
she tasted just as bad as the other one.
cigarettes and salsa, and the faint odor
of body sweat.
she ground her crotch into mine.

“i’ll be right back,” she said, after she
unlatched her tongue from mine. “stay here.”

i lay there another few minutes.
i didn’t know whose room i was in,
the first one or the second one.
then the first one came back in.

“she was in here, wasn’t she? that bitch.
she knew i had my eyes on you.”

then she jumped back on the bed
and we started going at it again
while i thought about all of those
years that no one ever invited me
to parties
and when they started to, how i wouldn’t
go because of a chip on my shoulder
and a hatred for my fellow man.

“you like this, don’t you?” she said,
rising up off of me. our crotches were
still entwined below, and she gave me
a push down there for good measure.
“you just stay there,” she said, before
leaving again.

then the second one came back
with two drinks.
they must be running some kind
of racket, i thought.

“does she know i was in here?” she asked,
setting the drinks down and getting back
on top of me. she must’ve had some
of that onion dip before she came back
in. “she’ll kill me if she finds out.”

i wanted to tell her that she already
knew, but she had her tongue back
in my mouth before i got in a word.
she kept flicking it back and forth.
it was slimy and warm, and lacquered
with onion dip.
i thought i was going to die right then
and there.
but then she got up.

“stay here a second,” she said, before leaving
the room.

then i got up off the bed.
they had a fire escape outside the window.
i opened the window and went out it.
in the darkness i just crouched there
listening to the sounds
of the party.
the people laughing and talking
about many a sundry thing.

the first one came back in
and looked around.
she put her hands on her hips
and left.
a few moments later the second
one came in with a cigarette
in her mouth,
and did them same thing.

then i took out a cigarette
and lit it, as a dog barked
out into the night
and it’s owner beat it,
thinking some fantasies
are better left to the
and those thoughts that
pop in there
at three in the morning
when you can’t sleep
and can only wait on the dawn.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

poem of the day 07.15.09


my boss tells me
her friend thought that i was cute.
it’s the eyes, she says.
i tell her that i haven’t been
hit on in twelve years
and even though we laugh
it’s true.
she says men don’t think like that
and i tell her sure we do.
the world has made men
sensitive in this way now.

out at the desk
i help some hispanic woman
with her resume
she is wearing
a halter top and thin black tights
and as i’m helping her
i keep staring at her breasts.
she thanks me and comes back
and hour later with her hair done
and lipstick on.
she hands me a card
with a buddhist meditation on it
and tells me that it is for someone
searching for a purpose.

then she smiles at me
and leaves.
i look at the card again
and think about the smell of my wife
on me
after having quick sex before work
for the second time this week
and i read the meditation again
that extra day of showering is really
paying off lately.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

poem of the day 07.14.09

lessons from a master

this sandy beach
those girls in small brown bikinis
playing volleyball near
the surf
this seaside bar
full of pictures from the 19th century
and over-priced beer.
we’ve been sitting here
for two hours
sucking at bud lights
and smelling the fried clams
while the elf sitting next to us
talks to himself
and nurses a draft
keeps getting up to play
the same five songs on the jukebox
aretha franklin’s “freeway”
louis prima
petula clark
the bird is the word, man.
he had everyone dancing at first
moving their heads
lightly tapping their bottles
against the bar
he was the musical madman of the joint
playing everything we all wanted
to hear.
people smiled
and winked at him
but come the third round
of the same songs
the place started to thin out
sick of aretha
and sinatra and all of the rest
but the elf just sat there taking in the music
singing as loud
as he could
as seat after seat cleared
he just sat there laughing
this four-foot tall genius
an unsung master
the best i’d ever seen
at clearing out a room.

Monday, July 13, 2009

poem of the day 07.12.09


young lovers
take it slow
because this one time
i was dating a girl for six months
when her parents decided
they wanted to move to cleveland.
she came over to my house in tears
and we laid on the couch
as she cried
and i tried to sooth her as best as i could
(we had just started having sex).
she said she didn’t want
to move to cleveland
that her dad had moved her everywhere
for newer, better jobs
as if such things existed
from chicago to buffalo to pittsburgh
now this.
she was nineteen at the time
and didn’t want to start over again.
laying there i didn’t know what else to do
i promised her she wouldn’t have to go
i promised her an apartment
and safety and comfort
even though i still had over
two years left in college
i lived with my parents
and had a part-time job at the library
while she didn’t work at all.
this talk seemed to cheer her up.
she quit crying and began to smile.
we made love on the carpet
and everything was settled.
except two weeks later
her dad decided not to move
and we never talked about getting
an apartment together ever again
but continued on through almost two years
of a miserable teenage relationship
and when it ended
i came by her house and she handed
me all of my things in a big garbage bag
which i lugged back to my car
in about three inches of november snow.

Friday, July 10, 2009

poem of the day 07.10.09

new kinds of love

i left the computer repair shop
after the tech gave me
about how to back-up my system
should a virus
hit my machine again.

i was listening to him
really i kept glancing
over at the machine
sitting on a bin with a white tag
on it
it looked cleaned on the outside
like an old battle horse
that had been give a bath
and a chance to rest

i thought of all we’d gone
through together in five years
the immortal words
the embarrassing prose
the mornings and nights
battling hangovers and the shits
the depression and anxieties
the rejections and small success
the heartache, the failures,
and the joy

i looked at that machine
and i welled up
while the tech printed up my receipt
and handed it over to me to sign
he looked at me like a might be a little bit mad
but i didn’t care.
i handed him his pen back
and grabbed my machine off the bin
as if it were a best friend that i was saving
no, my child
no, my lover

and when i finally
got outside
i held it up
all gray and black plastic
with usb ports and plugs
along its metal back
and i held that machine up to the sun
staring at it for a moment
before planting a big kiss
on its side
and then moving on down the street
past people who kept looking at me
who wouldn’t know
what that kind of love meant
even if i spent all day
explaining it to them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

poem of the day 07.09.09


so many of them outside
the window
that i cannot hear the music


driving the cats mad as they sit
on dirty window sills meowing
as i sit here finally
without a hangover


i keep watching them to avoid
the poem and the short story


my talent alludes me today
and i wonder if i had any to begin with


you sing songs
and i’ve always felt like a fraud anyway


i might as well join you
and learn how to chirp for my food
my art
and a piece of ass

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

poem of the day 07.08.09

paper and a pen

i say what am i going to do now
with the computer down and out?

well, she says, you always say that all
you ever need to write is paper and a pen.

but that was years ago, before the machine.
before hundreds of documents and thousands
of pages at my fingertips.

it’s still the same.

yes, but…

…but hopefully you’ll have the computer back
by the end of the week.

i hope the cleaning works.

me too.

thousands of pages of immortal poems
and some decent prose hang in the balance.

and many pictures from our vacations
and holidays too.

yes….and them.

so what are you going to do?

finish this drink. go to bed.
lay restless while the cat spits up hairballs
on the floor before she lays next to me the rest
of the night.

and then?

then hopefully i’ll wake to the ugly sun
grab some paper and a pen
and reinvent the wheel before it’s time
to go to work.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

poem of the day 07.07.09


michael jackson has been dead for almost two weeks
and shakespeare has been gone
for almost four-hundred years
but i’m still here wearing shorts that are
a size too big
and a forest green t-shirt with stains on it
nursing a scotch hangover as viruses rip
apart my computer and almost five years of writing work.
i’m still here carrying the torch of humanity
for the both of them.

he has this gimmick
this midget in the subway station at atlantic avenue
he dresses in a black jacket and hat and sunglasses
and wears a glove speckled with cubic zirconium
he dances to michael jackson songs
blaring out of an old boom box.
i’ve seen him do this on random days for two years
without fail.
he’s always good for a small crowd.

but today
twelve days later
the people have packed the terminal
the tourists, the natives,
all the people trying to get to and from somewhere
and the midget is playing “beat it”
doing flips and spins and moonwalks
while all of the people cheer and clap and find their solace.
it has been endless celebration
for the king of pop
and it shows no signs of quelling.
who wants it to end anyway?
here, we always love you better in death.

i walk through the crowds
anxious to get home from work
not stopping for the midget.
i think how john lennon has been dead for almost thirty years
and the mess of lunatics that still hang around
the dakota
and chaucer, he’s pushing over six-hundred years locked up
in westminster abbey.
i think of genet sucking cock in paris,
then chasing leather clad american boys,
gone twenty-three years
and michael jackson somewhere still above ground
cold on a slab somewhere
as people scalp tickets to his final and immortal moment
of song and dance in smoggy los angeles
as the midget dances on here in new york city
and the people clap and cry
and somewhere else
they are getting ready for shakespeare in the park
on another balmy summer night
that begs for rain.

Monday, July 6, 2009

poem of the day 07.06.09

checking the door

it takes me a while
to go to bed.
i have to check the door
the windows, and the range
over and over again,
usually turning on the lights
and going from room to room
until i stand dizzy
touching window locks
turning the knob
feeling the range to make
sure that it’s cold.

i do this while my wife
brushes her teeth
or goes to bed
or stands there telling me
that she’s already checked
the door, the window, and the range.
she’s aware of my sickness.
sometimes she has already
fallen asleep
by the time i hit the bed
and sometimes i hit the bed
and have to get up
to go through the process one last time.

i tell her it’s because of my old man.
my mother used to work late
and in the summer he’d fall asleep
on the couch
with a lit cigarette and the screen door
i’d have to get out of bed
put out the smoke
and lock the door.
i tell her i’m not like this with
other things.
i’m not so obsessive compulsive
about getting the floors swept.

“i know,” my wife says.
and then she laughs.

“what?” i ask.

“it’s just funny.”

“what’s funny?”

“well, tonight, the whole time
you were running around
checking the door and the windows
and the range,
i’m standing there in the hallway
in nothing but my underwear.”


“yeah, my breasts were out
and you didn’t even notice.”

i tell her it’s a disease that i have
and can we get the light?
after a little awkwardness, we do,
and she rests her head
on my chest
and falls asleep easily
while i lay there awake for another hour
thinking about breasts and women’s underwear
and whether or not i truly locked
that front door
this time.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Poem of the Day 07.04.09

one of the best

he was born to a narcissistic nag
and a car salesmen
in new orleans
and maybe the madness was already
setting in then
but he managed to make good
with a college degree
and a master’s degree
and a few teaching gigs
in new york city and louisiana
until he gave it up
to hang with musicians in
the french quarter
selling tamales from a cart
and working in a clothing factory
all while the madness kept bubbling
from below
and he started pounding away
on a machine at night
writing beautiful insanity
a prose that “isn’t really about anything,”
as the big book houses
kept telling him in rejections
but he knew he had it
he knew he had the genius and words down
the way they should be
but he couldn’t quite make it happen
he got hooked on the drink
he got hooked on his domineering mother
and some people said that maybe
he was a fag because the writing
and the booze and his mother
left him no time for a piece of ass.
then one day he blew a gasket
and just disappeared
he took a car and barreled it to the west coast
and then all the way back to georgia
to have a drink with the ghost of flannery o’connor
before driving off to biloxi
to put a garden hose full of car exhaust down
deep into his gut
leaving the world less than what it was before
and the rest of us silly word slingers failing
just to catch a whiff of his lunatic soul

Thursday, July 2, 2009

poem of the day 07.02.09


my head is throbbing
and my heart is in the dirt
pinched by an anthill
and in the subway station
the cops are pulling people aside
and checking their bags
so i know there must be a holiday
coming soon.
the police pull over a cute blonde
in a light blue dress that shows
the curve of her ass and breasts
while i smell like sweat and last night’s
beer and wine
and have a hatred for america poking
out of the front of my pants.
they pull her aside and go through her things
on a foldout table
while a man with gold teeth
harasses people for their subway passes
and others plot murder
as rats and cockroaches lick my toes
and nibble on my fingertips
as my heart gets eaten by an army
of hungry ants
they pull her aside and her face is as red
as the stripes on the flag
but no one is looking
they pull her aside for independence day
and fireworks and hot dogs and baseball
and for you and me
because she looks dangerous.
and she is dangerous, just not like that.
those fucking, dumb cops should’ve watched the way
she walked up 4th avenue
with her ass swaying in a light july breeze
like i did for five blocks.
now that was dangerous.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

poem of the day 07.01.09

removed...appearing in gutter eloquence #5