Wednesday, September 30, 2009

poem of the day 09.30.09

poem to the couple who
deleted me as their facebook friend

first of all
i can’t believe i’m even writing
something like this.
it stings a little bit, yes,
i’ll admit that,
mostly because i can’t figure out
what i did wrong this time.
but let’s not debate
this secret dismissal.
it’s so much easier now,
though, isn’t it?
one click and someone
is gone for a digital forever
without even knowing it.
and i wouldn’t have
except for my wife bringing
up some anecdote about
your life that i wasn’t privy
to on that social network
of social networks.
and when i checked for your page
boom, i was gone.
removed ever so casually
from your static clique
of frozen faces.
but this is much easier
don’t you think?
it’s much easier
than not returning phone calls
or deliberately missing me
on your christmas card list.
but we weren’t those kind
of friends anyway,
more guilt by association.
that’s the trick of these things
removed social interacting
with those you
wouldn’t think about
unless someone else brought
them up in the first place.
was that your case
with me?
was i not a worthy enough soul
to continue reading
the humdrum and ho hum
of your silly little lives?
oh well, i guess a couple
more assholes are out of my life.
and please don’t tell me
that it was a mistake
an errant click of the mouse.
i’d believe that if it weren’t
the two of you gone together.
and don’t sweat it, folks,
i’ve done it too.
i’ve got trails of burning flesh
behind me
and people who don’t even want
to know my name anymore.
so please don’t think this
set of meaningless words
is some kind of soapbox platform
or a request to have you both back.
my life hasn’t changed one bit
since you’ve been out of it.
it might even be better.
in fact, disregard this poem
in its entirety.
think of it as me waking with
nothing better on my mind
in the morning
but a trivial little bone to pick
and a point of contention that has somehow
lost all its meaning seventy-five lines in.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

poem of the day 09.29.09


we sit in the
thai restaurant
although i do not like
thai food.
this is another
compromise of marriage
like not hoarding the sheets
or taking out the trash
and cat liter.
this beats sitting on the couch
drinking a whole
bottle of red
and trying to figure
out where to go to dinner.
it is true
that i have lost my taste
for the foreign
as i have lost my taste
for a number of things
indian, thai, middle eastern
good conversation
the opera, rock concerts,
or wherever else.
they no longer do it for me.
i’ve put them away
along with trying to
be intellectual
or at least smart.
i can no longer compete
so i’m dumbing myself
back down
don’t you see?
i have always been
a bar and grill man
a red-faced, polish lout
from pittsburgh
and i guess that’ll
never change
but have some of this
wine, baby
a nice pinot grigio
from scilily
that i ordered especially
for us.
after they were out
of the tempranillo
and the cotes du rhone.
savor it
like a christ’s blood.
it’s the last remnant of me
that i’m giving to you
before we go home
and i have a beer
on the bed
with two slices of pizza
and the all-night sports channel
barreling over
our precious chopin nocturnes
and john-paul sartre books.

Monday, September 28, 2009

poem of the day 09.28.09

poem to the girl reading
john gardner’s “introduction
to fiction writing” on the morning

poor fool
you can’t learn
how to write that way
you’ve got
to learn it by
putting your life
through the fire
and back out again.

you’ve got to burn
our your soul
and run down your
heart until it might not
ever want
to beat again.

you’ve got to
tear out
your dreams
and lay them
at the feet
of the laughing gods.

so put down
the goddamned
gardner for christ’s sake
and go and lay down
in traffic
with crazy, drunken eyes
to watch the dying stars.

and if that
won’t do you
carve a circle into
your skin
to see if you can
still bleed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

poem of the day 09.26.09

baked potato

she talks to me
she asks me how the weather is
or if i had a good weekend
all the inane highways of conversation
that makes a man lose
his appetite.
she asks
if i’m having a baked potato
for lunch
because i usually do.

one time i told her that
i liked baked potatoes
because they were
cheap and easy
like my women
it was a lie
i was never good at scoring
cheap women
but she ran with it
and i’ve heard that joke
said back to me
more times than i thought
possible by now
in one human life.

i’ve only known her for three months.

she says
the baked potatoes make
the room smell good
and she asks me why i don’t watch television
like everyone else does.
she asks me this while blasting
law and order reruns
she asks me if i still read books
while i wonder why she
doesn’t get a baked potato for herself
and just leave me alone.

i told her today i walked manhattan
for ninety minutes
trying to find a place for lunch
with the last few dollars that
i had on me.
i had to settle for two plain bagels
at a dunkin’ donuts
she said
what? no baked potato today?
i looked at her
and said
nope, the world ran out
of fucking baked potatoes
can you believe it?

she laughed and laughed at this.
i guess it’s
my new joke.
regardless, i’ll probably be hearing it
for the next three months
in between episodes
of law and order
whether or not i have
a baked potato for lunch
a full course meal
or a bowl of hot water
sitting in front of me
something else
that my stomach won’t let
me get down
without a fight.

Friday, September 25, 2009

poem of the day 09.25.09

plastic revolts
- for the seeds of protest everywhere

mommy and daddy gave us too much
of everything growing up
and it’s time to revolt
so come on
and rise up against the swimming pools
in our backyards
rise up against the cars they bought us
at sixteen
the ones we wrecked at seventeen
rise up against those replacement cars
they bought us after graduation.

come on
and rise up against our manicured mall life
rise up against the coddling government
rise up against the green grass and blue skies
of the mcmansion developments of our youth

come on
and rise up against the college debt
we’ll never have
rise up against the cell phone bills
we’ll never pay
rise up against the credit card charges
we’ll never see
and rise up against the professors
mommy and daddy are paying off

come on
and rise up for the six o’clock news
let’s break some windows and rise up
against the eleven o’clock news
rise up because these photos are going on my
facebook page
rise up because this video is going on youtube
rise up because this line will be posted on twitter
and my blog

come on
because this is our time
our plastic revolt
done for everyone who doesn’t have a voice
smash an atm machine
and lay their cause in the mud
turn that park into a battle zone
and lay their cause in the mud
huff that tear gas like a designer drug
and lay their cause in the mud

come on
and rise up, us, the monotonous and dull
the hedge fund offspring
and the digital deluge
let’s lay their cause in the mud
and then let’s swim like pigs
in it
let’s swim in the thick, brown shit
like privileged little swine
and let’s hope that mommy and daddy
are at home watching us
soak up the airtime and the minutes
all fifteen of them
if even that many.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

poem of the day 09.24.09

portrait of a man

here’s the portrait
of the man trying to be
all things
to all people
the dutiful son who calls
every sunday
although his life is falling apart
at the hands of the bottle
and the measure of time
the husband
who notices a new hair color
or clothing
who remembers to make love
hard and soft
often enough
who tries not to drink
in front of the in-laws
but keeps a bottle of scotch
in his overnight bag.

here’s the portrait
of the man trying to be
all things
to all people
the benevolent older brother
there for moral support
there to bleed the years when you can’t
but who can never seem to visit
at the new house, in the new town,
or comment on the new car
the uncle who understands the pains
of youth
the brother-in-law, mute,
and painted into the corner
of a saturday night
window dressing at the table
of every new kitchen being built
or waxed.

here’s the portrait
of the man trying to be
all things
to all people
the friend who’ll amuse you
and say immortal things
the friend who forgets your constant benevolence
never allowed to forget the bounty that you’ve
bestowed upon him
the friend to get drunk with in the old bar
telling the old stories over and over again
because there’s never been enough to say

here’s the portrait
here’s the man trying to be
all things
to all people
the man who has room enough for the world
and no room for anybody
a man who tries to love but cannot find the way
who watches spider webs collect
in the dirty shower
and wants to scream
a man for whom his own madness and solace
have ceased to calm him.

here’s the portrait
of the man trying to be
all things
to all people
his flesh picked off the bone at birth
his fingers, dirty, yellow nubs
his hair nothing but dirt and grease and follicles
a face streaked with blood and years
eyes that are barren
a gut full of guilt
his soul torn and scattered
a man so sick
a portrait of the man
so sick
so very sick of it all.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

poem of the day 09.23.09

less than brilliant

we had music on
and i said,

i don’t get it
all he does is write
about politics
and people flock to him
they comment
on his every word,

while i go out of
my way
to give them
laughter, art,
and light.

they all love him
and they hate me.

who? she asked.
who hates you

take your pick.

i don’t get it,
she said.
you act like everyone
should love you
and everything that
you say.

i said.
now, you’re getting it.

and when i go
they should all
come up to me
slouched like
with wooden bowls
and prayer beads.

christ, she said.

they should kneel
they should be
walking on their knees
because it’s only fair
considering how long
made me
do it for them.

you expect
too much from people,
she said.

it’s not expecting too much
to have them recognize
every once in a while
especially when it’s presented
to them so blatantly.
they’ll be sorry when
i’m gone.

well, maybe they
think he’s brilliant,
she said.

i said.
but then i thought
about it
and the world at large.
then we turned off the music
and put on the television.
on it there was a loud man
selling carpet cleaner.
i heard that he had a huge
following too.
so we watched him
and didn’t speak
for almost an hour.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

poem of the day 09.22.09

taking out the trash

in the elevator
with one woman
and two men
on cell phones
the small box
smells like a french
one bag of cat shit
in my hand
the other bag
full of rotten vegetables
and rancid meat
½ a bottle of scotch in me
an old t-shirt
with blood and sweat and wine
stained on it
shorts ripped all over
and falling down
feet naked and dirty
from my hardwood floor
a week-old beard
and they look at me
like i’m the madman
crowding their space.
they’ve never suffered.
they’ve never lived
a day in their lives
as well.

Monday, September 21, 2009

poem of the day 09.21.09

they know

the girls singing bad gospel songs on the late train,
they know.

the two women blocking dozens of us
from getting down the subway steps,
they know.

the men who almost ran me down on 45th street today,
one checking his cell phone, the other texting a friend,
they know.

the mexican drug cartels, lining up addicts and killing them
in treatment clinics in juarez,
they know.

the politicians denying this and preventing that,
they know.

the dumb people watching television, or sitting in
movie theaters,
they know.

the temperate,
they know.

the religious and self-righteous,
they know.

the teachers and the taxman, and the guy using
his buzz saw, early on a saturday morning,
they know.

people who wear sunglasses inside,
they know.

dog owners and young couples with kids,
they know.

the red-faced armies of protestors and petition hawkers
hanging around on both sides of the fence,
they know.

and the woman who begs change off of me
on 4th avenue, everyday,
she knows too.

they all know
they all know something
that i don’t
and i’ll be damned
if i ever let them
tell me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

poemS of the day 09.18.09


i wonder what i would’ve been like
as a kid
without that disguise of lard and fat
without the shirts that never fit right
the polyester pants,
if i weren’t forced into the role
of laughing stock and blubbery stereotype.

i wonder what i would’ve looked like
or the fact that what i looked like
would’ve mattered to someone else.
what would my personality have been?
light? affable?
or still lonely, dark, and brooding?

i’m curious as to who my friends
would’ve been,
having my choice of anyone
instead of being lumped in with the cast-offs
and whomever else was left
and couldn’t get away fast enough.

what would her lips have tasted like,
my alternative first love?
my requited crush?
would i have fucked somebody else
way before i lost it
at almost twenty years old
on my bedroom floor
to a girl i told i loved
but wasn’t even sure that i liked

how much more cunt
would i have seen,
had a not been a beached whale resting
in those lowly corners?
would i even be here now, writing poems?
would i have met you, my beautiful,
patient wife?

and i wonder who my gods would’ve been
surely not those old literary lions
that i carry along with me now.
there’d simply be no need for them
in that world.

and my parents
i’m willing to bet they would’ve looked at me
differently too
back then
looked with hope and anticipation
instead of pity and fear.
they would never have needed to lie
to me.

would i need the drink?
would the succession of pointless, meandering jobs
have ended sooner,
were i happy, fit, and well-adjusted as a child?
the wanderlust have never come?
could my heart have mended faster?

these are the questions, good and bad,
that a man sometimes
asks himself
sitting there so many years after the deluge of time
his chest pounding out the past
as the wine bottle gives its last drink
as life farts into the morning sky
as birds wrestle on the pavement
for pieces of stale bread
and the rest of us wrestle the fates
for just a little peace of mind
the chance to forget ourselves
and our sordid histories
every once in a while.

oh jim
-for jim carroll

oh, jim
too often
i fly down to
where the green grass
turns brown
where the sky becomes
ugly blood
and i mingle with
my black soul

and that’s why
i wrote what i did
about you
in that poem
comparing you to that
b-list actor.

i have no sense
half the time
and the other half
i’m just looking to make hate

but here
i am in this bar
listening to two assholes
talk about the actor like they
knew him
while i’m trying to read poems
by carl miller daniels
and get down this cheap beer.

he was a good guy
they said of the actor, jim,
but no one is really a good guy,
and they don’t even know who
you are
at least not the way some of us did

that downtown spirit
that heroin dirt
all the years you put in living
through the void

jim, we all miss you man.

can you ever forgive me?
oh, jim
this is the poem
that i was meant
to write.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

poem of the day 09.17.09

learning about harold norse

my stomach is acting up again
and i can’t figure out why
it keeps making these burping sensations, like little puffs
in my stomach and then at my diaphragm.
part of me wants to know what it is
and part of me doesn’t.
but it’s doing it again on this train
and the pain across my chest
is kind of making me worried too.
i walked five miles to get here
carrying a heavy bag full of books
my lunch and my writing
and so my shoulder is bothering me too.
i might be getting too old for this walk.
even my legs hurt.
sitting here, waiting for the inevitable work day.
i’m reading the chiron review
to try and ignore the aches and pains
this incessant stomach “burping”
my sick mind thinking that i could die at any moment.
yes, i’m reading the chiron review and reading poems.
there i am on page forty with about four other people
poets that i don’t know.
but that’s not what gets me, my poem or the others,
and it’s not the pains and aches and spoiled stomach.
no, it was reading the dedication at the beginning of the issue
and i can’t stop thinking about it
“in loving memory of harold norse.”
when did that happen? i wondered.
when did you leave us harold?
did i know and just forget?
or has the world forgotten to give poets their fond farewell
and it was never reported?
talk about turning your stomach!
well, i just wanted to let you know that i remember you, harold
and how you got me through buffalo, new york,
reading your collected poems in a cold car,
drinking a tall boy of canadian beer
when the work days had become too much for me,
and i just couldn’t bear to go in
when there was no job other than shelving wine
or hauling doors, or picking staples out of invoices for
eight straight hours.
when there was no job at all.
harold, you beautiful old queer, your words were diamonds
to me under the gray gloom of the niagara region.
and i know this little tribute will never be enough
so rest in peace, old man,
new york and san francisco seem a little bit gloomier today.
go lay down in death, you scarf-wearing angel,
while the rest of us try to figure out what it is
that we just lost.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

poem of the day 09.16.09


the thoughtful emails
the well wishers
the blog readers
and the kind editors
and such
and you sit at
the machine
before the sun rises
with all of this good grace
the kind you never had
as a kid
and you think
fuck, now i’ve been cursed.
it was so easy before this
one room
the dark mornings
you and the words
and the gods looking down
from the wall.
but now?
what will they think of this?
what if my mother reads it?
maybe they’ll like this one.
and you find, even though you aren’t shit
nothing but a little voice
in an endless vacuum
that your head is getting bigger
that you forgot
who you started all of this business for
in the first place
this writing.
well, let me remind you
you did it for yourself
you dumb, fat pollack
you always did it
for you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BONUS poem of the day 09.15.09

poem for jim carroll and patrick swayze

i realize that the two of you have nothing in common
but indulge me as i commemorate the occasion
of both of your deaths in one breath.
don’t worry i won’t get too heavy.
after all, this isn’t sexton writing about plath
or whitman marking the death of lincoln.
no, this is just a man in a room hungover
on red wine and brooklyn lager
with nothing really to write about except for
current events.
and to be honest the closing of the baseball season
and the wars in iraq and afghanistan are beginning to bore me
something terrible.
and who watches the u.s. open anyway?
so i want to mark the passing of you both
punk poet and b-movie icon
because i feel like i should.
to you, jim carroll, i guess we never really clicked.
the poems were okay and the basketball diaries
was a bit better than that,
but, try as i did, i was just never able to get into
the whole downtown, new york city, inane
ramones and patti smith vibe that you’re so connected with.
and, in truth, i listened to the jim carroll band once
and once was enough for me.
hayden carruth has been gone almost a year
so i think that i’ll contemplate him a little bit more
than you, if you don’t mind.
still, may your heaven be a st. mark’s place of the mind
because the real one is covered with yogurt joints
and tourists now.
as for you, mr. swayze, well, you had a nice run.
i mean you made a lot of crap, but who hasn’t?
you got pancreatic cancer and you beat it longer than most.
i guess it’s as they say
money talks and bullshit walks the marathon.
i’m just sorry to see that your passing has become another
kitsch moment in pop culture
another reason for the banal to get together and watch
point break, red dawn, or dirty dancing all over again.
but what else should the banal do on such an occasion
but gather and drink cheap beer in your memory.
look, i’ve wasted too much time on you both already
it’s six in the morning and i have other poems to write.
i have to face the work day and take a shit.
my chest has been acting up again, and that has me worried.
so, so long, sweet princes.
jim,may we meet again in the underground
a talking point pulled out of some hipsters bag
and patrick, well, i’ll probably
catch you cracking skulls on the television
after one too many beers
and nothing else to watch but a roadhouse marathon
on tnt.

poem of the day 09.15.09

detention center nation

it’s not our fault the spoons
arrived late,
and the mexicans had to eat
their rice and beans with their hands.
spoons arrive late sometimes.
and the one who tried to hang himself
with a bed sheet,
well, hell, he was just angry about
something else.
he was probably angry over a woman,
that’s all.
everything is under control here,
we got nearly 20,000 of them
off the streets,
and set for deportation back to mexico
or venezuela
or cuba,
or wherever the hell they came from.
does it even matter?
what should matter is that your cities,
and your town, the whole infrastructure
of this great land,
is safer with these people gone.
look, you are free now to go back to
all of those jobs in the sweatshops,
in the fast food restaurants,
in the shit-filled ditches, that you said
were taken from you.
oh shit!
we forgot the influx of new chinese.
well, we’ll have to round them up too.
plenty of room coming, and haliburton
is on hand to help.
why the glum faces? you should all be happy.
it’s been a long time
with these people sneaking into america
and stealing all of our jobs.
yes? yes? a question?
no...i don’t think that plant is moving back
to detroit.
no...that one isn’t moving back to buffalo either.
you’re missing the point here, people!
we got them.
we got thousands of them.
we got them in camps
they’ll never escape from.
and if we have to we’ll put them in every
city that has a potential problem.
can you imagine:
new york
los angeles
san francisco
even cleveland and pittsburgh,
their skylines inhabited with newly built
state-of-the art detention facilities,
with food and rooms and sheets and showers,
and everything these people will need
for the safe and proper transfer back to wherever
they came from.
yes, i know we’ve had trouble thus far with
the heating.
but people aren’t freezing to death,
even though the winter’s been cold
and brutal.
why’d you have to go and bring up
the japanese and world war two?
these aren’t internment camps.
we’re fully committed to sending
these people home.
we don’t want them here, right?
we’re trying to get the nation back on track, agreed?
you’ll see.
and after that wall along the u.s./mexican border is built
we’ll have less of a need
for these kinds of buildings than we do now.
we can turn them into schools, or apartments
for the poor.
it’ll be great.
we just have to stand together on this.
because america stands for freedom,
and freedom isn’t free, baby,
unless you work for it,
and do your best to keep the undesirables out.


Monday, September 14, 2009

poem of the day 09.14.09

....really working to finish reading and editing my novel this week, so unless i become "inspired," i'm putting old stuff up on this blog this week.


the morning smells
of old scotch and mildew.
they are the hands i’ve
been dealt,
just as some men wake
to huge breakfasts
and nagging wives.

my wife is running around
she is spraying the apartment
with a pleasant odor from
a can,
used to get rid of the scents,
plus the aroma of cat shit.

humans are good at trying
to cover over
what comes natural.

but the cats don’t seem
to mind.
they sit near their mess,
licking their paws,
content to wallow in the
putrid bliss.

i find it hard to complain
about the intrusive smells
because soon i will be on
death’s highway again,
with all of the other decaying souls,
heading toward squat buildings
where hundreds of people
take up the time
doing nothing but keeping
the economy afloat,
until they are nearly dead.

muzak will play in the halls;
faint traces of old 1970’s pop standards,
and the people will congregate
where they must
to talk about their weekends
or television
or sports.

they will be awash in the stink
of each other
but will say nothing about it
if only to be polite.

and i will sit there,
huffing it like a massive fart,
as if strangled by a noose,
willing to give anything
to be back in this apartment
with the scent of old scotch
and cat shit.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

poem of the day 09.12.09

the politics of paper

i cannot say no to them
these kids on the street passing out fliers
for politicians.
i always think they are doing this for some
important reason
like helping to feed their family.
in these economic times i feel as though
i am right in thinking this.
so i take the fliers as i move along
from each kid passing them out
and i think, well, i’ll just go around the bend
out of their view
and toss the fliers in the next garbage can that i see.
only i forget to do this and the fliers end up in my bag,
until i have an unmanageable pile of them
all of these benevolent, grinning political faces
taking up space in my bag
democrats and republicans
promising me this and that, and everything else
that they can think of
all because i wanted to help some kid out with his job.
it’s funny really, if you don’t think about
the waste of paper that is,
this political paper trail,
because i’m not going to vote for a single one of these people
not if they offered me chocolate and blow jobs
and a harem of puerto rican girls
not the city comptroller
not the representative that wants to do away
with gay marriage and health care
nor the one that supports the two
not even the mayor who has been assaulting
my mailbox for months on end
with a barrage of glossy paper that has killed
so many glossy trees
one fallen for each new one he’s promised to plant.
i’m not going to vote for a single one of those pompous pricks.
but i’ll keep taking their fliers
and i’ll keep helping out the kids
after all, somebody has to help quell the damage
that all of those smiling, reptiles on the fliers
helped to create in the first place
why not me?
why not good old grochalski?

Friday, September 11, 2009

poem of the day 09.11.09

to the spider on the wall

i don’t have time
for this today
this crawling and sitting
and then crawling again.
i don’t have time to have
a causerie with you.
i’m hungover again
on beer and wine and whatever else
and so i guess for argument’s sake
we’re both a little bit redundant.
but at least i’m trying
to do my job here
for christ’s sake
not let my eyes stop
and linger upon you
the way you’re doing me
you ugly, gray, vile, hairy beast.
you’re just waiting.
and for what?
i should murder you
just to prove a point
make you a shit-stained ink blot
on this wall
my own rorschach test
but i don’t have the heart today
or do i?
you see, i swirl and do cartwheels
in my own disgust, little spider,
i suck my own blood
until i have nothing left to give.
so don’t try me.
but you sit there so clueless
so still and patient
like a buddha or a damned fool
waiting on a common housefly.
which one is it, huh?
buddha or fool.
which one will you be, spider,
hanging there,
your life essentially resting in my hands
while mine dangles in the mitts
of so many faceless others
people who care less about me
than i do about you right now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

poem of the day 09.10.09

-for ally malinenko and daniel vernola

this pint glass
tight in my pocket
that extra
pitcher of beer
underneath my shirt
the street sign that i stole
the coaster
that held our beers
resting in my back pocket
and the no smoking sign
from the bar
this isn’t stealing
to steal
any fool can do that
no, this is just a different way
of remembering
a sort of commemoration
of the nights
we run wild
in the city
while the safe sit in parks
nursing air
and the jaded and dead
cramp themselves
in living rooms
gazing at the television
telling each other
how bored they are by
mimicking the laugh track
of a sitcom
or catching up
on the next great drama
while we set matchsticks
on fire in small candles
feast like romans
in illuminated diners
and wonder
why the rest of the world
has yet to catch up
to our genius
our blessed angel madness
yet knowing we never needed
any of them at all
in the first place.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

poem of the day 09.09.09


i think about that man
last saturday night
sleeping on the train
sprawled out on his back
taking up too many seats
i guess
for the common folk’s patience
otherwise why would the
cops stop the train
at atlantic avenue
just to haul him off
and sit him on a wooden bench
making him wait there
for another train
knowing that he was going to do
this business all over again?

it has to be stupidity
typical human stupidity
and it comes
from the president
on down to the guy
pissing his pants
in the local park
human stupidity
sometimes it’s so strong
it can drown a man
like flood waters
after a typhoon
or an earthquake
in the middle of the ocean.

it’s ever-present
always with us
burying us one by one
it is like paying taxes
or waiting on death to arrive
at our door
with a come hither smile
and a dozen wilted, red roses
in his cold, bony hand.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

poem of the day 09.08.09

playing artist

back then in the 1980s
although the 1980s don’t seem so long ago
back then i thought the world
could go to hell
i really did
the arabs, the soviets, and the u.s. could do
us all in with nukes
and it wouldn’t matter to me

i waited on it
i hoped for it

that orange mushroom outside the window
of that quiet bedroom of my youth
where i lay on my stomach on the hardwood floor
fat and alone, but never really lonely
a boombox in front of me
playing music that kept me somewhat sane.

i thought, a nuclear war, the end
what did it matter?
did any of it?

the high school heroes
the would-be friends that never called
the girls with their fresh tits
giving away their eyes and everything else
to other boys
none of it mattered, i thought
the dances
the formals
the proms
and the monday morning conversations
about teenage sex in the backseats of cars
one asshole telling another asshole
how he turned some girl out
then looking my way and calling me a fat fuck
telling me that i’d never get pussy

what did any of it matter?
a nuke? the adust landscape?

i had the solace of my room
and the dark dead end street to keep me
until that inevitable moment
the sound of my mother, father, and brother downstairs
living life together
as i lay on the floor, dreaming,
just a spear-carrier in my own existence
already hoping that there was something
more to this life
than all of that other bullshit of squeaking by
of just getting a little something
and knowing that maybe there was
something out there for me
this tangible beast just out of view
music and solace and art
but just not able to strangle my way out of
a pale suburban existence and find it.

and...holy shit
i sit here now
more than twenty years later
buried in poems
and novels and stories
playing artist since the age of fifteen
still not sure if i’ve gotten it right
if i’m either a jack or a king
but damn
if i haven’t loved the feeling each day
since then
the feeling of wanting the world
and wanting it now.

but every once in a while
i look outside the windows
at the ugly street
usually haggard and fed up
wondering if maybe just one bright bomb
could drop
and eviscerate a frieze of trees in the park
or just me as i crawl to work
still thinking in the pit of my stomach
that, hell, maybe that orange mushroom cloud
wouldn’t be so
bad either.

Monday, September 7, 2009

poem of the day 09.07.09

waiting on
is like
for the
to dry

i sing
my voice
my grandmother’s
whiskey bottle

the autumn
all this death
i’m ready

the tabby cat
her nose
cold and wet
my heart
just the same

oh, how
i’ll knock
your couch
with my soul

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Poem of the day 09.05.09

beer, wine, and a basement life

i hear two women from my building
talking outside
my living room window.

“have you seen the basement today?” one asks.


“there are mountains of wine bottles
down there again, all with french names,
and not the good stuff, either.”


“yeah. and bags full of beer cans.
just the worst kind of swill.”

“i wonder who it is that can
shove it all down?”

“i don’t know. but it’s a damned
shame, wasting their life like that.”

and then the women get to talking
about their kids, the weather,
and grocery shopping.
their conversation becomes mundane
as all conversations becomes mundane
until there is no more to say
and then it stops.
they have forgotten all about the
beer and wine bottles in the basement.
but i haven’t.
and as i continue to sit there, listening
for their next word, nursing a scotch,
and a beer and wine hangover,
i think i’ll probably fix another drink,
and then when that bottle is done
i’ll go and place it
with all of the others that i put
in the basement that morning,
and tomorrow those ladies will have
something else to talk about
to enrich their day. 04.11.08

Friday, September 4, 2009

poem of the day 09.04.09

is that the last thing you’re going
to say to me this morning?

sometimes it starts
with a shoelace breaking
these cheap brown k-mart boots
that you warned me
not to buy anyway
that have only lasted
me three months
the tread is already gone on the bottom
but how can a guy
pass up thirty dollar shoes
the week before payday?
and it ends in the hallway
with me telling you to go
and fuck yourself
before storming out the door.
i don’t know how these things happen
the way they do
constipation or a bad night’s sleep or something else?
the moodiness of a thursday
just before a holiday weekend
or because people are vile and selfish
sometimes they just happen for no reason
a shoelace breaks and the world goes
to hell for a few moments
a shoelace breaks in brooklyn
and flood water engulf the east coast
but i know this now
though a shoelace drive me
to near suicide
and a crumbling bar of soap can drive me mad
i’m too much a fatalist to have
such coarse business be our final discourse
before the day has it’s way with us
because if something happened to you
or god forbid, me,
i could never live with it
so i’m sorry, baby.
open up the screen and let me kiss your lips
just once
because your lips are passion and desperation
and shoelaces are on sale at target
two sets for $3.99

Thursday, September 3, 2009

poem of the day 09.03.09


i watched her breathing heavily
on her death bed that gave her bloody sores
on her back and legs
the bed i’d be given after it was all over
her voice gone, never to utter a word again
eyes forever shut to this world
but still that breathing, guttural, quick, hard
like she’d run a marathon
gambling with her god
and did she like to gamble?
remember the yellow calendars covered in lottery numbers.
remember the bookies stopping by for a beer.
in the bars she gave my brother and i
lance’s cheese crackers and flat coca-cola
a stack of quarters to play the video poker machine
the one that paid under the table
and if we hit we were paid off with packs of baseball cards
and milky ways in order to keep it quiet
but it all would be gone now, grandmother
hard breaths
salt in the beer
salt by your nightstand that played talk radio all night
salt in the cancer
salt on everything
and i decided right then and there
as you took those fast, fleeting breaths
not to cry at your funeral
thinking maybe you wouldn’t want it that way
because you were always a hard broad from pittsburgh
born to die there
and then i left you to drive three hours to akron
to see bob dylan
leaving like a rolling stone
saying it’s all over now, baby blue
a carton of cigarettes in the front seat between me and joel
and the counting crows in the tape deck
i had no clue then that i’d never hear you breath again
how can one gauge that?
and i didn’t cry grandmother, not then,
but i’ve done it so many times since
that i keep wondering when the well is going to dry
and you’re going to quit haunting each bar
i take my secret, heavy steps into, thinking the answers
are there, right on the next barstool, waiting.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

poem of the day 09.02.09


i am inspired
by the same things as the rest
a brilliant painting
a great movie or book
sunset over cities
conversations and wine
overlooking a crowded street

i am inspired
when i think about my writing gods
kerouac, bukowski, hemingway,
hamsun, fante, fitzgerald, miller,
and even old allen ginsberg
they do and have done
something for me
that many others couldn’t
and still cannot

but sometimes
i’m inspired by strange things
cruel things, deviant things
like looking down a woman’s blouse
or catching a glimpse of panty
on the rush hour train
other’s misfortune
dead politicians
famine and warfare
and bombings in foreign lands
things like prison terms for the wrongly accused
or a bad child being beaten in public

sometimes these things
command me
and i can’t help but be inspired

the old woman whose
groceries drop on the sidewalk
or the old man lonely on a bench
too afraid to die
a teenage girl crying over
some worthless punk
or the blank stares of people
dying slowly
in movie theaters
watching bad hollywood films

i suppose i could keep going
someone busted for tax evasion
couples who are getting divorced
or someone being made a cuckold of

i don’t know why these things move me so
perhaps i’m just the product
of a lonely childhood
no friends
with too much time on my hands
with too many days staring out the window
hating the world

but there’s simply so much
there for me to become inspired by
the world is such a fucked up joy
some days i’m scared to leave it

so, lady, the next time
you spit out your lunch
through your teeth
while farting in the library
looking for a book on tantric yoga
don’t blush
or become embarrassed
because someone
probably me
might be writing an epic in his head
about you
right there and then.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

poem of the day 09.01.09


there’s nothing in
my heart
right now.
i’m a blackbird.
there is no movement.
no drive.
i’m a blackbird
and every day is the same.
every meal.
every drink.
boring, redundant.
because i’m a blackbird
with greasy feathers
and clipped wings
and a twisted beak
that won’t allow me
to talk.
there is nothing to do
about it
because there is nothing
and that is fine.
i’m a blackbird.
just as the trees die
as people die.
i’m a blackbird
hopping around
the cracked concrete
a blackbird
searching for a crumb.
that is i have no choice
i’ll stay the same until the end
just a blackbird.
forever a blackbird
meandering between
the tombstones
pecking at the ungodly mess
as the flowers wilt
as cities fall into the ocean
as the seasons change
and each night inevitably
brings its audacious, gray dawn.