Saturday, February 27, 2010

poem of the day 02.27.10

coney island in the snow

at the corner of mermaid and stillwell
there are no families coming off the train
with blankets and packed food
to hit the beach

there are no teenage girls
with tight asses in bikinis
torturing boys

no roller coasters running on tracks

no beer island full of aging jocks
drinking light beer
no seaside bars full of hipster drunks
playing kitschy songs on jukeboxes

there are no hot dog eating contests
or funnel cakes

no fat men sleeping on benches
with their fat wives

there’s just me

holding a cup of decaf coffee
in the crooked snow

watching the empty subway tracks

the only white guy around this time of year
breathing in the salt air of the ocean

as one derelict smokes a raspberry scented cigar
while screaming at someone
about how he slept outside all night
in the cold and snow and rain
even though he has six million dollars in the bank

as another genius checks payphones, hoping for a score i see why
everyone keeps raving
about this place

Friday, February 26, 2010

poem of the day 02.26.10

we, the damned

the cross-eyed man
sits alone on the bus

he’s talking to someone in spanish

elsewhere they are preparing
to remove people from their homes
or from their jobs

some countries torture with violent force

others with passive debate and benevolent gestures

we, the damned

we’re mendacious to the core

gauche blobs of flesh most of the time

we’re just no good to each other

the cross-eyed man
he hangs up the phone

it was a bad phone conversation

he stares off into the distance
searching for something
out on the street

i want to ask him what it is that he sees
but he opens his phone again and dials

there’s someone else
to talk to now

Thursday, February 25, 2010

poem of the day 02.25.10

no problem

i come into the bagel shop
from the cold and rain

everything on me wet

i feel like shit

this is how i have to start the work day
i think

she is behind the counter
looking at me
as i drip all over the store

“can i get you anything?”
she asks.

“decaf,” i say

“no problem.
you want milk?”

“half and half.”

“no problem.

“a little.”

“how much?” she asks.

“a spoonful,” i say.

“no problem.”

she goes about fixing the coffee
as i wipe away rain from my jacket

the rain has soaked through onto my shirt
fucking winter rain, i think.

she hands me my coffee.

“i need two bagels, too,” i say,
remembering lunch.

“no problem,” she says.

she gets the bagels.

“that’ll be two-fifty,” she says.

“here’s three,” i say.

“no problem.”

she rings me up and gives me my change.
i toss it into an old, green tip jar
on the right of the counter.

“thanks,” she says.

“no problem,” say.

then i walk into the cold
glad for a little bit of ease that morning.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

poem of the day 02.24.10

Internet connection dead...will be posting poems later for
a little bit

back on my old block of hell

they have fixed this place up
it’s one of the most expensive neighborhoods
in brooklyn now

the diner where i used to eat has been remodeled
gone is the plastic marlin that used to hang
above the torn, red booths

they’ve been replaced with pictures
of the brooklyn bridge
and tables made of white formica and metal

across the street a row of boutiques
line where liquor stores and bars used to be

they’ve swept the bums of the street

now there are men in long, wool overcoats
walking along the avenue, talking on cell phones
and swinging bags from organic grocery stores

there are women with tight asses
with tight jeans tucked into their boots
eating frozen yogurt while window shopping
outside of designer dress stores

i’m wondering where the man who stole
my wife’s wallet is at tonight
as i pass a thai fusion restaurant and a mexican bistro

where are the bones of that dog we saw murdered
one president’s day weekend?

the teenagers in cornrows playing dominoes
at four in the morning?

where have the endless fights and threats gone?

where have the puerto rican slum houses gone?

a bar along this new stretch is advertising five dollar pints
as if that is some kind of deal

so much has changed here that it almost doesn’t
look the same

except for the curve of the streets
those ugly streets bending toward the distance
the sun gleaming over them like a red hell


i don’t care what they’ve done to this place
how many whole foods or trader joe’s they’ve put
in place of the off track betting joints
and rotting bodegas

you just can’t change a place in some people’s minds

this neighborhood will always be hell to me

my first new york city prison

where i suffered daily
where love almost died

i can’t shake this feeling that i’m getting
walking along here
passing all of the beautiful people buying their beautiful things

i feel cold, empty, and pitiless in this mirage

this artifice

like a dance with doom is about to rain down on me

but doom is only a wine bar with a french name

so i keep going

going where i need to

i get what i came here for and then i get the hell out
faster than any man you’ve ever seen
chasing down a roaring bus in broad daylight
on a beautiful late winter day

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

poem of the day 02.23.10


booze soaked
and tired

i sit at this machine
before sunrise

as the winter dies
with the dj calling
for more snow

my belly rumbles
with hunger

but there is nothing
to eat in this apartment

so i plod on

thinking there are worse
things in this world
than a rumbling stomach
and a 40% chance
of snow.

Monday, February 22, 2010

poem of the day 02.22.10

sunday morning at
130 bay ridge parkway

sitting in the quiet
as the coffee brews

i hear the ancient chinese bitch next door
banging pots and slamming doors

talking stiff staccato
to her grandchild

the one who sounds
like a pack of elephants
when she runs

soon it’ll be the television
through my walls
for the rest of the day

but sitting here right now

8:20 on a sunday morning

130 bay ridge parkway

it is mostly silent and still

somewhat serene

at the beginning
of another long-ass day
in america

Saturday, February 20, 2010

poem of the day 02.20.10

the whistler

the woman at the front
of the bus
is talking on her phone

no, she is shouting to someone
on the other end

he’s no good

he’s a bastard

that fucking pussy bitch

it’s another faceless love gone wrong

before she got on the bus
there was a fat man
with a moustache like hitler’s
sitting in her seat

at every stop he whistled a few bars
of i song that i didn’t recognize

i thought that he was a pain in the ass

until her

…i need to recognize the good luck
when i have it

Friday, February 19, 2010

poem of the day 02.19.10

gray gems bathing in the moonlight

we sat there for another hour
all of my shit on her table

we weren’t talking

she told me she thought that i was
seeing someone else

i said that i wasn’t

we didn’t talk after that
she sat there and cried
i sat there wishing
that i had been seeing someone else the whole time

when it was really over
i went out and sat in my car

the night was cold and crisp

along her driveway was a
landscape of sculpted rocks

i sat there for a minute looking at them
as the car warmed up
and she went from room to room shutting off lights

i thought the rocks looked beautiful

they were gray gems bathing in the moonlight

i’d never noticed them before
not once in the two years
we’d put ourselves through hell

i thought the rocks were a nice memory
a nice reminder that beauty could still
exist in the world

then i lit a cigarette
put on some bob dylan
and backed the car out of her driveway for good.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

poem of the day 02.18.10

two birds fucking

i’m just walking down the street
minding my own business

i’m listening to the drive-by truckers
wishing that i didn’t blow most of my paycheck on booze
because i’d like some more drive-by truckers albums

i see this gaggle of birds
falling out of the ice and snow of a frozen bush

there is one limping on the pavement

it’s left wing low to the ground
the right one high in the air

it looks like a swastika

someone must’ve fucked that bird up badly

i see two heads dead center in the thing
then i realize
that’s two birds fucking right there on the pavement
while i’m walking to work
listening to the drive-by truckers

those two birds are giving it to each other
while the other ones fly around chirping

maybe they are waiting their turn

a veritable bird gang bang right here on bay ridge parkway

i leave them
i continue on
i don’t know why but i’m glad i saw something
like that on the street

it took the taste of stale coffee out of my mouth
it tamed the hunger in my belly

such carnality

it made me feel alive
like nothing else did that morning

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

(A Brilliant) Record

I have poems here today. So give these guys a look.

poem of the day 02.17.10

concrete ambrosia

it’s usually the same pack
of them standing outside the pastry shop
on third avenue

the same pack of arab teenagers
dressed like thugs

like television rappers
with gold chains and thick rings

they are probably harmless morons
but i won’t place a total bet on that fact

my wife and i call them the arab mafia

i mean what other reason do these guys have
to stand in front of a pastry shop on a weeknight?

the other kids stand in front of the bagel joint
or the subway sandwich shop
or they’re at home

maybe the pastry shop is their territory

typically i pay them no mind
except to laugh at them, at the folly of youth

but last night as we passed
one of them
the fat one in his yankees hat
and full down north face jacket

last night the fat one was standing a little bit
away from the pack
smoking his newports
taunting whatever girls
were walking down the street

he told two of them that he’d
fuck them all in the ass

he didn’t seem so funny in that moment

still i don’t think the dumb prick could get
it up for that long
unless he was looking at one of his friend’s
hairy assholes

but the comment made me stop

i looked back at the cocksucker

he eyed me and i eyed him
until my wife moved me along reluctantly

as we walked up the street i could hear him
taunting more women
bragging about fucking them in the asses
putting his cock wherever
he damned well pleased

i looked back one more time
at this cardboard arab god of third avenue
i could swear he was looking at me

they’ll be another time for this, i thought
another time to suck that fucker down
like the nectar of an orange

tonight’s just not my night.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

poem of the day 02.16.10

two scotches, five beers, and counting

is just enough to float through a day
like this one
sitting in a bar and being hit on by a lonely blonde
who keeps checking her cell phone for no one

she wants to know if that was my wife

yes, i say

how long have you been married?

two scotches, five beers, and counting

almost six years, i say

she asks more questions
this is beginning to feel like the spanish inquisition

i don’t remember what it’s like to be hit on

at the other end of the bar
the bartender is getting sympathy from
a drunk model and a professional soccer player

at least that’s who he tells me those loud whores are

the blonde tells my wife that her last boyfriend was zeus
the one she took home last night, well, at least
he didn’t rape her

they didn’t even fuck

not that night

not the next morning

he’s the guy she keeps checking her cell phone for

two scotches, five beers, and counting

the bartender buys us two free rounds because we listen
to his story about his uncle dying of heart disease

shit, he starts crying in the bar
while i’ve been given the task of watching the blonde’s purse

he’s crying and popping alka selzter because he
got drunk on bourbon and beer last night

crying over his uncle

he says his uncle was like a father to him
taught him how to be a man
then he worries if you’re allowed to be a man
in the 21st century

i tell him yes, but they’ll work like hell
to take that away from you

i feel like robert bly, saying shit like that

he says he keeps having to visit the porcelain god
and don’t i know all about that man, i think

this death
these scenarios have happened to me, us, twice this week

at another bar, carrie told us that her mother had just died
she was a tough bitch, except for the cancer

my wife tells us we’re banshees
banshees howl before death and spend their time
around the bereaved

i tell my wife that we spend our time howling
at a neighbor who won’t turn her television down
then we hit the bars for these stories
these people who always seem to find us
in an otherwise crowded room

two scotches, five beers, and counting

i think of carrie two nights later, drunk in the bar
yelling at her boyfriend, larry
she’s mad, stabbing at cold chicken and broccoli
from a styrofoam dish
she tells him he gets drunk three times a day
but she only gets drunk once

it’s sad
sad because we’re only allowed to get drunk once in a day

carrie tells larry to fuck himself
go blow yourself, she says, because i ain’t doing it no more

i wonder what carrie expects
being thirty-six years old and taking up with a fifty-five year old
bar flunky

that’s kind of asking for it, i think

two scotches, five beers, and counting

i hope larry is getting head from carrie, from someone

i hope someone doesn’t steal this blonde’s purse
while the bartender cries

i have my eyes on the old creepy guy in the next seat over
he’s checking his phone and laughing at nothing
if anyone is going to steal that purse
it’s going to be him and i know it

the bar whores laugh
the soccer player and the model
the bartender wipes his eyes and winks at us
before he goes down to tend to them

i hate the way they slur their words

some drunk women have that way about them

he buys them beer and they buy him a shot
everyone drinks it down as blondie plays on the jukebox

two scotches, five beers, and counting

banshees my wife says again

i tell her let’s leave after the next one
before my songs come on the juke
before elvis and the doors and
chuck berry and two david bowie songs

but after the blonde comes back and i don’t have to watch her purse
maybe after her story about her getting ass-fucked by poseidon
maybe after the not-rapist calls

i just don’t know anymore
i don’t know how any of us do it
how any of us get through
every day just seems so fucking long

two scotches, five beers, and counting

tables full of madness and the dead
streets full of the sick at heart

i see a girl on the r train wearing sunglasses in the night

a beautiful girl

she’s either middle eastern or italian

i want to slap her
who does she think she is for being so young?
for having this ugly world by the balls

i think of larry without sex
of carrie without out her mother and love
the blonde waiting for a phone call or another me to come strolling in
i think of the bartender getting a pity fuck from two women
of barstools empty and mouths without anything useful to say
of neighbors huddling in front of loud televisions

because there is nothing else
and there is nothing else to think about anymore

i think of you and me, and the way moonlight reflects
off our faces

the two new wine bottles that we had to purchase because

two scotches, five beers, and counting is not enough

it’s never enough.

Monday, February 15, 2010

poem of the day 02.15.10

a voice of reason

he is outside on the street
shoveling the ice and snow

ten-thirty at night
he’s breaking the quiet
with scrapes of metal on concrete

we keep going from the living room
to the bedroom
trying to figure out where the noise
is loudest in our apartment

how we’re going to sleep
with this asshole clanking away
in the dead night

it sounds like he’s burying a corpse outside
the way the shovel clangs
when he hits the ground

he must have no sense of time

from the hallway we hear voices
it is his wife arguing with someone
a tenant who must’ve
complained about the noise

we hear them arguing
then we hear her outside calling to him

she is shouting for him to stop

he keeps going until a last patch of ice
is broken up and discarded

the he lights a cigarette
as her foreign voice melts
with the madness and moonlight

we smell the tobacco
as a bus makes its way up our street

he says something rough to her
she shouts again
then he tells her to shut up

irony in its purest form

at least the shoveling has stopped

they both go into the hallway
you can hear them going back and forth
for a few more minutes

her yelling
him hushing her

then there is silence
nothing but the buzzing of the streetlights

the night returns to what it always is on this street

ridiculous and incalculable
in its foolishness

Saturday, February 13, 2010

poem of the day 02.13.10


i’m addicted to the gloom
the misery of the daily race

i miss so many moments this way

moments like this

throwing snowballs
while we wait for the bus
to take us both to work

hurling ice balls across 77th street
hitting walls and fences, trees in the distance

laughing like two idiots
our love as crystal as the ice shavings
melting on your black gloves

there are so many things to talk about
the worst kind of trivial business

i want to keep quiet about it all

but i’m addicted to the gloom
i feed on it

i miss too many of these moments
years of joy passing between us

undiscovered by me

for a moment like this
i have to work the silence into an art
just to catch it

i miss moments the way working stiffs
miss busses

please not today

today i know i’m keeping this one

here it is.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

poem of the day 02.11.10

the last man

i look up
from a book
realizing that i’m
the last man left
on the bus
it feels good
for a second
like the apocalypse
like getting a wish granted
but i know this bliss
will not last
i wonder
what’s next?
what comes next?
unsatisfied so easily
suddenly thinking of
oscar wilde
who said:

in this world
there are only
two tragedies
one is not getting
what one wants
and the other is getting it.

and ain’t that the fucking truth?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

poem of the day 02.10.10


oleg runs security
where i work

he gets deals
all of the time

he likes to tell me about them.

the shoes he’s wearing
in a store those shoes
would cost sixty dollars
but on ebay, oleg bought them
for twenty.

the belt
the flashlight
forty dollars
and fifty dollars respectively
but oleg only paid
thirty for the whole set

he buys movies online too.

oleg can get five movies
for nine dollars on ebay

russian movies


in the stores he’d pay
nearly fifty bucks for the whole lot

there’s some american stuff thrown in
like this movie with stallone
where he’s boxing
a big blonde guy in moscow

i try to tell oleg that the move is rocky iv
but he doesn’t believe me

is new, he says.

oleg likes basketball
he loves the knicks
and he thinks that
i love basketball, too
because i can talk a good game
about basketball

i can talk a good game about anything
because my old man forced me
to be well rounded.

every few minutes
oleg comes over to my desk
to tell me about last night’s knick’s game.

he gives me a play by play breakdown.

i pretend to pay attention
while i read the new york times online.

oleg knows when
the next knicks game will be.
it’s going to be this friday night.

will i be watching? he asks.
maybe, i tell him.

then oleg walks away

only he doesn’t stay gone for long.
he’s like a lingering cough

in a few minutes he’s back
telling me all about the uniform
he bought on ebay for seventy bucks

the same uniform he’d have
to pay one-hundred for
at the police uniform store.

oleg stands in front of me
until i look up and nod at his uniform

then he starts telling me about
his stamp collection
and how cheaply he can get old stamps
over the internet as well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

poem of the 02.09.10

growing old with me

i call my mother

she’s the only person that i call

i call her once a week, mostly

she likes to hear my voice

in pittsburgh they got two feet snow, she tells me
she and my father just got done spending six hours shoveling

i tell her that i wish i lived near home
so that i could help them
so that they didn’t have to keep shoveling

my mother likes this

she’s been on me about moving home for years

we talk about my great aunt’s funeral
it was friday before the snow came

my mother read a eulogy
she said that everyone was crying

even your father, she says

my father is like me
it takes a lot to make him cry

i ask my mother how everyone was at the wake
she said they all were all holding up okay

how’s uncle phil? i ask

well, he was okay, my mom says
he looked tired and old

he and my great aunt had spent fifty-two years together
he just got so old going through this, my mom says.

fifty-two years will do that, i say

when we get off the phone i go into the living room
my wife is sitting there with a can of natural light
i can hear the neighbor’s television
through the walls

it is a loud, numbing sound

it is the kind of sound that wakes me up at three
in the morning
with heart palpations and a general fear of the world

i sit down with a beer
i tell my wife that i don’t know if i can
handle this bitch anymore

i think we better think about moving

this makes my wife angry
she tells me that if i’m so mad
maybe i should go and knock on the woman’s door
and tell her to turn her tv down

she says that we all make noise in this place
that she can hear me down the hall and around the bend
singing songs while i make dinner

i tell her that she’s full of shit

my wife drains her beer and tells me
that she’s not moving anywhere
that if i want to move i can go move by myself

i’ve heard this line before

she says that nearly everywhere we go
it’s me, not them

that line is new to me

so we sit there in the living room
the big game turned down low on our set
something loud and animated playing through our walls

i think about my great aunt’s funeral
the one they had before all of that snow came
i think about what my mother said about my great uncle

about how tired and old he’s gotten

then i look at my wife, pouring herself a glass of wine
from the bottle we have sitting on the floor
she looks angry and sullen
and once again i’ve caused it

we’ve been together for twelve years

she still looks young
but i wonder what they’ll be saying about her
when i’m laying there in the casket
about how tired and old she’s gotten
growing old with me
how a life with me has taken its toll on her

for the most part they’ll be right

but honey, i guess i just want to tell you
that i’m sorry right now for all of the
stress and shit that i put you through

just in case i forget

i want you to know that i’m sorry right now
instead of you thinking it
when i’m laying there, cold and gray,
done with everything
with everything finally quiet
and at peace.

just how i like it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

poem of the day 02.08.10


i wonder if i’m not drinking enough lately

if drinking would even help

but these mornings
so impaired


for better or worse, i don’t know
what mornings like this feel like

i think i must feel like most people now
waking up and thinking about coffee and traffic
about bosses and cutbacks

i used to wake up feeling like henry miller

but that was last week

it’s not just in front of the machine
trying to pound out words
that i feel this way


it’s taking the bus, too
looking at the dead faces in their blue plastic seats
going to church or the grocery store
looking at seas of rotting flesh on the job
in the pages of the impotent books
that i’m reading

where are you when literature offers no solace?

i might as well turn on the tv now
and call it a life.

i stop for coffee
and it tastes watered down too.

i stand in the kitchen
i tell my wife that the world is a drag lately
an abomination of trivialities
as cold air comes in through our cheap windows

winter feels like it’ll never end.

just like the numbness in my soul

outside the sky is black and still
it is my kind of sky, usually

but it has a limpness to it today
i can’t describe it

it lingers, awaiting a stillborn morning

hard to think that last night
i sat on the couch, with you, talking about
paris and love

paris and love seem like a lifetime ago
after a night of sleep and bad dreams

i taste the coffee
it is growing cold now

the radio offers me nothing but bad opera
and the cats offer me nothing but inherent lethargy

like most days, i think
some mornings never end

especially the ones where you’re trying
to make genius out of a lump of shit

out of the shards of intellect and the past

mornings like this can go on forever
like conversations over sports games
like conversations about paris and love

like waiting to become something again

when the deck is stacked against you
and you have to get in the morning shower soon
or else you’ll be late for work.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

poem of the day 02.06.10

back on grub street

he came from
a lower middle class family
but excelled in school
well enough to get accepted
into a prestigious college
on a scholarship

he did well there for a little bit
until one night he met a whore on the street

he fell madly in love with her.

he used to give her money
to take care of herself
to keep from whoring

when his money ran out
he started stealing from friends and faculty
to keep things going the way they were

but like anything else
he was found out

the scholarship was taken away
the friends shunned him
the family disowned him
he did a month of hard labour
but the whore stuck around

all of the sacrifices he made
showed her that he loved her
that he was in it for the long haul.

she stopped whoring
she and the writer got married.
he settled in to work and write books
while she settled in to have his children.

but the books didn’t sell

he had to take a job tutoring
she started drinking to pass the time

they separated and he continued
to give her money like back in the old days
like when she was whoring.

they were creatures of habit after that.

she kept at the booze
he kept at the books.
she drank until she died
he finally found a little bit of success
in the publishing world

he wrote a novel
that is still thought about a little bit today

he got married again as well

another working class woman

they had two children together
lived peacefully for a little while
until she went insane
and had to be institutionalized
for the rest of her life.

Friday, February 5, 2010

poem of the day 02.05.10

if i had it my way

i would be in bed right now
in my torn boxer shorts
in that t-shirt that my wife gave me

the one with the sweat
and wine stains on it

i’d have the covers pulled up
just high enough
the torn brown sheet over the windows
stretched to keep out the light
the curtains drawn
sealed together with some of my wife’s hair clips

there’d be a bottle of wine
on the nightstand

it would be cheap red wine from france

my glass would be full

i’d have tom waits playing
he would be singing
i hope that i don’t fall in love with you
on the half-broken sony cd player.

one of the cats would be resting on my belly
the other would be at the end of the bed
resting between my feet

of course you’d be there too, dear

you’d have your glass of wine
resting on your stomach
waiting for me to refill it

outside there’d be no voices
no cars and no dogs

there’d be nothingness
sweet bliss and nothingness

the world would stay like that
the whole day
silent and black

while we drank glass after glass
of the cheap french red
and made our way through tom waits’ whole catalog

the world at large would go to hell
if i had it my way

but we know it’s never my way, baby

you’re at home right now
sick with a cold for two days

i’m on this morning bus again
reading the same bad novel that i started
reading yesterday

going to work

forever hustling to make a buck
for the electric company and the landlord
for the pleasure of all those other faces
that i’ve never even seen.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

poem of the day 02.04.10

i don’t want to be a poet

i sit at the table in the foyer
that we use for a dining room

i’m drinking cheap burgundy

i don’t want to drink scotch this week

drinking scotch every week
has become a problem again

my wife is making dinner
usually i make dinner

it gives me something to do when i get home

it keeps me from thinking about
work and bills and neighbors
with televisions blaring through walls

i drink the wine

i tell my wife that i don’t want to be a poet anymore

i need to get back to the novels
to write something that resonates

she asks me if this is because
my co-worker has a novel coming out

is it because i can’t find an agent for my book

she asks me if i even like writing novels
and i don’t know what to say

i’m growing more confused and older every day.

i just sit there drinking the cheap burgundy
on a cold, endless february night
thinking i just don’t want to be a poet anymore

poets got the guts but they don’t get the glory

sometimes i want to shine
like the miserable sun
that always gets caught in my eyes.

i want to ask my wife if that’s possible

the glory

is that so wrong for a guy like me to wish for?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

poem of the day 02.03.10

small legends

i like drinking beer after beer
on a sunday afternoon with you
in this bar where ancient men
tell the same stories over and over again

i like drinking beer after beer on a sunday afternoon

it’s a good way to kill a day
that so many others are killing with god and polite house calls

we like that jeff is in the bar today

when jeff is in the bar the old soul music plays

the philly sound he says
then he starts to dance

he tells us that last night he was at a club in park slope

park slope, man, he says
as if it’s another planet and not just another section of brooklyn

i tell jeff that i don’t like going to park slope
i tell him the beer costs too much up there

maybe park slope is another planet

jeff laughs and tells us that he was at a rave bar last night

i don’t know what a rave bar is

he said the place was packed with young girls
young girls in tight clothes

jeff tells us that he danced and danced
fifty-three years old and he was out on the dance floor all night

the dj thanked me, jeff says.
he thanked me for getting the party started

that’s good, i tell him.
i’ve never gotten a party started in park slope, or anywhere else.

it’s either a defect or
i’m just better than everyone else

jeff smiles and wanders over to the jukebox
a song by harold and blue notes has ended

our tribute to teddy pendergrass

jeff puts in more money to play more songs

could it be i’m falling in love comes on

jeff turns to me
who is it? he says

the spinners, i say

jeff comes over and slaps me five

that old philly sound, he says.

then he stares off into space

we each take a sip on our beer as light cascades
through the bar window

as sunday works its way toward sudden death.

he thanked me for getting the party stated, jeff says again
to me and my wife

to no one

when we leave, jeff will tell his story
to anyone who will listen

it’s like any other story in this bar
like the one where hans found b.j.’s wedding ring
in his pants pocket after they slapped five during a jets game

it’s another small legend that no one will know about
except for a few of us

the kind of legend that gets clouded over by the bigger ones
vast, ordinary legends that are so boring
you need only here about them once
to know what they are all about.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

poem of the day 02.02.10

ode to a bus driver

bus driver
man, last week you left
me out in the cold for forty minutes
before you showed up
do you know how many other buses
passed me in that amount of time?
how many different routes went by
carrying people who were
going to get home on time?

bus driver
what you did last night was even worse.
stopping every block and just sitting there
for five minutes before announcing
“ladies and gentlemen, we’re not
going anywhere until this man pays his fine.”
what’re you trying to be some kind
of divisive force, turning man against man?

bus driver
we’d hang you if we could
if you weren’t protected by new york city law.
if seven years wasn’t such a long time
for stringing you up on a lamppost just as the sun set.

bus driver
don’t think for a minute that you’re above us.

bus driver
you smug prick
pulling the bus over again to the side
of the avenue and just sitting there
as car horns honk behind you
as old chinese women with their thousands of packages
get restless in their chattering packs
before you announce
“ladies and gentlemen, we’re not
going anywhere until this woman gets
behind the yellow line.”

bus driver
i put down the book that i was reading
i had daydreams about spitting in your face
especially when the bus stalled twice
and we all sat there in the dark.
i would’ve thought it was poetic justice, asshole
except that i was late meeting my wife at the bar
i had no way of getting in touch with her.
thanks for making my wife worry for the second time
in two weeks.

bus driver
have you no soul?
i have to battle other people’s conversations
their cell phones and their food.
i don’t want to hear your the best of america cd
as you’re careening the bus down 72nd street,
singing along to you can do magic
as you honk your horn and shout at drivers
who won’t get out of your way.

what’s the rush now, bus driver?
somewhere important to be?

bus driver
if i had money i’d buy a car
maybe one of those hybrid deals that you
can talk to on a lonely ride home from work.
i’d get some half-assed insurance on the thing
i’d put bumper stickers on the back.
they’d tell everyone what my favorite teams were
what my politics were.

but bus driver
that’s a pipe dream
i can’t get any car that talks to me
and has bumper stickers on the back
i’m stuck with you.
last week, this week, next week, next month
probably all the way until you or i die or retire.
so go ahead and sing your america
go ahead and yell at every motorist on the avenue
who won’t get out of your way
keep pulling the bus over and idling the fragile engine
for any and every small infraction
that us worthless humans make.

it’s your world, motherfucker.

we just live in it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

poem of the day 02.01.10

miami’s got oranges or
conversation mostly heard
in a sheepshead bay dunkin’ donuts

“you think the jets got a chance?”

“i think they gonna win it all.
hear me. the jets gonna win it all.”

“they look good. i like this young kid
they got at quarterback.”


“yeah, him. he’s all right.”

“he’s the best.”

“he’s no broadway joe.”


“broadway joe? joe namath?
he’s only the best quarterback ever to play the game.”

“who’d he play for?”

“the jets for christ’s sake!”

“like sanchez?”

“before sanchez,
years before sanchez.”

“and he was good?”

“you don’t know anything, do you?”

“i know the jets.
and i know they gonna win today.”

“i’ll tell you who else was good
and I don’t care what any of you think about him.”


“o.j. simpson.”


“and i don’t care what none of you say
he was the back tailback i ever saw.”

what’s a tailback?”

“a running back.
don’t you know nothing?”

“i know the jets...”

“yeah, yeah, you and your jets.”

“my jets.”

“you ever hear this:
miami’s got oranges but buffalo’s got the juice.”


“i said, miami’s got oranges
but buffalo’s got the juice.
o.j. simpson.”

“what about him?”

“he was the juice.
that’s what they called him.”

“the juice.
why they call him that?”

“because his name was o.j.
don’t you get it?
o.j.. orange juice. the juice.”

“yeah, like orange juice.
i get it, pops. i get it.”

“miami’s got oranges but buffalo’s got the juice.”

“why buffalo?”

“because that’s where he played.
the buffalo bills,”

“buffalo’s got
the juice.”

“now you got it.”

“it’s cold in buffalo.
my cousin lives there.
said there ain’t shit to do but shovel snow.”

“buffalo ain’t so bad.
but the football team is terrible now.”

but i thought they had the juice?”

“i’m done talking to you.
talking to you is like talking to myself.”